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Economic Transformations of Gay Urban Spaces: revisiting Collins' evolutionary gay district model

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Over the past half century, many visible gay districts emerged in Western inner cities as sites of gay and lesbian residence, commerce, entertainment, culture and politics. Rather than static enclaves, these visibly gay districts are constantly changing, reflecting improved social attitudes towards homosexuality, increasing diversity of social activities and venues, and financial constraints on residential location in the inner city for many lesbians and gay men. This paper revisits Collins' evolutionary gay district model to examine recent changes around one such inner-city district, Oxford Street in Sydney, Australia. A neoclassical economic perspective, focusing on market forces, consumer preferences and incentives, is used to hypothesise whether these changes are a process of decline, integration or colonisation of gay space. For the Oxford Street district there is growing evidence that various factors have eroded the vibrancy of gay cultural expressions. The paper concludes by discussing the different possible ongoing transformations of inner-city gay districts.
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Keywords: Gay; Oxford Street; Sydney; sexuality; social change; urban economics

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Sydney, Australia

Publication date: September 1, 2008

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