It’s not exactly praying the gay away, nor a retreat into homophobia, but the merchants association that makes up the well known gay-borhood of Montreal recently petitioned the city to make itself more inclusive by dropping the “gay” from its public image.
The popular tourist destination that surrounds St. Catherine Street in the Ville-Marie borough of Canada’s second largest city wants to include “2SLGBTQ+” in all official designations going forward.
The prefix “2S” refers to the Native American belief that some people have “two spirits” (commonly referred to as the masculine and the feminine, but not exclusively). By leading off with the 2S the neighborhood is hoping to show it is open to everyone, and not just a place for an arbitrary gender expression or sexual orientation.
So while the “neighborhood formerly known as gay” is evolving with the times, what does this mean for other primarily gay or LGBTQ neighborhoods around the world? Will we see similar efforts at inclusiveness in San Francisco’s Castro, Los Angeles’ West Hollywood, Houston’s Montrose, and Atlanta’s Midtown? What about Chicago’s Boystown? (awkward sip)
One possibility is for these neighborhoods to acknowledge that while they still serve as physical reminders that we exist as a people, with a varied culture that celebrates diversity and freedom to love and be whomever we want to be, these communities can also be viewed as historical relics from a time when primarily non-conforming people sought their own safe spaces.
The “gay” ghetto in many major cities has been slowly dying the past ten years as tolerance has grown into acceptance by the larger society. In the age of on-line dating / hookup apps, the need for a local gay bar has also been greatly diminished. While the fight for equality continues – particularly for people of color and trans men and women – this change can serve as a reminder of who we are.
What are your thoughts on this new designation? Misguided marketing, a welcome change for the better, or a sign of continuing decline for gay neighborhoods?