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History of the Gay Village

Prior to the 1960s and 1970s, specialized gay communities did not exist as such; bars were usually where gay social networks developed, and they were located in certain urban areas where police zoning would implicitly allow so-called ‘deviant entertainment’ under close surveillance. In New York, for example, the congregation of gay men had not been illegal since 1965; however, no openly gay bar had been granted a license to serve alcohol. The police raid of a private gay club called the Stonewall Inn on June 27, 1969 led to a three day riot involving over 1000 people. Stonewall managed to change not only the profile of the gay community but the dynamic within the community itself. This along with several other similar incidents precipitated the appearance of gay ghettos throughout North America, as spatial organization shifted from bars and street-cruising to specific neighbourhoods. This transition “from the bars to the streets, from nightlife to daytime, from ‘sexual deviance’ to an alternative lifestyle” was the critical moment in the development of the gay community .

The term "gay village" derives from New York City's Greenwich Village, where the Stonewall riots took place.