Hell’s Kitchen – Don’t Let this LGBTQ Neighborhood’s Name Fool You

Hell’s Kitchen is one of the more notorious-sounding neighborhoods in New York. Just based off the name, it certainly doesn’t sound like a place you’d want to move. While it’s true that the area did once have a poor reputation, in recent years it has undergone gentrification. While it was originally the home of many poor immigrants, today Hell’s Kitchen is populated by many actors and young professionals. It’s also one of New York’s primary LGBTQ communities.

How Hell’s Kitchen Got Its Name

Hell’s Kitchen Don’t Let this LGBTQ Neighborhood’s Name Fool YouThe neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen is more officially known as Clinton, but few people call it that. It occupies the area between 34th and 59th and from Eighth Avenue to around 43rd Street. No one is actually certain how the neighborhood got its unique nickname. There are a few different stories. One claims that Davy Crockett coined the term while making horrible comments about the Irish immigrants in the area. Another says Hell’s Kitchen was originally used to describe a building on 54th Street but later expanded to the entire district.

Greenwich Village and the Gay Exodus

Greenwich Village was one of the first gay villages in New York City, but because of gentrification and other changes in the neighborhood, the cost of living has increased over the years. In the early 1990s, the neighborhood saw something of an exodus due to the expensive housing prices and other costs. Many gay and lesbian residents moved to nearby Chelsea. However, it didn’t take long for housing prices in this area to also skyrocket.

The gentrification in Chelsea led to a number of people moving to Hell’s Kitchen. The neighborhood is now considered by some to be the new gay center of Manhattan. However, while it’s still more affordable than Greenwich Village and Chelsea, it’s true that costs are increasing in Hell’s Kitchen.

Points of Interest

One of the central locations in the Hell’s Kitchen LGBTQ community is the Metropolitan Community Church of New York. This church is primarily focused on serving the LGBTQ community, though it does have members of all orientations and gender identities. The church was founded in Los Angeles, but it has moved several times until it found its current location in 1994.

The Actor’s Studio, an organization for actors, directors, and writers, is located in Hell’s Kitchen. A number of well-known actors have studied here under the direction of Lee Strasberg. The studio draws a number of aspiring actors to Hell’s Kitchen, many of whom live in the Manhattan Plaza.

The USS Intrepid is docked on the Hudson River Pier 86 on 46th Street. The aircraft carrier serves as the main part of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, which also includes a Lockheed A-12 plane, a submarine, and the Space Shuttle Enterprise.

Interested in moving to Hell’s Kitchen? The many restaurants, studios, and other locations make it a great place for aspiring actors, directors, and writers. A gay or lesbian real estate agent can help you find the perfect place in this unique LGBTQ neighborhood.

Asbury Park, a Great LGBTQ Community in New Jersey

If you’re considering living in New Jersey, one of the areas you may initially think about avoiding is the Jersey Shore. Made infamous by the reality TV show, people have a misconception about this area. Not everyone is a Snooki or has a weird nickname like “The Situation.” Many people in the Jersey Shore area are incredibly nice and friendly, including those who live in the gay village of Asbury Park.

The Community

Asbury Park, a Great LGBTQ Community in New JerseyAsbury Park is a small city with around 16,000 people. Originally a small town, it’s grown over the years to reach its current population. Since it sits on the shore, it does have a beautiful beach area, but unlike some other parts of the Jersey Shore, it’s not a huge tourist destination. Some of he hotels that once sat on the beachfront have actually been demolished due to a lack of use. This means residents don’t have to worry too much about their neighborhood being invaded by tourists regularly.

The city does hold a number of live music events, festivals, and other events that do draw people in from around the area. Asbury Park is home to the New Jersey Music Hall of Fame and has a strong hip-hop community.

History of Asbury Park

Asbury Park was founded in 1871. Originally a residential area, the city soon expanded, adding a waterfront area, pavilion, restaurants, and many different hotels. Soon, more than 500,000 people were visiting the area during the summer for vacation. The population hit highs of 200,000 during tourist season, though that’s not always the case today.

By the 1920s, the town underwent a major change as a theater, convention all, and casino arena were added. Changes continued for the next several decades. The 1950s saw the addition of various suburbs, while the 1970s brought discord to the peaceful city after riots broke out in protest to the demolition of a number of historical buildings. This includes some buildings that were considered historic places.

From the 2000s on, Asbury Park has been in a revival period. The downtown area, the site of many of the demolished historical buildings, has been improved, as have the boardwalk and beached area.

The LGBTQ Community in Asbury Park

The LGBTQ community took root in the 1950s and has continued to grow over the years. Many LGBTQ people who are unable to afford the increasing cost of housing in New York City have moved to the area. Many have worked to restore the historic Victorian houses that make up some of the older parts of Asbury Park, gentrifying them into gorgeous properties. The Empress Hotel, a gay-oriented hotel, is a major attraction for those visiting the area. The city also hosts the Jersey Gay Pride festival every summer.

Interested in moving to Asbury Park? Ask a gay or lesbian real estate agent for more information about the properties available here.

Should You Move to a Gayborhood?

Many larger cities have a gayborhood, an area that has traditionally been home to many LGBTQ residents. If you’re looking to purchase a new home or move to a new city, should you consider looking in one of these areas? There are a number of reasons why a gay neighborhood might be for you, but there are also reasons why you may want to look at other areas, too.

You Won’t Have to Worry About Your Neighbors Accepting You

Should You Move to a GayborhoodOne of the biggest reasons why people ask gay and lesbian real estate agents to find them a home in the gayborhood is because they know their orientation or gender identity won’t be an issue. You won’t have to worry about neighbors harassing you for being in a same-sex relationship. Of course, your neighbors may harass you for something else—there’s no guarantee everyone will live in peace and harmony, even in the gayborhood!

You’ll Be Near LGBTQ Businesses

In most cities, LGBTQ business owners open their stores near the areas where LGBTQ residents live. You’ll find a number of restaurants, bars, clubs, and other businesses catering to the LGBTQ community near gay neighborhoods. Services such as an LGBT community center may also be located in this area of the city.

Another nice benefit for those with children is that the school district that serves the neighborhood is usually very accepting. There will be a number of children from LGBTQ families there, which will help decrease the chance of your child being bullied for having same-sex parents.

Always Consider Other Factors

If living in the gayborhood means you have a much longer commute or have to pay significantly more for your home, you may want to consider looking elsewhere. While it can be great to live in one of these neighborhoods, you shouldn’t take out a mortgage that’s more than you can handle. Gay neighborhoods often experience gentrification, and the housing prices increase dramatically as homeowners put more work into their properties.

Another thing to consider is that many people who live in these areas have done so for years, if not decades. They’re not looking to sell, so be aware that homes that fit your needs and your budget can be difficult to come by. You may have to look outside of the gay neighborhood to find a property that works for you. Weigh all of the factors before deciding that the gayborhood is the best home for you.

The Best Cities for LBGTQ Living in Virginia

Are you considering moving to Virginia? It’s a lovely state that was one of the earliest places to approve same-sex marriage. Virginia is home to a good number of LGBTQ individuals and families, and the state has done a lot to provide them with many different resources and protections. Virginia has an official Office of Diversity and Inclusion that offers many different tools to LGBTQ people, plus groups such as Equality Virginia offer help in finding welcoming churches, legal advice, and more. Naturally, some parts of Virginia are more welcoming than others, though. Here are some great cities that you’ll feel right at home in.

Richmond

The Best Cities for LBGTQ Living in VirginiaThe capital city of Virginia, Richmond has done a lot in recent years to reach out to the LGBTQ community. This has resulted in more LGBTQ people coming in as tourists, and some have even decided to move to the city. PrideFest is held every year in September in Richmond, bringing in people from around the state for the festivities. Virginia Commonwealth University has also received high ratings as an LGBTQ-friendly campus.

Alexandria

Alexandria, which is located very close to Washington, D.C., also hosts several different pride events throughout the year. The city is home to groups such as Rainbow Families DC and the Alexandria Gay and Lesbian Community Association, both of which provide social activities and support for the community.

Blacksburg

A smaller city you may not have heard of, Blacksburg is home to Virginia Tech. This college has several different LGBTQ support groups that host various events and provide support to students in the area. They bring in various authors to read and talk with students and put on theater performances. Don’t be put off by the fact that Blacksburg sits in what many consider the more conservative part of the state. Many gay and lesbian real estate agents will tell you that the town is actually one of the more liberal in the area.

Arlington

Arlington is a part of the DC Metro Area, a place known for a large number of LGBTQ families. The city has appeared on Advocate Magazine’s list of the 10 Gayest Cities in the U.S. and is well-known for its friendly, welcoming attitude. The city has a group for LGBTQ parents, is home to the Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance, and provides affordable housing to those who work in DC but can’t afford to live there. While the city doesn’t have its own pride festival, many of the LGBTQ groups in Arlington participate in the Capital Pride Parade.

The Best LGBT Places to Live in Vermont

Vermont is known as one of the most welcoming and liberal states in the U.S. That shouldn’t be surprising considering it’s represented by people such as Senator Bernie Sanders. The state was also the first to make same-sex marriage legal. If you love everything New England has to offer, Vermont is a great place to settle down. All the cities here are quite welcoming, but there are a few that are especially ideal for LGBT individuals and families.

Burlington

The Best LGBT Places to Live in VermontAs the largest city in Vermont, it’s no surprise that Burlington is home to many LGBT people. It’s often included on lists of the best cities in the U.S. to live for anyone, not just the LGBT community. The city has some great schools, museums, theaters, and more. It’s also the home of the Vermont Pride Center, which is considered one of the best LGBT centers in the area, in addition to advocacy groups such as Outright Vermont.

Manchester

Manchester is perfect for those who are looking for a smaller town that still has plenty to offer. It’s located between the Bromley and Stratton Mountains, so those who live here are surrounded by gorgeous scenery. Many people do visit Manchester during the skiing season, so expect there to be crowds during part of the year. During the off-season, though, Manchester is fairly quiet.

Montpelier

Montpelier is the capital of Vermont, although it’s still a fairly small city when compared to others in the area. Montpelier has some great restaurants, boutiques, and other shopping options. It’s also unique among the state capitals and most large cities in the U.S. in that there is no McDonalds or Walmart in the city. Your gay or lesbian real estate agent can show you some amazing historic homes in Montpelier that you’re sure to fall in love with.

Woodstock

Woodstock shouldn’t be confused with the music festival, which was not held in the town. However, Woodstock is still a very historical little town that’s full of art and culture. Everything about this town is picture-perfect thanks to the fact that it’s actually completely contained within the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Park. Woodstock has a large writer and artist community, and the town holds a number of arts festivals every year. It’s a nice town if you’re seeking to get away from it all.

Stowe

Stowe is mainly known as a skiing destination. Like many other places on this list, it’s a smaller town known for its art galleries and picturesque setting. Many businesses here are quite welcoming, and you’ll find the residents of Stowe are friendly and outgoing.

These are just a few of the great places to live in Vermont. If you’re thinking of moving to the northeast, the state should certainly be on your list of potential new homes.

Preparing to Sell Your Home as an LGBT Couple

Selling your home is a lot of work, especially if you’re still living in the property while it’s being shown to potential buyers. If this goes on for more than a few weeks, it’s going to get stressful. You have to make sure your house is always ready to be shown to clients. There are times you may only have half an hour’s notice that a buyer wants to see the house. If you can’t make everything organized and spotless within a few minutes, the potential buyer may see have to walk through a messy house. That can be a major turn-off, even though your clutter really has nothing to do with the home itself.

preparing-to-sell-your-home-as-a-lgbt-coupleOf course, this is true with anyone’s house, regardless of their sexual orientation. Real estate agents will help any individual or couple go through their home and prepare it to make that “wow!” impression that you need to secure a sale. One thing agents look at when helping you stage your home is personal effects. Everyone naturally fills their homes with these types of items, but there are some that your agent may suggest you put away. As an LGBT couple, this list may be a little more extensive. Even a gay or lesbian real estate agent may make these suggestions.

This isn’t anything discriminatory, although discrimination does play a part in the decision. It all boils down to how as people we have certain beliefs or like certain things and may instinctively dislike certain things. For example, a Realtor may suggest that a couple remove anything that indicates their religious or political preferences. Seeing something like that could make the buyer pass, even if they don’t consciously think about it.

The same is true for the little things such as pennants for your favorite sports teams or your magazines on your table. The idea is to make the buyer feel at home, not show off your personality or likes.

What does this mean to an LGBT couple? It means that you shouldn’t get offended when your real estate agent suggests putting away your wedding photos or other pictures of the two of you. You also should anticipate taking down your rainbow flag and other pride items. Again, this isn’t to hide who you are necessarily. Instead, it’s to give the buyer the feeling of a blank slate and to ensure that you aren’t discriminated against, even if it’s unconscious discrimination.

How Tennessee Cities Rank in the 2016 HRC Study

The Human Rights Campaign has completed its fifth Municipal Equality Index. This study looks at how cities across the U.S. rank based on their policies, laws, city hiring practices, school polices, and other practices protect their LGBT citizens. The study looked at the capital cities of each state as well as several hundred of the most populous and largest cities. In Tennessee, that included eight different cities.

how-tennessee-cities-rank-in-the-2016-hrc-studyThe highest scoring city in Tennessee was Nashville, which scored a 60. That’s slightly higher than the national average score of 55, but the other seven cities fell short of that goal. Knoxville, the second-highest scoring city, hit the average with a 55, but Memphis came in just under at 53. The other cities in the state scored even lower, dropping Tennessee’s average to 33 points out of 100.

Despite this, Tennessee is working to improve its reputation in the LGBT community. Cities such as Murfreesboro have held pride celebrations for the first time in 2016. While the state does still have a number of challenges that must be addressed, groups such as the Tennessee Equality Project are working with local and state legislators to address these issues.

While Memphis has improved its HRC ranking over the years, the city does still have a number of areas that need work. For example, the city does ranks a zero out of 30 in the non-discrimination laws section. This part of the evaluation looked at Memphis’s laws that prevented discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation. The city has had a number of debates over inclusive housing laws, especially those aimed at protecting transgender individuals.

Another area where Memphis failed was in healthcare benefits for transgender individuals. The city has no benefits for these citizens. Looking at all of the cities in the study, this was an area of major improvement across the board. In 2012, there were only five cities with inclusive healthcare. This year, there were 86.

Memphis did not fail in all areas, though. For example, the city did score a full five points for the fact that the mayor’s office has an LGBT liaison. Another area Memphis received full credit for was for having full non-discrimination laws regarding city employment.

Many LGBT activists see opportunities to improve Memphis’s score next year, especially with the mayor’s office working with the LGBT community.

What does 2016 Have in Store for LGBT Home Buyers and Sellers?

Many gay and lesbian Realtors expect to see a good number of LGBT couples looking to buy a home now that they are legally married. However, you may want to take a look at what the market looks like before you do.  Here are a few trends experts are predicting will dominate the real estate market during the rest of 2016, but always do research on the local market before buying or selling.

The Market Will Normalize

2016 Has Quite a Few Things In Store for Homebuyers and SellersThe housing market has been up and down, as anyone who has bought or sold a house in the past 15 years has noticed.  Fortunately, experts are predicting that the housing market is actually going to go back to normal, or as normal as it ever gets.  This is great news for LGBT first-time homebuyers since it means lenders will be less afraid of making loans.  However, many also believe that interest rates are going to rise next year, especially in areas where home prices are already high.  Unfortunately, this will make gay neighborhoods like the Castro area of San Francisco, which is already difficult to afford, even more out of reach for many.

New Homes Will Be More Affordable!

If you’ve been looking for a new home, you may be very dismayed to find prices are fairly high.  That’s because builders have had to deal with higher costs and fewer skilled workers.  However, most experts believe that new homes will actually drop in price because many of the new homes that have been built over the last year haven’t sold.  This means that those new LGBT neighborhoods that have stalled out due to a lack of buyers may suddenly explode, plus new gayborhoods may spring up in some areas.  Definitely keep an eye on the costs of new houses in the area you want to move to because you may be surprised at how cheap they get.

Don’t Rent

Finally, Realtors are predicting that rent is going to continue to rise. 2015 saw many rental properties jump in price.  A large number of people now pay more than 30% of their income to rent.  Because the housing market is expected to normalize, mortgages are actually going to be cheaper than renting, making it the time to seriously reconsider your housing situation if you rent.

Anyone that is considering the market for the remainder of 2016, needs to think about what normal looks like in the area that they want to buy. Don’t worry about last year, take this year and make that perfect house your new home.

Gayborhoods and Increasing Property Values

Ever since a study done in 2001 on areas with high concentrations of LGBT homeowners and property values, gay and lesbian realtors have continued to notice that gayborhoods often have more expensive real estate.  This phenomenon continues today.  While it’s not always true, studies have shown that neighborhoods where a large number of LGBT people live tend to have overall above-average property values.

Property Values in So-Called Gayborhoods Are Higher than Comparable Suburbs, Is This a Coincidence?Of course, this won’t always happen—a home won’t automatically increase in value just because a gay or lesbian couple moves in, nor is it always true for every LGBT-heavy housing area.  However, this trend does appear to be a legitimate statistic, not merely an urban legend.  When people say that when gays move in, your property values increase and you get a new Whole Foods, it may not actually be a joke.

While the original study done in 2001 may be outdated, a recent analysis done by Trulia economist Ralph McLaughlin shows that its conclusions continue to be valid.  He looked at housing data and population statistics from 2012 to 2015.  Overall, he discovered that the average cost of a home in an area with a higher concentration of same-sex couples (both married and those who considered themselves married) was, on average, higher than comparable neighborhoods with a higher concentration of opposite-sex couples.  For areas with more male couples, home prices were about 23 percent higher overall, while areas with more female couples saw an increase of about 18 percent.

In addition to having higher home values when compared to similar neighborhoods, McLaughlin’s analysis showed that gayborhoods tend to have higher home prices on average when compared to the rest of the city.  He points to areas like the Castro district of San Francisco, the West Hollywood part of LA, and the Provincetown part of Cap Code, Massachusetts, as examples.  Housing in West Hollywood, for example, is 123 percent of the average LA cost.  In fact, out of all of the LGBT districts he studied, only one was actually cheaper: Guerneville, a part of northern San Francisco.

Is there a reason for this?  Some people assume LGBT people simply keep their homes in better shape or make more improvements than straight couples, but that seems unlikely.  Instead, McLaughlin suggests that most LGBT neighborhoods were already fairly expensive when compared to the rest of the city they are located in.  The housing crash may not have hit them as hard as other areas.  Same-sex female couples are also more likely to have children, which means that they tend to move to better areas with good schools.

Gay Lifestyle and Legislation in New York

There are so many reasons to move to New York! Let’s start with the fact that many people regard the Big Apple as the northeastern mecca of gay culture. This name is rightfully deserved, as New York’s legislation is very LGBT friendly. New York has recognized same-sex domestic partnerships since 1998, and has had legal gay marriage since July of 2011. Since 1995, New York has given benefits to same-sex partners of state workers and there is also a law against homosexuality being used for defamation purposes.

There is Significant Legislation in Place to Protect the Expanding LGBT Community Within the State of New YorkNew Yorkers can freely change their gender identity, and New York issues new birth certificates to anyone who has undergone sexual reassignment surgery. However, New York doesn’t require a sex change or proof thereof for a new certificate.

New York even has a legitimate law in place against sexual discrimination, called SONDA. The Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act was put into effect in 2003. SONDA directly prohibits discrimination based on sexual identity, perceived sexual orientation, or gender identity in public education, finances, employment, and civil liberties.

Legislation is not the only thing New York has going for it; the state also has a thriving gay scene that is so vibrant that there are multiple gay pride parades throughout the year. These pride parades cater to specific niches within the gay community that may not be as noticeable as well. These niches include African Americans, Latinos, and transgender individuals, each of which get a chance to celebrate themselves without the racial and heteronormative tension that surface in other gay events.

Up until a generation ago, gays were largely confined to the West Village. However, due to evolving social attitudes, gays have spread to every part of New York in huge numbers. For example, Chelsea has nightlife, shopping, and a happening gay scene. But it’s not limited to Chelsea – neighborhoods like Brooklyn Heights, Dumbo, Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, Carroll Gardens, Park Slope, Fort Greene, and more have quite a few LGBT folks living in them.

New York has every type of house you could dream of – old Brownstones, simple apartments, high rises with doormen, condominiums in the suburbs, and even some classic “white picket fence” style houses are all for sale in New York’s boroughs. The prices tend to run a little high, but in this case, you get exactly what you pay for.

New York is the perfect place for any type of LGBT person. There are endless job opportunities in every field for young LGBT folk looking to spread their wings and there’s proactive legislation that defend the rights of LGBT citizens. New York also has some safe neighborhoods like the Upper East Side and great schools for LGBT couples looking to settle. New York’s the entire package for any LGBT individual or couple ready to settle down.