Almost 1.2 million people live in a same-sex unmarried partnership, according to a question asked of all U.S. households by the 2000 Census. Baby boomers claim about one-third of these households.
We asked Gary Gates, a demographer at the Urban Institute
and co-author of The Gay and Lesbian Atlas
, to look through the census data and find counties with the highest concentrations of households containing a gay male or lesbian couple with a householder (the person filling out the census form) aged 55 or older. Then we used ePodunk's detailed profiles of more than 26,000 communities to find the best places to be 50 and gay - and we found some surprises:
To make our list of the best places if you're 50 and gay, we took the total count of same-sex unmarried partner households with a householder aged 55 or older from a question in Census 2000 that was asked of every U.S. household. Then we divided it by the ratio of same-sex male to same-sex female couples aged 55 and older in each county.
This list was taken from a special tabulation of Census data provided to the Urban Institute by the Census Bureau. We then divided the estimated proportion of gay men and lesbians aged 55 and older in each county by the proportion of men and women aged 55 and older in the U.S. population to produce an index. Counties with the highest index values contain the best places to be 50 and gay.
We took several steps to reduce the error rate in our rankings. Although gay households are found in 99 percent of U.S. counties, we restricted our rankings to places with at least 50 gay men or lesbians aged 55 and older. We also produced two different rankings for each gender, one for counties with total populations of 100,000 or more and one for smaller places, because city life and small-town life are so different.
It is also important to remember that the Census almost certainly missed a large number of gay men and lesbians who either did not identify themselves as a same-sex couple on the census form, or who live alone or in some other arrangement than a couple. Our ranking is restricted to gay men and lesbians who are cohabiting and are comfortable enough with their choice to reveal it on a confidential government form. We think that places with high concentrations of "out" gay and lesbian couples are also the most likely to be tolerant, and to have the wide variety of cultural and social offerings that make places good for gays.
Other rankings and top 10 lists