Advocate Ranks Gayest US Cities , F*cks Up, Excludes NYC & LA, Upsets the Internet

The Advocate produced a list of the Top 15 Gayest Cities in America, possibly for the express purpose of pissing everybody off and therefore causing a lot of internet buzz. It seems to be working as The Advocate website is taking an extra-extra long time to load today, making their decision to place every item on the list on its own page to artificially increase page views and therefore perceived traffic particularly special.

This was the ranking system employed by The Advocate:

Using a completely unscientific — but still strangely accurate — statistical equation, The Advocate has come up with a diverse and surprising list of where gay people are living, loving, voting, and creating communities. This list demonstrates that the homosexual agenda is spreading across the 50 states — from Washington, D.C., to Vancouver, Wash. — and especially, it seems, in the heartland. Like it or not, America, LGBT is more a part of the USA than ever before.

The rankings were as follows:

1. Minneapolis, Minnesota

2. Santa Fe, New Mexico

3. Pittsburgh, PA

4. Orlando, Florida

5. Las Vegas, Nevada

6. Vancouver, Washington

7. Atlanta, GA

8. Washington DC

9. Seattle, Washington

10. St. Louis, Missouri

11. San Francisco, CA

12. Cleveland, Ohio

13. Denver, Colorado


15. Miami, Florida

Here are some of the people who are mad:

Seattle, WA – Seattle PI:

Minneapolis is “more gay” than Seattle. So is Santa Fe and Vancouver, Wash., according to a list from… Seattle, usually a top-three city on rankings regarding anything gay, came in at No. 9. To put that in perspective, Vancouver was ranked sixth — largely because that’s where Portland residents go to grow up….  [The Advocate’s ranking system] factored in profiles on, the number of openly gay public officials, lesbian bars and — is this one real? — the number of Tegan and Sara performances during the last five years.”

Philadelphia, PA – Philly Magazine:

“It seems that Philly – where you get your history straight and nightlife gay, and where Ben Franklin isn’t the least bit afraid to short pants – didn’t even make the list.

But these cities did: Denver (where oxygen is an import), Pittsburgh (Queer as Folk wasn’t even filmed there), Santa Fe (do gays genuinely like Aztec print?), Cleveland (well, they did win the 2014 Gay Games), Vancouver, Wash. (is it some kind of lesbian commune?) and Las Vegas (showgirls are not drag queens).”

Houston, TX – Houston Press:

“The Advocate, the leading national GLBT magazine, has issued a proclamation outlining the 15 gayest cities in America. Houston isn’t one of them. Yeah, yeah: lesbian mayor, Montrose, huge Pride Parade — counts for nothing, apparently. Cities that are gayer than Houston? Pittsburgh. St. Louis. Oakland. Who knew?”

Atlanta, GA – Fresh Loaf Atlanta:

“Every year, National LGBT publication The Advocate concocts a dubious formula… and uses it to compile a list of the “Gayest Cities in America.” Besides being an excuse for their writers to overuse the word “gayborhood,” The Advocate’s “Gayest Cities” list serves as a guide to gay travelers — a where’s where of friendly places — and it was a source of pride when Atlanta nabbed the top spot in 2010. Well, we made the list again this year, but all the way down at No. 7. The new gayest city? Minneapolis, Minnesota. How does gayness fluctuate that much in a year?”

New York, NY – Gawker:

“Why are people so bad at making these lists? For starters, New York City isn’t even on the list! How are you going to come up with a list of the gayest cities in American and not even have New York on it? This is where Stonewall is. We have more discarded bottles of poppers floating around in our sewers than Denver has on its shelves. Yeah, Denver is on the list.”

Atlanta, GA – Project Q Atlanta:

“Falling from No. 1 to No. 7 so quickly might be an issue if the magazine’s annual 15 Gayest Cities in America was any reflection on reality…

Let’s break it down. Atlanta is indeed “awash in burgeoning gayborhoods,” but…

The residential Candler Park is not usually thought of as a “business district.” Maybe they meant Little 5 Points.
– It’s East Atlanta Village, not “East Atlantic Village.” Maybe they meant Atlantic Station, but probably not.
– And while Virginia Highland is in fact “tree-lined,” we don’t think that electing lesbian City Council member Anne Fauver in that area—and more importantly, representing the actual adjacent gayborhood, Midtown—is the most recent data available on Atlanta’s LGBT elected officials.”

With Fauver out since 2010, the last we checked, the only openly gay Atlanta City Council member is Alex Wan, who just got a plum appointment in his second year. And what, no mention of lesbian Fulton Commissioner Joan Garner, elected last year? Not a word on gay Atlanta State Rep. Simone Bell, the nation’s first openly gay African-American legislator who this week started her second term at the Gold Dome? Of course, the Atlanta area also boasts longtime state Rep. Karla Drenner, the first lesbian state lawmaker who’s been in office so long that she’s a senior member of the Democratic party.”

So, according to our completely non-scientific methods, the following cities were totally left off the list for no apparent reason despite their overwhelming homosexuality:

New York, NY

Los Angeles/Hollywood/Long Beach, CA

Columbus, OH

Chicago, IL

Portland, ME

Ann Arbor, MI

Boston, MA

Provincetown, MA

Sacramento, CA

Austin, TX

Portland, OR

San Diego, CA

Springfield/Northampton, MA – LESBIAN CAPITAL OF THE USA

Eugene, OR

Salt Lake City, UT

Dallas, TX

Philadelphia, PA

Asheville, NC

Burlington, VT

Iowa City, IA

Bloomington, IN

Madison, WI

But hey — you know we’ve made progress when American cities are fighting over who is the gayest. I think they mean “Gay” like “happy” though right?

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3184 articles for us.


  1. Er, just a quick comment: Provincetown, RI does not exist. It is Provincetown, MA (gayest town in gayville) or Providence, RI (capital of RI, still fairly gay, not as gay as P-town).

    But, otherwise, yeah… Lame, Advocate, lame.

    • People who aren’t from New England don’t seem to know the difference between Provincetown/Providence. It’s a thing I’ve noticed.

      • I only know about Providence, Rhode Island because of that old show Providence which I watched when I was like 8 years old. I should have known my outrageous love for the show was actually just a deep-seated abiding love for Melina Kanakaredes, also known as the girl from CSI NY. Don’t even get me started on Doctor Quinn Medicine Woman. Good lord Jane Seymour, the things you do to younger me…

  2. First: “the number of Tegan and Sara performances during the last five years” — HILARIOUS.

    Second: Miami?? Really?? I think they need to qualify that and say Miami Beach(aka South Beach), which is its own city.

    Third: Northampton, MA is the ladygayest of them all.

  3. i’ve not traveled a lot, but as someone who lives in san francisco and more specifically works in the castro in a coffee shop (SO GAY) i didn’t really know that gayer places existed.

    • omg, I am SO homesick…..please tell me the Patio Cafe is still serving the Best Breakfast in the Castro After: dancing your ass off all night / getting your heart stomped / getting laid / getting fired / getting off work from Ralph K. Davies Med Center / getting drunk with your best friend, because she knows where all the bodies are buried and still loves you / moving into your first homogay apartment, EVER / asking your friends to move all your shit out of your first homogay apartment in 8 hours b/c your new roommate is a crazy ass drug-dealer / making a decision to stop going to another mother-fucking AIDS funeral / coming out to your Mom… which you suddenly appear shockingly grown-up when the waiter knows your name and you pay for the meal………

      Never mind….calling US Air now……..:-)

  4. Unless I’m hallucinating (which is entirely possible),
    Atlanta GA and San Francisco CA *do* appear on the list at numbers 7 and 11 respectively. I can see them, right there. Bit confused now.

    • I’ve been staring at the list so much I think I may start hallucinating.

      You’re right though, those excerpts about Atlanta were complaints about the ranking of it on the list, not about exclusion. Not sure what’s up with SF Gate, maybe the original list didn’t include San Franciso?

      On a sidenote, my computer is so slow right now I think I might kill myself.

  5. i don’t read the advocate otherwise….but do they mean for this list to be taken seriously? obviously the cities wouldn’t be ranked liked this, but i kinda like the idea of them highlighting cities that you wouldn’t stereotypically associate with being very gay. otherwise, wouldn’t the list mostly stay the same year to year? at least the top of it…idk how much other cities really change otherwise. but this way, i think it shows more, ‘hey! there’s gay everywhere!’ and not just that it’s congregated in a few places.

    perhaps if they hadn’t actually titled this “the gayest cities” people would’ve liked it better.

    also, if they are counting the number of profiles which are apparently only 2 for cleveland (do they really mean 2 hundred or something, that site is so slow so i’m not clicking on it again to see) then i think it’s perfectly reasonable that now having 1 riese in oakland could have officially turned it gay :)

  6. Y’all should move to Minneapolis. I’m such a fucking trendsetter! Except for that whole “y’all” business.

    • My crazy anti-gay grandparents live in the Twin Cities, though. Not sure if that entirely cancels out the gay though since they’re on the St. Paul side…

  7. soooo regent media owns the advocate, it also owns nobody has used since like the 90s, but i bet this survey gave the site a bit of a boost. just saying.

  8. I mean DUH OF COURSE New York and San Fran are gay. I don’t need to be told things I already know, I wanna to see what it’s like in the NOT obvious parts of the country. And Minneapolis is a really cool town. Speaking of the midwest, so is Madison. I was in Madison for only two days and I spent those days at a farmers market taking up over a square mile and in a feminist book store. Everyone knows about New York, people NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MADISON!

    • That’s what I sort of thought. I don’t need SF or NYC because I already know. Honestly, the inclusion of Bloomington last year on the list sort of threw me. I know relative to where I currently reside 3 hours away that yeah, it’s an oasis, but still, Indiana ain’t the worst but it ain’t the best, either.

      Fuck, I was planning a move to Santa Fe but that was with my ex and thus no longer appealing to me as much.

      My sights are set on Honolulu or San Diego.

    • YES. Madison. I go to college in Madison and it is indeed pretty gay, which I didn’t really know before coming here. I love it.

      • Madison is so gay there’s an entire neighborhood referred to (lovingly) as Dyke Heights. Seriously. I love this town.

        • Hey there! I am moving to Madison in May to start a Master’s program, so naturally I’ll be looking for the coolest (and coincidentally, gayest) neighborhoods in Madison! Where exactly is this “Dyke Heights”? It sounds like the place I want to be. :)



      • Madison just keeps seeming cooler and cooler. It is also home to my favorite PRI program, “To the Best of Our Knowledge”.

      • Madison is fantastic, despite current gubernatorial douche baggery.

        I left it recently for Brownsville, TX. MISTAKE, this place is Straightsville, USA.

        Also, I am from Philly and that place is G.A.Y. The pool I used to work at in the city had awesome old queens everywhere wearing sarongs.

  9. Is Sacramento really that gay? It’s always struck me as fairly conservative relative to the rest of NorCal. (Although, conservative relative to SF/Berk/Santa Cruz/Arcata is still pretty liberal.) Fresno has always struck me as more gay-centric although that might just be because I know lots of homogays from that neck of the woods.

  10. It warms my heart that all these cities are upset they didn’t make the list. I can see why, gay travel = gay ca$h but still, I bet if such a list exists for Mexico, most cities wouldn’t be fighting over the top spot (then again, there’s enough violence here … but that’s nithere here nor there)

  11. I’m pretty confused about the inclusion of Vancouver, WA, coupled with the exclusion of Portland, OR. You guys. . . any of you guys who live in the northwest. . . back me up on the absurdity of this.

  12. Okay, soooo… lesbian bars. What about gay men’s bars? That seems like it should also be a factor, at least in the interest of equal gender representation, amirite?

  13. Pittsburgh? Really? I love how offended so many cities are! The criteria for the list has no validity though, so I hope the list isn’t actually being taken seriously.

    • Okay, yeah, sure, Pittsburgh’s not the GAYEST, but have any of yinz even been here? Give us a chance!

      • I have to say I’m surprised about Pittsburgh. Please, do tell – my main association with it is a friend of mine whose family wants her to move back there because “she’s only gay because she lives in Massachusetts”. So, is there a gay neighborhood?

        • pittsburgh totally rulez and is totally gay! we had the first all-gay counseling center, which has been running for over 25 years; we were the first city to enact a law saying that you can’t discriminate against gay peeps in housing/renting; and there are a lot of really awesome, fierce queers. plus, my partner and i share a 2 bedroom house in a safe neighborhood, with a backyard, and we each pay $220 in rent!
          sylvatica, there isn’t a “gay neighborhood” per se, but there are gays in pretty much all of the hip-ish neighborhoods (and in some of the unhip neighborhoods too).

  14. Is ann arbor really that gay?

    Quick, someone give me the info on this shit! My girl is a freshman at umich so obvs information about this is important, cause we’re both from california and know little of michigander ways.

    • Ann Arbor is pretty gay. I don’t think I’ve ever walked down any 3 feet of street downtown without seeing at least one gay.

    • A2 gay? Well, that is where Riese was raised. But I think the Metro Detroit area needs to be included as well – e.g., Ferndale has openly gay mayor, some of the bars in Detroit are the oldest operating in the country …

    • Sure, there are gay people in a2, but there is no gay community to speak of, really. There is ONE gay bar in town (and another lame bar that has one gay night a week), but every time I’ve been there, at least half the patrons there were straight couples out for brunch. I mean, really? Brunch? This place is actually famous for it.

      In the spirit of full disclosure, I should add that I don’t live in Ann Arbor, but at 45 minutes away, it’s actually the closest place I know of that even has gay people (possibly a slight exaggeration, but seriously, I don’t even know a single another gay person in my town. Not one).

      In conclusion to this essay, I would like to re-state my thesis that Michigan really sucks for homos.

    • i was going to respond to your comment debating if ann arbor was really that gay but i see that there is no need because MY MOM ALREADY DID

      p.s. ann arbor was on a daily beast list of gayest cities in the US that came out last year.

      p.p.s. managing editor sarah palmer is in law school there and she seems to know a lot of homos

      • Can I just say that the fact that your mom commented on here made me smile like a kid who just learned how to pee in a toilet [not on the seat, but IN the toilet].

    • I mean, it’s gay, subjectively. Compared to the rest of Michigan it’s like a rainbow party but like Sarah Marae said, there’s not much of a community that is accessible to the average gay.

      And WORD to the sentiment that Michigan sucks for homos. Born and raised here, it’s very pretty and I like water all around me but DAMN I need a life! A gay one that MI just cannot give me.

  15. I think the words “lesbian” and “Northampton” are interchangeable. That list shuold be called “Cities with the Highest Rate of Gays and Northamptons.

    • The odd thing about Northampton is that, yeah, it’s really fricking gay – except for the surrounding area, which is sort of a mix of progressive enclave and conservative homestead. If I remember correctly, the mayoral election back in the early aughties was a lesbian vs a Limbaugh clone, and it was a tight race.

  16. I dunno, obviously tons of places were left off of this that are clearly gayer, but I know a surprisingly large amount of gay ladies in Vancouver, WA.

  17. MEH. Orlando may have a lot of gay people population-wise, but it definitely doesn’t have the kind of gay culture that I wish it did — I definitely intend to eventually GTFO of here and go to a city that does.

  18. Well, if I didn’t have such an aversion to the mountains, I would move to Asheville and finish college there. It’ll be like my safety city for always. If the rest of North Carolina is too mean, I’ll run away to Asheville where no one gives a shit. Maybe I should tour there again…

  19. When I saw Vancouver on the list, I thought for a second that they meant Vancouver BC (canada). Except that there’s no way it’s not in the top five (even counting Edmonton, Toronto, Winnipeg and Montréal, which are apparently also pretty gay).

    Canadian autostraddlers: Queerest spot in canada?

    • Def Toronto more specifically the Church Street area of Toronto. I’ve been all over Canada and its the only place someone has yelled “lesbian” at me from across the street and meant it as a complement.

    • There are too many hipsters and Asian girls that like to hold hands here in Vancouver so my gaydar is all over the place. That having been said Vancouver has lots of gay boys.

      • Okay, yeah, this is definitely a thing. idk though, I just find that compared to other places I’ve been Vancouver is just so resiliently queer, even in non queer-designated areas. There’s just this sense of pervasive queerness in the air (or maybe that’s the rain, whatever).

  20. I lived in Pittsburgh and I had to be going to wrong places because its is not particularly gay. And how could I have been going to the wrong areas? Its not even big enough for me to go to the wrong places!

  21. Ok when I saw Vancouver, Washington I thought the Americans had somehow annexed Canada’s Vancouver (because of the close proximity) without me knowing about it. It was a pretty scary moment.

  22. I’m still laughing at this bit of New York’s rebuttal: “We have more discarded bottles of poppers floating around in our sewers than Denver has on its shelves.”

    I love how people are all offended because they’re not considered gay *enough*. Progress!

    • I don’t know either. And I live in Denver so… yeah, I’d bet that New York probably has more discarded bottles of poppers in the sewers than this entire city has on its shelves. Statistically, this sounds probable.

  23. Sacramento may be gay, but if you go 40 minutes south, nobody is out. But we have this totally awesome ‘underground lesbian society’.I commute to Sacramento for college so I am finally getting into the ‘out’ mix.

  24. you guys, i just can’t wait for when they rank the straightest us cities.

    think of the possible criteria!

    – the number of DMB concerts!
    – ed hardy sales!
    – snuggie owners!
    – mormons!

    [pops popcorn]

  25. As someone who went to all four years of college in Santa Fe, I have to say . . . Santa Fe??? I *think* there is not even one gay bar there, unless something has changed in the past few years. In my experience all the gays there are basically 55, partnered and super rich. Not really any cultural or nightlife activity to speak of.

  26. Honestly, I was somewhat surprised to see Eugene, OR on the list. It’s not that big of a city (about 150,000), but I suppose the fact that it’s a liberal West Coast college town makes it gayer than other places. I’mma just say, though, that as a lesbian resident of Eugene, pickins can be fairly slim. At least for me, being someone who’s not especially acquainted with the gay portion of the U of O. Although maybe I’ll go to the Queer Prom this year and sort that out.

  27. Um, WHAT!? How is San Francisco at ELEVEN? And Rochester, NY isn’t even on there? We have Pandora Boxx people! She started at Tilt nightclub, which is not only the most popular gay bar, but one of the most popular bars period, in town. Not to mention the pride oozing out the gutters, the gay bars, the community centers, clubs, and other events. Even all the public schools celebrate it (especially Fairport) with Brotherhood-Sisterhood week.

  28. Jeez, how did Provincetown not make that list?
    Badly played, Advocate, badly played.

    … although the Tegan and Sara performances thing is quite hilarious.

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