The 10 Best Cities In The United States To Move To If You're Queer
In May and June, hundreds of thousands of people graduate colleges around the country and start looking for jobs. For many people, looking for a location is important, but for queer people it may be the difference between living happily and openly or leading a life full of discomfort and oppression. Some places are definitely better than others, so if you're looking for the best cities to move if you're queer in the United States, I'm happy to help.
As someone who just graduated from college myself with a journalism degree, I have a lot of flexibility to move wherever there's a publication I can write for (aka most cities and towns). But as a queer woman with a girlfriend, I have to carefully consider where I can move and expect safety, community, and the ability to be out and walk around with my girlfriend without fear and scrutiny. And the same is true, of course, for any LGBTQ person, whether partnered or single and no matter how they identify or look.
In 2014, Vocativ published an index of the 35 most LGBTQ-friendly cities in the nation and although the landscape has changed since then particularly with regards to the question of marriage (thanks, of course, to the landmark 2015 Supreme Court Case O bergefell v. Hodges ), a lot of their research still applies. But since it's now late spring of 2016 — that is, about two years later — it's worth revisiting the list to take a look at some of the United States' most LGBTQ-friendly places to live, and checking out what other, more recent studies have to say. Whether you're considering the Southeast, the Northwest, or anywhere in between, these are some of the best places in the country for LGBTQ people to put down some roots.
1. Seattle, Wash.
One of the best places for queer people to move to move, especially if they're graduating with a degree in computer science or another tech field, is Seattle. My hometown boasts gay sports leagues, a "gayborhood" called Capitol Hill, and vibrant nightlife including gay bars, drag shows, and plenty of dances. Seattle also has one of the highest populations of gay and lesbian adults in the United States according to Vocativ's queer index, so if you're looking to find your own Sleepless in Seattle: Queer Edition love story, look no further.
2. Denver, Colo.
Denver has a ton of LGBTQ-friendly businesses including queer bars like Charlie's, clubs like Tracks with ladies nights that happen often, and eateries like Watercourse, where your server is highly likely to be the queer babe of your dreams. (Trust me. This is real.) From cafes to dog parks to breweries, Denver's queer scene doesn't disappoint, and with rent prices lower than bigger cities like New York or Los Angeles, it's a more desirable location for recent grads. Just how much lower is the rent? The median rent for a one bedroom in New York City is about $3,400; in Los Angeles it's about $2,000; and in Denver you can slide by with a cool $1,400.
3. Philadelphia, Pa.
My favorite part of Philly is the charming, nine-block gayborhood from Chestnut to Pine Streets between 11th and Broad Street; it's filled with gay bars, coffee shops, and an impressive queer and feminist bookstore called Giovanni's Room. You really can't miss it — the street signs are literally rainbow-striped. Philly also has a solid number of LGBT centers including the William Way Center and Galaei, the latter being a resource center for Latinx LGBT youth and adults. About three percent of the adults in the state identify as gay or lesbian, putting Pennsylvania in the top 20 percent.
4. Los Angeles, Calif.
LA is the mecca of queerness and queer people, and if you're a recent queer graduate with a degree in anything media or communications-related, it's definitely the place to go. It ranks number one in the number of LGBTQ couples anywhere in the United States — about 232 queer couples per one million people, according to Vocativ. The downside? Los Angeles is wildly expensive, so make sure you've saved up a small fortune before you can head out there.
5. New York, NY
This "concrete jungle where dreams are made of" comes in second only to Los Angeles in terms of queerness, but it ranks higher than LA when it comes to queer singles in the city: If you're looking to mingle, move to New York, because there are over 1,500 queer singles per 100,000 people. That's a lot of fish.
6. Chattanooga, Tenn.
Moving away from the giant metropolises for a moment, Chattanooga is one of the few LGBTQ-friendly places in the South with the nation’s highest number of LGBT local and state politicians relative to the city’s population. If you're queer in the south, head to Chattanooga for more of a big town than a big cit feel. However, if you want to stay South and like bigger metropolitan areas, consider...
7. Atlanta, Ga.
Atlanta is a famous spot for gay men of color, as well as a hub for queer activity in the south. For every 100,000 people, there are a whopping 12 gayborhood-approved businesses. Plus, if you want excellent LGBTQ reporting, the Georgia Voice is a fantastic LGBT-friendly newspaper that serves the greater Atlanta community.
8. Las Vegas, Nev.
Moving out from the South and heading into the desert, Las Vegas is one of the top 10 cities for LGBTQ people according to Vocativ due to its high number of pride events, robust LGBTQ newspaper circulation, and percentage of queer bars and clubs.
9. Washington, DC
If you're looking for the highest number of queer adults in any United States city, you can settle in Washington, DC, where a 10th of the adult population identifies as gay or lesbian — higher than any other city in the country. For the recent college grad, this city is bustling with opportunity, from jobs in government and politics to journalism and reporting.
10. San Francisco, Calif.
If Southern California isn't your thing, try heading about six hours north of LA to San Francisco, another LGBTQ mecca with flourishing queer-friendly businesses, rainbow flags lighting up the gayborhoods (even when it's not pride month), and queer sex toy shops to satisfy all your bedroom desires. You'll be happy here no matter what kind of queer you are, especially if you're a tech queer. Recent development and growth of Silicon Valley with both established tech companies and startups is certainly a reason to head to San Fran if you're queer, but like LA, you might have to have 25 roommates to be able to afford it.