The Queerest of them all? Hartford, CT?!?

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I live a very queer life. Yes, I my home is in Central PA surrounded by Mennonite farms in the middle of a very Conservative Republican congressional district. Still I live my life openly with my adorable spouse, Glen, and our sometimes but often annoying cat Wally, and our housemate Quin and his cat, Dolly. It’s not West Hollywood or Chelsea or Boys Town in Chicago, but I feel I live a rich and rewarding life here. And I am glad my neighbors are not cookie cutter versions of me. I like the social, political, and economic diversity in the region.

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Downtown Hartford

Queer Hartford!

Before I moved here from Hartford, Connecticut, I had no idea I was dab smack in the middle of queer central. According to Time Magazine:

The Advocate released its annual “queerest cities in America” list on Monday and Hartford, Conn. tops the list for boasting both the country’s first legally married gay mayor and thriving social scene featuring LGBT-friendly events.

The state’s anti-discrimination laws that protect LGBT families seeking to adopt also helped boost Hartford to the top of this year’s list.

This year’s list is based on “unique and irreverent” criteria formulated by the magazine including LGBT film fests, anti-discrimination laws, stadium shows for artists like Ariana Grande and Janet Jackson, workout studios like SoulCycle, and how many places in the city went “rainbow” when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality.

Rich History of LGBTQ inclusion and activism

New England Yearly Meeting 2015

New England Yearly Meeting 2015

What I personally love about the area is that it hosts the True Colors Conference, the world’s largest LGBTQ youth conference started by Robin McHaelen. It’s also has a diverse LGBTQ scene with West Indian, Puerto Rican, Portuguese, Brazilian, and Vietnamese LGBTQ people visible around town. And it is true that there is a long history of LGBTQ activism and openness. The Hartford Quaker Meeting issued a minute in support of marriage equality 30 years ago in March of 1986, the first local meeting in the world to do so.

“The Meeting affirms the goodness of committed, loving relationships and offers recognition and support to those who share this ideal and desire to enter into a permanent relationship based upon it. By tradition, the Meeting recognizes committed union in a celebration of marriage under the care of the Meeting. The same loving care and consideration should be given to both same-sex and heterosexual applicants as outlined in Faith and Practice.”

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Kurt Vonnegut. (anyone know the original source of this wonderful drawing?)

Cultural Experiences in Hartford

Don’t get me started about all of the great food, much of it reasonably priced and the AMAZING Connecticut Forum, which continues to bring in a stunning group of people to converse on stage together four or five times a year. It was through the Connecticut Forum that I got to spend evenings with Harry Shearer from the Simpsons, writer Kurt Vonnegut, and a very kind and very much sloshed Christopher Hitchens. There is the Watkinson School, which years ago had an openly gay head of school. It was also the first place I ever worked only gay myself. What a great community.

I love where I live and my very queer household, but every chance I get, I head back to Hartford.

Other Queer Places

What are the other cities that are supposedly the queerest of them all? Check out the Time magazine article to find out. And what about where you live? What makes your community a special place for transgender, bisexual, lesbian, gay, queer people? Leave a comment and let me know.

Thanks to Hillary Sibille for sharing this story with me on Facebook.

 

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This post has 3 Comments

  1. Mickey on February 3, 2016 at 1:25 pm Reply

    GREAT mention of the CT Forum Peterson … and how about the Connecticut YOUTH Forum? – a shout out for that amazing high school program that draws 700 diverse teenagers from over 30 schools around Greater Hartford! You are missed!

    • Peterson Toscano
      Peterson Toscano on February 3, 2016 at 1:33 pm Reply

      Oh yes, the Youth Forum. Really the CT Forum and the work that Doris and Richard and all of you have done is so amazing. I am so enriched by it and I really want to come back one of these days!

  2. Sugman on February 4, 2016 at 8:50 pm Reply

    Miss you Peterson. Hug.

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