2021’s Best Cities for LGBTQ Singles

Group of friends attending a gay pride event, while holding a pride flag above their heads

Looking to celebrate Pride Month with someone special? It helps to know which U.S. cities are most welcoming of the LGBTQ community — and maximize your chance of dating success.

LawnStarter took away the guesswork by ranking the 200 biggest U.S. cities on 17 key indicators of LGBTQ lifestyle- and dating-friendliness. 

What makes the best city for LGBTQ singles? A big unhitched population and LGBTQ community, as well as LGBTQ-friendly housing and services are among the most important factors. For a well-rounded perspective, we also looked into each city’s progress toward equality and access to support organizations.

Check out our ranking below, followed by some highlights and lowlights.

Table of Contents

  1. City Rankings
  2. Highlights and Lowlights
  3. Methodology
  4. Why This Study Matters

City Rankings 

See how each city fared in our ranking:

OVERALL RANKCityOverall ScoreEligible Population RankCommunity Support RankEquality Progress RankPride-Readiness RankSafety Rank
1San Francisco, CA74.366422687
2Washington, DC69.32111110100
3Boston, MA66.9120633193
4Minneapolis, MN64.62327444283
5Portland, OR64.187110115375
6Seattle, WA62.78684212199
7Rochester, NY62.49223188744
8Long Beach, CA62.44592741267
9Denver, CO61.976012152389
10New York, NY61.6985547465
11Los Angeles, CA61.0263478884
12Chicago, IL60.97353732953
13Oakland, CA60.90552067071
14Tacoma, WA59.52881734451
15Providence, RI59.002115861747
16Sacramento, CA58.82843384849
17San Diego, CA58.101174442462
18Worcester, MA57.782851108085
19Las Vegas, NV57.531105844740
20Jersey City, NJ57.2911843162743
21Pasadena, CA57.251143422591
22Pittsburgh, PA56.57185991468
23Eugene, OR56.315355164681
24Syracuse, NY55.6968353291
25Buffalo, NY54.82139128971
26Reno, NV54.07987231371
27Fort Lauderdale, FL53.354331241146
28Pomona, CA52.997971495157
29Baltimore, MD52.8274087681
30Spokane, WA52.718953784377
31Santa Rosa, CA52.5511975393969
32Newark, NJ52.512577761181
33Fort Collins, CO52.496295279050
34Springfield, MA52.4224974015656
35San Jose, CA52.3017365208872
36Hayward, CA52.1114163351221
37Yonkers, NY51.861071001910646
38Orange, CA51.7414761501071
39Oceanside, CA50.73162127122586
40St. Paul, MN50.55541034216755
41Riverside, CA50.45831471312474
42Bridgeport, CT50.2729768216061
43Rockford, IL50.237284599878
44Richmond, VA50.08814937494
45Salem, OR50.061221083012548
46Paradise, NV49.504912147221
47Paterson, NJ49.4542113671841
48Modesto, CA49.241429261911
49Irvine, CA48.121751262216459
50Henderson, NV48.04170865515541
51Aurora, CO48.00137112561591
52Santa Ana, CA47.981231206010451
53Fresno, CA47.89751197214364
54Bellevue, WA47.73196822615176
55Vancouver, WA47.63138887113980
56Colorado Springs, CO47.54160102737266
57Sunnyvale, CA47.50194104251481
58Lancaster, CA47.44941714119152
59Chula Vista, CA47.41169192141031
60Huntington Beach, CA47.121551166412145
61Fullerton, CA47.101481603514463
62Stockton, CA47.071051695019142
63Honolulu, HI46.8312759853295
64Torrance, CA46.75188906812360
65Bakersfield, CA46.701511226813639
66Escondido, CA46.64144136611531
67Albuquerque, NM46.287078837396
68Madison, WI46.273622968370
69Santa Clarita, CA46.26186137461891
70Oxnard, CA46.25108176681341
71Salinas, CA46.181111705718654
72Aurora, IL46.02167140581911
73Fontana, CA46.01151149641911
74Ontario, CA45.97129151771761
75Rancho Cucamonga, CA45.93168158541881
76San Bernardino, CA45.73511807417282
77Anaheim, CA45.6914317329691
78Enterprise, NV45.5115896471911
79Palmdale, CA45.34136198431491
80Moreno Valley, CA45.27126187611911
81Orlando, FL45.084591173151
82Glendale, CA44.9916599521271
83Philadelphia, PA44.982341985838
83Lakewood, CO44.9811293801451
85Garden Grove, CA44.741541577419173
86Milwaukee, WI44.691249100471
87Elk Grove, CA44.68190188331871
88North Las Vegas, NV44.01121162841541
89Fremont, CA43.93198186241911
90Joliet, IL43.931301938110858
91Sunrise Manor, NV43.656718237191
92Alexandria, VA43.3011530929497
93Atlanta, GA42.664814811100
94Arlington, VA42.60113259126100
95Naperville, IL42.4119770791911
96Norfolk, VA42.304056945690
97Grand Rapids, MI40.953831111861
98Spring Valley, NV40.4796159371911
99Thornton, CO40.401841118817079
100Corona, CA40.33172190641741
101Detroit, MI39.921681029388
102Salt Lake City, UT39.26821111928100
103Des Moines, IA38.7465388955171
104New Orleans, LA38.5514261522158
105St. Louis, MO37.91191811078150
106Cleveland, OH37.7832111538170
107Cincinnati, OH37.55102910730166
108Tampa, FL35.52582412133100
109Kansas City, MO35.33661612595134
110St. Petersburg, FL34.82611312320171
111Columbus, OH34.70393211340169
112Austin, TX34.68761913318131
113Newport News, VA34.5893133958198
114Tucson, AZ33.82374211444156
115Virginia Beach, VA33.811811859012690
116Miami, FL33.7547501395100
117Akron, OH32.83308911813100
118Phoenix, AZ32.70913910849168
119Dayton, OH32.3357411692155
120Tempe, AZ32.181580108105100
121Indianapolis, IN31.48467310571136
122Dallas, TX30.99863514916162
123Louisville, KY30.71924812679135
124Anchorage, AK30.141565710382154
125Durham, NC30.12733614360100
126Chesapeake, VA29.861851729716690
127Nashville, TN29.86784514034127
128Springfield, MO29.595028153120148
129Lexington, KY28.71996912841149
130Charlotte, NC28.291044614764126
131Toledo, OH27.8231131122114157
132Raleigh, NC27.64815214499163
133San Antonio, TX27.02876614950130
134Birmingham, AL27.02179415462138
135Greensboro, NC26.865781132130100
136Boise, ID26.2613314410485160
137Knoxville, TN26.083467157115164
138Scottsdale, AZ26.0216113012915133
139Wichita, KS25.8813413412067143
140Houston, TX24.79976416566142
141Tallahassee, FL24.60911412789171
142Memphis, TN24.372710516677128
143Glendale, AZ24.3390117131141100
144Kansas City, KS24.1310385112110171
145Jacksonville, FL23.99102123136102100
146Tulsa, OK23.8510087146135140
147Hollywood, FL23.371016013484171
148Fort Wayne, IN22.90116124138132132
149Savannah, GA22.61266217052171
150Baton Rouge, LA21.711610118376137
151Oklahoma City, OK21.5714012416154100
152Mesa, AZ21.52150150137137129
153Fort Worth, TX21.4414514615196147
154Omaha, NE20.90131106169109100
155Little Rock, AR20.586910914165171
156Gilbert, AZ20.55191156130131100
157Cape Coral, FL20.3818212816236144
158Corpus Christi, TX20.2713510717635100
159Overland Park, KS20.05189163101168171
160Jackson, MS19.9022115163100171
161Lincoln, NE19.77120142160182153
162Winston-Salem, NC19.307798155113171
163Fayetteville, NC19.2795168164138161
164Chattanooga, TN19.245279167116171
165Sioux Falls, SD19.23157145158128165
166Mobile, AL18.794111019661145
167Olathe, KS18.49193138106133171
168Pasadena, TX18.43159189156162100
169Port St. Lucie, FL18.39177152159146141
170Columbus, GA18.1274165174178100
171Arlington, TX17.68132161173152139
172El Paso, TX17.35139174175101100
173Lubbock, TX16.6880132187147159
174Shreveport, LA16.3344153171111171
175Pembroke Pines, FL16.11153143142158171
176Peoria, AZ15.18187129145140171
177Chandler, AZ14.92180177135142171
178Miramar, FL14.79109196177171167
179Murfreesboro, TN14.62106194179181152
180Augusta, GA13.833313519075171
181Amarillo, TX13.35176175189129100
182Mesquite, TX13.25128199185183100
183Montgomery, AL12.5948148183161171
184Garland, TX12.48166181194180100
185Cary, NC12.37199167180174100
186Laredo, TX12.17149179199190100
187Hialeah, FL11.64125195168179171
188McKinney, TX11.54195183187150100
189Plano, TX11.36192139172157171
190Metairie, LA10.72146118193119171
191Irving, TX10.31163141181173171
192Clarksville, TN10.20178155178185171
193Frisco, TX10.01200166197165100
194Huntsville, AL9.91124154195112171
195McAllen, TX9.8416416419163171
196Macon, GA8.6056184200162171
197Grand Prairie, TX8.19171178186169171
198Killeen, TX7.15183191191117171
199Brownsville, TX7.08174197182177171
200Midland, TX6.1217920019757171
Infographic explaining highest and lowest scores of Cities, for various LGBTQ-related studies

Highlights and Lowlights

San Francisco: The LGBTQ Capital of America

A number of gay meccas dot the U.S. map, but none holds a candle to San Francisco as the Best City for LGBTQ Singles. 

This Golden Gate city’s stellar performance across equality metrics would make Harvey Milk proud. San Francisco places second in both the Municipal Equality Index (just behind Madison, Wisconsin) and access to LGBTQ-friendly health providers. It also ties with multiple cities for first place in three out of five anti-discrimination metrics. 

Where San Francisco needs the most work: hate crimes based on gender and sexual orientation, where it sits at 155th place. But there’s a silver lining: The increase in hate-crime figures in San Francisco over the years may be partly due to better reporting by victims.

The Ones That Got Away

While some U.S. metros are widely considered to be gay cities, a few failed to make our top 10 — but just barely: Los Angeles lands at No. 11, followed by Chicago at No. 12 and Providence, Rhode Island, at No. 15. Farther down the ranking are Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 27th place, Philadelphia in 83rd, New Orleans in 104th, and Austin, Texas, at 112th. 

What accounts for their poorer showing? While these cities have more available singles, they tend to rank lower in the Equality Progress category — except for Los Angeles, which sits comfortably in eighth place. Providence clocks in at No. 86 in the Equality Progress category and Philadelphia at 98, while Austin and New Orleans land at 133rd and 152nd, respectively.

Where these cities shine is in Pride-readiness. Apart from Philadelphia at No. 58, all of these cities are in the top 20 for this metric, including Fort Lauderdale in first place. Come here to show your pride, but these cities aren’t the most progressive for LGBTQ equality.

Texas: The (A)lone Star State

If you’re looking for LGBTQ love in Texas, you might hit a dead end: Austin is tops in Texas, at No. 112. Its strong position at No. 19 for Community Support and No. 18 for Pride-readiness helped this state capital speed past other Texas cities. 

What’s hurting the rest of Texas? Pretty much every category — except for Pride-readiness — includes at least a few Texas cities. For example, Frisco comes in dead last in Eligible Population, while Laredo manages to avoid being the worst in Equality Progress by one place. Midland takes the last spot in both Community Support and Safety.

Texas is clearly ready for Pride, but it has a lot of work to do to make its LGBTQ population feel at home.

Methodology

We ranked the 200 largest U.S. cities from best (No. 1) to worst (No. 200) based on their overall scores (out of 100 possible points), averaged across all the weighted metrics listed below. 

MetricWeightingMin. ValueMax. ValueBest     
Eligible Population
Share of Single Population335.14%74.47%Max. Value
Community Support
Same-Sex Households per 1,000 Households3014.73Max. Value
LGBTQ Support Centers per 100,000 Residents202.32Max. Value
LGBTQ Nonprofits and Charities per 100,000 Residents204.48Max. Value
Metropolitan Community and Universalist Churches per 100,000 Residents105.57Max. Value
LGBTQ-Friendly Health Providers per 100,000 Residents2014.77Max. Value
Presence of LGBTQ Chambers of Commerce101Max. Value
Equality Progress
Municipal Equality Index Score30118Max. Value
Relationship and Parental Recognition21.56.5Max. Value
Level of State Facilitation with Updating Gender on Identity Documents202Max. Value
Presence of State Anti-Discrimination Protections for Students202Max. Value
Presence of LGBTQ-Friendly Housing Laws202Max. Value
Pride-Readiness
Number of Pride Events208Max. Value
Gay Bars and Clubs per 100,000 Residents208.88Max. Value
LGBTQ-Friendly Accommodations per 100,000 Residents10117.14Max. Value
Safety
Sexual Orientation- and Gender-Related Hate Crimes per 100,000 Residents2012.33Min. Value
Strength of Transgender Health and Safety Laws202Max. Value

Limitations: Washington, D.C., did not rank for the Municipal Equality Index (MEI) Score due to lack of available data. According to the Human Rights Campaign, which produces the Index, Washington, D.C., was not included in the MEI because it is a federal district. “This means that it has powers and limitations so significantly different from the municipalities the MEI rates that the comparison would be unfair — for example, no city rated by the MEI has the legal capacity to pass marriage equality, as Washington, D.C., did in 2009. While the District of Columbia is not a state, either, it is more properly compared to a state than it is to a city.”

Sources: CenterLink, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Gay Pride Calendar, GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality, GreatNonprofits, Human Rights Campaign, Metropolitan Community Churches, misterb&b, Movement Advancement Project, National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Unitarian Universalist Association, and Yelp

Why This Study Matters

Now that everyone is eligible for a vaccine and many Pride events are back on, there’s never been a better time to jump back into the LGBTQ dating scene. 

Just don’t expect dating to be all sunshine and rainbows post-pandemic — at least not anytime soon. Many romantic prospects will carry “COVID baggage”: residual fear and anxiety about their pandemic experience.

Plus, the rules of attraction aren’t the same as in pre-COVID times, according to experts. Attitudes and priorities have shifted over the past year. Many gay men, for example, are now more interested in long-term relationships and value personality over more superficial qualities.

So make sure to update your dating playbook (and profile) before you put yourself out there — and celebrate your pride. 

Main Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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Staff Writer