Identity, governance and healthy places: A comparative analysis of gay commercial districts in Chicago and Sydney

Authors: Curtis Winkle*, University of Illinois at Chicago
Topics: Urban Geography, Business Geography, Gender
Keywords: gay, LGBTQ, governance, comparative, BID, identity, health
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Rampart, Sheraton, 5th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


There is evidence that the nature of the built environment affects health and well-being (Dannenberg et al., 2011), but government efforts to shape places to meet the needs of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersectional (LGBTQI) people have been limited (Forsyth, 2001; Doan, 2001; Doan and Higgins, 2001, Gorman-Murray, 2001), Frisch, 2002). Place-based quasi-governmental entries such as Business Improvement Districts (BIDS) or Chambers of Commerce are often thought to work for the self-interest of business owners rather than for the general health and well-being of a community (Mitchell, 2008). To what degree do these organizations in LGBTQI places work toward meeting the needs of the community, and to what degree is the self-identification of these organizations as LGBTQI or inclusive a factor? This study is a comparative analysis of the governance of LGBTQI commercial districts in Chicago and Sydney. In each city, two places are selected, one representing a traditional gay commercial area and one representing an “inclusive” but not necessarily gay-identified commercial area. Intensive interviews are conducted with government, nonprofit and cultural agencies. Historical documents are reviewed. Both gay-identified and inclusive-identified place-based nonprofit organizations work toward improving general well-being beyond narrow business interests, but are more likely to do so in supportive government funding and regulatory environments.

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