Sometimes the 50 states can seem like 50 countries, but there are some amazing U.S. cities you need to visit that have embraced inclusiveness and diversity.

1. San Francisco, California

San Francisco is where the first openly gay elected official in California, Harvey Milk, was martyred and where Armistead Maupin’s newspaper column-turned-novel, Tales of the City, was the gay Sex and the City two decades before Sex and the City. The city’s Castro and Tenderloin neighbourhoods are synonymous with the LGBTQ2S+ community, and it is the birthplace of the world’s first trans cultural district, Compton’s TLGB District, named after the riot at Compton’s Cafeteria in 1966.

2. Orlando, Florida

Photo by Carrie Moran/

Stay in downtown Orlando and you’ll find one of the most stridently proud communities in the U.S. Hit hard by the 2016 Pulse massacre, they’ve come back steadfast, and many windows of homes and businesses sport Orlando Strong stickers. Walk the street holding hands like my boyfriend and I did last year, and have complete strangers stop to tell you specifically about how supportive they are. It’s a little weird at first, but it grows on you.

3. Portland, Oregon

Photo by Artran/Getty.

Oregon is surprising, at least to anyone who hasn’t watched TV’s Portlandia. All rugged and wilderness, this state is as liberal as a state can get. Portland is its cultural centre, and, according to Gallup, the metro area has the second highest percentage of LGBTQ2S+ identifying people in the U.S. But, try not looking for gay clubs here. Portland is more than that. Visit spaces such as The Nest Lounge and Lovecraft Bar, a goth bar, if you want a taste of the breadth this extraordinary city has to offer.

4. New York City, N.Y.

Photo by Michele Vacchiano/Shutterstock.

It’s been 50 years since police raided the Stonewall Inn, starting what became known as the Stonewall Riots that got the momentum going on LGBTQ2S+ rights in North America. Visit the current Stonewall, reopened in 1990 a few doors from its original location, for the 50th anniversary Pride parade on June 30, and WorldPride, which N.Y.C is hosting through June. But, any time of year, from Broadway to Fire Island, this city has got you covered.

Discover more inclusive LGBTQ2S+ cities around the world

[This story appears in the May 2019 edition of WestJet Magazine.]