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Greggor Mattson Lecture | Who Needs Gay Bars?
Friday Sep 29 12:00pm-1:00pm in Cleveland
Lecture: “Who Needs Gay Bars? Why Planners Should Care And What You Can Do”
Greggor Mattson
Friday, September 22nd
12(noon) — 1pm
CUDC, 1309 Euclid Avenue, Suite 200
Free and open to the public

The high profile closures of gay bars over the last five years have brought to public attention what the gay press has worried about for years: the geographical focus of LGBTQ life is changing. Popular and scholarly attention have blamed our "untethered," "ambient," "post-Gay" landscape on two factors: geolocating smartphone apps such as Grindr or Tindr, and the growing social acceptance of LGBTQ people. This talk challenges these assumptions for all but the most metropolitan gay cities. Almost everything we know about LGBTQ placemaking in the U.S. comes from four major cities with iconic gay neighborhoods, global financial institutions, international tourist draws—and only 15% of the U.S. population.

This talk examines the gay bar as an institution in its own right, focusing on the role it plays in secondary cities such as Cleveland, Fresno, or Oklahoma City, and outpost bars that are the only gay bar within an hour's drive of another. In these small cities, often in red counties of red states, smartphone apps are of little use and social acceptance is more elusive. Data include 50 interviews with gay bar owners and managers, site visits to over 80 gay bars in 27 states, a new national dataset of gay bar listings from 1977-2017, and a longitudinal study of San Francisco's three gay bar districts. Mattson shows that bars in general have been squeezed in recent years, and that gentrification, changing leisure patterns, and corporate chain competition are more relevant to the challenges facing gay bars than narratives of technological or social progress. Mattson reports on several ways that urban planners, municipalities, Chambers of Commerce, and Convention Bureaus could support gay bars, and argue why they should start doing so. And he argues that we need to abandon planning stereotypes of LGBTQ people as the shock troops of gentrification or canaries of the knowledge economy, and start treating regional gay bars as social institutions in their own right.

Greggor Mattson is Associate Professor of Sociology at Oberlin College and the Director of the Program in Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies. With degrees in sociology from Oxford University and the University of California, Berkeley, his research lies at the intersections of the sociology of sexuality, culture, and urban studies. The author of The Cultural Politics of European Prostitution Reform: Governing Loose Women and Before It Was Hingetown, listed among the best writing from and about Northeast Ohio from 2016 by the Cleveland Scene. He is currently working on a book about changes in American gay bars over the last twenty years. He blogs at greggormattson.com and @GreggorMattson on Twitter.

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Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative
1309 Euclid Ave, Ste 200
Cleveland, OH 44115

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WHAT'S NEARBY

Wyndham Cleveland at Playhouse Square 0
1260 Euclid Ave

PlayhouseSquare 4.5
1501 Euclid Ave., Suite 200

Holiday Inn Express 0
629 Euclid Avenue

Hampton Inn, Downtown Cleveland 2
1460 E. 9th Street

Fitworks Cleveland 5
530 Euclid Ave., Suite 23A