The South may not have a reputation as a welcoming bastion of homosexuality, but according to recent census data, it’s home to America’s largest concentration of gay parents, a demographer tells the New York Times. Of course, that might actually be in part because of the region’s less-accepting atmosphere: experts theorize that many of these couples had children during a previous, heterosexual relationship.
But these days the region, and its pervasive religious community, are more tolerant. In Jacksonville, for example, eight churches now openly welcome gays, and one caters to those with children. “All of a sudden you started seeing all of these women coming out,” says one gay parent. “All of them had children.” Another interesting facet of the phenomenon: the parents don’t fit the stereotype of white and affluent—Black and Latino gay couples are twice as likely as whites to be raising children.