The Advocate is a well-known magazine that caters to the Queer community. It runs serious articles that inform readers of issues facing gays, and lighter fair for when you’ve read enough about Uganda’s legislative genocide for one day. One such piece is entitled “The Advocate’s 15 ‘Gayest’ Cities.” Randy Thomas, who is no longer “gay-identified” but for some reason still reads this prominent gay publication, has taken issue with the piece. Mike Albo, billed in the piece as an “intrepid amateur sociologist,” gives us his findings, with certain points emphasized by Randy Thomas:

Intrepid amateur sociologist Mike Albo searches for America’s 15 gayest burgs—based on a finely tuned (if totally arbitrary) calculus.

Long ago, gay people settled in our nation’s largest cities. There they spruced up all the property, created every art and fashion movement, and taught entire populations how to dance. They created gayborhoods like WeHo, Chelsea, South Beach—and pretty much queered all of San Francisco until even Laundromats had rainbow flag decals in their windows. About 10 years ago everyone else moved back into these nicely gentrified metropolises, and the lavender diaspora began. Now a slew of secondary cities are becoming gay epicenters.

This admittedly subjective search reveals spots that are much more pink than you might think. Determined by a completely unscientific but accurate statistical equation, these gayest cities may surprise you.

Of course, these are obviously cultural stereotypes, and Randy objects.

I hate math but it doesn’t take a mathematician to see that this “arbitrary calculus” has some highly questionable variables.

Is the criteria above for such a “lavender diaspora” truly what The Advocate thinks being a gay epicenter is about?  By the criteria above it appears they are saying that being gay is about political power/redefining marriage, gay activist data contextualizing the census, anonymous sex/online dating, gay bar culture and people who like to watch Brokeback Mountain or Birdcage.

You’d think that far right political activists wrote this article as a cultural meme to reinforce simplistic, and a couple of campy, stereotypes.

Mr. Albo includes zero criterion about gay centered or pro-gay churches/religious centers, no gay support groups, no attempt to study attitudes of the not gay neighbors … what about people who are in homosexual relationships but don’t identify as gay? … or with gay culture?

And lest anyone think he was reading The Advocate for anything other than investigative reporting:

Not that I affirm any of that or would presume to know what makes a “gayborhood … lavender diaspora.”

Apparently Randy’s obsession with being able to declare himself “free” of anything that might label him “gay” (or “gay-identified,” to put it in his terms) has limited his ability to understand satire. This article is a clear example of defensive humor, in which a cultural or ethnic minority forms a joke based on stereotypes used against them in order to diminish the stereotypes’ power. This is commonly seen in Jewish humor, among others. But no joke is too silly to be over-analyzed.

Plus, what good does it do to try and quantify the “gayest” cities? Regardless of the answer to that and even with the obvious satire the article could have been more thoughtful in trying to make its case.

Granted, Mr. Albo does say it is subjective and not scientific.  He obviously meant to deliver this article with a sense of humor.  He seriously doesn’t think the only creative dancing people in the world identify as gay … right?

The resulting list makes for an odd mix of cities that brings serious doubt about the accuracy of the results being truly reflective of the title of the article.  It also makes the purpose of publishing such an article suspect.

It “makes the purpose of publishing such an article suspect?” I suspect that the purpose of publishing the article was to make the predominantly gay readers of the magazine chuckle.

So, Randy Thomas and indeed all of Exodus can relax. Gays are no less committed to finding pro-gay places of worship, getting to know their gay neighbors, and entering into long-term loving relationships.

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