Jax is the seat of Duval where court clerks stopped marrying str8s so they wouldn't have to marry gays. Fuck them. Not much there anyway. Though south of that is historic St. Augustine and south of that is the red neck Riviera of Daytona where bike week is fun.
By city, Orlando has the most gays as a percent of population.
By metro, it's Tampa Bay (Tampa, St Pete, Clearwater)
By consolidated metro it's Miami (Miami, WPB Ft Laud)
eagermuscle saidTampa Bay and Jacksonville are warm but aren't tropical. Both like a far more humid San Diego, they're Sable palm city. If you want to see coconut palms, turquoise water and really feel like you're in the tropics/Bahamas, visit Miami. Gay or straight, there are no substitutes for Miami Beach, Key Biscayne and Coconut Grove.
Tampa Bay and Sarasota grow pinnate palms, not just fan palms and I doubt some first time visitor from Kansas will know the difference between a coconut and a royal or foxtail.
Unless a coconut falls on his head, all he's gonna see is PALM TREE.
And there's a relatively new one that can handle cooler winters called a mule that I'm starting to see more of. It's a cross with I think a queen & pindo and looks coconut-ish.
As to your comment on water. The waters are pretty around the area Tampa Bay too, just not the bay Tampa Bay because it's mostly enclosed, not open like lower Biscayne Bay nor with the inlets of upper. But Sarasota Bay, especially around New Pass is stunning colors and Boca Ciega Bay over by St. Pete/Clearwter gets good colors too, because there's numerous inlets like Miami has from, say Haulover, south. The gulf when not churned by a storm has good color too, like the Atlantic though it seems to churn easier as it's shallower so can get more choppy in the right wind.
The biggest difference with water, I think, and I've done a lot of boating and swimming all around Florida, is that you'll have a way better chance of a wild dolphin encounter off Sarasota and St. Pete areas. You nearly never see them in south Florida near shore waters.
I've only been in the bays on the west coast twice that I actually didn't have a dolphin encounter in all my years in Florida and often they come over right where we're swimming. In south Florida the only wild dolphin encounters I've had were down the keys or heading out to the Bahamas. Never near shore Miami/Lauderdale/Boca. They don't seem to like it there.
So I think the big differences are that if you want art deco and night life, than hit Miami Beach. If you want American craftsman and wildlife, then hit Tampa.
If you do Miami, get out of civilization for a bit and check out either Fairchild Gardens or get into the Everglades and pet a gator.
Or if you do Tampa for more wildlife, than check out St. Pete downtown, Tampa downtown, and Ybor for night life.
Key Biscayne? You can do the Ritz when you get back to Kansas. Key Biscayne was more interesting decades ago when the zoo was there before moving to south Miami. Now it's just a place to park your Ferrari or dock your Zeelander.
Miami Beach Water
St. Pete Beach Water
Miami Beach Deco