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More Americans identify as LGBTQ than ever, new Gallup poll finds

Tim Darnell, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in News & Features

More Americans than ever are identifying themselves as members of the LGBTQ community, according to a new Gallup poll.

Gallup’s latest update on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer identification finds 5.6% of U.S. adults identifying as LGBTQ. The current estimate is up from 4.5% in Gallup’s previous update based on 2017 data.

Currently, 86.7% of Americans say they are heterosexual or straight, and 7.6% did not answer the question about their sexual orientation. Gallup’s 2012-2017 data had roughly 5% “no opinion” responses.

The latest results are based on more than 15,000 interviews conducted throughout 2020 with Americans ages 18 and older. Gallup had previously reported annual updates from its 2012-17 daily tracking survey data but did not routinely measure LGBTQ identification in 2018 or 2019.

“What they’re trying to come up with is the people who self-identify,” said Gary Gates, a demographer who helped Gallup develop its 2012 survey. Gates told NBC News, “It’s a measure of identity, not behavior or feelings or some other measurements we might use. They weren’t trying to count all the people in the closet.”

Gallup editor Jeffrey Jones also told NBC younger Americans are more open about their identity.

 

“Younger people are growing up in an environment where being gay, lesbian or bisexual is not as taboo as it was in the past,” Jones said. “So they may just feel more comfortable telling an interviewer in a telephone survey how they describe themselves. In the past, people would maybe be more reluctant.”

More than half of LGBTQ adults (54.6%) identify as bisexual. About a quarter (24.5%) say they are gay, with 11.7% identifying as lesbian and 11.3% as transgender. An additional 3.3% volunteer another non-heterosexual preference or term to describe their sexual orientation, such as queer or same-gender-loving.

Respondents can give multiple responses when describing their sexual identification; thus, the totals exceed 100%.

Here are some of the poll’s other findings:

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