|Image courtesy of Consumer Affair -click to enlarges|
While the husband and I will likely never leave Virginia permanently due to (i) the husband's very successful salon and his desire to never fully retire, and (ii) grandchildren in Virginia - two more are due in June/July - one of my dreams has long been to move to a gay-friendly state where we won't be second class citizens. Many other LGBT Americans likely feel the same way. Yet, according to a recent Consumer Affairs report, more and more LGBT's are moving to new LGBT safe havens are popping up across the nation, many of which are located in red states. Among the cities mentioned as a "LGBT safe haven" is Norfolk, Virginia where 4.4% of the population is estimated to be LGBT. A piece in The Advocate looks at the forces behind the trend. Here are highlights:
Many LGBT youths believe they have to move to notoriously gay-friendly cities like New York, San Francisco, and Seattle in order to live full and happy lives. However, according to a recent Consumer Affairs report, new LGBT safe havens are popping up across the nation. But the most surprising thing? Many of these cities are in red states.Salt Lake City, Louisville, Norfolk, Indianapolis, and other middle-tier red state cities offer LGBT youths greater affordability and less competition for well-paying jobs. In 1990, one-percent of Salt Lake City identified as LGBT, Consumer Affairs reported. Today, five-percent do.
“What you’re really seeing is reflective of other national trends,” Consumer Affairs content manager Ryan Daly told The Daily Beast. “Specifically, it lines up with people—especially young people—choosing less to live in huge, expensive cities, which were traditionally friendlier toward LGBTQ individuals, and choosing instead to make lives for themselves in small and mid-tier cities in the middle and southern states.”
Affordability is the biggest factor in this migration. Also, the LGBT anti-discrimination laws passed locally and nationally have helped to make red state cities more desirable. With same-sex marriage now legal nationwide, LGBT members are less bound to crowded and expensive gay-friendly cities.
While there is still major work to be done on anti-discriminatory transgender laws in many of these new safe havens, it is inspiring to see shifting demographics in traditionally conservative locales. With uber conservative Republicans in the presidential race right now, it will be telling to see whether this sea-change continues regardless of who wins the election.
I will concede that over the last 13+ years since I came out and moved to Norfolk, there has been a sea change. Some has been powered by U.S. Supreme Court rulings such as those in Lawrence and Obergefell, But in this area, I see the end of Don't Ask, Don't Tell as another significant factor. With many out military personnel, a growing number of whom are in same sex marriages, many older conservatives are being forced to rethink prejudices. Yet another factor for change has been the growing realization of local cities that gay friendliness is good for business.