In this article Dr. Yvonne Doderer focuses on the LGBT community in urban areas, and what it is about those areas that draws LGBT people to them. Dr. Doderer shows how this is not just a western phenomenon but happens in countries across the globe. Dr. Doderer says since the stonewall riots there has been a mobilization within the LGBT community in the United States and Europe where the LGBT identifying people congregate in urban areas. This shift is due to the fight against HIV/AIDS, services that cater specifically to the community, gathering places and hang outs, and media and the internet.
Dr. Doderer says LGBT people prefer to live in urban environments because “in comparison to rural communities, social and familial control functions to a lesser extent in cities, and more opportunities exist to meet other LGBTQs and consequently to pool together” (2011 p. 432). She further goes on to say how life in an urban area challenges the gender binary and gender enforced norms which is important for LGBT individuals, and women as well.
Dr. Doderer sees the queering of the city as a form of social resistance of heteronormativity carried out by manner of dress and hairstyle, politics, community organizing, and coming out. She says even the snippets of queer persons on television and in the media are not enough to counter the heteronormative reality that we all live in. “But the normativity of sex/gender goes further than the visual distribution of mostly unrealistic projections and sugar-coated surrogates, because this normativity is primarily based on the naturalization of a binary sex/gender regime deﬁning gender differences and heterosexuality as biologically anchored, and understanding ‘other’ identities as deviance” (Doderer 2011, p. 422). Because LGBT people are still considered, even in liberal circles, to be the other, they must protect themselves by being as normal as possible. I have heard it referred to as being the “good gay” where you try to show the straight people that you are exactly like them in every way but your sexuality.
Doderer says city life brings with it some freedom from all of these things. Women are more free to live on their own and delay marriage and children. LGBT people are able “to submerge and indeed emerge within the urban anonymity, to escape the bonds of controlling family, to enjoy urban nightlife, to share experiences with other LGBTQs, to celebrate and to discuss together, and to organize political action” (2011 p.434).
There are some challenges that LGBT people face when living in cites and they include: isolation, rising rent, difficulty in organizing, economic differences within the community, changes in the housing market, segregation along the lines of wealth and sexuality. Even when queer areas exist in the urban environment, Doderer says the wealthy come in to revitalize the area, and anyone considered to be deviant is ousted. This makes it impossible for poor and minority groups to make community within the urban areas. The rise in unemployment is also making it difficult because being an LGBT identifying person makes one deviant, and therefore it is harder to compete for work.
Doderer says despite all of the hardship LGBT persons will still prefer to live in urban areas and she posits the question of what will urban LGBT life be in the coming years, and how will the community step up to make positive changes.
The arguments for and against living in cities for LGBT people as proposed by Doderer I have read and heard before. I think it will be interesting to see how this proclivity will be seen in the developing world as the LGBT rights movement spreads to those countries.