June 8, 2012 at 11:38 am EDT | by Kevin McDuffie
Dupont dawn

Dupont Circle has changed drastically over the last 40 years, much of it due to gays moving in. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Pride Week is always a highlight on the year’s social calendar. But to me, gay Pride is much more than just a one-weekend party,no matter how fabulous that party may be.

Pride Week is a time to stop and reflect on the past year and how far we’ve come. How much ground we have gained. The past year has definitely been a banner year. Gay marriage has remained at the forefront of the political and cultural discussion and the president of the United States has publicly declared his support. I wasn’t sure I’d ever see the day when the leader of the free world would take a positive stand on this issue.

Together, we have accomplished a great deal and we are leaving a lasting impression on our politics, our culture and our communities. During Pride Week, I think we should pause to recognize and celebrate how deep that impact goes.

As the manager of one of the area’s top real estate offices, I’m particularly proud of our impact on our city’s communities. Take Dupont Circle, for example. Before the gay community discovered Dupont in the ‘70s, it was a rundown, somewhat seedy area.  But when Washington’s first gay bookstore, Lambda Rising, opened in 1974, it attracted an eclectic crowd that thrived on being open minded and celebrating each other’s differences. The store’s clientele couldn’t help but notice the great location, cool architecture and, at the time, low prices, and they started snapping up and renovating the rundown buildings.

Before long, this pride of ownership began showing on the outside, as well. Streets were cleaned up. Facades revitalized. As Dupont began attracting more affluent gay residents, the area slowly evolved into a trendy neighborhood with picturesque streets, coffee shops, great restaurants and stores. By the ‘90s, the neighborhood had developed a reputation for being a hip and trendy area. Word was out, and families and straight singles starting moving in as well.

As the area became more gentrified, many of the gays moved on to other emerging neighborhoods. Today, a much smaller percent of Dupont Circle remains gay. The average home price here has increased 10-20 times since the ‘70s — a figure that would have shocked the urban pioneers who moved into the area almost 40 years ago.

We’ve seen a similar revitalization in Logan and Shaw. What were once rather rundown areas have been renovated, refurbished and reenergized by the gay community into premier locations. It’s happened time and again, not just in D.C., but across the country. Think about New York City’s Greenwich Village and West Hollywood in Los Angles. In fact, I imagine you could find a neighborhood like this in just about any major U.S. city. Even South Beach is a great example.

Our pride in ownership has repeatedly led to the revitalization of entire neighborhoods and big swaths of our city. Which for me is just one more source of gay pride.

Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Dupont is located in the heart of Dupont Circle at 1606 17th Street NW at Q Street, across the street from Annie’s Steakhouse and between JR.’s and Cobalt. We are on the Pride Parade route this weekend. See our ad on pages 4 and 5 of the Official Pride Guide.

Be true, be you.

Kevin McDuffie is the managing broker Coldwell Banker/Dupont office. He can be reached at 202-439-2435. 


1 Comment
  • Dirk Beach and Bob Barrow

    This is so very true. In 1986, we purchased a three story row house at the corner of 4th & Ridge Streets, NW. Ridge Street was a notorious “One Stop” drug area, with fences, dealers and shooting gallery owners populating the street. One neightbor was the first openly Gay DC police officer, and MCC-DC bought it’s first property around the corner on M Street, and later built an award winning sanctuary at 5th & Ridge Streets. Almost every house on Ridge Street was severly distressed, but with time, patience, talent, and alot of money, we turned the neighborhood around, got rid of the drugs and increased the value of the properties in our little enclave.

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