The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

17 January 2005

They're here, we're used to them

The search for ways to attract the "creative class," as Dr. Richard Florida would have it, has reached Spokane, and activists have come up with the notion of creating a "gay district," an "actual physical part of town" that will cater to the GLBT (add initials as needed) lifestyle.

What bothers me about this is not so much that there would be a gay district in Spokane — we have one in Oklahoma City, fairly diffuse but centered not far from me, that bothers me not at all — but that they think it can be imposed from without. It can't. (The last time American cities made an effort to create separate neighborhoods, the symbol was not a rainbow, but a large black bird.) And if you're wise, you don't announce in advance that you're going to create a district: you just do it, a building or two, maybe a block or two, at a time, and then present the world with a fait accompli.

This is not to say that my home town is exactly a hotbed of tolerance. But organized opposition to the GLBT community is conspicuous by its sheer ineffectuality: there is the usual rattling from legislators, and State Question 711, passed last year, certainly didn't help matters, but there's a big difference between political posturing and actual harassment, and for all its bluster, SQ 711 didn't actually change the status quo. Oklahoma County quietly added sexual orientation to its non-discrimination policy a few weeks ago; the newest county commissioner squawked, but he's just one voice among eight on the county's Budget Board, which on a previous vote before his arrival passed it unanimously. (They will vote again on Thursday.)

Oklahoma City's Asian District is not the Asian District because there are signs posted that say so: it is the Asian District because these are the people who moved in, who rebuilt the structures, who created new businesses, who established a sense of community. It works the same way for districts that aren't based on ethnicity.

(Via Dawn Eden, who has a different set of objections.)

(Update, 20 January, 10 pm: The Oklahoma County non-discrimination policy will not be reversed.)

Posted at 11:25 AM to Dyssynergy

TrackBack: 10:14 AM, 18 January 2005
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I found this blurb on Dustbury ( & on Dawn Eden) about Spokane getting a Gay District:The search for ways to attract the "creative class," as Dr. Richard Florida would have it, has reached Spokane, and activists have come up with the no...[read more]

I've delivered a pizza or two to the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Community Center (yeah, near the Habana Inn, next door to what was The Wreck Room [unsure if it's still The Wreck, haven't been in that area of town in a while]). No big deal, just a room with people looking at me like "I bet we're freaking you out because we're not heterosexual"..

Terkish Payne, didn't have the heart to shoot them an "I really don't give a rat's ass what you do, with who(m), as long as you give me a tip, and not that kind, thanks very much." look, it would have spoiled their fun.

Posted by: Terkish Payne at 1:44 PM on 17 January 2005

Charles, you hit it on the head. I was cracking up with the idea of "creating" a gay district ... If the ninny's would look around they would probably discover ... you guessed it ... they already "have one"; Spokane held the annual GLBT Film Fest again in 2004 and it was great ... you gotta check out some of these short films titles (some of the more hilarious offerings were "Drag Queen Heist" & "The Dildo Diaries").

I just love it when folks think "they" are "creating" something, especially in a town the size of Spokane, the only thing they are doing is the age old reinvention of the wheel ... kind of a post modern cultural carpetbagger so to speak ... snark, snark :)

Posted by: Ron at 2:41 PM on 17 January 2005

Here's a thought: the idea of "creating" said district will lead to a brief buzz, which will be followed by the district that Ron says already exists, going public. (I considered using the phrase "coming out," which in connotation really is closer to the idea, but decided against it.)

Which may be the intention anyway. "Let's create a gay district! ... And here it is!"

Posted by: McGehee at 9:48 AM on 18 January 2005

Apparently you haven't seen the City Street Signs that declare it an Asian District on Classen?


Posted by: Tim Turner at 10:03 AM on 18 January 2005

Actually, I have. (I travel through there at least three times a week.) But the signs merely indicate; they don't enact. This was the Asian District — "Little Saigon," if you will — long before anyone thought of putting up signage to that effect.

Posted by: CGHill at 10:20 AM on 18 January 2005

Houston actually has a "gay district," though as with "Asian" districts, it wasn't planned that way to my knowledge. Oddly, in the middle of it is an office building where a small conservative paper that I worked for was housed. Whenever we went out to get coffee or a bite to eat, it was always interesting because we were very obviously Republican.

Posted by: R. Alex at 12:22 PM on 18 January 2005

Whenever we went out to get coffee or a bite to eat, it was always interesting because we were very obviously Republican.

Heh. I can just imagine all those gaydars suddenly homing in on you guys blaring, "INTRUDER ALERT!"

Posted by: McGehee at 5:04 PM on 18 January 2005

In an like irony to the conservative newspaper in Houstons location, OKC has the Oklahoma Baptist Convention building located a scant 3 blocks from the "gay district" ... Its a multi story building and I can only imagine the thoughts of those folks gazing down onto what they must imagine is Sodom and Gomorrah ... of course the Habana (the big gay hotel down the street) has seen its share of ministers traipsing its hollowed halls their "gaydar" on full search mode ... life is funny like that :)

Posted by: Ron at 6:07 PM on 18 January 2005

Yeah, but try driving that stretch of 39th. It's a trial, suspension-wise.

And anyway, that started out as a bank building; when Bank One came in, they decided they didn't need a branch that huge, and they put in a smaller facility a block over. (Not unlike what they did with the Golden Dome, except that there was never, to my knowledge, any plan to raze the building on May.)

Posted by: CGHill at 7:38 PM on 18 January 2005