We Need Queer Urbanism

By Aaron Greiner — CultureHouse Founder and Director

Queerness and public space

Queerness is defined by public perception. One can only be queer — defined as “strange” or “odd” — in comparison to others. Though the LGBTQ+ community has reclaimed the word, it doesn’t change the fact that queer people are systemically excluded from urban design. It’s long past time for that to change.

Why we need a change

LGBTQ+ Americans have lower incomes than the general population and are less likely to have children (Williams Institute). These factors are in direct opposition to the main forces shaping American urban areas: money and reproduction.

As we build cities for the 21st century, we need a new lens to center queer people in public life: Queer Urbanism.

Just as queer people exist outside of the “normal” structures of society, Queer Urbanism follows principles that are outside the “normal” forces of urban development. It doesn’t assume wealth, traditional family structure, and identity. Rather, Queer Urbanism welcomes and celebrates the identities of those who have not had a world made for them.

Make it intersectional

In every statistic, trans and BIPOC queer people experience more discrimination and barriers than white and cis queer people. In his article “Why do so many queer folks love urbanism?”, Wyatt Gordon writes, “Too often the things that we have in common as queer urbanists — namely, our contempt for car dependency and aversion to heteronormativity — tend to distract from the ways in which systemic inequities of racism, sexism, and transphobia replicate themselves in our own niche sphere of society” (Greater Greater Washington).

CultureHouse as Queer Urbanism praxis

The forces that guide our work at CultureHouse are rooted in Queer Urbanism. In past community pop-ups, we’ve celebrated pride month, hosted a queer bookstore, and developed a police policy that protects vulnerable visitors.

Sources and further reading

A Survey of LGBT Americans — Pew Research Center

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CultureHouse improves livability in local communities by transforming unused spaces into vibrant social infrastructure.

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CultureHouse

CultureHouse improves livability in local communities by transforming unused spaces into vibrant social infrastructure.