Part of Norfolk’s Auto Row, the area now known as the NEON District has a history closely connected to that of the automobile. In fact, the heart of the NEON, a strip of Granby Street between Brambleton and Wilson Avenue was at one point entirely devoted to automobile related businesses1 including car dealerships, parts stores, repair shops, and the iconic Texaco Building, formerly a filling station and the company’s district headquarters.
The NEON district is now the city’s creative center and was designated Norfolk’s “first official arts district” in 2013. The district’s website describes the transformation “from a dilapidated eyesore into a thriving arts destination,”2 but what that description misses is the vibrant queer nightlife and arts scenes driven by queer artists that existed in the area for many years. Recent revitalization efforts have not yet included any significant nods to the area’s long queer history.