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UCLA Study Shows Decrease In San Diego Gay Population

LGBT pride flag covers a Hillcrest street during the San Diego Pride Parade, July 19, 2014.
Nate John
LGBT pride flag covers a Hillcrest street during the San Diego Pride Parade, July 19, 2014.

Once among the top five U.S. cities with the most same-sex couples, San Diego is now 32nd on a list based on the number of residents who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or and transgender, according to a study released Friday.

Gallup and the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law used census data from 1990 — the earliest available — to rank 50 areas nationwide according to the number of same sex-couples per 1,000 households. San Francisco, Austin, Seattle, Sacramento and San Diego were the top five then.

Researchers then ranked the same metropolitan areas based on their percentage of LGBT residents using data collected from 2012 to 2014. San Francisco, Portland and Austin were at the top of the list, with 6.2, 5.4 and 5.3 percent, respectively, identifying as LGBT in telephone interviews.


The San Diego metro area ranked 32nd, with 6,545, or 3.9 percent of residents saying they were lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

Birmingham, Pittsburgh and Memphis had the lowest percentages of LGBT adults.

The researchers noted that measures of same-sex couples and LGBT identity were not strictly comparable, but geographic patterns of same-sex couples were similar to those of the LGBT population.

Drastic changes were recorded in several areas when comparing the data.

Salt Lake City, which ranked 39th in 1990, came in seventh in the latest poll. Growing social acceptance of LGBT people may explain the change, according to the researchers. Other metropolitan areas with much higher rankings included Louisville, Norfolk and New Orleans.


"These comparisons reveal how much life for LGBT people in this country has changed in two decades," study author Gary J. Gates said. "Salt Lake City isn't as different from San Francisco today as it was 20 years ago."

Several metropolitan statistical areas fell substantially in the comparison, including San Diego, Sacramento, and Houston.