Destinharbor saidThe South is an odd place. You'll love having access to nature and the cities in NC are actually mostly progressive and gay friendly. I'm a Southerner and can't for the life of me figure out where all those trailers in the woods are that produces the redneck voting patterns. Although I will say a lot of southerners that vote Republican seem otherwise socially liberal and educated. You should have no problems and will love living among polite people.
Don't be to put off from the impression of people who hate the south. The right wing politics are bad publicity and scare most gay men away. NC is actually a swing state but that doesn't really explain the complicated politics alluded to in Destin's post. It is more blue red pocodots than solidly red.
Unfortunately Greenville is not a big college town despite the presence of ECU. That part of NC is rather depressing. Durham/Chapel Hill is the most liberal part of the state. It is like a small version of Austin there though, Durham and Chapel hill put together would be smaller and more liberal than Austin. Raleigh/Cary is more corporate and still moderately blue. Most gay men go to Raleigh because they prefer bigger cities but Durham/Chapel Hill is more welcoming. In fact the latter is not just gay friendly but a lot of straight people are more than willing to help us out politically. Charlotte the closest the state has to a big city. It is also corporate and moderately blue but it is surrounded by bright red counties and mega-churches. The city of Asheville is liberal but the surrounding area is bright red. Then there are the swing counties that have liberal cities such as Boone, Winston Salem, Greensboro, Wilmington and the outerbanks.
The state has the greatest geographic and climatic diversity in the east. It has the highest mountains, highest elevation towns, deepest gorge, and I would guess it has the highest percentage of pristine undeveloped beaches and the best surfing in the east. The climate ranges from palm trees, and spanish moss in the southeastern part of the state to a northern new england climate in the locations above 5000 feet.
The bad news is that it is in the south and with that comes a lot historical baggage (such as zealots, bigots, and bible thumpers) outside its liberal pockets. In a place like Greenville you will invariably meet them, in a place like Chapel Hill or Durham you may find you see them more on TV or the Radio that up close. I have lived up and down the east coast and have decided you pick your poison. I love New England and upstate NY but the winters are beyond harsh and the population can become very withdrawn as a result. DC to New York is clogged with traffic and overcrowding and still a lot of bad weather and an in your face aggressive mentality. South of Northern Va you have to deal with southern baggage unless you take refuge in one of the liberal pockets.