ORLANDO, Fla. – Once known for singer Anita Bryant’s anti-gay rights campaign and the ban on gay and lesbian adoptions, Florida is now home to two metropolitan areas with one of the highest concentrations of married couples. gays and lesbians in the US, according to a new report released by the US Census Bureau.
Orlando and Miami had the fourth and sixth highest percentages, respectively, of same-sex partner households in the U.S., according to the report released this week using data from the bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey.
San Francisco, Portland and Seattle topped the list. Austin was No. 5 and Boston came in at No. 7. But they were joined in the top 10 by some unexpected metropolitan areas like Baltimore, Denver and Phoenix. Notably absent were three of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas: New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. Although they have some of the most visible LGBTQ communities in the country, the vastness of their metropolitan areas dilutes the concentration.
The appearance of these metropolitan areas on the list shows that tolerance is not limited to large coastal cities, gay rights advocates said.
“You often think of LGBTQ people in big cities like San Francisco, but we’re everywhere,” said Jeremy LaMaster, executive director of FreeState Justice, a Baltimore-based LGBTQ advocacy organization for Maryland.
The report focused on married and unmarried same-sex couples, and not single gays and lesbians. About 1.5 percent of all matched households nationwide were of the same sex. Cities in the top 10 list ranged in concentration from San Francisco’s 2.8 percent to Baltimore’s 2 percent.
In the District of Columbia, which was ranked alongside the states in the report, 7.1 percent of matched households were of the same sex.
In Florida, acceptance of LGBTQ communities has been boosted locally, with the passage of human rights ordinances, rapidly growing populations around the world, and gay-friendly businesses in the hospitality and entertainment industries, he said. Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida, an LGBTQ advocacy group.
While Orlando already had a visible gay community without elected officials and a workforce like Disney World with large numbers of gays and lesbians, the collective grief of the 2016 gay nightclub Pulse massacre helped fuel that acceptance in more conservative corners. civic life as well as local churches.
“Miami is a port city and Orlando is the epicenter of amusement parks and hospitality, so it makes perfect sense,” Smith said of the high concentrations of same-sex households. “Cities have safely led the way, rebuilding Florida’s image from a truly hateful story.”
That story dates back to the 1970s. That’s when Bryant, a pop singer from the early 1960s and a brand ambassador for the Florida Citrus Commission, spearheaded a campaign that led to the repeal of an ordinance in Miami-Dade County that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in one of the first organized fights against homosexuals. Rights. Florida was also the last US state to end a gay and lesbian adoption ban when a court ruled that it violated equal protection rights in 2010.
Austin, Orlando, and Phoenix have been among the metropolitan areas with the highest population growth in recent years.
Phoenix’s overall meritocracy, which comes from being a relatively young community with a steady influx of newcomers, has made it welcoming to gays and lesbians, said Angela Hughey, president of ONE Community, a business coalition that advocates for inclusion and equality.
“It’s a very large city and we are in every neighborhood,” Hughey said Thursday.
In Baltimore, residents have appreciated the aesthetics of a campground that would now overlap with queer culture. A favorite son, after all, is filmmaker John Waters, and the city celebrates the unconventional, as evidenced by the annual HONFest, where celebrators sport beehive hairdos and cat-eye sunglasses. The city also has a vibrant trendy dance scene.
“Part of me feels like I need to congratulate John Waters,” LaMaster said, referring to the filmmaker behind cult films made in Baltimore, like “Pink Flamingos” and “Hairspray.” “But it’s not just John Waters. There is a rich heritage and history to be found here. “
LaMaster, who lived in New York City before moving to Baltimore, said Maryland City lacked the visible gay scene found in a neighborhood like Chelsea in New York City. But Baltimore made sense for same-sex couples wanting to establish homes in a state that has been a leader in laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as allowing second-parent adoptions, he said.
“The work is not done. That’s my takeout, ”La Master said. “Although there has been tremendous progress, I think there is always room for improvement.”
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