Other #4

All of the following screenshots are from https://www.datalensdc.com/prideMap.html.

Important spaces for the DC LGBTQ+ community prior to the 1960’s.
Important spaces for the DC LGBTQ+ community during the 60’s.
Important spaces for the DC LGBTQ+ community during the 70’s.
Important spaces for the DC LGBTQ+ community during the 80’s.
Important spaces for the DC LGBTQ+ community during the 90’s.
Important spaces for the DC LGBTQ+ community from the 2000’s to the recent present. (However, this map not be entirely up-to-date to the very present moment.)

Other #3

All images are screenshots from https://www.datalensdc.com/prideMap.html.

Important spaces for the DC LGBTQ+ community prior to the 1960’s.
Important spaces for the DC LGBTQ+ community during the 60’s.
Important spaces for the DC LGBTQ+ community during the 70’s.
Important spaces for the DC LGBTQ+ community during the 80’s.
Important spaces for the DC LGBTQ+ community during the 90’s.
Important spaces for the DC LGBTQ+ community from the 2000’s to the recent present. (However, this might not be completely up-to-date to the very present moment)

Mapping Commonplaces: Dupont Circle and the Disappearance of the “Gayborhood”

During the 1960’s and 70’s, Dupont Circle emerged as DC’s gay neighborhood, one of the first of its kind in the United States. This emergence, however, was only possible due to the “white flight” phenomenon in which whites, who feared the cities, fled to the suburban areas. In doing so, they left Dupont Circle a very affordable place to live that was quickly claimed by “out” members of the LGBTQ+ community. As a result, Dupont Circle quickly became a safe haven for this community.

However in recent years, there has been a lot of conversation online about the disappearance of DC’s “gayborhood.” This conversation was sparked in large part by the closure of many iconic LGBTQ+ establishments that helped mark the Dupont Circle as a “gay hub,” a phenomenon that is beautifully represented in this map. Sadly, I could not embed the map within my own post, and so I had to settle for screenshots of the two periods I am most interested in: the 90’s (before the onslaught of closures of these establishments) and the 2000’s to the present (when these closures were most frequent).

A map of all the LGBTQ+-affiliated businesses in the 90’s.
A map of all the LGBTQ+-affiliated businesses from the 2000’s to the fairly-recent present.

The displacement of members of the LGBTQ+ community due to the rising prices of Dupont Circle has also added fuel to this conversation. But interestingly enough, while some may attribute these high prices solely to a shortage of supply (as can be seen in the last paragraph here), several studies, such as the one summarized here, have shown that the presence of gays in liberal areas increase property values. Thus, it is the LGBTQ+ community that has helped make Dupont Circle more attractive to outsiders, and yet it is this same group of people that are being gentrified as a result.

Additionally, some have also attributed the disappearance of this mecca for the LGBTQ+ community in part to the lack of a need for one. With the pervasiveness of digital culture, it is no longer as much of a necessity as before to have physical space to interact with fellow members of the community.

This conversation was particularly intriguing to me because the built environment that I have been studying all semester— The Dupont Circle Club — has clearly been influenced by the historical presence of the LGBTQ+ community in Dupont Circle: it not only emphasizes that “all are welcome at DCC” both on its website and in its lobby, but it also has addiction recovery literature specifically for gays and lesbians. Furthermore, one of the iconic LGBTQ+ establishments, Lambda Rising, used to be located in the building right next to the Dupont Circle Club before it closed.

Thus, I decided to focus on this for my final mapping commonplaces project. Below, I have included gifs that I made from Google Maps images comparing various locations around Dupont Circle in 2018 to the earliest image of it I could find. However, all of them came out to be from approximately ten years prior. I focused specifically on those with some sort of pride flag out at one point or another.

In the space where Lambda Rising, the first LGBTQ+ bookstore in Dupont Circle, once stood is now a Comfort One Shoe that does not display a pride outside as Lambda Rising did.
Above one can see that the Church of the Pilgrim has continued to proudly hang an “All are welcome” pride flag above its entrance over the past ten years.
Although it is hard to see, if you look closely at the small board in front of this church (the Foundry United Methodist Church), you will notice a small rainbow design at the bottom of it in the 2018 picture that is not there in the 2009 photo.
While Larry’s Lounge has always been a gay bar, it is only within the last decade or so that any sort of pride flag or rainbow design was incorporated into the storefront. Before, there was none, making the business more discrete or call less attention to itself.

I was slightly surprised to see that, while some locations no longer fly pride flags and and others continue to fly them, there were other locations that have begun to display the pride flag (or some iteration of it) in the last ten years.

I believe this, when looked at in conjunction with the reality that LGBTQ+-specific places are continually closing down, speaks to the growing acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community within mainstream society, a fact that has helped many people accept the slow fading away of the “gayborhood.”

However, just because one is accepted in a certain space does not necessarily mean that space is FOR them. Thus, this leaves us with the question: For whom does Dupont Circle exist?

Works Cited

Fulmer, Sean, and Steven Botsoe. “LGBTQ Nightlife Dissipates in the District.” The Hoya, March 15, 2019. https://www.thehoya.com/lgbtq-nightlife-dissipates-district/.

Gaich, Stephen. “There Goes the Gayborhood.” Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights, December 15, 2017. https://www.washingtonblade.com/2017/12/15/there-goes-the-gayborhood/.

Reed, Dan. “DC’s Gayborhoods Are Disappearing. How Should We Feel About That?” Washingtonian, October 6, 2017. https://www.washingtonian.com/2017/10/06/dcs-gayborhoods-disappearing-feel/.

Societyandcultureforward. “Re-Gentrification of the Dupont Circle.” Society Culture Forward (blog), October 26, 2014. https://societycultureforward.wordpress.com/2014/10/26/re-gentrification-of-the-dupont-circle/.

Other #2

Above is a screenshot of a recently published article from The Blade which discusses the closing of Cobalt, a very popular bay bar in Dupont Circle. This article is indicative of, and thus helps trace, the continued loss of spaces specified for members of the LGBTQ+ community. The Blade has been covering the LGBTQ+ community since 1969.
Source: https://www.washingtonblade.com/2019/03/05/d-c-gay-bar-cobalt-closes-after-20-year-run/

Thank You Cards

For almost as long as I can remember, I have been writing thank you cards to people who have done favors for me, given me presents/thought of me, and/or have done something that made me really appreciative of them.

Since the school year is quickly coming to an end, my friends and I recently came together to make a thank you card that fell in the latter category for our RA. Like all the other thank you cards that I write, my friends and I did not start making the card until a day or so before we were planning on giving it to our RA and we all completed our part of the card in one sitting while we had some free time in our rooms. Furthermore, as I was writing my part, I was feeling very reflective because I had to think about what exactly I wanted to thank my RA for. However, I did not feel that anything was particularly at stake with this particular card because it was not written as a direct response to something that someone else did for me. But I do recognize that in some other situations, a thank you card can have someone’s reputation at stake because many people feel that it is basic manners to write someone a thank you note if they do or give something specifically to you.

In terms of conventions when it comes to writing a thank you card, I feel like they can change slightly depending on how intimate of a relationship you have with them (such as the formality of the tone with which you write). However, I do feel that there are some very general conventions that most people follow, and these include addressing the card to the receiver(s) (because when you write a thank you card, it is almost always not written for yourself), signing your name, and of course, using language that conveys gratefulness such as “thank you,” “I’m so grateful,” etc. since the whole aim of this piece of writing is to let someone know you are thankful for them*. As with many other things, I only learned of these conventions through observing and getting advice from others. More specifically, I learned from watching what my older siblings would write when we would make a thank you card together and from asking my mom what I should and shouldn’t write in my cards.

Now in terms of a response to a thank you card, I feel that there typically isn’t one since the thank you card itself is usually a response to something the other person has done. However, for cards that fall into the same category as the one that my friends and I wrote (ie. a card that is just a somewhat random expression of appreciation), I could expect to get a response along the lines of something like, “Thank you, that’s so sweet of you!”

*While some may deem this as grammatically incorrect, the use of “them” here is intentional because it is a all-inclusive, gender-neutral term.

“Let It Go”

I bet that, after seeing the title of this commonplace book (my last one!), you thought that this would have something to do with the song “Let It Go” from the Disney Movie Frozen, and understandably so since it took over the Internet for quite some time. However, I’m sorry to disappoint you; this post will be about a different song from a different Disney movie. More specifically, it’s going to be about the song “Little Wonders” by Rob Thomas from the movie Meet the Robinsons.

While I have always loved the song, recently, it’s been hitting me a little differently.

The first couple lines of the song are as follows:

Let it go

Let it roll right off your shoulder

Don’t you know

The hardest part is over?

Now the reason why these lines in particular have been impacting me more than usual is because it is currently finals season and I have just simply not done as well on my first two exams as I had hoped or expected. As a result, I have constantly been dwelling on how my poor performance on my exams will negatively affect my grades, and while I know in my head that grades are not everything and that I should think of the bigger picture, I can’t help but to continue to stress about how poorly I did.

But because I really do know that there’s nothing that I can do about it now and that it’s unhealthy for my to continue obsessing over this, I have been trying to get myself to move on from it, and these lines, among other things, have helped me try to do so.

But while these words are fitting in my situation, this is not their “original” meaning because in the movie, the “it” in the first two lines is obviously not referring to doing poorly on a final exam. However, I am able to make my own meaning due to the fact that there is absolutely no possible antecedent to “it.” In other words, you can make “it” mean whatever you want it to mean, and depending on what you choose, the message that these word convey will change slightly while still existing within the realm of the more general meaning of moving on from something and looking towards the future.

If you haven’t heard this song before, I highly recommend checking it out! I’ve linked it below.

Pride

As I was scrolling through my Instagram Explore Page recently, I came across this image:

I was immediately struck by how powerful the image was, and I couldn’t help but want to share the image, along with my thoughts on why it is so moving, here.

So, why is this image able to move people so deeply? Well, the answer lies in the various networks of knowledge and information that we have created for ourselves.

I would argue that the average person would recognize the LGBTQ+ community as a marginalized one, both in America and across the world. Furthermore, I would argue that said person would know that the rainbow flag is used to represent this community. Furthermore, when this flag is flown high or made visible, it also represents one’s pride in identifying as a member or ally of the LGBTQ+ community.

However, not everyone is so open towards and accepting of the LGBTQ+ community, and many people act on their feelings of hatred. Such hatred can manifest itself as the use of a derogatory slur, acting violently towards a member of the LGBTQ+ community, or even burning a rainbow flag.

By combining these two images, the flying high of the rainbow flag that represents pride and a burnt rainbow flag that represents wanting to destroy that pride and attack the community it represents, a whole new depth of meaning is created. More specifically, the image communicates an enormous amount of strength and an incredible resilience on the part of the LGBTQ+ community; it tells viewers that no matter how much suffering, discrimination, and hatred they may have to face, the LGBTQ+ community will continue to have pride in itself; it informs people that members of the LGBTQ+ community are not going to stand up in the face of a discriminatory society only when it’s easiest; it declares to the world that no matter what others may do, LGBTQ+ identified people are not going anywhere. They are here, as they always have and will be, and refuse to be shoved into the dark corners of society.

Notes, Notes, Notes

Considering the fact that I am still a student, taking notes is a huge part of my life. However, note taking is not strictly limited to the classroom. One recent example of a time when I took notes outside one of my classes was my pre-departure orientation for my Hong Kong summer study abroad trip. Because the people in charge of the program were going over important information about our trip, such as how to get to our hotel from the airport, what items to bring, what we can do to prepare in advance, etc., I thought it necessary for me to take notes. Of course, I chose to take notes, rather than use a different form of writing, in this situation because the main aim of notes is to help remind you of important information that you will need to reference later on in time.

I believe that note-taking is a very personalized form of writing due to the fact that the primary audience is yourself. (While it is not uncommon to share your notes with others, you still originally wrote those notes for yourself.) But because note taking is very person-specific, I do not feel there are many conventions people have to follow. In fact, I believe that there is really only one convention that people follow when taking notes, and that is to not write in full paragraphs as in other forms of writing. Instead the information is broken up into smaller pieces and is organized in a list format using some type of bullet point. This convention is one that I learned unconsciously through seeing many examples of notes that other people had taken since a young age. One example would be seeing the notes my elementary school teachers would have on the slides they projected for the class. However, these examples also helped me develop my own personal style for taking notes. This is seen clearly in the fact that I draw a star next to points that are extremely important, a habit that is surely the result of many of my former teachers also putting a star next to what they thought was most important.

Another thing that I, like many other people, tend to do when taking notes is to abbreviate words. Because I am the main audience, which makes my own personal understanding of something the only thing really at stake in my notes, there is no problem abbreviating things as long as I know what they stand for. In my notes from the orientation, for example, some of the abbreviations I used included “+” for “and,” “w/” for “with,” and “HK” for “Hong Kong.”

Now in the case of notes, the response or feedback you get is not the typical one, if there is any at all. This is because people generally imagine a response or feedback coming from someone other than the original author, but in the case of notes, almost all of it comes from the original author. For example, in my case, when I find something I don’t understand when looking back at my notes, I mark it with big question marks to communicate that this section needs clarification.

However, note taking is different from other forms of writing, particularly other forms of writing closely related to academics, for other reasons as well. Most other forms of academic writing require you to start somewhat in advance. However, for my orientation notes, as with all my other notes, I did not start until the person lecturing/presenting started speaking. I then continued to work/ add to my notes while the orientation was still taking place in the classroom. Additionally, most other writing is used as a tool to articulate your own thoughts, but in note taking you are only trying to write down things other people are telling you with little to no incorporation of your own thoughts. But as a result of focusing so much on writing down what the other person is saying, I generally don’t think or have any feelings about what I am writing.