by Judy Bokao
In a world filled with so much hostility towards the LGBTQ+ community, it’s important to remember that there are cities where you can live loud and proud. Here are the 5 LGBTQ-friendly cities people are flocking to.
►SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
It is not surprising that San francisco has one of the biggest LGBTQ+ community in America. It is one of the most progressive and accepting cities in the U.S. and is considered the “gay mecca.” It has a rich LGBTQ+ history dating as far back as 1900. It also has an iconic history when it comes to LGBTQ+ activism. It was the first state to legalize same-sex marriage and ban gay panic defense in murder trials. The city also boasts easier access to LGBTQ-friendly health providers. It also has LGBTQ+ friendly businesses, a bustling nightlife, and so many LGBTQ+ related attractions you have to visit. It’s an iconic liberal city that is charged with a queer free-spirit and the origin of the rainbow flag.
► WASHINGTON, DC
Washington has the fifth largest LGBTQ+ population in America. It has numerous vibrant LGBTQ neighborhoods. It is one of the few states in America that have passed the LBTQ+ panic defense into law, which prohibits homicide defendants from claiming a defense based on panic over a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Washington has been making tremendous changes to advance LGBTQ+ equality. It has nondiscrimination laws which cover housing, public accommodations, education, hate crimes, employment, relationship recognition, and bullying in school. It also passed laws to protect LGBTQ+ youth from conversion therapy and allows LGBTQ+ individuals to change their gender on driver’s licenses and birth certificates.
► RENO, NEVADA
Nevada has the second highest LGBTQ+ population in America and is considered one of the most LGBTQ-friendly states in the Mountain West. This is because it has a low rate of hate crimes and has passed almost all the laws suggested by the HRC for LGBTQ rights. Some of these laws include nondiscrimination protections, parenting laws, statutes against hate crimes, and laws that expand critical health care access.
►NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK
New York holds a historical and cultural significance to America’s LGBTQ+ community for its role in the gay liberation movement with the Stonewall Riots. The Stonewall riots of 1969 ignited the spark which led to critical changes in the nation’s understanding of LGBTQ issues.
It is no wonder that it has one of the nation’s biggest concentrations of LGBTQ historic sites, monuments, organizations, and bars. New York City has some of the most comprehensive non-discrimination laws of any state. Just in the decade, it has passed over thirty laws meant to protect the LBGTQ+ community.
► DENVER, COLORADO
Denver is quickly becoming an LGBTQ+ friendly city. It is one of the few states in the country that has the most family-friendly Pride events in the country. It also has an impressive legislative representation that works to legally protect LGBTQ+ residents. Among the cities in Colorado, it ranked top in the Human Rights Campaign LGBTQ+ equality report in 2019. LGBTQ+ residents in Colorado cannot be discriminated against when it comes to housing or be evicted. They are also have important LGTBQ+ protections included in their employment laws and Coloradans can legally update gender marker on both driver’s licenses and birth certificates because of Jude’s Law.
The Matthew Shepard Foundation recognized Jude, the legislation’s namesake, with the “Spirit of Matthew Award” at our 2020 Gala. The award celebrates an individual who teaches diversity, acceptance, and understanding through their words and actions. More information about the award, as well as our upcoming 2021ceremony, can be found here.
► CHICAGO, ILLINOIS
Illinois is referred to as one of the most liberal states in the Midwestern United States. It was actually the first American state to repeal its sodomy laws. It recently passed a law designating all public single-occupancy restrooms as gender neutral. It also banned the gay panic defense and became the fifth in the U.S. to pass a law requiring schools to teach LGBTQ history and include the positive contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in their curriculum.
While of course, many of these cities still have a long way to go when it comes to making sure all members of the LGBTQ+ feel safe and seen, they are on the right track. Comment down below which city you’ve visited, or if there’s one you’d like to add to our list.
About the Author:
Judy Bokao is 20 years old and was born in Ethiopia but relocated to Nairobi two years ago. She is passionate about everyone having equal rights and is also big on conservation and speaking up for our planet. Judy loves reading and photography and is just a free-spirited young lady trying to grow into a woman her mom can be proud of.