This State is Home to the Most LGBTQ-Friendly Cities in America

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By Katie Rothman Updated November 3, 2023


California is home to five of the most LGBTQ-friendly cities in the country, according to a new study by Clever Real Estate. The study examined 14 metrics across 50 major U.S. metros and determined San Francisco to be the most welcoming city for the LGBTQ community. 

Additionally, four other California cities appear towards the top of the list that used criteria like "Pride events per 100,000 residents" and "Count of state-level anti-trans legislation" to complete the ranking. 

On the opposite side of the scale, Memphis, Tennessee, is named the least friendly city due in part to the large percentage of residents who oppose same-sex marriage. 

1. San Francisco, CA

Often referred to as The Golden City, San Francisco earns top honors as the most LGBTQ-friendly city in America. Identifying as a haven for hipsters, artists, hippies, vagrants, and more, it's no big surprise the city ranks No. 1 on the list. 

San Francisco has a Municipal Equality Index Score of 100, which evaluates how inclusive laws, policies, and services are for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people across the United States. 

The city has 0.63 gay bars per 100k residents, 110% more than the average city in the Clever study. Besides all the fun the city offers, SF  provides its residents with several local organizations, such as PFLAG and the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, where local families and allies can go for support. 

2. Hartford, CT

While the capital of Connecticut may only have 0.08 gay bars per 100k residents, which is 73% fewer than average, Hartford does offer its residents 0.25 PFLAG chapters per capita, a whopping 213% more than the average metro area in the study. 

Hartford's state equality tally score is 39, 134% higher than the average state's tally score of 16.7, and only 11% of residents oppose same-sex marriage, which is significantly less than the national average of 27%.

3. Las Vegas, NV

Known as the Entertainment Capital of the World, Vegas offers various restaurants, bars, and social events dedicated to the LGBTQ community. The metro area features 0.22 pride events per 100K residents, a staggering 214% more than the average metro in the study, and has 0.57 gay bars per capita, 90% more than the typical city. 

Clearly, people in Sin City are looking for a good time because Vegas had the highest number of Google searches for "drag brunch," followed by New Orleans and Louisville.

4. Portland, OR

One might think NYC or Los Angeles would have the most prominent LGBTQ population. It's actually Portland with 8% of the local population, slightly above the national proportion of 5.1%. 

This liberal mecca is one of the top cities in the country when it comes to offering LGBTQ-affirming healthcare. Portland has an estimated 3.07 LGBTQ+-affirming healthcare providers per capita, and the state equality tally score is 38.5, 131% higher than the typical state's tally score.

Only 17% of people in Portland oppose same-sex marriage, and recently, Oregon tied for the third-highest percentage of same-sex couple households in the country at 1.3%.

5. Denver, CO

With Denver's laid-back and welcoming vibe, the Mile High City is the No. 5 most LGBTQ-friendly city in America. Denver ranks as the city with the third highest number of gay bars in the country, with 0.61 per 100k residents.

Denver's state equality tally score is an impressive 42.5, and the city offers LGBTQ+ inclusive curriculum standards in schools, several local PFLAG and NGLCC charters, and has an estimated 1.75 LGBTQ+ affirming healthcare providers per capita, which is 25% more than the average metro in the study.

6. Los Angeles, CA

A bona fide LGBTQ hotspot, Los Angeles truly has something for everyone with its incredible assortment of arts & cultural events, queer-owned businesses, and an array of diverse neighborhoods where large portions of LGBTQ live. With a thriving gay nightlife scene and home to one of the largest annual Pride events in the country, it's no wonder 6% of the LA metro area identifies as LGBTQ, with West Hollywood being the epicenter of the LGBTQ community. 

Only 25% of LA residents oppose same-sex marriages, which is 7% lower than the national average of 27%. 

7. San Diego, CA

San Diego has more Pride events per capita than any other city in California, edging out both San Francisco and LA.

California was the first state to legalize domestic partnerships between same-sex couples. San Diego is a shining example of the Golden State's progressive values, with 82% of San Diegoans approving same-sex marriage. 

8. Sacramento, CA

Often overshadowed by California's larger metro areas, Sacramento has its own thriving LGBTQ community. Featuring a City Municipal Equality Score of 100, Sacramento is a top spot for the diverse LGBTQ community to call home.

The capital city is well supported by resources, including a local PFLAG chapter and the Sacramento LGBT Community Center, and plays host to many annual events, including Sacramento Pride, the Rainbow Festival, and the Sac Valley AIDS Walk.

 9. Chicago, IL

The city of Chicago is home to the country's first official LGBTQ+ neighborhood and celebrates Pride Month every June, which includes both Chicago Pride Fest and the famed Chicago Pride Parade.

Chi-Town has 15% opposing non-discrimination laws, 21% lower than the national average of 19%. The city features 38% more PFLAG chapters than the typical city in the study and features a state equality tally score of 37.5, a staggering 125% higher than the average state tally score. 

10.  New Orleans, LA

To say New Orleans has a flourishing LGBTQ scene would be an understatement. NOLA has more pride events per capita than any other metro in the study. The city hosts 0.32 pride events for every 100,000 residents, nearly 5x more than the average city. Being that New Orleans has a big party scene, it's no surprise that the Big Easy also has the most gay bars per capita in the country.  

Although the state of Louisiana recently passed a bill ending gender-affirming care for trans youth, the city of New Orleans continues to work hard on the local level to be more inclusive of LGBTQ citizens. In fact, despite being in the Deep South, NOLA is the No. 4 city in the country, with the lowest percentage of those who oppose same-sex marriage, at only 11%. 

While many states continue to pave the way toward a more inclusive future for the LGBTQ community, other states are slow to progress.

 With its rich history rooted in music culture, it might come as a surprise to see Memphis named as the least-friendly LGBTQ city in the country. The city's state equality tally score comes in at a disappointing -11.5, 169% lower than the average state's tally score of 16.7. 

While the downtown area of Memphis is home to many gay bars and other LGBTQ establishments, the city has no PFLAG chapters, zero state LGBTQ+ inclusive curricular standards, and 36% of voters oppose same-sex marriage, which is one of the highest percentages in the country. 

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