First, let’s understand:

What Gender is Architecture?

If we try to understand  Architecture as a profession, it has been a long period of a male-dominated field. While times are slowly changing, some firms have made a deliberate effort to make their offices more representative of society as a whole by promoting gender equality. One of the most prominent areas of practice in architecture rests almost solely within the domain of men. The last three decades have seen frequently more women in the profession of architecture, but the number of women entering the field of design technology remains disproportionately small.

How architecture can empower LGBTQA+ Community? - Sheet1
CityPride by Elisa Holland.CityPride: Creating LGBTQ Spaces – Calendar – AIA New York / Center for Architecture (aiany.org)

But if you are someone who looks at Architecture as a form of expressionism or free-flowing art that helps to express several artforms regardless of gender then it’s a human value, that can reflect shifting expressions of the society’s values, desires, way of thinking, ideologies, and many other things that has the potential to make an impact.

Why Do People Trust Architecture as a Part of The LGBTQIA Community?

How architecture can empower LGBTQA+ Community? - Sheet2
Last year the White House was a little more festive during Pride Month.Alternatives targets for Donald Trump’s hate instead of the LGBTQ community | Opinion | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper (pghcitypaper.com)

For some young people, a home is a scary place. They may not have the right to live in it, they may not be allowed to make any changes, or worse still—they may be teased and bullied by their housemates. A home can’t become a sanctuary for LGBTQIA+ young people without architecture that fosters inclusivity and safety from an early age.

Architecture is no stranger to social movements; rather some Schools of Architecture across the world are embracing inclusive design as a way of fighting oppression. From interviews with LGBTQIA+ architects and photos of these homes around the world—this article will explore how architecture can empower our queer youth community as well as other diverse groups who are often excluded from the housing.

Housing is a fundamental need and we all want to live in a safe and secure environment for ourselves and our families. In a world where there are so many different types of people who are at risk to be targeted by their landlords/homeowners because of their identity – housing is a critical issue. It remains such an issue in ways we couldn’t even think about, particularly given various reports that the research-based NCH [ New College of the Humanities ]has brought forth around this topic.

LGBTQIA+ is an umbrella term covering all individuals who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or have other sexual orientations/identities. A 2017 report by NCH reveals that nearly half of homeless young people identify as LGBTQA+. This is a very important number that we must bear in mind.

Around the world, many initiatives are focusing on the housing rights of these communities and try their best to provide them with safe and secure homes to live in. One of which is in  UK known as ‘Queer Homes’ initiative by Shelter, this program ensures five-year housing support for young LGBTQA+ people . The shelter works with a group called ‘Independent Options’ which strives to create a supportive community for young people who are going through hard times in their lives. The aim of ‘Queer Homes’ is to make sure that 20% of the total budget goes directly to supporting young LGBTQA+ people.

When we think of queer space, we may first be drawn to architectural metaphors that have long been woven into non-heterosexual identity: the closet and the bathroom, pride and oppression, homosexuality and heterosexuality. Although the term “coming out of the closet” did not penetrate the cultural lexicon until the 1960s, the closet itself is central to queer narratives and how they were told.

In the United States, to respond to the needs of the LGBTQA+ community, states are beginning to work towards building affordable and supportive housing units for LGBTQA+ youth. In New York City, there is an initiative called ‘Open Doors’ which is mentioned by the Greater New York Housing Opportunity Network.

Raising LGBTQIA+ Voices In Architecture

“To strike a path toward greater equity and inclusion in architecture, queer architects encourage others to identify themselves and come together.”

How architecture can empower LGBTQA+ Community? - Sheet3
RAISING VOICES Amplifying the Voices of LGBTQI+ Architects | NCARB – National Council of Architectural Registration Boards

Understanding differences and moving forward

Both Fritz and Gann urged architects to take measures within AIA [American Institute of Architects] and their communities to encourage and protect LGBTQ + people in this profession.  They stressed the need for unity and solidarity with all architects, regardless of their origin. “We need to understand that LGBTQ diversity isn’t the only kind of diversity we’re talking about,” says Fritz, acknowledging that the lack of racial, ethnic, and socio-economic diversity in architecture is problematic. “We have to work with everyone to make architecture representative of the culture we serve. Towards the end of the panel, Berman reminded the attendees the differences within the queer community should not be disregarded. We all have this form of dual consciousness,” he says. “We understand our problems, but we don’t necessarily understand each other.” 

Starting with recognizing their differences will allow the LGBTQ + community in architecture to move forward as a stronger and more unified force. Then the real work can begin. “This is just the beginning of a conversation that we are all trying to have in a very strategic and targeted way,” says Gann.

Reflecting LGBTQ Culture

It’s all about how the building responds to the needs of its users. Our culture aims to make the most of buildings. Creating a built environment that will not be out of date in a few years and will last longer than expected is what the future should aim for, besides Architecture reflects the culture in which it grows.

Author

With a cryptic perspective and ambivert personality, Simran is a student of B.Arch, who beliefs in reverie as escapism to bring solutions to realism. Besides, she says Architecture is not a domain limited to buildings however it’s an art that’s so far evident in every entity in this world, she also intends to explore more with her perceptions.

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