Fresno is #27...!
No one has really talked about Fresno much since the California Raisins grooved across TV in the late ’80s. Yet this central Cali outpost—part of the No. 1 agriculture county in the nation—has been slowly attracting families for its good schools, temperate weather and plethora of outdoor activities. It has the most lakes of any county in California, and it sits at the base of three national parks. Still, boozing options could use a little work, even if quickies are pretty available. Good thing San Francisco is only about 200 miles away.
Over the past few years, the momentum of Pride has changed. Radically. Opposition to marriage equality at state and federal levels has been crumbling in the courts and the court of public opinion. Anti-discrimination laws are being revised to include LGBT individuals. And for the generation of people in their 20s and 30s, coming out is legitimately getting better.
Still, for all the gains in rights and acceptance, it ain’t all rainbows. Let’s face it: A great many places across America are still not that welcoming of the LGBT community. But there are beacons of hope—as well as cities quietly changing—and hence, the Queer Index was born.
Coinciding with national LGBT Pride Month, we used a unique combination of data sets to provide a picture of LGBT life, real life, across the country. To determine the top 35 queer-friendly cities in the U.S., Vocativ started with the 100 most populous metropolitan areas, according to 2013 census data, and analyzed a trove of state-and city-level information, as well as open Internet sources such as Facebook, Craigslist and GayCities.
In total, our Queer Index used 32 data sets to measure 16 different factors, from livability indicators like same-sex marriage laws and the rate of hate crimes, to lifestyle metrics like the concentration of out singles and the availability of hookup opportunities. (While we tried to be fully inclusive, we were limited by available numbers on bisexual and trans folks for some of our categories.)
Tied together, the Queer Index paints a rich picture of modern LGBT life across America. And the results are a surprising—and fun—look at which U.S. cities are striding with pride. Des Moines, anyone?