Gay Hoboken?

What’s the first word that comes to your mind when asked to describe a typical resident of Hoboken?

Would it be “yuppie”?

How about “conservative”?

Maybe “Caucasian?”

Perhaps, I don’t know, “gay”?

The first three I can buy. The fourth answer, well, that’s open to friendly debate…not that there’s anything wrong with that.

For all of its appearances to be solely a haven for heterosexuals, Hoboken, like any other town or city in the world, does have a gay population. It’s not like in MTV’s Real World fantasy world – where one in four male house members are invariably not straight, but the percentage is greater than 0 and less than 25%.

But more on that later…

Despite the numbers that will be presented shortly, if you didn’t live in the Mile Square and relied solely on the New York Times for news, information and perspective, you would be led to believe that Hoboken is the Moulin Rouge of New Jersey, or Chelsea West.

In a story published over the summer from the Times’ weekly Jersey section [“You’re single and tired of the city. Is there a Suburb for you?”] , the slightly liberal Grey Lady pulls a Dan Rather and relies on one source to provide an entire perspective on one topic (see: Bush National Guard records and Rather using one sketchy source with an agenda on 30-year-old military records in an attempt to bring down a sitting President during an election year).

As the title indicates, the column explores other places where singles can live other than Manhattan. Towns such as Stamford, Huntington, South Norwalk, Newark (no, really), and Hoboken are noted.

For the Hoboken section of the piece, the Times conducted an interview with exactly one resident for his viewpoint. Here’s the way it was presented:

“David J. Bistany, 42, who lives and works in Hoboken, recently described the city’s singles crowd as ‘young and mixed, gay and straight, mostly in the 25-to-35 range’.”

If the spin on Bistany’s assessment is to be believed, Hoboken is an ethnically diverse city that is equally homosexual and heterosexual. The Times doesn’t challenge this notion, but instead only offers a blanket statement following Bistany’s statement with the following:

“Of the population 15 years and over, 56.1 percent have never been married, according to census figures,” relays Elsa Brenner, the author of the story.

What the Times fails to include from the same census report is this: A whopping 2.35 percent of Hoboken couples are of the same-sex variety. This is roughly half of Jersey City, which has a gay population of 5.08 percent, making our neighbor the second highest city or town in the state in terms of gay residents.

Specifically for males, Hoboken’s GP is 1.61 percent, while women make up 0.74 percent.

Now if the writer bothered to take ten more minutes out her day, she would have interviewed three or four other people on the street (if she even came here to do the story, as opposed to perhaps making one phone call and google researching the rest). If the numbers cited above prove anything, it is that there is a 97.65% chance that Hoboken would not have been described as both “gay and straight” if other residents were asked.

Brenner also should have thought twice before having a 42 year-old single resident, regardless of sexual orientation, comment on a town that according to her own source is largely comprised of singles 7-17 years younger than he is.

But since former Governor James McGreevy declared himself gay last year, it must mean he represents a state that also reflects that particular sexual orientation, right?

So let’s think about how Brenner found Bistany, which has, generously, a 2-in-100 chance of happening randomly.

Did she just happen to visit The Cage to find her subject? I mean, it is close to the Path.

Or more likely, Bistany was already a friend of hers, saving her the time and effort of coming here and actually doing any real reporting.

If you learn anything from this story, it is that nothing happens by accident when writing a column when it comes to sources. All writers and producers have a certain agenda, a political or social preference. In order to keep a story tidy in terms of driving home a single viewpoint, sources to back up a writer’s veiled attempt of promoting a message are always conveniently found.

Want to write a pro-choice piece? Interview the founder of Planned Parenthood.

Want to make you argument even more solid? Interview a pro-choice extremist to make the other side of the argument look that much more illogical.

And if you don’t believe anything intentional didn’t happen in Brenner’s column, I have some beachfront property in Vegas to sell you.

Oh, I can see the emails calling Concha a homophobe coming into my inbox now, all because I’m simply challenging the way the story on a sensitive topic was presented. For the record, I support gays in the military under a don’t ask, don’t tell policy. Same sex marriages are fine too, but I’d prefer that the Supreme Court decide the issue before rogue judges start defying the constitution by conducting illegal marriages in the name of making a political statement.

In this case, I’m more of a basher of responsible journalism – the kind of critic that doesn’t appreciate such a respected paper as the New York Times getting lazy on doing its homework when it comes to this town on any issue.

Brenner’s story concludes, of course, with a plug for the Cage…Hoboken’s lone gay bar out of an estimated 76 establishments in town to grab a drink.

“Mr. Bistany also frequents the Cage, a bar in the city for gay men and women,” she explains.

Really, it is surprising that a rainbow wasn’t attached to the end of the story instead of a period.

Single in Hoboken: Predominantly yuppie, white and educated?