CHICAGO (CBS) — The Advocate Magazine has released its “Gayest Cities in America” list for the year, and some readers are rankled that Chicago didn’t make the list.
“It’s no secret that megalopolises New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles have robust LGBT life — and we’ve even heard tell of little queer hoods like the Castro and P-Town (Provincetown, Mass.),” the site said. “This isn’t that list.”
The cities that did make the list came as a surprise to many readers too. At the No. 1 spot was Salt Lake City, a city with a conservative reputation, but which has “more than a half-dozen hot spots for men and women,” as well as LGBT film buffs who flock to the Sundance Film Festival.
Coming in second was Orlando, Fla., which has “more gay softball teams than you can shake a Louisville Slugger at,” and famously, Gay Days at Disney World. Following were Cambridge, Mass.; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; and Seattle in the top five.
Among Midwestern cities, Ann Arbor, Mich., came in sixth, with mention of openly gay University of Michigan student body president Chris Armstrong and his online harassment claim against since-fired Michigan Atty. Gen. Andrew Shirvell. St. Paul and Minneapolis seventh and were called “a draw for upper Midwestern LGBTs,” and Grand Rapids, Mich., was at No. 10, with, among other things, “one of the Midwest’s best LGBT country line dancing scenes.”
But some readers wondered how the magazine drew its conclusions, based on its often quirky criteria. One point was awarded for each LGBT elected city official; transgender protection law; LGBT bookstore; WNBA basketball team; softball team that has competed in the Gay Softball World Series; International Mr. Leather Competition semifinalist; chapter of the costume ball-staging charity Imperial Court; nude yoga class; and concert by the indie bands Gossip, the Cliks or the Veronicas.
The rankings are determined by dividing the points from those variables by the cities’ total populations, thus locking out major cities.
But regardless of the formula, one reader pointed out that Chicago should be well ahead of the cities on the list, which he dismissed as “the stupidest list I have ever read.”
“(International Mr. Leather) is the biggest circuit party in the gay community and it happens in CHICAGO and Chicago has the Leather Archives and museum too,” he writes. “What about GLBT arts organizations? Chicago has SEVERAL Gay Choral groups including The Windy City Gay Men’s Chorus Chorus and the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus. Chicago has the huge CMSA sporting organization for various sports related groups. A whole street of GLBT bars with PERMANENT gay markers installed by the City. One of the most popular gay bars (if not the best gay bar) in the country – Sidetrack. Its own GLBT lobbying group – Equality Illinois and every small subgroup activity you can imagine. and on and on and on.”
Another reader who said he has lived in Chicago, Houston and Philadelphia called the list “perhaps the best cities to go to COLLEGE and also be a gay person – but little else. This list utterly ignores EVERY city with more than 800,000 people living in it.”
The list was also a hot topic on Chicago’s Boystown Facebook page Tuesday – not because Chicago wasn’t included so much as questioning the magazine’s choices.
“Yes, this is some kind of joke. So Salt Lake City has more than six bars, a coffee house and a film festival. So what?” one reader wrote.
“C’mon. Nude Yoga was a defining factor. Puhleez,” wrote another.
For what it’s worth, regardless of what the list says, Chicago has a Pride Parade that drew 800,000 people last year, and had the nation’s first officially recognized gay village along North Halsted Street in 1997.
This is the third year of the “Gayest Cities” list. The past No. 1 winners were Atlanta in 2010 and Minneapolis last year, and so far, Chicago has never appeared on the list at all.