LGBT Neighbourhoods and ‘New Mobilities’: Towards Understanding Transformations in Sexual and Gendered Urban Landscapes


In this article we apply insights from ‘new mobilities’ approaches to understand the shifting sexual and gendered landscapes of major cities in the global North. The empirical context is the purported ‘demise’ of traditional gay villages in Toronto, Canada and Sydney, Australia, and the emergence of ‘LGBT neighbourhoods’ elsewhere in the inner city. We reinterpret the historical geography of twentieth century LGBT lives and the associated ‘rise and fall’ of gay enclaves through the lens of the ‘politics of mobility’. In this reading, it is apparent that multifaceted movements — migration, physical and social mobility, and motility — underpin the formation of gay enclaves and recent transformations in sexual and gendered landscapes. After the second world war, LGBT communities in the global North were embedded in specific historical geographies of mobility and we trace these in the Canadian and Australian contexts. The ‘great gay migration’ from the 1960s to the 1980s has been joined by new LGBT constellations of mobility in the 2000s, and these have imprinted upon the sexual and gendered landscapes of Toronto and Sydney.