The Case Against Making a City “Beautiful”
On finding beauty in Houston amidst the ugliness, and what the city stands to lose from increasing gentrification.
Bryan Washington is the author of Lot, with fiction and essays appearing in the New York Times, the New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, BuzzFeed, Vulture, The Paris Review, Boston Review, Tin House, One Story, Bon Appétit, MUNCHIES, American Short Fiction, GQ, FADER, The Awl, Hazlitt, and Catapult. He’s the recipient of an O. Henry Award, and he lives in Houston.
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Montrose was unofficially codified as the nexus of queer life in Houston. If you held a map to the wall, I could tell you how we came to be on those streets.
There will be as many different iterations of this storm, and the ones to come, as there are Houstonians. And we have to hear them—they’re what will determine our map for the next one.
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You’re in the city, but you aren’t. You don’t have to spend any money. No one’s asking about your documentation. You don’t have to do much at all except for exist, and open your eyes.
We’d made a connection across tables, generations, tongues, our own tiny blip of transcendence. Holiness in the noodle bar.