Friday, January 15, 2010

How gay are we?

The Advocate has named Madison the "5th Gayest City in America," which would be a great honor if it weren't for the sneaking suspicion one gets that they've never been here. To wit:
"Madison is often called the Berkeley of the Midwest—the east side is hippie-crunchy, there’s a brand-new gay dance club (Plan B), and heaps of cute blond dreadlocked nuevo organic farmer dudes can be found at the Willy Street Co-op or the Farmers’ Market drinking their own beer from mason jars."
Let's deconstruct this:
  1. "Berkeley of the Midwest"- No, Berkeley is the "Madison of California."
  2. "heaps of cute blond dreadlocked nuevo organic farmer dudes" - I don't know about "heaps"; most of the dreadlocked dudes at Willy Co-op have auburn to black hair. I only spot a blond one maybe every three shopping trips. Also, I'm not quite sure what "nuevo organic" means. As for the "farmer," the moniker could apply to, at maximum, one in ten dreadlocked dudes, which should be obvious since there are only two farms within city limits and most produce farmers from Mount Horeb don't come here daily.
  3. "at the Willy Street Co-op ... drinking their own beer" - And getting thrown out. I don't know where Willy Co-op got this freewheeling reputation. It must have come from people who've never been there. The vibe at Willy is like Whole Foods, without the perniciousness.
  4. "at ... the Farmers’ Market drinking ... beer from mason jars" - Um, I'm pretty sure that Wisconsin still has an open container law, because I see it being enforced all the time downtown. If we're going to drink our own beer in public, we're not going to do it from mason jars so that everyone can see what we're doing. We're going to drink it from plastic Canada Dry bottles.
  5. "drinking their own beer from mason jars" - We homebrewers put our beer in Grolsch bottles, not mason jars. Anyone who has ever brewed knows that making beer in a mason jar invites explosions. You drink hooch from mason jars, and none of us would know anything about that, because distilling hooch at home is illegal.
By the way, the "gay" here seems to be intentional, focusing on gay men to the exclusion of LBTs - although the article confusingly alternates between using the term "gay" to mean "gay men" and using "gay" to mean "queers." For example, it apparently included Tammy Baldwin among Madison's "gay elected officials," but clearly wasn't counting her when it looked at "gay dating profiles per single male population" and probably wasn't referring to her, or women in general, when it looked at "cruising spots per capita."

Speaking of cruising spots, I've got to wonder how "cruising spots per capita" makes a city gay. Even assuming the cruising involves men only, a lot of the men involved in cruising don't view themselves as gay. That's why sexual health educators talk more often about their work with "men who have sex with men," not "gay men."

The Gayest City ranking criteria were: same-sex couple households per capita, statewide marriage equality, gay elected officials, gay dating profiles per single male population, gay bars per capita, cruising spots per capita and gay films in Netflix favorites.

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