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Parts of New England are surprisingly friendly to gay and lesbian culture, while other parts are still deeply antipathetic toward the culture. As elsewhere in the country, the larger cities tend to be more accommodating to gay travelers than smaller towns.

Boston, of course, has the region's largest gay population, many concentrated in the South End neighborhood; in fact, many locals credit gays and lesbians with transforming Southie from a downtrodden, working-class 'hood into its current incarnation as home to many of the city's quirkiest antiques shops, restaurants, and B&Bs.

Provincetown, Massachusetts (at the very end of Cape Cod), is without a doubt the most gay-friendly town in New England. Rainbow flags fly proudly throughout the town, and it's safe to say this is a must-visit place for any first-time gay or lesbian traveler to the region.

Northampton, Massachusetts -- home to Smith College -- boasts a substantial and thriving lesbian community.

Overall, Vermont has traditionally been the most welcoming of the New England states to gay travelers; it is a specific destination for visitors who want to utilize or support the state's law acknowledging civil unions. For information on Vermont civil unions, visit the state-run website www.sec.state.vt.us/otherprg/civilunions/civilunions.html.

Ogunquit, on the southern Maine coast, is a hugely popular destination among gay travelers and features a lively beach and bar scene in the summer. In the winter, it's less active and more mellow. A well-designed website, www.gayogunquit.com, is one good place to find information on gay-owned inns, restaurants, and nightclubs in town.

Finally, Portland, Maine, has a substantial gay population and hosts a gay-pride festival each summer. In early 1998, Maine narrowly repealed a statewide gay-rights law that had been passed earlier by the state legislature. In Portland, however, the vote was nearly four to one against the repeal and in support of equal rights. Portland also has a municipal ordinance that prohibits discrimination in jobs and housing based on sexual orientation.

For more gay and lesbian travel resources, visit www.frommers.com/planning.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.