Quote Of The Day: 1966 Heights Was ‘Brought Back From Slum Death By Influx’ Of Gays

Writer and theologian William R. Wineke, a columnist for the Wisconsin State Journal and an ordained clergyman of the United Church of Christ, expresses his views on same-sex marriage in an opinion piece for WISC-TV Madison, Wisconsin’s news website Channel3000.com.

We’re neither supporting or dissuading the author’s perspective here, but highlighting his reflections on Brooklyn Heights some 45 years ago. Wineke describes living here in 1966 as “a beautiful community of brownstones that had been brought back from slum death by an influx of gay and lesbian citizens.”

That’s long before I (your BHB scribe, not Wineke) moved to the nabe, although I’ve heard fascinating anecdotes about gay haunts and a robust shadow populace in decades past. Anybody care to add perspective about Wineke’s conjecture that the Heights was gentrified and/or aggregated by the gay community?

There’s more in the Channel3000 piece, relative to Winike’s time in Brooklyn Heights. He adds: “At that time, the question wasn’t whether gays should be allowed to marry—but whether they should be allowed to join our churches. Most of my neighbors were gay, I guess. The only difference between them and me is that they liked to watch football on television and I liked to read on Sunday afternoons. One thing was clear even then: My neighbors were no threat to western civilization or to Christian values. To the contrary, they upheld the civilization and values of our neighborhood.”

See the full opinion piece, “Give Up the Bigotry” hereand

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  • AEB

    It’s the ball-fringe gene, only recently detected as part of the gay genome.

    But better late than never, say I.

  • http://n/a Barbara Shernoff

    Totally untrue and misleading quote. Again, another person speaking out of ignorance.

  • http://n/a Barbara Shernoff

    “was brought back from SLUM DEATH”?????!!!!!–a revoltingly, outright lie!!

  • Nabeguy

    Slum death? Huh? By 1966, the Cadman towers were in full construction mode, eliminating anything in the area that could be accused of being slum-ish. Yes, there was an influx of gays into the Heights during the 60’s and 70’s, but I wouldn’t argue that they “rescued” the neighborhood from decline. The north Heights had already experienced a resurgence during the 50’s when people such as my parents and others bought and refurbished housing that had been in decline (my house had previously done service as a boarding house). The emerging gay community certainly added nuance to the flavor of the Heights, but I wouldn’t call it a resurrection.

  • bornhere

    The comment of this “writer and theologian” is stunningly ill informed.

  • John Wentling

    The Heights once had the third largest gay population in the U.S., behind S.F. and Greenwich Village.

    The Heights was certainly colorful then, on my last visit “home” I found it rather staid and boring.

    A few hundred low income housing units would do the nabe a world of good.

  • Andrew Porter

    When I moved here in 1968, there were a bunch of bars catering to BH’s gay citizens, including the Piano Bar in the Bossert, the bar where Vineapple is now, and a gay bar in the newly built commercial strip of Pineapple Walk where Peas & Pickles is now.

    I often wonder if the placing of characters in “Angels in America” on Pineapple Street is an homage to Stephen Langley, then head of the Brooklyn College Drama Dept., who had a penthouse on the street. He and his “houseboy” both died of AIDS, as did numerous other people in his building. In the 1960s, the landlord did not rent to married couples, preferring to rent to gays and lesbians.