At one of the oldest gay taverns in the city’s Boystown neighborhood, the regulars were sharing a laugh over what they had seen the night before at their watering hole: a gaggle of straight women. “It was like they were at a gay museum,” joked James Davies, 61, who has been a regular at Little Jim’s for most of the 39 years it’s been in business. “They came to see if we fossilized.”
Call it a sign of progress, or as University of British Columbia sociologist Amin Ghaziani describes it, the “de-gaying” or “straightening” of America’s historically gay enclaves. In the midst of 20 straight wins in federal courts for same-sex marriage and polling that demonstrates Americans’ growing acceptance of LGBT people, scholars and demographers say there are signs that the draw of the so-called gayborhood is fading away.
Understanding the extent of the gay and lesbian migration from gayborhoods with precision is difficult, because the U.S. Census Bureau doesn’t ask all individuals about their sexuality. But the bureau does collect data on same-sex-couple households, providing the best, albeit incomplete, account of the nation’s LGBT population.
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