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Greater Percentage of Americans Self-Identify as LGBTQ

In the 2021 LGBTQ-focused Gallop poll survey released in February, Americans who self-identify as LGBTQ have risen to an average of 5.6% compared to the last survey in 2017 where that number was 4.5%.

The interesting point in the 2021 LGBTQ-focused Gallop poll is that 7.6% of respondents chose to not answer the question of how they self-identify meaning they wouldn’t even say they are heterosexual. So, 5.6% self-identify as LGBTQ and for 7.6% it is unknown. I have never known a heterosexual not comfortable with stating that. So, I personally believe a good portion of that 7.6% are LGBTQ or questioning. So the statistical number is somewhere between 5.6% and 13.2% (5.6 + 7.6). If I were to bet, the real number is in the 10-11% area.

Of the self-identifying LGBTQ the numbers look like this:

  •  54.6% bisexual
  • 24.5% gay
  • 11.7% lesbian
  • 11.3% transgender
  • 3.3% another non-heterosexual preference

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

Rebasing these percentages to represent their share of the U.S. adult population finds 3.1% of Americans identifying as bisexual, 1.4% as gay, 0.7% as lesbian and 0.6% as transgender.

Gen Z More Comfortable Identifying as LGBTQ

Due to progress made in society, today Gen Z are much more comfortable in being their authentic self identifying as LGBTQ. In this recent Gallop poll for those aged 18-23 about one in six (15.9%) identified as something other than heterosexual.

One of the main reasons LGBT identification has been increasing over time is that younger generations are far more likely to consider themselves to be something other than heterosexual. This includes about one in six adult members of Generation Z (those aged 18 to 23 in 2020).

LGBT identification is lower in each older generation, including 2% or less of Americans born before 1965 (aged 56 and older in 2020).

Americans’ Self-Identification as LGBT, by Generation

LGBTHeterosexualNo opinion
%%%
Generation Z (born 1997-2002)15.978.95.2
Millennials (born 1981-1996)9.182.78.1
Generation X (born 1965-1980)3.888.67.6
Baby boomers (born 1946-1964)2.091.16.9
Traditionalists (born before 1946)1.389.98.9
GALLUP, 2020

Currently, Generation Z leans heavily on the bisexual side of LGBT. This means that nearly 12% of all Gen Z adults identify as bisexual. For comparison’s sake, about half of millennials who identify as LGBT say they’re bisexual. Also, another study completed in early 2019 found that 29% of Americans from 18-30 years old who identify as heterosexual occasionally have same-gender experiences which is called “heteroflexible“.

The most interesting part of these numbers may be that they could very easily be much higher. The survey was only able to gather info from the oldest segment of Generation Z, aged 18 to 23, so pollsters are expecting the percentages to continue to rise as time goes on and people feel more comfortable to live their truth.

According to the survey, more than half of LGBT 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% offered another non-heterosexual preference or term to describe their sexual orientation, such as “queer.”

Americans’ Self-Identified Sexual Orientation, by Generation

BisexualGayLesbianTransgenderOther
%%%%%
Generation Z (born 1997-2002)11.52.11.41.80.4
Millennials (born 1981-1996)5.12.00.81.20.4
Generation X (born 1965-1980)1.81.20.70.20.1
Baby boomers (born 1946-1964)0.31.20.40.20.0
Traditionalists (born before 1946)0.30.30.20.30.1
Figures represent the percentage of all adult members of each generation who have that sexual orientation
GALLUP, 2020

The pronounced generational differences raise questions about whether higher LGBT identification in younger than older Americans reflects a true shift in sexual orientation, or if it merely reflects a greater willingness of younger people to identify as LGBT. 

About the author: Dennis Velco
An LGBTQ rights activist who focuses on the LGBTQ professional and entrepreneur community. Enabling employer brands to thrive and demonstrate their support for their LGBTQ employees and the community.

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