The announcement that Splash, the bar most closely associated with Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, would close this month put a period not only on the area’s transformation but also on the ideal gay male type in the popular imagination. The end of an era. San Francisco’s the Eagle, which closed two years ago, signified a similar sea change in SoMa, as the once-rough-edged area south of Market Street is now known. When Nation in Washington, D.C., closed its doors in 2006, it left a still-unfilled hole in the city’s gay nightlife scene.
One by one, the traditional gayborhoods in major cities across the country have become victims of their own success. As in Chelsea, skyrocketing residential rents and home prices are forcing longtime gay residents out of Miami’s South Beach, Boston’s South End, the Castro in San Francisco, L.A.’s Silver Lake and many other such communities, while commercial rents have forced the closing of bars and clubs considered institutions by their patrons.
The passing of Splash, however, has particular significance because of its close identification with the stereotypical “Chelsea Boy.”
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