October 2013

Before gay marriage was legal. Before RuPaul’s Drag Race won its first Emmy. Before Pete Buttigieg became the first openly gay Cabinet member confirmed by the Senate. And long before Pride x Design and The Big Gay Architect were glimmers in anyone’s eye, I was sent a series of questions asking for my perspective on being queer in architecture.

What were some of the challenges? What was my experience in being out? Did I believe the industry was changing? While I still felt like the only gay architect in Dallas, I tried to answer as openly and honestly as I knew how. Especially if I was the only visibly gay architect they were able to reach.

I wasn’t expecting, however, that ten years later, those questions would bubble to the surface as I started to write my essay for Out in Architecture. However, after reading them, I began to wonder if my answers were still valid. So much had changed in those ten years. I was legally married. I started writing The Big Gay Architect blog. I made enough connections to finally feel I wasn’t the only gay architect – in Dallas, in Texas, or anywhere else.

But in finding those questions and realizing how much time had passed, I began to wonder how the queer architects I had met in the intervening years would answer those questions? Despite personally feeling like a lot of advancement had been made, would anyone else? Being homo emeritus, I have perhaps a longer lens in watching history play out and a deeper sense of change.

I decided to reach out to my friend/colleague/fellow queer Sarah Nelson-Woynicz, the creator and curator of and storyteller at Pride x Design, to see how best to address that question. And of course, she summed up my concerns pretty bluntly: “Why don’t we ask?”

Very little data exists about queer identity in architecture. Some surveys, like the Equity By Design Equity in Architecture Survey, began to incorporate questions about identity. Architecture giant Gensler included data from within their offices on gender and identity for the first time in 2021. Designing Beyond the Binary wrapped up their first phase of research last year.

What was stopping us from creating our own survey and reaching out to the architects we knew as well as the ones we didn’t? (Thanks social media!) We could even look for data beyond the answers – information that could help us understand the responses we were given as well as provide insight into what might be missing and how we could advocate for the queer architecture community.

Over the next two months – on The Big Gay Architect and Pride x Design– Sarah and I will start sharing those questions and the current perspectives we’ve received. Each week we will tackle another question. Select and share answers – sometimes individually and sometimes as a collected response. And share some speculation on what that may mean for the future of the queer architecture community.

Come along for the ride! A decade seems like a long time, but before you know it, another ten years will have passed, and we’ll find ourselves wondering again how much architecture has changed.