The raw score is divided by the population to provide a ranking based on a per capita LGBT quotient.
15. BERKELEY, CA [pop. 118,853] By day, shop at one of three gay-heavy Whole Foods markets or join activists at UC Berkeley, and at night unwind at the gay-men-only Steamworks Baths (SteamworksBaths.com), all while relaxing in a state that offers nondiscrimination protections for sexual orientation and gender identity in adoption. This collegiate, liberal bastion also benefits from gay-friendly bookstores such as Pegasus Fine Books (PegasusBookstore.com) and Mrs. Dalloway’s Literary and Garden Arts Bookstore (MrsDalloways.com) that hold special LGBT events to educate and engage the community.
Pictured: Mrs. Dalloway's
14. MANCHESTER, NH [pop. 110,448] The largest city in New Hampshire attracted the likes of Janet Jackson and Ariana Grande, who filled the near-10,000-seat Verizon Wireless Arena with LGBT fans from all over New England. And you can bet fans held some unofficial after-parties at the Queen City’s gay bars: Doogie’s Bar and Grill (Doogies.net), The Breezeway (Facebook.com/BreezewayPub). and Element Lounge (ElementLounge.net). The “Live Free or Die” state also is home to the “Flaming Freedom” (FlamingFreedom.com) radio show that airs live on the Liberty Radio Network Sunday mornings at 10 a.m.
13. WATERBURY, CT [pop. 109,307] Connecticut’s nondiscrimination protections for sexual orientation and gender identity in adoption have put the state on the map as one of the queerest places in the country. Waterbury, about an hour and a half north of New York City (with connection via Metro-North Rail), serves as a creative hub, thanks to the 1920s Palace Theater (PalaceTheaterCT.org) and gallery space, owing to the city’s industrial past, such as the Freight Street Gallery (facebook.com/FreightStreetGallery). LGBT-friendly businesses unite through the New Haven chapter of the Connecticut Gay and Lesbian Chamber (CTGLC.org) and foster an all-welcoming community.
Pictured: Palace Theater
12. EUGENE, OR [pop. 160,561] Ask any local and you’ll quickly learn that Eugene is, at its core, a university town thanks to the University of Oregon, and with this comes a large gay-friendly population. It also helps that the University of Oregon was voted one of the gay-friendliest colleges on Campus Pride’s climate index, and its Queer Film Festival (QFF.UOregon.edu) has received international attention. This summer saw the opening of The Wayward Lamb (TheWaywardLamb.com), the city’s first gay-owned and -run queer space in over a decade (you can catch American Horror Story here while enjoying drinks each week). Also, people look forward to the weekly Broadway Revue Burlesque Show, which takes place each Saturday at queer-friendly Luckey’s Club (LuckeysClub.com), and the Eugene LGBTQ Ladies’ Happy Hour (MeetUp.com/Eugene-LGBTQ-LHH/).
Pictured: The Wayward Lamb
11. ROCHESTER, NY [pop. 209,983] Lake sister to Toronto, the working-class city of Rochester in many ways mirrors its Canadian neighbor. In addition to enjoying New York State’s nondiscrimination protections for sexual orientation and gender identity in adoption, Rochesterians have a thriving arts scene organized by the Arts and Cultural Council for Greater Rochester as well as a popcorn-popping LGBT film festival, ImageOut (ImageOut.org), that takes place over 11 days. Businesses unite under the Gay Alliance and the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce New York (NGLCCNY.org). Rochester’s place in history as a progressive city is solidified by its being one of the epicenters of the women’s suffrage movement, with the home of Susan B. Anthony (SusanBAnthonyHouse.org)—where she lived with many other women—now open to visitors.
10. BOULDER, CO [pop. 105,112] Just a quick visit to OutBoulder (OutBoulder.com) will show you that the city north of Denver is one of the queerest in America. With a Trans* Awareness Week, a Big Gay 5K, an LGBTQ High School Dance, a Garden Party, and, of course, a Pride celebration, you won’t be too hard-pressed to find some way to dip your feet in the community here. Pop by the LGBT-friendly Boulder Book Store (BoulderBookstore.net) and join the LGBT literary community online at the Left Hand Books collective (facebook.com/Left-Hand-Books-234759718847) and Word is Out (WordisOut.net).
Pictured: Big Gay 5K
9. EDISON, NJ [pop. 101,970] Edison is home to not only New Jersey’s Lesbian and Gay Havurah (NJLGH.OneFirePlace.com) but also the gay-friendly Temple Emanu-El (EdisonTemple.org). In addition, residents enjoy cultural events throughout the summer at Plays in the Park (PlaysinthePark.com), where big-production shows take place. Gay-owned and -friendly businesses can stay informed by signing up for the New Jersey chapter of the LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NJLGBTChamber.org), while the city’s inhabitants enjoy the benefits of protections for sexual orientation and gender identity in adoption.
Pictured: Temple Emanu-El
8. SALT LAKE CITY, UT [pop. 190,884] The liberal capital of Mormon-heavy Utah celebrated this November with the election of the city’s first openly gay mayor, Jackie Biskupski, who has made it one of her top priorities to bridge the gap between the LGBT community and the LDS Church. Besides catching Janet Jackson stopping by the city on her Unbreakable tour, Utah’s queer community can take in LGBT film through the Utah Film Center (UtahFilmCenter.org), which screens international movies during the Damn These Heels festival and also offers a separate film lineup during Pride and screenings throughout the year. Also, during Utah’s annual transgender conference, Genderevolution (Facebook.com/SLCGenderevolution), participants take part in a mini–film festival, discussions, and workshops.
Pictured: Mormons Building Bridges members. AP Photo.
7. SAN FRANCISCO, CA [pop. 852,469] While a new tech boom has caused soaring real estate prices and the entrance of a slew of new residents, it hasn’t stopped the city from embracing its still-large queer community (three landmarks turned rainbow in honor of gay marriage). As a result of its long-standing history as a pioneering queer haven, the city is home to five sites on the National Register of Historic Places that hold a significant place in our LGBT story, including Golden Gate Park, the Jackson Brewing Company, and the James R. Browning United States Court of Appeals Building. San Francisco’s gay scene likes to stay fit too; it’s home to SoulCycle studios galore (Soul-Cycle.com) and Barry’s Bootcamp (BarrysBootcamp.com). When not catching flicks at the two LGBT film festivals, those in the Bay Area can check out one of many concerts (including Janet Jackson’s Unbreakable tour), attend an American Horror Story viewing party at the SF Eagle (SFeagle.com), or check out a book from one of the many still-existing LGBT bookstores such as Books Inc. (BooksInc.net).
Pictured: Castro Theatre
6. WASHINGTON, D.C. [pop. 658,893] The LGBT community is so queer that the city, in addition to its annual Capital Pride, also has a Youth Pride, D.C. Black Pride, Pacific Islander Pride, and a Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend. The nation’s capital, which saw two monuments go rainbow for marriage equality, also boasts a film festival, Reel Affirmations (ReelAffirmations.org), and an active Gaymers Meetup chapter (MeetUp.com/DC-Gaymers). After residents beef up at SoulCycle (Soul-Cycle.com) or Barry’s Bootcamp (BarrysBootcamp.com), they can relax at one of the two gay-friendly bookstores. Entertainers don’t skip the political beat, as Ariana Grande, Janet Jackson, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Madonna all made sure to visit on their latest tours.
Pictured: Black Pride. Photo: Rocky Ferguson
5. NEW HAVEN, CT [pop. 130,282] Thanks largely to the abundance of businesses catering to Yale University students, New Haven has landed on the map as a progressive city filled with a diverse population. Students and locals alike browse books and grab a bite to eat at Atticus Bookstore (AtticusBookstoreCafe.com) and drink cocktails and wine at 168 York Street Café (168YorkStreetCafe.com), one of the oldest gay bars in Connecticut, located in a historic brownstone. Events such as meditation groups, wine tastings, and trans support take place throughout the year at the New Haven Pride Center (NewHavenPrideCenter.org), and a small Pride celebration unites the community each September. Queer-friendly businesses can become members of CTGLC, the Greater Connecticut Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (CTGLC.org), and transgender and queer people living in Connecticut are free from discrimination in adoption.
Pictured: 168 York Street Cafe
4. ST. LOUIS, MO [pop. 317,419] The center of Midwest LGBT cool can be found in St. Louis — the little-big city that has a whole lot to offer the queer community. When marriage equality became the law of the land, St. Louis lit up its Civil Courts Building in rainbow, and the community’s celebrations were extra-big at last year’s Pride Fest St. Louis (PrideSTL.org), which saw businesses — who are members of the Gateway Business Guild of St. Louis (GatewayBusinessGuild.org) — such as Left Bank Books (Left-Bank.com), local organizations like Growing American Youth (GrowingAmericanYouth.org), and the hardworking organizers of QFest (CinemaStLouis.org) celebrate as a united queer community. LGBT history was made at The Hotel Jefferson, listed on the National Registry, when in 1970 Rita Hauser, the U.S. delegate to the Human Rights Commission, said that the ban on gay marriage was most likely unconstitutional.
Pictured: Civil Courts Building, photo by Dan Donovan
3. CAMBRIDGE, MA [pop. 109,694] The queer community in Cambridge exists outside the walls of Harvard Yard; just ask the city’s openly gay mayor, David Maher, or the two mayors before him who were also out of the closet. The progressive city, often jumbled together with Boston, is also home to a thriving gay– and lesbian-owned business scene in which many belong to the Greater Boston Business Council (GBBC.org). Attend a gay-friendly event at Porter Square Books (PorterSquareBooks.com) or book a room at the gay-owned and super-stylish Clarendon Square Inn (ClarendonSquare.com).
Pictured: Same-sex couples renew vows at Cambridge City Hall, AP Photo
2. INGLEWOOD, CA [pop. 111,905] Thanks to its being the home of the Forum, Janet Jackson, Ariana Grande, and Madonna all lit up the City of Champions. What makes Inglewood so surprising for visitors, and even many people in Los Angeles, is the thriving arts and culture scene. Each year, more than three dozen artists throughout the city take part in Open Studios at their various studios, including the large creative incubators 1019West and the Beacon Arts Building. Drag star Willam Belli is one of the city’s most famous LGBT residents. Inglewood’s people are protected under California’s nondiscrimination policy for sexual orientation and gender identity in adoption.
Pictured: Randy's Donuts
1. HARTFORD, CT [pop. 124,705] Hartford made history in 2010 when Pedro Segarra became the city’s first openly gay mayor; he celebrated gay marriage with his husband at the city’s old State House. Segarra became the country’s first legally married gay mayor in 2012. Progressive Connecticut was not only one of the first states to have same-sex marriage; it also protects residents with nondiscrimination for sexual orientation and gender identity in adoption. Points go to Hartford for its Connecticut Gay and Lesbian Chamber (CTGLC.org), its well-attended Out Film CT (OutFilmCT.org) that’s the longest-running film festival in the state, and its revolving door of stadium shows like this year’s Janet Jackson show at the XL Center.
Pictured: CTGLC Masquerade Ball
16. Providence, RI
17. Miami, FL
18. Stamford, CT
19. Elizabeth, NJ
20. Grand Rapids, MI
21. Seattle, WA
22. Glendale, CA
23. Spokane, WA
24. Birmingham, AL
25. Boston, MA
Pictured: More Hartford — Pedro Segarra (right) and husband Charlie Ortiz