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Thread: What attracts lesbians to a city or town?

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    What attracts lesbians to a city or town?

    I live in a small, somewhat geographically isolated city that, among its many other positive aspects, is very GLBT-friendly. However, there's a very heavy emphasis on the letter "L" in the acronym. The population of lesbians in the region, especially older women (50+) of a more butch persuasion, is extremely high. By comparison, the population of gay men is quite low; higher than what might be found in a similarly-sized city elsewhere in the northeastern United States, but still far lower than the lesbian population.



    Much has been written about the gay ghetto phenomenon; the attributes of cities and urban neighborhoods where gay men live in very large concentrations. I've seen no equivalent studies for the kinds of places lesbians are drawn to. Vacation spots popular among American lesbians (Provincetown MA, Palm Springs CA, etc.) are well-documented, but not places of permanent residence.

    What do you think are the traits of communities that attract a large lesbian population? For the place where I live, I'm guessing it's the crunchy/hippie/earthy/back-to-the-land disposition of the area's culture (as opposed to just a liberal-leaning collective mindset or a "Stuff White People Like" urban culture), plentiful year-round outdoors recreational opportunities, and maybe the hilly rural environment that is a couple of minutes away.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    Well, since the Lilith Fair isn't permanently located in one spot and playing all year long, I'd say that a higher than average level of educational attainment plays a big role, especially in a place like where you live Dan. I would think that isolated college towns, or other isolated areas with a lot of educated folks, would have a larger community of more accepting individuals.
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by WSU MUP Student View post
    Well, since the Lilith Fair isn't permanently located in one spot and playing all year long, I'd say that a higher than average level of educational attainment plays a big role, especially in a place like where you live Dan. I would think that isolated college towns, or other isolated areas with a lot of educated folks, would have a larger community of more accepting individuals.
    That's absolutely true. This region, and college towns in general, tend to be welcoming and tolerant places, not just with regards to sexual preference. Still, gay men aren't nearly as prevalent in the community as lesbians. It could be that there's not so much an abundance of lesbians as there is a dearth of gay men, for whatever reason. However, considering that there's also a large population of older lesbians, some other factor may be at work.

    For what it's worth, although the area is GLBT friendly, the prevailing attitude seems to be that gays and lesbians are just another part of the community's fabric. No big displays of rainbow flags, no loud proclamations of tolerance. Even the local GLBT bar eschews rainbow flags, and straight people aren't embarrassed to stop in for a drink. For lack of a better word, gays and lesbians in the community are just seen as normal, and that's a good thing. It's just a non-issue here.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    Don't forget you need a Subaru dealership.

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    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    I think that the Midwest is hurting because of acceptance issues. I cannot speak from experience, but many of my gay and lesbian friends moved away from Ohio because of the bigotry. Many went to DC or NYC because of a culture of understanding.

    I think a lot of it has to do with demographics. The younger you are, the more tolerant you are to diversity. The more educated you are, the more tolerant you are to diversity. I think of how gentrification of gay communities has changed areas. Columbus, Ohio is a perfect example to me. German Village and Short North are prime examples of this. Once old neighborhoods, are not alive and are beacons of renewal and diversity.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

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    Cyburbian
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    For reasons I haven't really figured out, planning in those areas I'm familiar with still tends toward being a white and heterosexual male profession. Architecture also tends to be white and male although with a larger gay contingent. I don't know why these two professions seem to have a problem with attracting diversity (at least to my eye), relative to many others... especialy as so many of the positions are government... which at least suggests the ability on the part of leadership to prioritize hiring of underrepresented groups relative to constituents (as opposed to private corporations, which may need to be armtwisted to do the same).

    This lack of diversity appears to be true in even the biggest cities.. (even APA meetings in NYC often lack diversity, and committee leadership tends to be white, male, over 45).

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    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    Q; What attracts lesbians to a city or town?

    A: Other lesbians.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

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    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    We have a similar dynamic. Whereas there is a much more visible gay community in Santa Fe, that population is not as visible down this way. I know gay men, but I know a LOT more lesbians.

    My observation here is that this "community" is not as much of a cohesive, stick-together group as I have seen in the "gayborhood" areas of other cities - instead they are more integrated into the wider fabric. To that end, and based on the friends I have, I think one attractive quality of this city for lesbians is that it is rather high on civil liberties - people respect one anothers' privacy and really don't get in each others' business very much. People are largely rated on what they bring to the table and not what they do in the bedroom (despite being heavily Catholic where you might expect these social issues to be more of an issue). For the lesbian and gay folks I know, this aspect of their identity is not the one they stress as the most important and they don't want other people to either. For a few friends, I didn't learn they were gay or lesbian until later - it just didn't come up.

    So, I think for the people that are attracted here (gay or straight or whatever), the ability to kind of melt into the background, not be on display and generally not be publicly judged by society is a very attractive quality. This extends not only to LGBT issues, but almost anything. I think many issues like being a cultural minority, or someone with a checkered past, or someone trying to get away from a bad situation are served well here. A lot of people come to New Mexico to get lost (or hide).

    I see this sentiment in my work as well. I work with a collection of neighborhoods that are low income and largely old time New Mexico Hispanic (some families have been there for 5 generations). I am a middle aged, well-educated white guy from the East. But I am not there to do my work as a White Man - I am a collaborator with the neighborhood to help achieve their goals. So, although there may be some that viewed me with some skepticism when I first started my work, I very much got the sense that people reserved their opinion until they saw what I could do. Once they realized I was someone they could work with and who could get some things done, I was welcomed rather enthusiastically. So, while people here are obviously aware of and attentive to differences (like ethnicity or orientation) they don't seem to let that overshadow the bigger picture. They really know how to build community.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

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    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Hmmmm.....

    Quote Originally posted by Hink_Planner View post
    I think a lot of it has to do with demographics. The younger you are, the more tolerant you are to diversity. The more educated you are, the more tolerant you are to diversity.
    This explains why there are no gay or lesbians in Arizona......



    PS: I'm just kidding......I think
    Skilled Adoxographer

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    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Brocktoon View post
    Q; What attracts lesbians to a city or town?

    A: Other lesbians.
    This . . . is probably the right answer.

    It's also true of any minority group who like to associate with like-minded people. Some towns attract people with specific religious convictions or cultural background or even hobbies, because there is already a base of like-minded people in the area.

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    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    Durham, NC in my neck of the woods tends to attract lesbians more so than other area municipalities. I think the reasons Durham does over other communities in the area are :

    1. Good local architecture, flavor, character. Durham has undergone several big redevelopment projects and has charming grit that I cannot explain.

    2. Accepting population. Durham has a diverse socio-economic population, including many young (might I say creative class types) workers.

    3. Progressive governing in comparison to other municipalities.
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

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    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    What attracts lesbians to a city or town?

    A community that has both a Home Depot and a Lowe's. And, of course, the aforementioned Subaru dealership.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

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    Cyburbian fringe's avatar
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    GMAB

    Give me a break.

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    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Howl View post
    This . . . is probably the right answer.

    It's also true of any minority group who like to associate with like-minded people. Some towns attract people with specific religious convictions or cultural background or even hobbies, because there is already a base of like-minded people in the area.
    I agree -- and this has been the right answer going back to colonial times when the first enclaves of like-minded individuals were established.

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    Cyburbian TerraSapient's avatar
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    Are you trying to get me to move to Buffalo Dan?

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    Cyburbian Rygor's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by TerraSapient View post
    Are you trying to get me to move to Buffalo Dan?
    Nope. Ithaca.
    "When life gives you lemons, just say 'No thanks'." - Henry Rollins

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    Cyburbian H's avatar
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    The past two cities I have lived in have been high in lesbian con. Not gay men though. I never did put a handle on why this was the case for either city. There were no unique traits of culture I saw that might cater... but then I might not of be able to pick up on them.
    "Those who plan do better than those who do not plan, even though they rarely stick to their plan." - Winston Churchill

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Here's a cite for my previous observations. Emphasis mine.

    http://www.epodunk.com/cgi-bin/gayInfo.php?locIndex=922

    Gay index: 231
    Gay male index: 143
    Lesbian index: 322

    National norm: 100

    The gay index is a comparative score, based on the percentage of people reporting in the 2000 U.S. Census that they lived in a same-sex partnership.

    A score of 100 is the national norm. A number above 100 indicates that the local proportion of same-sex unmarried households is higher than the national average. For example, 140 would mean that the proportion was 40 percent higher than the national norm. A score of 60 would be 40 percent lower.
    For other places I lived, it seems like the gay male index is much larger than the lesbian index in larger cities, and vice versa for smaller cities. For example:

    Denver:
    Gay index: 216
    Gay male index: 249
    Lesbian index: 183

    Las Cruces:
    Gay index: 95
    Gay male index: 73
    Lesbian index: 118

    Here's the numbers for some peer communities:

    Burlington VT:
    Gay index: 184
    Gay male index: 148
    Lesbian index: 222

    Davis CA:
    Gay index: 133
    Gay male index: 63
    Lesbian index: 205

    Eugene OR:
    Gay index: 151
    Gay male index: 97
    Lesbian index: 206

    Let's crank up the population numbers a bit ...

    Boulder CO:
    Gay index: 138
    Gay male index: 98
    Lesbian index: 179

    Ann Arbor MI:
    Gay index: 156
    Gay male index: 113
    Lesbian index: 200

    Madison WI:
    Gay index: 183
    Gay male index: 133
    Lesbian index: 233

    Iowa City IA:
    Gay index: 142
    Gay male index: 90
    Lesbian index: 194

    But, for large college towns:

    Austin TX:
    Gay index: 169
    Gay male index: 172
    Lesbian index: 166

    Columbus OH:
    Gay index: 152
    Gay male index: 164
    Lesbian index: 141

    Boston MA:
    Gay index: 233
    Gay male index: 285
    Lesbian index: 178
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    Cyburbian Rygor's avatar
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    My current City:

    Gay index: 72
    Gay male index: 61
    Lesbian index: 83


    Where I'll be very soon (doesn't get much more average than this!):

    Gay index: 99
    Gay male index: 100
    Lesbian index: 98

    I'm actually quite surprised my current city isn't much higher.
    "When life gives you lemons, just say 'No thanks'." - Henry Rollins

  20. #20
    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
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    Where I live:

    Gay index: 193
    Gay male index: 169
    Lesbian index: 219

    Blue State, Blue State.

  21. #21
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Where I live:

    Gay index: 83
    Gay male index: 64
    Lesbian index: 102


    These people don't refer to themselves as being the buckle of the bible belt for nothing.
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  22. #22
    Cyburbian TerraSapient's avatar
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    Honolulu, HI
    Gay index: 99
    Gay male index: 115
    Lesbian index: 83

    Toledo, OH
    Gay index: 93
    Gay male index: 86
    Lesbian index: 100

  23. #23
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    Where I've lived:

    Dallas, Texas
    Gay Index: 196
    Gay Male Index: 254
    Lesbian Index: 136

    Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
    Gay Index: 103
    Gay Male Index: 105
    Lesbian Index: 101

    Austin, Texas
    Gay Index: 169
    Gay Male Index: 172
    Lesbian Index: 166

  24. #24
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Let's try out a few more crunchy small cities:

    Santa Fe, NM
    Gay index: 201
    Gay male index: 178
    Lesbian index: 224

    Bend, OR
    Gay index: 91
    Gay male index: 68
    Lesbian index: 114

    Carrboro NC
    Gay index: 117
    Gay male index: 97
    Lesbian index: 138

    Asheville NC
    Gay index: 183
    Gay male index: 166
    Lesbian index: 202

    Lawrence KS
    Gay index: 118
    Gay male index: 102
    Lesbian index: 135

    Flagstaff AZ
    Gay index: 110
    Gay male index: 85
    Lesbian index: 136

    And some typical large cities:

    Washington, DC
    Gay index: 263
    Gay male index: 380
    Lesbian index: 143

    Chicago, IL
    Gay index: 157
    Gay male index: 186
    Lesbian index: 128

    Houston, TX
    Gay index: 150
    Gay male index: 169
    Lesbian index: 131

    Atlanta, GA
    Gay index: 299
    Gay male index: 419
    Lesbian index: 175

    Minneapolis, MN
    Gay index: 287
    Gay male index: 309
    Lesbian index: 263


    Conclusion: in general, when a city has a high overall gay index, the lesbian index will be inversely proportional to its population.

    So, why do lesbians prefer small towns, while gays prefer large cities? A WAG: Lesbians may be more likely than gay men to be in established relationships, so being in a community with a large dating pool isn't as important. Also, the aforementioned crunchy/outdoorsy environment, which lesbians may connect with better than gay men.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    Will someone please tell me where I can find the Gay Index Lookup??

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