The LGBTQ Love Affair With Big Cities
Updated: Sep 8, 2018
Maybe we just want to be surrounded by noise and rats all the time, okay?
I’m sitting in a New York City coffee shop as I write this, surrounded by chatter and the smell of espresso being mixed with milk to create the perfect latte. The hustle and bustle of the city is going strong outside the window, while the interior is filled with soft music and the babble of dozens of conversations. People have places to be and people to see, and everyone here is focused more on themselves than they are on anyone else.
This coffee shop is the perfect microcosm of the typical big city - busy, noisy, and full of motivated people from all walks of life. There’s no judgement, there’s no wasted time, and there’s nothing holding you back from doing whatever you want to do.
I think this, in essence, is why LGBTQ people tend to flock to big cities. I haven’t seen any official studies, but if you were to do a heat map of the continental United States that showed where all of the LGBTQ people lived, I think cities across the country would be bright, burning red - while rural areas would likely be a cool blue. It’s just a fact that cities are full of LGBTQ people, while most rural areas are not.
There’s a sterotype that LGBTQ people tend to make a big transition from rural to urban areas as they move through life, and I think there’s a lot of truth to that assumption. Let’s try to break down why.
First off, there’s something very intriguing about the glitter of a big city for anyone, but specifically for our community. Big cities seem to glimmer with opportunity, but also with mystery and intrigue - there are so many people in them that it seems like you could find the adventure of a lifetime if you moved to one. The draw is irresistible for people who are looking for genuine connections with other people like them.
Then there are rural areas, which tend to be the exact opposite. There are great aspects about living in a rural environment for certain types of people, but the fact of the matter is that rural areas tend to be set in their ways. There’s a lot of tradition steeped in the fields of rural places, and it’s sometimes difficult to buck those traditions to make a better life for yourself if you’re seen as “different” from the norm.
Unfortunately, LGBTQ people are often seen as “different” in most rural areas. It’s not that people set out to discriminate and drive us away (typically), but young LGBTQ people in these areas tend to be trailblazers - and trailblazers often set the fires of change, which scares people who are rooted in their traditions and beliefs. Because of the difficulty associated with changing people’s minds, LGBTQ people often choose to leave instead.
Where else to go but a big city, where most LGBTQ people are accepted and even common in some cases? Sometimes the draw isn’t even the city itself, but rather what the city represents - which is acceptance and a chance at a “normal” life, one in which all of your interactions are not based on your sexual orientation or gender identity.
In cities, it’s often easier for LGBTQ people to just be people, rather than LGBTQ people. In rural areas and smaller towns, where we are less common, we are often seen as “the LGBTQ person.” We may be seen that way and loved regardless, but at the end of the day, we are often still boiled down to one aspect of our identity, which colors all of our interactions.
It’s no mystery that many of us want to flee to a place where opportunity abounds and we have a better shot at romance, sex, a career without limitations, and so much more. Cities are not for everyone, but I think it's quite understandable that so many of us end up living in one, at least for a while.
This post is not meant to slander rural areas in favor of urban ones, but rather to help people understand why cities are so full of LGBTQ people, while rural areas are not. There are certainly some members of our community who are attracted to rural areas and want to live a more low-key life. And those people are completely valid and deserve to do everything they want to do. But many of us forsake the peace and quiet of the fields for the hustle and bustle of the city.
I just hope that someday, the conversation isn’t centered on how “accepting” one environment is as opposed to another one. I hope it’s just a question of whether or not you want 13 acres and cows in your backyard, or whether you want to wake up to the sound of car horns in your high rise in the city. And regardless of what you choose, everyone will love you and support you for it.
This week’s post was brought to you by I Know The Way Home by Andrew Galucki, because it’s a beautiful song that matches the message of this post: home is wherever you want it to be.
PS - If you like what you see, feel free to click here to subscribe to my posts. If you’re not ready for that type of commitment, start by following me on social (Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook). Wishing you all the best.