Although the United States has made significant progress in becoming more inclusive and welcoming in recent years, there are a handful of cities that are decidedly more LGBTQ friendly. Whether you are a part of the LGBTQ community or are seeking a home city with an inclusive and diverse vibe, start your search here: The Human Rights Campaign evaluated these cities based on its Municipal Equalities Index and gave them top-notch rankings for things like non-discrimination laws, municipal employment policies, inclusiveness of city services, hate crimes, and leadership on matters of equality and access. So here is a list of the most LGBTQ friendly cities in the US.
1. San Francisco, CA
Not surprisingly, California’s northern cultural hub received a perfect rating from the HRC for being ultra gay-friendly. It has the highest percentage of residents who identify as LGBTQ at 6.2%, and the Castro District was one of the first gay districts in the country. The district has a wealth of gay-owned businesses and LGBTQ-focused spaces like the GLBT History Museum and Pink Triangle Park. The Bay’s Pride Parade is one of the biggest in the country, and the Castro District is home to the Twin Peaks Tavern — one of the most famous gay bars in the country.
On a municipal level, the city got bonus points from the HRC for providing services to LGBTQ youth, having openly LGBTQ elected officials, and implementing a Human Rights Commission with an enforcement mechanism. Is this the perfect city for you? Here’s how to meet people in San Francisco before you move.
2. Portland, OR
Another city that received a perfect score from the HRC, Portland garnered some bonus points for providing services to elderly LGBTQ individuals as well as people living with HIV/AIDS. Darcelle XV and Company is one of the longest-running drag clubs in the nation and calls Portland, Oregon, its home — as does Equity Foundation, which provides grants for organizations working towards equality. 5.4% of the city’s population identifies as LGBTQ, too, making it a supportive city for those seeking community. Also? Portland’s Oregon Reproductive Medicine is known as one of the best in the world for its high success rate, egg and sperm donor options and quality of medical service, making this city a highly attractive option for gay families looking to have children.
3. New York, NY
It has been said that anything is possible in New York City, and that’s largely due to the incredible diversity and progressive nature of this city. The HRC gave NYC plenty of bonus points on its Municipality Equality Index for things like providing services to LGBTQ youth and elderly, but it also got kudos for having a welcoming municipal work atmosphere for LGBTQ individuals and openly LGBTQ elected or appointed officials. 4% of the city also identifies as LGBTQ, which in a city of an estimated 8.5 million people is a significant number. The city offers a bustling scene in so many ways — whether you’re looking for the historic gay bars of Chelsea and the West Village, LGBTQ-owned businesses like Big Gay Ice Cream or The Out Hotel, or visiting The AIDS Memorial or The Center, NYC’s support center for the LGBTQ community that also has a coffee shop and bookstore. If you’re getting ready to call this city your new home, read the 7 tips for New York City Newcomers to get you settled in.
4. Seattle, WA
This rainy city in the Northwest is one of the top-ranked cities on the HRC’s scale, not to mention home to PrideFest, the biggest free Pride festival in the country. Municipally, Seattle is a leader for organizations advocating for LGBTQ health care, mental health, anti-discrimination, labor and civil rights, many of which are housed in the Capitol Hill District — which was once the hub of the city’s gay culture. One of the first states to legalize gay marriage, Seattle and Washington as a whole are a welcoming place for those looking to settle down with a family — as of 2014, the city had the highest percentage of gay couple households in the country. Once you’re settled? On the healthcare front, nine of the city’s hospitals have been recognized as leaders in healthcare equality, so you’ll be well taken care of.
5. Los Angeles, CA
Another, California city, we know — but LA is top of the line gay culture. Join the Varsity Gay League to make some new friends, or maybe visit the LA Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce for some information on gay-friendly attractions in the city for families and singles alike. 4.6% of the city identifies as LGBTQ, and there are lots of municipal support structures in place for youth, the homeless, and the transgender community — championed by Equality California, which calls LA its home base. Are you the family-focused type? Find support groups like The PopLuck Club, an organization founded in 1998 dedicated to supporting gay fathers in raising their children, finding surrogacy, and more.
When it comes time to move, get a few interstate moving quotes from the best moving companies and let them do the heavy lifting so you can focus on exploring your new city.