Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Gay Canary in the Mineshaft

Historically, cities and urban economies seem to grow partly because they offer a more fluid and less judgmental environment than rural areas. Getting bright and productive people together across old timey religious and cultural barriers seems to make the economic world go around.

Or in other words, high levels of social tolerance appear to be a basic building block of economic growth.

Richard Florida’s argument just underscores that long term reality. He and other observers point out that the most economically productive places are also the most socially tolerant places.

When you look at the list of the top post-industrial metro areas which are driving our national economy and feathering the nest of even the most socially intolerant fundamentalist believers, you can’t help but notice that they specialize in greater openness to most every group, including (especially?) gays.

I’ll take a look at the whole gay marriage and civil rights thing next week from a Christian and secular point of view.

Miners used to take canaries in cages down the mineshafts to detect deadly poisonous gases. Canaries turned out to be much more sensitive to those gases than people. When the canaries survived and flourished productive work could go on. When the canaries died it was time to evacuate the mine.

Maybe gay folks and other socially marginalized groups play a similar role now in our urban and national economy. Most of the actual on-the-ground evidence suggests it.

Don’t think the right wing, conservative, Christian free markets group is buying :^)

Check that last comment. Quite a few of them may be buying. That's why I think the current free market/economic development right can't ultimately stay with the southern fried religious right. It's ultimately an incoherent alliance of convenience.


Blogger 3wishes said...

Does this mean that on my next trip to Colorado I will see less church camps? Church camps and Texas license plates seem to be in abundance up there in Colo. But then Ive always heard Texas is actually just steers and queers :)

1:21 PM  
Blogger Wordcat said...

No, we've got the mountain church camp market cornered here. But Denver and Boulder are like the crazy lefty cousins who the rest of the state can't figure out but can't live without since they drive the whole economy. If you drive 40 miles east of Denver cousins are still marrying each other...:^)

12:13 PM  
Anonymous Jon said...

Heh - I bet the dynamics in Colorado and Oregon are pretty similar. In Oregon we had Portland and Eugene, which were absolutely nothing like the rest of the state, but are the two biggest cities and carry half the state's population.

Senator-wise we elected one democrat and one republican (neither very extreme), who both won their inital elections by less than a percentage point and now pull 65% or better each time. So it works out okay enough for us, although we do manage to pass more idiotic ballot measures than almost any state, and on both sides of the political spectrum.

12:07 AM  
Anonymous vonstroh said...

This post reminds me of something Mako (I think it was Mako) said a few years ago: Its almost always the gay population that begins the gentrification process in any poor neighborhood in the city. The rich and middle class straight folks are afraid of the 'hoods so they stay far away. The gay population is looking for a place that they can live in peace together and be accepted. They land in these poor inner-city districts, usually with plenty of education, money and development mentality. They fix the places up, drive up the property values. Soon the rich and middle class straight folks (especially the yuppies) start to notice these are chic, hip areas to live, shop, and hang out in. They move in too. Gentrification is complete. But it wouldn't have started without the gays. I think Mako was suggesting that Christians ministering in the inner city needed to form partnerships with the gay populations so as to find a new alternative to gentrification that displaces the poor, often minority residents of these neighborhoods. If the inner-city church can partner with the gays to build up and revitalize these neighborhoods we could have some kingdom shalom. Seriously. The gays often bring education and capital which are lacking in these 'hoods. The gays, I'm assuming, aren't particularly inclined to see the straight yuppies move in and displace them or then be against their presence as neighbors. So if the gays can help revitalize poor neighborhoods through their education and captial, and also help the poor to achieve greater home ownership (thereby buffering the onslaught of straight yuppies and protecting the gay enclave), would that be a good thing? I think so. And through such partnership, the strong spirituality of the inner-city churches could probably impact the gay community by providing a welcoming place where they could meet God and God could then work in their lives. Romans 8:28! God can work good even out of the deviancy of gay lifestyles and the unbiblical rejection and isolation of the gays by most of the evangelical church and middle-class conservative suburbia.

1:26 AM  

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