LGBT Community


The neighborhood gained its charismatic appeal with the increase in LGBT community in the 1980s . Before 1970s, Chelsea was merely a gritty working-class neighborhood, dominated in Irish population and latinos who worked in the factories near Hudson River. This pattern is similar to San Francisco’s (also associated with its’ high percentages in LGBT life) situation before the gay community took over. The convenient location and cheap pricing in Chelsea explains for the appeal. As gay men moved into Chelsea in mid 1970’s, shops and restaurants dedicated to the LGBT community were opened, which lead to a greater increase in gay community over a short period of time. As Jane Jacobs says, “you can’t rely on bringing people downtown. You have to put them there.” Though it begun with convenience sake and the natural environment of Hudson River, in order to maintain and develop the neighborhood further, deliberate actions were needed such as opening various resorts for the community.

The gay community was not as openly welcomed during the 1970s as it is today, hence they preferred sticking together. Chelsea now has the highest proportion of same-sex couples. A census taken by Sixth and Eight Avenue, 18th and 22nd streets, showed that 22 percent of all couples in the area were of the same sex. At first, the community, like
many others, were drawn to Chelsea due to it’s lower priced housing. The community rapidly grew and cyclically attracted more people to join. One popular “gay attraction” is the XES Lounge, which is one of the best known clubs in the area hosting theme nights such as drag competitions. The quasi-divey Barracuda is a less loud, but similarly popular attraction that offers a laid-back vibe with dim light, amazing music, drink specials and a drag show series. A even mellower seeing is the low-profile Rawhide, which is considered Chelsea’s first gay bar. It used to contain a small dance floor, a dark atmosphere and inexpensive drinks in comparison to the earlier mentioned clubs. However unfortunately this bar just recently closed after its 34 years of legacy. It was described by the flog Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York as “one of the last handful of old-school, unpretentious gay bars lef in New York City.” However, with the rapidly increasing rental price of

Chelsea, the owner was no longer able to keep the bar from closing.

HIV rates above average! 

On the down-side, Chelsea currently possesses the highest rate of HIV infection in the city as it has more than three times the city’s overall average in HIV diagnoses.

According to recent date, 5 percent of Chelsea’s residents live with this disease versus the overall 1.4 percent of the city’s population suffering from HIV. Since this disease is likelier traveled between men, this data may not come as a surprise.


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