So: It’s officially official. Knoxville is more gay-friendly than Atlanta. And Denver, Long Beach, Austin, Portland, Little Rock, and Grand Rapids, Mich.
Leading LGBT magazine The Advocate released its Gayest Cities in America list on Monday, and Knoxville landed a surprising #8, with Salt Lake City coming in at #1. But before bragging to friends in bigger cities or threatening to boycott Gay Street, there are a few caveats to keep in mind: While the list purposely focuses on “the per capita queerness of some less expected locales” rather than the usual suspects, the survey’s criteria is often decidedly tongue in cheek. Balancing straightforward ratings like “LGBT elected city officials” and “Transgender protection” are things like “Nude yoga” and “International Mr. Leather competition semifinalists.”
Lists like these can’t possibly be 100 percent “accurate,” so having fun with it seems like a reasonable route to take. However, online reactions to the list—whether at traditional media sites or LGBT ones—have been more dour than not. “And do not even get me started on Knoxville. Yes, queen! Knoxville!” shrieked Gawker pundit Brian Moylan on Tuesday in a post titled, “Are These Really the Gayest Cities in America?”
Knoxville got points for having an LGBT bookstore (hmmmm... where?) and a softball team competing in the Gay Softball World Series (we did find an online reference to the Knoxville Cyclones). “Nevertheless, Knoxville has defiantly produced a robust gay scene,” writes the Advocate’s Matthew Breen, noting UT’s Commission for LGBT People, the Spectrum Café for teens, and our nightlife. And all in all that sounds accurate (enough) to us.