Last year, there was an uproar following The Advocate naming Grand Rapids to its list of the top 15 gayest cities in America.
It bothered me that my hometown had been named to the list. While I understand that The Advocate is trying to spotlight gay life in other corners of the country besides the East and West Coasts, this was a complete misrepresentation of my hometown.
A year later, Grand Rapids is off the list but other small towns across America like Salt Lake City and Spokane, Washington remain firmly entrenched on the list because of The Advocates’ questionable criteria:
You can pick apart the criteria for yourself and decide how fair you think it is. I think this year’s criteria is slightly less eyebrow-raising than last year (no more nude yoga?), but still. Whole Foods makes a city gay? Glee concerts? Rugby?
You know what I think would make a city gay friendly? How about not getting harassed when you want to hold hands in public? How about not having to worry about whether or not you can go look at an apartment together and be seen as a couple or if you should act like you’re just friends? How about partner benefits?
The best part is that MARRIAGE EQUALITY is 5 points. Marriage equality is not equality. Legal recognition, though a step in the right direction, guarantees relatively little in life. Legal recognition doesn’t mean that your family will be accepting or that you won’t have people lean out their car windows and yell hateful words at you.
For the sake of all of us in Middle America, The Advocate needs to seriously reevaluate what makes a city “gay”. If these cities really are so gay, they should make a great vacation destination for the staff at The Advocate. You know, they can go to the roller derby and stuff.