According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, more and more LGBT people are moving to states that are traditionally conservative (those that go red during elections, i.e., have mostly Republican leadership). These states often have very few or no anti-discrimination laws or hate crimes. In fact, some of them have legislators and other elected officials actively working to pass laws that would harm LGBT people. So why are more people moving to these states when most would expect it to be the opposite?
Consumer Affairs recently analyzed Gallup and the Census Bureau data gathered from between 1993 and 2014 that included LGBT residents and where they lived. The data looked at the top 20 cities that saw the most LGBT people move to them. Out of those 20, 11 were in cities in that are generally considered very conservative. These cities are in states such as Texas, Louisiana, Kentucky, and Virginia.
Salt Lake City, home of the Mormon Church, saw the largest increase in its LGBT community. In 1993, it ranked 39th on the list. In 2014, it had moved up to 7th. Other cities that saw a large increase in their LGBT populations include Louisville, Indianapolis, and Norfolk. On the other hand, cities that are often considered major LGBT communities saw their populations actually drop. New York, San Diego, and Minneapolis were among the more liberal cities that saw LGBT people leave.
There are a number of different reasons why LGBT people are making these moves. Some see the need to change the policies in these states, and they can’t do it unless they live there. Others see that the larger cities in these states are becoming more and more accepting of LGBT citizens. With 5 percent of the population of Salt Lake City now identifying as LGBT, there’s no denying their voice.
The biggest reason why LGBT people may be moving to red states; however, is obvious to gay and lesbian real estate agents: it’s the economy. Homes tend to be cheaper in the south and in states such as Utah. San Francisco and New York are prohibitively expensive, while these smaller metro areas are cheaper yet still tend to have much of what larger cities offer. Younger people are especially drawn to these lower prices, especially those who have just graduated college and have little in the way of savings. As LGBT acceptance continues to grow, it may be cities in these red states that become the new gay meccas.