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6 Surprising Places It's Great To Be Gay (Dallas, Texas?)

It's not just coastal urban areas that can be safe havens for LGBT people.

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Despite the possibility of an amendment to the state constitution that would render marriage equality impossible (except in the case of a federal law/directive), western North Carolina is a great place to be if you're LGBT. Asheville, especially, is a warm and welcoming place – able to house a wide diversity of communities, from evangelicals to Wiccans to radical queers to folk artists. Asheville (due largely in part to some great organizing by GetEQUAL North Carolina and several other progressive groups) now has a domestic partner registry and one of the most welcoming downtown areas you'll run across. It's a community that values diversity, artistry and disparate folks sitting down together to break bread.

Add to that a stunning landscape and an outdoorsy culture, and you have a recipe for some great Southern queer living. It's a bit of a drive to find a gay bar, but sitting outside and drinking a beer at the foothills of the Appalachian mountains is a pretty great alternative.

In summary, the question of the best places to live if you're a queer American can't be boiled down to a scorecard -- though, certainly, scorecards are helpful. It's all those "in-between" factors like history and culture that create either a welcoming or hostile environment for making progress on LGBT equality. And it is up to our elected officials, our schools, our communities of faith, our large and small corporations, and our families to do the hard work not only to change our laws but to change our lives for the better. And it's also up to us -- LGBT Americans and fair-minded straight Americans. And I'm working toward a day when legal equality for LGBT Americans matches up to the cultural spaces that we've created for ourselves.

Heather Cronk is the managing director at the LGBT civil rights organization GetEQUAL ( She currently lives in Maryland by way of Texas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, Kentucky again, Georgia, North Carolina, Vermont, Pennsylvania, and New York.

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