The 21 Most Lesbianish Cities in the US: The Autostraddle Guide

11. San Diego, CA

Keywords: Film Out San Diego, FlawLes, Girlfest, SDGLN, Diversionary Theater, Kickball Tournament, San Diego Derby Dolls, The Lambda Archives

In California, domestic partnerships are legal and the state recognizes the status of couples who were married in states where same-sex marriage is legal. Adoption rights are LGBT-inclusive. Anti-discrimination laws include sexual orientation and gender identity. 

FlawLes San Diego 2011 Pride Pool Party

San Diego has a big military population and is known to be politically conservative than the other California spots on this list, but it’s still super gay. Gays have been taking over the Hillcrest neighborhood since the 1970s and San Diego’s got the nation’s second-oldest LGBT community center, The Film Out San Diego Festival and several of its own LGBT publications including SDGLN and the lesbian FlawLes Media Company.

Meet local like-minded ladies at the San Diego ‘Straddlers group.

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12. Madison, WI

In Wisconsin, domestic partnerships are legal but marriage and adoption rights are hetero-exclusive. Non-discrimination policies are sexual orientation, but not gender-identity, inclusive. 

Fruitfest 2010, photo by Lost Albtross: flickr.com/photos/emilymills/

Much like Ann Arbor (#14), Madison‘s uber-liberal University keeps things temperate for lesbians in its home swing state. I mean, there’s an entire neighborhood endearingly referred to by locals as “Dyke Heights.” Fruit Fest, an all-ages all-day block party featuring live music and local artists and performers as well as a a 5K run, will celebrate its third year this summer (read all about it on Indie Queer). The 5K raises money for a scholarship fund given to an LGBTQA activist in high school or college.

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13. Minneapolis/St.Paul, MN

In Minnesota, same-sex couples are denied any kind of relationship recognition. Employment non-discrimination laws include sexual orientation and gender identity.

women at lesbian club PI on its closing night, via citypages.com, photo by B FRESH

According to our University of Minnesota correspondent “the stereotypical Minneapolis queer lady has piercings and lots of bicycle gear” and rumor has it the best place to meet a lady is at a game of WNBA team Minnesota Lynx. Also you can find ladies at nearby Carleton College. Did you know Sick of Sarah is from here? NOW YOU DO.

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14. Philadelphia, PA

In Pennsylvania, there is no recognition for same-sex couples. Public employees are protected from gender identity and sexual orientation discrimination, private employees are not. (ETA: However Philadelphia has some of its own non-discrimination policies!)

Thanksgiving at Sisters Bar in Philadelphia

Philadelphia has been pursuing the LGBT travel dollar for several years now ’cause it’s just that great to be gay there and not just for boys — Sisters is Philly’s three-floor dedicated lesbian bar in the heart of the Gayborhood and lesbian couple Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran own and operate six successful businesses on 13th street. Only a hop, skip and a jump away at Bryn Mawr, girl-on-girl culture abounds.

Temple graduate and Autostraddle Teamster Laura notes that “it’s a small city, but it’s got a whole lot of queer per capita (caveat: Philly’s also more hip per capita than most cities so be prepared to play lots of games of “hipster or gay?”). You’re just as likely to run across a kindred spirit at First Fridays as you are at OutFest. If Temple’s where you end up and you just can’t handle another intensely sweaty underage night at Woody’s, I’m sure the Philadelphia Autoteam would be thrilled to show you around.”

Meet local like-minded ladies in the Philly Straddles Hard group.

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15. Ann Arbor, MI

In Michigan, same-sex marriage, civil unions and adoption by gay parents is prohibited. LGBTQ citizens are not protected from housing or employment discrimination, although state employees are protected from sexual orientation or gender-identity based discrimination.

Coming Out Day at the University of Michigan, photograph by Austen Hufford for The Michigan Daily

Fun fact: 70% of the town’s same-sex couples are female! Uber-liberal University of Michigan was described by our LGBT College Correspondent as “a mecca for LGBTQA-Z students.” Ann Arbor and the University leans dramatically left, so there’s a lot of independent businesses and political activism here, as well as a dedicated LGBT bar/restaurant The Aùt Bar, gay bookstore Common Language, gay nights at Necto, two art-house cinemas and one independent film festival. Nearby Inkster hosts lesbian bar Stilleto’s, and Detroit Suburb Royal Oak has lots for queers too.

Meet local like-minded ladies in the Michigan Lesbogays group. Riese, Autostraddle’s editor-in-chief, grew up here and graduated from the University of Michigan, as did AS Writer Whitney Pow.

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16. Atlanta, GA

In Georgia, there is no legal recognition for same-sex couples or LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination laws. Any adult may adopt.

Lesbian couple Jennifer & Rolanda via soyoureengayged.com, photography by mossandisaac.com

It’s the capital of the Homosexual South, but some report it’s much more gay-boy friendly than it is gay-girl friendly.  Regardless, Atlanta’s lesbian community is mega-diverse, My Sister’s Room is consistently recognized as being one of the best lesbian bars in the country and the famous Outwrite Bookstore still exists (well, kinda). Nearby Decatur is commonly known as “Dykecatur,” which sounds like a lesbian dinosaur.

Meet local like-minded ladies in the Auto-lanta group.

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17. Denver, CO

In Colorado, there is no recognition for same-sex couples. Employee non-discrimination policies are sexual orientation and gender identity inclusive. Any adult may adopt.

Denver Dykes on Bikes via “Colorado Sans” at flickr.com/photos/sandy_leidholdt/

Denver’s Gay & Lesbian Center kicks serious ass. And although that whole area of the country is often written off as being legally unfriendly to gays, that’s not so in Colorado — The Rights Five Campaign has the lowdown on Five Laws (including ENDA) that “enrich and protect the lives of LGBT people.”

Meet local like-minded ladies in the Denver Area Autostraddlers group.

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18. Houston, TX

In Texas, there is no legal recognition for same-sex couples or LGBTQ-inclusive employment non-discrimination policies. 

Houston Gendermyn Performance Group via facebook.com/pages/Gendermyn

Houston’s the largest city in the country with an openly gay mayor, the 12th most populated-with-gays US city and it’s also just one of the largest cities in the country, period. A string of unseemly governors have no powers against Houston’s thriving community and legendarily enormous Pride parade. Chances, one of the largest lesbian bars in the world, recently shut down; but there’s still drinks to be had at places like Blur, The Usual and F Bar and additional queer activities happening at the Houston LGBT Youth Center, The Houston GLBT Political Caucus and Houston’s LGBT film festival, QFest. Houston’s Rice University has a healthy queer community as well.

Meet local like-minded ladies in the TexasStraddle group.

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19. Ithaca, NY

In New York, same-sex marriage is legal and adoption rights are LGBT-inclusive. Anti-discrimination laws protect those on the basis of sexual orientation but do not include gender identity protections.

This tiny upstate New York town is best known for its two major universities, Ithaca and Cornell. It’s filled with hippies, good food, beautiful nature, wine and other stuff like that. Perhaps you wanna participate in a Lesbian Potluck or a Guerilla Queer Bar takeover. If you wanna travel there, here’s some special tips from our photoblogger.

Meet local like-minded ladies in the Straddling Upstate New York group.

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20. Miami/South Beach, FL

the 2011 Aqualicious Tea Dance via facebook.com/aquafoundation

Miami is home to one of the country’s most successful lesbian event-planning companies, Pandora Events (responsible for Orlando’s Girls in Wonderland and Las Vegas’s Shedonism, among others) as well as the awesome non-profit Aqua Foundation for Women. South Beach hosts lots of LGBT parties, including (obviously) Pride, The Women’s Winter Party and Aquagirl. Also, South Beach supports its own lesbian glossy, She Magazine.

Meet local like-minded ladies in the Straddlers in Paradise group.

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21. Columbus, OH

Chely Wright performs at Columbus Pride via facebook.com/columbuspride

OH-Hi-OH!?! Ohio Womyn’s Festival is apparently “Ohio’s best kept secret.” There’s heaps of activism going on in Columbus, through groups like Stonewall Columbus, Equality Ohio and TransOhio. Ohio State is a Big Ten School with a serious Greek System Situation, but it’s also queer-friendly with lots of different LGBTQA student groups.

Meet local like-minded ladies in the Ohio is for Autostraddlers group. Intern Grace lives here!

As we said in the beginning, we’re actively soliciting Queer Girl City Guides for any city in the world, including the ones on this list. So, if you wanna tell us how precisely your city rocks for queer women, here’s what to do: Email Laneia [at] Autostraddle dot com with a letter describing your connection to the city you wanna write about. She’ll let you know if it’s already been taken or not, at which point you’ll be responsible for crafting a comprehensive guide addressing things like the degree to which the LGBT scene is G vs. L, the environment for queer families, the college scene, local events/festivals, activist groups, nightlife, trans-friendliness, etc. You’ll also need to provide at least five of your own high-res photos (which you own the rights to), links to the places you talk about (and phone numbers/addresses when necessary), and whatever insidery details you’ve got.

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306 Comments

  1. Can’t believe Oakland was lumped in with affluentwhitecisdude San Francisco and laughable neoliberal Berkeley!

    Also, the WhiteHo is located in Berkeley, not Oakland.

  2. I’m trying to figure out the best place to be les and Jewish and maybe think of grad school, or a way to work up to it. I liked the Boston reference to Keshet. I’ve heard it’s pretty cool. NY is stereotyped, but I like that there’s a corridor of cool cities and towns back east. No offense to Cal people, but I have a lot of baggage from California. Very sad. I need to find a place where I feel like I can really start over. So… thoughts?

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  6. Thank you for any other wonderful article. Where else could anyone get that kind of information in such a perfect manner of writing? I have a presentation subsequent week, and I am at the search for such info.

  7. I think it’s interesting that the per capita numbers clearly have some correlation with the wealth and education per capita numbers in these cities. And where they deviate, in places like New Haven CT, I’m willing to bet that a lot of lesbians in those cities aren’t actually residents, but college students at places like Yale…

    I’m a straight guy for the record. I don’t have any special interests in lesbian culture or anything, I just like sociology and I find this seeming relationship interesting…

  8. I have lived all over the USA and several parts of Europe. I have met, known and dated women from all over. This needed to be stated, to further justify what I am about to say next…

    Lesbians in California are not the slightest bit normal!!!

    All over the USA and Europe, the typical single lesbian mind-set is quite simple and makes perfect sense. In all places, including California, the concept of, “nesting,” is a known thing. So keep that in mind, as you continue to read.

    “I’m single. I don’t want to be single. Let me get off my lazy ass and get out of the house. Perhaps I may meet someone. If I do meet someone and the sparks fly appropriately, TOGETHER we will build our little nest… and hopefully live happily ever after.” THAT is everywhere I have ever been, except California.

    In Cali, except for the rare women’s event – with the rare exception of a baby-dyke or two – you seldom see single WOMEN. Why is this? One evening, I went to a gathering, held by a well-known gay bar, in Palm Springs. They called it, “the Pink Party,” held once per month for lesbians. Mind you, they haven’t held this event in a couple years now. But my first time there was an eye opener. Beyond the fact the event started at 7PM and the gay men pretty much took over, almost literally pushing the women out, somewhere between 10-11PM, it was the average lesbian in attendance. When I walked in, there were about 30-40 women. Myself, the bartender and one lesbian couple (a total of 4 women, including myself) had hair that was not solid blue, white or grey. Excluding the 4 of us, the average age was 60-70. Talking with a couple of them, I discovered MANY of them were single, and had been for the better part of 30 years! How the f*** does THAT happen? Here’s where the, “not normal,” part comes in…

    Besides the fact, most 1st dates in Cali feel like a job interview … “I’m single. I don’t want to be single. If I meet someone, I need to have a nice nest for her to come to. Therefore, I can’t go out this weekend. I need to paint the house. Next week it’s new curtains. The week after, I need to redo the lawn.” Thirty years later … out of final desperation, she finally shows up at the Pink Party! I get the, “I want to have a nice place to bring her,” concept. But seriously? To me, the concept of picking out OUR own bed, OUR sheets, OUR dishes and building a home together. I may be a bit of a lipstick and a tiny bit of a pillow princess, on occasion – you guys all know the type of woman that is – but, I would MUCH prefer to live somewhere that may not be the greatest place, provided the woman waking up next to me every morning is the love of my life.

    Yes, there are a lot of lesbians in California. But when you see them, they are usually already paired up and can’t be bothered by those they do not already know. Or, they are barely out of diapers and still trying to figure out what this lesbian stuff is all about.

    • Well Said AlleyCat27. And In Addition may I add That as Instead Of Lesbians in California are not the slightest bit normal, Going One (1) step further: California IS NOT The Slightest Bit Normal. I, as a Heterosexual Man, Feel strongly that Lesbian Women are Very Much Exploited for their sexual Preference for the politician’s expediency.
      I saw this topic on Google about lesbians and their preferred cities and NOW have an Answer as to just Why are there so many Man Haters here in the LA area.

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  12. Well as the hiLIARY, Your curious FAUX lesbian ally, introduces muSLIME sharia law, You $3Dollar Dolls better KNOW which side of the executioner’s blade the gay’s head rolls of off OR Free flight from the 60th story of a sky scraper. Better think about who you vote for if Not bed Down With….

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