Where Has West Hollywood’s Gayborhood Gone?

gayest store on earth, the block party, larry blockWhere goes the gayborhood?

If you are gay or lesbian or transgendered, odds are you have looked for the “gayborhood” in many cities where you traveled. The gayborhood was the place where people like us found each other and celebrated our LGBT culture. It was a cozy place where we knew we were among our own, a place we could feel truly accepted.

Years ago, while building my company, YMLA, from nothing to something, I traveled across the country in search of the gayborhoods. Up and down the Castro in San Francisco there was one gay-owned boutique after another. West Hollywood was home to International Male, All American Boy, NY Jock, Sporting Club and many more. Then there were famous gay neighborhoods such as Halsted Street in Chicago, Dupont Circle in Washington D.C., Seventh Street in Philadelphia, Cedar Springs in Dallas, Duvall Street in Key West, Lincoln Road in Miami and Piedmont in Atlanta. When my travels took me overseas I was intrigued to find the gayborhoods in Paris and Seoul, in Montreal and Taiwan (where the gayborhood was underground in the basement of an old warehouse). Of course in New York City there was Christopher Street, the most famous gayborhood in the world, and the first authentic gayborhood in America.

Today gay boutiques in those neighborhoods are hard to find. A stroll down New York City’s Christopher Street says it all — the gayborhood has moved. First it moved up to Chelsea, and now it’s in Hell’s Kitchen. It seems like we are always on the run for something affordable. We build communities with a cool gay vibe, and people from all over come to visit us, intrigued by our lifestyle. Eventually, new money pours in, and the gayborhood becomes the “gay-friendly” neighborhood.

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