Queering the Meaning of ‘Neighbourhood’: Reinterpreting the Lesbian-Queer Experience of Park Slope, Brooklyn, 1983–2008

  • Jen Jack Gieseking
Part of the Genders and Sexualities in the Social Sciences book series (GSSS)


The lesbian or lesbian-queer neighbourhood is a slippery idea, and for many women throughout the world it is an elusive ideal, even in LGBTQ meccas such as San Francisco, London, Berlin, and New York City. Renowned enclaves such as the Castro district, Soho, Schöneberg, West Village, Lower East Side, and Chelsea developed as cities within cities, where LGBTQ people could safely find one another and build communities together. But practices of territory-making and place-claiming are antithetical to women’s economic and social abilities in the urban sphere, and the urban is a historically unwelcoming environment for women. I suggest, then, that lesbianqueer neighbourhoods, then, do not work in ways identical to gay and queer men’s neighbourhoods, but, as Tamar Rothenberg’s quote reveals, they are still spatialised ‘communities’. As Sarah, a participant from my research, describes in the quote above, the Park Slope neighbourhood in Brooklyn is produced as lesbian-queer in the way it affords these women safety and refuge. So what then is a lesbian-queer neighbourhood to lesbians and queer women? What does it afford them in their everyday lives? Dynamics of gender, race, and class have not been fully accounted for in studies of LGBTQ neighbourhoods; however, recent work has begun to confront assumptions that all LGBTQ people will be granted equal access and can politically and economically maintain such properties over time (Manalansan, 2005; Taylor, 2008; Moore, 2011).


Queer Theory Lesbian Community Lower East Side Queer Woman Urban Sphere 
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© Jen Jack Gieseking 2013

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  • Jen Jack Gieseking

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