In the spirit of Pride Month, we highlight the Unted States' most LGBTQ friendly cities.
We explored a variety of factors such as gay rights, transgender healthcare, and access to LGBTQ friendly restaurants, bars, and events.
1. San Francisco, CA
- General: It may not come as a shock that San Francisco is at the top of the list for LGBTQ friendly cities in America. After all, about 6.2% of the city's population identifies as LGBTQ. San Francisco first became a gay haven during WWII when the Navy discharged gay sailors who were being expelled from serving at Treasure Island. Many decided to stick around. Additionally, the Castro District in downtown San Francisco is known in particular for catering to the LGBTQ lifestyle. The entire neighborhood is comprised of restaurants, bars, and hotels that are LGBTQ friendly.
- Transgender Healthcare: San Francisco has several healthcare organizations that provide care to transgender individuals including the San Francisco Community Health Center, UCSF Transgender Care, and San Francisco Transgender Institute.
- LGBTQ Rights: California has a full score of 10/10 and protects youth from the so-called "conversion therapy". This state also has policies and laws that mandate gender marker updates on both birth certificates and driver’s licenses, among many other laws that protect the rights of LGBTQ individuals. For the full list of what California supports in terms of LGBTQ rights, visit the Human Rights Campaign page and click on California.
2. Portland, OR
- General: Portland, OR comes in a close second with LGBTQ friendly bars such as the open-air Vendetta and the Vault Cocktail Lounge. The city has long been deemed a queer oasis for many in the PNW. Portland has so many LGBTQ friendly events, dining establishments, and organizations that it needs it's own Gay Yellow Pages. Much higher than the national average, more than 5% of the population identify as LGBTQ. Portland is also the first major city to elect a gay man for mayor, Sam Adams in 2008. Additionally, Portland is home to the all-volunteer chapter of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).
- Transgender Healthcare: Portland offers a multitude of transgender healthcare opportunities including the following: The Q Center, Legacy Health's Transgender Health Services, and Kaiser Permanente's Northwest Gender Pathway Clinic.
- LGBTQ Rights: Oregon fairs very well in terms of LGBTQ equality rights with a perfect 10/10 score. Oregon not only prohibits housing discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation but also prohibits discrimination in public accommodations based on these two components of one's being.
3. Seattle, WA
- General: With about 4.8% of the population identifying as LGBTQ, Seattle received one of the highest Human Rights Campaign scores. Additionally, the Human Rights Campaign recognized nine of Seattle's medical centers and hospitals as leaders in health care equality. The Seattle LGBT Commission regularly advises the area about community policies and issues. Seattle hosts PrideFest, the largest pride festival in the country which attracts over 130,000 people each year.
- Transgender Healthcare: Seattle is home to many health centers that offer transgender healthcare such as Virginia Mason Transgender Health Services, Trust Women Transgender Health Services, and Ingersoll Gender Center.
- LGBTQ Rights: With a perfect score of 10/10, Washington is very LGBTQ friendly in terms of gay rights. The state has a law that prohibits discrimination against students based on gender identity and sexual orientation and also prohibits housing discrimination based on these two things.
4. New York, New York
- General: With several LGBTQ friendly dining establishments such as Big Gay Ice Cream and Henrietta Hudson, NYC is a major LGBTQ friendly destination. NYC is also home to The Center, short for The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center which has won awards and is known for its strong LGBT programs such as advocacy, health, support and spirituality, youth, and social life events.
- Transgender Healthcare: NYC is home to many healthcare facilities that offer transgender healthcare such as Callen-Lorde, Mount Sinai Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery, as well various NYC Health and Hospital locations.
- LGBTQ Rights: New York City scores a 10/10 in terms of LGBTQ rights with several protections including a ban on insurance exclusions for transgender healthcare and a law that protects from hate or bias crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
5. Baltimore, Maryland
- General: Baltimore is fifth on the list with several LGBTQ friendly dining opportunities such as the speakeasy W.C. Harlan, which boasts locally sourced craft cocktails. There is also a cocktail bar called Rye that offers group mixology classes. The city is home to the Pride Center of Maryland, a nonprofit that serves the LGBTQ population of Baltimore. The center offers several support groups among other services. BPT (Bi & Proud Together) is an organization in Baltimore that holds a monthly support group for people who identify as bisexual, pansexual, or fluid that was created to provide a community for these individuals due to perceived marginalization from both heterosexuals and certain LGBT communities.
- Transgender Healthcare: Trans Healthcare MD, University of Maryland Transgender Healthcare, and The John Hopkins Center for Transgender Health all offer great options for transgender healthcare in Baltimore.
- Gay rights: With a score of 9/10, the only general area of life for LGBTQ individuals that Maryland doesn't have laws protecting is education. The state does have laws that prohibit harassment and/or bullying of students based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Among other laws, Maryland has a law that addresses bias or hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity.