The Bible Belt of the U.S. is the term used to refer to states in the south-central and southeastern part of the country. These states have an overwhelmingly large number of socially conservative religious people, and these evangelical Christians tend to play a large role in politics and society overall. Church attendance is higher in this area than the national average. The Bible Belt is generally defined as including all or parts of Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, North Carolina, and South Carolina. However, there are definitely parts of these states that are NOT part of this Bible Belt, such as New Orleans, South Florida, and South Texas.
Being Gay in the Bible Belt, as you might expect, can be challenging. These states almost overwhelmingly vote for conservative candidates who are against LGBT rights, and many of them quickly and overwhelmingly voted for constitutional bans on same-sex marriage. It’s only been thanks to the Supreme Court that LGBT people have gained the right to marry in all of the 50 states.
Even though these areas are notorious for being anti-LGBT, there are some very liberal cities. Atlanta, Georgia, for example, is incredibly accepting and welcoming overall. The Westside area, the Buckhead neighborhood, and the Little Five Points district are all very diverse and welcoming. Arkansas has Eureka Springs, Texas has the Dallas/Fort Worth area, and Tennessee has Chattanooga. These are just a few of the cities in the Bible Belt where LGBT people will feel safe.
It’s not that the Bible Belt has very few LGBT people—as a matter of fact, there are a good many who live in the South, but most of them are simply not out. If you’re single and moving to the Bible Belt, you may not find that many people hanging out at the local LGBT bar (if there is one). Instead, you’ll probably find many of them in gay dating sites or gay apps. Even in those cities that have major gay districts or are considered very gay-friendly, you may not see people flying rainbow flags.
If you are a gay guy living in the Bible Belt, chances are you may feel misunderstood and isolated. Take heart — there are many others like you in your region. Gays in the Bible Belt just need to do a little more searching than usual to find others like them. There are many online resources that can help you in this endeavor. Being gay in the South is certainly not easy, but a sense of community can help whether you’re deep in the closet, transitioning or out and proud.
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