So is Atlanta one of the gayest cities or not?

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imageAfter being named the Gayest City in America by an unscientific “study” in January, an actual—but flawed—scientific study doesn’t even put Atlanta in the Top 20. We feel pretty gay, but is either one very accurate? A study released this week by UCLA’s Williams Institute is based on data provided by cohabiting same-sex couples who responded to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2008 American Community Survey. In real-people-speak, that means it measures households that are run by a gay couple and reported themselves as such in a Census questionnaire. The Daily Beast indulged one of the researchers, author Richard Florida, in explaining the demography of it all. Much easier for short-attention-span readers is the photo gallery of the Top 20. The big yawn is that San Francisco is No. 1 (photo). Color us shocked. The 84-page study—did we mention the yawns—looks ump-teen ways at the distribution of gay couples who live together to draw its conclusions. Of the largest metropolitan areas (more than 1 million residents), Atlanta is listed as No. 9. But when smaller metro areas are taken into account, we don’t make the overall country-wide list at all. That’s right. We weren’t surprised to fall below New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Washington, D.C., Boston, San Diego, Denver, Seattle, and Portland, Ore. But when the final tally is done, our eyebrows raised that Atlanta was also beat out by the likes of Sacramento, Springfield, Mass., Eugene, Ore., Ithaca, N.Y., and Columbus, Ohio. No gay singles and no gay couples who did not report shared housing were part of the study. It also did not include gay rights laws (or lack thereof), gay activism, gay nightlife or, well, anything else gay other than the couples who participated. OK, so maybe the methods of this new academic study, which researchers call The Gay/Lesbian Index, is at least one step better than that oft-quoted January “study,” which gave Atlanta the big nod in an ill-conceived point system that ultimately awarded us for our plethora of gay bars. An honor, to be sure. And admittedly, the stats on same-sex couples provide the best—and only—official government data, so they didn't have much to work with. But by our estimation, gay couples who report are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what makes a city “gay.” We’re still feeling pretty darn gay over here, and maybe Atlantans should be our own barometers. In the end, a magazine writer says we’re “the gayest city in America,” and scholars say, “Atlanta? Not really that gay.” What do you think?

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