LGBTQ Americans are finding more acceptance in mainstream society today, and are increasingly able to live comfortably out and open lives at work, in mainstream bars, restaurants, But increasing equality has not changed the fact LGBTQ people consider themselves unique and distinct from mainstream peers, and continue to seek out comfort and community at spaces and in neighborhoods focused toward serving LGBTQ people. Despite increasing tolerance, LGBTQ-serving spaces are struggling in cities in America, and across the world.

The “Death” of Gay Bar?

Numerous causes have been named as possible reasons for why gay bars are struggling: competition from mobile apps, increased tolerance of LGBTQ patrons in other bars, and organizers who have taken politics out of the bars and into the streets. While the extent of these factors is unclear and anectdotal, there is another culprit driving harms LGBTQ businesses: gentrification.

LGBTQ Enclaves in Urban Centers

When LGBTQ individuals resettled in gayborhoods, they chose housing in low-income areas they could afford, which had been (and continued to be) deprived of investment by financial institutions and government. This is because, after suburbanization, many urban areas remained under-developed and under-valued, except to the residents who made their homes there, until the beginning of the 21st Century.

But today, increased interest in living in urban areas where LGBTQ communities took as safe havens is driving up the costs of doing business and living in these areas, which pushed out the incumbent more economically vulnerable LGBTQ residents and businesses in favor of entrants with stronger financial standing, with fewer LGBTQ folks. Resulting dispersion and dilution of the LGBTQ community and spending, in turn, further restricts the revenue of remaining LGBTQ-serving businesses.

Impersonal macroeconomic forces, more-so than the LGBTQ community’s own will (or business competition within the community), are the key reason for the decline of LGBTQ-serving bars, businesses, and enclaves in America’s cities. The greater economic burdens upon LGBTQ households and communities leave them more economically vulnerable a

To resist community disintegration induced by gentrification, the LGBTQ community must develop and employ creative financial solutions which can share and reduce risks and grow wealth within the LGBTQ community.