Salt Lake no longer the gayest city in America

Jan 10 2013 - 3:01pm


Mt. Rainier overlooking the Port of Tacoma
Mt. Rainier overlooking the Port of Tacoma

Tacoma, you're so No. 1 -- but who knew you were the gayest city in America?

The honor comes from The Advocate, the gray eminence of the nation's LGBT publications. On Wednesday, Tacoma topped the annual list of great LGBT cities (which stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender -- as every Tacoma resident doubtless knows).

Salt Lake City, last year's winner came in 6th this year. Here's what the magazine had to say about Utah's capital city:

"Last year's gayest city isn't exactly country, but you'd never know by visiting the Trapp (, a welcoming, wood-paneled bar that serves cocktails in jam jars. Though many clubs are very quiet during the week, on the weekends the college crowd and queers from all over the metropolitan area descend on Jam ( and Paper Moon ( Sugar House is a gay-friendly hood, and the Tower Theatre ( has long been an LGBT meeting spot and cultural touchstone."

The judging was far from scientific. The Advocate cheerily acknowledged its "totally accurate (and totally subjective and constantly changing) criteria."

The formula calculated multiple factors, including numbers of LGBT elected officials (eight), anti-discrimination laws and roller derby leagues (three). Tacoma fell short in concerts by the Scissor Sisters (though Lady Gaga brings her road show to the Tacoma Dome next week).

Those factors earned points, which were then divided by the city's population, creating a sort-of per-capita yardstick.

The Advocate article features a shot of Mount Rainier viewed through the cables of the old Tacoma Narrows Bridge. It points to the Mix, a downtown club, and gushes over the city's scenery:

"The center of LGBT life in Tacoma is the St. Helens District, where the nightlife is plentiful, with some venues rivaling nearby Seattle's," the Advocate says. "When the indoor fun is done, the environs offer stunning forests and oceans in fairy-tale settings."

Tacoma topped Seattle (fifth in the rankings) and perennial rival Spokane (third). Longtime contender San Francisco barely made the list, finishing 17th with a handful of honorable-mention cities.

Tacoma is piling up credits on such lists. City leaders pushed it as America's most wired city in the late 1990s. In 2004, it was labeled America's most stressful city. In 2006, Self Magazine tagged Tacoma as America's most "sexually healthy" city. In 2011, rated Tacoma as America's most romantic city.

A sidebar in The Advocate features an interview with Gordon Naccarato, executive chef and vice president of the Naccarato Restaurant Group and the food brain behind Tacoma's Pacific Grill.

Asked what makes Tacoma such a welcome spot for the LGBT community, Naccarato cited local leaders as well as the statewide vote to legalize gay marriage.

"There is a great sense of community and pride in Tacoma," Naccarato told The Advocate. "And for a city of modest size we have amazing museums, gorgeously restored performing arts theaters and a beloved art-house cinema with a great local film festival, good restaurants, Puget Sound and mountains that surround us with beauty."

(Contact Sean Robinson at Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service,

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