Welcome To The Gayborhood
The University of Richmond recently created an LGBTQA Living and Learning Community in its Keller Residence Hall. Before the community even began, we hosted various meetings as a group to decide and figure out what everyone expected from the community. We outlined our hopes, fears, objections, goals, or critiques of the program. One main concern was the idea of this becoming a ‘gay ghetto’ that limited queer activism. It might become the only focal point of queerness at the University. We have done various education programs to alleviate these concerns and educate ourselves about queer history. We discovered an interesting parallel to our program: Gayborhoods.
Gayrborhoods are defined by Wikipedia as “A gay village (also known as a gay neighborhood, gay ghetto or by the slang gayborhood) is an urban geographic location with generally recognized boundaries where a large number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people live or frequent.” Some of the most famous gay villages include: Castro in San Fran, Greenwich in New York City, Boystown in Chicago, and Dupont Circle in DC.
I began to wonder if Richmond already had an undeclared gayborhood and if it didnt, should it? Over the next few months, I will be exploring the gayborhood topic in a series of articles. I am looking to inspire conversation about queer life in Richmond. Hopefully, this series will ignite a grander discussion about Richmond’s queer future. We will learn more out our city’s queer resources, organizations, alliances, spaces, hopes, and dreams.
As I continue to write this series about gayborhoods, I will be circling around the ‘goal.’ I am not arguing for it or against it. Instead, I am hope to focus on Richmond’s queer past, present, and future experiences. I am interested to see how people want to see their city’s evolution. I ask the readers to engage with this series, as a neighborhood requires more than one person.
I am in favor of some sort of concentrated queerish space. Some might argue that a neighborhood can be a large scale closet. However, its walls are not prisons but a refugee against relentless heterocolonizing. It is queer space of exploration, confusion, imagination, liberation, and freedom. This neighborhood grounds the queer experience into the physical. We can read, cruise, party, connect, dream, create, and celebrate in a space outside of cyberspace, judgement, normal, or hetero. Our neighborhood becomes an intentional community of support, exploration, activism, and liberation.
Jon Henry comes from the small town of Washington, Virginia. Xe finished xes degree at the University of Richmond and was named GayRVA.com's Out.Spoken. Richmonder of the Year for 2011. When not in class, xe is either in the studio or rabble rousing with other queer activists. Follow xem on Twitter.
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