Sara Whitman

Watch Out! Here Come the Queers

Filed By Sara Whitman | November 06, 2007 8:37 AM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: Gary Gates, UCLA, US Census

Gary J. Gates, Senior Research Fellow, Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law has released a study, Geographic Trends Among Same-Sex Couples in the U.S. Census and the American Community Survey, showing a massive increase in same sex couples especially in the Mountain, Midwest and Southern regions.

And massive is being gentle. Try a 863% increase from 1990 to 2006 Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee. A 698% increase in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Montana, Utah, Nevada and Wyoming.

Utah? Kentucky? Maybe I was sleeping but I did not see a stylish, yet comfortable covered wagon train of LGBT folks heading out to the range. Gates acknowledges in his report that couples how have “been historically least accepted” are in fact “coming out and identifying themselves in government surveys.”

I have always questioned the “one in ten” formula for gays and lesbians, the notion that one person in ten is gay. Sexuality is too fluid for that number, and according to Kinsey more people live in the middle of the bell curve than on the extremes. Now, it seems, people are more willing to talk about it, say it out loud and scribble in the appropriate bubble on the census forms.

In fact, as The Economist reported “ As recently as 1982, only 34% of Americans thought homosexuality should be considered an acceptable alternative lifestyle. Now, 57% do. Since young Americans are far more relaxed about homosexuality than their elders—three-quarters of 18-34-year-olds think it is OK to be gay, whereas half of those over 55 think it is not—this trend is likely to continue. “

Hello? The Economist is reporting on this? Today articles about gays and lesbians in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and other mainstream papers are common place. Being identified as queer isn’t such a big deal anymore, although we have lost some of the "chic" of the mid nineties when k.d. lang graced the cover of Vanity Fair being shaved by Cindy Crawford.

I miss those days.

Today, we’re more likely to have news coverage based on educational issues, neighborhood gentrification, or effective product placement to hone in on the growing two working moms, two kids, mini van crowd.

We’re here, we’re queer and we love a nice latte with a low fat muffin on the way to our kids soccer game.

It should surprise no one, really, because homosexuality has been around since the dawn of time. We're the two little old ladies who lived down the street that never married, or the gentlemen who run a farm together minus girlfriends. We live in literature as the unmarried Uncle who wears a smoking jacket and silk ascot, or in film as the spinster school teacher in love with a colleague.

Fear is what kept us quiet. Fear of violence against us, fear of losing our jobs. Recent legal steps forward in states like Massachusetts, where we can live and be recognized as equal citizens is making us bold even in Alabama. We are standing to be counted because as Frederick Douglass noted, "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will."

In Gate’s conclusion, he notes that “increases in the number of same-sex couples have outpaced broader population increases in all areas of the country.” No one missed the covered wagons dotting the horizon.

We were already there.

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gosh, alex... that suprisingly looks like what I wrote yesterday... or should I go look in the mirror and see if I suddenly look twenty years younger!

I don't know if my experience is typical or not. I suspect it is for the midwest. My partner and I are both 43. We have been together 24 years, and actually have known each other longer than that. We did not come out until we were 38. We certainly did not 'check the box' on the census form last time around.

We most definitely will on the next one.

I don't believe our decisions to not fill out the form honestly or come out were influenced as much by our outer surroundings as our internal fears.

I do believe that seeing gay prom royalty and lesbians voted the cutest couple can't help but to shine a light on the boogey man that is on the other side of the closet door.

Sorry! Forgot to update user ID! Thanks Sara!

Wow, Sarah this is a really wonderful post. Kudos!

I agree that this is a great post!

I definitely think this isn't some great gay migration to the Midwest (and here we all thought Brokeback Mountain had truly made a lasting impact). It's like you said, Sarah, we have been there all along and are now simply stepping out of the shadows in record numbers.

We’re here, we’re queer and we love a nice latte with a low fat muffin on the way to our kids soccer game.


Seriously, too true.