In the fields of sexuality studies, LGBT studies and queer studies, there has always been a lot of interest in understanding gay neighborhoods such as the Castro in San Francisco, the Village in New York City, West Hollywood, etc. that were so instrumental to sexual liberation and the building of sexual communities. More recently, there has been a renewed interest in “gayborhoods” particularly as we are witnessing what seems to be their (not always so) slow disappearance.
This week, I have been reading Quartiers Gays, a remarkable study published in the fall 2014 by Colin Giraud, a French sociologist. In his book, Giraud studies the Marais in Paris and the Village in Montreal. Through interviews as well as through meticulous analyses of the demographics and of the economy (both the gay economy and the broader urban economy), he comes up with fascinating insights on such issues as the type of businesses that one finds in those neighborhoods; the different degrees of their connection to gayness; the different gay populations that live in such neighborhoods; what different groups look for in living there; when did different populations arrive there; how different populations view the neighborhood; how do the neighborhoods get transformed over time; how those changes affect the different gay populations, etc.
This book is truly the most informed single monograph I have ever read on this very important topic and I hope it gets translated into English very soon so I can share my excitement with my colleagues who do not read French.
-Rostom Mesli, 2014-15 Sylvia "Duffy" Engle Graduate Student Fellow, women's studies; 4/17/2015