The 30 Most Gay-Friendly Cities in the U.S.

There are many gay-friendly cities in the U.S. and it can be hard to choose where to visit or to live. This list offers some insights into some of the big and obvious cities like New York and San Francisco, as well as some smaller gay-friendly cities you might not know about.

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Albuquerque is the largest city in New Mexico: it also happens to be one of the most gay-friendly cities in the Southwest.

Many people arrive at “Duke Airport” and then visit Albuquerque and other nearby gay-friendly cities like Santa Fe and Taos. But don’t skip Albuquerque on your way to another city! Albuquerque offers a great mix of outdoor recreation, a mild sunny climate, tasty food, and lots of arts and culture. There are historic bed and breakfasts, inns, and fantastic views of the mountains and the huge high-desert mesas.

Austin, Texas

On the one hand, Austin is located in a state that bans same-sex marriage; on the other hand, more than 5.3% of Austin’s population identifies as LGBT. The city offers many LGBT support groups, including groups for teens, members of the police department, and others. There are many businesses in Austin that are recognized as being LGBT-owned and operated. The city hosts a week of events called Austin Pride: the Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival is a part of this event. There are many LGBT sports leagues in Austin, too – it’s a very physically active city.

Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore is a great city for LGBT residents as well as visitors. It is known for taking the top spot for health care equality. Baltimore is full of fun things to see and do, and many of these things appeal to LGBT visitors. Two neighborhoods are particularly LGBT-friendly: these are Mount Vernon and Hampden.  Hampden hosts its “HonFest,” a Pride weekend celebration.

Some of the other LGBT things to check out includes the Baltimore Pride event: this consists of a block party, a high-heel race, and a festival. There’s also the B’more Q-Fest, which is a film festival held in June.

HES Photography /
HES Photography /

Berkeley, California

Berkeley is well-known as a university city as well as one of the most progressive and liberal places in the U.S.

There are many things to do in Berkeley, including joining activists for a demonstration at UC Berkeley; shopping with tons of other LGBT people at one of the three popular Whole Foods markets; or checking out any of the several gay-friendly bookstores in the city. The most well-known are Pegasus Fine Books and Mrs. Dalloway’s Literary and Garden Arts Bookstore. Special LGBT educational events that serve to connect with the community are held at Mrs. Dalloway’s.

Boulder, Colorado

Boulder is located north of Denver and is one of the most gay-friendly cities in the U.S. It hosts quite a few LGBT-related events throughout the year: these include a Big Gay 5K run, a gay Garden Party, an LGBT High School Dance, a Trans Awareness Week, and, of course, the big one: a Pride celebration.

Boulder has a large LGBT population and many of its businesses are gay-friendly. There are several LGBT-friendly bookstores including Boulder Book Store, the Left Hand Books Collective, and Word is Out.

Columbus, Ohio

Many people overlook Columbus when they are planning to check out a gay-friendly city. Columbus is the 15th largest city in the U.S. and offers plenty of things of interest to the LGBT community. It has a large gay and lesbian population and there are more than 20 gay bars and clubs.

But people still don’t put Columbus on their bucket list simply because they don’t know what the city has to offer. It doesn’t come across as the most beautiful city in the U.S., but it has a very open gay community and plenty of things to see, like German Village and Ohio State University.

aceshot1 /
aceshot1 /

Fort Worth, Texas

Neighboring Dallas might be glitzier, but Fort Worth is an up and coming gay-friendly city. While Texas is home to some of the least gay-friendly cities in the U.S., a city like Fort Worth is the opposite and offers many reasons for the LGBT crowd to check it out.

It calls itself a cow town and does not like pretension and formality, but Fort Worth has some excellent museums, country-western music halls, world-class performance spaces, and several interesting attractions in its Cultural District. Fort Worth also hosts the Tarrant County Gay Pride Week every year in early October.

Los Angeles, California

About 4.6% of the population of Los Angeles identifies at LGBT. Los Angeles is the home of Equality California: this is California’s most important LGBT civil rights organization. There are many support organizations including the LA Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce as well as groups for youth, elderly, and families.

Los Angeles is home to the largest LGBT recreational sports league in the U.S., the Varsity Gay League. One of the great ways to see Los Angeles is to take the Out and About Bus: this bus takes passengers around the city to see gay landmarks. The OUTFEST is the largest LGBT film festival in the U.S., and it’s held in L.A.

New Haven, Connecticut

New Haven has a vibrant gay scene that revolves around Yale University. New Haven is a coastal town: it fronts Long Island Sound. With a population of 130,000, New Haven is the second largest city in the state.

It has a very strong arts and cultural scene: there are funky boutiques and shops near the campus. There are also excellent museums include the Peabody Museum of Natural History, the Yale Center for British Art, and the Yale Art Gallery. The New Haven Gay Pride event takes place in September, and there are bars and gay-friendly restaurants and cafes.

Natalia Bratslavsky /
Natalia Bratslavsky /