Lincoln is So Gay… (How Gay Is It?)

January 24, 2010 at 6:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

The Advocate recently came out with their list of the gayest cities in America. Probably not surprisingly, Lincoln was not on the list. Or maybe the omission is surprising to those of you who have heard the same urban legend I’ve heard.

Back in junior high—or heck, maybe even elementary school—I first heard the claim that Lincoln has the most gay people per capita in the United States. I heard it over and over and over again. You can find references to this “fact” online and you will occasionally hear somebody pass it along in a conversation. The trouble is I have never seen anything remotely resembling a reputable source for it.

So two questions. First, is the legend true? I doubt it, but stranger things have happened. Lincoln is probably the gayest city in Nebraska, but that wouldn’t be very surprising at all. But even believing that we have the highest gay population in the region, much less the country, is extremely difficult. Surely Iowa City, Lawrence, and Boulder would be expected to rank higher than Lincoln.

Second, where and when did the rumor originate? It has been around for at least 15 to 20 years. Perhaps it was true long ago but it’s no longer true today. Whether or not it is or was true, somebody had to be the first to report it. A local newspaper? A national magazine? A comedian with a taste for irony?

How many of you have heard this claim passed along as fact? Do you have any idea where or when it originated?

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The Comments

Fletch January 24, 2010 at 11:06pm

I first heard this in 1985, but always heard we were second, per capita, to San Francisco.

Erik January 25, 2010 at 1:27am

But I’ve never seen anyone actually quantify it. For what it’s worth, I’ve also heard the same thing about Lawrence and Ames, both college towns.

The Williams institute at UCLA does a pretty thorough job of tracking the gay population and you’ll find on their site a profile of same-sex households in Nebraska (and all states). While a same sex household is not necessarily an exact reflection of the gay population per capita, it does show you that Douglass County has more than Lancaster.

I believe that Omaha is the gayer city of the two when comparing it to Lincoln. Simply ask any gay in Lincoln and most will tell you that.  Gays flock to larger cities and in Nebraska that’s going to be Omaha.

For some reason most of the time I heard this rumor as a youth was in a negative and homophobic context. As an adult, I’ve heard it in a more positive, assuring context.

Put simply (based entirely on my experience):

As a youth gay = bad/evil/etc
as an adult gay = creative/artsy/cool/etc

Who knows where the rumor started, but I’m going to say that it’s untrue and as far as its origins go I would assume it was born out of homophobia but kept alive by both sides as a way of making a point, despite the fact it’s unprovable.

Nikkidemas January 25, 2010 at 6:18am

That’s the same version I heard in high school.

avabee January 25, 2010 at 2:19pm

I’ve heard that rumor as well.  I remember first hearing it when I was in high school—somewhere around 1984.  The rumor seemed to spring up around the same time as a series of men’s restroom “busts” that the local police conducted in Antelope Park, I believe (back then it was apparently a gay hotspot).

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