Re-Gentrification of the Dupont Circle

This week on Facebook, a friend posted a rather distasteful, yet amusing clip of the German movie Downfall in which subtitles have been altered for comedic effect. This is not a new trick. The clip and subtitles, which show Hitler screaming at his top command in the final hours before his death, have been used countless times on the internet for this very purpose alone – comedy.

In this particular clip, contributed by J. Justin Wilson entitled ” Hitler Finds Out about Straights’ Siege on DC’s Gays”, an irritate Hitler goes on a rant about “straights” taking over gay areas of the DC.

You can watch it here:

As humorous as this clip is, there is some truth to it all. It proposes a question greater than the” straights” taking over DC’s historically gay neighborhoods and hangouts – but how the city is rapidly changing – and remolding neighborhoods and cultures that have been deeply rooted for generations.

Two weeks ago the Washington Blade, DC’s Gay & Lesbian newspapercelebrated it 45th anniversary. To commemorate the occasion, the paper ran its original one page edition on the cover. One story in particular caught my eye. I have posted it below:

Dupont

The history of Dupont Circle being a mecca for the gay community, as with many gay neighborhoods across the nation, can be traced back to “white flight” in the mid 20th century. In Dupont Circle’s case, the 1968 riots only fueled the rapid decline of the once majestic neighborhood. In the two decades that followed however, the “out” gay community reclaimed the area and it slowly blossomed into one of the most eclectic neighborhoods in the city. Alongside the Castro in San Francisco, Dupont Circle became one of the first of its kind in the United States.

As the notification in the Washington Blade made clear, the flourishing neighborhood was not welcomed by the city in 1967. Still the gentrification of Dupont Circle, or the Fruit Loop as was mockingly called well into the 1990’s, continued to thrive. This growing community allowed for a unique political stronghold that was courted by politicians when the city gained home rule in the early 1970’s – something almost unheard at the time.

Study after study after study has shown that gay gentrification increases property values. Dupont Circle and its once thriving gay community is the perfect example. It also serves as a case study in how it drives the gay community out over time.

Forty years after Dupont Circle reached its peak as one of the first gay neighborhoods in the United States, the largest population that currently inhabits it is single white professional females, enough even to draw a Anne Taylor Loft to the strip on Connecticut Avenue. Shifts in the “gay neighborhoods” in DC have been driven largely by the rising costs in housing.

So….while the re-make of Hitler’s rant in Downfall is hilarious – it begs the question – will Dupont Circle completely lose its historic integrity and importance?

For me, it’s something that should be at the very least remembered.

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