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March 26, 2007 3:03 PM   Subscribe

Gay? Looking for a place to Live? The Advocate has just published their first-ever list of "Best Places to Live for Gays and Lesbians.” Columbus, OH; Dallas, TX; Ferndale, MI; Ithaca, NY; Lexington, KY; Missoula, MT; Portland, OR; San Diego, CA; Santa Fe, NM; and Tuscon, AZ. Pack your bags!
posted by ikahime (35 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
bro, it's TuCson.

and yeah, we love teh gays.
posted by Hat Maui at 3:12 PM on March 26, 2007


whoops! sorry i mischaracterized you as a dude, ikahime.
posted by Hat Maui at 3:15 PM on March 26, 2007


teh
posted by keswick at 3:24 PM on March 26, 2007


This is horribly shallow--as usual for the Advocate--and they're not judging by enough criteria at all--only word-of mouth. Even Money and other magazines look at school systems and laws and taxes and crimes and stuff--this doesn't even bother to mention them.

Many of those places are in states without any protection for gay and lesbian families at all, and some are in states that are absolutely hostile. Anyone who would leave a state with protections to take their family to a place like Dallas or Columbus should really think twice. Ohio doesn't allow domestic partner benefits at all, so it's absolutely not "Best" for any family or couple. TX is terrible too, and they're even talking of barring fostering and adopting by us there.
posted by amberglow at 3:29 PM on March 26, 2007 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I'm kind of surprised to see Ferndale on there. We've not only actively passed anti-gay marriage legislation here in Michigan, but there are groups working hard and having success in blocking all kinds of same-sex (and hetero) domestic partnership benefits. We're not just anti-gay-marriage in Michigan, we're flat out anti-gay. It's maybe a good place to move and fight the good fight, but it's hardly an objective "best".
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 3:36 PM on March 26, 2007


I guess it doesn't make for an interesting article if you're honest and say "still the Bay Area, NYC and the metro area, greater Boston and Vermont."

Actually, this might be an April Fool's article-- they list frigging Dallas? Why don't they also have Camden NJ, Tehran and 1930s Berlin?
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:39 PM on March 26, 2007


Whoops about Tucson. Slip o' da finger. And yes, the list is interesting in its choices - Montana might not be the first state you think of as far as gay rights are concerned, but Missoula is fairly gay friendly. Perhaps the list was made to give a boost to cities headed in the right direction.
posted by ikahime at 3:43 PM on March 26, 2007


Ithaca is gorges.
posted by Biblio at 3:44 PM on March 26, 2007


I agree that the article is shallow and doesn't explain it's criteria for judging, what cities and towns were considered, etc, etc, etc ad infinitum. Meanwhile:

TX is terrible too, and they're even talking of barring fostering and adopting by us there.

Ain't gonna happen, at least not in this session of the Legislature. They'll be lucky to get out of Austin with passing a biennial budget and getting no other work done.

Having said that, it's not just about the politics and codified legal protection or discrimination. As a gay man, I don't think about laws and politics first thing in the morning or last thing at night, nor even most of the day long. I suspect that day-to-day concerns of most LGBT people aren't that much different from any other people. Home. Job. Traffic. Cost of living. On and on and on.

I wonder what would be a good index (or set of indices) to measure "best places" when each of us has our own criteria?

BTW, Dallas: The county with the lesbian sherrif? Emerging as a majority-Democratic county? Maybe that "moving in the right direction" comment is what the Advocate is thinking of. Or maybe they just spent too much time at happy hour at J.R.'s
posted by Robert Angelo at 3:46 PM on March 26, 2007


Pre-Nazi Berlin was the West Hollywood of the world. And many German homosexuals thought they were safe due to the high status that Rohm had for a short time. This all ended towards the beginning of the 30s, but Berlin was definitely the place to be if you were gay and German at the time.

Dallas does have a large, vibrant gay community. As far as I could tell they were well accepted socially (if not politically) by everyone that I met there. I stayed in the gay district once and it was pretty yuppie and very well-maintained.

That said the above statements are correct, regarding how ill informed the article is. I think a better way to do it would have been "Best Up-And-Coming Gay Neighborhoods" or something similar.
posted by geoff. at 3:52 PM on March 26, 2007


Yeah, need more background. Lexington is pretty all right all around, and last I recall the city was in the middle of a fight to offer domestic partner benefits to its employees. But Kentucky's pretty hostile.

It seems like this could be a good, thought-provoking list, but because of the way it's being billed we're all stuck discussing the meta issue.
posted by brett at 3:57 PM on March 26, 2007


Hrm, I don't know. With the obvious exception of marriage, I'd say the best places to be gay and the best places to be straight are pretty much the same. Some people like big cities, some people like small towns.

I went through Laramie recently. It was odd; literally the only thing I previously knew about the town was the Mathew Shepard story. The TV could have told me that everyone in Laramie was a gaybashing hard-charger, and I probably would have believed it.

In truth, I met a lot of very cool straight and gay people there. Things happen everywhere.
posted by roll truck roll at 4:08 PM on March 26, 2007


What amberglow said. And what Lentrohamsanin said.

I've heard many good things about Columbus but anything good about it is overridden by one of the most Neanderthal sets of state legislation against gay people in the country. I won't be packing my bags for Columbus.

I lived in Michigan for almost three years. Ann Arbor and surrounding environs, not that bad a place to live if you're gay. Other parts of the state? Not so much. The state's anti-gay laws are almost as regressive as Ohio's, and there is an active and well-funded effort to get the state universities' domestic partnership protections written out of the books.
posted by blucevalo at 4:12 PM on March 26, 2007


Missoula is so fabulously gay-friendly that when friends of mine lived there and were identified as lesbians in a newspaper article, it only took three or four days for someone to come into their house in the night, string gasoline-soaked rope everywhere, and nearly kill them and their 21-month-old son. It only took the police a few hours to decide it wasn't worth the trouble to actually look for the arsonist.

Yeah, those were the good old days, in gay-friendly Missoula, Montana.

There's a lot of good in Missoula. I miss my regular visits out there, since my friends gave up and moved back to Ann Arbor. I miss the surprisingly good restaurants and the rivers and the mountains. But I just had a surprisingly visceral reaction to seeing Missoula on that list--it called up my mental pictures of one of my friends crossing a burning hallway to save the baby, and of the other escaping through a window and running barefoot through the snow from house to house, baby in arms, not knowing whether her lover had also been able to escape (she left her trapped in a bedroom after passing the baby out a window), none of the neighbors answering her knocks on their doors. *Shudder*
posted by not that girl at 4:49 PM on March 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Best Up-And-Coming Gay Neighborhoods

Best choice of words?

But yeah, there are plenty of places that, to be honest, serve as regional gay enclaves, but probably aren't exactly the kind of thing that folks who've already seen Paree will feel that comfortable in. It's sort of like, if you live in Lubbock, well, try Dallas before moving to California.

Here in Wisconsin, of course, we have Madison -- which has elected openly lesbian Tammy Baldwin to Congress several times in a row -- and there are several gay-friendly small towns in the Madison commute zone. But maybe they scratched that as belonging to a list of Boringly Obvious Gay Neighborhoods.
posted by dhartung at 4:55 PM on March 26, 2007


omfg, not that girl.

This article is just irresponsible. Very very few people read the Advocate anyway, so hopefully no one will listen to their recommendations.

Having said that, it's not just about the politics and codified legal protection or discrimination. As a gay man, I don't think about laws and politics first thing in the morning or last thing at night, nor even most of the day long. I suspect that day-to-day concerns of most LGBT people aren't that much different from any other people. Home. Job. Traffic. Cost of living. On and on and on.
In that case, there's absolutely no need for this list, no? Read Money or the other magazines that actually use real criteria. The only value in a gay and lesbian magazine running a list like this would be in those things that we alone need to be concerned about or need to take into consideration when choosing a community to live in--otherwise there's no need at all--mainstream magazines cover everything else frequently, and cover all the regular criteria that all of us need to know.
posted by amberglow at 5:08 PM on March 26, 2007


In that case, there's absolutely no need for this list, no?

Not saying that, either. What I said was that's not the only thing on my plate, nor the central theme of my life, nor -- I suspect -- in the lives of many of us.

I do live 20 minutes from the gay Montrose neighborhood in Houston and 15 minutes from one of the best HIV doctors in the country. Knowing that I have these resources available to me and my partner is important to me. Knowing that I can buy a brand-new house for 1 quarter of what I would have spent when I lived in San Diego is also important to me. And knowing there will be a lesbian couple with a child living next door is a nice thing, too.

I guess I'm most interested in seeing the Money-magazine info plus the legal info plus a sense of the under-the-radar what-it's-really-like-to-be-gay-here information that people don't give us in Texas credit for. Not that I'm likely to move again for a few years... I saw a study recently that said that Texas had the largest proportion of gay/lesbian families with children. There's a reason for that; don't sell us short.
posted by Robert Angelo at 5:26 PM on March 26, 2007


As a Dallas native, I feel I must stand in its defense (a rare thing for me).

Its not Manhattan or SF, but conversely Dallas isn't as gay unfriendly as yall seem to think.

People in Dallas tend to be very respectful and warm towards people, yes even gays. Its just the Dallas way, and there are quite a few large gay communities and areas through the city. Granted civil unions are probably a long, long way away: in the voting booth people vote with their bibles, but in person people are very tolerant.

Having been friends with, worked with, and just randomly encountered many gay people in this city, they seem to get along fine.

Sure its not amberglows favorite NYC burrrough, but its livable. Not perfect, but the live-and-let-live attitude has made it a comfortable place for many.
posted by rosswald at 5:33 PM on March 26, 2007


No Key West?
posted by smackfu at 5:33 PM on March 26, 2007


quoting myself: the under-the-radar what-it's-really-like-to-be-gay-here information

Let me strike "under the radar" in favor of "ordinary, boring, and humdrum," which is what I really meant. "Under the radar" sounds closeted, and I'm anything but. My partner and I are out to everybody, including the realtors here in suburban Houston, the pharmacists, the many, many medical folks we deal with, and pretty much any one else we encounter.

No one has ever harassed us here or said an unkind word about us being gay. Personally, I had more negative experiences in that department when I lived in San Diego or in DC. Just saying...
posted by Robert Angelo at 5:59 PM on March 26, 2007


No Wilton Manors, FL?
posted by mike3k at 6:26 PM on March 26, 2007


rosswald, i'm not trashing these cities--i'm trashing the article and the states. I'm a NYer because i was born here, and never left. It was luck. That said, there are people who are looking to leave where they are, and if they use that article as any kind of guide, they're idiots. There's no real information at all--not even favorable statistics to counter the actual laws and constitutional amendments the rest of us can google up in one second.
posted by amberglow at 6:40 PM on March 26, 2007


I'm a student at UK in Lexington. I'm not gay, so I have no first hand knowledge, but I'd imagine it's a serious pain in the ass (err... you know what I mean) to be openly queer here what with all 300 evangelical churches in this town.
posted by phrontist at 6:59 PM on March 26, 2007


Missoula is so fabulously gay-friendly that when friends of mine lived there and were identified as lesbians in a newspaper article, it only took three or four days for someone to come into their house in the night, string gasoline-soaked rope everywhere, and nearly kill them and their 21-month-old son. It only took the police a few hours to decide it wasn't worth the trouble to actually look for the arsonist.

I grew up in Missoula. Back then, the penalty for sodomy in Montana was 10 years and/or $10,000. Though not gay, I was accustomed to crossing the Higgins Ave bridge at night on foot and hearing "hey faggot" yelled out of passing cars, more or less all the time. Then again, by the time I got to college, there were two gay bars open.

My brother died about a year ago, by drinking himself to death. I'm fairly sure he was gay, though he never came out. The intense societal repression of homosexuality hit home for me...

Yeah, Missoula is a strange mixture of stone-age backward and very progressive.
posted by Tube at 7:03 PM on March 26, 2007


While there are a number of gayborhoods, gay bars, and a gay community center in Lexington, the people who go to them speak of the kind of gay-straight integration I found in Santa Fe. “Kentucky is a family-orientated state,” says Paul Brown, 30, chair of the Bluegrass chapter of Kentucky Fairness Alliance, a statewide LGBT advocacy group. “I like the small-town feel. I feel a definite unity here. In Lexington I’m surrounded by great people.”

Brown is sitting with a large group of gay and lesbian friends at a bohemian restaurant called Alfalfa in the heart of downtown. As in Santa Fe, I discover that most of the people have come from somewhere else—or in some cases “fled to Lexington.” Both Brown and Jeffrey Moore, 38, grew up in Henderson, a small town in southwest Kentucky where many people are religious fundamentalists and antigay. Moore didn’t want to leave the state, so he came to Lexington, where “you can be yourself,” he says.

Shannon Stuart-Smith, 51, has lived all over the country and chose to come to Lexington, where she met her partner of seven years, Julia Fain, 39, who also came from out of state. Fain works at Lexmark, an office supply company employing thousands of people. They like the high salaries and low cost of living. “It’s a quality of life I want in a city,” says Stuart-Smith. “The crime rate is low. I have culture. I have progressive theater. And the people are just friendly.”


Wow. I'm really suprised. I know an openly gay student or two here, and the university culture doesn't give them any problems, but I had no idea Lexington was this progressive in general. Go Lexington!
posted by phrontist at 7:09 PM on March 26, 2007


the city was in the middle of a fight to offer domestic partner benefits to its employees

I think that was just UK actually. No success so far.
posted by phrontist at 7:15 PM on March 26, 2007


This is horribly shallow--as usual for the Advocate

Agreed, this is a poor article.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:02 PM on March 26, 2007


The GLBT community here is fucking awesome, from this outsider's point of view. That said, Tucson is a terrible, horrible, almost unbearable place to live. Don't nobody come here, gay or straight, ever. 180deg. temps in your car in the summertime (that's April through October), no trees—our vegetation is spiky and painful and low to the ground—no snow, shoddy housing, no freeways, no culture, and miserably dumb snowbirds and college students everywhere. Stay away, all of you.

Aside from all of the worthwhile reasons listed above, there's also the silly fact that there's no more water.
posted by carsonb at 8:21 PM on March 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Asheville, NC
/obvious
posted by moonbird at 10:10 PM on March 26, 2007


Ferndale? I thought gays already had a disproportionately high suicide rate.

(As an aside, Royal Oak was the traditionally gay suburb of Detroit, but that gentrified out, like, 15 years ago at least, and there hasn't been any other gay neighborhood since then. The gays have all kinda scattered. But Ferndale's like the tacky, lower-class Royal Oak. Not to indulge in stereotypes that got Garrison Keillor in trouble or anything, it's just that Ferndale's for yuppies without any taste. I mean, they couldn't even keep a Noir Leather open there! Gays'd do better moving to Ypsilanti, a town ripe for revitalization, with anti-discrimination ordinances that have survived appeal.)
posted by klangklangston at 11:56 PM on March 26, 2007


carsonb, c'mon, it's not that bad. It could be Phoenix.
posted by azpenguin at 1:40 AM on March 27, 2007


"Good gay places", in Advocate paralance, means you can find someone to fuck. That's what the Advocate is all about. "Good" in the way the fashionable singles recon things.

Sometimes, "Gay" is a sexual orientation. Other times, a political position. Still others, it means "young, single, homosexual, and horny". The Advocate is the same wonderful paper that went for years before ever mentioning AIDS (no doubt owing to the fact their advertising base was threatened by AIDS). I remember in the 80's when I switched from the Advocate to the New York Native, where AIDS was the main topic (to a fault, IMO. It got so 'gay' seemed to mean 'depressed'. I was in the Advocate demographic at the time).

Once upon a time, Wisconsin was the only state with gay rights legislation. Amazing how far that state has fallen since. Although still ahead of my native Michigan, I suppose.
posted by Goofyy at 3:14 AM on March 27, 2007


c'mon, it's not that bad. It could be Phoenix.

shhh!
posted by carsonb at 4:53 AM on March 27, 2007


Big cities are good.

State laws are the crucial point.

My city, Denver...OK.

Most states: horribly unfriendly to gay famiies.
posted by kozad at 9:46 PM on March 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Boy, they really are slack on that whole journalism thing: Americablog:
FYI There's a story in the Advocate about Hillary and Obama, quotes me a good deal, most of the quotes are wrong

posted by amberglow at 6:28 PM on March 30, 2007


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