Columbus: Best Place to Live for Gays & Lesbians
Columbus is featured in this month’s The Advocate national gay newsmagazine alongside cities like San Diego, Calif., Dallas, Texas and Portland, Oregon as one of the best places in the country for gays and lesbians to live.
Reprinted from The Advocate newsmagazine (March 27, 2007 issue)
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME: $43,535
MEDIAN HOUSE COST: $218,000
GAY COMMUNITY CENTER: Stonewall Columbus Community Center
GAY PUBLIC OFFICIALS: Mary Jo Hudson, city council member
PRO-GAY LAWS OR PUBLIC POLICIES: No discrimination in all of the city’s “employment decisions, programs, services, and activities.”
“I grew up in a small town in Ohio,” says elementary school teacher Brett Gambill, 27. “I could not wait to get to Columbus. It’s wonderful to be in a place that is supportive and friendly. I don’t have a reason to leave. It’s a big hometown.”
Gambill lives in Victorian Village, one of several gayborhoods around downtown Columbus. In the nearby Short North Arts District, same-sex couples are seen holding hands while strolling in and out of the area’s many eclectic shops. “You drive down our main drag, and as you get from north campus [of Ohio State University] to downtown there are maybe 40 gay pride flags on different businesses,” says Molly Muth, 48, an account manager for a computer company who lives in the Clintonville neighborhood with her partner of 10 years, Judy Herendeen, 54. “It used to be a run-down, dilapidated area. Now it’s the kind of place you want to take people. There are lots of galleries and restaurants and bars.”
There are good jobs and affordable housing too, buoyed by the presence of the university. And there are many beautiful parks and bike paths around the city.
The first Saturday of every month is Gallery Hop in the Short North. Art galleries stay open late, there’s live music, and the whole place turns into a kind of street party. “It’s not just gay people,” Gambill says. “It’s diversity, I love it.”
The state of Ohio has one of the worst anti-gay marriage laws on the books, but that doesn’t bother Gambill or Muth. “We have a political climate that’s warming up to the fact that we exist,” Muth says.