Homosexuality and bisexuality
Part 1: Attempts to estimate the percentage
of North American
& bisexual adults.
Unfortunately, many sexual terms are used by therapists and sexual researchers
in a scientific sense, and by some faith groups as a pejorative term -- as "snarl"
words to denigrate sexual minorities. The term "homosexual" is one example. We
term throughout this web site in its scientific/human sexuality/medical sense.
Estimates of the percentage of adults who are gay or lesbian:
Estimates vary over almost a 20 to 1 range!
- 1948: Alfred C, Kinsey published a book -- presumably the first of the Kinsey Reports: "Sexual Behavior in the Human Male." According to Factbrowser.com, Kinsey wrote:
"10 percent of the males are more or less exclusively homosexual for at least three years between the ages of 16 and 55, but that only four percent were exclusively homosexual throughout their lives, after the onset of adolescence."
It appears that several gay-positive groups zeroed in on the 10 percent figure and used it widely in their publications starting in the 1960's. The number is still occasionally heard today. For example, a leading LGB clothing, calendar, and greeting card store on the Internet has the URL www.10percent.com
- 2002-AUG: Gallup®
conducted a poll among U.S. adults to determine their estimates of the percentage of lesbians and gays in the U.S. population. They believed, on average, that:
- 21.4% of male adults were gay.
- 22.0% of female adults were lesbian. 1
Gallup and other polling agencies often ask somewhat ambiguous questions on topics related to religion, morality and human sexuality. This survey, and a similar one in 2011 show this.
In 2002, half of the persons sampled were asked: "Just your best guess, what percentage of men in the United States today would you say are homosexual or gay?. The other half were asked for the percentage of women who are "homosexual or lesbian." The question might be interpreted by the subjects in various ways, as:
- What percentage of adults have a sexual attraction only to persons of the same gender.
- What percentage meet criteria #1 and have acted on it at least once in their life.
- What percentage meet criteria #1 and have acted on it over a sustained interval in their life.
- What percentage meet criteria #1 and are currently sexually active with persons of the same gender.
- What percentage meet criteria # 1, 2, 3, or 4 and also have an attraction to persons of the opposite gender as well. That is, they are bisexual.
- What percentage meet criteria # 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 and openly express their sexual orientation.
There are undoubtedly other interpretations as well. Thus the precise meaning of the survey's results is unclear.
Gates further estimates that of the 3.8% of adults who identify as LGBT, 1.8% are bisexual, 1.7% are gay or lesbian, and only 0.3% are transgender or transsexual. He also found that "8.2% [of the American adult population] have engaged in same-sex sexual behavior and 11% report same-sex attraction." 2,3
Ramon Johnson, writing for About.com commented about "Why is this number an estimate?:"
The number of LGBT persons in the U.S. is subjective. Studies pointing to the statistics are estimates at best. The most widely accepted statistic is that 1 in ever 10 individuals is LGBT; however some research estimates 1 in 20. Of course, this all depends on one's definition of gay (which may vary by study) and the participants willingness to identify as gay, bi, lesbian or transgender. 5
They found that 5.3% of the respondents identified as from the LGBT community. Since the number of transgender persons is known to be very small, the 5.3% value would be made up of essentially all lesbians, gay and bisexual. 7
The estimate that we use:
On this web site, we accept Gate's 3.8% figure as the approximate number of North American adults who admit that they are gay, lesbians or bisexual. However, we use 5% as our best estimate of reality. We feel that substantial numbers of sexual minorities are still reluctant to reveal their sexual identities openly, particularly to pollsters who are strangers.
There are many reasons why LGBTs prefer to remain at least partly "in the closet." In many areas of North America, employers can fire employees for merely being perceived as being lesbian or gay. Discrimination against sexual minorities remains widespread, On the order of 40% of the LGBT community are victims of physical attacks during their lifetime that are motivated by their sexual orientation. The general wisdom is that about 25% of LGBT youth who come out to their parents suddenly find themselves ejected from their home, having been kicked to the curb.
These information sources were used to prepare & update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Lymari Morales, "U.S. Adults Estimate That 25% of Americans Are Gay or Lesbian," Gallup, 2011-MAY-27, at: http://www.gallup.com
- Gary J. Gates, "How many people are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender," The Williams Institute, 2011-APR, at: http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/ This is a PDF file.
- "2011 Williams Institute research in review: U.S. Census & LGBT Demographics," The Williams Institute, 2011, at: http://gaylife.about.com/
- Gary J. Gates, "Gay people count, so why not count them correctly," Washington Post, 2011-APR-08, at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/
- Ramon Johnson, "Gay population statistics: How many gay people are there>" About.com, 2012, at: http://gaylife.about.com
- The preferential term has been "transgender" in recent years.
- "One twentieth of Canadians claim to be LGBT," News Release, Forum Research, 2012-JUN-28 at http://www.forumresearch.com
How you got here:
Copyright © 2012 & 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2012-JUN-08
Latest update: 2013-JUN-16
Author: B.A. Robinson