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Where the boys are! Columbia Street is the city’s gayest neighborhood

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Brooklyn has a new “gayest” neighborhood, and it ain’t Park Slope.

Just-released Census Bureau numbers show that the Columbia Street Waterfront District, the quiet enclave west of Cobble Hill and the Brooklyn–Queens Expressway, has more same-sex households per capita than any other patch of the borough.

Such “alternative” households comprise 11 percent of the neighborhood, making it more of a gay family hub than Park Slope, Williamsburg or even Chelsea, a widely recognized “gay” neighborhood that has only nine percent of its households listed as same-sex.

Gays and lesbians say that Columbia Street offers the best of both worlds: it has a small-town feeling without the “small-town mentality.”

“There’s a sense of rugged individualism and diversity,” said Brian McCormick, who has lived with his partner, Scott, in the area for seven years. “In a monolithic neighborhood, all of a sudden I’m aware that I’m gay — but people here don’t segregate themselves socially.”

Indeed, there’s not a single “gay bar” in the sleepy neighborhood, where a smattering of restaurants faces a waterfront bike lane — and new condos have sprouted alongside affordable-housing complexes.

About 1,500 people live within the two-by-10-square block census tract, which is as socio-economically diverse as it is socially insular.

It makes sense that the place has become a nesting ground for gay couples, said Matt McMorrow of Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn. “There are great schools and plenty of artists. … Who knows what motivates [gay] couples, but it’s clearly a place they feel comfortable.”

It’s the first time that the Census Bureau has tracked “same sex couple” households, so other neighborhoods are also emerging as unexpected gay Meccas.

Prospect Heights, for example, was the second-gayest neighborhood in the borough — with same-sex couples making up nine percent of the households. Tracts in Park Slope and Williamsburg maxed out at five percent.

Updated 5:57 pm, April 1, 2011: Corrects an earlier misidentification of a source in the story. The correct speaker is Matt McMorrow of Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn.
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Reader Feedback

Joey from Clinton Hills says:
two words: Rough Trade.
March 31, 2011, 12:13 pm
Kevin from Chelsea says:
There's no way that this speed bump has more gays than Chelsea, or Hells Kitchen. It just proves that the Census was flawed. They only count you as a gay household if you live with a partner. Columbia Street, or whatever it's called, is just a smattering of boring couples.

These numbers still won't give us a real idea of how many gays there are in America. What a waste of $$$.
March 31, 2011, 12:28 pm
Sajh from NYC says:
How does the Census or this article's writer happen to delineate between roommates that are of the same sex and couples? There are a TON of people cramming into small shared apartments. It would be interesting to know how this deduction came about.
March 31, 2011, 1:16 pm
Haj from HK says:
@Kevin from Chelsea: The article speaks only of couples, not single brunch eating "boys". Being monogamous doesnt mean boring, it means mature.
March 31, 2011, 1:21 pm
Joan from Columbia Waterfront District says:
According to this site, the data doesn't include all of the blocks in the neighborhood.

http://justanotherbrooklynblog.blogspot.com/2011/03/columbia-waterfront-district-is-chelsea.html

Regardless, the neighborhood has never been better and I've lived here 25 years. Gay couples have renovated old buildings and made it much prettier.
March 31, 2011, 1:31 pm
Larry from Windsor Terrace says:
Kevin: The Census Bureau numbers do not indicate that Columbia Street has more gays than Chelsea, they show that the PERCENTAGE of same-sex households (not necessarily couples) is higher in Columbia Street than in Chelsea.
March 31, 2011, 1:43 pm
Ron from Columbia St. Waterfront says:
Kevin from Chelsea, your proof that even Gay people can be stupid. Look up per capita. I'm probable more interesting in my sleep than you are fully awake. Strike a pose does not make you interesting, it makes you shallow.
March 31, 2011, 3:54 pm
Paul from Brooklyn says:
Columbia Street has many French Americans - people just assume they are gay.
March 31, 2011, 5:27 pm
Richard from Williamsburg says:
The article refers to "same-sex couples," but the headline refers only to "boys." I don't see anything in the article about "male same-sex couples." I wish The Brooklyn Paper would take more care in reporting its stories. Is this about "same-sex couples," male and female? Or just male, as the headline and the comments would imply?

Referring to gay people as "boys" seems odd, but not out of line with The Brooklyn Paper's habit of annoying and inaccurate attempts to pun in its headlines. Why not just try reporting accurately?
March 31, 2011, 5:34 pm
Toby from Park Slope says:
The editor of Out lives in the nabe, fyi
March 31, 2011, 6:22 pm
jobkny from midwood says:
one Ikea can do that to neighborhood
April 1, 2011, 1:59 am
Bill from Downtown says:
Sajh: The Census form asked about the relationship between residents. The options included both "roommate" and "unmarried partner", so this survey shouldn't include people who just happen to live together.
April 1, 2011, 2:42 am
InfoMofo from EV says:
The Census form had no way to identify single gay men though, so this data would indicate that Columbia Street has the highest concentration of married/partnered gay men that live together. This number wouldn't reflect single gay men or partnered gay men that didn't co-habitate.
April 1, 2011, 12:59 pm
Turlough from Sackett Street says:
I wish there were just more black men there.
April 1, 2011, 7:39 pm
Martin G. from Gravesend says:
I am a 59 year old gay man,and at present not involved,with anyone,except,I am in love with an Italian man,he lives in middle Suffolk County,we were in HIgh school,a great school,called,Linden Hill High
School.He saved my life,by warning me against running away,and that predators,may be in waiting.My neighborhood,i do not know,would support,the gay lifestyle,I have one neighbor living in my building,who is gay.i like having a fellow gay man living in my building,i have a very strong,feeling,that I will be seeing this wonderful person who means the world to me.God bless.
July 21, 2012, 7:25 pm

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