Same-sex marriages rise, as gaybourhoods change

There were nearly 73,000 same-sex couples in 2016 in Canada, about a 61 per cent increase

The number of same-sex couples in Canada increased by more than half in the last decade, with three times more couples choosing to get married, census data shows.

There were nearly 73,000 same-sex couples in 2016 – about a 61 per cent increase from the 43,000 reported in the 2011 census.

The increase in the number of reported same-sex couples could be due to attitudes liberalizing dramatically since gay marriage was approved in 2005 in Canada and 2013 in the U.S., according to Amin Ghaziani, Canada Research Chair in Sexuality and Urban Studies at the University of British Columbia.

New census data shows a rapid increase in same-sex couples tying the knot – with one-third of couples reportedly being married – including Vancouver-area residents Laura and Jen O’Connor.

The pair got married for all the romantic, fairy-tale reasons: after seven years together, they were deeply in love and wanted to start a family. But on another level, they thought it might just make their life together a little easier.

After all, being gay comes with its own unique set of challenges – challenges they hoped might be easier to navigate if they shared a last name.

“It’s one less thing, one less obstacle that you have to deal with,” says Jen, 27, during an interview in a sun-drenched backyard at Laura’s parents’ house in Cloverdale.

They decided to move in to save money after spending $15,000 on three unsuccessful rounds of in vitro fertilization.

The pair are currently saving up to buy a home of their own in the Vancouver area – the third-most popular metropolitan city for same-sex couples to live in across the country, behind Toronto and Montreal.

Gaybourhoods are nothing new, including Vancouver’s Davie Street – a well-known destination for LGBTQ members in B.C., but are seemingly becoming less of the hotspots they once were, according to Ghaziani.

“Acceptance produces more of a dispersion,” he said, adding that cultural and social factors work hand-in-hand with the economics of where same-sex couples and singles look to live.

Acceptance is only one factor in the decision-making process, though, as real estate prices remain high and unaffordable for many, especially those with children.

Lesbians are considered the trailblazers of LGBTQ migration, Ghaziani said, historically finding trendy neighbourhoods that are progressive, cheaper and have nearby sustainable resources like grocery and book stores.

Due to the gender wage gap and 80 per cent of same-sex couples with kids being female, lesbians are usually the first to be pushed out of neighbourhoods once late-stage gentrification begins, he said.

For example, as Davies Street tends to offer single occupancy units at higher rent – leaving the one-eighth of same-sex couples with children most likely looking to more affordable non-urban areas.

And as more traditional gaybourhoods change, others seem to be beginning in other parts of the province. More than 1,200 same-sex couples resided in Victoria in 2016, according to the census data, compared to about 700 in 2006.

With files from Laura Kane from The Canadian Press


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