Changing times: Denver’s LGBT families are moving beyond the ‘gayborhood’
Stapleton, City Park gain influence while Capitol Hill, Cheesman Park hold steady
June 18, 2012 | 12:00 pm
(Updated: June 14, 2012 | 8:42 pm)
By Christine McManus
Following nationwide trends, Denver area same-sex couples are increasingly finding neighborhoods outside Downtown to be as welcoming as the historic neighborhoods in the heart of the city that were originally known as “gay villages.”
Leading growth in outlying Denver neighborhoods is – of little surprise – Stapleton, which according to the 2010 U.S. Census added 143 same-sex households to the 3,700 residences built 2002-2010 on the former airport grounds, located conveniently close to Downtown.
Stapleton residents Dr. Jason Markijohn, 35, and John Andreu, 43, have lived there the past four years, where approximately one in 26 households are headed by same-sex couples. The couple enjoys the convenient location and nice neighborhood feel.
“There’s an open mind set in Stapleton,” Markijohn said. “If you’re walking down the street with your partner, you feel safe. We’re always running into other couples.”
Nearby, the most popular area in Colorado for same-sex couples is still the 80220 zip code, southeast of City Park from Colorado and E. Montview Blvds. south to E. First Ave. and east to Quebec and Yosemite Sts. The area has 368 same-sex couples – out of 18,000 households, or roughly one in 50 households.
Of course, many LGBT people are single, are notoriously difficult to track with statistics – and are by no means leaving the Denver’s Capitol Hill and Cheesman Park areas in the dust.
U.S. Census data shows that from 2000-2010, the number of same-sex couples living in the Cheesman Park area, (zip code 80218), grew three percent to 292 couples. The Cheesman Park area still ranks in the top 3 most popular neighborhoods, with one in every 40 households led by a gay or lesbian couple. In Capitol Hill and Uptown, (zip code 80203), one in 56 households are occupied by same-sex couples.
“The one huge difference I’ve noticed is that Capitol Hill has a younger demographic that’s in party mode, whereas Stapleton is a bit older and established, with a more relaxed atmosphere,” Markijohn said.
The Congress Park and Cherry Creek area east of downtown, zip code 80206, moved up from third to second most popular neighborhood for same-sex couples between 2000 and 2010, with 340 same-sex couples occupying one in 36 households.
West of downtown Denver, The Highlands – the popular neighborhood west of Interstate 25, and south of Interstate 70 extending west to Sloan’s Lake – saw a 25 percent growth rate for same-sex couples from 2000-2010: from 221 couples to 268 couples, or one in 53 households.
More than 4,050 households in Denver are headed by same-sex couples – or 1.5 percent of households – out of 263,000 households in Denver County. That amounts to one in 65, compared to one in 123 households in the state. The U.S. average rose from one in 178 households in 2000 to one in 129 households in 2010.
The growth of same-sex couple households shows no sign of slowing, as society continues to be more accepting and more people can be out more comfortably.
“As more gay and lesbian couples are married or partnered and more have children, the growth of Stapleton and open areas like it will continue,” said Greg Montoya, one of Stapleton’s first residents.
Montoya and his husband Randy Martin still proudly tell stories of how they met other gay couples at every turn while their home was being built 10 years ago.
Another mark of the maturing of the LGBT community is the fact that Stapleton singles and couples and families have two social clubs. The Facebook group ‘Gaypleton’ invites residents to mark their suburban calendars for the First Stapleton Pride event on June 23.
“When you look at Denver, whether it’s Congress Park or Stapleton or any area we move into, we bring something, an aspect that people want in their community,” said Montoya. ]
Editor’s note: U.S. Census data for smaller demographics such as unmarried same-sex partner households has a varying margin of error and should be considered approximations.