Census: Dallas and Austin Among Country’s Gayest Cities
Two Texas cities ranked among the gayest cities in the country in 2010 census statistics that UCLA's Williams Institute analyzed.
Dallas ranked 19 on the list of 20 cities that demographer Gary Gates developed. Austin ranked seven, right behind Sacramento, Calif. Census data, however, places Dallas above its southern neighbor as the place with the most same-sex couples in Texas-with 6,876. Austin has 4,685 same-sex couples, while the census recorded 67,413 same-sex couples in the state.
Dallas has 15.1 same sex couples per 1,000 residents, which is twice the rate of Texas as a whole. This percentage is also higher than that found in Chicago and other larger cities.
In terms of Texas; Galveston, Austin, Pflugerville and Kyle follow Dallas in terms of their concentration of same-sex couples. Houston, the fourth largest city in the country, didn't even rank among the top five cities in the state.
"I was very surprised by this," said Dennis Coleman, executive director of Equality Texas. "All the indications are Houston has a very strong LGBT community, but even Pflugerville came out ahead."
Gates told EDGE that the new data show there is a visible LGBT community in Dallas, but he stressed the same also holds true for Houston, which has 10.6 same-sex couples per 1,000 residents. Houstonians also elected lesbian Mayor Annise Parker in Dec. 2009.
Gates said while the numbers aren't all in yet, he expects the national average will come in around eight or nine same-sex couples per 1,000 residents. Fort Worth has only 7.9 same-sex couples per 1,000 residents, while College Station has the least in the state with 3.5 same-sex couples per 1,000 residents. San Francisco has more than 33 same-sex couples per 1,000 residents.
"Dallas is on the map," said Gates of the statistics. "It shows acceptance has increased both in Dallas and in Texas."
Bob Witeck, a marketing consultant who has worked with both Gates and the census, said the good news is the data shows a recent spike in same-sex couples in places where before there didn't appear to be any or many.
"As visibility changes, people are less afraid to answer honestly," said Witeck. "Whether or not the true numbers are growing, the visibility is changing."
Even with the increases, some wonder whether less than 7,000 same-sex couples in one of the country's largest cities may be an under count. Gates and Witeck both say it might be, but Gates also says people in general are typically bad at estimating counts.
He points to one recent poll that found half of Americans believed the number of adults who identify as LGBT was roughly 25 percent. Gates put that number closer to four percent.
The census form provides the choices of husband, wife or unmarried partner. Gates said many same-sex couples use the term husband and wife and chose the answer that best described their relationship.
While the increased visibility may not have any immediate or direct impact on public policy, there could be a positive influence. Gates said the new data show same-sex couples live everywhere, making it harder for legislators to claim a given piece of legislation won't affect anyone in their district.
Witeck points out that the census data is the only tool that asks everyone in the country the same questions. Everything else is a survey or sample. That, he said, gives it gold standard status.
"It looms in importance," said Witeck.
Gates said the data shows same-sex couples as equal with other couples and gives support to the notion that they should be treated equally. Coleman thought the new data could be used to advance specific legislation-including a bill that state Rep. Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas) introduced that would allow both adoptive parents to be listed on a birth certificate.
"These are very good numbers to share with corporations and legislators as far as changing demographics here in the state," said Coleman.