Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Girlfriend or Foe?

Girlfriends Magazine has come out with the 100 top places to practice the oft-illegal art of Living While Lesbian.

It came as no surprise to me that half the Top 10 are west of the Continental Divide. Of the remaining five, only two are nominally below the Mason Dixon. Lighten up Southerners, you’re losing valuable lavender $$$ as you bolster your reputations as being the least-friendly states in the Nation for an ever-growing proportion of the population (i.e. everyone not a WASP or BASP).

San Francisco comes in ninth out of the Top 10. I think this score should be lower. The median home price of nearly half a million dollars is more important than whether there is an LGBT Community Center, unless they also rent out rooms. Besides, isn’t that what the Castro is supposedly for?

Face it, SF is a place where it seems easy to be gay, but isn’t. Gender preference aside, the #1 issue partners fight about is MONEY. Given that housing, utilities, taxes, etc are more expensive in A: California in general, and B: the County/City of SF proper, ergo people gon’ fight about money more often.

There are at least 20 gay bars in the City. Do you know how many “lesbian” bars there are in SF? One. Count ‘em, one. Uno. Singular. It’s the size of a postage stamp, is way too loud, plays “It’s Raining Men”, and is full of egotistical 19 year olds who ask questions like “Are there any attractive lesbians anymore?”

The drinks are small, overpriced, and you half spill ‘em trying to weave through a gyrating mass of flab with stainless steel accents gyrating off the beat. Never mind that it’s the same Standard Dance Beat that has been played in clubs apparently since Java Man invented the first cocktail by spearing a beaver which fell into a lake which he subsequently drank from while retrieving the dead beaver (beavers later became scarce and were replaced by olives). The lake had a salty rim due to evaporation and probably fish urine. Voila, the first margarita. He probably called it a “mar”( Java man not having a jaw suited to complex speech, or so his wife tells us).

Aren’t you glad I don’t write historical fiction?

Anyhow, thankfully there is a lovely little dyke-friendly, POC-affirmative enclave just over the bay in Oakland. The rents are lower, it’s marginally cleaner, and there aren’t as many gay men around, saturating our neighborhoods with tony gyms (in which everyone sweats but no one works out for long) and dog paraphernalia boutiques.

I think Oakland deserves a much better ranking than 49th. Iowa city got a better rating. There are LESBIANS in IOWA CITY? Okay, fine, all three of them love it. It still shouldn’t have scored above Oakland.

We have gay ward representatives in Oakland. Note the “s” at the end of representative. We have gay-friendly Congressional representative Barbara Lee. What on earth could have convinced “Girlfriends” Magazine that LaCrosse, Wisconsin is a better place for lesbians to live?

Search me. Unless it was that pesky murder rate. Well, rest assured, most murders in Oakland are of young black men shooting other young black men. Problem solved (yes, that is sarcasm).

In any case, I think “Girlfriends” needs to rethink its priorities a little. I didn’t put the rankings into Excel, but eyeballing them, the list seems heavily weighted toward the NE and Midwest. Oddly weighted too. I have a hard time believing Phoenix, AZ is a better city for lesbians than Chicago, IL.

I’d like to propose a few criteria for the magazine:
“If I break up with my current SO, will I ever get laid again? (In Tahoe, no.)”
“Are there “gay” places to socialize in that do not depend on alcohol sales?”
“How many bookstores per capita are there?”
“Can my partner and I fade into a crowd when we’re not at home?”
“Will we have trouble explaining our “situation” to our children’s schools?”

I think there’s more to rating “good places for lesbians” than taking the “best places to live list” and sorting it by percentage of self-identified gay people who live there (or however they did it).

If Oakland is that low and SF that high next year, I might even write to Girlfriends and complain. Where do you live, and how comfortable have you been there? Comments are a good thing!


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