Monday, May 21, 2007

Gay Dallas

Recently, (I can't find any links, so you'll have to take my word for it) the Advocate compiled a list of the top 10 cities for gay men and lesbians in the United States, and Dallas came in in the top 5. I can't remember exactly what ranking it was precisely, but I remember being fairly shocked that it was there. They base the rankings on things like population (of gays), single life, employment, civil rights laws on the books, the general environment towards gays, healthcare, and things like that.

This weekend, I was talking to Mandy and Victor about this, and they were telling me that Dallas was most likely about to elect a gay mayor (in what would be the first city in America to do so), and they already have a gay sheriff, and an openly gay county judge. The largest gay church in the world(!), with 3,500 members, the Cathedral of Hope is located in Dallas, and the gay population there is exploding.

I was perusing today, and found this article, The Lavender Heart of Texas, about precisely these things, and Dallas' future as the southern, and one of the United States' foremost, gay meccas. It mostly focuses on politics, and the unprecedented grassroots organizing of the gays there. Even the Human Rights Campaign, the federal (and arguably useless) activist group says its fundraiser in Dallas every year brings in more money than in any other city in the U.S. Dallas still has a ways to go to beat in Austin in overall liberalism, but it's catching up, and may even eclipse Austin soon.

The author attributes Dallas' cosmopolitan atmosphere (as opposed to "dowdy Austin") as a major factor bringing in the gays, along with the myriad of employment and social options. One thing I will say about Austin, as much as I love it, is that employment options here are definitely lacking, and an interesting gay social life is nonexistent. I'm not sure what would constitute "interesting," exactly, but from someone (me) who's been involved in as many "gay" activities as I could possibly find in this town, from the film festival, to AIDS work, to political groups, to purely social options, I can say with authority that it's lacking. Austin has a big gay population, but if you're in you're 20's, and want to meet other people in their 20's in an atmosphere that doesn't include places like trashy danceclubs filled with Aberzombies or MySpace, you're pretty much fucked. Which is not to say that there aren't a lot of young, gay people here, because there are, it just seems that the majority of gay men I meet not on the internet are middle-aged and in relationships. Which is great. For them. And they're lovely. But not relationship material. Whether that says more about Austin itself or about the young gay people that live here not being involved in anything, I'm not sure. Which is also not to say that I haven't met many other wonderful gay people my own age. But it was always on the internet. Which is what I've started to find really frustrating.


Mandy said...

Ah, Dallas.

So, when I clicked on the Time article, and the first line said "When I was a kid in Arkansas in the 1980s," I got all confused, thinking you had accidentally linked to something you had written.

Anonymous said...

As you indicated, voters in Dallas could elect an openly-gay mayor on June 16th. While Dallas would become the largest U.S. city (at 9th in population) to elect an openly-gay or lesbian mayor, it would not be the first. To date, the largest city with an openly-gay or lesbian mayor elected in a popular election is Providence, Rhode Island. Voters there elected David Cicilline in 2002 as an openly-gay candidate, and re-elected him in 2006.

Other openly-gay and lesbian mayors in the U.S. have included:

Toni Atkins - San Diego, CA
Ken Reeves - Cambridge, MA
Richard Heyman - Key West, FL
John Shields - Nyack, NY
Dan Stewart - Plattsburg, NY
Larry Gierer - Oakland Park, FL
Ron Odom - Palm Springs, CA
Kevin Burns - North Miami, FL
Gina Genovese - Long Hill Township, NJ
John Laird - Santa Cruz, CA
Bob Gentry - Laguna Beach, CA
Steve Padilla - Chula Vista, CA
Willy Marshall - Big Water, UT
Mike Gin - Redondo Beach, CA
Neil Giuliano - Tempe, AZ
Mike Nelson - Carrboro, NC
Christopher Cabaldon - West Sacramento, CA
Guy Padgett - Casper, WY
Patrick Guerriero - Melrose, MA
Juan Noguez - Huntington Park, CA

While some of these mayors were appointed or elected from among city council members, most were elected by voters in popular elections. Undoubtedly, there are others as well. The Victory Fund ( keeps a database of openly GLBT elected officials, but their mayor's search doesn't seem to be working right now for me).


The Fire Next Time said...

And thank you! Yeah, I knew Dallas wasn't the first, but the article just said the "first big city," so I was just quoting them. But thanks for the heads up.