Monthly Archives: January 2017

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 The state repealed its sodomy law back in 1976, and it approved same-sex marriage in 2014 after the attorney general and the governor refused to defend the laws preventing it and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.