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Colleges with the highest percentage of gays and/or lesbians

ChicagoboundChicagobound Posts: 34Registered User Junior Member
edited June 2011 in College Life
So, I'm starting this thread because there are all these 'gay friendly' college lists out there. But as a gay kid looking for a school to go to, a lot of the criteria on the 'gay friendly' lists didn't matter one iota to me. While it's great if there's a GLBT lounge or a lot of allies or benefits for the same-sex partners of faculty and staff - and while all of these can in some ways indicate a gay-friendly 'culture' at a university - to an extent they are independent of what GLBT people really care about when they are evaluating the gay life aspect of a university: the number of people they can date.

Most gay people come from high schools where they only know one or two gay kids (including themselves). Some have been bullied but most have simply been isolated. Having a "safe" space isn't nearly as important as having a "gay space."

With that said, let's not take this topic too seriously in a sense that we get a lot of argument over whether or not the GLBT-friendly lists are viable and useful and if so, to what extent they are. Though, some debate is fine because that's healthy, right? Rather, let us simply admit that they are missing a key piece of information, and to that end, let us fill the gap ;) .

What schools have a LOT (as in, a high percentage) of queer-identifid individuals? Specify whether they have large gay or lesbian populations, because a lot of schools are known for having a lot of gay males but not a lot of women (NYU, Yale) while other schools have plenty of gay women (Smith, most women's colleges in general) but are severely lacking in dudes.

And, I already said Smith/many women's colleges, NYU, and Yale, so get creative ;).
Post edited by Chicagobound on
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Replies to: Colleges with the highest percentage of gays and/or lesbians

  • lilygraceslilygraces Posts: 1,195Registered User Senior Member
    Bard's GLBT community is pretty prevalent. Though (at least to my knowledge/experience) heavier on gay males than lesbians, lesbians (and bi. Not so sure about trans population, though) are still around are also around. I usually joke that it's a surprise when you find a straight guy. And beyond that, campus is extremely tolerant of the large percentage of GLBTs, though that tends to be expected at an artsy LAC. Very safe outside of that community and large enough to even have what my brother (who is also a Bardian) calls "celebrities" of that community; people who are well known in a college and self-identified as being gay, lesbian, bi, or transgender/transsexual. I view Bard as a kind of Utopia. It tends to have a "live and let live" vibe.

    But in general, most LACs, especially ones that are more on the artsy side, will have a pretty large GLBT population compared to most other schools.
  • Christopher546Christopher546 Posts: 491Registered User Member
    Percentage may even be a misleading measure. Would you rather be at a school with 1,000 people where 10% of students are gay or at a school with 25,000 where 5% of the students are gay? Considering that gay people tend to group together, you may be better off at the bigger school.

    Right now I'm at UC Berkeley. I don't know the percentage of gay students, but there are prominent gay organizations all over the place that make it easy to meet other gay students. Regardless of the percent of gay students, the sheer size of Berkeley means that it's not hard to find them.
  • Alix2012Alix2012 Posts: 1,246- Senior Member
    NYU for sure! Like 1/4 of the guys here must be gay. Plus there are a lot of gay/lesbian bars and clubs in NYC. There are a decent amount of lesbians too, contrary to what you said. 63% of NYU students are women, so even though a greater percentage of men are gay than women, it might even out considering the female:male ratio.
  • lilygraceslilygraces Posts: 1,195Registered User Senior Member
    Christopher, while I see your point, I disagree. It would be much easier finding the 100 gay students at a school of 1000 rather than the 1,250 out of 25,000.

    UC Berkelely is, however, a school known for GLBT tolerance and, I believe, has a pretty decent percentage of GLBT students (though don't quote me on that).

    Also, I'd say that as far as my friends go, the percentage here is at least between 15% and 20%, though 20% seems a bit high for a school that is smaller than 2000, even for Bard.
  • AmericanInParisAmericanInParis Posts: 79Registered User Junior Member
    UT-Austin. I swear, every other guy I meet here is gay. 0.o there's a very visible gay community here on campus, and i've even seen same sex couples holding hands/ pda-ing. it doesn't feel at all like being in Texas. then again, this is coming from someone who grew up in a very conservative town, probably all college campuses are like this! :)
  • hellojanhellojan Posts: 1,624Registered User Senior Member
    I wouldn't dare guess at the percentage of those that self-identify as gay at Columbia. But, it's a very gay-friendly school.

    There are openly gay students that are campus leaders, gay guys in fraternities, etc. That said, gayness here is along the expected continuum - from the closeted to the self-realized and empowered. I've seen gay men kissing goodbye in the morning, and going their separate ways to different classes, without so much as a second look from most people.

    So, although a percentage might be a good indicator, the fact that nobody here cares? That might be even better.

    [Oh, and before I snub the rest of the community, let me say that the same goes for lesbians, bisexuals, and at least one guy I know who lives his day to day life as a woman. How brave is that?]
  • tsukikomoritsukikomori Posts: 20Registered User New Member
    The Pennsylvania tri-co (Swarthmore-Haverford-Bryn Mawr) have an exceptionally active LGBT community, especially considering their size.

    As a transsexual, one of the reasons Swarthmore clicked with me was the availability of gender-neutral housing and its many queer clubs.
  • umcp11umcp11 Posts: 1,321Registered User Senior Member
    "Would you rather be at a school with 1,000 people where 10% of students are gay or at a school with 25,000 where 5% of the students are gay? Considering that gay people tend to group together, you may be better off at the bigger school."

    This was certainly my logic when I applied to schools, but after being a student for four years at one such 30K students school (which made autostraddle.com's list of most lesbian-friendly universities, to boot), I can unequivocally say that your logic is more flawed than the OP's, unfortunately. Gay people do not "group together" per se...while there will be a certain subset that is heavily involved in the Pride Alliance, other activist student groups, etc., there's plenty of gay people who aren't into mainstream gay activities/grouping. At a large university, you are absolutely totally unlikely to meet those 1,250 gays and lesbians...in the same way much of the straight population is lost on you at a large state uni, much of the gay population is "absorbed" into the masses as well. I would say my friends at women's colleges know slightly more queer people than I do...though their schools are smaller by about a 100x. Though, I'm extremely proud of the fact that it's only "slightly". Go Terps ;).

    That said, you have a point that going to an extremely small uni with a relatively low percentage of queer people is certainly much worse than going to a large university with a slightly lower percentage. But while a large, fairly liberal state uni will be great for a person who is looking for an active GSA/Pride Alliance, it's less useful in terms of finding gay people in every day activities. In that case, you would want a smaller school with a higher percentage. And, some people just don't like universities with 25,000 students...:p
  • ChicagoboundChicagobound Posts: 34Registered User Junior Member
    the fact that nobody here cares? That might be even better.

    Actually, that's part of what I was trying to debunk. Whenever someone asks about gay life at a university, a typical response is "everyone is chill with it/nobody cares." While that may be a good indicator of the size of the LGBT population (it indicates more familiarity with gay people, to some degree), in and of itself "nobody caring" is super typical of most universities that posters on CC are considering, barring some conservative religiously-affiliated universities or conservative southern universities. So, I postulate that that is certainly not very unique and is not the most important factor when it comes to LGBT life at a university.

    An example: if there's a rip-roaring gay scene at a conservative Christian college, I'll take the disapproving looks over not having anything for people to look disapprovingly at any day! Of course, usually "bad attitudes toward gay people" correlate with "low gay population"...but within the myriad of institutions of higher learning that are generally accepting of their gay students, there seems to be some big differences in terms of whether institutions actually have a thriving gay community/scene/just in general lots of frickin' gay people, or not.
  • Christopher546Christopher546 Posts: 491Registered User Member
    I want to clarify what I mean by "gay people tend to group together." I am not saying that most gay people attend meetings of your Gay Straight Alliance type organization. The majority do not get involved with those types of organizations. However gay people seek out other gay people, forming an unofficial network of gay people.

    So instead of meeting gay people randomly, which will be difficult, you can instead start by going to some event explicitly put together for the gay community, whether it be a meeting, a dance, an ice cream social, or whatever. You'll meet some gay people who will know other gay people. Then you can expand your network of gay people faster than if you were only trying to meet people randomly around campus.

    I can't speak for other campuses, but here at Berkeley, there are lots of networks besides the official GLBT organizations. There's a gay fraternity, Sigma Epsilon Omega, and a gay student cooperative, Oscar Wilde. (I have no affiliation with either of these organizations.) Both of them throw events and parties that attract gay men and lesbians. You can easily meet people whether you are seeking a relationship or one-night stand. I doubt whether these types of organizations exist at many smaller schools.

    And if you are seeking one-night stands, there are websites for that. I don't know about women, but a surprising number of Berkeley guys have legitimate profiles on sites like Adam4Adam (site is NSFW). If you're looking to connect in that way, the absolute size of the gay community is more relevant than the percentage.

    From my experience, there are so many ways to connect with gay people that I would place more weight on the absolute size of the gay community than the percentage of gay students. But then again, Berkeley has myriad gay organizations that put together events which appeal to more than just gay activists. Maybe the gay community here happens to group together more than at other places, I don't know. I suppose I should just say that if you end up coming to Berkeley specifically, you'll be satisfied.
  • warblersrulewarblersrule Posts: 8,687Super Moderator Senior Member
    From my experience, there are so many ways to connect with gay people that I would place more weight on the absolute size of the gay community than the percentage of gay students.

    ...Maybe the gay community here happens to group together more than at other places, I don't know.
    No, based on my own experiences attending schools of varying size, I agree with you 100%. The LGBT world can be a very small one, even at large universities; any two individuals are often at most one or two degrees of separation apart. (Many people even use the number of LGB facebook friends in common when attempting to determine if an unfamiliar individual swings their way.)

    Let's use Yale as an example, as it is one of the few to have done a survey about it.

    Males
    -- 78% straight
    -- 18% gay
    -- 4% bi

    Females
    -- 79% straight
    -- 8% lesbian
    -- 12% bi

    Granted, those figures are undoubtedly inflated due to selection bias, but they're probably not too far off the mark. Comparing Yale to Bard (per post #5), the percentage of students out (15-20%) is similar, but Yale would have a dating pool 3 times larger -- much better, in my opinion.
  • umcp11umcp11 Posts: 1,321Registered User Senior Member
    Yale is a very small school compared to Maryland or Berkeley.

    I think the larger the school gets, the less chance you are going to feel like "only 1 or 2 degrees" separates every person in the gay community. I can tell you from my experience at MD that there are multiple gay communities. And once you think that you know all about the gay community, you realize there was another branch of it that just never got connected to you! And, there's all of those people who aren't a part of any community just because, well, they aren't, and they only have a few close friends and not a lot of acquaintances and *gasp* only about 100 friends on FB, a lot of which are from HS. I think Berkeley is an interesting example because it's a large school but it also has a large gay population. Obviously this is an awesome combination, but many large schools won't be liberal to the extent that Berkeley is, and won't have things like gay fraternities or the Oscar Wilde house to offer options to the gay community beyond gay activism. More importantly, many people simply don't have the energy to weed through teh gay community at a large school, and would rather spend their time as part of the outdoors club or gaming club or another sexuality-nuetral activity. When I said activism it's important to note I didn't mean just gay activism. I meant feminist activism, or other "gay/lesbian" hotbeds. Some gay people aren't attracted to the hotbeds in any sense.

    At a smaller school with a large percentage of gay people, regular Joe Shmoe gays will be happiest. They won't have to join LGBT organizations, and they can meet people the same way straight people meet people - join a club or organization that interests them, be it the cycling club or intramural basketball or the volunteering club, and meet their friends and romantic interests that way.
  • warblersrulewarblersrule Posts: 8,687Super Moderator Senior Member
    Yale is a very small school compared to Maryland or Berkeley.

    I think the larger the school gets, the less chance you are going to feel like "only 1 or 2 degrees" separates every person in the gay community. I can tell you from my experience at MD that there are multiple gay communities.
    I cited Yale as an example because specific statistics were available. My frame of reference for large schools, however, is UNC -- which is admittedly noticeably smaller than Berkeley or Maryland but still reasonably large.

    The LGBT community at UNC is quite well connected, both within Chapel Hill proper and with neighboring schools. A retreat this past weekend drew upwards of 70 people, which only scratched the surface of the population but would've been virtually the entire out population at a good many smaller schools. Sure, you may not know everyone, but I'd much rather have the opportunity to get to know new people. Perhaps, like Berkeley, UNC is an exception; it's certainly an anomaly in the South.
    I can tell you from my experience at MD that there are multiple gay communities. And once you think that you know all about the gay community, you realize there was another branch of it that just never got connected to you!
    Is that bad? A lack of diversity is one of the most common complaints about small LGBT communities. At a tiny LAC that's 80% white (i.e. many common suggestions in this type of thread), how many LGBT URMs will one find? How many LGBT Jews? One dozen, maybe two? Larger schools like Berkeley offer entire organizations devoted to such communities, which I think is great.
    I think Berkeley is an interesting example because it's a large school but it also has a large gay population. Obviously this is an awesome combination
    Exactly my point. In my opinion, the best combination is a large school with a proportionately large out population. The worst combination is a small school with a small out population.

    Large schools with small populations, small schools with large populations, and medium schools with any size populations fall somewhere in between...that's a bit more tricky.
  • umcp11umcp11 Posts: 1,321Registered User Senior Member
    Diversity isn't bad but that wasn't my point. My point was that this community exists and you DON'T KNOW ABOUT IT. Whether or not that community is diverse has no bearing on you because you don't know it exists. The utility of there being a large number of gay people declines as the size of the school increases. That's because people only have time to know or acquaint themselves with X number of other individuals. This number isn't specifically chosen to include a specific portion of gay people, but rather it grows and then flattens out as you meet people in class, in activities that interest you, blahdeblah. If you have little interest in going on gay retreats or to gay-themed events, and would rather put most of your time into meeting people through other avenues, then the most important thing is the percentage of gay people at the school rather than the sheer number.

    There are definitely benefits to having active LGBT organizations of all shapes and colors on campus and an active community surrounding these LGBT-themed activities, but when that becomes your only avenue for finding gay people, it becomes somewhat frustrating and, ironically, limiting.

    I think there's huge benefit to what you're saying so I don't disagree with you, but I, like the OP, believe a focus on sheer size does discount a lot of other important factors.
  • UT84321UT84321 Posts: 1,118Registered User Senior Member
    Oberlin and Swarthmore
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