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Lesbian life in various places (recommendations? warnings?)

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I'm beginning my search for graduate schools and I would like to know if there are places that are better or worse than others for lesbian social life. A few of the schools I'm looking at are in Honolulu HI, Davis CA, Storrs CT, Ithaca NY, Fort Collins CO, Corvallis OR. Those are just a few that I like so far so if anyone knows anything about those specific areas that would be helpful. However, if you think a specific place not on that list is particularly good or bad as far as lesbian life (or safety?) please feel free to let me know. I've only just started searching a few weeks ago, so any information I can get is more than welcome.

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I can only speak about Ithaca, NY, but it is an extremely LGBT-friendly community. At times it seems like they are more gay people than straight people. I did my undergrad about a half-hour away from there and I would go to the gay bars there all the time. It's a great place to live.

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Davis and Fort Collins are both conservative. That doesn't mean bad things will necessarily happen -- it just means you might get some funny looks if you're one of those sickening people of any sexual preference who insist on excessive public displays. =)

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Thank you to those who answered so far.

I'm surprised to hear that about Ithaca. I'm not sure why, I just never imagined it being a particularly queer-friendly place.

And I'm not too worried about terribly bad things happening (especially in Davis). I had a lesbian friend who grew up there and she never had any problems. I'm more concerned about what opportunities I'd have there to meet other gay people.

Of course, if anyone thinks I should be concerned for my safety in a certain place please let me know, but I'd mostly like to know what sort of... social scene, I guess... is available for gay people.

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However, if you think a specific place not on that list is particularly good or bad as far as lesbian life (or safety?) please feel free to let me know.

The Research Triangle area (Carrboro, Cary, Chapel Hill, Durham, Raleigh) is awesome for LGBT folks. :D

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Ithaca and other college towns in Upstate New York are often LGBT friendly. Plus, Ivy League institutions and their surrounding areas tend to be more socially liberal. I know several people who have attended Cornell University and Ithaca College. All of them seemed to be quite happy there. Ithaca is somewhat isolated though and the nearest "major" city is Syracuse.

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But friends who visited Davis in the early-mid 90s said it was a very conservative place.

Davis [is] conservative. That doesn't mean bad things will necessarily happen -- it just means you might get some funny looks if you're one of those sickening people of any sexual preference who insist on excessive public displays. =)

My wife and I (who met in Davis) found these statements were silly.

Davis is a socially liberal place. Sure, you'll have to drive an hour to the Castro Street Fair, but I can't imagine your sexuality ever being an issue there. If you want gay bars, you'll have to go to Sacramento or San Francisco, but if you're happy drinking with straight people, you'll be fine. It's a non-issue.

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Davis is a socially liberal place. Sure, you'll have to drive an hour to the Castro Street Fair, but I can't imagine your sexuality ever being an issue there. If you want gay bars, you'll have to go to Sacramento or San Francisco, but if you're happy drinking with straight people, you'll be fine. It's a non-issue.

I've never been to Davis so I can't say anything specifically about that, but personally I find it much more pleasant to be more than tolerated ("I can't imagine your sexuality being an issue"). For me, it's important to live in a place where there is at least some visible gay community for me to feel a part of, and I imagine that the same is true for others.

No gay bars? It's not like I don't go out and drink with straight people! But think about having only gay bars to go to (those of you who are straight). Of course it would be fine, you would have a good time with your gay friends, but wouldn't you also like to go somewhere occasionally where you felt like you fit in? It's lonely to be the only one, or part of an invisibly small group, even if no one gives you any trouble directly. Not to mention boring if you're in the dating scene.

But like I said I've never been to Davis. This would apply to most smallish cities, college towns maybe being the exception.

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What about Boston? You could day trip to P-town?

In Boston Jamaica Plains has a gay-friendly rep and the South End used to be where it was at, but now it's just expensive, from what I hear.

Provincetown is awesome in the summer if you like crowds and beaches. The dunes and the Atlantic side of the Cape are beautiful. It's definitely worth a trip, but completely dead in the winter. (The year-round population is around 3000 vs 60000 in the summer.)

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I'm really hoping to end up in big city for exactly this reason (well, and for the sake of other diversity as well). I'm currently living in a beautiful small town, but if there's a gay community here I haven't seen it, and the women are even more clandestine. I don't necessarily need a group of lesbians to hang out with all the time, but it would be nice to know that such a community exists.

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I'm really hoping to end up in big city for exactly this reason (well, and for the sake of other diversity as well). I'm currently living in a beautiful small town, but if there's a gay community here I haven't seen it, and the women are even more clandestine. I don't necessarily need a group of lesbians to hang out with all the time, but it would be nice to know that such a community exists.

ah, those clandestine queers. You have to love them. I was glad to see this post, because just yesterday I was researching queer life at the universities I applied to. So far, I've been pleasantly surprised by New Haven, CT. The other city I'm interested in is Iowa City, from what I hear, it's really liberal compared to other parts of Iowa. Good luck with your own search.

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I'm glad someone else is doing this. I'm doing the same and as someone else said, Raleigh and the surrounding cities appear to be very gay-friendly. I haven't really seen much about the other areas I'm looking at. If anyone has info on Wilmington, NC or Columbia and Charleston, SC, that'd be awesome. Good luck with your search OP :)

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I'm glad someone else is doing this. I'm doing the same and as someone else said, Raleigh and the surrounding cities appear to be very gay-friendly. I haven't really seen much about the other areas I'm looking at. If anyone has info on Wilmington, NC or Columbia and Charleston, SC, that'd be awesome. Good luck with your search OP :)

Out of the three places you listed, Charleston is by far the most friendly to folks with alternative lifestyles. I'm straight as an arrow, but had many gay friends in Charleston when I was an undergrad and everyone seemed pretty hospitable to them. There are very gay-friendly bars (Dudley's, Vickery's) and even a gay nightclub (Pantheon). I would say a good second choice would be Wilmington but stay the hell out of Columbia.

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Philly is very gay friendly and there are tons of events for girls (mostly monthly parties; these currently include Stimulus, Scene, Code, OverTime, Any Questions, Ladies, and a few more I'm forgetting). It's also really convenient to NYC and DC if you need a change of pace for a weekend.

Edited by rogue

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Out of the three places you listed, Charleston is by far the most friendly to folks with alternative lifestyles. I'm straight as an arrow, but had many gay friends in Charleston when I was an undergrad and everyone seemed pretty hospitable to them. There are very gay-friendly bars (Dudley's, Vickery's) and even a gay nightclub (Pantheon). I would say a good second choice would be Wilmington but stay the hell out of Columbia.

Damn, that blows about Columbia, USC is my current second choice. I'd hate to have to hide for 2-3 years. Well I'll hope for Raleigh, lol.

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The Research Triangle area (Carrboro, Cary, Chapel Hill, Durham, Raleigh) is awesome for LGBT folks. :D

Not to be confused with the Piedmont Triad (Greensboro-Winston Salem-High Point, NC) which is definitely not friendly to much outside WASP/hetero culture.

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I didn't go to school in Davis but would visit a girlfriend there in undergrad maybe once a month - I found it very friendly toward LGBT people. Maybe this is just the undergrad experience but it is almost easier to meet people (friends and partners) as a member of the LGBT community then not - at least you would have that shared experience of belonging to a community. I believe this is true also on the graduate level as my girlfriend had friends in some graduate programs who were very open about their sexuality - tons of groups to join and gay nights at local bars. I know its a small town in the central valley, but it is near the bay area in northern ca with liberal voting records.

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Anyone familiar with the queer scene in Syracuse? I actually grew up in upstate New York but haven't spent much time in Syracuse itself. I get the sense the lgbt community is fairly small, maybe a bit more present on campus than in the city as a whole.

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The Twin Cities of Minnesota are gay friendly. i did undergrad in St. Paul, which is a little more conservative than it's counterpart, Minneapolis. Minneapolis is where all the cool queer events happen, especially over in the Seward area/South Minneapolis. North Minneapolis has a lot of community organizing going on and lots of people of color but it's not especially populated with queers. I'd say South Minneapolis is the queerest and then there pockets of S. Minneapolis that are what it the queerest. Unfortunately, the only lesbian bar closed a year or two ago due to ballooning loans (and it had only been around for a couple of years, anyway). many of the gay and a few of the straight bars have ladies' nights and those can be fun! There's one that usually happens at this place called the Kitty Kat Klub once a month and it's always PACKED. The Klub is usually a performance space/bar. I've never been there outside of the ladies' night, which is called Twilight (but was developed before those lame vampire books!).

I've been all over the country and honestly, lesbians don't fare well in terms of having established places to hang out/bars/neighborhoods. i went on a road trip of the west coast this past summer and found that Portland seems to have the strongest and largest number of events for lesbians throughout the month. i don't know how many lesbian-owned/geared bars, clubs or restaurants Portland has but is currently dubbed the mecca of lesbians because of the high number of lesbians who live there. when i was there, i did notice a lot of queer women and i was surprised that i felt more of community there than i did when i was in the Bay Area in California! i lived and came out in the Bay Area during high school and recognize that many people believe that it's a GLBT hub but... so much seems to be geared towards gay men. it's really frustrating! it's especially frustrating because it's not just one or two places where lesbians lack established space for themselves... it's all over the country. i wonder if it's something about lesbian communities or if it is more so a symptom of societal exclusion?? it's really interesting either way.

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Yea! Thank you so much to all who have taken the time to post and comment on this...I'm actually moving from the west coast (portland) to Rhode Island University in the fall and I'm wondering how gay friendly my new neighborhood will be...Is there anyone, anyone at all, who has been to Rhode Island and knows anything about the community there? I know that URI used to be noted as one of the most homophobic universities in the nation due to assualts, though several years ago, they reversed the trend with a mention in the Advocate as having made huge strides, particularly with a queer center on campus...I'm wondering if anyone on this forum has a perspective on this? Will I need to be in the closet? How accepting are the students at URI? Thanks for any advice you have!

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Not to be confused with the Piedmont Triad (Greensboro-Winston Salem-High Point, NC) which is definitely not friendly to much outside WASP/hetero culture.

That is definitely not true I go to school in Greensboro and it is definitely a Queer friendly community, although there may not be a great deal of clubs and bars, and such there aren't a great deal of those for straight people either, but as far as schools UNC-Greensboro is definitely queer friendly and salem college in winston-salem is also, as well as Bennett and NC A&T. There are things to do and places to go just not as much as in larger cities.

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Anyone have an inside scoop on San Diego/Scripps? I might be moving down there with my girlfriend from San Francisco. We know, it's no Bay Area but what is? :)

We were down there last weekend visiting her law school, and had some ugly interactions with the young frat crowd. I believe the USS Nimitz was in town and several area schools may have been on spring break. On the other hand, we were also there for Pride last year and had a great time! My question is, what is the norm?

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Anyone have an inside scoop on San Diego/Scripps? I might be moving down there with my girlfriend from San Francisco. We know, it's no Bay Area but what is? :)

We were down there last weekend visiting her law school, and had some ugly interactions with the young frat crowd. I believe the USS Nimitz was in town and several area schools may have been on spring break. On the other hand, we were also there for Pride last year and had a great time! My question is, what is the norm?

Although I am commenting from a straight person's perspective here, there are certainly gay-friendly areas in S.D. starting with Hillcrest, but also including other areas like North Park where we used to live. Our apartment complex was a 22 units, split evenly between gay and straight individuals and couples. We all got along fairly well and after living there for a while I got to know most of our neighbors, sitting outside in the common areas, chatting with everyone. No hostility there or outside on the main commercial drag either. It helps that these neighborhoods are fairly diverse ethnically, socio-economically and by age so it never had a boring homogenous feel to it. Politically these older areas-North Park, University Heights, Hillcrest-were also quite left-of-center though. Hope that helps.

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