Metro Weekly

Memphis ‘Bottoms’ the List of 10 Least LGBTQ-Friendly U.S. Cities

A recent study by Clever ranked 50 cities from most to least LGBTQ-friendly. (Spoiler: D.C. came in at number 24.)

Memphis – Photo: Antony-22/Wikimedia Commons

Americans are on the move. Whether it be due to rising costs of living, flexible employment options, or changing political environments, more people are considering new places to put down roots.

Findings from a recent study, conducted by the real estate website Clever, identify the most — and least — LGBTQ-friendly metro areas across the country.

While Washington, D.C. landed in the top 25, a large share of the bottom-ranking cities come from states like Florida, Tennessee and Texas.

Unsurprisingly, San Francisco topped the list as the most LGBTQ-friendly city. Meanwhile, Memphis, Tennessee, was ranked the most unfriendly city among the country’s 50 most-populous metro areas.

Researchers used data from organizations like the Human Rights Campaign, PFLAG, and the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce to create a snapshot of which cities may be easier or harder for queer people to live in.

Factors such as the number of anti-trans pieces of legislation passed, percent of state population identifying as LGBTQ, designated number of LGBTQ-affirming health care providers per capita, number of Pride events, and the number of “Don’t Say Gay” laws all contributed to scoring the cities.

Out of 50 cities ranked from most to least LGBTQ-friendly, the bottom 10 are:

10. Kansas City, Missouri

9. St. Louis, Missouri

8. Tampa, Florida,

7. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

6. Dallas, Texas

5. Miami, Florida

4. Birmingham, Alabama

3. Jacksonville, Florida

2. Houston, Texas

1. Memphis, Tennessee

Seven out of the bottom ten cities are in states with “Don’t Say Gay” laws, four do not have any National LGBT Chamber of Commerce chapters, and they average 46% fewer LGBTQ-affirming healthcare providers per 100,000 residents than the average metro area in the study.

While a 36% opposition rate to same-sex marriage in Tennessee is a sobering reminder of the work still needed for LGBTQ rights in America, there are some glimmers of hope.

For example, Kansas City has declared itself an LGBTQ sanctuary city, and Houston boasts one of the last remaining lesbian bars in the entire country. Additionally, two of the most unfriendly ranked cities, Hartford and Jacksonville, can claim some of the lowest opposition rates (11%) to same-sex marriage.

Back in May of this year, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said, in part, “After the Missouri state legislature introduced several bills criminalizing access to gender affirming healthcare across Missouri, I am proud City Council took action and approved the ‘safe haven’ resolution to take steps, within our legal power, to protect our transgender community and anyone seeking gender-affirming care.”

Here at home, Washington, D.C. ranked No. 24 on the list, with a below-average rate of 0.38 LGBTQ-affirming health care providers per 100,000 residents (within a 25-mile radius).

The top three cities on the list, San Francisco, Hartford, and Las Vegas, have 1.4, 1.73, and 1.65 such providers per capita, respectively. D.C. also had below-average rates of gay bars, Pride events, and PFLAG chapters.

The capital city can, however, proudly point to an above-average municipality score, a state municipality score double the average of the study, and a below-average rate of residents opposing same-sex marriage.

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