A queer family at dinner, holding hands during grace.  There are three children and two women, a couple.  One appears white, and the rest black.

Photo Credit: NY Times

An article yesterday in the New York Times reveals recent census data that shows that gay families raising children in teh U.S. are more common in the south, and that Black and Latin@ gay couples are more likely to be raising children:

The pattern, identified by Mr. Gates, is also notable because the families in this region defy the stereotype of a mainstream gay America that is white, affluent, urban and living in the Northeast or on the West Coast.

“We’re starting to see that the gay community is very diverse,” said Bob Witeck, chief executive of Witeck-Combs Communications, which helped market the census to gay people. “We’re not all rich white guys.”

Black or Latino gay couples are twice as likely as whites to be raising children, according to Mr. Gates, who used data from a Census Bureau sampling known as the American Community Survey. They are also more likely than their white counterparts to be struggling economically.

Some of this we have known for a long time – that queer people of color struggle economically far more than white queers, that queer people struggle economically more than straight people, that queer women of color are raising kids far more than gay white guys – but it is nonetheless refreshing to see it getting this kind of exposure.  LGBTQ people are thought of in the collective imagination as a group of wealthy, educated white people, and because almost no data collection captures the rest of us, social programs that address our needs are a hard sell.

What really pleases me about the data and this article, though, is the way that it shatters assumptions of where gay people are geographically.  In fact, we are everywhere, and I am ready to be done with antiquated ideas of New York and San Francisco being the only good places to be gay.   I am ready to start centering the experiences of our southern queers, our rural queers, our poor queers, our immigrant queers, our queer people of color; that people in these communities do have particular struggles, but that we also resist, and live vibrant, rich lives.

I live in New York City, and I always recoil a little when a fellow New Yorker talks about the south, the midwest, or rural areas as if they were filled with ignorant, homophobic masses.  This class-tinged insult – because let’s be clear, much of this is as much about class as it is about geography – is sadly common, and I’m ready to be done with it.

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