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MFP Voices

Why Some LGBTQ Americans Prefer Rural Life to Urban ‘Gayborhoods’

Not all gay people live in cities. Demographers estimate that 15% to 20% of the United States’ total LGBTQ population—between 2.9 million and 3.8 million people—live in rural areas. These millions of understudied LGBTQ residents of rural America are the subject of my latest academic research project.
My study results, now under peer review for publication in an academic journal, found that many LGBTQ people in rural areas view their sexual identity substantially differently from their urban counterparts—and question the merits of urban gay life.

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Solutions

How 18 Million Americans Could Move Into Rural Areas Without Leaving Home

Changing how rural areas are defined could change Americans’ understanding of rural life. For instance, the current data reveal that rural areas have less access to broadband internet and health care services.
But if the homes and communities of 18 million more Americans are added to those rural statistics, the numbers could look better. That rosier picture—which would not be the result of any actual changes to Americans’ lives—could reduce public and political pressure to improve life in rural communities.

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