One of the most common thoughts you might have before relocating anywhere is how accepting the locals are towards the LGBTQ+ lifestyle. It is a very valid concern and something that sadly still needs to be considered in this day and age.
To help queer folks who are considering moving to Gay West Virginia, we have put together this guide from experts on the ground, considering the pros and cons of life here, discussing LGBT rights in West Virginia and whether West Virginia embraces our community.
We also take a look at the most gay-friendly cities in West Virginia, and LGBT community organizations in West Virginia that you should be aware of!
West Virginia, ‘the Mountain State,’ is a state located in the Appalachian region of the United States, with a low cost of living, extensive state parks and affordable housing being a major draw for new residents. While it is certainly known for its natural beauty and a strong sense of community, the state has a history of being conservative and has not yet fully embraced the LGBT community.
Therefore, the life of an LGBT person in West Virginia may be challenging and may require a certain level of resilience and self-awareness.
First and foremost, it is crucial to note that West Virginia does not have many legal protections for LGBT individuals. The state does not have laws that protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in areas such as housing, employment, and public accommodations. This means that LGBT individuals may face discrimination in their daily lives and may have limited recourse.
Additionally, West Virginia has a relatively small LGBT community compared to other states, which means that it may be difficult to find support and resources. However, there are some organizations and groups that offer support to the LGBT community in West Virginia, such as Fairness West Virginia, which advocates for LGBT rights, and the West Virginia Free, which provides resources for LGBT individuals and families.
In terms of the social scene, it can be difficult to find LGBTQ-friendly venues and events, especially outside of the larger cities. While there are a few gay bars and clubs in larger cities such as Charleston, the state is known for being more conservative, and some rural areas might not be welcoming to the LGBTQ+ community.
It’s also vital to note that the healthcare system in West Virginia may not be as inclusive as in other states. It can be difficult to find healthcare providers who are knowledgeable about LGBTQ+ health issues and who are sensitive to the needs of queer patients. Therefore, it may be necessary to do some research before moving to the state, to find a healthcare provider that meets your needs.
It is all part of the potential challenges of moving here as a queer person, most of which can be overcome with a solid plan in place for finding support and resources.
As we said earlier, the state isn’t the most LGBT-friendly, but this doesn’t mean that there aren’t spaces and locations where the LGBT community can find a welcoming and inclusive environment. Several organizations and groups in West Virginia work to support and advocate for the rights of LGBT individuals in the state.
To reduce the stress of your relocation, we recommend engaging a gay realtor in West Virginia early in the process to help you find your new perfect home there. They will have up-to-the-minute information on the best cities and areas for LGBT people and be able to match your needs to a neighborhood most suited to you.
You can just start with a no-obligation conversation, and if you decide to continue with your move to West Virginia – they will not only have your best interests at heart but also ensure you are treated with dignity and respect throughout the entire process.
In this article we will cover...
- Highlights Of Moving To Gay West Virginia
- LGBTQ+ Rights In The USA
- Does West Virginia Embrace The LGBTQ Community?
- Is West Virginia An Expensive State To Move To?
- LGBTQ+ Community Organizations In West Virginia
- Most Gay-Friendly Cities In West Virginia
- Finding Gay Realtors In West Virginia
Highlights Of Moving To Gay West Virginia
West Virginia is the 10th-smallest state by area, and only has 1,793,716 residents – but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to do here. The capital and largest city, Charleston, is a bustling LGBTQ-friendly city that offers a variety of amenities and cultural activities, and that state has a rich history in coal mining and logging industries along with a unique political and labor history.
It’s hard not to get enthusiastic about the unique and tempting proposition that moving to West Virginia presents – especially once you get chatting with residents and long-time locals in the know about all their state’s hidden gems and best-kept secrets. After all, this is why many chose to live here.
Once you move here, you should quickly befriend locals, let them ‘spill the tea’ and then spend your free time discovering the best sights, food, nature and culture West Virginia has to offer. On top of this, thanks to an offbeat yet deeply engaged LGBT community – which congregates at a few fabulous queer hot spots – securing a relocation to West Virginia should allow you to meet local queer people with similar interests.
We are certain locals will have many more to add, but to get you excited, here are just a few highlights to look forward to as you become West Virginia’s newest denizen.
The Local Culture
West Virginians are often known for their strong sense of community, attributed to the state’s small-town atmosphere. Many locals take pride in their state and its culture and are known for being unpretentious and humble. This mindset is often reflected in their behavior since West Virginians are generally thought of as among the nicest people on the planet.
They welcome outsiders with open arms and are happy to share their home with visitors.
Life in West Virginia is known for its simplicity, which you can see in the laid-back attitude of its residents. People here can take their time and enjoy life’s simple pleasures rather than rushing through everything.
You can see this relaxed lifestyle in the state’s many small towns, known for their friendly atmosphere and a strong sense of community. These small towns are often the backbone of West Virginia’s culture, providing its residents with a sense of belonging and connection.
Natural Beauty Aplenty
West Virginia is known for its stunning natural landscapes. The state is home to the majestic Appalachian Mountains, which offer endless opportunities for hiking, skiing, and camping. The state also boasts a diverse array of flora and fauna, making it a popular destination for wildlife viewing and bird watching. The state also has many state parks, such as the Blackwater Falls State Park, the Babcock State Park, and the Hawks Nest State Park, that offer a variety of recreational activities.
Outdoor Recreational Opportunities Galore
In addition to the mountains, the state is also home to a variety of other recreational opportunities, such as biking, fishing, and rock climbing. The state also has a strong tradition of hunting and fishing, with many opportunities for both freshwater and saltwater fishing, as well as hunting for big and small game. The state is also home to several rivers, like the New River and the Gauley River, which are popular for white-water rafting and kayaking.
Strong sense of community: West Virginia is known for its strong sense of community and friendly people. The state’s small towns and rural areas are filled with tight-knit communities where neighbors look out for one another. The state’s strong sense of community is also reflected in its many festivals and events that take place throughout the year, such as the Vandalia Gathering, which celebrates the state’s rich heritage and culture.
Living Is Very Affordable
West Virginia has a relatively low cost of living compared to other states. The state’s housing market is affordable, and there are many opportunities to purchase or rent a home at a reasonable price. Additionally, the state’s low cost of living makes it an attractive destination for retirees and those on a fixed income.
Rich History And Culture
West Virginia has a rich history and heritage, with many historical sites and landmarks to visit, such as the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, the Cass Scenic Railroad State Park, and the West Virginia State Capitol. The state also has a thriving arts and music scene, with many galleries, museums, and concert venues to explore.
West Virginia might be the state for you if you’re looking for a more relaxed, small-town, or small-city lifestyle. You won’t have to deal with big city traffic jams, and you can quickly drive to the largest metropolitan areas in the state.
Additionally, the state’s mountains provide plenty of uncrowded spaces for those who prefer living in less populated areas. If you enjoy a peaceful, less crowded environment, you’ll likely enjoy living in West Virginia.
LGBTQ+ Rights In The USA
The laws governing lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people have altered considerably over time in the United States and vary from state to state. In many ways, LGBT rights are some of the best in the world – but the devil is in the detail, and some places are much more hostile to queer life than others.
While same-sex marriage has been legal in every state since the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges ruling on June 26, 2015 (before Obergefell v. Hodges, same-sex marriage was legal in 36 states and Washington, D.C. ), LGBT people are still treated differently in different states – both societally and as inequality under the law.
Over half of all states still allow discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression, while counties and cities within states often have distinct laws as well. While some states permit adoption by all couples, others forbid it for all unmarried couples.
This is all to say what most of us already know is that LGBT rights and equality differ greatly across the USA, and the specifics of family, marriage and anti-discrimination laws are different in every state.
Thus, while it is comforting to know that you can choose to marry whoever you love across the USA (and have it recognized as such) and are protected against hate crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity (which can be punished under Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009), there are still many questions you will likely have about moving to West Virginia and what you can expect of LGBT life there.
Does West Virginia Embrace The LGBTQ Community?
According to a recent study, the legal landscape in West Virginia puts the state’s LGBT population at risk of discrimination and harassment. This includes an estimated 57,800 LGBT adults and 10,300 LGBT youth. The study found that this discrimination and harassment has a significant negative impact on the social, economic, and health of the LGBT population and the state’s economy.
The economic impact is estimated to be millions of dollars each year. The study evaluated various forms of discrimination and harassment faced by the LGBT community in West Virginia, including discrimination and harassment in the workplace, housing, and public accommodations.
Additionally, it looked at the harassment and bullying of LGBT youth in schools and the rejection of LGBT youth by their families. The truth is that West Virginia’s economy could significantly improve if the state’s legal landscape becomes more supportive of LGBT individuals.
Experts suggest that including sexual orientation and gender identity in the state’s non-discrimination laws would be a step in the right direction. It is legal in West Virginia to discriminate against someone based on their sexual orientation in areas such as employment, housing, and public accommodations. This is considered unfair and detrimental to the state’s economy.
Efforts to raise awareness and advocate for the rights of LGBT individuals in West Virginia include the “Faces of Fairness” Film Tour, which educates the general public about the daily challenges faced by LGBT West Virginians. In a state where LGBTQ+ and Black individuals are minorities, Black LGBTQ+ individuals have particularly struggled to be seen and heard in the Appalachian community.
Programs like this aim to ensure that people hear their stories and that their rights are protected. In West Virginia, there are plenty of LGBTQ+ people of color that wouldn’t dare to be themselves because of the stigma they would face.
Is West Virginia An Expensive State To Move To?
West Virginia has a lower cost of living than many other parts of the United States. You can see this in the cost of living index of 90.5, which is below the national average.
Housing in West Virginia is relatively affordable compared to the rest of the country. As of 2022, the average home value in the state is $137,286, which is significantly lower than the US average of $428,700, and the high cost of housing in California, which is $790,475. However, the cost of housing will depend on the type of home you live in.
Food expenses in West Virginia are also lower than the national average. An estimated $3,351 or $280 monthly is spent by a single adult on groceries, while a family of four will pay about $9,865 annually or $822 monthly.
The cost of utilities, such as electricity, water, and internet, is also lower than the national average in West Virginia. However, the state needs to focus more strongly on sustainable energy sources.
Healthcare costs in West Virginia are among the highest in the country, with an average monthly cost of $710. This is significantly higher than the national average of $456 per month and higher than other states like Maryland, which has $337 per month.
Transportation: Transportation costs in West Virginia are also higher than the national average due to the mountainous terrain. Residents can expect to pay between $458 and $1,250 per head.
LGBTQ+ Community Organizations In West Virginia
Wherever you live, it is essential that you support LGBT organizations in any way you can use so that they can keep reaching out to and assisting other, more vulnerable members of the community. After all, we are stronger when we work together, and each of us will likely have a time in our lives when we require a little extra support.
Thankfully, West Virginia has a supportive and diverse LGBTQ community, which has helped the state become more gay-friendly in recent years.
As a result, there are a variety of LGBT resources available to community members, their allies, friends, and families – and you ought to feel free to utilize them or consider giving your support as needed to keep your new home state moving forwards! They are also great places to meet new people and find your queer chosen family in Gay West Virginia.
Fairness West Virginia (Fairness) is a statewide advocacy organization that ensures fair treatment and civil rights for LGBTQ+ West Virginians. Their mission is to promote an environment where LGBT individuals can be open, honest, and safe in their homes, workplaces, and communities. Fairness represents the diversity of Appalachia and welcomes anyone who supports fundamental fairness.
The Ian Thom Foundation is a non-profit organization that supports and enhances the lives and rights of LGBT individuals, as well as the arts and progressive causes. They provide donations to national and smaller community organizations, focusing on those that work to benefit under-represented members of the LGBT community.
The West Virginia Black Pride Foundation (WVBP) is a newly-founded non-profit organization dedicated to uplifting the voices, lives, and experiences of people of color within West Virginia’s LGBT community. They aim to improve equity, equality, and inclusiveness and address disparities within the community.
Huntington Pride is an organization that aims to build a strong, diverse, and vibrant LGBTQ+ community in Huntington. They hold various events to bring the community together to create a network and family that helps individuals thrive. They also try to raise awareness about the large and diverse LGBTQ+ community in Huntington and support individuals who struggle to come out and accept themselves.
Most Gay-Friendly Cities In West Virginia
In West Virginia, there are many wonderful areas to live in, but when relocating to LGBTQ West Virginia, you should be cognizant that there are a few cities and gaybourhoods that are nearer to the queer hubs of life. Knowing them will allow you to pull your U-Haul up to your new house in a gay-friendly neighborhood or town that is best suited to your needs.
If you’re a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or otherwise queer person seeking a welcoming neighborhood with facilities you’ll cherish, start with these top gay and gay-friendly West Virginia cities to discover your perfect new home, each with its distinct personality.
Give yourself enough time to acquaint yourself with West Virginia’s diverse personalities, and remember that there is no one perfect answer when it comes to the most gay-friendly places in West Virginia…and just because it does not make our list doesn’t necessarily make it a bad option.
We recommend speaking to a local LGBT real estate agent for a more detailed understanding of the best options today. Now, let’s take a look at where these fabulously gay-friendly cities in West Virginia are and why you might want to consider them!
Charleston, the capital city of West Virginia, is leading the way in creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for the LGBT community. The city of 51,000 has passed an ordinance prohibiting its discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations. In recent years, Charleston has transformed, particularly its housing market.
It is now a buyer’s market with various options, from lofts and apartments downtown to traditional homes with libraries and dining rooms. Charleston is also known for its rich cultural scene, with the West Virginia Symphony, the West Virginia Cultural Center, and the Clay Center all offering music, dance, theater, and art exhibitions from performers from all over the world.
The city is divided by the Kanawha River, with the downtown area on one side featuring shopping, dining, and parks among state buildings. On the other side, the South Hills neighborhood is home to upscale and specialty shops at Bridge Road.
The city’s gay nightlife scene has also been revitalized recently, with new hangouts opening alongside other longstanding clubs. Charleston, West Virginia, offers a vibrant and exciting gay nightlife scene for visitors to enjoy.
The city’s gay bars and nightclubs attract many gay, lesbian, and LGBT-friendly patrons from all over, adding an energetic and cultural atmosphere to the surrounding areas. These establishments are worth visiting for a fun night out and to experience the city’s diverse and inclusive culture.
Since being first included in the Municipal Equality Index (MEI) in 2012, the small town of Huntington has made significant progress in improving LGBTQ inclusivity. The city has more than doubled its MEI score and implemented anti-discrimination ordinances.
Additionally, the city launched the Open for All campaign, which encourages businesses to display a sticker indicating their support of the LGBTQ community. The Human Rights Campaign has recognized Huntington as a “shining beacon of hope” in a region not traditionally known for LGBTQ inclusivity.
Despite some of its societal and infrastructure challenges, Huntington offers diverse cultural experiences and opportunities. The city and surrounding areas offer activities and events ranging from dirt track races to theater performances.
As it is also the location of Marshall University, it provides opportunities for education and career development. Overall, Huntington is a city you should consider a diamond in the rough, with much to offer regarding diversity, culture, and opportunities.
Morgantown is a unique place in Appalachia, known for its inclusivity towards the LGBTQ+ community. Unlike many other places in West Virginia, Morgantown is more socially inclusive for the LGBTQ+ community.
Many heterosexual people living in West Virginia may not be aware of this, but Morgantown is certainly a destination for LGBTQ+ individuals to feel safe and accepted. The gay bar at 335 High Street in Morgantown, West Virginia, has served the state’s LGBTQ+ community for over 30 years.
It is currently known as Vice Versa but has been through many different names over the years. The establishment has provided a safe and inclusive space for the LGBTQ+ community to meet, perform and express themselves. In the past, when it was first known as The Class Act, patrons had to navigate a hostile and dangerous environment before entering the safety of the bar.
Morgantown is one of the more inclusive towns in West Virginia for the LGBTQ+ community. This is due in part to the efforts of the university to provide an inclusive campus. As a college town home to the West Virginia Mountaineers, the city offers a unique blend of culture, art, and entertainment.
The proximity to larger cities like Pittsburgh also adds to its appeal. Morgantown is a bustling college town with a burgeoning tech industry, and it offers a variety of options for entertainment, dining, and outdoor recreation.
It’s also a great place for those looking for a lower cost of living, a slower pace of life, or retirees searching for great healthcare and other amenities. With its reputation as “Almost Heaven,” West Virginia is a great place to call home.
Finding Gay Realtors In West Virginia
When looking for the ideal realtor, why would you consider someone’s sexuality? This may seem strange at first, but there are several reasons why contacting a gay realtor in West Virginia is a great way to find your dream house.
After all, when it relates to one of life’s most significant transactions, it’s not unreasonable to expect fair, equal, and honest representation from someone who understands the queer community’s particular needs and wishes.
Furthermore, unfortunately, many people (up to a third of Americans) believe that our community does not deserve protection and dignity in housing, adoption, employment, and other areas of life.
So it’s no surprise that LGBT people who use mainstream realtors often describe feelings of discomfort, unnecessary trouble, unenthusiastic representation, or even antagonism or outright contempt.
Everyone deserves a pleasant, stress-free home buying or selling experience while being adequately represented, and this is why we feel you should hire a gay realtor to assist you in finding your future home.
LGBTQ realtors are more likely to be familiar with the diverse communities in their area and know which ones may be best suited to you when looking for a home.
That’s not to say a heterosexual realtor isn’t capable, but they’ve probably never had to address many of the issues LGBT people face.
Rather than just being concerned with how bustling, fashionable, or up-and-coming a neighborhood is (or what it may appear like), gay realtors conduct extensive research into the neighborhoods in which they sell homes to ensure that clients are safe.
It used to be challenging to locate professional LGBT-friendly real estate agents in West Virginia, and it was virtually impossible to find one if you were relocating here from out of state and didn’t have access to a local referral.
You no longer have to search for a realtor without knowing whether or not they are accepting of others because you can use a list of gay, lesbian, and gay-friendly agents in West Virginia to do all of your homework for you.
Simply go to the page, and you’ll be presented with a free list of gay, lesbian, and gay-friendly agents who can help you with your relocation, as well as other useful information like LGBT+friendly schools, shopping, storage firms, tradespeople, and more.
Read the biographies of LGBT real estate agents, then choose the one that is right for you. It’s critical that you find someone who will be by your side and support you and your family during one of life’s most exciting occasions.
Even better, there is no hidden motive, cost, or obligation whatsoever!