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Gayest Cities

From the obvious (San Francisco) to the surprising (Columbus), Richard Florida and Gary Gates crunched the numbers to rank the top gay cities in the country.

Tony Avelar / AP Photo

Tony Avelar / AP Photo

1. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA

Same-sex couples per thousand households: 12.4

No surprise here: As early as 1964, Life magazine deemed San Francisco the gay capital of the nation—a title the city still holds today. What might come as more of a surprise, though, is that San Francisco's gay community is predominantly male: 60 percent of same-sex couples in the Bay Area are men.

Eric Risberg / AP Photo

2. Santa Rosa-Petaluma, CA

Same-sex couples per thousand households: 7.63

Santa Rosa, the second-gayest city in the U.S., is just an hour north of San Francisco—and, like the Golden Gate City, the queer community there is mostly male (63 percent). Unlike San Francisco, though, it's fairly old. The median age: 39.3. This makes Santa Rosa the 292nd youngest gay population in the country.

Pat Wellenbach / AP Photo

3. Portland-South Portland-Biddeford, ME

Same-sex couples per thousand households: 7.4

Same-sex couples make up a larger percentage of households in Portland, Maine, than in any other city on the East Coast. It also has one of the oldest and whitest gay populations: Only 5.4 per 1,000 people are non-white, and the median age is 51.6, the 349th youngest in the country.

Elise Amendola / AP Photo

4. Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA

Same-sex couples per thousand households: 6.9

Boston boasts the largest lesbian community nationwide: 60 percent of the city's same-sex couples are women. (Not surprisingly, the ABC News series Boston Med includes a lesbian doctor.) Boston is also one of the best-educated cities in the country. 41.9 percent of Bostonians possess college degrees, and the metro area's home to some of the country's best colleges and universities—Harvard, MIT, and Boston College among them.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

5. Seattle, WA

Same-sex couples per thousand households: 6.71

Seattle's gay culture dates back to the 1930s, when the Casino Pool Room in Pioneer Square opened up for gay clientele. The bar paid police protection fees to keep it from being raided. The Double Header—another gay bar that opened around the same time—claims to be Seattle's oldest gay bar still in business. Seattle's strong gay culture remains, too: It's the fifth-gayest city in the country. And it's the sixth-wealthiest in the country, with a median income of $34,293. Big-name companies like Amazon.com and Starbucks—and Microsoft, located in nearby Redmond—have headquarters there.

Rich Pedroncelli / AP Photo

6. Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Roseville, CA

Same-sex couples per thousand households: 6.17

As the state capital of California, the Sacramento metro area is one of five cities from the state represented on the list. Known as an alternative destination to hyped cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles and centrally located near Tahoe, Napa, and Sonoma, it's no surprise that many same-sex couples choose to make their home here.

Peter A. Silva / Reuters

7. Austin, TX

Same-sex couples per thousand households: 6.14

Known for its progressive politics (“Keep Austin Weird” is the city's mantra) and major music scene (the annual South by Southwest Festival is the city's staple), Austin is also home to a fairly large gay community and culture. The Texas Gay Rodeo Association is based there, and there's an annual Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival. Despite this, the city and the state still have a long way to go in terms of gay rights. In April, Texas appellate courts made news when they were unable to decide what to do when a couple who marries in a state that permits same-sex marriage were to get a divorce in Texas, which constitutionally forbids such marriages.

Rick Bowmer / AP Photo

8. Portland, OR

Same-sex couples per thousand households: 5.85

Boasting both the first comprehensive plan to reduce carbon emissions and the highest number of strip clubs per capita, the quirky city of Portland, Oregon, also has the eighth-highest percentage of same-sex couples. A few of them, no doubt, are green-energy gurus and strippers.

Denis Poroy / AP Photo

9. San Diego, CA

Same-sex couples per thousand households: 5.76

San Diego is politically conservative and has a huge military population. Coincidentally (or not), it also has a sizeable gay population. We won't ask. Military discrimination in the city already appears to be bad enough.

Nathan K. Martin / AP Photo

10. Springfield, MA

Same-sex couples per thousand households: 5.69

Even more so than Boston, Springfield, Massachusetts has a large lesbian community. Almost all the same-sex couples in Springfield are female: 82 percent. Nearby all-women's colleges Smith and Mt. Holyoke may help suggest why, not to mention its reputation as “the lesbian capital of the Eastern Seaboard.

Tina Fineberg / AP Photo

11. New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA

Same-sex couples per thousand households: 5.76

Gay culture is an intrinsic part of New York City's DNA, especially in downtown Manhattan neighborhoods like Chelsea, Greenwich Village, and Soho. It's also an intrinsic part of the city's history—the Stonewall riots of 1969, say, or the nation's first gay bookstore, The Oscar Wilde Bookshop (which, sadly, closed in 2009). Perhaps it's no surprise, then, that the metro region—a diverse, dense area of about 19 million—still includes a large gay population. And a gay ice cream truck, too.

Tom Hauck / Getty Images

12. Eugene, OR

Same-sex couples per thousand households: 5.56

Like Springfield, Massachusetts—and nearby Portland, Oregon—a majority of Eugene's same-sex couples are female (81 percent). The city, which is home to the University of Oregon, has become a West Coast lesbian hub.

David Zalubowski / AP Photo

13. Denver-Aurora, CO

Same-sex couples per thousand households: 5.43

The Mile-High City is known for its wild nightlife: Men's Health dubiously ranked it the No. 1 drunkest city in America in 2004 and 2007. A swath of Denver's lively late-night scene includes a number of popular gay bars, too—most notably Tracks Nightclub and JR's Bar and Grille, ranked by 5280 Magazine as the top two gay hotspots in 2009. Party on.

Ann Levin / AP Photo

14. Ithaca, NY

Same-sex couples per thousand households: 5.41

Located in upstate New York—and home to Ithaca College and Cornell University—Ithaca is a young and smart city, ranking eighth for the median age group (27.9) and third for the number of college graduates (55 percent). What's more, Ithaca is the least populated metro area among the top 20 (101,000).

Ken Lambert, Washington Times / Getty Images

15. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV

Same-sex couples per thousand households: 5.28

In July, opponents to Washington D.C.'s same-sex marriage law attempted to obtain approval for an initiative on the ballot that would ask voters to define marriage as between one man and one woman. Not surprisingly, D.C.'s highest court ruled against them—a wise choice, no doubt, in a city with a smart, wealthy, and powerful queer community. D.C. ranks first on the list for median income ($41,024) and has the eighth-highest number of college graduates (47 percent).

Jay LaPrete / AP Photo

16. Columbus, OH

Same-sex couples per thousand households: 5.27

The Republican-Democratic battleground state of Ohio has become widely known for its anti-gay marriage protests. But that hasn't stopped Columbus, the state's capital city, from making the list. Columbus, in fact, has a gay culture all its own: There's a gay men's chorus, and it's host to a huge GLBT organization, Stonewall Columbus. Plus there's a massive annual gay-pride festival to boot.

Al Goldis / AP Photo

17. Ann Arbor, MI

Same-sex couples per thousand households: 5.17

LGBT groups play a strong—and, at times, controversial—role in the college city of Ann Arbor, Michigan: This June, gay-rights groups endorsed a straight incumbent over his lesbian opponent for the city's mayoral seat. What makes this all the more surprising is that 70 percent of Ann Arbor's same-sex couples are female. Perhaps less surprising, though, is that 52 percent of people living in the city—which is home to the University of Michigan, one of the nation's top universities—have obtained a college degree.

Holly Stein / AP Photo

18. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA

Same-sex couples per thousand households: 4.98

Los Angeles is the second-largest city in the U.S. with a population of about 13 million in the metro area. And it's full of diverse people, many of whom hail from all around the world. Some 18.7 percent of the population is from out of the country; 67 percent of the region's residents are non-white.

LM Otero / AP Photo

19. Dallas, TX

Same-sex couples per thousand households: 4.88

The city of Dallas, like much of Texas, is known for its Marlboro Man machismo and tough-guy, football-focused culture. Now, though, it's also becoming known for its burgeoning gay scene. So much so, in fact, gays have infiltrated the city's super-conservative political culture: The sheriff's a lesbian (not to mention a Democrat), and the openly gay former city councilman Ed Oakley ran for mayor in 2007. True to the state's male-driven culture, gay men dominate Dallas: 62 percent of gays there are male.

Lynne Sladky / AP Photo

20. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL

Same-sex couples per thousand households: 4.81

Miami, like the Los Angeles metro region, has a large and diverse population: 19 percent are non-U.S. citizens; 62 percent are non-white. As for the gay scene, same-sex couples tend to be predominantly male (63 percent). Miami—not too dissimilar from Austin, Texas—hosts its own longstanding international gay and lesbian film festival.