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The Life and Afterlife of Gay Neighborhoods

Renaissance and Resurgence

  • Book
  • Open Access
  • © 2021

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  • Comprehensive catalog of gay neighborhoods in major international locations
  • Sheds new light on the assumptions underlying neighborhood change
  • Intersects sociological trends of the millennial generation as an emerging demographic with traditional understandings of residential location preference

Part of the book series: The Urban Book Series (UBS)

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About this book

This open access book examines the significance of gay neighborhoods (or ‘gayborhoods’) from critical periods of formation during the gay liberation and freedom movements of the 1960s and 1970s, to proven durability through the HIV/AIDS pandemic during the 1980s and 1990s, to a mature plateau since 2000. The book provides a framework for contemplating the future form and function of gay neighborhoods. Social and cultural shifts within gay neighborhoods are used as a framework for understanding the decades-long struggle for LGBTQ+ rights and equality.

Resulting from gentrification, weakening social stigma, and enhanced rights for LGBTQ+ people, gay neighborhoods have recently become “less gay,” following a 50-year period of resilience. Meanwhile, other neighborhoods are becoming “more gay,” due to changing preferences of LGBTQ+ individuals and a propensity for LGBTQ+ families to form community in areas away from established gayborhoods. The current ‘plateau’ in the evolution of gay neighborhoods is characterized by generational differences—between Baby Boom pioneers and Millennials who favour broad inclusivity—signaling various possible trajectories for the future ‘afterlife’ of these important LGBTQ+ urban spaces.

The complicating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic provides a point of comparison for lessons learned from gay neighborhoods and the LGBTQ+ community that bravely endured the onset of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

This book will be of interest to students and scholars in various disciplines—including sociology, social work, anthropology, gender and sexuality, LGTBQ+ and queer studies, as well as urban geography, architecture, and city planning—and to policymakers and advocates concerned with LGBTQ+ rights and social justice.

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Table of contents (17 chapters)

  1. Signifiying Meaning and Memory Across Generations

  2. Epilogue


“This book will likely find appeal … among social scientists, planners, and architects seeking insights into the shifting character of post-pandemic urban living in the twenty-first century. … considering the disparaging and supercilious comments from a few ostensibly cisgender colleagues … encountered by the editors in the early stages of The Life and Afterlife, Professors Bitterman and Hess are to be commended for their commitment to producing an informative and courageous study.” (Dennis E. Gale, Journal of Planning Education and Research, September 13, 2022)

“The book is scholastic … and serve as impetuses for future research. … The Life and Afterlife of Gay Neighborhoods provides methodologies and concept grounds for this approach and is an invaluable resource for planners, sociologists and designers to both confront and integrate notions of diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice into education, research, scholarship and practice.” (Michael A. Richards, Town Planning Review, Vol. 94 (1), January, 2023)

“The volume is a stimulating and enjoyable anthology, which is on the whole well written and richly illustrated. Notably, it remains low on jargon and thus accessible to audiences beyond academia or the professional realm. … The Life and Afterlife of Gay Neighborhoods will find-and reward-multiple audiences, a process aided by its democratizing open-access availability.” (Manish Chalana, Journal of the American Planning Association, June 9, 2022)

Editors and Affiliations

  • Department of Architecture and Design, Alfred State University of New York, New York, USA

    Alex Bitterman

  • Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, USA

    Daniel Baldwin Hess

About the editors

Alex Bitterman, MArch, PhD, is Professor and Chair of Architecture and Design at Alfred State University of New York in Alfred, New York and a fellow of the New York State Council for the Humanities. Bitterman is founding editor of Multi: The Journal of Diversity in Design and a member of the editorial board of Critical Studies in Men's Fashion, published by Intellect.

Daniel Baldwin Hess, PhD, is Professor and Chair of Urban Planning at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. He is co-editor of the journal Town Planning Review and is co-editor of Housing Estates in Europe: Poverty, Ethnic Segregation, and Policy Challenges (Springer, 2018) and Housing Estates in the Baltic Countries: The Legacy of Central Planning in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania (Springer, 2019).

Together, the two co-editors have expertise in urban geography, city planning, architecture, urban identity, morphology and design, social exclusion, segregation, and inequity. Hess and Bitterman are authors of more than a dozen articles about gay neighborhoods including: “Effects of Gentrification and Real Estate Market Escalation on Lesbian and Gay Neighborhoods” (Hess, 2018, Town Planning Review); “Rainbow diaspora: the emerging renaissance of gay neighbourhoods.” Bitterman, 2020, Town Planning Review); “Gay Ghettoes Growing Gray: Transformation of gay urban districts across North America reflects generational change” (Bitterman and Hess, 2016, Journal of American Culture); “For Many Gay Men, the Current Pandemic Is Triggering HIV/AIDS Trauma” (Bitterman, 2020, The Advocate); “Will Gay and Lesbian Neighborhoods Resurge?” (Bitterman and Hess, 2016, Washington Blade); “The Queer-normative Influence Towards an Inclusive and Multisthetic Transformation in Men’s Fashion” and “Getting Beyond the Fear of Queer: The transition from gender-specific fashion to inclusive style” (Bitterman, 2016, Critical Studies in Men's Fashion).

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: The Life and Afterlife of Gay Neighborhoods

  • Book Subtitle: Renaissance and Resurgence

  • Editors: Alex Bitterman, Daniel Baldwin Hess

  • Series Title: The Urban Book Series

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Springer Cham

  • eBook Packages: Earth and Environmental Science, Earth and Environmental Science (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2021

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-3-030-66072-7Published: 20 March 2021

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-3-030-66075-8Published: 12 May 2022

  • eBook ISBN: 978-3-030-66073-4Published: 19 March 2021

  • Series ISSN: 2365-757X

  • Series E-ISSN: 2365-7588

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XXIII, 427

  • Number of Illustrations: 14 b/w illustrations, 92 illustrations in colour

  • Topics: Landscape/Regional and Urban Planning, Gender and Sexuality, Urban Economics

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