Buffalo is the most anti-gay city in America – at least, as far as the number of homophobic tweets coming from the city is concerned.
As Canada Journal reports, apartment-hunting website Abodo dug into Twitter posts originating from within the U.S. between June 2014 and December 2015 and singled out certain keywords — words suggesting racist, misogynist, and anti-gay bias, to name a few — to suss out the cities in America that are the most homophobic, transphobic, racist, misogynist, and so on.
And when it comes to the most anti-gay city, it’s Buffalo, with 168 anti-gay tweets per 100,000 tweets.
— The Buffalo News (@TheBuffaloNews) March 6, 2016
It bears noting that Buffalo is the most anti-gay city in America by one metric, and one metric only: tweets. Adobo.com’s report does not delve into, say, anti-gay discrimination in the city (Buffalo actually has some pretty strong laws on the books protecting against anti-LGBTQ discrimination, according to the Buffalo News) or the number of anti-gay hate crimes in the city.
— Quinlan (@QuinlanCompany) March 2, 2016
Also, just because a seemingly anti-gay word, such as “homo,” shows up in a tweet doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s being used in a derogatory way. Tweets containing such words could very well originate from within the LGBTQ community and reflect “in-group reclamation,” which is when someone in a minority group uses slurs against them as part of their own language (sort of like some African-Americans using the N-word).
In fact, as Jimmy Levine, a 19-year-old University at Buffalo student, explains to Buffalo News, “I’m gay. If anything, I get a free pass to use those words any way I want because I’m typically the one targeted by them. I do understand the harm these words do, and that not everyone is all right with anyone saying it.”
Nevertheless, the number of seemingly anti-gay tweets originating in Buffalo is rather surprising, according to Canada Journal, since conventional wisdom would seem to indicate that a city in the South, or a city in a conservative, Western state, such as Kansas or Nebraska, would have that distinction.
It’s a coincidence not lost on the report’s writers.
“Many of these states—Texas, Nebraska, and Louisiana—show a level of support for legal gay marriage that’s lower than the national average. However, even traditionally liberal urban areas such as Los Angeles and San Francisco show levels as high as 86.2 and 49.6 per 100,000 tweets, respectively.”
As far as anti-transgender tweets, Las Vegas, of all places, appears to be the most transphobic city in America, with 99 anti-trans tweets per 100,000. However, the report concedes that large numbers of tweets containing anti-trans slurs such as “she-male” and “tranny” could be originating from Sin City because the city is a “hub” of the adult film industry.
“Tweets originating from there could more often be using these traditionally negative terms in a promotional and marketing context.”
Back in Buffalo, the city’s distinction as being the producer of the most anti-gay tweets means that the city, which has an annual gay pride festival that is getting bigger by the year, means that there’s a long way to go for LGBTQ acceptance in the city, says local LGBTQ advocate Margaret Smith.
“What this tells me is there’s a lot of work to be done. This is about a lot more than marriage. We are our words. Tweeting is a little anonymous, as is online behavior. But right now, there’s lots of people on television giving lots of other people permission to be hateful.”
Are you surprised that Buffalo produces the most anti-gay tweets? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
[Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images]