Enclaves: Fight For Them or Let Them Be?

An article published in the New York Times on Tuesday posed the
question of whether gayborhoods are on their way to becoming

In “Gay
Enclaves Face Prospect of Being Passe
,” the author cites the
cancellation of the famed Halloween party in the Castro
neighborhood of San Francisco as a sign that the Castro, like its
counterparts in other major cities, is dying a slow death. Some of
this is due to more openness in smaller communities, lessening the
need for a person from a non-urban setting to move to a place like
New York or L.A.

However, straight people moving into the enclaves are also
threatening the demographic make-up of places like the Castro. This
got me thinking about the importance of claiming physical space for
minority communities and the effect that having a safe space for a
city’s LGBTQ population has on individuals and the town as a

Establishing enclaves has been a significant and perhaps necessary
component to mainstreaming a community’s place in society. The
geographical space where people who belong to a particular group
live becomes recognizable because of that group’s presence.
Businesses and organizations that serve that group’s needs spring
up and give new life to the area.

The LGBTQ enclave provides a safe and comfortable space for members
of the community to live, patronize and visit. Its presence thus
attracts more LGBTQ people to the city. But as the area develops
and gains attention over time, it becomes a trendy place to visit
and attracts visitors and tenants from outside of the community
that it was designed around.

If LGBTQ people start to move out and straight people are moving
in, if the area becomes mainstreamed, does it mean there’s less
of a need for the community to coalesce? Is there widespread safety
and comfort outside of the neighborhood’s six-block radius? Are
people as out and visible outside of their gayborhoods as they are
within them?

If people are comfortable regardless of where they are – and this
is obviously a positive thing – should we fight to keep the
enclaves or let them diminish, as sign of a city’s overall
acceptance of the LGBTQ community?