Where the Great Cities Go, Do Other Cities Follow? Divergent Trajectories of LGBTQ Organizational Growth Across the United States During the AIDS Crisis
Numerous studies examine how LGBTQ life differs between large, cosmopolitan cities like San Francisco and other, less prominent cities. Nevertheless, most of this research is done through case studies of one or a handful of LGBTQ communities, making it unclear how unique the large hubs of LGBTQ life truly are. This study leverages nationally complete data from the U.S. Gayellow Pages, a historical listing of local LGBTQ organizations, to evaluate how the organizational response of LGBTQ communities to the AIDS crisis—arguably the most prolific era of organizational creation in LGBTQ history—differed between large hubs and other cities. Findings make clear the risks of generalizing about LGBTQ life from large hubs alone. Although AIDS stimulated the creation of health-related and social movement organizations in large hubs, AIDS was more strongly associated with organizational creation outside of rather than within large hubs. The types of organizations created due to AIDS tended to be more varied outside of rather than within large hubs as well. These differences highlight the value of decentering the large hubs of LGBTQ life as units of analysis in the study of sexuality and space.