When nobody thought Chelsea could be out-gayed, gay men and women started heading north where they essentially founded Hell’s Kitchen at the turn of the 21st century. Hell’s Kitchen was rough around the edges, but comparatively cheaper and already settled by a small community of gay artists, dancers, and performers considering its close proximity to the Theater District. Two relatively unknown gay bars were slinging cocktails and blasting show tunes and, soon enough, the under-the-radar Hell’s Kitchen somewhat rivaled Chelsea, boasting more than a dozen gay bar openings within the past 15 years, and becoming home to a thriving LGBT community. Hell’s Kitchen became the new Chelsea, though it too fell victim to gay gentrification where rents often doubled, corporations set up shop, and many residents could no longer afford it. But this doesn’t come as a surprise. Gay gentrification is a double-edge sword, and it’s all too common when the gays find a new neighborhood to flip.
According to Amin Ghaziani, author of the book There Goes the Gayborhood?, LGBT residents boost property prices. “We know that areas that have large concentrations of gays and lesbians increase in housing prices compared to the US national average,” he told the Guardian. “In areas where male same-sex households comprise more than 1% of the population (a level three times the US average), we see about a 14% increase of the price. In areas with a comparable level of female same-sex households, we see a 16.5% increase.” In NYC, many people leave Hell’s Kitchen and Chelsea to explore the new frontier of ungentrifed New York City. Nobody knows what the next big gay neighborhood will be; that’s how gentrification works. But all it really takes is cheap rent, the opening of one gay-owned business, and a vision to make the neighborhood flourish with rainbow colors.
Like Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen, many distinctive neighborhoods across America have served as a bastion for gay men and women, providing a safe space and forward-thinking community since the modern gay movement began. The Castro in San Francisco, West Hollywood in Los Angeles, the French Quarter in New Orleans, Midtown Atlanta, and the South End of Boston are nationally known, trendsetting, and predominately gay neighborhoods that celebrate gay culture and lifestyle. They’re chockfull of gay-owned businesses and exciting nightlife. For decades, these neighborhoods have served as exemplary models for residents and travelers alike, and they’ll always be legendary pioneers in the gayborhood movement.
As the world turns, other neighborhoods grow with gay pride, fueled by progressive men and women seeking affordable rent, bigger spaces, a sense of community, and overall convenience, both for living and business. Soon enough, there’s an entire migration with the LGBT dweller in mind. And while residents may experience the inevitable double-edge sword of gay gentrification (a natural process that can take decades), it’s almost a blessing in disguise. They find new neighborhoods to move in to, spreading gay culture outside of particular bubbles, and helping the growth of the gay community across the city. These emerging neighborhoods also give gay travelers plenty more to explore when visiting their favorite cities, and there’s nothing more exciting than immersing in the next great gay neighborhood when it’s coming into its own.
We traveled the country to find the most exciting, emerging neighborhoods that are on the brink of national gay fame thanks to an influx of LGBT residents and businesses, outstanding quality of life, and, most importantly, a welcoming community. From Los Angeles to New Orleans, these dynamic cities are home to flourishing gayborhoods that are rapidly growing, and they are destined to become perennial favorites for decades to come.