The first time this was done was in 2000. Before that, the computer automatically changed the gender of Person No. 2 to make hetero-sense of the responses. When the data came out in 2001, it was significant because it was statistical proof that gays literally, truly, are everywhere. Same-sex couples lived in more than 99% of counties in America, meaning we lived among the rest of you even in the reddest, most conservative and religious nooks.
Thus, it's not surprising that on this go-around, the data similarly shows there are same-sex couples in all 17 counties in Nevada. It's equally unsurprising that the percentage and raw numbers of them is high in the Vegas and Reno areas as well as Pahrump. You can see the various breakdowns, including by gender and percent with children, for Nevada and almost every other state here.
But take a look at this map from the Williams Institute at UCLA's Law School:
What, pray tell, is that darker blue splotch that suggests a concentration of The Gay up there in the middle of Northern Nevada's mining country? At first, I thought maybe it was third-largest-"city" Elko, but it's not. I consulted a Silver State county map so I could determine...
...that it sits in the southeastern corner of Humboldt County. This graphic shows Winnemucca, which would be of gay historical significance because one of the most beloved characters in the great novelist Armistead Maupin's "Tales Of The City" series, Mrs. Madrigal (played by Olympia Dukakis in the PBS mini-series) was raised there in a brothel. Her mom's character, in fact, is Mother Mucca.
I digress, though. I got Dr. Gary Gates, the demographer responsible for tabulating and analyzing these numbers, to make sense of that splotch. We worked out that, in fact, the census tract that is that shape doesn't even include Winnemucca. Rather, according to the Census website...
...it just misses that metropolis. Instead, there's another colored bubble therein that implies some sign of life. Let's look closer:
Golconda. Duhhh! Everybody open your Internet hymnals to Wikipedia:
Golconda was built when discovery of copper, silver, gold, and lead brought entrepreneurs who opened mines and mills in the district. The town was a diverse society including both native-born Americans as well as foreign populations including individuals of French, Portuguese, Paiute, and Chinese descent who all lived and worked in the small community. During 1898-1910, the town had a train depot, several hotels, a school, businesses, newspapers, and two brothels. Its population peaked at about six hundred in 1907-08. Although boosters predicted growth for Golconda, after 1910 the mines played out, leaving the region as an area of ranches and farms. Most of the town's buildings from its mining heyday are gone, and Golconda today is a minor stop on Interstate 80.
And that's all she cut-and-pasted, folks! A short, dry passage, nothing to indicate a love of rainbows or show tunes or Subarus. I may go and update this page shortly, however, to provide the BREAKING NEWS that it's also, according to the data, the GAY CAPITAL OF NORTHERN NEVADA.
Gates and I had quite a chuckle over this. He said that sometimes anomalies arise because people live in complicated households of multiple adults and shared-custody children and don't fill out the forms right. But he took a careful look at what Census gives us for that tract and he found that there are 17 same-sex couples among the 1,824 households reported. (The Wikipedia entry indicating that the population peaked at 600 more than a century ago could refer to a peak at that time and not more recent population data. I'm further baffled by the 1,824 households, though, because this also implies far fewer people up there than what Census came up with.)
Either way, 17 pairs is obviously not a particularly large number, but proportionately -- that is, per capita -- it puts Golconda in league with the Reno area and makes it significantly gay-coupleier than Pahrump. And Pahrump is holding its first gay pride event in a couple weeks!
Here's a cute old picture from the UNR library showing Goldconda in its heyday:
I've put in a request with the Nevada Secretary of State to see how many same-sex couples are registered domestic partners in those parts. (You can be counted as a couple on the Census but not be registered with the state.) I can't wait to ring some of them up and ask them: What gives? Is there a hummus place up there to die for or something? Did "Brokeback Mountain" inspire some sort of retro, head-for-the-hills migration boom? D0es the County Commission hand out free Birkenstocks?
Why do I feel I've got one last Nevada reporting trip in my future?
P.S. Thanks to whomever it was who put that uber-gay-looking Golconda ballcap pic on the Interwebs. God only knows why, but bless you.