Architecture, Sexuality & Culture: A Primer on the Linkages Between Our Profession and the LGBTQ+ Pride Movement

Clare Sausen June 25, 2020

This guide was created by Catherine Blake, Iva Groudkova, Quen Foster-Patterson and Samantha Cross from our Knowledge Information Management (KIM) group. It explores the legacy of homophobia, legislative progression, and civil rights as they manifest in the built environment at the intersection of housing, transit, density, urban development, decay, and discrimination.

This recent iteration includes the colors of the trans flag, as well as black and brown stripes added in 2016, but adds the blue and pink colors which are intended to represent the gender binary, with the white accounting for nonbinary and gender-nonconforming people.
The flag above is modified from the traditional rainbow flag to honor the lives of black and brown queer people. It is particularly meaningful after the 2016 Pulse Nightclub massacre in Orlando, FL, where the majority of the victims were Latinx and other queer people of color.











Websites, Activities, & Definitions:

  • The Gender Unicorn – A fun worksheet and activity to learn about aspects of gender identity that more accurately portrays the distinction between gender, sex assigned at birth, and sexuality. Available in 9 other languages from TSER – Trans Student Educational Resources!
  • Comprehensive List of LGBTQ+ Terminology – There are a lot of terms to describe queer identities and experiences. Here is a handy glossary of these terms and their definitions.
  • Pronouns 101 – A helpful graphic about gender pronouns from TSER – Trans Student Educational Resources.
  • Safe Zone Project – a free online resource for creating powerful, effective LGBTQ+ awareness and ally training workshops.
  • Black Girl Dangerous – Blog amplifying the voices of queer and trans people of color.
  • New York City LGBT Historic Sites Project – A scholarly project meant to serve as an educational resource for anyone interested in existing historic and cultural sites associated with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community in New York City.
  • Library of Congress LGBTQ+ Studies Resource Guide – An introduction to the impressive LGBTQ+ collections of the Library of Congress. The Library collects at the research level in the area of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ+) studies. Library holdings are particularly strong in LGBTQ+ politics, history, literature and the performing arts.


  • Pride Foundation – PNW organization founded with the belief that every person should be able to live safely, openly, and genuinely in all the places we call home, the Foundation have invested more than $70 million in transformative community change in pursuit of this vision.
  • Gay City – Seattle’s LGBTQ Center, featuring The Michael C. Weidemann LGBTQ Library – the largest LGBTQ library in the Pacific Northwest with more than 9,000 donated books, CDs & DVDs. Library Catalog here.
  • Audre Lorde Project: A Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two-Spirit, Trans and Gender Non-Conforming People of Color community organizing center, focusing on the New York City area.
  • PFLAG – First and largest organization uniting parents, families, and allies with people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer.
  • Ingersoll Gender Center – One of the oldest organizations of, by and for transgender and gender diversity in the United States. Officially formed in 1977, Ingersoll Gender Center has been building community, connecting folks to resources and advocating for our communities in the Puget Sound region for over four decades.
  • Lambert House – A center for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth that empowers youth through the development of leadership, social, and life skills.
  • Emerald City Black Pride (ECBP) – A community group run by the Center for MultiCultural Health (CMCH) that sponsors events to support and affirm African American gay, bi and same-gender-loving men.
  • GLAAD LGBTQ Resource List

Videos & Podcasts:

  • Bill Nye on Sexuality and Gender Spectrum – three min. video on the kaleidoscope of what people are.
  • Brother Outsider: The Life of Freedom Fighter Bayard Rustin — (2002) Bayard Rustin was posthumously awarded the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. One of the first “freedom riders,” an adviser to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and A. Philip Randolph, organizer of the march on Washington, intelligent, gregarious and charismatic, Bayard Rustin was denied his place in the limelight for one reason – he was gay.
  • Paris is Burning – (1991) – Filmed in the mid-to-late 1980s, the documentary chronicles the ball culture of New York City and the African-American, Latino, gay, and transgender communities involved in it.
  • Pose – (2018) In 1987 New York, LGBTQ ball fixture Blanca starts her own house, soon becoming mother to a gifted dancer and a sex worker in love with a yuppie client.
  • How to Survive a Plague – (2012) American documentary film about the early years of the AIDS epidemic, and the efforts of activist groups ACT UP and TAG.
  • Gov LGBTQ Heritage – As America’s storytellers, the National Park Service (NPS) is committed to telling the history of all Americans in all of its diversity and complexity.
  • 5 Podcasts at the Intersection of Pride Month and the Black Lives Matter Movement. New York Times. June 2020.
  • Gays in Architecture – HDP Architecture & Interiors led conversation about being a gay practicing architect.


Books & Book Lists:

  • Building Sex – (1995) Men, Women, Architecture, and the Construction of Sexuality – (1995) Architecture critic and curator Aaron Betsky looks at how traditional gender roles have influenced architecture.
  • Queer Space – (1997) Architecture critic and curator Aaron Betsky examines how same-sex desire is creating an entirely new architecture. Gay men and women are at the forefront of architectural innovation, reclaiming abandoned neighborhoods, redefining urban spaces, and creating liberating interiors out of hostile environments. Queer spaces have arisen out of the experiences of homosexuals in straight culture.
  • There Goes the Gayborhood – (2014) Gay neighborhoods, like the legendary Castro District in San Francisco and New York’s Greenwich Village, have long provided sexual minorities with safe havens in an often unsafe world. But as our society increasingly accepts gays and lesbians into the mainstream, are “gayborhoods” destined to disappear? Amin Ghaziani provides an incisive look at the origins of these unique cultural enclaves, the reasons why they are changing today, and their prospects for the future.
  • Safe Space – Gay Neighborhood History and the Politics of Violence – (2013) Winner, 2014 Lambda Literary Award in LGBT Studies. Since the 1970s, a key goal of lesbian and gay activists has been protection against street violence, especially in gay neighborhoods. During the same time, policymakers and private developers declared the containment of urban violence to be a top priority. In this work, Christina B. Hanhardt examines how LGBT calls for “safe space” have been shaped by broader public safety initiatives that have sought solutions in policing and privatization and have had devastating effects along race and class lines.
  • Designing for Diversity: Gender, Race, and Ethnicity in the Architectural Profession – (2001) A powerful statement about the repercussions of discrimination and the benefits of diversity in architecture Although published nearly 20 years ago, there’s a lot of room for growth in the profession and industry.
  • 8 Memoirs by Black Trans Writers (Book Riot)
  • 15 Books by Transgender Women You Need to Read Immediately (Buzzfeed)
  • 23 LGBTQ Books with a POC Protagonist (Bustle)
  • 100 Best Lesbian Fiction & Memoir Books of All Time (Autostraddle)

Interested in Donating?

  • The Trevor Project – The leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25.
  • Trans Lifeline: A grassroots hotline and microgrants 501(c)(3) non-profit organization offering direct emotional and financial support to trans people in crisis
  • ACLU – LGBT Rights

Author Spotlight

Clare Sausen
Clare Sausen is a Content Writer for CallisonRTKL. Based in Washington, D.C., she leverages her personal and professional experience in journalism, radio, and nonprofit communication to serve as a valuable member of the global firmwide team. Since attaining her Bachelor of Arts degree from George Washington University in Communication and American Studies, she has honed her craft of architectural storytelling across multiple platforms.