Park Slope's transformation mirrors the evolution in Manhattan's well-known gay enclaves. Gay men, pushed out of Greenwich Village, went north of 14th Street to populate Chelsea, then past 34th Street to Hell's Kitchen. Now, many of them are pioneering some unlikely neighborhoods that are emerging as future gayborhoods.

Eight years ago, former Park Slope residents Katie Cumiskey and her partner, Robin Garber, moved to West Brighton on the North Shore of Staten Island, which now has an openly gay State Assembly member, Matt Titone. Cumiskey and Garber opened a used-book store, Bent Pages, heavy on LGBT books, last May. Cumiskey admits that while she is seeing more and more queers moving into West Brighton, she misses her lesbian neighbors in the Slope. "I do miss being in a place where I can feel like there are a bunch of people who are like me," she says.

Personal safety and a sense of camaraderie remain the most common reasons that people choose to live in gayborhoods. Like any identity group, gay men and lesbians want to be with their own kind. It's also easier to hook up—for a night or a lifetime. "You move to places where you're most likely to meet a partner," says Kenneth Sherrill, professor of political science at Hunter College. "There's just so much you can do online."

Some of us would as soon keep our gayborhoods a secret. As happened in Chelsea and Park Slope, high-rises and high prices usually follow queer sensibility, to the detriment of those who originally sought refuge in them.

"We transform neighborhoods once undesirable into desirable neighborhoods that become too expensive," Sherrill says. "They stop being the kind of funky, creative places we enjoy, and become sedate and snobby—and so we move on. And other neighborhoods get renewed."

« Previous Page