There is something queer about these national rankings 

If San Francisco really needs to cut back in these lean financial times, perhaps it should consider putting its summer Pride Parade on hiatus.

That is, unless The City can start to prove that it is as gay as it wants to be. I’m far from the arbiter of such things, but those in the know have been suggesting in recent years that while San Francisco may still be a happy place, it’s no longer the gayest hot spot, say, since ancient Sparta.

Normally I wouldn’t care about outside opinion, but there appears to be some cause for concern. A few months back, the Advocate, considered something of a national bible for all things gay, lesbian and transgender, listed San Francisco as only No. 11 on its list of the gayest cities in America, crunched in between (and this really hurts) Cleveland and St. Louis.

But that just pales in comparison with the previous year, when San Francisco didn’t even make the list and really had some people wondering if the Advocate had become the Onion. The magazine readily acknowledges that its annual poll is unscientific, including as part of its formula the number of Tegan and Sara performances in the past five years (what, no Indigo Girls?), and the number of Yellow Page entries with the word “gay” in them. This would seem to punish San Francisco unfairly, since our own very own gay officials are trying to ban Yellow Pages from existing anywhere but on the Internet.

Still, Iowa City, Iowa; Austin, Texas; and Asheville, N.C., are more queer-friendly than San Francisco? Not to mention Bloomington, Ind., and Madison, Wis. It’s enough to send your average New Yorker shouting into the streets.

Admittedly, the Advocate is trying to “gay up” the country, suggesting that being out is so mainstream now, it’s positively in.

“In 10 years or so, every Main Street USA will probably be too gay to measure,” writes the poll’s author, Mike Albo. “A slew of secondary cities are becoming gay epicenters.”

I suspect that the Advocate may be taking some of its target audiences for granted, because if you can keep San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles out of the top 10 gayest cities in America, you’re really overreaching.

Two years ago, Atlanta (dubbed “Hotlanta”) was rated as the gayest city in America and this year Minneapolis topped the list. Apparently having an active gay sports league helps move these municipalities up the line, as well as the number of cruising spots.

Yet even based on this odd criteria, I think they may be a bit geographically challenged, since when I travel to the South and Midwest, I still hear things about San Francisco that just got Kobe Bryant fined $100,000 for.

In this arbitrary formula, points are awarded to cities for the number of same-sex households per capita, statewide marriage equality and the number of gay officials, which makes me think that correspondents for the Advocate surprisingly don’t get out this way much. Georgia is more queer than California? Not by judging the number of Confederate versus rainbow flags.

I figured that perhaps the Advocate was just having fun at our expense when it listed San Diego as more gay than Los Angeles. San Diego was so conservative it didn’t even have an official Democratic Party organization until about 15 years ago. Its one nude beach must be really something.

Big cities are curiously left out in the survey based on a per capita average, but I covered West Hollywood shortly after it announced itself as a gay metropolis and it has only 35,000 people. Yet Orlando, Fla., home of Disneyworld and about 2 million non-Mouseketeers, is somehow more gay than that.

Perhaps San Francisco is just too full of itself to be bothered. But if you’re the city with the least number of school-age children in America, shouldn’t that be worth mentioning? Are there other cities that allow sex change operations to be included as a health benefit? I dare you to match that, Iowa City.

Organizers of the Pride Parade — if they still insist on having it — need to end the debate once and for all. Hard to believe that when it comes to gayness, San Francisco needs an advocate.

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Ken Garcia

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