Gays, They’re Everywhere and Growing; 9 Million to Date

by Accidental Bear

9 million Americans estimated to be gay or bisexual, but solid figures elusive

via Washington Post

In an attempt to encourage more research into the health and well-being of gay people, a California demographer has estimated that more than 9 million Americans are gay, lesbian or bisexual, a number equivalent to the population of New Jersey.

Gary Gates, who studies the demographics of the gay community for the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, said in a report released Thursday that about 3.5 percent of Americans identify themselves in surveys as being gay, lesbian or bisexual.

But those who said they have had same-sex encounters are almost evenly divided between gay people and bisexuals, leaving just 1.7 percent who say they are gay or lesbian. The percentage more than doubles, however, if it includes people who say they have engaged in same-sex sexual behavior at some point.

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Key findings from the research brief are as follows:

Williams

  • An estimated 3.5% of adults in the United States identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual and an estimated 0.3% of adults are transgender.
  • This implies that there are approximately 9 million LGBT Americans, a figure roughly equivalent to the population of New Jersey.
  • Among adults who identify as LGB, bisexuals comprise a slight majority (1.8% compared to 1.7% who identify as lesbian or gay).
  • Women are substantially more likely than men to identify as bisexual. Bisexuals comprise more than half of the lesbian and bisexual population among women in eight of the nine surveys considered in the brief. Conversely, gay men comprise substantially more than half of gay and bisexual men in seven of the nine surveys.
  • Estimates of those who report any lifetime same-sex sexual behavior and any same-sex sexual attraction are substantially higher than estimates of those who identify as LGB. An estimated 19 million Americans (8.2%) report that they have engaged in same-sex sexual behavior and nearly 25.6 million Americans (11%) acknowledge at least some same-sex sexual attraction.
  • Understanding the size of the LGBT population is a critical first step to informing a host of public policy and research topics. The surveys highlighted in this report demonstrate the viability of sexual orientation and gender identity questions on large national population-based surveys. Adding these questions to more national, state, and local data sources is critical to developing research that enables a better understanding of the understudied LGBT community.

 

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