Tabulating the U.S. gay and lesbian populations has never been easy. Not only are many people reluctant to discuss intimate matters, but also their sense of identity evolves: today's gay man may have been straight yesterday. Like past efforts, the 2000 U.S. decennial census undoubtedly un-dercounted them, but it does provide substantial new information—specifically, on those gays and lesbians who live together as couples.
SOURCE: U.S. Decennial Census, 2000
The census form asked respondents to classify any unrelated people in their household as a housemate, boarder, foster child, unmarried partner or other nonrelative. If the unmarried partner is reported to be of the same sex, that partner and the respondent are very likely gay or lesbian. The census showed that 0.6 percent of men and 0.5 percent of women 18 years of age and older live together as same-sex unmarried partners. The data provide a good indication of geographic distribution. The map shows the proportion of households that are gay or lesbian, and because of the likelihood of under-counting, it categorizes the dispersion of this population by quintiles, rather than by absolute percentages. The map combines the three middle quintiles for simplicity.
As might be expected, San Francisco has the highest concentration of gays and lesbians; Washington, D.C., and New York
City's borough of Manhattan are not far behind. Perhaps surprisingly, gays and lesbians appear in high concentrations in all regions except for the Midwest, particularly the west-central region. And gays and lesbians do not merely abound in the big metropolitan areas; they live in smaller ones as well, especially college towns such as Blooming-ton, Ind., Iowa City, Iowa, Corvallis, Ore., and Lawrence, Kans. Moreover, some non-metropolitan counties such as Presidio, Texas, Lyon, Kentucky, and Shannon, South Dakota, are among the top 50 counties in terms of their proportion of gay and lesbian population.
The 2000 census found that at least a quarter of a million children live in households headed by samesex couples and that nearly one in five people in same-sex couples is 55 and older. The number of unpart-nered gay and lesbian individuals can be estimated from survey data showing that 24 percent of gay men and 43 percent of lesbians are coupled. By extrapolation, the proportion of gay men in the population is 2.5 percent and of lesbians 1.2 percent, consistent with earlier research.
The two-to-one disparity is curious in light of studies showing that the percentages of those claiming sexual desire for the same sex is virtually identical for both men and women (7.7 and 7.5 percent, respectively). No conclusive explanation exists for this anomaly. Gary Gates of the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C., who co-authored the recently published Gay and Lesbian Atlas, notes the evidence that women's conception of sexual orientation may be more fluid than that of men. He suggests that women, although they may be as prone to same-sex attraction, may be less willing to label that attraction with a specific sexual orientation such as gay or lesbian.
Rodger Doyle can be reached at [email protected]
Fear of terrorism has made many Americans willing to curtail rights and sacrifice basic freedoms, according to a national survey of 715 respondents prepared by Erik C. Nisbet and James Shanahan of Cornell University for a December 2004 report.
Percent of respondents who think the federal government should: Have more power to monitor Internet activities: 47 Indefinitely detain suspected terrorists: 63 Outlaw some activities even if constitutionally protected: 36
Percent who say the media should not: Cover protests: 33 Report criticisms of the government: 31
ATTITUDES TOWARD ISLAM: "Islam promotes violence."
Percent who agree: 47 Percent of highly religious Christians who agree: 65
"Muslim-Americans should be forced to register their whereabouts." Percent who agree: 27 Among highly religious Christians: 42
"Mosques should be closely monitored." Percent who agree: 26 Among highly religious Christians: 34
SOURCE: Media & Society Research Group, Cornell University. Analyses involving religion included data only from Christians, agnostics and atheists. Degree of religiosity was based on self-identification, church attendance, and beliefs about Israel and a literal interpretation of the Bible.
Camel racing, a favorite pastime in the Middle East, has taken flack from human-rights advocates for the young boys imported to jockey the humpbacked desert beasts. Accordingly, the government of Qatar announced right before year's end that it was banning child jockeys. Their replacements? Why, robots, of course. Camel racers in Qatar have reportedly tested remote-controlled, titanium robot jockeys built by an unnamed Swiss company. Camel owners would jockey via joystick from the sidelines as the animals galumph around a kilometers-long track. The robots are apparently armed with whips, and future models may include cameras to give the controllers a jockey's- -
eye view. But exactly how they work is being kept secret for now. "They won't let me near the robot," says Chuck Thorpe, a member of the Robotics Institute at Carnegie-Mellon University's Qatar campus. He speculates that remote control might work well in camel races, which require little tight maneuvering compared with horse races. —JR Minkel
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