LGBTQ City Index Poster 01

The Vocativ Queer Index

The 35 Most LGBT-Friendly Cities in America

Over the past few years, the momentum of Pride has changed. Radically. Opposition to marriage equality at state and federal levels has been crumbling in the courts and the court of public opinion. Anti-discrimination laws are being revised to include LGBT individuals. And for the generation of people in their 20s and 30s, coming out is legitimately getting better.

Still, for all the gains in rights and acceptance, it ain’t all rainbows. Let’s face it: A great many places across America are still not that welcoming of the LGBT community. But there are beacons of hope—as well as cities quietly changing—and hence, the Queer Index was born.

Coinciding with national LGBT Pride Month, we used a unique combination of data sets to provide a picture of LGBT life, real life, across the country. To determine the top 35 queer-friendly cities in the U.S., Vocativ started with the 100 most populous metropolitan areas, according to 2013 census data, and analyzed a trove of state-and city-level information, as well as open Internet sources such as Facebook, Craigslist, GayCities and Gayborhood.

In total, our Queer Index used 32 data sets to measure 16 different factors, from livability indicators like same-sex marriage laws and the rate of hate crimes, to lifestyle metrics like the concentration of out singles and the availability of hookup opportunities. (While we tried to be fully inclusive, we were limited by available numbers on bisexual and trans folks for some of our categories.)

Tied together, the Queer Index paints a rich picture of modern LGBT life across America. And the results are a surprising—and fun—look at which U.S. cities are striding with pride. Des Moines, anyone?

Queer Index Top 35 City-by-city Breakdown


Queer Index Category Leaders

Special thanks to: Jenn Holmes, Matan Gilat, Dustin Drankoski, Leury Hidalgo, Julia Kastner, Rebecca Steinberg and Ryan J. Davis

Wondering where your city ranked, if it didn’t place in the top 35? Have a question about our methodology?

Leave us a question below or on Facebook. We’ll be hosting a live chat with the data scientists and journalists who worked on the Index, so follow us on Facebook where we’ll be posting updates.

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  • I am president of Worcester Pride and I would like to know how they judged the number of LGBT events. We have 1-2 events per month as well as a very large parade and festival. http://www.worcesterpride.org

  • Excellent information for any in the LGBT community… if you’re considering a move, visit http://www.GayRealEstate.com for in-depth real estate information specific to the LGBT community.

  • This is really kind of the LGB index, no? None of this is really directly pertinent to transpeople, at least in terms of data collection, and the rest is pertinent only to the extent that an individual also happens to be gay, lesbian, or bi. 

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    • Some of the data is pertinent to everyone across the LGBTQ spectrum, but some was limited to LGBQ. We made every attempt to be as inclusive as possible but the data for some of these categories just wasn’t available for trans folk. However, I’m happy to let you know that this is an issue we debated at length and in an attempt to remedy the siutation we are now in the early stages of putting together a trans-specific project. The scope of which is still being ironed out, but we’re excited. Stay tuned…

  • Why does the synopsis for Boston say it ranks 1st for hate crimes per capita, but then the statistics below that same synopsis say it ranks 100th for hate crimes per capita? Which is it?

  • So is anywhere in michigan a decent place to live XD Many of my friends are happy here so i’m not sure lol

  • How can you leave out Provincetown,MA?????

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  • What about St Petersburg, Fl? Our city is actually paying half the bill for a 3 day pride fest andparade this year when it’s been only a single day in the past and privately funded… It’s come a long way and very lgbtq friendly here. Where doesit stack up? 

  • As a Pennsylvanian who has lived in both Central Pa and Philly, I think it’s more than a little crazy that Harrisburg is 17 spaces ahead of Philly. Philly even has a Gayborhood! Harrisburg has … lots of people from Central Pa. 

  • I am skeptical of the hate crimes statistic. In less accepting areas crimes are less likely to be reported and less likely to be categorized as hate crimes.

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    • This is indeed an issue. However, our analyst could only go on the available data supplied by the FBI Hate Crimes division. It provides the best relibable rough estimate.

  • Hook-up “scene” is bigger in the south because it’s not gay friendly.  I don’t think it should be a pro for Atlanta. It reflects a closeted hook-up culture. That’s what it’s like in Arkansas and other parts of the south at least.  

  • something seems off.  when you see the category ‘by the numbers’ for Same-Sex Couples in State Per 1M People – Los Angeles gets a rank of #1 here with a value of 232, but San Francisco (in the SAME state with the SAME number -232) gets a ranked #3.That makes no sense either California is #1 for 232 Same-Sex Couples in State Per 1M People OR it is the #3 state, but it cannot be both.  by the numbers these rankings fall apart :(

  • I am not happy that I was born homosexual, yet I am proud that I am gay. Because, I did choose to be honest, and unafraid of who I am, how I feel. It is a personal honor that I can stand up and say who I love, what I love most in life, despite the disapproval of many. I am more Christ like, or Allah like than any of the church, mosque goers, because I am honest, seek the truth, and love. Above all, god’s of all religions espouse the virtues of seeking the truth, honesty and love. And these qualities I have created within myself, handle my homosexual feelings and nature. Being gay for me is being honest, truth seeking and loving. Hence a virtue, far above those so called religious people. I am gay, I am happy and proud about that.

  • I’d be very interested to know how Dallas stacked up against these other cities. Sure, Texas is pulling up the rear on marriage equality (although still ahead of several states), but otherwise my observation is that we have an extremely vibrant and inclusive LGBT landscape.

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    • After looking through the individual lists, I see both the Dallas and Houston areas are indeed represented. That said, I’m somewhat surprised Austin doesn’t appear anywhere. I definitely think Dallas has the most vibrant LGBT population in Texas, but I’d expect Austin to place somewhere. :)

  • weird that most of the lowest hate crime cities are southern…did you ever think that maybe they just don’t prosecute them?

  • Great list…but um, really where’s Oakland CA? You have Sacto, Stockton, and Fresno, but no Oakland? And none of this, but we included San Francisco excuses. We lesbians hella <3 heart our city, and now with all the SF non-tech refugees, so do a larger percentage of the LGBT community. Not to mention the great potential for an out-lesbian (LGBT) Mayor to be elected this Fall, Rebecca Kaplan. Come on, don’t leave the East Bay hangin!

  • You’ve obviously never visited Wilton Manors, Florida. Oxnard? Chattanooga? Stockton? Riverside? Really? Fort Lauderdale is ALWAYS in the TOP 10. Just last year Wilton Manors had the highest per capita number of same sex couples. Check your facts again.

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    • Oh, we have 4 glossy weekly magazines, 2 weekly LGBT newspapers, 2 pride festivals and 15 gay bars and clubs within a 3 block stretch. And I can’t believe there weren’t enough ads for rentboys and hook ups, either.

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      • this must be for the whole U.S. except Florida.

  • I’m surprised that Reno NV isn’t on this list. In the 80′s I had heard it had the second largest LGBT population outside of SanFran.

  • Another reason why the majority of the middle of our nation is referred to as “Fly Over Country”. Inequality and inhumanity thrives where peoples human rights are denied.

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    • Spolken like a true East/West coast snob. There’s more to America than New York and LA.

  • This is a really excellent effort that demonstrates the potential of big data to provide a catalyst for news stories. 

  • Check your data. St. Petersburg Fl. has 3 city council members that are openly gay and one of the largest Gay Pride events in the southeast with attendance estimates of over 100,000.

  • It is very interesting that New Orleans…home this year of our 42nd (?) Southern Decadence celebration.  This is a six day event…and gets bigger every year…over Labor Day weekend. Very interesting New Orleans was not mentioned on ANY of your lists.

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    • Unfortunately, we only published the top 35 best cities for LGBT folk in the US. New Orleans performed well in some areas but underperformed in others, which pulled it down below the 35.

  • Where is Kansas City, MO on this ranking?

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    • Exactly what I wanna know.

  • How can you claim DC has no gay newspapers? We have the Washington Blade AND the Metro Weekly.

  • Very interesting that lgbt friendly cities have the highest crime rate.Any connection

  • Why isn’t St. Louis on here? Like really?!?!?

  • FYI, I don’t know where you’re getting your numbers for LBGT politicians in CT, but they’re wrong. There is one in statewise office (our Comptroller), two in the Senate, and I believe three or four in the House. And Hartford’s Mayor.

  • Could you do a reverse list so we know where the most hate crimes are taking place?

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    • We are going to host a live chat with the data scientists and journalists next week. Follow us on Facebook, where we’ll update exact timing.

  • who are the people you’re giving special thanks to?

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    • All of the amazing people who did the heavy lifting–editorial, data gathering, photo, design and product. 

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      • Relly well done, informative and relevant.

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