Move over, San Francisco — Atlanta is coming through.
According to an article in Advocate magazine, which caters to the LGBT community, Atlanta is the “gayest” city in America. The article created its list of 15 cities based on factors such as the number of same-sex couple households per capita, the number of gay elected officials and the number of gay bars per capita.
Jennifer Miracle, associate director of Intercultural Affairs and director of the LGBT Center, said she agrees Atlanta is a gay-friendly city, but she said the Advocate ranking is unreliably arbitrary.
“You have to take [the rating] in context,” Miracle said. “I didn’t take the article all that serious.”
She said she objects to some of the factors the article considers.
“Gay bars provide a social place,” Miracle said. “But I think there are other outlets.”
But she said the article was correct in considering the number of elected officials who identify with the LGBT community and “help in the passing of any [affirmative] legislation.”
Caitlin McCook, a junior from Mableton and the Lambda Alliance director of public relations, said Atlanta’s title as the gayest city is specific to the metro area.
Ashton May, the executive director of Lambda, said colleges in Atlanta, such as Emory University and Georgia State University, contribute to the city’s gay-friendly status. The many LGBT organizations in the area also have an effect.
“[People] feel like it’s a pretty safe space,” said May, a junior from Marietta.
Miracle said Athens is also an open town.
“Athens is generally gay-friendly,” she said. “I personally have felt very comfortable in Athens.”
But May and McCook expressed less enthusiastic opinions about Athens’ tolerance toward the LGBT community.
“You can’t always expect to have a good, unbothered time, but you don’t have to be on guard all the time,” McCook said. “Athens is middle of the road.”
Both May and McCook said Athens lacks some LGBT outlets, such as a gay bar.
“I think that the general atmosphere is gay-friendly,” May said. “[But] it’s not shown outwardly that much.”
When asked if the United States is generally accepting toward people of all sexual orientations, Miracle said it’s a “broad generalization to make.”
“In every region, there will be a town with conservative ideas regarding the LGBT community,” she said. “[Yet] there’s no laws on the book [forcing people to identify their sexual orientation as] straight.”
May and McCook said the United States, especially its lawmakers, isn’t supportive of the LGBT community.
“That’s what we show to the rest of the world,” May said.
This attitude is changing, May and McCook said. Children and teenagers today are learning more about tolerance than their parents did.
“The younger generations are [more accepting],” McCook said.
She also said the American LGBT policies are “horrifying” when compared to those of other countries.
Miracle said it’s difficult to measure U.S. laws in this area against their international counterparts, such as the strict rules of Uganda and the more liberal laws in Sweden.
“It’s all about perspective,” she said.