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    Where My Homos At?

    INFO VISUALIZATION: This image was published by Seattle's Weekly, The Stranger, but I believe the information comes from a book called "The Gay & Lesbian Atlas" (a book I've been meaning to pick up for a while). This map shows the relative density of gays and lesbians in the US by county; from gayless green to flaming red.

    These GIS maps that use zip codes or counties are always a bit misleading for a few reasons. Firstly, not all zip codes are created equal (for example, the White House has it's own zip code with a population of 2). Also, the size of the zip code or county is often inversely related to the population density: denser areas have smaller zip codes and smaller counties. This relationship (greater value = less size) is of course the opposite of what we intuit about information displays. And of course, Western states are much more likely to have large counties (just as they tend to be larger states themselves).

    All of these problems distort the image: just look how prominent Nye county in Nevada is -- it's size and color could give the impression that this sparcely populated desert is the center of Gay America (when we all know where that is). But these visualizations are really the best we can do since a proper and arbitrary grid layout would require the latitude and longitude of all respondents who identify as gay (now that would be some awesome gaydar). Still, it's an illuminating bit of information. It gives hints as to why gayless North Dakota is as boring as, well, North Dakota and why the only way The Governator could get elected in gay-as-hell California was by being decidedly pro-gay rights.

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