From Cleveland to New Orleans, these are the 16 best US cities for gay dating

Max Whittaker/Getty ImagesThe San Francisco Gay Pride Parade, June 28, 2015.
  • America is full of thriving LGBTQ communities.
  • New Orleans, Austin, and Tampa have been named some of the best cities for gay dating, according to a new survey.
  • Here are 16 of the best places for gay dating, based on factors including the number of single people in the gay community, bars per 100,000 people, and the cost of a single drink.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Same-sex marriage may be the law of the land, but before wedding bells chime, there’s the dating scene.

For all LGBT singles out there, it’s easier than ever to navigate a city’s gay community. According to a ranking compiled by gay-rights advocate Evan Goldstein (founder and CEO of medical practice Bespoke Surgical), some of the best cities for members of the LGBT community to make romantic connections include New Orleans, Austin, and Tampa.

The data was compiled by focusing on factors such as the percentage of single people; the size of the LGBT community; the Municipal Equality Index(MEI), which rates cities based on their equality in relation to the gay community and is compiled by civil rights organisation the Human Rights Campaign; bars per 100,000 people; and the cost of a single drink. The total possible city score was 50.

Acceptance of LGBT relationships continue to be on the rise, according to the Pew Research Center. In 2004, only 31% of Americans were in favour of same-sex marriage; as of 2019, 61% are in favour.

These days, cities and towns across America boast thriving LGBT communities. Here are 16 of those cities with the best dating scene.


(T) 13. Phoenix, Arizona — Total score: 29.9

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

According to Gay Arizona’s Pride Guide, Phoenix doesn’t have a central district with LGBTQ-friendly bars. Instead, they’re spread out all over town. The most popular neighbourhood is the Melrose District, which has many LGBTQ-owned bars and restaurants.

Phoenix has its own annual Pride festival, as well as the Rainbows Festival, dubbed “Arizona’s greatest street fair,” which is held every Noveember.


(T) 13. San Francisco, California — Total score: 29.9

Getty ImagesSan Francisco’s Pride Parade.

In 2017, San Francisco was named America’s best city for gay travel by Travel and Leisure. And perhaps rightly so – much of modern gay culture got its start in the city.

In 1978, the first rainbow flag was created by San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker. It has since gone through several colour variations to become more inclusive.


(T) 13. San Antonio, Texas — Total score: 29.9

Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Getty ImagesA married couple in Austin, Texas, 2015.

San Antonio’s official website reads, “San Antonio’s friendly folks welcome and celebrate one and all.” And based on everything it offers its LGBTQ community, it shows. The city hosts its “Bigger Than Texas” Pride Parade and Festival, which unlike most Pride festivals doesn’t start until 9 pm.

The city even has its own LGBTQ magazine, Out in SA.


(T) 13. St. Louis, Missouri — Total score: 29.9

Michael B. ThomasPrideFest at St. Louis, 2015.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Inn riots, St. Louis hosted a number of events, including St. Louis Pride Fest, gay pride weekend at Washington University, and several museum and library tours of St. Louis’s gay history.

St. Louis has also had official Pride celebrations as far back as 1980.


12. Los Angeles, California — Total score: 30.2

Gabriel OlsenThe 2017 LA Pride ResistMarch.

Los Angeles is a big city, and that means a big LGBTQ community as well

The Los Angeles LGBT Center, founded in 1969, is one of the city’s main LGBTQ institutions. It plays an important role in organising events, social services, housing, advocacy, and education, among other services.


11. Hartford, Connecticut — Total score: 30.3

Ezequiel Becerra/Getty Images

Hartford, just a couple of miles from New York, has several LGBTQ events happening year-round.

There’s the Hartford Pride festival and the OUT Film CT Festival, as well as several LGBT-frequented bars and restaurants. Other Connecticut towns have their own Pride festivals as well: New Haven, New London, and Norwalk.


10. Atlanta, Georgia — Total score: 30.7

Atlanta boasts on its site that it’s the “national headquarters of the LGBT South” and that it “slays with a vibrant gay community.”


9. Detroit, Michigan — Total score: 31.0

Brittany Greeson/Getty ImagesThe 2019 Motor City Pride Parade in Detroit.

Detroit has multiple neighbourhoods with LGBTQ-friendly bars and restaurants, mostly in the Ferndale, Royal Oak, and Palmer Park areas.

Some of Ferndale’s restaurants include The Emory and Rosie O’Grady’s.


8. Cleveland, Ohio — Total score: 31.2

SOPA ImagesThe 2018 Toledo Pride March in Toledo, Ohio.

Cleveland may be the 52nd-largest city in the country, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in pride.

Cleveland’s bars, restaurants, and community centres host LGBTQ events throughout the summer months like Pride festivals, drag queen bingo, dance competitions, and fundraisers.


(T) 6. Portland, Oregon — Total score: 31.4

Icon Sportswire/Getty ImagesThe 2019 Portland Pride Parade and Festival

Portland has a seemingly endless amount of LGBTQ-friendly organisations, eateries, and events. It has so many, in fact, it needs its own Gay Yellow Pages.

Some of its organisations include Basic Rights Oregon, Cascade AIDS Project, Pride Foundation, and Portland’s all-volunteer chapter of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).


(T) 6. Denver, Colorado — Total score: 31.4

Andy Cross/Getty ImagesDenver’s 2018 PrideFest.

Denver says on its site that it’s “the true gay and lesbian center of the West.”

The Denver PrideFest is held every year and features not only the standard march through the streets of Denver, but a 5k run. There’s also the Rocky Mountain Regional Gay Rodeo and the CinemaQ Film Festival.


5. Providence, Rhode Island — Total score: 32.3

malone545/Flickr/CC 2.0 AttributionThe 2016 Providence pride festival.

Providence, Rhode Island’s capital, is also something of a capital for LGBTQ life in the state. There’s the annual Pride festival, the RI Pride Art Gallery (an arts event that runs through June), as well as weekly drag shows year round at local bar EGO Providence.


4. Orlando, Florida — Total score: 32.4

Tony Ranze/Getty ImagesParticipants at Gay Days 1999.

Orlando is known for being the site of Disney World, but it’s also the site of a vibrant gay social scene.

In fact, every year, thousands of people wearing red visit Disney World for Gay Days Orlando to celebrate the LGBTQ community. Disney has hosted the visitors since 1991. Last year, over 50,000 people took part in the events.


3. Tampa, Florida — Total score: 33.6

Scott Barbour/Getty Images

While many Florida cities are gay friendly, Tampa is sometimes overlooked by its bigger neighbours Orlando and Miami.

Tampa has its own long history, starting with one of its first gay bars, the Knotty Pine, which was popular in the 1940s, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Much like the Stonewall Inn in New York, the Knotty Pine was the site of violent clashes between patrons and police during raids. Now, Tampa residents remember the bar as the birth of the local gay community.


2. Austin, Texas — Total score: 34.1

Despite being in the heart of politically conservative Texas, Austin is known for its welcoming atmosphere and friendly citizens. It’s also a great place to enjoy cultural get-togethers like the South by Southwest music festival and Texan food.

As for gay nightlife, there are popular bars like Oilcan Harry’s and Rain on 4th.


1. New Orleans, Louisiana — Total score: 34.4

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Big Easy has always been a cultural hub for artists, musicians, and colourful characters, as well as a destination for the gay community.

New Orleans was gay-friendly long before other cities were. America’s oldest gay social organisation, the Steamboat Club, was founded in 1953, and the Gay Liberation Front of New Orleans was active in the early 1970s. Famous gay residents have included playwright Tennessee Williams and photographer Frances Benjamin Johnston.

Every August, New Orleans hosts Southern Decadence, their Pride festival, which draws upwards of 180,000 people, according to the New Orleans official site. Even though Mardi Gras gets all the attention, this party is the city’s fifth-largest tourist attraction, drawing $US215 million in revenue for the city.

In addition to festivals, New Orleans is home to gay-friendly bars such as Cafe Lafitte In Exile, The Oz, and Napoleon’s Itch – and that’s just the French Quarter.

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