Twitter as Sexuality Indicator

How political officials’ feeds reveal their rebellion against “hetero norms.”

During Pride Week in Seattle, The Daily Weekly took it upon itself to quantify the gayness of everything from Michael Jackson songs to architecture; conversely, our friends across the ocean at Stockholm Pride are quantifying the hetero-ness of Twitter feeds. Just enter a user's name, and Stockholm Pride's calculator will determine the hetero percentage of his or her feed. (Seattle Weekly's feed, for example, is 52 percent hetero, based in part on our use of words such as "pride, amazon, monster, david bowie, and cheap.") It's all a lead-up to the festival's discussion of "hetero norm and how it restricts us all." So how restricted by hetero norms are Seattle's Twitter feeds? To find out, have a look at how government agencies, mayoral candidates, and other public figures rank: WSDOT (@wsdot): Terms like "trans" help water the state transportation agency's hetero rating down to 63 percent. The calculator calls the feed "semi-hetero," saying, "Like chocolate-chip ice cream, you don't know what you want to be. Basically it's vanilla ice cream, but what's the deal with the chocolate thingies? Luckily, most people like chocolate." Seattle Police Department (@seattlepd): The men and women in blue clock in at just 36 percent hetero, thanks to words like "available, capitol hill, blk, bear, burglar." The feed, says the calculator, is "a bit retro-hetero. Take care of your hetero memories, they're as important to you as a flannel shirt was to grunge." It would be nice if grunge, with its combo of macho growls and dress-wearing men like Kurt Cobain, had a Twitter feed so we could assess its hetero-ness once and for all. Mike McGinn (@mcginnformayor): The bearish mayoral candidate is just slightly less hetero than WSDOT, the folks who will be planning the tunnel he so loathes. McGinn scores a 61 percent, making him also like chocolate-chip ice cream. If only "tunnel" chipped away at hetero-normativity the way "bridge" does. Norman Sigler (@normansigler): The man with a million ideas has a Twitter feed that's 56 percent hetero, thanks to "community, shelter, parade, pride, design." Sigler, says Stockholm Pride, is "as hetero as low-fat mayonnaise." Jan Drago (@jandrago4mayor): The City Council member and mayoral hopeful's enlightened feed is only 1 percent hetero, tying her with @brunovassup for non-hetero-ness—and beating out even @perezhilton, who scored 2 percent. Rick Steves (@ricksteves): Travel guru/marijuana legalization advocate is "metro-hetero" at 69 percent. Key word: "New York." Who knew? Can Seattle make the list too? Ron Sims (@simsron): The tweetaholic gay-marriage proponent and inveterate hugger is 76 percent hetero, also known as "Winnebago hetero. Get the kids, pack the grill, and for the love of God, don't forget the SpongeBob DVD." King County Council (@kccouncil): The regional body isn't quite as quick to shed the hetero norm, says the calculator, which scores it at 84 percent and says, "You're as hetero as black coffee. Bitter, unpretentious, and doubtless popular. But what's the deal with that burnt aftertaste?" That burnt aftertaste would be a big budget deficit.

 
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