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voyager12

Why is Charleston not gay friendly?

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This question has always baffled me. I lived in Charleston for seven years before relocating to Charlotte last year. The city has an overabundance of the charm, soul, and character that most of us gays love :yahoo: . The laid back atmosphere should engender a more accepting attitude. Its not though. The gay community is largely underground and closeted.The relatively small Alliance for Full Acceptance and LGLA, Dudley's Pantheon and Patricks is the gay community in Charleston and its pathetic. Other beautiful and historic cities embrace their gay community: Savannah,New Orleans, Asheville. There is not one rainbow flag anywhere on the peninsula. Upper King would be the perfect place for a gay and lesbian community center, yet Columbia (much less charming no offense columbians) in the much more conservative Upstate functions as the gay hub for South Carolina. I don't get it :unsure:

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Charleston has never been a liberal city. Remember this was a city founded and built in part from the business of buying, selling and importing of slaves to the rest of the United States. After the Civil War, much of the attitude remained and there has always been an elite there that pretty much looked down on poor whites and all blacks. It was a social stratification that existed for at least 100 years and had built in protocols for behavior and being Gay certainly wasn't part of it.

Now Charleston is troubled because it has become a city of transients. That is tourists, rich property owners that don't live in the city for much of the year, and students. It's not good for building a Gay community, or any kind of community for that matter.

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Hi Metro! Its nice to see you in Charleston :D You make several good points. When I was still attending The College of Charleston a few years ago the school held a film series on Southern Homosexuality. There was a ridiculous controversy. All the films were documentary in nature and not inflammatory. That same year a rumor circulated on campus that a "gay minor" was going to be proposed by some faculty. A few professors I knew had talked about it but it never went beyond watercooler. State Rep. John Graham Altman freaked out and threatened to cut cofc's state funds when the idea never went beyond brainstorming. Sad.

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I truly LOVE Charleston, but we ARE talking about a city where residents changed the name of one of the streets in their 'hood because it was Gay Street. I remember hearing about this maybe @2 years ago. It was in a nice neighborhood, and the residents were saying that gay people had ruined the word "gay," and they didn't want Gay St., Gay Ave., whatever it was, in their 'hood any longer because no one wanted an address on the Gay St.!! Such a trite example, yet it speaks volumes...

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The difference between Columbia and Charleston can be largely attibuted to one thing--the University of South Carolina. That institution is the big liberal (relatively speaking at least) state university and that gives Columbia a much more liberal attitude on such things. Also, I would not say Columbia is in the conservative Upstate. It is really more Midlands or Sand Hills and as such is more a mix of different regions of the state. Having said all of that, I agree that one would guess that an old port city would be more relatively liberal (or at least live and let live), but Charleston does not seem to be so. As an Episcopalian, I can also tell you that the Charleston diocese is one of the very most conservative (to the point of being reactionary) dioceses in the Episcopal Church (of nearly 100 dioceses). While conservative certainly, the Columbia diocese (which includes Greenville) is more moderate in tone.

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voyager12, rememeber charleston is where "the war" started. the city took a bold brave step. dude, i guess the point i am trying to make is start a revolution. if you think upper king would be the perfect setting for a gay center or gay friendly/owned businesses then grab a group of guys and gals and start moving into the area. open a gay center and businesses. somethings may have to be done covertly at first but gradually become more "in your face." from what i understand gay people are resonpsible for sprucing up blighted areas of urban centers. hell, be the first to do something good in the neck area. with all that disposable income it could happen. do anything. start a website promoting the city geared toward the gay community. bring in droves of gay tourists and watch the backward locals (who would like people to think they rock) have a stroke. be a visionary man. as beautiful as the grande old lady of charleston is, i would love to see some some people wake her up. btw, isn't folly beach supposed to be kinda gay. there you go voyager12 start a new key west.

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This question has always baffled me. I lived in Charleston for seven years before relocating to Charlotte last year. The city has an overabundance of the charm, soul, and character that most of us gays love :yahoo: . The laid back atmosphere should engender a more accepting attitude. Its not though. The gay community is largely underground and closeted.The relatively small Alliance for Full Acceptance and LGLA, Dudley's Pantheon and Patricks is the gay community in Charleston and its pathetic. Other beautiful and historic cities embrace their gay community: Savannah,New Orleans, Asheville. There is not one rainbow flag anywhere on the peninsula. Upper King would be the perfect place for a gay and lesbian community center, yet Columbia (much less charming no offense columbians) in the much more conservative Upstate functions as the gay hub for South Carolina. I don't get it :unsure:

Voyager, as a Columbia resident and a gay man I'll ignore the comment about Columbia being less charming, but pplease don't say that we're in the Upstate. Columbia is squarely in the Midlands, which is probably the most liberal part of South Carolina, especially Richland County. I wouldn't say that Charleston isn't gay friendly, it just doesn't happen to have some of the things that you wanted. To that I would have to ask if you ever attempted to found such an organization that you wanted to see there or if you tried to start a gay and lesbian community center? There has been a center in Columbia for almost 13 years now; long before there was one in Charlotte.

voyager12, rememeber charleston is where "the war" started. the city took a bold brave step. dude, i guess the point i am trying to make is start a revolution. if you think upper king would be the perfect setting for a gay center or gay friendly/owned businesses then grab a group of guys and gals and start moving into the area. open a gay center and businesses. somethings may have to be done covertly at first but gradually become more "in your face." from what i understand gay people are resonpsible for sprucing up blighted areas of urban centers. hell, be the first to do something good in the neck area. with all that disposable income it could happen. do anything. start a website promoting the city geared toward the gay community. bring in droves of gay tourists and watch the backward locals (who would like people to think they rock) have a stroke. be a visionary man. as beautiful as the grande old lady of charleston is, i would love to see some some people wake her up. btw, isn't folly beach supposed to be kinda gay. there you go voyager12 start a new key west.

:thumbsup:

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I am sorry if I ruffled your feathers Waccamatt :unsure: I did not mean to. I love Charleston or I would not have gone to college there. You had to pry me away to move to Charlotte for a web job that.....oops wrong board for that. Anyhow, I don't think Charleston is homophobic. I never felt threatened living there. There are no gay friendly areas but on the positive side there is a general "live and let live "attitude which I always appreciated. The anicent Unitarian Universalist Church on Meeting St. has always been gay friendly, so is Vickery's on Beaufain and yes Folly Beach does have a "gay" section of sand and the island is tolerant overall because of its funky nature. Unfortunately though, Folly's real estate prices are soaring, thus rapidly yuppiefying and its losing that edge. Opening a gay/lesbian ctr in a transistionial neighborhood would be a great idea. The gay community in Wilmington opened their ctr on blighted Castle St. downtown and helped rejuvenate the area. Charleston is so on fire even the "blighted" areas are overpriced based on anticipation. Perhaps West Ashely could work although it might get lost out there. In comparison to other Southern and historic cities, New Orleans has a more libertine and polyglot history from its Creole/Mardi Gras past which made it more eclectic and gay friendly. Savannah has always been more laid back and welcoming than Charleston it seems. Must be something in the water :whistling: . SCAD is a big reason Savannah is more gay accepting as well as the "BOOK". Asheville is in a category all by itself. I purposely left out Charlotte because it does not fit the topic but Charlotte is certainly no gay mecca. We do have several gay friendly neighborhoods, civic organizations, and our center while newer than Columbia's is active and growing as well.

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I would have to say that Chas is a little more gay friendly than you think. C of C is a reputable liberal arts school, and I noticed that many gays hang out in those areas particularly lower King Street and now upper King Street. Folly Beach is very accepting as well, I agree. In fact, that area is the most "laid-back" area of the city I have seen. The beach has been described by locals as the "California of the East Coast". :D Attitudes there are very laid back with pot, sexual orientation, and drinking. Folly is also the least likely to become a land of yuppies. Real estate prices are going up, yes, but nowhere near the values of more conservative beaches such as IOP and Sullivans. There are even some very old beach houses which kind of give the island a little Bohemian accent to it.

I grew up West Ashley, and I seriously doubt any gay community will be started there. This area of the city is perhaps the most conservative only second to East Cooper. However, a trend for gays is starting to stir on James Island which is, incidentally, next door to Folly Beach. That part of the city is becoming a hotbed for gays and more accepting liberals, primarily because the population is younger there.

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I am sorry if I ruffled your feathers Waccamatt :unsure: I did not mean to. I love Charleston or I would not have gone to college there. You had to pry me away to move to Charlotte for a web job that.....oops wrong board for that. Anyhow, I don't think Charleston is homophobic. I never felt threatened living there. There are no gay friendly areas but on the positive side there is a general "live and let live "attitude which I always appreciated. The anicent Unitarian Universalist Church on Meeting St. has always been gay friendly, so is Vickery's on Beaufain and yes Folly Beach does have a "gay" section of sand and the island is tolerant overall because of its funky nature. Unfortunately though, Folly's real estate prices are soaring, thus rapidly yuppiefying and its losing that edge. Opening a gay/lesbian ctr in a transistionial neighborhood would be a great idea. The gay community in Wilmington opened their ctr on blighted Castle St. downtown and helped rejuvenate the area. Charleston is so on fire even the "blighted" areas are overpriced based on anticipation. Perhaps West Ashely could work although it might get lost out there. In comparison to other Southern and historic cities, New Orleans has a more libertine and polyglot history from its Creole/Mardi Gras past which made it more eclectic and gay friendly. Savannah has always been more laid back and welcoming than Charleston it seems. Must be something in the water :whistling: . SCAD is a big reason Savannah is more gay accepting as well as the "BOOK". Asheville is in a category all by itself. I purposely left out Charlotte because it does not fit the topic but Charlotte is certainly no gay mecca. We do have several gay friendly neighborhoods, civic organizations, and our center while newer than Columbia's is active and growing as well.

You didn't ruffle my feathers, I was teasing about the "Upstate" comment although it is true, Columbia isn't in the Upstate.

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Unfortunately, the Good Ole Boy mentality is still pervasive in Charleston.

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Back during the SC republican presidential primaries I remember them talking about (on CNN and Fox) how the candidates were trying to appeal to "The fiscal conservatives in the Low-country vs. the social conservatives in the Up-country".

I do know of one gay guy who lived in Charleston, for military reasons and he loved it. (He was only partially out at the time)

When people talk about "gay friendy" it could mean several things. Is the place antagonistic toward gays or not? If however the conversation is more about "gay life" or the gay "scene" (esp for 20-something single gay males), then a city gets judged more for the quality of nightclubs rather than the social climate.

I never been to Charleston yet, but I do know that many small, artsy type cities get unfairly judged as not so gay friendy simply cause they lack high-energy, cosmopolitan gay nightlife. However they will be well respected by older, more settled, low key(not necessarily closeted) gay couples. Sometimes when people are "out" for enough years their sexuality becomes less of a percentage of thier identity and their need for a "gay mecca" fades perhaps?

Perhaps the manners and graciousness Charleston is famous for simply makes it difficult to discuss the controversial in polite conversation?

Here's my gut feeling based both on what I've read here and on what I heard someone more familiar PLEASE correct me if I'm off:

Metro Charleston is a great place to live or visit *despite* one's sexual orientation, but it's not a place one would move to *because* of ones orientation or specifically FOR the gay scene.

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That is a fair assessment, from what I've seen Charleston is not anti-gay, it is definitely a live and let live environment. Like others have said to create a gay scene here in Charleston someone would have to take the initiative. I've seen plenty of openly gay couples walking around together DT that seemed perfectly happy. You have homophobic people everywhere in this world that is just a fact of life.

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What does it take for a city to be gay-friendly? Isn't that more of an individual perception?

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It is, but from reading similar threads for other cities, usually a city that is gay friendly not only has amenities that cater to gays, but the attitude about them is very supportive. The gay friendly city seems to embrace the gay community, in essence. IMO, while Chas does not openly embrace and support gays, it has the atmosphere of "live and let live", as Mike suggested. I have also seen many gay couples walk the streets of DT and Citadel Mall. However, there aren't many places for specifically gays to congregate such as a gay bar or nightclub.

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What does it take for a city to be gay-friendly? Isn't that more of an individual perception?

Certainly what makes a city gay-friendly differs with individual perception, but some of the reasons that I find Columbia (I've never lived in Charleston, but the same sorts of things would make it so, also) to be gay-friendly are as follows:

-A city and/or county inclusive anti-discrimination ordinance. (both Caolumbia and Charleston have these and are the only cities in SC that do)

-A city domestic partnership law (no city in SC)

-Richland County's Sheriff's Dept has a gay and lesbian liaison officer (as well as one for other groups), which is a huge help when dealing with the department on sensitive issues like domestic violence and hate crimes. Historically law enforcement has not had very good interaction with the gay and lesbian community so I give Leon Lott high marks for this, especially since it was his idea.

-Strong community organizations (this is much more important than nightlife); Columbia has the GL Community Center, Pride, The GL Business Guild and many others, including a number of religious organizations. Charleston has LGLA, AFFA and We Are Family.

-Heavily gay or gay-friendly neighborhoods. I think this is one area where Charleston may need some growth. Columbia has Earlewood, Elmwood Park, Shandon, Melrose Heights (which I call lesbiana because of all the lesbians I know there), Cottontown, etc.

-Events in the community like Pride, film festivals, etc. In addition to Pride and its associated film festival we have a volleyball league, banquets, picnics, etc. The MCC in Columbia is building a new church, also. I know Charleston has an active MCC too.

These are just some of the things I think many people look for in a community they want to live in. Younger people (20's-30's) also look for a good nightlife. We have a decent one here and so does Charleston.

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You make several good points Waccamatt. Charleston's gay community is so divided into cliques its hard to make a case for cohesiveness. At least that was my impression from the seven years I lived there. The Alliance for Full Acceptance and Lowcountry Gay and Lesbian Alliance are active but small and they never seem to be able to garner widespread support in the larger gay community. There are no civic or social groups, no gay and lesbian center, no annual pride events, no gay friendly neighborhoods. Columbia and Charlotte possess this and it makes a huge difference. The lack of a meaningful gay community is a combination of apathy and the transient nature of a tourist and college town in my opinion. Finally, I love Charleston but there is definitely an ingrained elitist attitude against anything that is considered non-conformist or alternative. I would characterize Charleston's view of its gay community as ambivalent and indifferent but try to propose greater visibility for Charleston's gays and you raise a lot of ire.

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:)

You make several good points Waccamatt. Charleston's gay community is so divided into cliques its hard to make a case for cohesiveness. At least that was my impression from the seven years I lived there. The Alliance for Full Acceptance and Lowcountry Gay and Lesbian Alliance are active but small and they never seem to be able to garner widespread support in the larger gay community. There are no civic or social groups, no gay and lesbian center, no annual pride events, no gay friendly neighborhoods. Columbia and Charlotte possess this and it makes a huge difference. The lack of a meaningful gay community is a combination of apathy and the transient nature of a tourist and college town in my opinion. Finally, I love Charleston but there is definitely an ingrained elitist attitude against anything that is considered non-conformist or alternative. I would characterize Charleston's view of its gay community as ambivalent and indifferent but try to propose greater visibility for Charleston's gays and you raise a lot of ire.

that is a very accurate point about when one tries to propose greater visibility and then faces lots of opposition. i hate that about any city and any group or issue that tries to gain support. i think somewhere north of calhoun you guys could begin to slowly cultivate a gayborhood. once you have the numbers in the city proper start things like a film festival, etc. if you see opposition push back. if one is gay then you are what you are and you have the same rights as everyone else. embrace diversity. i like different people! :)

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I nominate tablrock as an honorary straight gay :thumbsup: Waccamatt seconds by proxy I am sure.. You are in the club :yahoo

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Well, the article link below might just show you guys that Chas gays are becoming more outspoken. A group of former military members who were forced out of the service or resigned from it for being gay have started a multi-state campaign for changing the military's policy on gays. The campaign has been named the Call to Duty Tour, and it started yesterday with a press conference at White Point Gardens on the Battery, DT. This group will visit about 18 cities to promote support for federal legislation to repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy and allow gays to serve openly in the armed forces.

You guys might just be getting what you're asking for, because announcing the start of the campaign in Chas should demonstrate that there is a gay-friendly community in the city. Shouldn't it?

[url="http://www.charleston.net/stories/?newsID=64713

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I am going to stop carping now and point out improvements in the gay scene in Charleston. I heard that Dudleys has expanded. I heard that the owner of Club Pantheon who also runs Dudleys I think.. is going to move Pantheon from its location at the bottom of the parking garage to the street. I am going down to Chas from Charlotte this weekend so I will drive by and see. The first step for progress is visibility so this is good news! As long as Basil is completed untouched. I love that restaurant !!:yahoo:

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I nominate tablrock as an honorary straight gay :thumbsup: Waccamatt seconds by proxy I am sure.. You are in the club :yahoo

I agree wholeheartedly; Tablrock earns the order of the rainbow palmetto.

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I nominate tablrock as an honorary straight gay :thumbsup: Waccamatt seconds by proxy I am sure.. You are in the club :yahoo

does this mean i get a parade? :shades:

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does this mean i get a parade? :shades:

You do if you're in Columbia on May 20th! My band will even play the song of your choice (if it isn't too hard :)

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