Albany, N.Y., Hartford, Conn., and St. Louis (pictured) are among the nation's 20 most gay-friendly cities? That's what the financial site NerdWallet.com found in their recent list of LGBT-inclusive metropolises, using anti-discrimination laws, population, and hate crime numbers to determine scores (The Advocate, Out Traveler's sister publication, has their own list of gayest cities).
With West Coast cities Palm Springs, Calif., San Francisco, and Seattle taking the top three spots, the capital of New York and Connecticut both scored in the bottom 20 (numbers 15 and 17, respectively), while Missouri's second-largest city clocked in at number 11. Some political experts now say Missouri is a solidly red state, but St. Louis, long called the Gateway to the West, could be changing its reputation. It scores a solid 100 on the Municipal Equality Index from the Human Rights Campaign and their pride parade is the second-largest parade held in St. Louis each year.
Another standout is Austin at number 19. Texas has long been a dyed-in-the-wool conservative state, but Austin is its liberal pocket, with many open-minded young professionals. The music city is home to Austin Pride week, held in early September, featuring a festival, parade, and 5K run. It even has a lower sexual orientation-targeted hate-crime rate than both San Francisco and New York.