This is an age-old question that we’ve laid out the answer for below. Both cities are fabulous meccas of glitter and rainbows, but it ultimately comes down which aspects of a city carry the most weight for you. Find out which city would be best based on which category is most near and dear.
Nightlife: New York
While San Francisco may be able to brag about its diverse LGBT scene, it’s scene is less raucous and dominated by small, intimate bars. If you’re looking for a party, New York it is! With a slew of fabulous clubs like G Lounge and Atlas Social Club, plus endless events, it’s the undisputed gay party capital of the world.
So who comes out on top? With 6 of the two categories (and 2 ties), New York reigns supreme as the most fabulous city for gay men! So break out those dancing shoes and go party!
I know we got you all excited by promising one winner in each category, but we just couldn’t in good conscious pick one champion here. Let’s be honest, comparing the food scene in New York and San Francisco is like comparing apples and avocados (cheesy pun intended). New York reigns when it comes to bagels, pizza, Italian, burgers & dogs and Greek and of course delis, San Francisco earns her tiara for Mexican, Asian (sushi, anyone) and phenomenal coffee.
Diversity: New York
While San Francisco may be overwhelmingly white and Asian, it’s the only city where you’ll see drag queens crowding a city bus on a weekday morning. We also can’t ignore the magnitude of The Big Apple. The city alone is home to a whopping ten times more people than in the fair City By The Bay and hosts burgeoning Asian, Jewish and Latino communities. Hey, it’s pretty hella gay, too, and by sheer numbers, it’s the gayest place in the United States. Just look at the number of clones in neighborhoods like Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen.
Nearby Escapes: San Francisco
New York has Fire Island, Provincetown and Atlantic City (gross, we know). San Francisco has Russian River, Tahoe and Napa. The running was tight, but in the end, it was a no-brainer. With stunning beaches, skiing, hiking and ultra-gay resorts all within just a few hours’ drive, San Francisco takes the cake. New York may boast similar nearby attractions, but in Cali, you can walk around in board shorts a muscle tee year-round. Hey, it’s February and San Franciscans are slathering on sunscreen and traipsing about in flip flops.
Recreation: New York
SF, feel free to geek out with tech nerds or strip down to a leather jock strap at Folsom. In New York, well…New York has pretty much every kind of gay entertainment you can imagine, from a massive gay pride to bustling club and bar scenes. Let’s not forget about gay mainstays like the Black Party, the White Party, plus more whimsical annual events like the gender-bending Bushwig drag fest and the devilishly delicious International Escort Awards.
Friendliness: San Francisco
While New York, undeniably, is where the gay equality movement started—props, guys—we simply can’t ignore the rainbow flag-draped streets of San Francisco and generally accepted pronoun fluidity. Stroll down any street, and guy-on-guy and girl-on-girl hand-holding action is ubiquitous.
Architecture: New York
Celebrated gay playwright Tennessee Williams famously said, “America has only three cities: New York, San Francisco and New Orleans. Everywhere else is Cleveland.”
(No disrespect to Cleveland of course.)
If we’re going to be really honest here, with its preponderance of Antebellum mansions and stunning Spanish architecture, New Orleans wins hands down, but we also know we’re comparing San Francisco and New York.
San Francisco architecture was likely, by and large, the inspiration for “Little Boxes” (familiar to you Weeds fans out there)—generic and functional, at best. And while brownstone walkups might not be so much better, we have admit a soft spot for shiny, phallic skyscrapers pricking the sky all across Manhattan.
Getting Around: New York
That boy in the Sunset may be hard to get to on Muni (or the lack thereof)—but so is the the one in Jamaica Queens (if we’re being fair). But New York’s mass transit system is the most extensive in North America and is still cheaper than Muni, if less entertaining. Props to the endlessly inspiring and laugh-inducing sights on San Francisco’s trams, buses and trains.
Dating: New York
Flakiness, diversity, friendliness—all these traits affect how successful you are at dating, and the east/west temperament is pretty darn different. While the boys in San Francisco may be more carefree (and furry), the boys in New York will actually show up when you ask them out (must be a lawyer/hedge fund thing).
To be fair, both cities present similar drawbacks: A preponderance of both tourists and boys who are working too much to have time for more than casual fun.
Which is more worth it? The rent is too damned high in both places. This wouldn’t have been true just a few years ago, but with rents skyrocketing by triple-digit percentages each quarter, the City By The Bay is giving even Manhattan a run for its money when it comes to the most expensive area in the United States. A two-bedroom in San Francisco will set you back about $4000/month, while a two-bedroom in New York (the entire city) average about $3500/month, according to RentJungle.com. Of course, rents vary quite a bit by neighborhood, and Manhattan remains the most expensive neighborhood in the United States.
So what does all this mean? Regardless of what city you live in, you’ll probably be sleeping in a living room/lacking a door, meaning hooking up is going to be painfully difficult. That’s why bath houses in San Francisco and New York are so important.