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11 gay-friendly small cities in big red states

Whilst huge towns in blue states — like New York and San Francisco — are widely known for his or her LGBTQ inclusivity, accepting environments can now be discovered around the nation, even in some surprising puts.

The Human Rights Marketing campaign’s annual Municipal Equality Index rated greater than 500 towns and cities in accordance with how inclusive their municipal rules, insurance policies and products and services are of the LGBTQ individuals who are living and paintings there. Every municipality used to be rated on a scale of zero to 100 in accordance with 49 other standards together with nondiscrimination rules and “town management’s public place on equality.”

This yr’s document heralded 88 towns with an ideal rating of 100, and most of the index’s high-scoring municipalities may also be present in states no longer usually regarded as being inclusive to lesbian, homosexual, bisexual, transgender and queer folks.

Listed below are 11 small towns (lower than 200,000 citizens) in purple states (those who haven’t voted for a Democrat for president within the 21st Century) that scored no less than an 80 on HRC’s Municipal Equality Index.

Columbia, Missouri

MEI rating: 100, Inhabitants: 122,000

Downtown Columbia, Mo.Notley Hawkins / Getty Pictures

The Midwestern the town is house to the College of Missouri and has a bustling nightlife scene with a mess of gay-friendly spots. Town’s MEI rating has risen sharply since 2015 when it gained a 74, largely because of town tasks just like the hiring of a LGBTQ liaison to its police division.

Missoula, Montana

MEI rating: 100, Inhabitants: 73,000

Autumn in Missoula, Mt.akpakp / Getty Pictures

For 6 years, representatives within the mountain state of Montana fought to decriminalize consensual same-sex members of the family, which used to be previously categorized as a criminal. The regulation used to be dominated unconstitutional in 1997, and Missoula has endured to suggest for the equivalent rights of its LGBTQ voters since. Ultimate yr, town unveiled a rainbow crosswalk that used to be deliberate by way of Empower Montana’s early life program, Adolescence Ahead.

Brookings, South Dakota

MEI rating: 100, Inhabitants: 24,000

Major Side road in Brookings, S.D.Jon Platek

After Brookings gained a rating of 12 out of 100 in 2013, native leaders launched into a multiyear venture to bump their score to 100. It wasn’t till 2018, when town followed a nondiscrimination ordinance, that it after all completed the coveted rating. Brookings is an outlier in South Dakota, the place the typical MEI rating is 31, smartly underneath the nationwide moderate of 58.

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Huntington, West Virginia

MEI rating: 100, Inhabitants 47,000

A yoga studio in Huntington, W.V., on April five, 2019.Michael S. Williamson / The Washington Publish by the use of Getty Pictures record

Since Huntington used to be first positioned at the index in 2012, the small the town has greater than doubled its MEI rating. Excluding anti-discrimination ordinances, the town additionally introduced the Open for All marketing campaign, which inspires companies to put up a decal that indicates their fortify of the LGBTQ neighborhood. The Human Rights Marketing campaign referred to as town a “shining beacon of hope” in part of the rustic no longer identified for LGBTQ inclusivity.

Covington, Kentucky

MEI rating: 94, Inhabitants: 40,000

The riverfront in Covington, Ky., in 2017.Raymond Boyd / Getty Pictures record

In 2003, Covington handed one of the vital state’s first equity ordinances, which prohibited LGBTQ discrimination in employment, housing and public lodging. This yr, the town celebrated Northern Kentucky Pleasure’s 10-year anniversary with a colourful rainbow crosswalk. The yearly delight match’s slogan reads “Y’all Method All.”

Norman, Oklahoma

MEI rating: 92, Inhabitants: 123,000

The Gaylord Circle of relatives Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman on Nov. nine, 2019.Brian Bahr / Getty Pictures record

Norman, house of the College of Oklahoma, changed into the primary town within the conservative state to move a nondiscrimination ordinance for LGBTQ folks. Norman’s modern insurance policies towards homosexual citizens is clear in it’s index rating, which is 30 issues above the second-highest ranked Oklahoma town within the index.

Charleston, West Virginia

MEI rating 91, Inhabitants 45,000

The Elk Town historical district in Charleston, W.V.Michael S. Williamson / The Washington Publish by the use of Getty Pictures record

The capital and maximum populous town in West Virginia has moved to toughen the lives and rights of its native LGBTQ neighborhood. In Might, Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin introduced the advent of the town’s first LGBTQ running staff, which can broaden anti-bullying insurance policies and LGBTQ-awareness coaching inside the town.

Flagstaff, Arizona

MEI rating: 88, Inhabitants: 72,000

The barren region close to Flagstaff, Arizona.Steve Smith / Getty Pictures

Nestled subsequent to ponderosa pine forests and mountain levels, Flagstaff is especially inclusive to the LGBTQ neighborhood. Town is house to Pleasure within the Pines, an annual LGBTQ birthday party that has featured neon dance events and performers from “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”

Juneau, Alaska

MEI rating: 86, Inhabitants 32,000

Coastal mountains and homes in Juneau, Alaska.Sergi Reboredo / Common Pictures Workforce by the use of Getty Pictures record

Juneau is house to the Southeast Alaska LGBTQ+ Alliance, often referred to as SEAGLA. The crowd started assembly in 1980 and presented a protected house to same-sex couples, with occasions that integrated dance events, solstice celebrations and potlucks. In 2014, SEAGLA deliberate Juneau’s first delight match, and the group has endured to satisfy and suggest for the LGBTQ neighborhood because it’s inception.

New york, Kansas

MEI rating: 83, Inhabitants: 54,000

The Kansas State Wildcats marching band all through a recreation on the Invoice Snyder Circle of relatives Stadium in New york on Oct. 26, 2019.Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire by the use of Getty Pictures record

Kansas made strides towards equivalent protections this yr, with the state’s MEI rating expanding by way of 12 issues. New york is the second-highest rated town in the back of Overland Park, a miles better suburb of Kansas Town. Kansas State College is in New york and used to be not too long ago ranked as one of the vital 25 maximum LGBTQ pleasant universities within the U.S. by way of Campus Pleasure.

Charleston, South Carolina

MEI rating: 81, Inhabitants 130,000

Charleston, S.C.Kirkikis / Getty Pictures

Town’s historical cobblestone streets are a protected haven for the LGBTQ neighborhood, with year-round celebrations that stretch a ways past delight week. Town holds an annual LGBTQ Marriage ceremony Expo, the place spouses-to-be can hook up with wedding ceremony pros.

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