CHARLOTTE — Two North Carolina cities have been named in an annual list of the top 10 “Gay Ghettos” in the U.S.

Compiled by the owners of GayRealEstate.com, the list is topped by a two-way tie between Atlanta, Ga., and Portland, Ore. Charlotte comes in at third, with Raleigh ranked fourth in a tie with Tampa, Fla. Charlotte and Raleigh scored high marks for their strong business climate and arts opportunities.

Jeff Hammerberg, founder and president of GayRealEstate.com, told Q-Notes that the “Gay Ghetto” rankings are measured by how many LGBT people are moving to a city, living there and requesting information.

More than 50 Carolinas LGBT or friendly real estate agents show up in a search of GayRealEstate.com. The site bills itself as the nation’s “number one source representing the rights of gay and lesbian home buyers and sellers.”

“Each year we choose our Gay Ghetto Top 10 by cross-analyzing demographics against real estate sales data to discover those especially prized metropolitan areas throughout the USA that are most in vogue with the diverse GLBT community,” explained the GayRealEstate.com release.

“When the number crunching is over, we usually have 10 distinct winners, individually ranked by virtue of their popularity. But for 2008 we have some unique and special surprises — including three 2-way ties and a 3-way tie. Our top 10 are so outstanding, in other words, that they rate higher than ever.”
The list and the written summary for each city follows.

The 2008 Gay Ghetto Top 10

Atlanta, Ga., and Portland, Ore.
Atlanta — The “Peach City” reigns as the South’s LGBT capital and continues to attract record numbers of LGBT newcomers each year. Combine Southern charm and hospitality with the exciting urban sophistication and thriving economic base of a world-class cosmopolitan city and you have the unique Hot ‘Lanta cocktail. The midtown hosts a well-established gay enclave, but at least half a dozen other districts are up-and-coming LGBT ghetto centers.

Portland — The “Rose City” boasts a thriving arts scene that ranks among America’s best; and its Hawthorne District is home to one of the most concentrated lesbian communities on the continent. Portland’s Burnside Triangle is a triangular district that underwent a complete renaissance and is now thoroughly established as a LGBT enclave stretching over several energetic city blocks. The influence of Burnside spreads into nearby neighborhoods including the Pearl District (a former industrial section of old Portland that now booms with art and commerce) and the rather upscale and upbeat Northwest neighborhood.

Charlotte, N.C.
Charlotte is one of the largest banking centers in the world and is second only to NYC in that respect. But the “Queen City” also benefits from a powerfully funded arts community and offers wonderful museums, entertainment venues and an eclectic mix of 19th century neighborhoods and sleek urban downtown architecture. Neighborhoods like South End and NODA (North Davidson Street) enjoy a thriving LGBT presence and the city has other desirable and affordable enclaves including tree-lined Windsor Park.

Raleigh, N.C., and Tampa/St. Pete Metro Area, Fla.
Raleigh — Raleigh is North Carolina’s capital city and occupies one section of the Piedmont region’s Research Triangle. It benefits from an expanding arts and entertainment scene and an overabundance of renowned universities and high-tech industries. Raleigh is also fast becoming a capital city for LGBT communities. Housing is affordable; upside economic and population growth potential is strong, and it is centrally located between the pristine Outer Banks coastal region and the wildly popular Blue Ridge Mountains.

Tampa/St. Petersburg Metro — If 300 days of sunshine each year along some 40 miles of beachfront appeal to you, that might explain why Tampa and St. Petersburg have experienced a steady influx of like-minded LGBT residents and business owners during the past decade. Downtown’s Central Avenue underwent a complete revitalization and the city hosts Florida’s biggest LGBT festival. Art enthusiasts appreciate the fact that while this metro area is a great place to buy a permanent or vacation home for equity appreciation; it also serves as the proud home to the most extensive collection of Salvador Dali paintings outside of Spain.

Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, and Short Hills/Metuchen, N.J.
Dallas/Fort Worth — Dallas has a relatively young population, a steady economy, a low cost of living, and one of the biggest commercial fashion and furniture districts in the U.S. The “Big D” is also big in terms of LGBT communities that can be found throughout the sprawling city with a high concentration along Greenville Ave., Cedar Springs Rd., and Oak Lawn Ave. The Dallas gay Mecca converges in the gorgeous historic Turtle Creek area — home to the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Dallas Theater Center. Neighboring Fort Worth is a smaller city with big city LGBT amenities including its own gay film festival and rodeo.

Short Hills/Metuchen Area — Natural and historical beauty, vibrant downtown venues that retain quaint charms but exceptionally innovative restaurants and shops, the nationally recognized Paper Mill Playhouse, a first-class school system, and easy commutes into the Big Apple all conspire to make this area a uniquely awesome place to live. These valuable features have not been lost on the LGBT community that thrives in this Victorian-era central New Jersey enclave of restored antique homes and outstanding real estate investment opportunities.

Palm Springs, Calif., Chicago Metro Area, Ill., and Austin, Texas
Austin — Austin has a long reputation for gay-friendliness, and what was long ago a large gay underground is now a tremendously creative LGBT synergy that permeates the whole city in full view of everyone. Austin is the state capital, an important academic center, and the music industry’s newest crown jewel. Plus the city has a high-tech industry presence only rivaled by Silicon Valley. Austin offers a wide range of LGBT enclaves that are literally all over the map, and Texas is famous for low taxes and high growth.

Chicago — “Chi-town” surprises many newcomers who do not expect so much abundant and accessible green space — including many miles of public lakefront parks — in such a large American city. Better-known assets include the entire range of big city perks and activities — from major sports teams and museums to world famous restaurants and a sizzling music scene. The local LGBT celebration attracts half a million people for its annual parade, and scores of them stay each year to become fulltime residents of the numerous architecture-rich neighborhoods found in the wonderful Windy City.

Palm Springs — Ideally situated two hours from Los Angeles and San Diego, Palm Springs combines sunny days, breathtaking mountain views, exotic nightlife, an historic downtown village, and an array of galleries, gardens, museums, shops, and restaurants. These days it also offers rare affordability, as California’s housing prices have fallen from their high perch to become much more accessible. In 2008 the town offers rare opportunities for upward equity appreciation. Plus same-sex marriage is now legal. No wonder Palm Springs has emerged as one of the most dynamic and fast-growing LGBT destinations in the U.S. Trace the social migration of America’s LGBT population through history. What emerges is a virtual blueprint for success in terms of smart growth, savvy investment, vibrant arts and culture, robust economics, low crime, high property value, superior schools and model communities.

Photo Credit: VisitCharlotte.com

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.