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  • Megan Johanson

10 Data Visualizations to Give You a New Perspective on Pride Month

It’s Pride Month and I’m back with 10 data visualizations that will give you a new view of the lives and experiences of LGBTQ+ people in the United States. There has been some progress for the rights and respect of LGBTQ+ people, but not nearly enough.

Throughout this article, I will use the terminology from each visualization/report when describing it. Trigger warning: Visualization 4 in this blog post contains content about dating violence and rape.

1. LGBTQ+ Representation on TV, visualized by Madeline Stanislav

This visually beautiful sunburst chart packs in a lot of information, though it is not an exhaustive list of all tv shows. This visualization doesn’t tell the data story at a glance, but rather it makes you want to spend some time diving into it.

I notice that of the shows and networks reviewed, Netflix has the most LGBTQ+ representation. It also appears to be 50/50 whether the actor playing an LGBTQ+ character is LGBTQ+.

While the color palette is beautiful, I find it a bit hard to map the colors in the legend to the ones in the chart. I’m also left wondering if there could have been a way to include coding for multiple LGBTQ+ characters in one show because the color-coding at that level only reflects one type of representation. For example, I know that Glee and Brooklyn Nine-Nine have more than one LGBTQ+ character, but they are only coded as having a gay character.

A multi-level sunburst chart where LGBTQ+ representation in the media is presented with Network in the center. The categories are further divided by genre, type of LGBTQ+ representation, whether the actor is LGBTQ+, and number of seasons.


2. Police Harassment, visualized by Prison Policy Initiative

This simple but effective bar chart depicts the higher rates at which Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) transgender people have police interactions or are harassed by the police, compared to white transgender individuals. Black and Multiracial transgender people are twice as likely to experience a police interaction or harassment than white transgender people.

Bar chart where percentage of transgender people who have had police interactions or been harassed by the police is represented separately for each race. BIPOC transgender people are much more likely to have police encounters/harassment.


3. Perceived Discrimination, visualized by FiveThirtyEight

This line chart depicts the percent of Americans that believe various underrepresented groups experience a lot of discrimination. The orange line nicely draws our attention to the main point of the chart: that perceived discrimination of gays and lesbians has gone down over the years.

However, whether LGBT people actually report a reduction in discrimination is a different question that this dataset can’t answer.

Line chart where Americans reported which groups of people experience a lot of harassment. Perceived harassment for gays and lesbians has gone down over 5 years.


4. Dating Violence, visualized by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention

This infographic was clearly designed to give off a youthful vibe, but the content is incredibly serious. The data were collected in 2017 from nearly 15,000 students.

LGB students were about 3x more likely to experience physical and sexual dating violence compared to heterosexual students. Students unsure of their sexuality were more than twice as likely to experience physical and sexual dating violence. Both of those groups of students were also much more likely to have been forced to have sexual intercourse (LGB students-4.5x as likely, students unsure about their sexuality-almost 3x as likely). That’s nearly 1 in 4 LGB youth, an alarming statistic.

Clearly, even questioning one’s sexuality is related to an increased risk of teen dating violence.

Infographic on teen dating violence where LGB students are more likely to experience physical and sexual dating violence and forced to have sexual intercourse.


5. Unprotected by Laws, Visualized by Gabrielle Merite for Behance

This is another beautiful but complex visualization. It’s a small multiples chart with parallel visuals for each of the 50 states. What stands out most are the colors. Colors represent that LGBT people are protected by law in certain ways. The different colors reflect the different legal areas: employment, education, housing, public accommodation, credit.

The small United States map in the top right corner gives a high-level view of the geography of LGBT protection laws. The Northeast is most likely to have full protection, and the West Coast states have at least partial protection.

A scan of the visual shows us that about half of the states have zero laws protecting LGBT people against discrimination. Only 11 states have legal protection across all 5 areas. For states with no protective laws, sexual orientation or gender identity are legal reasons for firing someone or not allowing them to rent a home.

Set of sunburst charts, one for each of the 50 states. Each small chart uses color to show whether the state legally protects LGBT people from discrimination in 5 categories: employment, education, housing, public accommodation, credit.


6. Demographics and Geography of the LGBT Population, visualized by the Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law

This choropleth or ‘heat’ map is just one component of an interactive visualization of the demographic characteristics of LGBT people in the United States. Click on the image or source link to access go to the original visual.

From the map, we can tell that states with the highest proportion of LGBT people are on the West Coast and Northeast, which aligns very closely with the map in the previous visualization showing states that legally protect LGBT people from discrimination. What we can’t tell is whether LGBT people live there because of the protective laws or the laws were passed because LGBT people live there. It’s an interesting question!

You can’t tell from this static image, but when you go to the full original visualization, you learn that Washington D.C. has the highest proportion of LGBT people anywhere in the country. In fact, the proportion of LGBT people in D.C ( 9.8%) is almost twice as high as the next highest location, Oregon (5.6%).

Map of the United States where states with a higher proportion of LGBT people are colored in darker blue. The west coast and Northeast have the most states with the highest proportions of LGBT people.


7. Vulnerability for Unhoused Transgender People, visualized by Kaela Roeder for Street Sense Media

The article in which this chart is found states that “one in five transgender individuals have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives.” This diverging, or back-to-back, bar chart identifies the additional challenges that transgender individuals who are homeless without a shelter face relative to those who are homeless but have temporary shelter.

In almost every category, unsheltered, homeless transgender people are more vulnerable. The most prevalent challenges are substance abuse and mental and physical health. Conversely, being sheltered is associated with a huge reduction in vulnerability to most of the identified challenges.

Diverging bar chart where transgender people's vulnerability to various challenges is represented for unsheltered versus sheltered people. Unsheltered transgender people have a much higher vulnerability in all categories except for being attacked while homeless.


8. LGBT Healthcare, visualized by Lambda Legal

This is another simple but compelling bar chart. The report it came from included many related questions demonstrating a similar pattern of healthcare professionals being noninclusive and unhelpful to individuals in need of care.

One in four transgender individuals reported being refuse health care. As a cis-heterosexual person, I’ve never had that happen to me, so it is outrageous to think this is happening so frequently to my fellow humans.

Bar chart where percent of LGB, Transgender, or people living with HIV report being refused necessary health care. Over 26% of transgender individuals, 19% of people living with HIV, and almost 8% of LGB individuals report being refused healthcare.


9. Support for Same-Sex Marriage Across Political Party, visualized by Gallop

This line chart is color-coded by political party and shows a general pattern of increasing support for same-sex marriage between 1996 and 2020.

As the graph shows, democrats have always been more supportive, and the gap between the political groups started off small, at 17%. The gap between democrat and republican support reached its largest in 2013 (45%) but has narrowed in recent years. As of 2020, half of Republicans support same-sex marriage.

Line chart where support for gay marriage is reported by political party between 1996 and 2020. For both parties the support has increased over the years, but a 30-40% gap has persisted since with more Democrats supporting same-sex marriage.


10. Same-Sex Marriage Laws: Interactive visual, visualized by /u/FeCr204

This visual is animated, and it depicts each state’s laws surrounding same-sex marriage between 1995 and 2015 when same-sex marriage became legal across the country. Click on the image or source link below to go to the original gif.

The gif is a helpful way to view the path to progress. It isn’t straightforward, and it spans years, but seeing all states turn blue and move up to the ‘Legal’ quadrant evokes a real sense of accomplishment.

Static image of a gif where each US state is placed in a quadrant of the image based whether same-sex marriage was legal, had a constitutional banned, had a statutory banned, or had no law. The gif shows the states moving quadrants over a 20 year period until they all move to the Legal quadrant in 2015.


Clearly, there is still a lot of work to be done to support the health and happiness of LGBTQ+ individuals in this country. Pride month is great for celebrating progress and individuality, but let’s not forget the very real challenges LGBTQ+ people face every day.

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