Should You Consider Moving to New Jersey?

If you’re considering a move to New Jersey, you may start looking for great cities that are also known for being LGBT-friendly. While the state is often overshadowed by nearby neighbors such as New York and Massachusetts, New Jersey does have a number of great places for LGBT people to live. In fact, the state has a growing LGBT community because it’s much cheaper to live in New Jersey and commute to Manhattan and other more expensive neighborhoods to work. Here are some of the top New Jersey areas to live for those in the LGBT community.

Maplewood

Should You Consider Moving to New JerseyMaplewood is a small town located in the northern part of New Jersey. As such, it’s perfect for commuters who are looking for that small-town feel, but still want access to everything a large city has to offer. The town’s downtown area is home to several locally run restaurants and other businesses that are always welcoming no matter who you are. Many people in the city work in the theater industry and operate a local theater company.

Jersey City

Jersey City is perhaps the top LGBT city in New Jersey. In 2016, it was awarded a perfect score from the Human Rights Campaign for its dedication to LGBT rights. The city has a number of LGBT households and hosts its own pride festival every year. It’s also home to an LGBT community center and even has LGBT community liaisons in both the mayor’s office and the police station. Recent city ordinances have extended medical coverage for city employees to cover transgender medical needs and gender reassignment surgery.

Jersey City is larger than Maplewood. In fact, it’s the second largest city in the state with over 260,000 people living in it. It’s technically a part of the New York Metro Area, too, and is connected to the larger city by a number of rapid transit rail systems. The Hill and The Heights are both popular neighborhoods with unique apartments and homes.

Lambertville

Another city ranked highly by the HRC, Lambertville was only two points short of making a perfect score this year. It’s located on the western side of New Jersey, almost directly opposite of Jersey City. Lambertville sits on the Delaware River and is much smaller than Jersey City. In fact, it only has about 4,000 people living in it. For those who want a very small town to call him, Lambertville will certainly fit the bill. Just because it’s small, though, doesn’t mean it isn’t the perfect place for you to call home.

Where Should LGBT Families Live in Nevada?

Thinking about moving to Nevada? If you work with a gay or lesbian real estate agent, they can suggest many amazing neighborhoods in this state. Of course, some parts of Nevada are more welcoming than others. While you might expect cities like Las Vegas to be home to many LGBT people, you might be surprised at some of the other cities that are on this list.

Las Vegas

Where Should LGBT Families Live in NevadaOf course, Las Vegas does top the list of friendly homes for LGBT individuals and families. There are many gay and lesbian owned businesses in the city, and just about every place is welcoming to people from all walks of life. But more than just a place to gamble or get married, Las Vegas is a large city home to a diverse number of people. The famous Strip with its huge casinos is just one small part of a sprawling metropolis that includes much quieter areas where you can raise a family.

Enterprise

Enterprise may not be a city you’ve heard of, but if you’re looking to move to Nevada, it should be on your list. It’s a suburb of Paradise, so you’re near everything that larger metro area has to offer. Enterprise is a popular retirement destination for many, including members of the LGBT community. With houses that are quite affordable and neighborhoods that are quiet and safe, you might find your home here, even if you’re not of retirement age just yet.

Virginia City

Virginia City has a very fast-growing LGBT community. Like Enterprise, it’s a quiet little suburb of a larger area. In this case, that’s the Reno-Sparks metro, which offers a great number of shopping opportunities, nightlife, and restaurants.

Reno

If you’d rather live in the metro area itself, Reno is also quite welcoming. This gorgeous area is home to a very active LGBT community. It also has very affordable housing, and there are many great opportunities in Reno. There are a number of different gay bars in the city, plus Reno hosts a great pride festival every year that brings in visitors from all over the northern part of the state.

Stateline

Stateline gets its name from the fact that it sits very close to the line between Nevada and California. A small town, Stateline only has around a thousand residents. Don’t let that stop you from moving there, though. If you love nature, you’ll find the area around Stateline to be one of the most beautiful you’ve ever seen. With just an hour’s drive, you can be in Reno, so you can have everything a metro area offers but still live far enough away that you get that small town feel.

These are just a few of the great cities in Nevada that welcome the LGBT community with open arms. If you’re moving to the state, you can put them at the top of your list.

What It’s Like Being LGBT in West Virginia

West Virginia is a state that defies classification. To some, it’s part of the south. To others, it’s a mid-Atlantic state. Some even think of it as part of New England. It certainly has its own unique culture, and the people of West Virginia love it. The state has some of the most beautiful stretches of land in the nation thanks to the Appalachian Mountains and hills. It’s also known for its many cave systems, parks, rivers, and lakes.

LGBT Rights

What It’s Like Being LGBT in West VirginiaBut how does West Virginia treat its LGBT citizens? The state repealed its sodomy law back in 1976, and it approved same-sex marriage in 2014 after the attorney general and the governor refused to defend the laws preventing it and ordered state agencies to follow the court ruling that declared the ban unconstitutional. Prior to that, only a state statute prevented same-sex marriage—attempts to amend the state constitution to define marriage as being between one man and one woman repeatedly failed.

Unfortunately, the state hasn’t been as progressive when it comes to protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. West Virginia has no statewide laws preventing discrimination, and attempts to pass such laws have failed in the past. There are a number of cities and one county that have passed their own anti-employment discrimination ordinances, however.

The Best Places to Live in West Virginia

If you’re considering moving to the state, you’ll most likely want to look at one of those cities that do offer protections. A good gay or lesbian real estate agent will be able to help you find a home in any of these locations or anywhere else in the state. Charleston, the capital of West Virginia, may be your first consideration. The city protects individuals from discrimination based on both orientation and gender identity, plus the housing prices in most of the neighborhoods in the city are fairly low. As the capital, Charleston is also home to many different cultural activities and sports teams.

Then there’s Huntington. This city also has anti-discrimination laws protecting its citizens and a number of cultural activities. Many college students living in Huntington during the school year, while attending Marshall University.

Morgantown is primarily a college town, but it’s located near the northern part of the state. Residents can easily take day trips to Pittsburgh and other major New England cities while continuing to live in a town that’s fairly small.

Great Towns for LGBT Couples in Maine

While many people don’t realize it, Maine is one of the most progressive states in the country. A same-sex marriage bill was actually passed in 1997, and while it wasn’t legal for long, same-sex marriage did become legal permanently in 2012. There are a number of great places to live in Maine, so if you want to move to New England, here are some of the most welcoming cities in the state.

Augusta

Great Towns for LGBT Couples in MaineLet’s start with the capital of Maine. While it is the capital, it’s also a fairly small city. There are less than 20,000 people living in Augusta, so it has that small-city feel to it. It’s also home to the University of Maine and has a bit of a college town feel to it in the neighborhoods surrounding the campus. It’s a great city to raise a family in.

Rockland

If you’d rather go smaller, there’s Rockland. This small city is actually one of Maine’s more popular tourist destinations, so it does get busy during tourist season. It’s also one of the most welcoming cities and is home to an LGBT community center and a nonprofit advocacy group. During the off-season, Rockland is a quiet town that’s perfect for those who are looking for a place to live that doesn’t get too busy.

Portland

Portland is the largest city in Maine, so if you want a metro area, you’ll want to find a gay or lesbian real estate agent here. The city is very diverse and has a strong LGBT community. The 10 Days of Pride event is held in Portland every year and attracts not only people from across the state, but also many from other parts of the northeast. The festival includes concerts, activities for kids, a marketplace featuring LGBT businesses, and more. It’s definitely an event you don’t want to miss, even if you decide not to make your home in Portland.

Brunswick

Brunswick is one of the most welcoming college towns in the area. Bowdoin College is located in Brunswick, and many who live in the city either work or study there. The college features the Bowdoin Center for Sexual & Gender Diversity, too. As one of the most welcoming small towns in Maine, Brunswick can be the perfect place to settle down and start a family.

There are a number of other great places to live in Maine. The state is so welcoming and accommodating that you can really live anywhere and feel very welcome.

The Best LGBT Cities in Louisiana

Thinking of making the move to Louisiana? While the state may not always be known as the most LGBT-friendly, there are a number of cities in Louisiana that are perfect for gay and lesbian individuals and families. You can work with an LGBT real estate professional to find a home in any of these great cities.

New Orleans

The Best LGBT Cities in LouisianaThe most famous city in the state, New Orleans is home to Mardi Gras, the French Quarter, and a unique blend of cultures. It’s perhaps the best place in Louisiana for LGBT people. The city is incredibly welcoming, and many LGBT individuals find great homes in the French Quarter or in the area known as the Faubourg Marigny. There are a number of LGBT bars and clubs on Bourbon Street, which is great for those who love to go out. If you’d rather live somewhere a little quieter, the Marigny, Bywater, or the Garden District may be much better options.

No matter where you live, you’ll discover that the entire atmosphere of New Orleans is very unlike anything else in the South. Don’t judge NOLA by any other location – it’s a unique experience all its own.

Lafayette

Lafayette is a quiet city that is just now growing into a popular LGBT destination. The city’s first pride parade was held in 2013, although the city has had pride events for years. The city is home to a few gay bars and restaurants, plus the University of Louisiana Lafayette has a number of LGBT students. It even offers an LGBT studies minor for those interested in learning more about the traditions and culture of the gay and lesbian community.

Baton Rouge

The capital of the state, Baton Rouge has had its ups and downs thanks to conservative political leadership, but the city is once again a welcoming location for LGBT citizens. If you’re interested in moving here, you may want to look at Beauregard Town or Spanish Town, two neighborhoods that are home to many LGBT families. Baton Rouge’s annual ride parade is always a popular event, no matter who is in the governor’s mansion at the time.

Shreveport

If you’re looking to live in the northern part of the state, Shreveport may be your best destination. That’s because more of northern LA is fairly conservative. However, Shreveport has a number of protections related to both orientation and gender identity. There are also a number of different LGBT events in the city, including the North Louisiana Gay & Lesbian Film Festival.

When a Seller is NOT Discriminating against LGBT Buyers

Many people quote the Fair Housing Act when they believe they are being discriminated against by a landlord or seller. However, while this act does provide some protections to the LGBT community, those protections are not as widespread as the protection the act provides to those of differing race, color, national origin, sex, religion, disability, and familial status. However, the act does stop discrimination if it’s based on non-conformity. This means if the seller won’t accept your offer because they believe you’re acting in a way that doesn’t conform to how the seller thinks a person of your gender should act, it’s a violation. This may sound complicated, but it’s often fairly clear. Some cities and states have further protections, too.

However, it’s important that you understand when a seller is and is not engaging in LGBT discrimination. There are several legitimate reasons a seller may turn down your offer, and they may have absolutely nothing to do with your sexual orientation or the fact that you are in a same-sex relationship. If you attempt to sue a seller for breach of the Fair Housing Act and then learn that your offer was rejected for one of these reasons, you’re likely to lose the case and be out a good amount of money.

Your Offer Was Low

when-a-seller-is-not-discriminating-against-lgbt-buyersSellers are free to reject any offer that is under their asking price. Most do, or at the best they make a counteroffer. That’s because sellers often have specific financial needs such as paying off the mortgage on their current property and then making a down-payment on their new home. If they don’t make their asking price, they may have to pull funds from elsewhere.

You’re Not Pre-Approved

Being pre-approved means that a lender is prepared to offer you a mortgage loan. You will know how much money you will be approved for, and the seller can rest assured that the sale will go through. If, however, you do not have a pre-approval letter, the seller may have questions. The seller can reject an offer if they don’t feel like the sale will actually go through.

The Seller Has Decided Not to Sell

This is an actual legitimate reason to reject an offer. The seller can decide they no longer want to sell their house. Even if it has been on the market for months, the seller is still under no obligation to actually sell the house to any potential buyer. However, obviously the seller would need to take the house off the market. If not, you may be able to sue under the Fair Housing Act.

Again, there are many different nuances to the Act, and one small detail in your case may or may not mean you were discriminated against. Always seek professional legal assistance if you have felt like your rights have been infringed upon.

The History of Boystown, the First Gay Village

Boystown is a part of Lakeview, a community area located in Chicago. It’s situated on the north side of the city and sits on the shores of Lake Michigan. Lakeview is split into several different sub-neighborhoods, including Lakeview East, where Boystown can be found. This part of Lakeview is incredibly famous in the LGBT community. Most people would think that the Castro part of San Francisco or a neighborhood in New York was the first gay village, but Boystown was around before any of them.

Why Chicago?

the-history-of-boystown-the-first-gay-villageWhen told about Boystown, people often ask why Chicago? What makes the LGBT community, especially gay men, move to Illinois? The answer can be found by looking at the state’s laws. In 1961, many states had sodomy laws on the books. Even if two consenting adults engaged in this sexual act, they could be sent to prison. That law was repealed in Illinois that year, and many gay men saw their chance at living a life free of fear.

During the civil rights movement, many LGBT individuals became involved in politics, helping further improve their quality of life in Boystown and the rest of Chicago and Illinois. The Chicago Gay Liberation and other groups were formed during this time and continue to fight for LGBT rights today.

The neighborhood’s diversity is another key factor. In the early 1930s, about a third of Lakeview residents were immigrants from Germany or one of the Scandinavian countries. Later, following World War II, a number of Japanese Americans move to the area. With such diversity, many people already accepted the fact that their neighbors had different customs, beliefs, and ideas than they did. Most considered members of the LGBT community to be no different than the other residents of Boystown.

The First Pride

Chicago’s first pride parade wasn’t organized until 1970. Only around 150 people were a part of that parade, and it made very little stir. In fact, less than 100 words were written about it in the Chicago Tribune. However, each year, the parade grew. By the 1980s, well over a thousand people were a part of the festivities every year.

Boystown Today

Today, Boystown is the center of Chicago’s LGBT community. It’s one of the largest gay neighborhoods and cultural centers in the US. It’s home to many different bars, clubs, and off-Loop theater productions. You’ll find homes here are mostly historic, an interesting contrast to many of the more modern businesses. The area is also where the annual pride parade is held.

Preparing to Sell Your Home as an LGBT Couple

Selling your home is a lot of work, especially if you’re still living in the property while it’s being shown to potential buyers. If this goes on for more than a few weeks, it’s going to get stressful. You have to make sure your house is always ready to be shown to clients. There are times you may only have half an hour’s notice that a buyer wants to see the house. If you can’t make everything organized and spotless within a few minutes, the potential buyer may see have to walk through a messy house. That can be a major turn-off, even though your clutter really has nothing to do with the home itself.

preparing-to-sell-your-home-as-a-lgbt-coupleOf course, this is true with anyone’s house, regardless of their sexual orientation. Real estate agents will help any individual or couple go through their home and prepare it to make that “wow!” impression that you need to secure a sale. One thing agents look at when helping you stage your home is personal effects. Everyone naturally fills their homes with these types of items, but there are some that your agent may suggest you put away. As an LGBT couple, this list may be a little more extensive. Even a gay or lesbian real estate agent may make these suggestions.

This isn’t anything discriminatory, although discrimination does play a part in the decision. It all boils down to how as people we have certain beliefs or like certain things and may instinctively dislike certain things. For example, a Realtor may suggest that a couple remove anything that indicates their religious or political preferences. Seeing something like that could make the buyer pass, even if they don’t consciously think about it.

The same is true for the little things such as pennants for your favorite sports teams or your magazines on your table. The idea is to make the buyer feel at home, not show off your personality or likes.

What does this mean to an LGBT couple? It means that you shouldn’t get offended when your real estate agent suggests putting away your wedding photos or other pictures of the two of you. You also should anticipate taking down your rainbow flag and other pride items. Again, this isn’t to hide who you are necessarily. Instead, it’s to give the buyer the feeling of a blank slate and to ensure that you aren’t discriminated against, even if it’s unconscious discrimination.

Moving in with your Same-Sex Partner

Moving in with your same-sex partner after purchasing your first home is exciting. You’ve worked with a gay or lesbian real estate agent to find the perfect place to live, and now you’re ready to build your lives together in a house you own. If you haven’t lived together, though, you may be in for a few surprises. Of course, straight couples go through this, too, but with a same-sex partner, there are a few different and sometimes humorous twists to the adjustment period.

You’ll Create a Third Closet

moving-in-with-your-same-sex-partnerCouples often have a “his” and “his” or “hers” and “hers” closet arrangement, but if you’re a same-sex couple and near the same size, you may find that you need an “ours” closet. You’ll end up buying clothing that you both wear. This may be shoes, t-shirts, jackets, socks, and even pants! Unless the two of you have very different fashion senses, expect to find most of your clothing falls into the “ours” category. Just think of it as gaining a spouse and a whole wardrobe!

No Need to Put Down the Seat

Living with your female partner means you never have to worry about the toilet seat being left up (unless you have male friends over, of course). Men don’t have to worry about putting it down. Yes, this is a stereotypical situation, but it’s also based on some truth.

You Need More Space for Hair Care Products

Another stereotype, of course, but it can be true—for gay men as well as women. If you both use different brands of shampoo, conditioner, and other hair care products, you may find that your shower simply can’t hold them all.

You Have Double the Stuff

When opposite-sex couples move in together, they may have some overlapping movies and cooking items, but when same-sex couples with similar tastes buy a house together, you may find that you have a lot of duplicate items. For example, men who love working out may both own similar sets of weights or other exercise equipment. You might have to both give up some of your possessions if you own things you don’t really need two of. Just try to make it an equitable downsizing – you shouldn’t give up all of your stuff, and neither should your partner.

Remember You Love Each Other!

No matter what gender your partner is, moving in together is a big step, and it’s going to change your relationship. You’ll find you each have many little things that bug each other, and you’ll have to work through that. But if you love each other, you’ll find a way to settle into your new house and begin transforming it into your home.

What Can LGBT Community Centers Do for You?

When you’re considering a new neighborhood to move to, one thing you might look for is an LGBT community center. These centers often form the heart of the LGBT neighborhood and offer a wide variety of services to those in the city. However, there are some LGBT people who don’t really know what these centers have to offer. While each community center has its own unique programs that your gay or lesbian real estate professional may know more about, most do offer many of the same basic services. Here are some reasons why you may want to visit your local LGBT community center or learn more about the center near your new home.

Testing and Health Services

what-can-lgbt-community-centers-do-for-youMany community centers either provide HIV, Aids, and STD testing on-site or have contacts with a service that can provide these tests. Some centers provide these tests for free, while others have sliding scale fees that take your income into account. Many community centers also offer mental health and counseling services. This is especially important for LGBT youth, who often feel marginalized, bullied, and unloved.

Some community centers also offer assistance with smoking, alcohol abuse, and drug use. Many in the LGBT community fall into drugs or become alcoholic because they want to escape the hatred and bullying they experience on a daily basis. Even if you don’t need these resources, knowing they’re available can be useful if you meet someone who does.

Cultural Programs

Many LGBT community centers host art exhibits, theater performances, and other cultural programs. The type and size of these programs usually depend on how large of a space the center has. Some host an art gallery that displays work by members of the LGBT community. Others have a small theater space for plays and concerts. Some programs include a workshop where attendees actually get to make something or participate in a hands-on activity. Some have holiday events and offer a place to go for those who can no longer attend their family celebrations for whatever reason.

Awareness Events

The LGBT community center is often one of the driving forces behind local pride festivals. Some of the activities may take place at the community center if it’s large enough. If it’s not, center leadership may be involved in planning some of the festival activities. They may also sponsor other LGBT-related events throughout the year, including events designed to raise awareness of the LGBT community. Some even take part in political activities and push local, state, and federal leaders to be inclusive and pass legislation protecting the LGBT community.