When I'm in a slightly demented mood, I like to imagine what films Mike Huckabee watches. Using the time to recharge his moral batteries, I can see him being a horror fan: "The Walking Lez," and "28 Gays Later," being at the top of list. "World War T" -- or "G" -- is probably in there somewhere.
This would explain why the republican from Arkansas is so scared of LGBTQ people. He sees their "threat" everywhere, most recently at peoples' nuptuals. ("Four Weddings and a Bisexual") Says the minister Huckabee, "They want to use brute power to force the states to take down marriage laws."
Scary bunch, we LGBTQ folks. Relentlessly pressing our agenda to defile America. We're seemingly everywhere -- and Huckabee isn't the only one that thinks so.
"The American public estimates on average that 23% of Americans are gay or lesbian," says a Gallup poll." A number dramatically higher than the 3.8 percent of the adult population who actually label themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
This isn't a function of the LGBTQ community's victories on marriage equality and other struggles, either. These numbers vary little from Americans' 25% percent estimate in 2011, or their 2002 estimates of the gay and lesbian population.
No wonder the closet was so full. It would seem a quarter of America has been it.
In just half-a-century we've gone from not even existing to taking up a quarter of the seats in the Taco Bell. Clearly, this is ridiculous. Most LGBTQ people know better than to eat Taco Bell. (Like most mammals.)
How is this one-in-four number possible? Do Americans have a latent ability that lets the average American know when people are gay when even the LGBTQ person themselves doesn't know? Now that's gaydar. They should put these people to work in Scotland looking for Nessie.
The truth is, the numbers within the survey don't draw a complete picture about why this variance exists. For while "those with lower incomes, the less educated, women, and young people give the highest estimates," of the number of LGBTQ people, nothing else really stands out.
For instance, people identifying themselves as "liberals," "moderates" or "conservatives" all fall less than three percentage points from one another, averaging 24.8 percent. Even social conservatives think more than one in five people is LGBTQ. Whether this is fear of being overrun, expanding and diverse social networks, or accidentally watching "RuPaul's Drag Race," it's hard to say. (Wouldn't you love to be in the Huckabee living room while he was watching that?)
Perhaps people's perceptions of how many gay people surround them depends on where they live in the country. Some states and cities have more LGBTQ people than others. As you might expect, many places are just loaded with LGBTQ people, like Atlanta and South Dakota
Yep, according The Williams Institute at UCLA, about one in eight people in Atlanta are LGBTQ. Third only to San Francisco and Seattle. And in South Dakota, 4.4 percent of the state's population identify themselves as LGBTQ, putting them eighth out of the 50 states.
Didn't see that coming, did ya? In some cases, I guess geographically we really are everywhere.
Now, in the interest of full disclosure, Georgia's largest metroplex isn't having that gay of a time. For when you consider actual metropolitan areas, not just city boundaries, Boston now takes third on the list and Atlanta isn't even on there. Don't have a gay ol' time in Georgia's bigger 'burbs, I guess.
Still, I think the presence of so many LGBTQ people in non-stereotypic areas is a good thing. Kentucky at no. 12, Kansas at no. 20 -- that blows my mind. Clearly, no matter where you live in the country there are plenty of LGBTQ people willing to be identified as such.
So, to sum up: There don't appear to be as many LGBTQ people as many people assume there are. But they are living in all kinds of places in this country, often in places where you might not think there are that many LGBTQ people to begin with.
Clear as mud.
Clearly, what's needed is some type of official count of the LGBTQ people in this country. Some type of -- what's the word? -- census. That would be great -- and there's no plans for it to happen.
Currently, the U.S. Census doesn't ask about LGBTQ status. Yes, they do try to identify same sex couples, but their methodology is so scattershot that they had to revise it from 900,000 to 650,000.
This is a margin of error of nearly 40 percent. My daughter does better than that and she's five. When corporate bean-counters are off by that much they get fired. Clearly, better information is needed.
Or not. Because even though LGBTQ issues are of increasing importance to many Americans, "Currently there are no plans to add questions on sexual orientation to the Census Bureau's main demographic surveys," said one census official.
Thanks for caring. Maybe we should ask my daughter to do it when she's done looking for unicorns.
As always, however, there's hope, oddly enough from that same U.S. Census Bureau. "Questions are generally added to our major surveys as information is needed to satisfy legislative requirements, or fill a programmatic need at a federal agency," said a Census Bureau official.
Now, was this a different official? Yes, and you should always be wary when this happens, as when one parent says 'Yes" and the other says "No." They're going to have to work it out between themselves before you get anything. (With luck, that never means Taco Bell.)
In the end, however, I'd like to think the key words in that second statement are: "need at a federal agency." As more and more federal government programs and systems have to deal with the recognition of same-sex marriage, I would think this data is going to be key. Data that you can only get by actually asking people -- assuming they're not Mike Huckabee.