For the world premiere of HBOÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Looking, the new show about the lives of three gay men in the Bay Area, the cable network turned to one of the epicenters of gay culture in perhaps the most gay-friendly city in the country: the Castro Theatre, right in the center of one of the most thriving Ã¢â‚¬Å“gayborhoodsÃ¢â‚¬Â in the world. Chicago has Boystown, D.C. has Dupont Circle, Seattle has Capitol Hill, and the list goes on.
Economists have long speculated about the effects of gayborhoods on everything from diversity to gentrification to housing prices. One common theme of this analysis is that neighborhoods with a higher than average density of gay residents are by definition more diverse and open-minded, with a wider range of racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups as well. Another common argument is that gays often pioneer the revitalization of disadvantaged, crime-filled urban neighborhoods Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and their presence can be seen as an early marker of gentrification and a precursor to a jump in housing prices.
But before they can credibly sort out these complicated interactions, researchers have faced a far more basic dilemma: itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s always been difficult to nail down exactly how different the concentrations of gay and lesbian residents in these “gayborhoods” really are.
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