Each year, The Advocate publishes a list of the top 15 gayest cities. In the article “Gayest Cities in America” Baltimore failed to make the cut. Although the method at which The Advocate uses is not scientific, they factor in their rating system the number of Gay.com profiles for that city, listed officiates for gay weddings within a 50 mile radius, elected openly gay officials, Tegan and Sara performances over the past five years, lesbian bars, gay and gay-friendly religious congregation, entries in YellowPages.com with “gay” in the business name, and population within the city limits. With these factors, somehow Baltimore failed to make the grade, while surprisingly, other more conservative cities made the cut. After reviewing the top 15 cities and reviewing their justifications for their numerical placement, I believe Baltimore has comparable elements with many of the mentioned cities, or can make changes that can make this city more competitive for next year’s list.
15th Miami, FL – The Advocate justifies this partly because, “The Design District has given the city its own promenade of chic stores and restaurants, and style boutiques like the Webster and Alchemist have elevated fashion beyond the beach look.” Baltimore has North Charles, which is known as the art district. Many students from Maryland Institute College of Art have displays in various shops in that area. Also, the area has unique street paintings and art designs scattered throughout the area.
14th Oakland, CA – “Back in 2004, officials promoted economic development by proposing an official gay business district.” Although Baltimore City Council has never designated Mount Vernon as the “gay business district,” many gay bars and restaurants are heavily concentrated in Mount Vernon. If the Baltimore City Council designates Mount Vernon as the “gay business district,” maybe businesses located in the surrounding areas would flock to Mount Vernon, effectively filling up the high number of vacant business properties in the area.
13th Denver, CO – With its newly appointed gay state supreme court justice, many are taking note that it was only 19 years ago when the voters of Colorado passed a sweeping antigay amendment that allowed discrimination. Maryland has several elected officials that are openly gay, and hopefully someday soon, Maryland will match Colorado and have an openly gay justice.
12th Cleveland, OH – In 2014, Cleveland will be hosting the Gay Games. The Gay Games is a quadriennial athletic and cultural event which brings together people from around the world. This event has grown in popularity over the years and will surely leave a mark on Cleveland as being a gay friendly destination. With the number of hotel rooms in Baltimore, the stadiums, the proximity to DC and Philadelphia (their resources), Baltimore should consider placing a bid to host future games.
11th San Francisco, CA – San Francisco has built a long standing reputation for acceptance towards gays. This reputation is hard to overcome; however, in today’s society, as gays become more accepted across the United States, less gays will feel compelled to relocate to that area. When comparing the cost of residential property with San Francisco, Baltimore is much lower. One could enjoy a life living on a harbor without paying a fortune.
10th St. Louis, MO – Last year, St. Louis, considered a heartland city, had the first annual Trans Family Picnic, hosted by TransHaven. Considering Missouri is almost always a solid red state, and Maryland is always a solid blue state, one has to wonder why gays would relocate to a socially conservative state that simply doesn’t represent the interest of the gay community. Under that belief, living in Maryland would be by far more attractive than living in Missouri.
9th Seattle, WA – “It’s where The Stranger hosts its yearly homemade porn festival.” Baltimore has more to offer than a city showcasing a porn festival.
8th Washington, DC – Many consider Baltimore to be part of Washington because of Baltimore’s geographic location and the number of people that commute daily from Baltimore to Washington. Although Washington does have a larger gay population, the cost of living makes it almost impractical for one to live and save for their future. Under an economic approach, Baltimore is the better catch.
7th Atlanta, GA – Atlanta seems to have several gay communities. But Atlanta has the same problem as St. Louis. Both cities are in solid conservative states.
6th Vancouver, WA – The population of Vancouver is about 165,000. It is a small city with limited resources and limited opportunities.
5th Pittsburgh, PA – Hosts the major Pittsburg International Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, which is a 10- day event and every June has a theater festival event. Baltimore has the resources and the artistic talent to do the exact same thing.
4th Orlando, FL and 3rd Las Vegas, NV – These two cities are severely plagued with economic problems. If one was to move to either city, based solely on The Advocate’s rating system, there is a strong possibility they will have a hard time finding a job, thus unable to enjoy any benefits the cities have to offer. With Baltimore’s proximity to Washington, DC and Philadelphia, a person would have a better chance of obtaining a job in this area, than Orlando or Las Vegas.
2nd Santa Fe, N.M.- Like Vancouver, Santa Fe is also a small city with limited resources and limited opportunities.
1st Minneapolis, MN – The problem with Minneapolis is the state appears to be undergoing a political shift, moving it ever so closer into the red column. As most people know, Republican leaning states tend not to be very accepting of gay rights.
After reviewing all 15 cities, The Advocate fails to consider the practicality of the cost of living or factoring in the political makeup of the state. Although a city may be gay friendly, the cost of living, economics of the city, employment rate, and lack of protections received from the state legislature can turn a top rated gay friendly city, into a nightmare. The Advocate should include more factors when conducting their ratings, in order to show a better picture of the overall standard of living.
- David Placher is a writer, photographer, and world traveler. His passion for adventure and storytelling has taken him to several famous (and not so famous) cities, where he captures a glimpse of each city’s culture and history, with a focus on the LGBTQIA community. He is always searching for cheap fare flight tickets and inexpensive hotel bookings, so his stories sometimes include cost saving tips. When he is not traveling, he is drafting technology contracts for a living. He can be reached at email@example.com