‘Who´s Your City?’ is a recently published international bestseller by
Richard Florida, also the author of ‘The Creative Class’. Florida is known
for his concept of what he calls the creative class and its implications
for urban regeneration. This idea was expressed in his other international
best-selling studies ‘The Rise of the Creative Class’ and ‘Cities and the
Creative Class’. And now, with ‘Who’s Your City?’ he takes a deeper look at
the issues surrounding urban renewal and talent migration. Who actually
are these new international Valencianos and Valencianas choosing to move
here from abroad, and whilst doing so, adding more colour to the city?
Florida’s theory asserts that metropolitan regions with high concentrations of (among others) lesbians and gay men, a group he describes as highbohemians, exhibit a higher level of economic development. And therefore these cities offer a better quality of life in general. To be honest, this development seems to be going a bit slower than expected in Valencia, but maybe Mayor Rita Barberá could actually do something with this ´gay thing´ in mind.
Yes, Valencia does have a ´gay beach.´
As a gay man formerly living in Amsterdam, I´ve noticed Valencia getting
pinker every day. When working on my all over tan at Pinedo beach
across from Camping Col Vert ( http://www.collvertcamping.com/en/ and just behind my very, very favourite arosseria Léstibador.
Some years ago I could only practise my Spanish with local guys, but since a year or two, it´s like about half the boys baring it all on the Valencian coast are from all over the word; Germans, Italians, Dutchies, and a surprisingly large percentage of North Americans. And the interesting thing is: most of the non-Spanish people I meet there – this early in the season – are not tourists, they have actually moved to Valencia. And they are here to stay.
Last week for example, I met an American airline crew member there, and wondered how he actually found Pinedo? It´s not like it´s promoted on tourist maps and in guidebooks, but it seems the word is spreading. Apart from non-Spanish guys I met a group of Nordico friends telling me they had chosen residence in Valencia over Barcelona, because of its open-minded and tolerant atmosphere, the weather of course, and : being able to rent or buy a fabulous apartment here would cost about half of what they would have paid in their former cities of choice. ´More style at half the price´, smiled German Thomas, formerly living in Barcelona.
Florida´s ´gay index´ has been criticised by gays and straights alike, as of course not every gay person is a high bohemian creative, as nor do they all have ´walking around naked on the beach´ as their hobby. But, taking a closer look at his books´ listed data references, his theory doesn´t seem to be based on stereotypes alone.
Amsterdam´s lost it, Valencia has it.
The gay scene in Valencia seems busier than ever, and when the biggest gay club DESEO http://www.deseo54.com/ celebrated its anniversary last weekend you´d have thought you were in San Francisco or Amsterdam with more muscle-Marys and ultratrendies than I´ve seen at my North European gay pride days. Well, I´m talking about Amsterdam from about ten years ago, as in my opinion this former Gay Capital of the World has lost its status because of its conservative government. Most gay bars with darkrooms in my former hometown have been closed down by local order, while Valencia´s cruisy NUNCADIGANO, HOMENS, and CRUISE are getting more packed every weekend.
Some of my more lefty non-Valencian Spanish friends like to tell me how
´conservative´ Valencia is in their opinion. Well, they have probably never smelled the weed-clouds above Barrio del Carmen on a Saturday night, nor have they experienced a relaxing ´male only spa moment´ at SAUNA MAGNUS on Calle del Mar, or at the even more popular SAUNA OLYMPIC across from the Mercado de Russafa. Having said this, of course Valencia has a lot more to offer to gay men and women than sleazy bars, throbbing clubs and nude beaches.
What´s your city?
So, you might not be gay yourself, and you might think ´what´s this gay stuff gotta to do with me?´ Well, first of all, a city with a relatively high percentage of gay and lesbian inhabitants is a city that will feel more colourful, and according to Florida,will speed up economic growth, and rise on the ´best places to live´ index. You may have already moved to Valencia, or you might be someone considering doing so. If you are part of the latter group, Florida has invented an easy questionnaire on his website to compare cities you might be interested to move to. At his website Creative Class
http://www.creativeclass.com/_v3/whos_your_city/place_finder/ you tap in your current ciy, and two or three others, and then answer some simple questions about how high you would rank certain aspects in your living environment. It´s quick and quite fun, and my personal quest comparing Amsterdam, Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia gave me a ´thumbs up´ for the city I chose as a residence. A decision I never regretted by the way.
The ultimate gay honeymoon
As much as I love (to try) to read El Pais, I confess on some Saturdays I
like to browse the Dutch NRC Handelsblad, an American Wall Street Journal
or Britains´ leading quality newspaper The Guardian. In this last paper, I
recently read an article about the very first gay church-wedding,
congratulations to you, Barb & Jan! Since 14th March this year it´s now
possible for gay and lesbian couples to get legally married in England and
Wales; in Spain the law for same sex marriage came into effect in 2005.
A related article in The Guardian posted a top ten list of the top ten gay honeymoon destinations:
Yes, the elegant and idyllic locations in this gay top ten included the obvious cities like Paris, New York and Berlin. And to me it was not so surprising that Amsterdam was no longer on the list. And there was Valencia, at ranking number eight, Valencia, proudly out there as one of the world’s top ten gay honeymoon destinations! After these gay newlyweds spend their honeymoon in Valencia, I hope some of them will decide to stay.
Valencia´s gay portal Gay Valencia ( http://www.gayvalencia.org/ ) lists
224 Valencia city locations tailoring to this specific target-group alone.
Ellen, George, Santy
Antonio Blanco Otero
SHOT ON LOCATION AT :
Bed and Breakfast Valencia Mindfulness Retreat