Can a Gay Bar Help Gentrify the Surrounding Real Estate?

Gay Bars & GentrificationFor a certain type of NPR-devoted socially-conscious queer beer aficionado (aka most of the people who run this website), two of the worst things in our world are 1) the decline of gay bars and 2) gentrification. But what if there’s an uneasy relationship between the two – what if the emergence of new gay bars meant gentrifying the surrounding community?

To examine the issue, Amanda Hess looks at the town of Herndon in Fairfax County, VA, where neighborhood bar So Addictive began with a drag night and dyke night and has begun to transition into a full-time gay bar. But Herndon has traditionally been, as locals put it, “not exactly the most hospitable place for gays.” What does it mean for or about the town that a new gay bar is coming into its own when most gay bars around the country are dying out? Herndon residents have differing opinions on the issue. Are gay bars gentrifying because gay people are hip, trendy, and rich, like on the teevee?

“Gay bars are associated with gentrification,” one Fairfax resident argues. “They are often located in fringe areas where the affluent alternative lifestyle crowd moves in [and] improves the area.” But the resident worries that the arrival of a gay bar in already-gentrified old town Herndon could signal that the area is flirting with the economic “fringe.”

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