Every year when The Advocate magazine publishes its list of the “Gayest Cities in America” it comes with a few surprises. This year was no different.
At the top of the list for 2013 is Tacoma, Washington. In fact three Washington cities are in the top 5. Joining Tacoma on the list of America’s gayest cities is Spokane, Wash. The two cities were helped by the fact that the state legalized same-sex marriage in last year’s election.
According to one Tacoma resident there was a certain logic to it.”There’s a lot of public support [for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community], and we’ve had nondiscrimination laws for a long time here.”
“Tacoma was the right blend of the right size and had the factors we looked for in the criteria,” Matthew Breen, editor of the The Advocate and the man behind this year’s list, told weekends on All Things Considered host Jacki Lyden.
Those factors include more serious criteria like the number of LGBT elected officials and whether a city has legal protections for people who are transgender and bisexual resource centers. Then the magazine adds in some tongue-in-cheek factors: concerts by Glee cast members, roller derby and gay rugby teams, and “fabulous” shopping — measured by the number of Whole Foods, West Elm and Pottery Barn stores.
“We start with a baseline of cities that have 150,000 people or more and we take all of our criteria,” Breen says. “Then we divide by the number of people and we get a per-capita gay-ness.”
Although the list is a bit cheeky, Breen says, it’s also important because it starts a dialogue about what being a gay-friendly city means.
“People start having a conversation about whether their city is LGBT-friendly,” he says. “They get to look at dimensions to their city that they maybe didn’t consider in the past. The conversation is what I’m after here, and I’m just finding it happen all over the place every year, so I’m really excited about that.”