Two men embracing in a park in a city.

Best Gay-Friendly Cities And Neighborhoods In The U.S.

8-Minute Read
Published on April 14, 2022
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When looking for a place to call home, many LGBTQ+ folks encounter obstacles. Although it can be a challenge for any future homeowner to find the right neighborhood or community, it’s especially difficult when seeking out gay-friendly cities in the U.S.

The good news is there are many gay-friendly cities in the U.S. waiting for you. Let’s take a closer look at some of the best options out there.

What Makes A Neighborhood Gay?

Gay neighborhoods are typically characterized by many LGBTQ+ residents, businesses that are owned by and serve LGBTQ+ people (such as bars, nightclubs or bookstores) and community centers for members of the LGBTQ+ community.

The iconic rainbow-colored pride flag can be a helpful indicator as well. Other pride flags, such as trans pride flags or bisexual pride flags, can also clue you in.

Local attitudes aren’t the only thing LGBTQ+ renters and homeowners consider when looking for a place to live. Local and state laws and anti-discrimination protections (or lack thereof) can play a huge role in how secure LGBTQ+ residents feel in each area.

The Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) Municipal Equality Index (MEI) rates municipalities on the existence and strength of protections they provide to their LGBTQ+ residents. Each city on our list earned an MEI rating of 100 in 2021, the highest rating possible.

Below is our list of some of the most LGBTQ+-friendly places in the country. We chose these cities and neighborhoods based on the size of their LGBTQ+ populations, their affordability, the number of LGBTQ+ establishments in the area and local attitudes and laws.

We used 2021 U.S. Census data for median rent cost and Rocket HomesSM data from March 2022 for median home price. Both metrics are based on the entire city.

If you are looking to buy a home in one of these cities, seek out a real estate agent who specializes in addressing the needs of LGBTQ+ home buyers. They can offer helpful tips throughout the journey to homeownership.

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Gay Neighborhoods Of Atlanta

Atlanta offers welcoming spots for LGBTQ+ folks across the city. There are unique neighborhood vibes to suit your preferences.

  • Median gross rent: $1,227
  • Median sold price: $374,249
  • MEI nondiscrimination score: 30 out of 30 points
  • MEI fair law enforcement score: 22 out of 22 points
  • MEI municipal services accessibility score: 12 out of 12 points

Midtown

Dubbed by the city’s official tourism bureau as “Atlanta’s original gayborhood,” Midtown has been home to LGBTQ+ Atlantans for decades.

Though LGBTQ+ folks will likely feel welcomed throughout the city, Midtown has plenty of offerings to keep all its residents and visitors busy. This neighborhood is the city’s cultural hub and the location of the renowned Arts District. It’s also chock full of great nightlife and is a very walkable and bikeable neighborhood.

East Atlanta

East Atlanta offers a fresh mix of charming homes and interesting stores.

The area boasts of two popular haunts for the LGBTQ+ community. You’ll find My Sister’s Room, which is the only lesbian bar in Atlanta. Plus, Mary’s, a quirky gay bar with popular karaoke is right around the corner.

Downtown

Downtown has plenty of attractions, including the Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coca-Cola. Although these well-known centers draw a crowd, the area is emerging as a new spot for young gay professionals.

Gay Neighborhoods Of Boston

Boston is steeped in history that dates back to 1630. As the first state to legalize same-sex marriage, Massachusetts offers a thriving LGBTQ+ community.

Within this seaside city, you’ll find plenty of neighborhoods to potentially call home.

  • Median gross rent: $1,685
  • Median sold price: $743,614
  • MEI nondiscrimination score: 30 out of 30 points
  • MEI fair law enforcement score: 22 out of 22 points
  • MEI municipal services accessibility score: 12 out of 12 points

 

South End

South End was originally established in the 1850s. After many seasons of change, it is now the home of a diverse community, complete with a large contingent of LGBTQ+ residents. The modern iteration of this neighborhood can be found tucked between Back Bay, Chinatown and Roxbury.

Fenway-Kenmore

This neighborhood used to be exclusively known for its prized Fenway Park. But in recent decades, a thriving LGBTQ+ community has emerged.

A big piece of this thriving community is the annual Wicked Queer Boston LGBT Film Festival. Beyond this regular touchstone of the community, you’ll find many museums to explore.

Gay Neighborhoods Of Chicago

Chicago is known for its impressive architecture that has influenced the world. Beyond being the birthplace of the skyscraper, the Windy City has an extensive lakefront trail and over 600 parks. You’ll also find an established LGBTQ+ community to call home.

  • Median gross rent: $1,154
  • Median sold price: $346,157
  • MEI nondiscrimination score: 30 out of 30 points
  • MEI fair law enforcement score: 22 out of 22 points
  • MEI municipal services accessibility score: 12 out of 12 points

Boystown

Boystown – also known as Northalsted – is Chicago’s famous, historic LGBTQ+ enclave. It’s located within the Lake View East neighborhood.

In 1997, Boystown earned the distinction of being the first officially recognized gay village in the country when Mayor Richard M. Daley issued a proposal to help revitalize the area to better celebrate its LGBTQ+ residents.

Boystown is home to Center on Halsted, the Midwest’s largest LGBTQ+ community center.

Andersonville

To the north, within the neighborhood of Edgewater, is Andersonville, another iconic Chicago gay neighborhood. Andersonville has been nicknamed “Girlstown,” as it was considered to be the lesbian foil to gay-centric Boystown. However, the lesbian population here has declined in recent years.

Andersonville is known for having lots of locally owned businesses and a charming, welcoming vibe.

Gay Neighborhoods Of San Diego

San Diego is known for its beautiful West Coast scene and trendy vibes.  Beautiful beaches are the only thing you’ll find in San Diego, you’ll also find a welcoming community.

  • Median gross rent: $1,732
  • Median sold price: $787,009
  • MEI nondiscrimination score: 30 out of 30 points
  • MEI fair law enforcement score: 22 out of 22 points
  • MEI municipal services accessibility score: 12 out of 12 points

Hillcrest

On its own, San Diego is a pretty great place to live; it’s got a great beach, beautiful weather, delicious eats and chill locals. It’s also a super welcoming city, particularly in its Hillcrest neighborhood, which acts as the heart of San Diego’s LGBTQ+ community.

In Hillcrest, there are always plenty of parties to attend, restaurants to enjoy and nightclubs to visit. Be sure to check out Hillcrest Brewing Company, “the first gay brewery in the world,” according to its website.

North Park

North Park neighbors the Hillcrest neighborhood. It offers a slightly more trendy scene with an eclectic selection of queer-owned businesses and LGBTQ+ events. Those looking for more one-of-a-kind offerings will find what they are looking for in North Park.

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Gay Neighborhoods Of San Francisco

The Golden Gate Bridge isn’t the only thing that draws people to the West Coast city. A unique mix of residents makes San Fransisco a fun place to live for everyone, including members of the LGBTQ+ community.

  • Median gross rent: $2,010
  • Median list price: $1,188,000
  • MEI nondiscrimination score: 30 out of 30 points
  • MEI fair law enforcement score: 22 out of 22 points
  • MEI municipal services accessibility score: 12 out of 12 points

The Castro District

San Francisco has long had a reputation of being a very open-minded city, which has played a part in attracting a large percentage of LGBTQ+ residents throughout its history.

Some attribute San Francisco’s large LGBTQ+ population to World War II, when gay Naval sailors were discharged from service in the Bay Area due to their sexuality. Knowing San Francisco’s welcoming reputation, many of these former sailors chose to remain in the city, while others flocked there to be part of the growing LGBTQ+ community.

The Castro District is one of the most iconic historic gay neighborhoods in the country. Today, the Castro District is still an LGBTQ+ mini-metropolis, and a place where you’ll see lots of rainbow flags and folks from all across the LGBTQ+ spectrum.

SoMa: South of Market

SoMa is a busy working neighborhood in San Francisco. But it’s also home to a growing LGBTQ+ community. You’ll find popular bars such as SF-Eagle and Aunt Charlie’s Lounge. Plus, plenty of opportunities to soak in the cultural attractions such as the Museum of the African Diaspora and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Oakland

Oakland is just a quick trip across the San Francisco Bay. It offers a very affirming and diverse spot to call home. Although still expensive, Oakland offers a slightly more reasonable cost of living than San Francisco.

Gay Neighborhoods of Philadelphia

Philadelphia provides residents with a wide selection of arts and music. Plus, a trendy food scene to enjoy. Nicknamed the City of Brotherly Love, has a history of welcoming people of all backgrounds with open arms.

  • Median gross rent: $1,084
  • Median list price: $275,081
  • MEI nondiscrimination score: 30 out of 30 points
  • MEI fair law enforcement score: 22 out of 22 points
  • MEI municipal services accessibility score: 12 out of 12 points

The Gayborhood

With a name like the Gayborhood, there’s no denying that this Philly neighborhood, located within the Washington Square West neighborhood, is extremely LGBTQ+-affirming.

Philadelphians have a history of participation in the LGBTQ+ rights movement. In 1965, local activists began staging annual Reminder Day protests, which were some of the first major LGBTQ+ rights demonstrations in the country.

Today, the Gayborhood is the location of the city’s annual OutFest, which celebrates National Coming Out Day with drag shows, music and lots of partying.

Washington Square West

Washington Square West sits at the crossroads of two communities – Midtown Village and the Gayborhood. You’ll find the welcoming atmosphere of the Gayborhood spills over into Washington Square West with plenty of opportunities to spread your wings.

Gay Neighborhoods of New York City

New York City is a bustling area with many unique neighborhoods tucked within its reach. It’s likely not surprising that the city offers several popular enclaves for members of the LGBTQ+ community.

  • Median gross rent: $1,315
  • Median list price: $715,440
  • MEI nondiscrimination score: 30 out of 30 points
  • MEI fair law enforcement score: 22 out of 22 points
  • MEI municipal services accessibility score: 7 out of 12 points

Hell’s Kitchen

Five decades after Stonewall, Greenwich Village is still a great destination for LGBTQ+ folks, but it’s not a particularly affordable place to live. As property values have skyrocketed over the years, LGBTQ+ residents have flocked to other nearby neighborhoods, creating offshoot enclaves as they seek more affordable living.

Hell’s Kitchen has a large concentration of LGBTQ+ residents and plenty of LGBTQ+-owned establishments serving those residents. This area also has a ton of resources and services to serve the needs of LGBTQ+ New Yorkers.

Chelsea

Chelsea has been a popular spot for the LGBTQ+ community since the 1970s. The nightlife opportunities are plentiful with The Eagle and the Barracuda offering visitors a wonderful gay scene.

You’ll also find many dining and shopping opportunities with pride flags flying. Plus, there are some green spaces to enjoy in High Line Park. 

A Word Of Warning: Check Out State Legislation Before Making A Move

As you consider a new city to call home, don’t forget to check out the state legislation. Although a city may be very friendly, the overarching state laws might not be quite so welcoming. Since cities must follow state laws, keep them in mind as you explore your options.

Take the time to investigate any pending or passed state laws that could impact your lifestyle. You don’t want to relocate only to find that a law is in place to cramp your lifestyle.

The Bottom Line: There Are Many Cities And Neighborhoods For LGBTQ+ People To Call Home

If you are looking for a gay-friendly city in the U.S., that criteria shouldn’t be too hard to find. Most of the U.S.’s large cities offer a variety of gay-friendly neighborhoods to choose from.

When you find a place to call home, consider putting down roots with homeownership. Ready to buy a home? Apply for preapproval with Rocket Mortgage® today.

Take the first step toward buying a house.

Get approved to see what you qualify for.

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Sarah Sharkey

Sarah Sharkey is a personal finance writer that enjoys helping readers learn more about their finances. She has an MS in Business Management from the University of Florida. You can connect with her on LinkedIn or Instagram @adventurousadulting.