Atlanta improves in friendliness toward LBGT community

Atlanta has become more friendly toward its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, moving the city higher on an annual list of Gayest Cities in America.

Advocate.com, a national news and information service covering the gay community, ranks Atlanta as the fifth most LGBT-friendly city in the country for 2014, a jump from two consecutive years in ninth place. Only No. 1 Washington, D.C., No. 2 Pasadena, Calif.; No. 3 Seattle and No. 4 Cambridge, Mass., are friendlier.

Groups like the Atlanta Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau say the recognition is important in attracting new businesses and visitors to the city even if the criteria are “ever rotating,” as Advocate acknowledges.

Suzanne Baugh, president of the chamber, said members want to do business in communities that embrace LGBT-owned companies and individuals.

“The fact that we have a lot of corporations here that are also advocates of the LGBT community and have specific initiatives for their LGBT employees and try to do businesses with LGBT businesses when that makes sense also helps bring folks to Atlanta and entrepreneurs trying to start up here,” Baugh told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

While there is little current information on the percentage of all LGBT residents by city, an analysis by PolitiFact Georgia found Atlanta has one of the highest LGBT populations in the country based on most recent U.S. Census and other data. At least five cities are ranked higher than Atlanta when it comes to same-sex, unmarried households.

Advocate said Atlanta has long been “the epicenter of the gay South.” The site assigned point values for specific attributes, such a fraction of a point to 1 point for LGBT representation among city and state elected officials, a fraction of a point to 1 point for households with lesbian couples, a point for an all women’s college (Spelman). The criteria, however, varies from year to year.

The raw score, which was not provided, is divided by the city’s population to provide a ranking based on a per capita LGBT quotient, Advocate said.

The site also said Atlanta received points for its gay bars and “concerts by Marah Carey, Pink, Lady Gaga and the Jonas Brothers.”

Special notice was given to the city’s annual Atlanta Pride and Black Gay Pride festivals, and MondoHomo, a May event celebrating art, drag, burlesque, film and BBQ. Atlanta Pride annually attracts thousands of people and hundreds of vendors to Piedmont Park.

“The fact that we have such a large LGBT community in Atlanta bodes well for the city and the businesses that are coming into the area and corporations that are encouraging their employees to be themselves.,” Baugh said.