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Gayest Cities: Best of the Rest

Gayest Cities: Best of the Rest


These 10 cities narrowly missed out on being crowned one of the 15 gayest cities in America. From Salt Lake City to San Diego, find out which cities you should consider frequenting and why.


Indianapolis may not have a hugely obvious gay scene but there are a healthy number of bars on Massachusetts Avenue and Talbott Street, a good selection of inclusive churches (including the Jesus Metropolitan Community Church), and plenty of gay-owned or officially friendly businesses. Gay couples have migrated to the Near Eastside with its beautiful old homes and irresistible potential for decorating. It may be a conservative state, but after a bakery refused to create cupcakes for the Indianapolis University (IUPUI) LGBT organization's celebration of National Coming Out Day, an Indianapolis area radio station had its first annual Gay Cupcake Party to show support. Those gay friendly Indianapolites can't be suppressed.

Jacksonville, Fla.

Here's a sign of the times: Six years ago, when a gay-straight alliance was formed at Fletcher High School, only five kids were brave enough to join. Now there's 30. And the Jacksonville Area Sexual Minority Youth Network, which aims to prevent bullying, has received an $85,000 grant from the Chartrand Foundation. Meanwhile, Jacksonville's St. Luke's Community Church, whose pastor, Valerie Williams, is lesbian, has seen a great increase in their congregation. Jacksonville has become the haven for gays, lesbians, and like-minded folk in the Bible Belt. It's also the home of the Cummer Museum -- the largest fine arts museum in northeast Florida (pictured). Cummer Museum. Heh heh.


Logo's The-A List is now extending its series about scene queens to this Texas mecca. It's about time people saw how pink Dallas can get. This city has always been a little light in its cowboy boots. It's the home of the Texas Gay Rodeo Association and George Michael and his longtime boyfriend, Kenny Goss. A recent poll commissioned by Equality Texas found that an overwhelming majority (88%) of registered voters in Texas support the expansion of gay rights including antibullying legislation, 69% support antidiscrimination measures for transgender citizens, and 42% support the legalization of same-sex marriage.


It's the birthplace of the nation, but the gays have never left -- they just kept it looking nice. Philly has its own character, and despite all the talk that we gays are leaving our ghettos, its gayborhood is still lively. Brunch at Bump is still hopping, legendary gay bars like the Bike Stop and the 12th Air Command are still in action, and Giovanni's Room, one of the oldest remaining gay and lesbian bookstores, is still open. Of course, like all gay nests, Philly is slowly getting chic -- now a new swank Le Meridien hotel has opened near the cozy, gay old school Alexander Inn -- but it was a matter of time before people started seeing how cool Philly can be.

Columbus, Ohio

Victorian Village, also known as "Vickie Village," is probably known as the gayest part of town, but the lavender energy in Columbus can't be contained, and other sections of town have become well known enclaves, such as the gay-popular Short North and German Village areas. For a little perspective, the 2003 documentary Flag Wars focused on the gay influx in Olde Town East (pictured) a primarily African-American working-class neighborhood, providing a good look at the conflicting issues of gay gentrification. Regardless, the local government can't ignore their LGBT influence. In November, the Columbus city council approved paying for health insurance for both gay and unmarried straight partners of city employees. (It's been nearly 12 years since the city council first approved health-insurance benefits for the domestic partners of city employees.)

The Portland Gay Men's Chorus

Portland, Ore.

Portland doesn't really have a "gayborhood," like the Castro District or West Hollywood. But gays and lesbians continue migrating to the city. Recent U.S. Census data show Oregon now has the third-highest proportion of same-sex couples in the nation, behind only Maine and Massachusetts. Portland has the 11th highest number of same-sex couples among all U.S. cities, and the seventh highest as a share of the population, according to the American Community Survey for 2008, released this fall. It's also got some of the best food, and some forward-thinking city officials who long ago placed limits on development around the city to curtail urban sprawl. The result includes produced excellent organic farms right outside of the city limits, making this place a foodie's dream.


Back in the Bush era, Austin became known as the Texas's gay oasis. For decades, Austin has been an epicenter for cute lesbians with sexy cowgirl flair, giving the city a little Desert Hearts sultry vibe. With its fantastic music, barbeque, and a huge university that spits out more young queers into the population every year, Austin is the out-and-proud artistic sister of Texas cities. Things are looser here -- like Hippie Hollow (pictured) -- the only public park in Texas where nudity is officially permitted -- with one particular section of the park frequented by gay sunbathers.

Salt Lake City

JAM, Pure, Edge, Temple, Try-Angles, The Trapp, Paper Moon -- it's fairly easy to list the gay establishments that are frequented on the weekends in this secretly fun Utah city. Even the Mormons can't keep the impending gay revolution here down. After LDS leader Boyd Packer described homosexuality as "not in harmony with the principles of the Gospel" in October, as many as 3,000 people protested for gay rights and recognition in downtown Salt Lake City. And now the city has three openly gay legislators. Next up: getting those Mormons to admit they have gay brothers and sisters and stop sabotaging marriage equality.

Dirty Dorothy riding the mechanical bull at Missie B's.

Kansas City, Mo.

Kansas City soon will be home to the Mid-America Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, a new affiliate of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, dedicated to helping big businesses work with LGBT business owners. This means there is no stopping K.C. from becoming another gay mecca. But all that said, the gay bars here are as real and down-home as they come. Missie B's -- also known as "Trashy B's" -- has a tendency to bring out the messy and wild in its mixed clientele, and the Sidestreet leather bar is refreshingly divey. Add Sidekick Saloon, the long-standing country and western bar, and Outabounds, a sports bar, and you've got yourself a pretty well-rounded bunch of watering holes.

San Diego

It's taken years for San Diego to come out from under the shadow of its gay Mean Girl sister city L.A., but San Diego has become a place for Angelenos to settle down, buy a house, and become nice again. It's the home of the Diversionary Theater, founded in 1986 to provide quality stage work for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities, a new paper, Gay San Diego, which premiered this summer, and a very gay Ace Hardware store in the very gay Hillcrest neighborhood.

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Mike Albo