Bloomington, Indiana Is USA’s Fourth Gayest City

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The Advocate has released their list of Gayest Cities in America, with Bloomington ranking number four, right behind Atlanta, Burlington, VT, and Iowa City, IA.

Sample Gates

Photo: Bloomington City Government

Bloomington, Indiana

Before I moved to Bloomington, Indiana for graduate school at Indiana University, I was told how progressive and gay-friendly the town is.

Though the statistic was often misspoken, what was most often cited was that Bloomington ranks number five in terms of same-sex couples per capita.  (Sometimes I was told it had the 5th highest number of gay people, or maybe percent of gay people.)

And, recently, the Advocate has released their top 15 list of Gayest Cities in America, with Bloomington ranking number four, right behind Atlanta (#1), Burlington, VT (#2), and Iowa City, IA (#3).

The Science Of Gayness and Gay-Friendliness

The author, Mike Albo, behind this article and ranking system has come up with a complex way of determining just how “gay” and gay-friendly the cities in the US are.

The ranking includes a measure of same-sex couples relative to the total population and a rough measure of the number of single gay men, legal recognition of same-sex couples, number of LGBT politicians, etc.  This measure is by no means a perfect measure of how “gay” or gay-friendly a city is, but here’s how Bloomington stacks up:

4. Bloomington, Ind.
This forward-thinking college town is a magnet city for gays in the Grain Belt. It’s also home to Indiana University, where Miss Gay IU—said to be the first student-sponsored drag competition held on any campus—is in its 20th year. The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction is also here, inspiring the entire town to be heteroflexible.

* 13/15 score for same-sex couples per capita

* -1/4 (ranges from -2 to +4) score for marriage equality in the state – this simply means Indiana does not legally allow the recognition of same-sex couples.  And, now there is a renewed effort in the state to ban same-sex marriage and civil unions

* 0 score for elected officials who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual

* 15/15 score for number of single men in the city (according to the US Census) divided by the number of profiles on gay dating websites

* 5/15 score for number of gay bars per capita

* 13/15 score for the number of “cruising” sites listed online per capita

* 1 score for the number of gay-themed films listed in the top 25 films on Netflix for the city

I Want To Be Skeptical, But…

I am sorry to admit that I have not always given Bloomington the credit it deserves with respect to support for its lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender residents, primarily because there is only one gay bar in town.  But, there are a host of other resources that exist that must be acknowledged.

One big one is the annual Pride Film Festival, which is coming up at the end of this weekend (January 28-31).  Indiana University has an active and supportive GLBT office, and many of other offices and centers focused on diversity support LGBT students.

And, of course, there is a great deal of research on sexuality produced at IU at the Kinsey Institute, Center for Sexual Health Promotion, and many other departments and research centers on campus.

Oh, and I can’t forget the big annual events, Miss Gay IU and Hoosier Daddy, and the regular LGBT-themed radio show, bloomingOUT!

Bloomington surely has earned its place in the top 5 gay cities in the US!

Dr. Eric Anthony Grollman

received his PhD in sociology at Indiana University. He is an Assistant Professor at the University of Richmond. Dr. Grollman's research interests lie in medical sociology, social psychology, sexualities, and race/gender/class. You can see his personal blog at http://egrollman.com.
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