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The essential New York gayborhood

Hell's Kitchen vs. the West Village.

By Kate Lowenstein
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Beth Greenfield, Gay & Lesbian editor:
"Hell's Kitchen is like a throwback to a nascent gay Chelsea—cute young boys everywhere, bringing a happy buzz to slick new lounges and eateries—but with the added benefit of being on the edge of the Theater District. What could be gayer?"

Rufus Wainwright, divo, musician (premieres an excerpt from his opera, Prima Donna, at New York City Opera's opening night, Thu 5):
"I live at 23rd and Ninth— the border of Gay Oz. But I find myself more interested in Hell's Kitchen these days: It's where all the Midwestern boys go when they want to be on Broadway. Very gay."

Josh Wood, promoter-producer:
"Hell's Kitchen, Hell's Smitchen. I think it's great that there's a new gay neighborhood, but it lacks history and depth. The West Village is not only the most important gay neighborhood in New York, it's one of the most important in the U.S."

Daniel O'Donnell, New York State Assembly member:
"Culturally, Hell's Kitchen is the essential NYC gay neighborhood. It has a thriving nightlife, including fun, accessible gay bars, and is home to some of the best theater in the world."

Michael Musto, columnist, author of the upcoming Fork on the Left, Knife in the Back:
"Hell's Kitchen has risen as a gay hub because of the slightly cheaper rents and the bars that have popped up like Vlada, Therapy and the Ritz. But there's not a lot of lesbian action there, and the neighborhood has a transient feel, without much substance or history. I'd have to say the West Village is actually the most essential gay neighborhood. It's rich with history, since it was the 1969 rebellion at the Stonewall tavern on Christopher Street that spearheaded the LGBT community's fight for visibility and acceptance. And Stonewall is still there and open! And usually teeming with lesbians!"

Glennda Testone, executive director of the LGBT Center:
"[The essential gay neighborhood] is the Village, in my opinion. First, obviously, because the Center is there, which draws LGBT people from all over the country. There is also the historical significance. Finally, the number one question at the front desk of the center is 'How do I get to Christopher Street?'"

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