When a gay male Santa Ana high school student asking his straight male best friend to go with him to homecoming hit Instagram, it went viral.
That’s pretty impressive when you consider that Santa Ana joins Garden Grove as the least LGBTQ-friendly city in Orange County, according to recent rankings. Anaheim was the most LGBTQ-friendly. More on that in a bit.
First, improve your mood with heartwarming Instagram post on Alexander Duarte and Erick Pineda:
They attend Santa Ana Valley High School, where Duarte had been planning to ask Pineda to the homecoming dance, which the 17-year-old did by gathering some friends at lunch and posting a sign that read, “I know I’m GAY but can I take you STRAIGHT 2 HOMECOMING?”
Pineda, who is captain of the school’s football team, saw the sign as soon as he arrived at the campus courtyard. But rather than collect the linebackers to pound a classmate into the pavement, Pineda decided he would set an example and accept his pal Duarte’s proposal.
That’s being a true campus leader–not that the gesture went over well with everyone at Valley High. Go back to the Instagram post and check out the comments, particularly the ones from a certain “slayyyy_marlena,” who at various points writes, “DISGUSTING DISGUSTING,” “Nothing to be proud about,” “TRY ASKING A WOMAN INSTEAD,” “THE WORLD IS FINISHED” and “WAKE UP.”
That last one caught the attention of “but_iamryan,” who came back with, “Been awake for almost 50 years. You?”
However, the best response to the Duarte-Pineda date came from “auntie_choo,” who wrote: “I am 42 years old and this video hit me right in the feels! cried like a baby and for you children out there (not referring to your age, this high schooler is more of a man than some of you will ever be) wake up and get over yourselves. this was beautiful and gives me hope for the future. why can’t this young man have his dream date? why can’t we celebrate his courage and strength of character? if one of my children brought home a same sex partner, i would be like ‘treat my kid right. want a sandwich?’ thank you for putting a smile on my face, and have the best homecoming ever!”
Slayyyy_marlena must hail from Santa Ana or Garden Grove, based on the LGBTQ-friendly (or unfriendly) rankings from the Portland, Oregon-based Equality Federation and the Washington, D.C-based Human Rights Campaign (HRC). Their 2018 Municipal Equality Index (MEI) ranked cities all across the country with a combined population of 96 million.
Of course, there are 325 million-plus people in the U.S., so the MEI was narrowed to: small cities with the highest population of same-sex couples; large cities with the highest population of same-sex couples; cities that are home to the state’s two largest public universities; the largest cities in the U.S.; the largest cities in each state; and cities selected by the HRC and Equality Federation.
The chosen cities were scored in five areas: non-discrimination, municipality as employer; services and programs; law enforcement; and relationship with the LGBTQ community.
Each of those categories drilled down further with various areas of emphasis. For instance, housing and employment as it relates to the LGBTQ community was a factor in the non-discrimination laws category. Transgender-inclusive health care benefits influenced the ratings for municipalities as employers. Part of the scores in the municipal services and law enforcement categories were determined by whether there is a LGBTQ liaison in each related department.
As we looked at the list of Orange County cities that qualified for rankings, it occurred to us that Laguna Beach would have been listed not so long ago, at least as a small city. That was before the gay population was priced out and forced to move to Long Beach and the Coachella Valley.
Here are the 2018 OC scores from best to worst:
Huntington Beach: 61
Garden Grove: 55
Santa Ana: 55
Before you pack up your fabulous wardrobe and move to the Mouse House, you should know that just over the county line, Long Beach scored a perfect 100. (It’s good to have a gay mayor!)
Actually, the LBC was better than perfect, having also received 11 bonus points that pushed the actual total up to 111. Think of the bonus points as AP classes.
Long Beach was not alone nationally, being among a record 78 cities across the country that earned perfect scores for advancing LGBTQ-inclusive laws and policies–up from 68 in 2017 and 11 in 2012, the first year of the MEI.
Read the full report here: https://www.hrc.org/mei.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.