Are gay neighborhoods dying? There’s been ceaseless chatter the past couple of years that the Castro is turning straight, and that San Francisco’s unaffordability is making it almost impossible for new generations of young LGBT people to keep the torch lit. But until now, no one had attempted a comprehensive look at just how things might be changing.
Amin Ghaziani is a sociologist and the author of There Goes the Gayborhood (Princeton University Press), a steely glance at North America’s most prominent pink ghettos and the demographic transitions they’re undergoing. In anticipation of his appearance at The Green Arcade (1680 Market St.) this Sunday, Aug. 17 at 6 p.m. to talk about his book, SF Weekly had the opportunity to chat with Ghaziani about the Castro’s forthcoming rainbow crosswalks, the importance of gayborhoods to non-residents, and whether Oakland is charting the future of these enclaves.
SF Weekly: Chicago’s Boystown is your primary example, but you touch on the Castro and San Francisco. I’m wondering if you see the “high gentrification” of the last couple of years factoring into the disappearance of gayborhoods.
Amin Ghaziani: Yes, definitely. There are basically three sets of numbers we need to keep in mind that do a nice job illustrating the economic effect here. One, we know that areas that have a large concentration of gay and lesbian households have seen greater increases in housing prices than the national average, typically at one-and-a-half times the rate.
Second, we know that same-sex households earn on average $15,000 less annually than opposite-sex households. As of the 2010 census, we’ve found that 20 percent of same-sex households were living in poverty, compared to nine percent for opposite-sex households.
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