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Ottawa’s Le/The Village: creating a gaybourhood amidst the ‘death of the village’

Ottawa’s Le/The Village: creating a gaybourhood amidst the ‘death of the village’
Ottawa’s Le/The Village: creating a gaybourhood amidst the ‘death of the village’
Gay villages, usually defined as spatially concentrated configurations of bars, entertainment venues, community spaces, and homes associated with a gay-identified population, have received considerable attention from urban geographers studying gentrification. Frequently, gay villages have been critiqued as commodified spaces that serve mostly upper- and middle-class patrons. Yet they are also culturally and historically significant sites of mobilization, community building, and identity formation. During the last decade, media outlets in some North American cities have begun to dismiss gay villages as ‘declining’ or ‘dead.’ In models of ‘gay village evolution,’ decline is often positioned as a natural end precipitated by the commercialization and normalization of gay community spaces, the emergence of alternative venues in out-of-centre neighborhoods, and recent advancements in gay rights that render ‘safe’ spaces unnecessary. Using the case study of Ottawa, Canada’s Le/The Village, a gay village designated by the municipal government in November 2011, this paper argues that gay village decline, more a discursive trend than a foregone conclusion, is contingent upon both the historical and cultural particularities of cities and the intersecting subjectivities of those who encounter the village. The Ottawa case runs counter to discourse that dismisses gay villages as normalizing, over-commercialized, exclusionary, or simply passé. Using the narratives of 24 gay-identified men living in Ottawa, this article suggests that the absence of a village, as much as the creation and concretization of one, can perpetuate extant class and locational privilege within gay communities and that ‘new’ gay villages in smaller cities—perhaps more symbolic and psychic than capitalistic—may work to challenge the perpetuation of privilege.
0016-7185
233-242
Lewis, Nathaniel M.
f0218afb-51ea-4141-a1e9-d031d8b98645
Lewis, Nathaniel M.
f0218afb-51ea-4141-a1e9-d031d8b98645

Lewis, Nathaniel M. (2013) Ottawa’s Le/The Village: creating a gaybourhood amidst the ‘death of the village’. Geoforum, 49, 233-242. (doi:10.1016/j.geoforum.2013.01.004).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Gay villages, usually defined as spatially concentrated configurations of bars, entertainment venues, community spaces, and homes associated with a gay-identified population, have received considerable attention from urban geographers studying gentrification. Frequently, gay villages have been critiqued as commodified spaces that serve mostly upper- and middle-class patrons. Yet they are also culturally and historically significant sites of mobilization, community building, and identity formation. During the last decade, media outlets in some North American cities have begun to dismiss gay villages as ‘declining’ or ‘dead.’ In models of ‘gay village evolution,’ decline is often positioned as a natural end precipitated by the commercialization and normalization of gay community spaces, the emergence of alternative venues in out-of-centre neighborhoods, and recent advancements in gay rights that render ‘safe’ spaces unnecessary. Using the case study of Ottawa, Canada’s Le/The Village, a gay village designated by the municipal government in November 2011, this paper argues that gay village decline, more a discursive trend than a foregone conclusion, is contingent upon both the historical and cultural particularities of cities and the intersecting subjectivities of those who encounter the village. The Ottawa case runs counter to discourse that dismisses gay villages as normalizing, over-commercialized, exclusionary, or simply passé. Using the narratives of 24 gay-identified men living in Ottawa, this article suggests that the absence of a village, as much as the creation and concretization of one, can perpetuate extant class and locational privilege within gay communities and that ‘new’ gay villages in smaller cities—perhaps more symbolic and psychic than capitalistic—may work to challenge the perpetuation of privilege.

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More information

Published date: 2013
Organisations: Population, Health & Wellbeing (PHeW)

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 377668
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/377668
ISSN: 0016-7185
PURE UUID: 8ab49432-341c-4a73-87e9-ad6f056adbb0

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Date deposited: 08 Jun 2015 13:43
Last modified: 15 Jul 2019 21:17

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Author: Nathaniel M. Lewis

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