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You’re Going To Be Surprised By Which US State Is The Queerest

​You’re Going To Be Surprised By Which US State Is The Queerest​

queer folks celebrating pride
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Whichever state you think it is, it’s not.

When you think of queer states, chances are a few springs to mind California, New York, and maybe Florida (yes, yes, you can’t say it there, but, ya know, Key West). But according to a new study, all those assumptions are dead wrong.

The Williams Institute at the University of California Los Angeles has released a report on the adult LGBTQ+ population of the United States, revealing some unexpected information about the queer hubs of modern America. (They have also since released a correction on some of the data.)

Overall, 14.1 million people in the U.S. reported that they "identify as LGBT" between 2020 and 2021, making up a significant portion of the population at 5.6 percent. But not everyone is living in New York or California — in fact, neither cracked the top ten of states with the most LGBTQ+ people, relative to population.

Going by population alone, California is the state with the most LGBTQ+ people (1,549,600). That makes sense, seeing as California has the largest overall population of any state. However, California's LGBTQ+ people make up a relatively small portion of the state's total population (just 5.1 percent).

When looking at the population this way, several states are surprised with how large their LGBTQ+ demographic is. Washington D.C. technically has the highest percentage of LGBTQ+ people, with 81,400 making up 14.3 percent of the capital's population, but until the U.S. government recognizes D.C. statehood, neither will this list.

Here are the states with the most LGBTQ+ people, proportionally.

Just Which State Is the Gayest? These Are the States With the Most LGBTQ+ PeopleShuttershock

Whichever state you're in, you're not alone. But some of us may be a lot less alone than we think.

The Williams Institute at the University of California Los Angeles has released a report on the adult LGBTQ+ population of the United States, revealing some unexpected information about the queer hubs of modern America. (They have also since released a correction on some of the data.)

Overall, 14.1 million people in the U.S. reported that they "identify as LGBT" between 2020 and 2021, making up a significant portion of the population at 5.6 percent. But not everyone is living in New York or California — in fact, neither cracked the top ten of states with the most LGBTQ+ people, relative to population.

Going by population alone, California is the state with the most LGBTQ+ people (1,549,600). That makes sense, seeing as California has the largest overall population of any state. However, California's LGBTQ+ people make up a relatively small portion of the state's total population (just 5.1 percent).

When looking at population this way, several states surprised with how large their LGBTQ+ demographic is. Washington D.C. technically has the highest percentage of LGBTQ+ people, with 81,400 making up 14.3 percent of the capital's population, but until the U.S. government recognizes D.C. statehood, neither will this list.

Here are the states with the most LGBTQ+ people, proportionally.

10. Ohio

Pride Parade in downtown Columbus Ohio

June 17 2023: Pride Parade in downtown Columbus Ohio along High Street. LGBTQ equal rights movement festival

Michael Carni / Shutterstock

Ohio's 557,600 LGBTQ+ residents account for 6.2 percent of the state's population.

9. Minnesota (Tie)

Lowry Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis lit in Rainbow Colors

Lowry Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis lit in Rainbow Colors in Honor of Orlando Victims

Shuttershock

Tied with Tennessee, Minnesota has 267,600 LGBTQ+ residents, accounting for 6.3 percent of the state's population.

9. Tennessee (Tie)

Memphis Pride Parade

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE - SEPTEMBER 28, 2018 - The Memphis Pride Parade on Beale Street.

evenfh / Shutterstock

Tied with Minnesota, Tennessee's LGBTQ+ population also accounts for 6.3 percent of the state's residents. However, Tennessee has a larger overall population, meaning their LGBTQ+ community is also larger, with 328,900 members.

8. Rhode Island (Tie)

Rhode Island Gay Pride Fest in downtown Providence

Rhode Island Gay Pride Fest celebrated in downtown Providence, Rhode Island, USA on June 17, 2017

Anthony Ricci / Shutterstock

Tied with Maine and Massachusetts, Rhode Island has 54,800 LGBTQ+ residents, accounting for 6.5 percent of the population.

8. Maine (Tie)

Portland ME Gay Pride parade

June 18, 2022: people took part in the Portland ME Gay Pride parade to support gay rights, Maine, USA

Enrico Della Pietra / Shutterstock

Tied with Rhode Island and Massachusetts, Maine has 69,900 LGBTQ+ residents, also accounting for 6.5 percent of the population.

8. Massachusetts (Tie)

Town Hall of Provincetown Massachusetts

Town Hall of Provincetown Massachusetts USA August 2017 .

Shuttershock

Tied with Maine and Rhode Island, Massachusetts has 356,200 LGBTQ+ residents, also accounting for 6.5 percent of the population.

7. Nevada

Las Vegas Gay pride night parade

Participants at the annual Las Vegas Gay pride night parade on October 21 , 2016

Kobby Dagan / Shutterstock

Nevada's 150,100 LGBTQ+ residents account for 6.6 percent of its overall population.

6. Colorado

Pride month celebration in Larimar square

Denver, CO: June 16, 2023- Pride month celebration in famous Larimar square in Denver, Colorado.

WorldTraveler_1 / Shutterstock

Colorado's 294,500 LGBTQ+ residents account for 6.8 percent of its overall population.

5. Washington

Pride parade with SEATTLE spelled out in rainbow colors\u200b

Seattle WA USA, June 25th 2023. Pride parade with SEATTLE spelled out in rainbow colors

SeaRick1 / Shutterstock

Washington's 398,700 LGBTQ+ residents account for 6.9 percent of its overall population.

4. New Hampshire

Balloon arch at street fair\u200b

Balloon arch at street fair, Portsmouth, New Hampshire. New England.

Shuttershock

New Hampshire's 78,400 LGBTQ+ residents account for 7.2 percent of its overall population.

3. Vermont

LGBTQ Pride Parade White River Junction VT

LGBTQ Pride Parade White River Junction VT

Image: instagram @jagproductionsvt

Vermont's 37,600 LGBTQ+ residents account for 7.4 percent of its overall population.

2. Delaware

Prairie Dogs Dance Troop at the Delaware Pride Festival

Dover, Delaware. United States-October 2, 2021: Prairie Dogs Dance Troop at the Delaware Pride Festival

Lisa Rapko / Shutterstock

Delaware's 56,600 LGBTQ+ residents account for 7.5 percent of its overall population.

1. Oregon

Portland's 2019 Pride Parade

Portland, Oregon, USA - June 16, 2019: Portland's 2019 Pride Parade.

Png Studio Photography / Shutterstock

We hereby dub Oregon the queerest state! The state's 253,300 LGBTQ+ residents account for 7.8 percent of its overall population.

Takeaways

"Make America Gay Again" World Pride March NYC

06/30/2019 : People holding up a rainbow sign saying "Make America Gay Again" in the crowd attending the World Pride March in NYC for LGBTQ+ rights.

Raphael Rivest / Shutterstock

After looking at population percentages, it seems as if New England is the region of the U.S. with the most LGBTQ+ people. However, it's worth bringing raw population back into the conversation.

The Northeast is actually the region holding the smallest LGBTQ+ population, with 2.6 million people making up 18.3 percent of the country's overall queer population.

The region with the most? The South. The 5.2 million LGBTQ+ people in southern states account for 36.9 percent of the queer people in the U.S. That's more than 12 percentage points (and almost 2 million people) above the next largest region, the West — which includes titanic California.

The Williams Institute designates Delaware as a southern state, but outside of that, Tennessee is the only other state in the South to appear on this list. While they may not be the majority in southern populations, LGBTQ+ people in the South have an enormous and undeniable presence.

Point being, "we're here" now holds new meaning, regardless of where in the U.S. you call home.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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Ryan Adamczeski