Pike County has the state’s highest concentration of same-sex couples

Pike County now logs about 12 same-sex couples for every 1,000 households, giving that county the distinction of having the highest concentration of same-sex households in Pennsylvania.
Nominate a Top Woman in Business. Click here. Nominate an NEPA business professional under 40. Click here.

20 Under 40: JenniferDessoye

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:17 11:10:02

Dr. Jennifer Dessoye is assistant professor of occupational therapy at Misericordia University and owner of Bright Beginnings Early Learning Academy (BBELA). Discontent with the early education curriculum and understanding of human development and neurolo (read more)

20 Under 40: Amy Hlavaty Belcher

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:09 13:55:46

Amy Hlavaty Belcher, 39, owner and artistic director of Abrabesque Academy of Dancing, believes that for those who have been given much, much is expected. “I just try hard to do my best,” she said. I have been blessed with many opportunities and many gift (read more)

20 Under 40: Christopher Hetro

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:14 11:21:35

Chris Hetro, 33, works hard and plays hard. “A strong work ethic is important, but finding balance outside of work is important because life is too short and you need to enjoy it,” he explained. As an electrical engineer and project manager at Borton-Laws (read more)

20 Under 40: C. David Pedri

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:14 15:19:17

For attorney C. David Pedri, 37, it’s all about a combination of qualities that contribute to success. “My philosophy is simple: be open and honest, treat people the way you would want to be treated, with respect, and work hard to attain your dreams. The (read more)

20 Under 40: Ed Frable

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:09 11:13:04

Ed Frable, 28, believes “if I work hard and stick to my word, good things will happen. My crew will not be deterred. We will re-evaluate our game plan and not give up until the job is complete,” explained Frable, the owner/operator of Ed Frable Constructi (read more)

20 Under 40: William H. Bender II

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:16 13:11:08

William H. Bender II, CFP, CIMA, CRPC, loves what he does. “I’m lucky. I come to work every day excited to help the people and institutions we work with,” explained Bender, 34, first vice president at Bender Wealth Management Group, Merrill Lynch. The fam (read more)

20 Under 40: Angelo Venditti

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:14 16:09:11

Angelo Venditti, 38, heard a call to the helping professions early on. Geisinger Northeast’s chief nursing officer answer was to volunteer for his local fire company. After high school, he became a paramedic, then enrolled in nursing school. Three years a (read more)

20 Under 40: Donald Mammano

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:17 12:38:37

At 20, Donald Mammano began his own company, while attending the University of Scranton. Mammano, now 33, and president of DFM Properties, recalls, as a youngster, holding a flashlight while his father fixed the kitchen sink. “From that point on I was fas (read more)

20 Under 40: William J. Fennie III

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:15 09:50:19

William J. Fennie III, 27, is always knocking on the proverbial door, because he knows one day, one will open. As an investment specialist with Integrated Capital Management (iCM) he cannot take “no” for an answer. “I make cold calls every day to invite f (read more)

20 Under 40: Marcus Magyar

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:14 13:25:24

As an advisor at CAPTRUST Financial Advisors, Marcus N. Magyar, CFP, 30, provides comprehensive wealth management and investment portfolio services to business owners, executives, families and high-net worth individuals. His multi-disciplinary team of pro (read more)

20 Under 40: Heather Davis

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:10 13:34:44

Heather M. Davis, 33, director of marketing and communication, is responsible for creating, overseeing and implementing a strategic marketing and comprehensive communications plan for The Commonwealth Medical College (TCMC). She is also responsible for pr (read more)

20 Under 40: Alexandria Duffney

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:14 14:24:50

Alexandria Duffney, 30, is competitive by nature and loves a good challenge. These qualities have led her to her position as associate director of graduate admission at Wilkes University. Here she works with prospective students interested in enrolling in (read more)

20 Under 40: John Culkin

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:07 17:18:26

John Culkin’s tenets inform: “Less haste equal more speed; the same boiling water that softens the potato hardens the egg, it is all about what you are made of, not the circumstances surrounding you; and don’t ask someone to walk a mile in your shoes, bef (read more)

20 Under 40: Conor O'Brien

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:14 17:19:58

“What could be worse than getting to the end of your life and realizing you hadn’t lived it,” mused Conor O’Brien.” As co-founder and executive director of the Scranton Fringe Festival, O’Brien, 25, is responsible for leading the development of the overal (read more)

20 Under 40: Jessica Siegfried

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:10 14:12:08

Jessica Siegfried, 38, is senior designer with BlackOut Design Inc., where she is responsible for all creative design at the full-service agency, from traditional branding and print to collateral and front end web design. “I’ve always had an interest in t (read more)

20 Under 40: David Johns

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:08 10:15:37

David Johns’ career path has been shaped by his diverse experiences. As director of structural engineering at Greenman-Pedersen Inc., Moosic, Johns, 39, ensures that his engineering and consultant teams provide clients with their best effort. “We complete (read more)

20 Under 40: Robyn Jones

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:14 12:41:32

Robyn Jones, 38, president of ReferLocal LLC, has learned just as many lessons from her business successes as she’s had from her failures — and she believes it’s important to share that knowledge with her employees. After graduating from American Universi (read more)

20 Under 40: Nisha Arora

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:14 10:02:06

Nisha Arora, 36, tries to be the best version of herself every day. As general counsel for ERA One Source Realty Inc., she realized she cannot control other’s behavior so “I try to focus on myself and how I can be better,” she explained. Arora’s responsib (read more)

20 Under 40: Justin Sandy

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:10 14:59:27

Starting at a young age in Hazleton, Justin C. Sandy, 33, found a passion for running. He became a member then a coach for Misericordia University’s cross country and track and field programs. “It was at Misericordia that I also garnered the profound sati (read more)

20 Under 40: Dr. Ariane Conaboy

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2016:11:16 09:38:07

As a doctor of internal medicine at Physicians Health Alliance, Dr. Ariane M. Conaboy, 34, realizes the importance of human life and how fragile it can be at times. Conaboy graduated from Scranton Prep and the University of Scranton with a double major in (read more)

Find us on Facebook!

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

"Like" us on Facebook for all of the latest news! (read more)

Follow us on Twitter!

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Follow us for constant updates! (read more)

Article Tools

Font size
Share This

Photo: Demographics for Pennsylvania, 2011 from the Williams Institute at UCLA., License: N/A

Pike’s percentage is even higher than Philadelphia County, which has 10.62 same-sex households for every 1,000 homes. Monroe County has 8.46 couples for every 1,000 households, and Wayne County now has a 7.88 percentage of same-sex couples.

As America grows more aware and accepting of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) neighbors and co-workers, a few regional surprises have surfaced courtesy of the United States Census Bureau and a study by The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.
The studies report that by 2005, there were more than 323,000 gay, lesbian, and bisexual people, both single and coupled, living in Pennsylvania. However, surprisingly, Pike County now logs about 12 same-sex couples for every 1,000 households, giving that county the distinction of having the highest concentration of same-sex households in Pennsylvania. As a point of reference, Pike County’s population is just 57,369 compared to Luzerne’s 320,918 and Lackawanna’s 214,437. The commonwealth’s most populous counties are, of course, Philadelphia, at 1,526,006, and Allegheny at 1,223,348, according to census figures.
Pike’s percentage is even higher than Philadelphia County, which has 10.62 same-sex households for every 1,000 homes. Monroe County has 8.46 couples for every 1,000 households, and Wayne County now has a 7.88 percentage of same-sex couples.
The individuals in all of these same-sex couples average 41 years of age. This is significantly younger than individuals in married couples, which average 49 years of age.

Why Pike?

Analysis of the reasons behind the Pike County LGBT presence is as varied as the county’s citizens themselves. Adrian Shanker, president of Equality Pennsylvania, emphasizes that the public should not be surprised by the Pike County numbers.
He explains that when the results of the census and study are closely examined, it becomes apparent that the specific questions asked only for the number of same-sex couples, and not individual people who are LGBT. Therefore, the numbers of LGBT residents are probably even higher than the census indicates.
“The truth is that LGBT people live everywhere, including Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, Monroe County and Pike County,” says Shanker. “Pennsylvania, as a whole, is a desirable place to live and if LGBT couples were more readily recognized there would be even more of them living in the state.”
He ponders the positive economic impact that would occur in Pike County if LGBT people were recognized as equals by all of the region’s residents. For example, Shanker says that New York City businesses, like hotels, are experiencing a $400 million influx of revenue because that state legally recognizes gay marriage.
He notes that almost all of the states surrounding Pennsylvania recognize gay marriage. That means LGBT couples in Pennsylvania flock out of the state to be married. Shanker believes these patterns mean Pennsylvania’s legislators have failed the business community by chasing these weddings across state lines. “The big picture is that there is money to be earned from recognizing the LGBT population, including the recognition of gay marriage. Refusal to make this legal creates impediments on business,” says Shankar.

A welcoming place

Linda Trompetter, Ph.D., executive director of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Diversity Education Consortium, speculates that the LGBT presence in Pike County parallels increases in other populations, such as Latinos. She says these population increases are not just economic in nature, but often involve couples with children who want to raise their kids outside of urban areas.
“Pike County is a welcoming area with great living conditions,” says Trompetter. “The region’s proximity to New York City for work is also obviously being considered.”
The LGBT transplants in Pike County are just the same as the general population, says John Dawe, executive director of the NEPA Rainbow Alliance. He says LGBT people are often financially well off. Moreover, many are retirees or senior business managers with significant wealth or owners of vacation homes who retreated to the Poconos to live permanently. “Milford, in particular, offers an attractive cost of living, plus many homes that are spread out with privacy,” says Dawe.
Manuel Hernandez, M.D., M.B.A., assistant professor of the department of emergency medicine at the University of Florida College of Medicine, agrees that rural areas often are desirable for all homeowners, including LGBT people, because of reasonable property values. “These people have made a clear choice to move to Pike County, and no longer feel that gay people must closet themselves,” adds Dr. Hernandez.
It makes sense for many urban gay people to move to an area that will accept and embrace them, says Ida Castro, M.A., J.D., vice president for community and government relations and chief diversity officer at The Commonwealth Medical College “If you look at the American population below age 35, they accept LGBT people and have no issue living alongside of them,” says Castro.

Perhaps the most detailed explanation of Pike Country’s population shift comes from Sean Strub, a Milford-based community activist and businessman. He outlines how inclusion has historically been a Pike County tradition, and that the region attracts many types of people with very different political and cultural perspectives. For example, during the time of the American Civil War, Milford offered more than 1,000 hotel rooms for tourists. Gen. William T. Sherman was a visitor. In the early 20th century, Milford was a center of silent filmmaking. Pike County was also an inspiration for painters of the Hudson River School. Then, approximately 30 years ago, urban tourists, including LGBT people, started to “stick around” the region after buying what was once considered vacation property in Pike County. “This is when the predictable tensions really began in the community,” says Strub. The tensions are mostly, however, those of urban vs. rural citizenry. He adds that today’s children have had vastly different cultural experiences than previous generations, and most have grown up seeing gay and lesbian people in their lives. These kids are therefore much less likely to buy into stereotypes and bigotry. “The average person is becoming broadly aware of the presence of LGBT people in a truly global context,” says Strub.

We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.