4.2 Percent of South Florida Residents Are LGBT, 21st Highest in the Nation

A scene from the Miami Beach gay pride parade in 2014.
A scene from the Miami Beach gay pride parade in 2014.
Photo by George Martinez/gmartnx.com.

When one thinks of South Florida, it's not hard to imagine brightly colored speedos, drag queens doing splits on sidewalks, movies like The Birdcage, gay enclaves like Wilton Manors, circuit parties, and the Gianni Versace heydays of South Beach. The region isn't exactly trying to downplay its shades of gay, and yet apparently the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Palm Beach metro area's population isn't all that gay, at least when compared to other major metro areas. Just 4.2 percent of the population identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.

Exact numbers of the amount of the population that identifies as LGBT are hard to come by. The U.S. Census Bureau only keeps track of same-sex couples that live together, and surveys often have a hard time getting accurate results. Though, for the past three years the polling organization Gallup has tried to answer the question by asking survey participants the question, "Do you, personally, identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender?" It claims "this is the largest ongoing study of the distribution of the LGBT population in the U.S. on record, and the first time a study has had large enough sample sizes to provide estimates of the LGBT population by [Metropolitan Statical Area]."

The Miami area came in as only the 21st gayest metro area out of the country's largest 50, or just above average. We're not even the gayest place in Florida. That honor belongs, somewhat surprisingly, to Jacksonville, where 4.3 percent of the population identifies as gay. In Orlando and Tampa, 4.1 percent of the population is somewhere on the rainbow.

To no one's surprise, San Francisco has a new tale of the city to tell by officially claiming its spot as queerest metro area in America. In the Bay Area 6.2 percent of the population is LGBT. Portland, Austin, New Orleans, and Seattle make up the rest of the top five. Salt Lake City makes a surprising showing in the top 10 at number 7. Birmingham, Alabama, is the least gay metro area in the country with only 2.6 percent of the population out and proud.

By the way, according to 2013 data, 3.5 percent of all Floridians identify as LGBT.

So why is South Florida's population seem so average despite being a relatively accepting place? Of course, Miami in particular has a large immigrant population, but it's unclear how that plays a role. In 2012, Gallup found that Hispanics are significantly more likely to identify as LGBT than non-Hispanic whites. 

Like all areas in Florida, South Florida does have a significant elderly population. Nationwide, only 1.9 percent of those 65 and older were willing to identify as LGBT, compared to 6.4 percent of those between 18 and 29. Perhaps that might explain it part of it.

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