Recently I found out that the city of Raleigh welcomes gay folks.
It's true! The Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau has a specific page for it's LGBT visitors (and there's even a link from it's main visitor page). They've gotten a rainbow acorn logo, since Raleigh is 'the city of oaks.'
It's definitely a sign of progress and fairness to be visible within a city, but it's an additional step forward when the city itself visibly invites you. One of the tools of bigotry is active ignorance, pretending that a group doesn't exist or even working to closet it or hide its existence. It's much harder to discriminate against people when you see them, when they become a real, human group.
It's amazingly thrilling and validating for a city to say "hey, gay folks, you're welcome here."
It's also pretty savvy, especially in these tough economic times, to reach out to any group. Pink dollars spend just as well as any other, and according to the Gay Financial Network, LGBT folks are more likely to search out and support gay-inclusive companies and communities than other consumers.
The discovery of the 'Greater Raleigh Gay and Lesbians Visitors Guide and Info' site lead to another discovery - the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association, a nonprofit organizations which describes itself as the leading global organization dedicated to connecting businesses in the GLBT tourism industry.
Two other places in North Carolina have registered with the IGLTA: