Strength in numbers

New study reveals pride-inspiring size of Austin’s LGBTQ community

New study reveals pride-inspiring size of Austin’s LGBTQ community

Pride flag Texas capitol
The Austin area’s LGBTQ community is nearly the size of the population of Round Rock. Austin Pride/Facebook

A new study gives us a clearer rainbow-hued idea of just how large Austin’s LGBTQ community is.

The study, released October 11 by the LGBTQ Quality of Life Advisory Commission, estimates the size of the Austin area’s LGBTQ community at 100,000 to 118,000, or roughly 5 percent of the region’s population. The total is just shy of the number of people who live in Round Rock. 

A March 2021 report from the UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute estimates the Austin metro area has the third-largest percentage (5.9 percent) of LGBTQ adults as a share of the population, behind the San Francisco and Portland, Oregon, metro areas.

Interviews conducted for the study indicate that while the LGBTQ population enjoys a sizable presence, the community could benefit from a more visible presence in the form of an LGBTQ community center. The study notes that Austin is one of the few major metro areas in the U.S. without an LGBTQ community center or community space. In Texas, LGBTQ community centers operate in Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio.

The study says this center could “serve as a backbone organization” for helping improve the quality of life for LGBTQ residents in the Austin area.

Such a center — which would be “a clearinghouse of information” for the LGBTQ community — could feature event space, meeting rooms, and office space, and could be complemented by health and social services housed in the same place, according to the study. Also, the center could supply clothing, career readiness training and skills-building opportunities for transgender and gender-expansive people (describing those with flexible, nontraditional views of gender identity), the study says.

In discussing the study, Brion Oaks, the City of Austin’s first-ever chief equity officer, says “that we need to apply equity to the broad vision and goals we have for this city in order to be a welcoming city that allows everyone to thrive.”