Queer-Friendly Metropolis? The Geography and Intentions of Mainstream-Oriented, LGBTQ-Friendly Businesses and Organizations in a Smaller Metropolitan Area of the US South

Authors: Andrew Whittemore*, University of North Carolina At Chapel Hill
Topics: Sexuality, Gender, Urban Geography
Keywords: LGBTQ, queer-friendly neighborhoods, gayborhoods
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Virtual 50
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

This paper uses a case study of the Durham-Chapel Hill metropolitan area in the US state of North Carolina to explore the geography and intentions of mainstream-oriented businesses and organizations that display symbols and signage indicating that they are LGBTQ-friendly. It shows how the distribution of LGBTQ-friendly businesses and organizations mirrors various demographic, political, and historical indicators as to the distribution of LGBTQ people and LGBTQ-friendly attitudes among the general population. While some business’ allyship is performative and other limitations exist, evidence from interviews indicated that most displays reflected substantive efforts to create opportunities for LGBTQ people to visibly work and consume. Given these findings, the paper concludes that these entities, consistently with Ghaziani’s (2014) description of ‘anchor institutions,’ locate the material culture of LGBTQ people in specific places within this smaller US metropolitan area, but that their role as sites of community building remains to be better understood.

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