OpEd: Gallup Poll says VA is less than 2.9% gay
Last week, Gallup released a poll called “LGBT by state, 2012.” The polling method was simple – over 200,000 phone calls made over the course of 2012 with one question – “Do you identify as lesbian, gay bisexual, or transgender?”
Well science has spoken, and the ever-accurate Gallup results are in – The US is less than 6% gay, and Virginia is 2.9% gay.
What a crock of shit.
The poll admits a number of ways the results could be skewed, and I give them credit for that. “States with high LGBT percentages tend to be more liberal and have more supportive LGBT legal climates, while those at the lower end of the LGBT spectrum are generally the most conservative,” says the poll – again, no shit.
“This suggests that one explanation for the variation across states is the relationship between the willingness to disclose LGBT identity and the environment of one’s state of residence.” – and we have the golden-truth buried in this nugget that is just begging to become a sound bite for an army of conservative commentators.
For some, its safer and wiser to stay in the closet than to come out, and a phone call from Gallup isn’t going to change that. Never mind we live in a state that criminalizes our sexuality, and legally discriminates against us.
The name of this poll shouldn’t be “LGBT by state” it should be “Open LGBT by state.” I imagine the pollsters, the folks making the calls, pressing the “random dial” number on their office computers, looking at the script in front of them.
Polster: “Hi yes, my name is Blank Blankmen, I’m with Gallup Polls. Would you be interested in answering a phone survey for us today?”
Unwitting person: “Uhhh… sure? Whats up?”
Polster: “Do you identity as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender?”
Person: “Umm… no?”
Polster: “Thanks for your feedback, have a nice day!”
Openly admitting you are gay in today’s climate is a risk for some, and a complete life changer for most. I was fortunate to be able to come out at a young age – like many other LGBT individuals my age – but the number of late-in-life coming out stories I hear is nearly endless.
To cold-call someone, and ask them point-blank what their sexuality is, is beyond intrusive, and borderline offensive. I’m proud, open, and obviously out-spoken about my sexuality, but I’d promptly blow a fuse if some stranger asked me such a personal question. The total number of LGBT people is about as relevant as the total number of straight people.
But beyond the intrusive nature of this poll, and beyond the numbers they ended up with, I think this poll has done a good job highlighting some important facts.
1 – We still live in a society that’s afraid to speak openly about sexuality and requires a poll to determine the size of that population.
2 – We still live in a society that needs to put labels and numbers on populations in order to determine their relevance.
3 – Gallup does a shit poll.
I still struggle to understand why this poll was conducted. At what executive level was it determined that “are you gay?” was a poll-worthy question. Who the hell paid for this study and what did they hope to gain from it?
Sexuality, the personal expression of it, and the way political and economic groups handle it, isn’t a matter of numbers. And the advancement of rights for minority groups isn’t about numbers.
You could ask this question to every man, woman, and child in the country 3 different times and get 3 different results.
What matters is that people know we, as a LGBT community, exist. We vote. We shop. We get speeding tickets. We fight. We love. We are people. You don’t need to know how many of us there are, because no matter what, we will always be there. Quantifying a population doesn’t help or hinder it, but it does shift the importance of that population to a statistical probability.
Imagine if Gallup had called 200,000 people and asked them if they like Pepsi or Coke? What impact would that have?
I don’t think anyone will take this poll’s results seriously. I would hope politicians and marketing campaigns wouldn’t shift their focus based on these cockamamie numbers. But in the likely chance that some talking head trys to throw these numbers around, remember that progress is slow, but inevitable. Some day Gallup will do this poll and when the person on the other end of the line gets asked about their sexuality, the response wont be “yes” or “No,” it will be “why.”
It’s gonna take a while, but we’ll get there. All 2.9% of us.
Tim is a writer, video game nerd, and music fan. You'll see him at shows, or you wont really see him at all.
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