By Shannon Keating
From time to time we hear from members who are interested in a gay-friendly or at least gay-tolerant town. Retiring in LGBT-friendly communities can have enormous benefits, and not only for gays and lesbians. Those interested in progressive politics, activism, and youthful, artsy ambiances will generally find what they are looking for in pro-LGBT spaces; we have outlined some of our favorites below.
But before making the move to one of these communities, what do gays and lesbians need to watch out for in the relocation and real estate process? We’ll give you a few things to consider to make your move as seamless as possible.
The LGBT cities we love, and why
The benefits of gay-friendly cities extend far beyond the creation and maintenance of safe, exciting spaces for the LGBT community. These cities are generally liberal, or contain many liberal pockets and enclaves. They are oftentimes centers for progressive thought and activism, have plenty of resources for LGBT individuals and their friends, are brightened by art scenes in which the gay community is active, and are generally teeming with multiple forms of diversity.
Miami, Florida – Miami, the largest city in southeast Florida, has both a thriving beach network and LGBT community. The Design district is dotted with plenty of chic stores and restaurants. No longer just a party town, Miami has developed into a fashion-forward gem of Floridian living.
St. Louis, Missouri – The historic gateway to the west was chosen out of 400 cities to be included in the book 50 Fabulous Gay-Friendly Places to Live. It hosted the First Annual Trans Family Picnic in 2010. St. Louis is the second largest city in Missouri and home to plenty of interesting, diverse neighborhoods filled with interesting, diverse people. St. Louis has one of the highest populations of gays and lesbians in the country.
Denver, Colorado – The Mile High City is famous for outdoor recreation and youthful, liberal, gay-friendly flair. The Denver Pridefest celebrates and promotes the LGBT community, while the gay lifestyle is generally supported in the many clubs, bars and organizations in the city. A new Gay and Lesbian Center and plenty of gay public officials make LGBT culture a simple part of life here.
Atlanta, Georgia – Atlanta is a relatively liberal center in widely conservative Georgia, a Southern favorite for gay communities. A Pride Festival is held every year in November. A Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce is devoted to promoting gay-friendly businesses and gay life in general through economic means. Gay neighborhoods are all over the city.
Santa Fe, New Mexico – A smaller city that packs an incredibly strong cultural punch, Sante Fe is the gay capital of the southwest. Billing itself as the “City Different,” Sante Fe has a large collection of fabulous restaurants and museums. The Silver Starlight Lounge was nominated as a Top 60 bar by Out magazine. Sante Fe has the third largest art market in America.
Madison, Wisconsin – The LGBT jewel of the Midwest, Madison hosts a huge gay pride event every August. Gay nightlife here is superb, with plenty of clubs, restaurants and bars specifically for gays, though there are spots friendly to the lifestyle all over the city. As one of America’s most prominent and exciting college towns, Madison is a youthful and generally liberal community.
New York, New York – Our list would not be complete without ritzy, glittering New York, a world famous LGBT community. New York has had an exciting and long-lasting history; the gay community has been blossoming here even since the early 1900s. The diverse neighborhoods all have different ambiances, but are similarly united by a very liberal and progressive swing. Nightlife, especially for gays and livings, is arguably the most fabulous and wide-ranging in the country. Some of the most prominent gay artists, musicians, and politicians have come out of New York, and many still reside there.
Palm Springs, California – Famous for its openness to the gay community, “The Playground of the stars” is a beautiful Los Angeles getaway filled with specific gay resorts and brightened by a fun, glamorous beachy lifestyle. Due to its increasingly vibrant gay culture, a survey by gays and lesbians and 2006 placed Palm Springs as their tenth favorite gay-friendly US city. Diverse, funky and upscale, Palm Springs has plenty to offer for every taste, whether gay or straight.
Seattle, Washington – The average age here on the Pacific seaboard is 36, making Seattle a very young and gay-friendly city. The prestigious University of Washington also helps give this city a very upbeat and cosmopolitan feel. Seattle is a famous art town, charming and industrious all at once.
Washington, D.C. – The nation’s capital is bursting with a fun, youthful, and generally liberal vibe. D.C. has an enormous and passionate LGBT community. Gay individuals looking for a city bursting with progressive political action will find all they want and need when it comes to activism here. Single members of the LGBT community will find a vibrant, swinging nightlife – from nightclubs to health clubs, there are plenty of places to meet new people with varying sexual identities.
Considerations if you are considering a gay or LGBT friendly retirement
When looking at active adult communities that do not specifically cater to LGBT members, it is particularly important that you visit the community personally to get a feel for how you will be received. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for LGBT singles or couples to be discriminated against and even denied housing. If a living facility – or, for that matter, a neighborhood – seems even remotely hesitant about LGBT inclusion, we recommend moving on with the search immediately. No one should have to validate their right to happiness and peace in retirement. Refer to the cities above for active adult communities and neighborhoods with high chances of welcoming attitudes and already established LGBT members. Plus, there are several gay oriented active communities available, although a few of them have run into financial troubles in the recent housing crisis. See “Search” and check on LGBT friendly in the 55+ community section. As an example, Fountaingrove Lodge in Santa Rosa, CA seems to be gaining traction.
When selecting a state, city, and potentially an active adult community, LGBT couples should do research on the specifics of marriage, civil union, and medical rights on every level. Especially with the potential of assisted care needs, couples should make sure they will be granted full rights to medical visitation and decision-making when it comes to their partners.
If moving to an assisted living or nursing home, one of the most important pieces of research an LGBT couple should undertake before making the move is assuring that they will not be separated upon arrival. It is not uncommon for an LGBT couple to be separated into different units as if they are not related. Triple check the living arrangements before taking the plunge.
For more considerations, refer to the New York Times’s article on gay retirees finding homes or gayretirementguide.com. Also, “Most Surprising Gay-Friendly Cities for Travel” is interesting.
Comments: For those in the LGBT community – where are your favorite spots in the country? Do you have any comments about our selections? Leave your thoughts and opinions below!