You’re So Gay, Massachusetts
Among the 50 states, Massachusetts has the sixth highest percentage of self-identifying lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender people living in its borders, according to a new Gallup poll, behind Hawaii, Vermont, Oregon, Maine, and Rhode Island (and D.C.)
Gallup asked poll respondents, “Do you, personally, identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender?” and found that overall, 3.5 percent of respondents answered yes. In Massachusetts, that number was 4.4 percent, putting us slightly above average. What’s surprising here isn’t that Massachusetts has more gay people than, say, Mississippi (which has 2.6 percent), but that it doesn’t have that many more people than do states we might consider inhospitable. Gallup noted that the real takeaway from their study is that LGBT people aren’t particularly clustered in any one place:
Overall, the results from this analysis of LGBT identity by state may run counter to some stereotypes that portray the LGBT community as heavily grouped in certain states of the union. With the exception of the District of Columbia, the range in percentage LGBT is 3.4 percentage points, from 1.7% in North Dakota to 5.1% in Hawaii.
Even so, to the extent that there are differences, they found—surprising no one—that the states with the highest percentages of LGBTs tended to be more politically liberal while the states with the lowest tended to be conservative. Gallup can’t decide whether that’s because gay people living in Mississippi are more afraid to admit their sexuality to a pollster or because they’ve high-tailed it to New York City, though they suspect it’s the former:
States with high LGBT percentages tend to be more liberal and have more supportive LGBT legal climates, while those at the lower end of the LGBT spectrum are generally the most conservative. This suggests that one explanation for the variation across states is the relationship between the willingness to disclose LGBT identity and the environment of one’s state of residence. It is also possible that LGBT adults make conscious choices to reside in certain states rather than others, but this possibility is difficult to assess and seems less likely.
The results are especially interesting because they mark the first time Gallup has been able to offer a snapshot of sexual orientation by state. They call this “the largest single study of the distribution of the LGBT population in the U.S. on record, and the first time a study has had large enough sample sizes to provide estimates of the LGBT population by state.” So there you go, Massachusetts.