For the third year running, the World Happiness report analyzed countries based on factors including GDP per capita, social support, life expectancy and freedom of choice to determine the happiest and unhappiest places on the planet.
This year, Planet Romeo, an Amsterdam-based community site, collaborated with the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz in Germany to carry out an online survey of 115,000 gay men around the world. They looked at how gay men feel about society’s view on homosexuality, how they’re treated by other people, and how satisfied they are with their own lives to come up with a list of the happiest and unhappiest places for gay men on the planet.
So how do these two lists stack up?
Well, unsurprisingly, the countries where gay men are the happiest also happen to be where people are happiest in general. Iceland, Norway and Denmark (GayCities recommends capital city Copenhagen as possibly the “most gay-friendly city on earth”) make the top five in both unrelated projects.
Here are five reasons why:
1. Nobody likes conflict and hatred
It’s no real shocker that the more accepting a country is of LGBT people, the happier those LGBT people are. But the benefits don’t stop there. Straight people also directly benefit from participating in an accepting society. They’re free of hateful rhetoric that only causes turmoil and hurt. And that means more time to enjoy life.
2. Freedom is good for business
When people are free to be themselves, there’s a higher chance that they’ll tap into their creative selves. Creativity means innovation, and innovation brings untold potential to grow. Who doesn’t like a grower?
3. Everyone has a closet
Just because someone is straight doesn’t mean they don’t have a quirk or two that they deserve to be unashamed of. A more open society lets everyone wave their freak flag without fear. Life is short — it’s built to be enjoyed.
4. Trust isn’t a four letter word
Once factor the World Happiness Report looks at is trust as measured by a perceived absence of corruption in government and business. LGBT communities around the world have to believe that society has their back, and that can only come with trust. Trust doesn’t come easily, but once it’s won, the benefits are universal.
5. Stress kills
One of the key components for maintaining a happy lifestyle is stress management. On a small scale, it means realizing that a traffic jam isn’t going to ruin your day. But oppression is a whole other kind of stress. Anti-gay vitriol isn’t just stressful for gay people — it affects those spouting it, and those forced to hear it who aren’t necessarily gay.
A notable difference between the two lists is the United Arab Emirates, where GDP may be good, but life as a gay person is fraught with struggle.
Ireland landed #18 in overall happiness, but didn’t crack the top 20 for gay men (though at #25, it wasn’t a total failure). Of course, the study was conducted before the country’s historic ‘yes’ vote to legalize same-sex marriage. How much do you want to bet it rises up the ranking on both lists next year?
The United States ranked 26th for gay happiness and 15th in overall happiness — let’s work on that.
Uganda was last for gay happiness and nearly last overall.
Here are the top 20 countries ranked for gay happiness:
Here’s the World Happiness Index top 20:
Lesson: The most successful societies are not just tolerant, they are assertively pro-gay. Let the rainbow flag fly everywhere.