Girlfriends Magazine's Best Lesbian Places to Live

When decidedly unhip towns such as Kansas City, Missouri showed up on our 1995 "best of" list, protests erupted in poorly-ranked lesbian hotspots, including Northampton, Massachusetts. Meanwhile, civic leaders from across the country -- especially in high-ranking Anchorage, Alaska and Santa Cruz, California -- phoned in their gratitude. In conjunction with Lanie Dills and Lynn West's' second edition of Great Gay & Lesbian Places to Live (Relocation Station), Girlfriends has once again turned Money magazine's annual tradition on its head. Like Money, we've ranked cities based on their climate, economy, health, housing, education, and job growth. But we've also factored in the presence of anti-discrimination or gay civil rights laws, domestic partnership legislation, local companies that prohibit discrimination, lesbian resources such as bookstores, publications, and businesses, and the absence of sodomy laws. If there's one factor that Girlfriends, Lanie, and Dill should consider in the future, it's environment. Some enviro-friendly cities ranked below toxic offenders. But if clean air and water had been factored in, cities like Missoula, Montana and Boise, Idaho would have moved up considerably. Moreover, some smaller cities with burgeoning, sometimes closeted, lesbian communities -- Savannah, Georgia or Spokane, Washington, for example -- were left out of the research for lack of information. Future rankings will take all this into account. For now, Girlfriends presents its 1996 Best Lesbian Places to Live:#1. Austin, TexasIt's little suprise that this diverse university town, located near the center (both geographically and politically) of Texas, has moved from last year's #11 ranking to the top spot this year. Despite some setbacks -- voters repealed Austin's domestic partnership law recently -- they have a new community center, over 650 gay-friendly businesses, a flourishing club and music scene, and numerous outdoor outlets for recreation (including fishing, swimming, sailing, and scuba diving) at local Lake Travis. Population: 492,329 Gay/Lesbian Organizations: 90 Companies that Prohibit Discrimination: All Cost of Average Rental: $410 Climate: 48.8 degrees in Jan.; 84.5 degrees in July Job Growth: Up 43.9% Unemployment Rate: 5.0%# 2. Tampa, FloridaEven though sodomy is a misdemeanor in the Sunshine State, Tampa bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in public employment. The Tampa lesbian community is very open, and their six-year battle over a human rights ordinance has brought the community together like never before. Situated on the western peninsula of Florida, Tampa sprawls around the mouth of the Hillsborough River. This political-- and adventure -- oriented city is the vacation hub of Florida's west coast. Population: 284,737 Gay/Lesbian Organizations: 40 Companies that Prohibit Discrimination: All public employment Cost of Average Rental: $408 Climate: 59.9 degrees in January; 82.1 degrees in July Job Growth: Up 14.1 % Unemployment Rate: 6.7 %#3. Atlanta, GeorgiaMoving up from last year's #19 spot, Atlanta, the gay mecca of the South, has the country's tenth-largest queer population. Not only that, Georgia's northwestern capital city is truly a multicultural city and has benefited from its recent Olympics-related, international exposure. Plus, many lesbians come from the surrounding small towns in Tennessee, Alabama, and the Carolinas. Nearly anything you can do in San Francisco, you can do in Atlanta-only warmer and cheaper. Population: 394,848 Gay/Lesbian Organizations: 107 Companies that Prohibit Discrimination: Emory University, Worldspan Cost of Average Rental: $422 Climate: 41 degrees in January, 78.8 degrees in July Job Growth: Up 1.4 % Unemployment Rate: 6.5 %#4. Kansas City, MissouriDown only slightly from last year's number-three spot, Kansas City is cheaper than Chicago and hotter than any other spot in the midwest. Located on the Kansas border, K.C. is full of out, mixed-age, laissez-faire lesbians. One community in the Dutch Hill neighborhood, dubbed "Womantown," is the country's only urban women's land. With over a hundred gay-friendly businesses, K.C. is a place for rodeo addicts, sportsdykes, and the women who love them. Population: 431, 553 Gay/Lesbian Organizations: 30 Companies that Prohibit Discrimination: All Cost of Average Rental: $404 Climate: 25.7 degrees in January, 78.5 degrees in July Job Growth: Up 1.4 % Unemployment Rate: 6.9 %# 5. Philadelphia, PennsylvaniaWith an anti-discrimination law, progay politicians, and a heavily gay urban center, there's a lot to love about Philadelphia. Located in southeastern Pennsylvania on the Delaware River, Philly is the country's fourth-largest city, which translates into plenty of social and cultural opportunities. Even though unemployment is close to the national average, houses are priced to sell around $49,000, there are over 500 gay-friendly businesses, and transportation is good in the city and the suburbs. Population: 1,552,572 Gay/lesbian Organizations: 58 Companies that Prohibit Discrimination: All Cost of Average Rental: $452 Climate: 30.4 degrees in January, 76.7 degrees in July Job Growth: 2.5 % Unemployment Rate: 8 % Places Ranked1. Austin, Texas2. Tampa, Florida3. Atlanta, Georgia4. Kansas City, Missouri5. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania6. Baltimore, Maryland7. Columbia, South Carolina8. Columbus, Ohio9. Buffalo, New York10. Houston, Texas11. Lansing, Michigan12. Rochester, New York13. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania14. New Orleans, Louisiana15. Eugene, Oregon16. Milwaukee, Wisconsin17. Champaign, Illinois18. Dallas, Texas19. New York, New York20. Detroit, Michigan21. Asheville, North Carolina22. Lancaster, Pennsylvania23. Cleveland, Ohio24. Phoenix, Arizona25. San Francisco, California26. Tucson, Arizona27. Grand Rapids, Michigan28. Albuquerque, New Mexico29. Portland, Oregon30. San Antonio, Texas31. Santa Fe, New Mexico32. Tucson, Arizona33. Ames, Iowa34. Boston, Massachusetts35. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania36. Seattle, Washington37. Anchorage, Alaska38. Los Angeles, California39. Minneapolis, Minnesota40. Pensacola, Florida41. Palm Springs, California42. Miami Beach, Florida43. San Diego, California44. Washington, D.C.45. West Palm Beach, Florida46. Dayton, Ohio47. New Hope, Pennsylvania48. Chapel Hill, North Carolina49. Albany, New York50. Denver, Colorado51. Santa Cruz, California52. Honolulu, Hawaii53. Chicago, Illinois54. Indianapolis, Indiana55. Iowa City, Iowa56. Ithaca, New York57. St. Paul, Minnesota58. Madison, Wisconsin59. Omaha, Nebraska60. Santa Rosa, California61. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma62. New Brunswick, New Jersey63. Durham, North Carolina64. Raleigh, North Carolina65. York, Pennsylvania66. San Jose, California67. Long Beach, California68. West Hollywood, California69. Nashville, Tennessee70. Missoula, Montana71. Las Vegas, Nevada72. Ann Arbor, Michigan73. Lexington, Kentucky74. St. Petersburg, Florida75. Boulder, Colorado76. Little Rock, Arkansas77. Santa Barbara, California78. Lawrence, Kansas79. Des Moines, Iowa80. Memphis, Tennessee81. Northampton, Massachusetts82. Providence, Rhode Island83. Burlington, Vermont84. Olympia, Washington85. Reno, Nevada86. Bloomington, Illinois87. Orlando, Florida88. Palo Alto, California89. St. Louis, Missouri90. Cincinnati, Ohio91. Syracuse, New York92. Boise, Idaho93. Saugutuck, Michigan94. Corpus Christi, Texas95. Lincoln, Nebraska96. Cambridge, Massachusetts97. Berkeley, California98. Ft. Lauderdale, Florida99. Bloomington, Indiana100. Sacramento, California101. Wichita, Kansas102. Key West, Florida103. New Haven, Connecticut104. Santa Monica, California105. Fayetteville, Arkansas106. Portsmouth, New Hampshire107. Worcester, Massachusetts108. Morgantown, West Virginia109. Norfolk, Virginia110. Troy, New York111. Kalamazoo, Michigan112. Flint, Michigan113. Louisville, Kentucky114. Birmingham, Alabama115. Sioux Falls, South Dakota116. Laramie, Wyoming117. Alexandria, Virginia118. Norwalk, Connecticut119. Wilmington, Delaware120. Amherst, Massachusetts121. Riverside, California122. Tuscaloosa, Alabama123. Fargo, North Dakota124. Plainfield, New Jersey125. Eureka Springs, Arkansas126. Salt Lake City, Utah127. Laguna Beach, California128. Oak Park, Illinois129. Jackson, Mississippi130. Charlottesville, Virginia131. Provincetown, Massachusetts132. Mobile, Alabama133. Asbury Park, New Jersey134. Stamford, Connecticut135. Aspen, Colorado136. Urbana, IllinoisTop 101. Austin, Texas2. Tampa, Florida3. Atlanta, Georgia4. Kansas City, Missouri5. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania6. Baltimore, Maryland7. Columbia, South Carolina8. Columbus, Ohio9. Buffalo, New York10. Houston, TexasBottom 10126. Salt Lake City, Utah127. Laguna Beach, California128. Oak Park, Illinois129. Jackson, Mississippi130. Charlottesville, Virginia131. Provincetown, Massachusetts132. Mobile, Alabama133. Asbury Park, New Jersey134. Stamford, Connecticut135. Aspen, Colorado136. Urbana, Illinois Rankings based on progay laws, crime, lesbian resources, climate, job growth, and housing.

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