Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Outed! Salt Lake City named "Gayest City" by The Advocate

John Amaechi was the first NBA player to come out as gay. He played for the Utah Jazz from 2001 to 2003, and in his book, Man In the Middle, described Salt Lake City as "the hippest, gayest place east of San Francisco."

Having read Amaechi's remarks in 2007, I wasn't too surprised that five years later the Advocate magazine listed Salt Lake City as "America's Gayest City." You can read about it in this article, Salt Lake City 'Gayest' City in America.

Many of us who live in Utah have the same stereotypes outsiders have of the state. Utah is full of pious Mormons who don't drink (no liquor, not even coffee or tea), don't smoke, don't curse and don't fornicate. The truth is that Utah, while 57% LDS in population, has lots of different types of folks, with lots of different lifestyles.

Okay, so here's my lifestyle: boring, non-LDS straight guy in his mid-sixties. I know virtually nothing of the side of my hometown described by Amaechi or The Advocate. As more gay people have come out it's been a continuing education process, not just for me, but for society in general.

Something I've known about this area is that it's considered a problem when young gay men go on Mormon missions and don't come back with the idea of getting married and starting a family. Although many returned missionaries do just that, it's still a stereotype. The truth is many gay people go on missions, then come back and face a dilemma. They can continue to live a lie or come out and be stigmatized by their community. I don't know how many articles I've read in the last few years about the lives of gay people in the LDS religion, and how old prejudices are used against them.

Speaking of old prejudices, in this 1952 magazine, Gays are "made, not born." "Homos are tragic cases, [and] should be treated as such." No wonder no one wanted to come out in that dark and unenlightened era.

Some years ago I read an article about advertising and gays. In the article an example was given of a New York Toyota dealership's ad showing two men talking to a salesman about a car. What wasn't apparent to the larger population was what gay people recognized immediately, and the dealership found gay couples increased their business. Why would any business turn away customers, especially customers with disposable income?

These 1940's ads seem gay to me, by accident or design.

From Life, April 23, 1945:

Life, November 17, 1947:


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