David Paisley is the senior projects manager of Community Marketing Inc., a San Francisco-based research company specializing in connecting corporate America with queer consumers. He's also a 43-year-old gay guy who just had a blast at Burning Man. For 12 years, Paisley's conducted research for dozens of companies looking to reach the gay and lesbian market. Recently, I asked him about CMI's survey of over 22,000 out folk—the largest survey of queer consumers ever: the Gay&Lesbian Consumer Index. For me, what was interesting to note was how many more local lesbians (around 200) chimed in about their lives than gay men. In fact, the survey released stats only on Oregon lesbians because not enough boys participated. Here's what he had to say about all that:

After completing this report, would you agree that Portland is lesbo central?

Portland is known as a lesbian mecca, but it's also known as a gay-friendly place. After visiting...the thing I take away from the gay community is that people are earthy and nice. That may be a stereotype, but it's a very attractive stereotype as far as I'm concerned.

Are you breaking stereotypes or reinforcing them? I think the overall survey broke down one major stereotype—that gay men are a better market than lesbians. I believe the lesbian community will be the emerging economic force over the next decade.

More than 97 percent of lesbians surveyed said they voted in the '04 elections. Will queers play a role in the upcoming election? If you took all 22,000 surveyed, 90 percent identified as voting in the 2004 election. I think in any post-election poll, gay or straight, you will see guilt-related inflation of voting results. So, do I think 90 percent voted? Probably not. Is it significantly higher than the mainstream? I think so. In my opinion, the gay and lesbian population's already making an impact on elections. We vote in large numbers [and] tend to vote for progressive candidates. We may only make up 5 percent, but we're a strong bloc to have on your side.

Is PDX really the No. 1 place for cat-loving lesbians? Yes. Portland's the No. 1 region for lesbian cat owners. In most of the rest of the country, lesbians have more dogs than cats.

Overall, lesbians sound just as boring as the rest of us, gay or straight... Despite what the religious right likes to think about the [queer] community, we're just a bunch of American consumers. We get up, go to work [and] spend time with our families....One thing we found is that while gays and lesbians are just as likely to make charitable gifts as the mainstream, the total amount we give every year is significantly less than the mainstream....we suspect that's because we give far less to religious organizations.

So, lesbians are cheap, God-hating bitches? Not true! Gay men give less, too! The real answer here is that gays and lesbians don't give as much because they're not asked. [They] may be the most underdeveloped giving base in the country right now.

What's the take-away on this survey?

Gay or straight, we are shaped by society. And in the U.S., that society is shaped by consumer culture. In many ways corporate America is far ahead of political America in reaching [out] to gays and lesbians. It's how America really works, despite what happens in our nation's capital.

See communitymarketinginc.com for more info.