The nation’s largest gay rights magazine has ranked Spokane as the third-gayest city in the nation.
Two other Washington cities made the top five, including Seattle at No. 5 and Tacoma leading the way as the gayest city in the nation.
The news of a No. 3 ranking came as a happy surprise to Marvo Reguindin, general manager of the Inland Northwest Business Alliance, the chamber of commerce for gay businesses and those allied with them.
“I think it’s great,” Reguindin said. “Knowing that we’re No. 3, we’ll definitely be able to use that to our advantage.”
The rankings, released Wednesday by The Advocate, assessed cities based on how many openly gay representatives the city has at local, state and federal levels, as well as whether gay marriage is legal in the state and how many companies on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index are based in the city.
The criteria also included whether the cities had good shopping, roller derby leagues, protection for people who are transgender, gay rugby teams and bisexual resource groups.
Cities also earned points for hosting concerts by the Scissor Sisters, Uh Huh Her, Girl in a Coma and the cast of Glee.
Spokane earned most of its points through being in a state that recognizes gay marriage and has seven openly gay representatives, but it picked up extra points for its hosting of the Spokane Pride Parade and the Rainbow Festival every year through Out Spokane. Roller derby also rolled in some points.
“Most of eastern Washington is somewhat conservative, but like many western cities, Spokane is becoming steadily more diverse, boosted by an energetic LGBT populace,” the article on the rankings stated.
Most people may think of areas like Seattle, San Francisco or San Diego as the gayer areas of the West, Reguindin said, but Spokane’s ranking means there is a community in place to support LGBT people.
The chamber held its monthly meeting at the Glover Mansion on Wednesday, featuring Mayor David Condon as a speaker. Reguindin said the event was just one example of the ongoing number of resources available for the LGBT community.
“I’d like to see our chamber to be bigger,” he said. “I’d like to see more of our gay businesses become part of our gay chamber.”
As the chamber has grown, however, the focus could shift a bit.
“More of a diversity chamber is, I think, where we’re heading,” Reguindin said. “And I think that’s great.”