The 15 Gay Friendly Cities; Gayest Cities In America

gayest cities in the us

Exploring the Top LGBTQ+ Destinations in the United States.

The first thing that comes to mind when we hear the phrase “gayest cities” is a place where there are a lot of gay people. The definition is similar, but not all gay people live in gay cities – some of them have residents who are straight.

gayest cities in use

Apart from the presence of gay people, gay neighborhoods differ greatly from conventional ones in terms of culture and customs. Gay cities may only be found in a few locations, but the vibe, atmosphere, and ambiance they emit are just PURR.

Gay communities vary from one another in the same way as cities do, each with unique amenities for its minority populations and intriguing places to see.

How gay-friendly these cities are might be considered more significant than the high percentages of LGBTQ+ people living there. The cities listed below also perform quite well in that regard.

These Are The USA’s Gayest Cities


Gay City In America, SAN FRANCISCO, CA

San Francisco has been the center of the gay community in the US for a long time. Since the Gold Rush, this city has been known for its tolerance; nevertheless, following World War II, the metropolis genuinely turned into a homosexual city.

CriteriaSan Francisco
Percentage of LGBTQ+ population6.2%
Best places to visitThe Castro and The Mission neighborhoods, South of Market Leather History Alley
Popular gay hangoutsOasis, Q Bar
Gay eventsFolsom Street Fair, San Francisco Pride, National Queer Arts Festival, San Francisco Transgender Film Festival, Frameline
ExpenseSan Francisco is known for being an expensive city

San Francisco is home to The Castro, one of the most well-known LGBTQ+ neighborhoods in the world.

Overall, San Francisco is widely recognized as one of the top gay meccas in the world, boasting a high percentage of openly LGBTQ+ citizens and a rich history of queer culture and events.


Gay City In America, LOS ANGELES, CA

One of the nation’s top entertainment cities, LA, has long been home to gay residents.

Gay life existed in Los Angeles for a very long time before it did in most other US cities, despite the Hays Code’s prohibition on references in movies and “immorality requirements” in artists’ contracts forcing them to keep their identities a secret.

CriteriaLos Angeles
Percentage of LGBTQ+ populationLarge queer community, with nearly 40% LGBTQ residents in West Hollywood
Best places to visitWest Hollywood, The Abbey, Mickey’s West Hollywood, Black Cat Tavern
Popular gay hangoutsThe Abbey, Mickey’s West Hollywood, Black Cat Tavern
Gay eventsLos Angeles Pride, Halloween Costume Carnaval
ExpenseLos Angeles is known for being an expensive city

Los Angeles is a top destination for LGBTQ+ travelers, with a large and vibrant queer community centered in West Hollywood.


Gay City In America, WASHINGTON, D.C

Washington, D.C., the nation’s capital, is not only one of the most famous cities in the world but also one of the gayest in the country.

The city has a sizable proportion of LGBTQ+ residents, and it is the birthplace of some of the most well-known gay parades.

CriteriaWashington, DC
Percentage of LGBTQ+ population9.8%
Best places to visitDupont Circle, Logan Circle, U Street Corridor, Capital Hill
Popular gay hangoutsNellie’s Sports Bar, Pitchers, Town Danceboutique, Number Nine
Gay eventsCapital Pride Festival and Parade, DC Black Pride, High Heel Race
ExpenseWashington, DC is a moderately expensive city

While Washington, DC is a moderately expensive city, it is still possible to enjoy its many attractions and experiences without breaking the bank.


Gay City In America, NEW YORK CITY, NY

By now, everyone is aware that gay old New York City is among the friendliest cities in the entire world, let alone the USA. After all, it is the cradle of the American gay rights movement, the home of Broadway, and one of the world’s largest drag scenes.

The outstanding anti-discrimination laws of New York, which were the sixth state in the US to enact marriage equality, provide protection for queer individuals everywhere. Every year, the New York Pride Parade marches down Fifth Avenue before entering Greenwich Village.

CriteriaNew York City
Percentage of LGBTQ+ populationLargest number of LGBTQ+ residents in the US
Best places to visitChelsea, Christopher Street in Greenwich Village, East Village in Manhattan, Hell’s Kitchen, Morningside Heights, Park Slope, Prospect Heights
Popular gay hangoutsJulius, Stonewall Inn, Lucky Cheng’s
Gay eventsNew York City Pride, Queer Liberation March
ExpenseNew York City is known for being an expensive city

The Queens Pride Parade and the Queer Liberation March are also held in the city.


Gay City In America, CHICAGO, IL

Despite not having a close relationship with the gay community as closely as the preceding three cities, Chicago is home to Boystown, one of the most famous gay neighborhoods in the country.

Percentage of LGBTQ+ population5.2%, first recognized gay neighborhood in the US
Best places to visitBoystown, Andersonville, Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame, National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame, Gerber/Hart Library, Leather Archives and Museum, Legacy Walk
Popular gay hangoutsJeffery Pub, Sidetrack, Roscoe’s Tavern
Gay eventsChicago Pride, Andersonville Midsommarfest
ExpenseChicago is a moderately expensive city

Boystown, the city’s first recognized gay neighborhood, is a must-visit destination for LGBTQ+ visitors, along with Andersonville, the city’s other gay village.

Additionally, this city is host to one of the first LGBTQ+ parades, which debuted there in the 1970s.


Gay City In America, MIAMI BEACH, FL

In addition to being one of the world’s most energetic and fun-loving towns, Miami Beach is well-known in the US for its raucous environment and exciting nightlife.

The LGBTQ+ population in this city is among the highest percentages of any American city, in addition to having the most active gay communities.

CriteriaMiami Beach, FL
Percentage of LGBTQ+ populationHigh LGBTQ+ population, estimated to be around 7-10%
Best places to visitSouth Beach, Lincoln Road Mall, Art Deco Historic District, Ocean Drive
Popular gay hangoutsTwist, Palace, Score, The Cabaret South Beach
Gay eventsMiami Beach Gay Pride, Winter Party Festival
ExpenseMiami Beach is a moderately expensive city

The city also hosts several major LGBTQ+ events each year, including Miami Beach Gay Pride and the Winter Party Festival.


Gay City In America, NEW ORLEANS, LA

Much like the rest of the city’s tourism and entertainment, New Orleans’ gay community focuses the majority of its activities on Bourbon Street. Due to the city’s high concentration of gay bars, it can be difficult to walk a few blocks without encountering one.

CriteriaNew Orleans, Louisiana
Percentage of LGBTQ+ populationHigh LGBTQ+ population, estimated to be around 5-7%
Best places to visitLavender Line, Cafe Lafitte in Exile, Bourbon Pub and Parade, Oz
Popular gay hangoutsCafe Lafitte in Exile, Bourbon Pub and Parade, Oz
Gay eventsMardi Gras Bourbon Street Awards, Southern Decadence, Pride
ExpenseNew Orleans is a moderately affordable city

Iconic gay bars in New Orleans include Cafe Lafitte in Exile, the oldest continuously operating gay bar in the United States, Bourbon Pub and Parade, one of the most popular gay clubs in the city, and Oz, a massive club that stays open 24 hours on Mondays and Tuesdays.

In addition to its yearly pride festivities, the city also organizes a few important LGBTQ+ events.


Gay City In America, ATLANTA, GA

Atlanta is home to the Southern United States’ largest LGBTQ+ neighborhood. As a result, the community is well-represented throughout the city, however, historically the center of LGBTQ+ life in Atlanta has been in Midtown.

CriteriaAtlanta, GA
Percentage of LGBTQ+ populationHigh LGBTQ+ population, estimated to be around 12-14%
Best places to visitPiedmont Park, BeltLine, Atlanta Botanical Garden, High Museum of Art
Popular gay hangoutsBlake’s on the Park, Bulldogs, Friends on Ponce, Mary’s
Gay eventsAtlanta Pride, Out on Film, Black Gay Pride
ExpenseAtlanta is a moderately affordable city

Atlanta Black Pride, the largest black gay parade in the world with over 100,000 spectators, is one of the pride marches organized by the city.


Gay City In America, PORTLAND, OR

Portland, which is noted for having a sizable liberal-minded populace, is well-known for its LGBTQ-inclusiveness, as evidenced by the vibrant community.

One of the gayest cities in America, the city is home to some of the most well-known gay and lesbian bars in the nation.

CriteriaPortland, Oregon
Percentage of LGBTQ+ populationHigh LGBTQ+ population, estimated to be around 5-6%
Best places to visitPowell’s City of Books, Washington Park, Portland Art Museum, Voodoo Doughnut
Popular gay hangoutsDarcelle XV Showplace, Stag PDX, Scandals, CC Slaughters
Gay eventsPeacock in the Park, Portland Queer Film Festival, Queer Horror, Portland Pride
ExpensePortland is a moderately affordable city with relatively lower cost of living compared to other major cities

The city is also known for its outdoor recreational opportunities, with nearby hiking trails, beaches, and forests.


Gay City In America, SAN DIEGO, CA

The LGBTQ+ community still relies heavily on San Diego’s Hillcrest, despite the fact that gay communities are disappearing in many other cities.

Hillcrest has managed to hold onto its status as one of the gay centers in California because San Diego has long had various groups, each with its own identities.

CitySan Diego, CA
Gay NeighborhoodsHillcrest
Population1.4 million (approx.)
Gay EventsSan Diego Pride, Hillcrest Mardi Gras
Popular Gay HangoutsThe Rail, Rich’s San Diego, Flicks, Gossip Grill
Cost of LivingHigher than the national average
Best Places to VisitBalboa Park, Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego Zoo, Coronado Beach

Other popular gay-friendly neighborhoods in San Diego include North Park and South Park.


Gay City In America, OMAHA, NE

Omaha passed a statute that’s been in effect for eight years to stop discrimination against LGBTQ+ people in both public and private settings.

In spite of the fact that much more work needs to be done, this law allows gays to prosper in this city. Compared to other major cities, Omaha has a relatively lower cost of living and is considered a relatively affordable place to live.

CriteriaOmaha, NE
Percentage of LGBTQ+ populationEstimated to be around 3-4%
Best places to visitHenry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, Joslyn Art Museum, Old Market
Popular gay hangoutsThe Max, Flixx Video Bar, The Omaha Mining Company, The Backline
Gay eventsHeartland Pride Festival and Parade, River City Pride Festival
ExpenseOmaha is an affordable city with a relatively low cost of living

While Omaha may not be the first city that comes to mind when thinking of gay travel destinations, it’s definitely worth considering for its welcoming atmosphere, diverse community, and unique attractions.


Gay City In America, SACRAMENTO, CA

Another Californian city made this list because, despite the yearly population growth that is constant, the LGBTQ+ community there is extremely tolerant.

It is one of the few cities on this list where there are still a significant number of LGBTQ+ residents despite a decline in the percentage of the gay population.

The city is also home to numerous museums, including the Crocker Art Museum, the California State Railroad Museum, and the California State Capitol Museum.

CriteriaSacramento, CA
Percentage of LGBTQ+ population4.8%
Best places to visitCalifornia State Capitol Museum, Crocker Art Museum, Old Sacramento, American River Bike Trail
Popular gay hangoutsThe Depot, Badlands, Faces Nightclub, The Bolt
Gay eventsSacramento Pride Festival and Parade, Rainbow Festival, Lavender Heights Halloween Block Party, Sacramento International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival
ExpenseSacramento has a moderate cost of living, with relatively affordable housing and dining options.

In addition to the ones listed in the table, some other popular gay hangouts in Sacramento include Badlands Sacramento, Faces Nightclub, and The Depot.

Related Article: Gayest Cities In America


Gay City In America, SALT LAKE CITY, UT

You might not have anticipated seeing Salt Lake City on our list as it is situated in a conservative state like Utah.

Due to its left-wing stance and acceptance of other cultures and sexual preferences, the city does defy the trend to some extent, making it a popular place for LGBTQ+ people to relocate.

CriteriaSalt Lake City, UT
Percentage of LGBTQ+ populationEstimated to be around 4-5% of the total population
Best places to visitTemple Square, Utah State Capitol, Natural History Museum of Utah, Red Butte Garden and Arboretum
Popular gay hangoutsThe Sun Trapp, The Westerner, Club Try-Angles, Metro Music Hall
Gay eventsUtah Pride Festival, Utah Gay Ski Week, Damn These Heels LGBTQ Film Festival
ExpenseSalt Lake City is a moderately affordable city with a lower cost of living compared to other major cities

The Salt Lake City gay nightlife scene is centered around the neighborhood of Marmalade, with popular spots like The Sun Trapp and Club Try-Angles.


Gay City In America, SAN JOSE, CA

San Jose, one of the most expensive places to live,  has a fairly significant LGBTQ+ community that has grown steadily over the years.

This Californian city provides a welcoming, prosperous neighborhood for LGBTQ+ people to live in, similar to the cities previously described.

CriteriaSan Jose, CA
Percentage of LGBTQ+ populationLarge LGBTQ+ population, estimated to be around 5-6%
Best places to visitWinchester Mystery House, Santana Row, Japanese Friendship Garden, Tech Museum of Innovation
Popular gay hangoutsRenegades, Splash, The Bears Lair, The Watergarden Bathhouse
Gay eventsSilicon Valley Pride, Day of Remembrance, Transgender Day of Visibility, Rainbow Chamber Silicon Valley Gala
ExpenseSan Jose is a relatively expensive city with a higher cost of living compared to other major cities in California.

While San Jose can be relatively expensive, with high costs for housing and dining, there are also many affordable and free activities to enjoy, such as hiking and exploring the city’s parks and public spaces.


Gay City in America, OKLAHOMA CITY, OK

The city of Oklahoma, one of the most well-known cities in the Southern Central region of the US, is probably the most unexpected inclusion on the list.

Oklahoma City, which is known for its legendary southern cowboy culture, has the largest LGBTQ+ community in the country’s central region.

CriteriaOklahoma City, OK
Percentage of LGBTQ+ populationModerate LGBTQ+ population, estimated to be around 4-5%
Best places to visitOklahoma City National Memorial and Museum, Myriad Botanical Gardens, Paseo Arts District, Bricktown
Popular gay hangoutsApothecary 39, Finishline, Partners, Phoenix Rising OKC
Gay eventsOKC Pride, Red Tie Night, Mister Gay Oklahoma USofA
ExpenseOklahoma City has a lower cost of living compared to other major cities

Oklahoma City is home to the annual OKC Pride Festival, which takes place in June and includes a parade, live entertainment, and a street festival.

The Bottom Line

gayest cities conclusion

Except for one or two cities, most of the cities on it are liberally inclined cities. California, which has five of the cities on this list and was a forerunner in the gay rights movement, is by far the most gay-friendly state in the United States.

If traveling and camping is your thing, check out this handy list of the best the USA has to offer. The IGLTA also offers some handy tips for when you travel anywhere as an LGBTQ+ person.

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