Satire Warning. This is not, I repeat this is not a statistically accurate analysis of queer friendliness. It is, however, an interesting glimpse at some non-traditional locations in the nation.
You may have noticed in previous years that some local LGBTQ groups in Pittsburgh were ecstatic about our ranking among the “LGBT Friendliest Cities” in the US by The Advocate. We really love being ranked.We don’t do irony well. If you don’t like/believe/agree with the ranking, you obviously hate Pittsburgh and baby penguin chicks and gay people. In that order.
As recently as 2012, The Advocate focused on “The Gayest Cities” in this feature which speaks volumes about whose quality of life was being assessed, however tongue in cheek. In 2011, Pittsburgh was 5th. In 2014, we slipped to 15th place. Interesting that as the criteria moved just slightly toward inclusivity (however non-scientific), we lost ground.
That being said, the newest rating is out and our fair neighbors in the Northwest made the cut – Erie came in at #7.
This old manufacturing city in northeastern Pennsylvania has an LGBT edge thanks to its trans-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance, LGBT-friendly restaurants and bars, and strong sense of acceptance. The community stays in-the-know with Erie Gay News (ErieGayNews.com), where since 1992 residents and visitors have been able to find events throughout the month, such as the Lake Erie Gala sponsored by the Erie Sisters Transgender Support Group. During the day, locals explore the surrounding nature, and at night they can be found enjoying local establishments like Lone Shark Seafood (LoneSharkSeafood.com) or The Zone Dance Club (TheZoneDanceClub.com).
You might also note that Erie got credit for 1 out of 6 criteria. Hmmm. Let’s take a closer look at the criteria:
Please also note that Allentown received honorable mention.
Now Pittsburgh would actually do reasonably well per these criteria – bonus points for Billy Porter I’m sure. But it really does ask us to think outside the box of what makes for a gay-destination (Broadway shows) as opposed to being a queer-friendly location (retirement, faith communities.) I’d certainly say we have a LGBT Friendly Synagogue – Rodef Shalom hosts OUTrageous Bingo, for pete’s sake. But what about the rest?
I’m really glad Erie got some love. The simple fact that they’ve kept their print newspaper alive (one of 3 in the entire Commonwealth) when both Pgh papers have folded is impressive. They had transinclusive non-discrimination policies long before Allegheny County had anything. Erie has a rather thriving social scene and it appears that the various LGBTQ community groups mutually support one another.
This makes me look forward with even more anticipation to spending time in Northwestern PA this year as part of Amplifty! LGBTQ – I’m more curious than ever to meet my neighbors.
Again, this is not scientific. So rather than point out all the awesome things that are queer about Pittsburgh, let’s give Erie a thumbs up and take the high road. We didn’t make the cut. Accept that.
Coming soon – the reasons why we didn’t deserve to make the cut. Stay tuned …