Gayborhoods May Not Be as LGBT Friendly As You Think

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Do you live in a gayborhood? You know what I’m talking about, right? A community in a metropolitan area where large numbers of LGBT people reside. Examples include Chicago’s Boystown or WEHO in Los Angeles.

If the answer is yes, you wouldn’t be alone. Many who identify as queer choose to live in such areas because they offer an affirming environment – particularly for same-sex couples.

But does living in a gayborhood mean they are discrimination free? According to a new line of research, the answer appears to be no.

As published in the journal, City and Community, researchers found that straight people living in “gayborhoods” often say they support LGBT rights in theory, but what they say and what they do are two different things.

“There is a mistaken belief that marriage equality means the struggle for gay rights is over,” said Amin Ghaziani, the study’s senior author and associate professor of sociology at UBC. “But it is far from over. Prejudice and discrimination still exist– it’s just more subtle and difficult to detect.”

For this study, investigators interviewed 53 straight people who live in two Chicago gayborhoods, Boystown and Andersonville.

According to their findings, they discovered that the majority of residents said they supported LGBT persons. That said, the researchers also found their progressive attitudes were at times misaligned with their actions.

While many residents said they don’t care if people are gay or straight, some indicated that they don’t like gay people who are “in your face.”

But there is more …

When heterosexual residents were asked about resistance from LGBTQ communities to the widespread trend of straight people moving into gayborhoods, some of the folks interviewed responded by suggesting “reverse discrimination” was taking place and described LGBT people who challenged them as “segregationist” and “hetero-phobic.”

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When investigators asked people (straight) if they had done anything to show their support of LGBT rights, such as walking in the pride parade, donating money to an LGBTQ organization, or other forms of public support, the majority said they had not.

Additionally, many also expected their LGBT neighbors to be happy and welcoming of straight people moving into their communities, expressing sentiments like, “you wanted equality– this is what equality looks like.”

According to Ghaziani, “The people we interviewed say their desire is for everyone to just get along,’ but that desire implies that gayborhoods are utopias where everyone can live, rather than places where minorities can find relief from discrimination and social isolation”

Do you live in a gayborhood? If so, have you experienced discrimination from local residents?

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John Lannoye is editor and founder of Men's Variety. Based in Chicago, he blogs on topics related to health, wellness, relationships and men's grooming. Click on the hyplink to follow him on --> Facebook or --> MeWe Email him at --> [email protected]