Queering “Lesbian Land”: Black and Brown Lesbian and Queer Experience of Gentrification in New York City, 1983-2008

Authors: Jack Gieseking*, Trinity College
Topics: Sexuality, Gender, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: lesbian, queer, race, black, Hispanic, gentrification, white privilege, urban, gay
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Napoleon D3, Sheraton 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Lgbtq people have played complex roles in surging waves of urbanization for decades, yet the simplified narrative of gays-as-gentrifiers alone remains in the mainstream press. Only recently have scholars begun to address narratives of settler homonationalism—that confuse “rights” with claims to urban territory in the form of a neighborhood (see Morgensen 2011, Nash and Gorman-Murray 2014). Long ignored in the gentrification scholarship are the experiences and roles of lesbian and queer women and gender non-conforming people (GNCP) of color, which require interrupting the white, middle class, cis-heteronormative framework that shapes much of the earlier literature. Drawing on 22 focus groups with 47 self-identified lesbians and queer women and GNCP who came out between 1983 and 2008 in New York City, as well as archival research of organizational records and publications spanning the same period, the everyday spaces of urban lesbians and queer women reveal that these ethics behind claims to territory and land are limited and must be rethought. White women and GNCP described how their lesser access to capital often lead them to be priced out of neighborhoods they economically invigorate. Some black and brown women and GNCP discussed both their experience of being gentrified out of lgbtq and lesbian neighborhoods, as others described being gentrified out of neighborhoods of color by white lgbtq people.

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