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Friday, October 19, 2012

Younger People Likelier to Identify as LGBT, People of Color Likelier to Identify as LGBT, LGBT People Are On Average Poorer, Women Likelier to Identify As LGBT...

Posted by on Fri, Oct 19, 2012 at 11:12 AM

The results of a the first-ever Gallup poll looking at the LGBT community are up and the results are fascinating. The two findings getting the most attention:



Says Gallup:

These results are based on responses to the question, "Do you, personally, identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender?" included in 121,290 Gallup Daily tracking interviews conducted between June 1 and Sept. 30, 2012. This is the largest single study of the distribution of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) population in the U.S. on record.... Exactly who makes up the LGBT community and how this group should be measured is a subject of some debate. Measuring sexual orientation and gender identity can be challenging since these concepts involve complex social and cultural patterns. As a group still subject to social stigma, many of those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender may not be forthcoming about this identity when asked about it in a survey. Therefore, it's likely that some Americans in what is commonly referred to as "the closet" would not be included in the estimates derived from the Gallup interviews. Thus, the 3.4% estimate can best be represented as adult Americans who publicly identify themselves as part of the LGBT community when asked in a survey context.

Interestingly, the number of young people who identify as LGBT—and young people are likelier to be out—is approaching Kinsey's 10% figure, which was supposedly debunked by other studies. Are young people likelier to be queer? Or just likelier to be out? Why do more people of color identify as LGBT? What does it all mean? Tear it up in comments, Sloggers.


Comments (56) RSS

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It means that white guys are cowards, of the "I'm not gay, I just like to suck dick" variety.
Posted by PaulBarwick on October 19, 2012 at 11:22 AM · Report this
Well people who are 50 and up likely grew up in a time when there was a lot less acceptance of LGBT people, so it is likely that the spent a large portion of their adult life not (publicly) identifying as LGBT and as a result internalized a lot of that homophobia. Today, there is a lot more acceptance (although not full acceptance yet) in society and thus I can see how more young people feel comfortable identifying as queer in some way.
Posted by Buffy on October 19, 2012 at 11:23 AM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 3
I've heard before from some gay friends that they hate having a tangible metric or record applied to how many "gays there are", and others that either don't care or like it because it can be held up -- we have x% of the USA, bigger than all these other groups.

I've never understood why some don't want it, well, measured. Why not? Wouldn't data like that be helpful in the long run?
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on October 19, 2012 at 11:28 AM · Report this
"Why do more people of color identify as LGBT?"

@1 I was thinking that this was more about those already having minority status may simply be more comfortable with self-identifying as part of another minority.

See also, women being more likely to identify as LGBT, but with the knowledge that I understand there is less stigma attached to lady-sex.
Posted by What Likely Voter Screen Did Gallop Apply? on October 19, 2012 at 11:29 AM · Report this
Cynic Romantic 5
I find the ratio of "Don't know / refused to answer" to "yes" answerers to be fascinating, personally. How can you not know, and isn't refusing to answer as good as saying yes?
Posted by Cynic Romantic on October 19, 2012 at 11:32 AM · Report this
Do people in lower income or minority groups have less to "loose" by coming out? Just an idea. I also wonder if there's anything you could figure out about the "don't know/didn't answer" group. Are they all closeted or offended by the question?
Posted by nomada on October 19, 2012 at 11:33 AM · Report this
saxfanatic 7
Sooner or later some marketer will conclude that "LGBT" = "young and hip". I'm dubious that baby boomers will buy it, but eventually...
Posted by saxfanatic on October 19, 2012 at 11:35 AM · Report this
Confluence 8
Or is it more like this for the young'uns:…

Experimenting when you're young is "cool" didn't you know?
Posted by Confluence on October 19, 2012 at 11:40 AM · Report this
Or, the older and richer you get, and the whiter you are, the more likely you are to have some sudden miracle from above that switches off Teh Geh. Look out Dan, you are approaching that marker...
Posted by SeattleKim on October 19, 2012 at 11:42 AM · Report this
Sandiai 10
It's CONTAGIOUS! Obviously! OneMillionMoms was right. Widespread acceptance of the homosexual agenda spreads and perpetuates homosexual behavior! Children then make the CHOICE to be homo's after seeing that it's socially acceptable.
That's how it works, Dummies. See what you did!
Posted by Sandiai on October 19, 2012 at 11:51 AM · Report this
I think you need to add at least half of the "Don't Know/Refused to Answer" number to the Yes column. There aren't going to be that many straight people who refuse to answer that question.
Posted by NotYourStrawMan on October 19, 2012 at 12:07 PM · Report this
Well, for gay or bisexual older males, there was this little thing called the 1980s that led to a lot of deaths... That might skew things a bit.
Posted by Zuulabelle on October 19, 2012 at 12:10 PM · Report this
rob! 13
I'm reminded of a popular T-shirt seen on the streets of my old gayborhood, especially on some of the hotter 'mos:
Yeah, right!
Posted by rob! on October 19, 2012 at 12:16 PM · Report this
I think it would be interesting to change the question to "Do you identify as 'heterosexual' or 'not heterosexual'. Because right now about 8% - 9% doesn't identify as hetero.
Posted by Smartypants on October 19, 2012 at 12:31 PM · Report this
Fnarf 15
Remember that "war" between black people and gay people that was supposed to be so important back in whenever the hell that was? Remember how poster boys like Ken Hutcherson were supposed to be emblematic of how African-Americans (and Latinos, and Asians too) were too bound up in their religious faith to ever accept gay people, because everyone knows that The Gays are all rich white men in fabulous clothes?
Posted by Fnarf on October 19, 2012 at 12:36 PM · Report this
Corylea 16
"LGBT identification is highest among those with some college education but not a college degree, at 4.0%."

A lot of gay people come out in college ... and a lot of parents of gay people stop paying for college when they find out.

Posted by Corylea on October 19, 2012 at 12:37 PM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 17

Well, no the data say the opposite.

For some reason, people start off gayer, then get less gay and then get more gay again before they die.

At least that's what the age bracket chart says, since Age is not fixed metric (that is, people who were 18/29 turn into 30/49 and so on...)
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe on October 19, 2012 at 12:52 PM · Report this
Cascadian 18
@12 Total HIV/AIDS deaths in the US are a bit above 600,000. Assuming every one of those way gay or bisexual (which isn't true, but is close enough for argument's sake), that's not enough to make up the discrepancy in older generations. That's about 1 in 500 of the total US population (0.2%). Not nothing, but not the whole difference.

I think it's a combination of "lesbian during college" and a shift in how bisexuals report their orientation (mostly straight young people are comfortable reporting bi whereas elders would err in the other direction), plus a significant chunk of closet cases.
Posted by Cascadian on October 19, 2012 at 12:52 PM · Report this
@14: except lots of transgendered people identify as hetero :P
Posted by Friendstastegood on October 19, 2012 at 12:57 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 20
@17 I think you're confusing age cohorts with "what is/was acceptable" for each of the age cohorts.

Nowadays, if you're under 30, it's not really a big deal what label you stick on yourself, or if you change it every week.

But for a lot of the older cohorts, there was/is a lot of societal pressure to conform. I'm not saying there's none now, but remember older people tend to hang out with older people, so they get continual reinforcement in what is/was ok almost every day.
Posted by Will in Seattle on October 19, 2012 at 1:17 PM · Report this
Note the link Dan gave: women 18 to 29, 8.3%, men, 4.6%. This reflects the long known observation that women are more bi-curious / flexible *in our society*.

This is why the religious police want to suppress gay rights, because when exclusively gay men and lesbians are out and proud, it actually does lead to more same-sex behavior -- especially formerly suppressed bi dudes and gals say what the heck to frolicking, bromances, etc.

Speaking of bi-frolicking dudes, anyone read about A&F's REPUBLICAN CEO and his boxer-brief clad private-jet flight attendants... who are required to service guest requests with "No problem"? :-)…
Posted by delta35 on October 19, 2012 at 1:19 PM · Report this
#12 is right, folks who were in their 20s through 40s in 1975 (who would have been sexually active adults in the dawning era of AIDS) would be in their 50s to 70s now. A huge number of that cohort died. Especially among the gay and bi men, a lot wouldn't have lived. I think if you figure that in to the age respondents you will get a different answer.

On the ethnicity side, the average of all four ethnic groups is 4.02%, standard deviation of 0.6. That means that statistically, even under a student's t distribution, there is no significant difference between people identifying as LGBT amongst blacks, hispanics, and asians.

If you do a T-test comparing the mean of all groups (as above) with the mean of the white respondents, there is no significant difference between the white respondents and the entire group. It's a statistical anomaly, not a hard fact.
Posted by slinky on October 19, 2012 at 1:33 PM · Report this
Mattini 23
Those statistics are fascinating indeed. I'd be curious if the results will be replicated in future polls.

As for why, I thought the same as @4. It may be easier for someone already minority-status to accept that they're another minority.

Dan has said something similar regarding gay folks and kinks: once you've accepted you're gay, it's easier to accept a mundane foot fetish or whatever.
Posted by Mattini on October 19, 2012 at 1:46 PM · Report this
I want to know if "refused to answer" means "was asked the question and declined to answer" or "hung up on us."

Anyone who went through the whole survey and said they didn't want to answer, or (heh) didn't know is going to skew toward a yes far more than a no.

People who don't want to answer questions about their sexual orientation to random strangers who call unsolicited? That could go either way and is probably not as significant.

So, looks like we're back to "somewhere around 3% of the population is out, but close to 10% of the population is LGBT in fact" metric.

And that assumes that the "not LGBT" column doesn't include a lot of bisexuals in opposite sex relationships, which would further raise the numbers.
Posted by Lymis on October 19, 2012 at 1:50 PM · Report this
Why are younger folks more likely to identify as Gay?

Because the culture they are exposed to relentlessly pushes homosexuality as cool.

If homosexuality were some biologically innate trait it would occur at the same rate among age cohorts.

Or maybe homosexuality is such a lethal behavior choice that it kills 70% of the people who practice it by the time they reach 65.....
Posted by Not Just As Good on October 19, 2012 at 1:55 PM · Report this
Much of the difference associated with race/ethnicity may be attributable to age, as the average age of Hispanics, blacks and Asians are all significantly lower than for non-Hispanic whites. There is likely also a similar correlation with affluence (younger people are poorer).
Posted by Teddit on October 19, 2012 at 1:57 PM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 27


Ok, I guess I was looking at the numbers in the "No" category, not the "Yes" category. So basically, people start off gayer, then get less gay, then get really stupid and addle brained and can't figure out where to put it anymore.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe on October 19, 2012 at 2:27 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 28
@24 what about people who just think your 20th century LGBT labels are just that: old fashioned.

They might not answer due to a. not caring b. MYOB c. stop labeling me
Posted by Will in Seattle on October 19, 2012 at 2:29 PM · Report this
Does anyone else feel like the lack of transfolk in older folks may be in part because they didn't realize it was an option? Like they didn't feel right in their bodies or their roles, but since nobody really talked being trans back then, they just don't/didn't have language for those feelings?
Posted by sallybobally on October 19, 2012 at 3:37 PM · Report this
It doesn't surprise me at all that the people with most privilege to lose from accepting the label refuse it more often than those further down the hierarchy, either to themselves or to a "confidential" poll.

Ms S Kim - While that would explain a number of things, it's not really funny.
Posted by vennominon on October 19, 2012 at 3:40 PM · Report this
Mr Szilagyi @3 - Helpful to whom? The obvious answer is that an exact proportion would be helpful to our enemies, especially as there's no "right number". Whatever the most definitive answer possible might be, there would be bunches of heterocentric advocates screaming that there were too many non-heterosexuals and measures X, Y and Z were necessary to prop up poor beleaguered heterosexuality, and other bunches screaming that there were too few to justify programs U, V and W. I'm not that pure a theorist to want an answer that will satisfy curiosity at the cost of hurting the people counted.
Posted by vennominon on October 19, 2012 at 3:50 PM · Report this
I want to see some chi-square values to accompany these data--these group differences aren't necessarily statistically significant.
Posted by statistics matter on October 19, 2012 at 3:58 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 33
Heck, if LGBT was a majority you'd still have old people upset about it. Kind of like how they don't get that most US states are Hispanic now.
Posted by Will in Seattle on October 19, 2012 at 4:03 PM · Report this
Mark in Colorado 34
@17 Supreme HOMOSTUPID of the Universe:

It's called bisexuality. Oh for fuckssake someone did really hit you when you were a baby with a fucking stupid stick, didn't they?!!
Posted by Mark in Colorado on October 19, 2012 at 4:50 PM · Report this
A couple ideas I didn't see elsewhere among the comments, to account for some of the DK/Refused:

1) LGBTQ--including Q for "Queer and/or Questioning"--encompasses those who genuinely aren't quite sure (yet, at least). Gay sex doesn't necessarily equal gay or bi identification, so even for some folks who've fooled around with same sex partners, some of those DK/Refused are not being coy or shameful in saying "I dunno."

2) Similarly, there's the Kinsey scale, with 0 equal to exclusively heterosexual, 6 equal to exclusively homosexual. While a 0 or a 6 or a 3 is probably comfortable giving a definitive answer (yes, I'm definitely straight/gay/bi, respectively), I bet there are Kinsey 1's and 2's among those polled who are genuinely not sure whether they should round themselves down to straight or up to bi.
Posted by Functional Atheist on October 19, 2012 at 6:24 PM · Report this
venomlash 36
@25: One, this survey didn't measure people's sexual orientation directly. It asked people what they considered themselves to be.
Two, there are plenty of innate traits that have different incidence across chronological cohorts. If this WASN'T true, evolution couldn't happen.
Three, societal factors actually DISCOURAGE people from being gay. If young adults thought that gay was cool and awesome, why would people stay in the closet for any length of time?
Zero for three, ding dong. Respawn and try again.
Posted by venomlash on October 19, 2012 at 7:00 PM · Report this
@36 Don't waste your friday night trying to teach the troll about about that science stuff, VL.
Posted by Ken Mehlman on October 19, 2012 at 7:20 PM · Report this
Another nuanced take on these findings:…
Posted by Buffy on October 19, 2012 at 9:10 PM · Report this
@5, not necessarily. As a wee statistician, I spent a lot of time working surveys, and some people just don't want to answer questions of a personal nature.'s a good example. The company I worked at once did a survey regarding men's underwear. We sent samples of underwear to the men and asked them to wear them for 2 weeks (we sent them 6 hindsight and knowing men better now than then, perhaps we should have sent the single guys 14), and then called them back to get their opinions. So, here I had guys who were telling me all about the fit of their underpants, and a goodly number still refused to tell me how much money they made or if they had kids. I do wish those people would just decline the whole survey, since not being able to classify them makes the analysis less valid, but the number of people who will tell you what they think of X, Y, or Z, but not personal information is high.
Posted by Ms. D on October 19, 2012 at 9:36 PM · Report this
@35: Yes, I wanted to mention that stuff. When I was reading the post I thought I could be a DK. I'm about 90% straight, used to be less so and happily ticked bi, but now I switch between bi and straight because I really don't know which is more appropriate. I'm not confused at all, it's just not a good question for me.

Then there are those who are confused. Personally I didn't begin to feel confident in my orientation until I was about 17 and that was nothing to do with hang-ups, I just wasn't attracted to people yet. Of course some of the DKs will be gay or bi but need to break through their issues before they can admit it, but there are probably also a few who thought they knew where they were but now they've got funny feelings for someone they didn't think was their target gender, so what does that mean? There are also those guys who write to Dan because they're not sure if wanting to take it in the ass/fuck transwomen/wear lingerie makes them gay. And asexuals, who may feel that the question doesn't have an answer for them.
Posted by iiieeeoo on October 20, 2012 at 4:41 AM · Report this

and you know better than them what their orientation is?
you truly ARE wise, padowan.

please cite a few.

your mommy must have grounded you from watching tv or the internet for the past 20 years....
please cite any condemnation of homosexuality that is treated approvingly by American popular youth culture.
Posted by it gets butter on October 20, 2012 at 5:26 AM · Report this
venomlash 42
@41: Gay people are often closeted. That is, they are indeed gay but, if asked, will say they aren't. Dumbass.
Height, for example, is innate, but people have gotten taller over time. Did you really not think of this?
Weren't you ever in middle school? The fact that "faggot" is a common pejorative there is pretty solid evidence that youth popular culture isn't exactly pro-gay. There are other shows on the air besides Glee, you know.
Could you be any more idiotic?
Posted by venomlash on October 20, 2012 at 6:33 AM · Report this


and how do you know they said they weren't when surveyed?
oh right, you don't....
how many heterosexuals said they were gay
just to mess with the survey taker?
(you mean you never mess with survey takers?

one is not a few.
measurable differences in height among contemporaneous different age cohorts reflect differences in nutrition or different life experiences, not innate DNA changes.
those would occur more slowly.

your middle school experience is anecdotal and a poor basis for extrapolating to society at large.
and how can you blame the other kids when your own mother calls you faggot?
please cite ANY condemnation of homosexuality that is treated approvingly by American popular youth culture.

Posted by your momma wears armor on October 20, 2012 at 11:16 AM · Report this

The First Gay Celebrity,
The Gay Jesus;
Danny uses the term faggot.
so, there's that....
Posted by did you know Seattle Weekly does not carry Danny's column? on October 20, 2012 at 11:44 AM · Report this
@40 Thanks for your comment, and for mentioning Asexuals, who, as you noted, might not have a best fit among the available options.

There might also be Intersex individuals, Pansexuals, and a smattering of adamant Trans individuals, who each rejected the notion of being lumped into any category for their own individual, possibly political, reasons, and therefore selected Refused as a sort of protest vote.
Posted by Functional Atheist on October 20, 2012 at 12:23 PM · Report this
venomlash 46
@43: Are you saying that people are never closeted? Is that actually what you're saying?
One actually IS "a few" according to Heroes of Might and Magic III: The Restoration of Erathia. And does it matter if height changes are the result of genetic factors or not? Height IS innate. (Also, the gradual increase in height IS likely genetic, at least in part. Taller people are seen as more attractive in most societies, and are therefore more likely to reproduce. Don't try to tell me about stuff you don't understand.)
Cite one example of youth popular culture glorifying homosexuality.
@44: Do you know what a pejorative is?
Posted by venomlash on October 20, 2012 at 3:47 PM · Report this
@31: Well, I can imagine it being helpful in the way that knowing how many Latino people there are in the country helps. Knowing the proportion of Latinos helps us know if they're underrepresented in our government, and the same goes for gays. I don't think it's really different from any other demographic information. I also don't think there's an "innate" proportion of LGBT in the population, but again, it's useful to know what the proportion is in a given population for the same reason that any demographic information is useful: are gays in this area underpaid? Are they underrepresented in government? Are their numbers enough to justify services more tailored for the LGBT community (think LGBT centers, free STD screening, things like that)?

Honestly, I don't think it's useful to our enemies. They already have no compunction about doing flawed studies and making shit up. If they want to make a study that shows that "too many" people are gay, they can do it right now.
Posted by alguna_rubia on October 20, 2012 at 4:55 PM · Report this
@46 Christian conservatives don't accept the notion of sexual orientation as a useful framework for understanding human sexuality. Instead they see all homosexual acts as a particularly extreme variety of the sin of lust. Someone who views the world in that way would never self-identify as LGBTQ no matter how much gay sex he or she was having.
Posted by Ken Mehlman on October 20, 2012 at 5:30 PM · Report this
examine @46 to see what 'nothing' looks like...
Posted by've got it! on October 21, 2012 at 11:19 AM · Report this
it means we're winning (maniacal laugh).
Posted by stinevincent on October 21, 2012 at 7:23 PM · Report this
Rob in Baltimore 51
Attitudes towards homosexuality are changing, and young folks have always been the ones to accept social shifts first. Here in Maryland, it's looking very likely that we will have voter approved marriage equality. That wouldn't have happened two years ago. Young LGBT people are growing up in a world where it's not so scary to be who they really are. They don't feel the fear, and don't have to hide like previous generations of LGBT people.
Posted by Rob in Baltimore on October 22, 2012 at 7:25 AM · Report this
The cross tabs of this poll are pretty useless since the don't know/refused to answer is so large and so non randomly distributed. As Dan points out the younger one is the more likely one is to identify as lgbt but being young also tends to mean being less educated (since you aren't old enough to have advanced degrees), being poorer (since you are just starting out on your career ladder or are still in school) to give two examples.
Posted by dsc999 on October 22, 2012 at 12:25 PM · Report this
I don't think this poll is trustworthy. The numbers are so close (3% vs 4% etc) that one needs to know more about the sample before making conclusions. How many were included? Was there a test measuring the accuracy of the results (t-test for those who care)?

I think it's dangerous to try and philosophize an answer to a question that may assume a false truth.
Posted by PinkieB on October 22, 2012 at 12:49 PM · Report this
@53 Read the actual study, and your philosophical quandaries shall be answered; it's really pretty reliable methodology.

"Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of the Gallup Daily tracking survey June 1-Sept. 30, 2012, with a random sample of 121,290 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, selected using random-digit-dial sampling.

For results based on the total sample of [national adults/registered voters], one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is <±1 percentage point."
Posted by Malcolm on October 22, 2012 at 1:29 PM · Report this
@22 I'm pretty sure your t-test would apply to single cases but not population descriptives. If you really want to test the null hypothesis that ethnicity does not affect LGBT identification, find the original sample sizes, compute frequencies, and run a chi-square instead.

And yes, I'm sorry. I am indeed that nerdy. This is what I do with my lunch break.
Posted by Hakosua on October 22, 2012 at 3:32 PM · Report this
BrotherBob 56
A better question would have been. "Have you ever, in your life identified as LGBT?" That is what Kinsey asked. It allows for changes/fluidity.
Posted by BrotherBob on October 23, 2012 at 8:40 AM · Report this

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