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
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
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
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.
Autostraddler Population Rank: Minneapolis is #12, St.Paul is #31
8. Knoxville, TN
Autostraddler Population Rank: #90
9. Atlanta, GA
Autostraddler Population Rank: #16
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
13. Austin, Texas
Autostraddler Population Rank: #10
14. Long Beach, CA
Autostraddler Population Rank: #64
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.