Move Over San Fran And NYC! Why Is Columbus Becoming America’s #1 Gay City?

In the Best of GayCities: The World According to Gays, Columbus, Ohio was named the Up-and-Coming Gay City of 2011. And as the city’s 30th pride celebration approaches this weekend, we’re wondering—will Columbus soon beat out San Francisco and Minneapolis as America’s gayest city?

And as much as Ohio gets lumped into the Midwest, Columbus demonstrates something of an Eastern sensibility. The secret is that Columbus’s queer Pride comes not from its restaurants, galleries, and clubs but rather from its queer history.

Even though some of the city’s first pride marchers in 1981 wore bags over their heads to conceal their identities, the queer population still spent the next three decades quietly building Columbus’ neighborhoods and embedding themselves citywide. Now Columbus has a widespread LGBT population with $7.5 billion in purchasing power that has helped establish the queer community as an integral part of the culture.

The city also boasts a large university, numerous surrounding liberal arts colleges, and gay-friendly businesses (like Limited Brands and Abercrombie & Fitch) that have based their headquarters there, all of which contribute have encouraged more LGBTs to move into the area.

During Netroots Nation, Queerty has slept with spoken to some of the residents of Minneapolis—the city that’s supposedly gayer than Columbus—and they hate it here. They think it’s a conformist jail.

Well… at least two of them think that.