April 03, 2009

There goes the gayborhood

OMG! World comes to an end! The breeders are moving into the Dallas gayborhood of Ceder Springs and the mo's are being displaced?

It’s a little before 1 on a wednesday afternoon, and most customers at JR’s Bar & Grill on Cedar Springs aren’t ordering from the grill. TV screens play dance videos and at the bar ashtrays line up in parade formation. A man named Chris orders a Bushmills, neat. He’s an older guy, trim, tailored. He has called Oak Lawn his home for more than a decade. And no—sigh, eye roll—he’s not too happy about the ilume, the huge new retail and residential project going up on the corner of Cedar Springs and Douglas.

“It’s going to bring”—beat—“people like you,” he says, with a laugh and a slap to let me know it’s nothing personal. “Suburbanites. Straight people. There goes the gayborhood.”

Chris and a handful of older gay Cedar Springs loyalists aren’t happy about the ilume—and not just because the development eschews capitalization. Their concern is simple: is Cedar Springs about to become less gay? The answer—well, sure—won’t make them happy. But the more interesting question is, with more straights coming to Cedar Springs—to have a drink, to rent an apartment—what happens next?

Historically, whether you’re talking about Dallas or New York or Chicago or even San Francisco, a pattern has developed with gay neighborhoods. Gays and lesbians create an entertainment and/or residential enclave so they have a place to call their own. The gentrification draws hip straight people and money. Rents and real estate values increase. Crowded out, gays and lesbians migrate to another area, fix it up, then get displaced. Which leads to complaints from folks like Chris.

“Whineybags,” says Nancy Weinberger, a mainstay in the Perry Heights neighborhood and a member of the Oak Lawn Committee. “I understand not being thrilled about the additional traffic, but that’s progress, honey. And the developer has really tried to be sensitive to all the neighborhoods around. We can’t keep it like it’s 1950.”

Well, AMEN, NancyPants! Things change and as the old saying goes, tough titty if you don't like it.

I'd like to take a moment to welcome Chris and the other loyalists to the world the rest of us live in. We no longer separate ourselves into ghettos. Even our bars are spread out and, frankly, if you're drinking on a Wednesday at one in the afternoon, you are too old to be hanging out at the Crossroads. And you can't go to S4 anymore. I'll see you at Hideaway next time I'm in town.

Posted by mcblogger at April 3, 2009 10:37 AM

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