Philadelphia’s Gayborhood by night: The people, places and evolution of a neighborhood

Gayborhood movers and shakers

There are probably more people out and about at 13th and Locust streets at midnight than at noon. The block feels like a parade route when the temperature rises. Customers grab tables at Knock just to catch a glimpse of the eclectic entourages that glide past on their way to leather night, a dance party or the latest burlesque battle.

There are men everywhere – packs of them in tank tops and jerseys and button-downs – hustling into corner bars where requisite thud-thud-thuds drift into the night air from glowing jukeboxes. Rainbow street signs seem to gently beckon the night people out of their caves and lead them into a fantasy world of their choosing. The drag queens, the club kids and voyeurs who decorate the macadam when the sun goes down offer a flip side to the sun-drenched sidewalks where the mommies drop kids off at day care and the office workers hustle to lunch. About the only consistent population is the prostitutes, slender young men with bad skin who make plays for drinks and drugs 24 hours a day. There are also the guys who slink to and from the bathhouses tucked on back streets where anything goes.

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