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The movement out of gay enclaves is a sign of rising social tolerance Add to ...

A new report portraying a more even distribution of the neighbourhoods that gay men choose to live in reveals a welcome degree of social tolerance and integration in Canada's large cities.

The "Gaybourhoods" database, created by Environics Analytics, gauges the propensity of residents to be gay and measures their consumption patterns. It found that gay men in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Ottawa are not just congregated in certain enclaves, but now live throughout these cities in wide-ranging concentrations.

One-third of the gay population in Vancouver favours gay enclaves, such as Davie Street, and one-third in Toronto prefers to live in areas such as Church and Wellesley. However, the homes of the other 70 per cent of gay male residents are dispersed throughout these cities.

This welcome development, news of which comes during Toronto's Pride week, signifies a greater social acceptance of gays, and reflects the fact that Canadian cities are increasingly diverse and complex.

Evidence of these mixed neighbourhoods may assuage concerns about so-called ethnic enclaves: the propensity for new immigrant groups to settle in areas with a high concentration of other newcomers. It too may be a geographic trend that dissipates over time.

The database also confirms earlier research by Richard Florida, an American urban studies theorist who is head of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the Rotman School of Management. Prof. Florida correlates high concentrations of high-tech workers, artists, lesbians and gay men with a higher level of economic development, and believes this creative class brings energy and innovation to cities. The Gaybourhoods report shows that men living in gay neighbourhoods are in fact more than twice as likely to work in art, culture, recreation and sports, and a third more likely to hold jobs in the sciences, education, government and management. They also have high scores for new social responsibility and government involvement, meaning they are more likely than the general population to be enthusiastic recyclers, to do business with ethical companies and spend money on organic food and fuel-efficient cars.

Some of the clichés are there too: The gay community disproportionately favours CBC's The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos, are more likely than the rest of the population to watch awards programs, and spend time in - and money on - their gardens. They prefer Harry Rosen to Costco and Mountain Equipment Co-op to Wal-Mart. Now that the gay community is co-mingling with the straight community, perhaps their sophistication and refined tastes will rub off.

 

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