How many West Hollywood residents are gay men?
We went looking for Census-like numbers for the gay male community in West Hollywood. It was challenging, because:
- The Census survey that provides detailed data on West Hollywood doesn’t ask about sexual orientation and the surveys that do ask don’t focus on West Hollywood
- The most granular Census data is only available for an area that includes Beverly Hills and the Los Angeles neighborhood north of West Hollywood (Hollywood Hills West)
- The quality of Census data on same-sex marriages is affected by opposite-sex couples who accidentally mismark the sex of one spouse, putting themselves in the same-sex category
This is the first of two reports on what we found.
Number of gay men
The best estimate we have for the number of gay men living in West Hollywood comes from a 2013 City survey. The survey was designed to guide social services programming. It found that 39% of adults were gay men. That’s 37% of the total population. It’s over 13,000 men. It’s more residents than 140 California cities have.
For comparison, Gallup surveys found that 4.9% of California adults identified as LGBT in 2015-2016. The nationwide number was 4.1% in 2016.
We haven’t found a Gallup number specifically for gay men in California. However, in 2011, the Williams Institute at UCLA estimated that 2.2% of US men self-identified as gay.
We wouldn’t be surprised if something like a higher survey response rate by gay men affected the 39% estimate. We suspect 39% could be a little high, so we’re using it as the upper end of our range.
Our suspicion is based on what 39% it implies about the number of straight/bisexual men. We know how many adults live in West Hollywood, by sex. If gay men make up 39% of adults, then two out of three men are gay.
If two-thirds of men are gay, we estimate roughly 85% of single men are gay. When we say “single,” we mean unmarried and not living with a partner. The estimate is based in part on census data for married and partnered couples.
If roughly 85% of single men are gay, there are approximately 2,000 single straight/bisexual men in the city. They include men who have never married, divorced men, and widowers. We know from the census that there are about 2,100 divorced/widowed men in the city. If most of them are straight/bisexual, it wouldn’t leave much (if any) room among the 2,000 for men who have never married. That’s why we think gay men may be less than 39% of adults.
Though the number might be less than 39%, we’d guess it’s at least 30%. That’s based on a back-of-the-envelope calculation combining Census and Gallup data. So we’d say the range is roughly 30% to 40%.
Number of unmarried gay couples
We have separate numbers for unmarried and married gay couples. Between 2012 and 2016, West Hollywood had an average of roughly 1,200 unmarried gay couples living together. That was over 3% of the total for the state, even though the city has only 0.1% of the state’s population.
West Hollywood had more unmarried gay couples by far than Santa Monica (which had over 150 of them), Beverly Hills (less than 50), and Culver City (less than 50). Los Angeles had five times more (about 5,500), but Los Angeles is 100 times bigger.
Palm Springs, on the other hand, had more unmarried gay couples than West Hollywood, both in total and per household.
Number of married gay couples
Our estimates for married gay couples have more data issues. The West Hollywood numbers include Beverly Hills and Hollywood Hills West. The 2016 estimate is approximately 660 couples for the larger area. If we assume that West Hollywood’s local share is the same as for unmarried couples, then it’s about 430 couples. However, the 660 estimate is based on only six actual couples, so the margin of error must be very large.
The chart below shows the communities that contributed the most married gay couples to the state total. West Hollywood came in fourth, after Palm Springs, the Castro, and part of San Diego. If we adjusted for population, West Hollywood would bump San Diego out of third place.
West Hollywood’s shares of married and unmarried gay couples appear to differ by a factor of two: 1.6% versus 3.2%. It could be a real difference or the result of data issues.
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