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The 10 Most LGBT-Friendly Cities

Posted by Kelly Livingston on

We’re here and we’re queer! Ready to shout it at the top of your lungs?

If you live in one of these top 10 LGBT-friendly communities, you'll feel right at home. Whether it's at PRIDE, a Human Rights Campaign fundraiser or a celebratory community picnic, these cities have fully embraced that love is love is love and they're not afraid to show it. These ten cities are not only eclectic centers of art and culture, but they also offer safe havens for LGBT people. They rank highly on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index, provide legislative protections for the LGBT community, support notable LGBT leaders in the area, throw special gay events, and house outstanding LGBT organizations. Explore the cities below to discover which will put some pride in your stride.

Check out the top 10 lgbt-friendly cities that make us all proud!


10. Baltimore

Karaoke at Grand Central Club, drinks at The Drinkery, or dancing and live performances at Club Bunns. You name it, Baltimore night life will give your rainbow heart a flutter. Maybe a night out on the town isn’t your thing. Well Baltimore’s got you covered Hon. With the annual HonFest street festival to celebrate the city’s working women, Baltimore comes alive with music and beehive hair straight out of the swingin’ ‘60s. This is just a taste of the scene on the Inner Harbor. If you’re looking for more of the local voice, check out Baltimore Outloud, a local LGBT publication that keeps the community updated on the Baltimore scene. Pride is definitely a blast, with the GLCCB throwing it’s annual block party and street festival. After all, Pride wouldn’t be Pride without a high heel race down Charles Street.


9. St. Louis

The “Gateway to the West” celebrates the LGBT community with events like St. Louis Pride and “Pride Night with the Cardinals.” At the center of St. Louis’ LGBT nightlife, The Grove comes alive with rainbow flags galore within all the best clubs, restaurants and shops. Pop on into The Monocle for a drink or head on over to The Fountain on Locust for an ice cream cocktail. Sweet dreams are made of this. Bookworms can rejoice at the PrideCenter’s library with more than 1,000 books on LGBTQ+ topics for public loan. “The St. Louis community is a welcoming one, focused on building unity, lifting up the voices of the underprivileged, and encouraging true diversity and inclusion,” said PrideCenter co-chair Landon Brownfield. “We have the region's only LGBT community center, the largest public-access LGBTQ+ library in the area, and the most-attended Pride festival in the Midwest, with over 300,000 people this year.


8. Orlando


Orlando looks out for its LGBT community with “Orlando Strong” as the key message. “The LGBT citizens of Orlando & Orange County have more ordinances, policies and laws protecting them from discrimination than any other county in the state,” said CEO of the Orlando Youth Alliance Michael Slaymaker. LBGT nightlife comes alive in Orlando at, Hank’s Bar with bar games and billiards and Stonewall Bar for DJs and dancing. And with the Happiest Place on Earth aka Disney just down International Drive, the tourist industry helps keep the LGBT community vibrant and inclusive. “With 65,000 cast members, an out President & CEO and strong commitment to diversity & inclusion, our community reflects and learns from them,” said Slaymaker. “After the Pulse massacre, the LGBT community and allies have galvanized like never before. The sun is shining in Orlando and it is a brand new day. We look to the future and know that it will be bright and filled with rainbows.”


7. Boston

Along with the usual dance clubs and gay bars that keep the local community connected, Boston has some unique local spots like Cathedral Station, a gay sports bar to keep all the Sox and Pats fans feeling welcome. That’s not even mentioning local organizations like Fenway Health that make sure the LGBT community stays cared for. “I think we have local policy makers, like Mayor Walsh, and the Boston City Council who understand and prioritize the needs of LGBTQ people in Boston,” said Executive Director of the Massachusetts Trans Political Coalition Mason Dunn. In addition to the night life scene and governmental support, Boston keeps the pride alive with annual benefits like Taste of the South End—an ongoing effort against AIDS since 1995.


6. Philadelphia

Coming in hot with a score of 116 (the highest possible ranking) on the HRC’s 2016 Municipal Equality Index, “The City of Brotherly Love” makes all of its people feel at home. With an area of town designated the Gayborhood, part of the Washington West neighborhood is home to rainbow flags and OutFest every October. Among the events that make Philly a hot spot for the LGBT community is qFlix, an annual six-day LGBTQ film festival which brings inclusive art to the city. At night U-Bar, Woody’s and Sisters are popular gay bars. Sing your heart out with the piano sing-alongs at Tavern on Carmac or catch the Phillies game at Boxers PHL while being served by the shirtless bartenders. Philly’s got something for everyone.


5. Los Angeles

Experience Art Project LA and OutFest, where the creative LGBT people of Los Angeles are loud and proud. Street festivals are all well and good, but the nightlife in LA is where it’s at. Precinct DTLA is known for its events like Read to Filth, which happens every fourth Monday, and Sweaty Palms on Wednesday nights. Faultline has the leather and muscle crowd covered serving up its hard rocking vibe with theme nights at the venue on Melrose. It’s not all fun and games in LA though. The city is right on the cusp of LGBT rights and safety. The regional HRC division fundraises for LGBT rights by throwing a star-studded annual gala. The Williams Institute, based on UCLA’s campus is a think tank dedicated to conducting research on LGBT issues in law and public policy. And organizations like The Trevor Project, focuses on suicide prevention in LGBT youth, helping to keep LGBT people safe and thriving despite any adversity they may face.


4. Chicago

PRIDE takes over Chicago every June with an incredible slate of events going on every day from the Loud and Proud LGBT Comedy Show to the “Gay Church” PRIDE Brunch and even intersectional events like Chicago Black Gay Pride. This way the community can address all aspects of the LGBT experience and make sure there is an event for everyone. It keeps its citizens safe and healthy with organizations like the Howard Brown Health Center and Lambda Legal. The city’s also home to the International Mr. Leather contest. So if your dreams are filled with buffed out dudes decked out in leather, Chicago is the place to be. Sometimes called the New York of the Midwest, it has something for every taste, every orientation, and even every fetish. That’s not even mentioning its regular nightlife. If you’re part of the showtune loving crowd, check out Sidetrack for some friendly faces, fun times, and slushy drinks galore. Or if you’re looking for something a little more off the beaten track you can hit up Berlin, a nightclub that makes itself known for being the place where anything goes.


3. San Diego

Flying high over San Diego’s Hillcrest neighborhood, the LGBT center of the city, is a massive rainbow flag. This signifies the city’s commitment to its LGBT people. With a large regional division of the Human Rights Campaign based here, sunny San Diego is a leader in the fight for equality. This can be seen even at the legislative level with San Diego native Toni Atkins serving in the California State Senate. The AIDS Walk raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for the cause every year. And PRIDE in San Diego is one of the largest in the nation with over 100,000 people joining the crowds starting at Hillcrest every year. Day to day the city has a vibrant community with a night out to be envied. The men can head to Bear Nights at Pecs Bar or Flicks with its Go-Go Boys and underwear contests to keep you entertained while you’re sipping on drinks at the bar. Women have a rare danceclub and bar haven at Gossip Grill. And if you’re looking for support for anything at all, try the San Diego LGBT Community Center—the second oldest and one of the largest centers of its kind.


2. New York City

Many members of the LGBT community already know about the riots at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village as the result of a police raid in 1969. One of the most memorable moments in the gay rights movement can still be felt at the historic gay bar with some drinks and a show. Or head to Flaming Saddles Saloon for a Wild West themed gay bar or Industry Bar for drinks and live music. Home to prominent LGBT leaders like Janet Mock, whose presence as a journalistic powerhouse led to her coming out as a trans-woman and growing more vocal about LGBT issues, the city struggles much less than some with pushing its marginalized voices to the front. There’s no denying the city is a welcome home for anyone in the community with an Empire State of Mind.


1. San Francisco

San Francisco PRIDE is second to none. The largest gathering of LGBT people and allies in the nation, it takes the streets by storm every year in a glorious barrage of color, culture and liberation. “It’s at the forefront of sexual liberation and has been the cradle for a lot of progressive values,” said San Francisco LGBT Center Director of Communications Alberto Lammers. “The community here is also very supportive. For instance, the AIDS crisis really devastated the community here and we only came out stronger because the LGBT community really banded together and supported each other, and we’re seeing that again with everything that’s happening now.” San Francisco cares about protecting all of its citizens, with organizations like the LGBT Community Center, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the GLBT Historical Society.  Celebratory LGBT street fairs like the Up Your Alley Street Fair, Folsom Street Fair, and Castro Street Fair keep people out and about with street food, live music, and community connections. Make sure you check out the local art scene at the Fresh Meat Festival too. Taking the main stage at Z Space every year are transgender opera stars like Breanna Sinclairé, queer ballroom dancers like Robbie Tristan and Ernesto Palma and more in a lively night of transgender and queer performance.

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