Norfolk has a gay center?

Part of the appeal to living in the city, included a more visible gay community. Or at least being in a community that is gay friendly. That was how I ended up living in Norfolk for the first three years of college. But even with the few gay bars in the area like The Wave, Jack’s Attic (which is only a few months old) and The Garage, there still isn’t a real sense of community. I find that when I’m walking in Ghent, whether during the day or at night, I could hold a man’s hand and walk down the street and feel safe. But even with that sense of “ok-ness” I’m not feeling totally satisfied with the representation in the community. Which then led me to wonder about my university’s representation and involvement. ODU currently, has two active organizations on campus; ODUOut and ODU PRIDE. I have been involved with both of these organizations at some point throughout my college career. PRIDE is only going into its second semester, and still in its efforts to create a presence, but what about ODUOut. As a gay man, I want to be part of an organization that is welcoming, open to all members (whether gay or straight) and active; unfortunately ODUOut is the opposite. With my experience and those that others have shared about ODUOut, I feel there is a detachment from the college with the community. Its strange to me that I would feel safer being in downtown holding hands with my boyfriend in comparison to how I would feel doing that on campus.  Then that led me to a question “Does the lack of a strong gay community have any effect on the lack of a strong gay community within the city?”  If there is no communication between the two, then how do they know whats going on or what can be done to help?

This blog may sound more like a rant, but honestly, think about it. We hear from others, that Norfolk’s “gay-borhood” is Ghent. But how true is that? The typical gay-borhood would be something like Dupont Circle in DC, Boys Town in Chicago or Castro in San Francisco.  Even though Norfolk isn’t as big as the three cities, it’s name still holds a considerable amount of recognition globally and nationally.  So is it wrong to want to have a gay center without being obnoxiously proud? Or do the residents and fans of Ghent all share an unspoken understanding of liberalism and acceptance?

tell me what you think!


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5 Responses to Norfolk has a gay center?

  1. One thing ODU is planning on doing is opening a dorm called the Lavender House that would be open to all LGBTQ students. My understanding is that the dorm is still in the planning stages but has essentially been given the green light by the administration. In particular the administration is hoping to increase student retention rates (the more students drop-out the more it hurts your prestige relative to other schools) by making the campus more a inclusive and pleasant place to be for gays and other sexual minorities who may experience harassment in the ordinary course of their daily lives.

    I think its a great idea and I would be very interested to learn how students experienced living in such a dorm. But I wonder if there may be some unintended consequences of such a move. Could the dorm break down into social cliques to the exclusion of certain kinds of people? Might living in the Lavender House be like being segregated? Would people simply prefer living in Ghent? It will be interesting to see how things play out with the Lavender House over the next couple of years.

    • danebohrer says:

      I too would be concerned as to whether or not there would be consequences associated with having a LGBTQ dorm at ODU. America is a blending pot of cultures, beliefs, and ideas, and to open a dorm devoted entirely to LGBTQ would in a sense segregate the college community and isolate the LGBTQ from other students. This could be detrimental to increasing awareness about LGBTQ on campus because it would remove the LGBTQ students from the other students. Integration is a key aspect of improving the acceptance of a certain group of people. Segregation is something this country has struggled with in the past and still struggles with today to a certain degree. With the Supreme Court rulings of desegregation and giving equal rights to all people regardless of color was one of the answers to segretaion and integrating all races. I feel that a LGBTQ dorm on campus would go against what we as Americans have done to integrate everyone equally into society. However, this is just my opinion and only that, feel free to disagree with me

      • Advocates of the Lavender House idea would no doubt retort that it would be more like having a safe space where queer students could go and know that they don’t have to put up with homophobic B.S. There’s a lot to be said for that!

        Still, people are people. LGBTQ students are people too and will no doubt find other ways to get on each others’ nerves. So its not going to be a paradise. But it might serve well as a refuge, which could make going to school in Norfolk easier.

  2. caleno23 says:

    Without sounding rude, I immediately made a connection between gay dorm housing and communism; on paper it sounds great but can’t really be executed with its utopian ideals. The easy access to a safe space, especially if you lived in a safe space, sounds amazing. But that’s only within the building. Unfortunately, the building itself could become a target for something more severe. The only reason I say that is because the dorms, in the recent years, have experienced a lot more trespassing and robberies. So with the guaranteed publicity of the dorm , it could potentially cause for other forms of trespassing that could be more dangerous or emotionally intrusive. But of course that is me playing Devil’s advocate. As I get older, I’m hopeful that with each new freshman class, homosexuality in their social lives and environments, will not continue to be an issue.

  3. danebohrer says:

    I would have to agree with caleno23, while the idea sounds good on paper, it is almost impossible to bring it to life. And if it was brought to life and constructed, the possiblity of some sort of vandalism, and/or “hate crimes” will exist.

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