While it’s easy to think of the U.S. LGBT fight as being centered in places like San Francisco, New York City, and Boston, new numbers move the chart in a surprising way. Vermont, of all states, shows the highest self-identifying population of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans people.
In a survey by nonpartisan foundation Gallup Inc., 5.3% of adults in Vermont place themselves under the LGBT umbrella. Closely following are the usual suspects of Massachusetts, California, and Oregon, all at 4.9%. But there’s another surprise: Nevada. Nevada comes in at 4.8%. (As an aside, Washington D.C. reports in at over 8%, but they’re not a state, so Vermont gets its rainbow crown).
The question that people were asked was simple, impersonal, and straightforward: “Do you personally identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender?” Gallup’s surveys are used for tracking many things, most famously Presidential approval ratings, and are widely considered trustworthy, so it is worth reading their poll. It shows a nationwide increase in people identifying themselves within the LGBT community, from 3.5% in 2012 to 4.1% in 2016. Their data comes from over 400,000 randomly selected phone interviews.
Most increases in this percentage come from those born in the 1990s, the Millennial generation, which is to be expected. Destigmatization works from the young backwards. However, “fad” accusations are deflected by the distribution of statistics—the region with the highest percentage of people in that age range is the deep south, yet that is the region with the lowest percentage of LGBT respondents.
At the other end of the poll, South Dakota has the smallest percentage of LGBT residents, only 2%. It’s worth noting that South Dakota has no major urban centers and is deeply Midwestern, both of which probably are major influences. The same polls found that perceived risk in identifying as LGBT in such places was very high. North Dakota, Idaho, South Carolina, and Montana all reported very low percentages.