The right for gay people to live and pursue happiness freely in the United States has new adversaries. So-called religious freedom laws, bathroom bills, and deep GOP support for child abuse in the form of “conversion therapy” attempt to criminalize and de-humanize us. However, with the right policies and people in place, our local city governments have the power to become staunch allies for LGBTQ residents, shielding us from discrimination and unnecessary harm. By taking steps such as providing services for the LGBTQ elderly, passing workplace non-discrimination ordinances, and appointing openly gay local leaders, our cities can become true havens for our community.
To assess the extent to which American cities protect our community, the Human Rights Campaign devised a survey called the Municipal Equality Index (MEI). This tool evaluates how well cities across the nation support their LGBTQ communities in five categories: non-discrimination laws, the municipality as an employer, municipal services, law enforcement, and relationship with the LGBTQ community. Cities are scored from 0-100.
One of the first articles I wrote for this site explored how online meeting places such as AOL chat rooms and gay hookup apps have been replacing bars and cruising spots as a preferred way for men to meet other men for dating and casual sex. In much the same way that academics have studied gayborhoods and other queer hangouts, fascinating research is now beginning to emerge on how gay men navigate our digital landscape as well.
While nursing my hangover from the New Orleans Pride Parade last summer, I wrote this little article as a response to criticisms I heard frequently about our Pride celebration from friends within the community.
As we gear up to honor the victims of Orlando in what may be the most important Pride celebration of our lifetimes, below is a brief rebuttal to the negative comments I heard most often: (more…)
Severaltimes over the last year I’ve written about the evolving nature of queer spaces here in New Orleans. Naturally, then, I was curious to learn which bars the Times Picayune had selected as New Orleans’s best for 2016. I was saddened to learn that Good Friends was selected as the only gay bar on the list.
This bar is very nice. The staff is lovely, the balconies are lovely, and its history is lovely – none of that I have a problem with. The reason I so strongly disagree with the Picayune’s selection is due to the mechanical pouring devices used by this establishment to measure booze. They are not only incredibly tacky and impersonal, but they undermine the experience of being in a bar.
In 2015, the United States Supreme Court handed down the decision in Obergefell v. Hodges which guaranteed the right of all same sex couples in the nation to marry. While many viewed this as the victorious culmination of a movement which began on Christopher Street nearly fifty years ago, others criticized the single-mindedness with which our community pursed this one goal: gay marriage. Some believed that funneling our resources towards the right to marry came at the expense of other, more pressing concerns in our community such as equal protection for transgender people, or promoting HIV/AIDS awareness. Gay political powerhouses like the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) became targets for those who believed that the capital-G Gay civil rights movement had diluted what was once a vibrant queer identity in exchange for a more white-washed and palatable one, often leaving our most vulnerable behind. Even Bernie Sanders once labeled the HRC as “establishment.” It was as if white, middle class gay men had transformed our movement from “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it” to “We’re just like everyone else.”
$1,700 / month, 1 bedroom
Down here in New Orleans, as memories from the dark days of Hurricane Katrina recede with increasing velocity into the past, the city barrels toward its new normal. (more…)
“When so many are lonely as seem to be lonely, it would be inexcusably selfish to be lonely alone.”
Its 4 o’clock in the afternoon. I’m sitting at my desk checking emails, browsing the latest election year vitriol, and wishing I hadn’t eaten so much Chinese food for lunch. My phone vibrates and there is a text from Jeremy Novy:
“Painting a rainbow crosswalk tonight hopefully. The sidewalk in the neutral grounds between the Phoenix and Mags.”
The article I wrote a few months back had begun taking on a small life of its own. What began as a conversation on vigilante urbanism was quickly evolving from theory into practice. My food coma starts to recede.
“I’ll see you there,” I text back.
It’s 9 PM and I’m shuffling across Elysian Fields Avenue with my camera, a vodka soda, and a Bud Lite for Jeremy. (more…)
“The right to the city is far more than the individual liberty to access urban resources: it is a right to change ourselves by changing the city.” David Harvey, The Right to the City
The recent debate surrounding the Confederate monuments in New Orleans has me thinking about public spaces, how they speak about our values, and the concept of placemaking. Placemaking is something we talk a lot about as wide-eyed urban planning students in grad school, but less so during the grind of actual practice.
According to the Project for Public Spaces, placemaking is an active approach to “strengthening the connection between people and the places they share,” and “a collaborative process by which we can shape our public realm.” The folks at MIT are more succinct in their description, suggesting simply that placemaking empowers local communities to create a sense of “belonging” through place. (quotes theirs) (more…)
“Our property seems to me the most beautiful in the world. It is so close to Babylon that we enjoy all the advantages of the city, and yet when we come home we are away from all the noise and dust.” letter from a homeowner to the king of Persia, 539 B.C.
I was in my hometown of Naugatuck, Connecticut recently, visiting with family and friends. Like any newly minted urban planner, I could not help but over-analyze the place to death; I made a photo-essay of what I saw.
Naugatuck, an Algonquin word for “lone tree by the river,” lies about 80 miles northeast of New York City in New Haven County. Removed from the prep schools and tennis courts stereotypically associated with Connecticut, Naugatuck is one of several blue collar towns tucked inside a river valley trying to form a post-industrial identity…
There’s not a lot of data available on the number of Americans who identify as LGBTQ, or where those folks live. This has made the task locating and defining gayborhoods more of an art than a science. (more…)