North Dallas’ Disney Streets, perhaps unsurprisingly, attract many gay homeowners
By Jonanna Widner
For years, the Oak Lawn area has been known as The Gayborhood, an enclave not just where the LGBT community gathers to party, but also where many choose to live. The demographics in this part of town skew so heavily, just saying “Oak Lawn” or “Cedar Springs” is practically code for “gay.”
As the community has grown — and, in some ways, grown up — many queer folks are making different choices about where in Dallas they choose to live. Parts of Oak Cliff have seen an upswing in gay homeownership, attracted by the beautiful homes with storybook profiles.
But when you’re talking about fairy tales, well, that requires a few princesses. Like Snow White. And Cinderella.
Which is perhaps why the Disney Streets area of North Dallas has become a hot spot for gay homeowners.
“I tell my friends who don’t live here that it’s very King of the Hill,” says Jason Kloss, who lives along Wonderland in the area just off Royal Lane, roughly between Midway and Marsh. “I’ll mow my lawn and my straight neighbors will all come out with their beer and hang out.”
Kloss is one of many gay denizens who have made the move toward a part of town once thought to be suburban, straight and sterile. But after looking at several neighborhoods, he settled on the Disney Streets based on several factors.
“I looked into Oak Cliff, and I liked it, but I found it kind of detached from the rest of the city with just the one major artery,” he says. “After a couple of treks in traffic, I ruled it out real fast.”
From his four-bedroom, four-bath home, Kloss notes, he can still drive to the Gayborhood in about eight minutes. “It’s a straight shot into town,” he says. The easy commute allows him access to the traditionally rowdy part of town, minus the hubbub.
“It just seemed like it would be — how should I say it — overwhelming to live there,” Kloss says.
Another draw of this neighborhood is the surfeit of unique mid-century homes that are typical of the area.
“Of course, in Dallas you had the [gay] guys come in and say, ‘Oh my god, mid-century ranch!’” laughs Realtor Phillip Archer, who has sold several homes to gays and lesbians in North Dallas. “They’re mainly brick ranch homes, which gives the area a very distinctive flair.”
In the latter part of the 1980s and early ’90s, Archer says, gays were buying homes here and completely renovating them. Now, most of the homes have already been redone, attracting even more buyers. Archer estimates that between 30 and 40 percent of the homes can claim LGBT owners — a number to which Kloss can anecdotally attest: He ticks down
a list of his neighbors that bear out the evidence.
“There’s a lesbian couple a street over … there’s a gay couple down the street,” he notes (although he’s also quick to point out the friendliness of his straight neighbors). “We joke that once I moved into the neighborhood, they’re going to have to really take care of their yards.”
Both Kloss and Archer point out that, while obviously the nightlife doesn’t rival that of the Oak Lawn/Cedar Springs area, North Dallas offers plenty of shopping and dining options, particularly along Forest and Royal. Archer says the area suits people who prefer not to live as far away as Plano, but also not in the heart of the city, and it affords the demographic a community feel that once was relegated to very specific parts of Dallas. Kloss points out that a neighborhood LGBT group meets for dinner at the local El Fenix once a month, as well as regularly meeting up for cocktails at rotating establishments.
It’s a different vibe, of course, than the Gayborhood — mellower, a bit older and more settled — but the Disney Streets and beyond have quietly grown into a place where the queer community can feel comfortable. Maybe they should call it Queens of the Hill.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 5, 2012.