The Gayest US City is Salt Lake City, Says “The Advocate,” Nobody Else

Every year for the last three years, The Advocate develops a brand new set of subjective criteria with which to determine the country’s very best cities for gay people. Every year, this controversial criteria leads to incendiary results which are then debated by the entire gay internet and sometimes even the USA Today.

This year was no exception, as criteria included the number of WNBA teams, International Mr. Leather Competition semifinalists and Nude Yoga classes.

Here’s their explanation:

There’s the official census with information on same-sex couples as a percentage of the population, then there’s our accounting of the gayest places in the USA — and we know the twain shan’t meet. But do we really need another article telling us that the homos gather in West Hollywood and Hell’s Kitchen? That Northampton, Mass., is still Lesbianville, USA? (Don’t get us wrong, we love those places.) Instead, in our third annual accounting of the gayest places in America — according to our totally accurate if decidedly subjective criteria — we look at the per capita queerness of some less expected locales.

So, straight away we see that The Advocate is not actually ranking the US’s gayest cities, it’s ranking the “Per capita queerness of some less expected locales.”  The results were precisely as wacky as you’d expect from such an undertaking — but more importantly, The Advocate actually published the entire “Gayest Cities in America” article on one page, a bold move from a website that traditionally breaks its articles into 5-12 pages, which drives me batshit crazy.

Last year’s set of strange criteria resulted in Minneapolis, Santa Fe, Pittsburgh, Orlando and Las Vegas in the top five.  In 2010, Atlanta nabbed the top spot, followed by Madison, Wisconsin, Bloomington, Indiana, Iowa City and Burlington, Vermont. What happened this year?

Well, that’s next! I’m gonna give you The Advocate’s list along with rankings from a list of our own — we’ve been doing a lot of our own statistics lately and one of the more interesting results is the list of US cities with the highest populations of Autostraddle Readers.

Gayest Cities in America, according to The Advocate:


1. Salt Lake City, Utah

Autostraddler Population Rank: #55

The Advocate says“While those unfamiliar with the Beehive State are likely to conjure images of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, far-less-oppressive-than-it-used-to-be Salt Lake City has earned its queer cred.”


2. Orlando, FL

Autostraddler Population Rank: #76

this is two lesbians in Disney World having a gay old time, about a year before they invented this website

The Advocate Says: “Besides hosting Gay Days at Disney World, where 50,000 LGBT folks and their kids dressed in red T-shirts invade the theme park the first Saturday in June (and spend $100 million in town), Orlando has more gay softball teams than you can shake a Louisville Slugger at.”


3. Cambridge, MA

Autostraddler Population Rank: #14

butch lez julie goldman performs at harvard

The Advocate Says:The home of Harvard University likes a smarty-pants, including the nation’s first African-American lesbian mayor, E. Denise Simmons.”


4. Fort Lauderdale, FL

Autostraddler Population Rank: #151

The Advocate says: “The area is teeming with gay bars and restaurants, and a ton of guesthouses and spas that run the gamut from mild to spicy.”


5. Seattle, WA

Autostraddler Population Rank: #7

The Advocate says: “… tons of locavore and cosmopolitan cuisine, funky bars in a robust LGBT scene, Dan Savage, and hookups.”

They also have an excellent library.


6. Ann Arbor, MI

Autostraddler Population Rank: #22

our senior editor tweeted this yesterday

I say: This is actually where I grew up! It’s super liberal and very gay-friendly. And as The Advocate mentions, any ladies looking for a super-special evening are welcome to visit Stilleto’s nightclub in nearby Inkster. Anyhow, I wasn’t out/self-aware when I lived there, but I also graduated from University of Michigan and so did Contributing Editor Whitney Pow. So there you go.


7. St.Paul/Minneapolis

Autostraddler Population Rank: Minneapolis is #12, St.Paul is #31

these two cuties won the right to walk together in the Royalty Court last year


8. Knoxville, TN

Autostraddler Population Rank: #90

this is a female basketball player who popped up when i googled "lesbian knoxville"


9. Atlanta, GA

Autostraddler Population Rank: #16

this is a famous lesbian singer/actress who grew up in Atlanta & Savannah and has a webseries on this website


10. Grand Rapids, MI (Maybe Tony the Tiger is gay)

Autostraddler Population Rank: #69


11. Little Rock, Arkansas

Autostraddler Population Rank: #227


12. Portland, Oregon:

Autostraddler Population Rank: #8

this is the actual fridge of a lesbian who lives in portland and wrote about it for this website

This seems true.


13. Austin, Texas

Autostraddler Population Rank: #10

this is a bisexual girl visiting austin, texas while writing about sxsw for this website


14. Long Beach, CA

Autostraddler Population Rank: #64

Jenelle Hutcherson, first gay contestant for Miss Long Beach


15. Denver, CO

Autostraddler Population Rank: #17


So, in conclusion — according to The Advocate over the course of the last three years, more or less every city and college town in the country is gay friendly, although many studies and the American political climate suggest otherwise. What do you think of this year’s list? I feel like they’re wrong about Little Rock, but I can’t be sure.

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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 3228 articles for us.


  1. Way to go MI, with two of my favorite cities!

    Except we are still up against that whole getting fired for being gay situation and the lack of benefits for domestic partners and whatnot…

  2. @ number 8
    I have no clue how they figured that one out. WE DON’T EVEN HAVE AN LGBT CENTER OUTSIDE OF THE ONE AT UTK.
    It must be the marvelous women’s athletics department at UTK, and the fact that Kamiko Williams from the basketball team got a fauxhawk this year.

    • There was talk of getting one going a few years ago, and then it just kind of disappeared. Also, I feel like there aren’t a lot of places for queer girls to hang out. And I’ve never seen any LGBT bookstore here anywhere. I think my point is, how did they come to the conclusion that we are the eighth gayest?? Because I think in Tennessee, Chattanooga or Nashville have us beat by quite a lot.

      • Yeah, that “The Iris” thing? I remember reading about that, but yeah it totally disappeared. There’s that Spectrum Cafe thing, but that caters to highschool students, and despite being in hs it’s not something i’ve ever felt comfortable going to. Nashville and even Chattanooga def have us beat.
        An LGBT college group, gay history college course and pridefest does not a gay friendly city make.

        • There’s been talk of trying to get a Lesbian Social Group going for college age girls seeing as the current one is mostly for middle aged women, but that’s about the extent of new gay stuff I’ve heard about. Seriously, I mean, I’ve never had any heckling on the street (though I know a few friends who have), and there’s a definite gay community here, but I would not call it gay friendly. Also, as for the women’s basketball team, I heard that no one on the team was really allowed to be out (this is unconfirmed gossip just fyi). So that kinda cancels out any gay points right there. Also, Stacy Campfield is from here.

          I mean, surely we at least need an LGBT bookstore before we can be called gay friendly?

          • It wouldn’t surprise me remotely if they weren’t allowed to be out. (DESPITETHECOACHINGSTAFFYOUKNOWWHO)
            Everyone’s too polite here to really heckle. I guess it depends on the area. (The downtown compared to.. fountain city)

            If we got an LGBT bookstore, I’d die. I’ve been meaning to check out the new Union st bookstore downtown and scope their LGBT section, but idk if they’re even open yet.

          • Oh, they are. I’ve been there a couple times. I can’t remember there being an LGBT section, though I could be mistaken. I haven’t had a chance to go through it shelf by shelf yet. I’m pretty sure the closest LGBT bookstore is in Atlanta, but I’m sure there’s a closer one in Tennessee…somewhere.

  3. First of all, the ranking is entirely out of fun. Nobody is really taking it seriously. As a resident of Salt lake though, I have to say we are pretty damn queer. Our Pride Parade gets bigger and bigger every year, the city has recently adopted anti-discrimination ordinances, our current mayor is super gay-friendly, there are a number of gay bars (even though there is only one dyke bar). Now if only the rest of the state would catch up

    • Um.. I had people yell “DYKES!” from their car at my friends and I walking down the street in downtown GR.

      Unless things have changed in the 5 years since I ran away from that side of the state, I would say not so gay friendly…

    • I just moved from there to Portland, Oregon. Believe me, GR has nothing on PDX. And of course, now my family is using this to say, SEE!?! Grand Rapids IS gay-friendly and you moved to a city that ranked lower! Which is all bs, not to mention not the reason why we moved here… Local news stations and websites are running the story there, and everyone is jumping in the comments to defend their city as NOT gay at all… which just shows it’s overflowing with gay-friendliness, right? I mean, don’t get me wrong… It’s better than it has been and it’s still better than most places in the state but #10 in the nation? Sheeeeh. If that was accurate, it would make me incredibly depressed.

  4. Alright, I know it’s all very subjective but, wait a second, is nude yoga an actual thing, and if it is a thing, then why oh why is it counted as marker for gayness exactly?!…can we gays just not keep our clothes on, even when it comes to exercising! :-/ I feel like the people in the Advocate may have been completely and utterly pissed/drunk when they came up with these criteria for gayness, and thought they were all hilarious at the time maybe!

    Also, I hope Orlando is at least a bit gay as a gang of us plan to head there for the Girls in Wonderland week this year, have any of you Autostraddlers been before, is it worth going to?

    • i need to find taylor and have her tell you about the experience we had in her apartment in oakland when the people across the way were having nude gay men yoga
      i’ve never been to girls in wonderland, but obviously as the picture indicates i have been to disney and really love it!

      • No way, brilliant! So naked yoga for gay men is a thing, who knew…I had assumed it would be too much of a niche market to exist!

        Oh really, ive heard good things about Disney and Girls in Wonderland alright. Apparently on one of the days they hire out one of the parks after hours and have a massive party there, it all just sounds fantastic and a bit surreal to be honest!

    • I was at Disney World a week ago and saw a girl with an Autostraddle t-shirt! For the first time in real life! It was amazing. Disney World is pretty great. I don’t know anything about Girls in Wonderland but while you’re in Orlando you should definitely go to Islands of Adventure. Best park of them all, in my opinion. Plus Harry Potter World is there, which is probably the gayest part.

    • Yay Austin!! I’ve grown up here, and always felt totally safe being gay. Unlike our unfortunate resident Rick Perry, who walks around town with a guard all the time. Glad he knows he’s not welcome.

  5. I’m amazed Madison didn’t make the list again this year. Ever since I moved here last week, every single female cashier I’ve had has been a raging homo. SO MANY GAYS, YOU GUYS. I have absolutely seen/met more gay women than straight women. It’s AMAZING. (And I’m coming from Minneapolis, so it’s not like I haven’t experienced lots of gays before, but this is ridiculous.) Living here makes my little homo heart sing.

  6. Seattle has a lot of libraries. I assume you’re talking the one which has an entire floor designed to make you feel like you’ve been swallowed and are being digested. for reference. (There are no books on this floor, btw.)

    Also the escalators have some weird shit going on.

    It is actually an amazing library, but I don’t recommend trying to study there after pulling an all nighter, because you will fall asleep and have terrifying sci-fi nightmares and then an angry librarian will wake you up and tell you you’re not allowed to sleep in the library.

  7. Cambridge is one of the most liberal, opinionated, and pedestrian friendly cities out there! Yay Cambridge! Unfortunately, I may live in the single most conservative household in Cambridge, but hey, at least my city is full o’ naked gay man yogis.

  8. Queer seems to have worked as a criteria for the list. It looks to have come out unconventional and interesting, and compared to the AS rankings, fairly (?) on the mark.

    I’d have never guessed about Salt Lake City, I must admit…

  9. I was super closeted before moving south to Salt Lake. The city, although very religious, is very welcoming and accepting of gays. Not to say we don’t have our fair share of bigots.

  10. Pingback: Salt Lake City Makes History By Electing Its Queerest City Council Ever – DollarViral

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