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Gayest Cities in America, 2013
January 23, 2013 4:21 AM   Subscribe

Advocate.com has compiled a list of the gayest cities in America. Their eclectic criteria and point system is explained in the article.

15. St. Louis

14. Salem, Ore

13. Colorado Springs, Colo

12. Providence, R.I.

11. Oakland, Calif.

10. Twin Cities, Minn.

9. Atlanta

8. Madison, Wis.

7. Eugene, Ore.

6. Salt Lake City

4. Washington, D.C.

3. Spokane, Wash.

2. Springfield, Mass.

1. Tacoma, Wash.

Honorable mention
posted by Sailormom (63 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Peoria IL where I grew up gets an honorable mention. A lot of my friends for back then will probably be surprised considering all the harassment and bulling they had to endure.
posted by Sailormom at 4:23 AM on January 23, 2013


Concerts by Scissor Sisters, Uh Huh Her, Girl in a Coma, and cast of Glee
1 point for each stop since 2009

Fabulous shopping
1 point each if a city has Whole Foods, West Elm, or Pottery Barn stores


Let's... just pretend this never happened.
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:46 AM on January 23, 2013 [33 favorites]


ATL REPRESENT
posted by Kitteh at 4:47 AM on January 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


I like that the piece is pretty transparent about getting a surprising list through fun criteria rather than one that purports to be serious/scientific. It lets them highlight the positives of some second-tier cities and avoid the "Well, you know: San Francisco, New York, Boston ..."

Though I think Springfield's a questionable number two, seeing as I think the city's slogan is "Not quite Worcester, but better than Albany!"
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:54 AM on January 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


The funny thing is, as a straight guy, these are places I want to live (and did live, in Dupont/Adams Morgan in DC).

I looked at their point system, which obviously means very little to me, and still I'd come to similar conclusions based on a totally different set of criteria. Obviously, gays as tastemakers is a cliche but cliche for a reason.
posted by C.A.S. at 4:57 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not really all that sure we deserve #10, considering Minnesota came awfully close to passing its own DOMA this year.
posted by graventy at 5:00 AM on January 23, 2013


I'm not going to engage with the ludicrous criteria, but I am really curious about the nomenclature standard that allows some cities to stand alone (e.g., Atlanta) and others to have state abbreviations ranging from two to five letters (R.I., Calif.)... is there a name for that?
posted by psoas at 5:01 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Two years ago, Minneapolis was number one. This year, the Twin Cities (combined) are number ten. Is St. Paul too straight? Are they dragging us down or is it that we had to have that stupid referendum?
posted by Area Man at 5:03 AM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


The link for Minneapolis / St. Paul is broken for me, so posting correct one here.
posted by missmerrymack at 5:08 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Actually, no, on second thought I will engage: it's ironic at best that some of the criteria they mark as "gay signifiers" (Pottery Barn, HRC presence) are also totemic of the attitudes and social scene that those of us who don't conform to the model/standard/stereotypical gay interests and preferences (and I say this as an affluent white male, even) find pretty damn exclusionary.
posted by psoas at 5:10 AM on January 23, 2013 [9 favorites]


Springfield? Alright, there's Patty, Smithers and that robotic Santa, but am I missing something?
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 5:20 AM on January 23, 2013


[Fixed Twin Cities, Minn. link; thanks, missmerrymack.]
posted by taz at 5:20 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


How many cities of over 150,000 don't have a Whole Foods?

I'm not really all that sure we deserve #10, considering Minnesota came awfully close to passing its own DOMA this year.

10 is fairly low for Minneapolis to come in these things, I think. Prior to election day, I would have told you that for me, there's little difference between not being allowed to marry and being banned from marrying. Now that we (nationally, not 'we' Minnesota) actually have same sex marriage by initiative maybe a constitutional ban is a little more significant because marriage equality isn't purely waiting for the courts (despite the official plan in Minnesota being equality via the legislature, I'm not really holding my breath).
posted by hoyland at 5:23 AM on January 23, 2013


How many cities of over 150,000 don't have a Whole Foods?

Rockford, IL, I guess. A number of the cities with just over 150,000 people in southern California in close proximity of LA or San Diego. Even if they don't have a Whole Foods, they're probably within the catchment area of some Whole Foods. That may not be true of Fremont. There are an awful lot of Whole Foods in California, but maybe not right there. (One's being built.)
posted by hoyland at 5:31 AM on January 23, 2013


I'm not really all that sure we deserve #10, considering Minnesota came awfully close to passing its own DOMA this year.

Looking now due to curiosity and the county that the city is in voted against the amendment by 29 points which is a big margin by American standards on almost any issue. Anyway, don't take it too seriously, the criteria are pretty jokey.
posted by Winnemac at 5:33 AM on January 23, 2013


The denominator in their algorithm is population, with a minimum of 150,000? So, uh, what we're really looking at here is "small (but not too small!) cities in affluent blue states with populations young enough to support sports leagues," yes? Because the only way Springfield, MA gets ranked in the top 10 in anything (besides maybe "proximity to basketball hall of fame") is if they're cooking the books.

Aha. As I suspected. Population of Springfield, MA

Also, defining "fabulous shopping" as "shopping at Pottery Barn" is an affront to the word "fabulous"
posted by Mayor West at 5:35 AM on January 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


What about Restoration Hardware, Advocate? Whither my grey linen and distressed wood? Did you think about that?
posted by Rock Steady at 5:38 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Providence? Gay haunts? Am I missing something?
posted by munyeca at 5:39 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Providence and Springfield? So we're going by "Places an underage xingcat used to get into gay bars in college" criteria, then?
posted by xingcat at 5:45 AM on January 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


I know it's wacky, but I think I would have included the number or percentage of gay (LGBT, anyway) residents in my calculations for determining the gayest city. Yes, that makes the predictable cities come out on top, but I'm not trying to sell a magazine.
posted by pracowity at 5:50 AM on January 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


I know it's wacky, but I think I would have included the number or percentage of gay (LGBT, anyway) residents in my calculations for determining the gayest city. Yes, that makes the predictable cities come out on top, but I'm not trying to sell a magazine.

If you use percentage (number doesn't make much sense--of course New York comes out on top), the results are mildly surprising. I wouldn't guess Atlanta as number 3, for example. Having spent a nontrivial amount of time in Atlanta recently, it's not too surprising, but I'd have been surprised a year ago, having never been to Atlanta. Same for Minneapolis, if I didn't live here. I wouldn't have guessed Denver or Orlando in the top 10 either. (I'd have guessed San Antonio or somewhere else in Texas first, honestly. Which is probably horribly, horribly wrong.)
posted by hoyland at 5:59 AM on January 23, 2013


They miss a key point in DC: The gay neighborhoods are gradually disappearing (as they're quickly becoming unaffordable for new residents while no replacements have emerged). Apart from 17th St, Dupont's lost virtually all of its LGBT identity, and the shift east to Logan Circle is massively exaggerated (that Whole Foods mentioned in the article is only 3 blocks from the "old" gayborhood, and the only thing making Logan Circle gayer than average seems to be the high rent, small apartments, and lack of good public schools). If anything, the frighteningly rapid gentrification of the 14th St NW corridor is a more notable story, if only because it managed to attract and then expel its new residents in a matter of about two years. DC's completely insane housing market is quickly starting to fuck with the city's demographics, with no relief in sight.

The demolition (and subsequent non-replacement) of the city's gay nightlife district to make room for a baseball stadium is an older story, but also one that deserves mention.

I have to wonder if these trends are harbingers of the gradual demise of gay culture, as the general population becomes more accepting of LGBT individuals, and fewer young people consider their sexual orientation to be a defining characteristic.

Also, we're so over Pottery Barn.
posted by schmod at 6:00 AM on January 23, 2013 [9 favorites]


Yeah, their selection is kind of bullshit. Spokane is #3?

Spokane has zero gay bars. ZERO. We have a few "gay friendly" bars. There is no "gayborhood" in Spokane. There is little tolerance for gay couples acting as couples in public. Spokane county rejected Ref 74 (legalizing gay marriage in WA state) 55% to 45%. The gay pride parade here is tiny, has mostly church groups marching in it, and is basically ignored by the population at large. The gay community here is so poorly organized and disinterested that the gay newspaper folded years ago from lack of support.

I guess Spokane is a great place to be gay if you're an assimilationist looking to have all the right shopping and no temptation to go out for a "gay ol' time" in an evening.

For this particular leather faerie bear queer who used to write for said gay newspaper, who watched the previous community center be abandoned because of no financial support, and who would like to actually go out once in a while to a bar which caters to what I consider to be "my crowd", it's really not a place which supports me or others like me much at all.
posted by hippybear at 6:01 AM on January 23, 2013 [18 favorites]


I was surprised that Peoria IL where I grew up got an honorable mention, I'm guessing it might have something to do with Aaron Schock, R, IL who is America's Fittest Congressman being from there.
posted by Sailormom at 6:14 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not going to engage with the ludicrous criteria, but I am really curious about the nomenclature standard that allows some cities to stand alone (e.g., Atlanta) and others to have state abbreviations ranging from two to five letters (R.I., Calif.)... is there a name for that?

The state abbreviations are in accordance with A.P. style (I think; we mostly use Chicago where I've worked - A.P. is more common in journalism). Why some cities get states and others don't, I dunno.
posted by rtha at 6:21 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Aaron Schock, R, IL who is America's Fittest Congressman

Another thing to induce the grar. There are gays like him because he has abs, despite his wildly, unapologetically conservative voting and public-statement record? Well, fuck.
posted by psoas at 6:26 AM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Woohoo! Crazy 8!
posted by thanotopsis at 6:35 AM on January 23, 2013


Colorado Springs?

Is there some Colorado Springs that isn't overrun with Evangelicals and Military personnel including the really conservative Air Force Academy that I haven't heard of because I'm kinda calling bullshit on this one.

I mean the USOC isn't that gay is it?
posted by vuron at 6:42 AM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


it's ironic at best that some of the criteria

Yeah, I would think that "openly gay-owned- or oriented-businesses" would be better, but a) that's not the point of the exercise and b) it would be much harder to calculate.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:44 AM on January 23, 2013


I was surprised that Peoria IL where I grew up got an honorable mention

I suppose that, if this list plays in Peoria, it will play anywhere....
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:50 AM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


As a gay man who despises Whole Foods and ventured into one Pottery Barn only to laugh and walk out, count me among those who feel this list is a bit lacking. I don't care how many gay bars are in town, or if there's a gay rugby league.

What I want out of a town is just not to be judged. I want to be able to go places with my boyfriend and not worry about being laughed at, harassed, or beaten up. Acceptance is worth huge bonus points.

Give me a city where I can go about my life with my boyfriend, and be content and domestic and somewhat weird, where people mind their own business, and that's where I'll live.

Tucson, you strange little city, I love you.
posted by MrVisible at 6:51 AM on January 23, 2013 [12 favorites]


Related.
posted by Autumn at 6:54 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


What I want out of a town is just not to be judged. I want to be able to go places with my boyfriend and not worry about being laughed at, harassed, or beaten up. Acceptance is worth huge bonus points.

I'd guess that a city like Hartford, Connecticut would be good then. Connecticut legalized same sex marriage when the governor said "this should be legal" in 2008.
posted by zippy at 7:11 AM on January 23, 2013


Give me a city where I can go about my life with my boyfriend, and be content and domestic and somewhat weird, where people mind their own business, and that's where I'll live.

That's Nashville, although you occasionally get unhappy and jarring things like this that pop up here and you have to live with the fact that the state legislature here is chock full of crazies who would love nothing more dearly than to decree Nashville a permanent sin-quarantine zone. But, no, there's not really a gay neighborhood to speak of (unless you count a strip of a few sad buildings along Church Street) and the only gay bookstore closed last year because no one patronized it anymore.
posted by blucevalo at 7:18 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Kind of telling, too, that SF is now only 17 on the list, even considering the mag's half-jokey criteria.
posted by blucevalo at 7:20 AM on January 23, 2013


Come to Columbus, OH, too!
posted by ChuraChura at 7:22 AM on January 23, 2013


We're just happy to be #1 on a list that doesn't involve crime rates. I look forward to the influx of new gay neighbors; maybe we can finally get some decent furniture stores around here.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 7:28 AM on January 23, 2013


Damn, Philly is not gay enough anymore!
posted by Mister_A at 8:05 AM on January 23, 2013


The Hamms Bear: "We're just happy to be #1 on a list that doesn't involve crime rates. I look forward to the influx of new gay neighbors; maybe we can finally get some decent furniture stores around here."

You'll need to wait 5 years after that, because you won't be able to afford the furniture from the new stores until it starts showing on on Craigslist.
posted by schmod at 8:14 AM on January 23, 2013


I think the gay community of Long Beach, CA may be disappointed as they made 6 last year on some such list and it was all over the local free gay magazines.
posted by bswinburn at 8:17 AM on January 23, 2013


Pottery Barn? Since when are gay people the only ones who need dishes?
posted by Apropos of Something at 8:27 AM on January 23, 2013


Canadian factoid: Edmonton and Calgary are 1-2 for the largest number (per capita) of married same-sex couples in Canada. Not Vancouver, not Montreal, not Toronto.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 8:44 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


We're just happy to be #1 on a list that doesn't involve crime rates.

For a second I was ready to make an "eponysterical" joke since I thought your username was "The Hamas Bear".
posted by MattMangels at 9:11 AM on January 23, 2013


EVERY LIST IS WRONG
posted by klangklangston at 9:20 AM on January 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


Apropos of Something: "Pottery Barn? Since when are gay people the only ones who need dishes?"

And since when has Pottery Barn had better dishes than Crate & Barrel?

My dishes are a mismatched bunch from Target and Ikea, less of half of which were purchased new. I don't think I have a single matching coffee mug, and my silverware comes from probably two dozen different sets. I'll leave my gay card at the door...
posted by schmod at 9:24 AM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't guess Atlanta as number 3, for example. Having spent a nontrivial amount of time in Atlanta recently, it's not too surprising, but I'd have been surprised a year ago, having never been to Atlanta.

I think a lot of people have this impression. Atlanta is slightly less diverse than Los Angeles, but also less prejudiced in my experience.

Tucson, you strange little city, I love you.

Now that’s a love that’s out of the mainstream. I’m with you, but I would never try to convince someone else.
posted by bongo_x at 9:32 AM on January 23, 2013


but I am really curious about the nomenclature standard that allows some cities to stand alone (e.g., Atlanta) and others to have state abbreviations ranging from two to five letters (R.I., Calif.)

Isn’t it just that there are lots of Springfield's and everyone knows which Atlanta you’re talking about?
posted by bongo_x at 9:33 AM on January 23, 2013


Spokane? Tacoma? Salem?

WAT?
posted by Windopaene at 9:52 AM on January 23, 2013


Salem has always struck me as the place to go if you're sick of nobody caring that you're gay in Eugene or Portland, and you just want to get beat up for old times' sake.
posted by darksasami at 9:58 AM on January 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Whole Foods? How very upscale. Somebody pass them a clue about the CEO's politics.
posted by Twang at 11:08 AM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


you left off Seattle, #5.
posted by Ratio at 11:15 AM on January 23, 2013


Woo Hoo Atlanta.

My neighborhood is transforming from "Original Owners who bought new in 1961" to "Yay! Another Rainbow Flag!"

Does this mean they'll put a Whole Foods where the old IPA is?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:44 AM on January 23, 2013


It's worth comparing this index with Black, Sanders and Taylor's "Gay concentration index". See table 4 for the list of cities.

1. San Francisco
2. Washington
3. Austin
4. San Diego
5. Seattle
6. Los Angeles
7. Atlanta
8. Sacramento
9. Boston
10. Minneapolis-St. Paul

(This is, though, now a 22 year old list as Table 4 is based on data from the 1990 Census. But the methodology could be updated using the 2010 Census I'm assuming).
posted by scunning at 12:12 PM on January 23, 2013


This says much less about the cities than it does about someone's brutally impoverished view of what being gay means.
posted by yellowcandy at 12:13 PM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm gay and I live in Springfield, MA. and even based on the criteria involved, I don't understand how we made the list, much less the number 2 spot....
posted by Hanuman1960 at 12:51 PM on January 23, 2013


Atlanta is slightly less diverse than Los Angeles, but also less prejudiced in my experience.

I can't speak to the prejudice, but Atlanta's only slightly less diverse than LA if you use "percentage of the population who are not non-Hispanic white" as your indicator of diversity. There are far fewer people not speaking English at home and they speak fewer languages and far fewer people born outside the US in Atlanta than LA (those were the obvious other choices of indicator from the census data). They both have a majority or near-majority ethnic or racial group. Atlanta has a black majority (54%). LA is close (48%) to having a Hispanic majority. The big difference is in the other half of the population, though. In Atlanta, it's just shy of 80% non-Hispanic white. In LA, it's 55% non-Hispanic white, with a fairly equal split between black and Asian for most of the rest (leaving aside a few Native Americans and the 5% of the total population reporting two or more races).
posted by hoyland at 12:57 PM on January 23, 2013


Well, 1 out of 15 isn't bad.

Oh wait, yes it is.
posted by formless at 1:19 PM on January 23, 2013


In Colorado, gay people stay away from Colorado Springs. That would be the first city to shoot down gay marriage rights. That's good enough to make this entire thing a little fucked in my eyes.
posted by thetoken at 3:15 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


> you left off Seattle, #5.


Man, is there anything that Tacoma won't steal from Seattle?
posted by loquacious at 3:19 PM on January 23, 2013


Man, is there anything that Tacoma won't steal from Seattle?

The Sonics?
posted by hippybear at 5:50 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Here is my personal gay friendliness ranking of cities I've spent substantial time in. It's based on an objective quantitative analysis of the numerical value of the amount of times a stranger yelled "FAGGOT!" while I held hands with another dude.* Basis for ranking in brackets.

1. San Francisco (0)
2. Montreal (1)
3. Toronto (3 to 4 - one may have been either a drunken "FAGGOT" or "THAT'S GREAT")

*Same dude's hand held in all cities to ensure consistency of results
posted by ordinary_magnet at 6:06 PM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Man, is there anything that Tacoma won't steal from Seattle?

The Sonics?


They were ours first.

These guys too.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 8:01 PM on January 23, 2013


ATL is pretty queer; definitely the best place in the south besides Austin or Asheville to be gay. But the south is the south. Once you wander out of midtown or decatur and into the greater Atlanta area I'd be genuinely afraid to hold hands in public with another man.
posted by dis_integration at 6:36 AM on January 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


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