survey says

So Only 3.5% Of Americans Are Calling Themselves Queer, Ey?

So much about that 1-in-10 figure you keep bandying about: Just 3.5 percent of Americans, or nine million people, are LGBT. So concludes Gary J. Gates at the UCLA School of Law, who looked back on six studies conducted in the past half decade. Not only that, but apparently there are more bisexual folks (1.8 percent) than gays or lesbians (1.7 percent)? Some 700,000 (or 0.3 percent) identify as trans, meanwhile. But that doesn’t mean America isn’t filled with folks who’ve gotten it on with the same sex!

Gates, who pegs America’s LGBT population as roughly the size of New Jersey, finds some 19 million Americans (8.2 percent) say they’ve tried the same-sex sex thing, while about 25.6 million Americans (11 percent) say they fall somewhere in the middle of the Kinsey scale and have some same-sex attraction.

The full study is here (PDF). And no, it doesn’t list the names and Facebook profile URLs of the 8,999,999 others queers. Our marketing manager already checked.

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  • robert in NYC

    I doubt if those statistics are accurate. A lot of gay and bisexual people are still in the closet and would never admit their true orientation in a poll. I suspect the figures are much much higher. Maybe its 10% or more?

  • jason

    I reckon that, if there are about 150 million men in the USA, about 130 million are bisexually oriented to some degree. This covers anything from 1% same-sex oriented to 99% same-sex oriented within a bisexual framework. The vast majority of straight-identifying men are thus bisexually oriented.

    One of the things we keep forgetting is the role of women in opposing the concept of male-to-male sexuality. Women are hugely responsible for the opposition. Through the course of history, women have played a major role in enacting laws that opposed same-sex behavior between men but not same-sex behavior between women. Many countries had laws – and some still do – that opposed male homosexuality only, and not female homosexuality.

    Female opposition to the concept of the sexually fluid man is based on several fears including:

    a) her fear of having to compete with a man for the affections of a man.

    b) her fear of not finding a man to fertilize her.

    After all, if sex was purely recreational, as it is between men, it serves no purpose to her. Her purpose is to get pregnant, a man’s purpose is to have fun. If the social stigma on sex between men was completely removed, men would turn to each other with relative ease, leaving women high and dry.

  • The sane Francis

    As I said on towleroad, we will never know the true number of people who are LGBT because asking people a self-identification quiz over the phone simply isn’t an accurate way to figure out the true statistics of who feels what. If you look at most studies, sexuality flows along a continuum and most people are not 100% in either direction (gay/straight). A lot of people who say they are bisexual use the label as a transition to gay. A lot of people who say they are straight are bisexual to some degree. A lot of gays are really gay-leaning bisexuals. Sexuality is much more complex than the black and white way these studies identify it as. Sexual orientation and identity are not the same concepts.

  • Joe

    @jason: Do you have any data to support this? I have a BA in Women’s Studies and the most compelling reason I’ve found in my studies for the lack of bans on lesbian behavior is pure ignorance. There’s the stereotype of a straight dude asking a lesbian couple “How do you guys do it? Huh? Scissoring?!” which is inane but take that attitude a couple hundred years back and that man wouldn’t have even thought to ask the question.

    One of the interesting things to think about when studying a time period like the Middle Ages, when the church was passing morality law after morality law including anti-homosexual behavior laws, is that they would have no reason to outlaw such activity, so vehemently, if it weren’t rampant among the populace. But in the middle ages like most times and places in history, men had greater power and freedom. So our gay/bi men could go out, get laid, party it up whenever they liked. But the women, straight or gay, did not have such freedom, and their lives were often forced to revolve around a man, father or husband, so if a lady got it on with another lady it would be behind closed doors and secret and no one would think it possible for two women to enjoy each others company.

    I don’t think female opposition to male fluid sexuality is nonexistent but it is a personal bigotry some women have, often birthed from a religious context/culture.

  • Jim Hlavac

    This is another attempt at counting us that relies on phone calls, and all this guy did is apparently count up the phone calls made by six other studies, compile them, and publish them. Perhaps he had nothing else to do. I can imagine the call, however: “Hi, I’m doing a study. Are you gay?” Sure, sure. That’s getting a good count. These studies are always done by heteros to convince themselves that we’re not just a tiny bit larger in number, and the “bisexual” is thrown in to show we can pure gays can change too. And yet they are true in the sense that well, yes, I guess these 3.6% said they were gay or bisexual. Of course, that leaves off the other 3.6% who weren’t going to say a word. And it’s always challenging to weight such calling surveys to where the gays are. I suppose if you called across Iowa you’d get 3.6% or less, for many went to Chicago, San Fran and NYC.

    On the other hand, there are more than 4,000,000 gay men at pride parades in late June. And I doubt there’s a whole lot of heteros at pride parades; I’ve never noticed more than a handful. And we all don’t go to the parade.

    And of course, these studies never count the kids. For even if only 3.6% of adults are gay, there’s still 3.6% of the kids, and with 80,000,000 kids, that does bump up the number.

    Ah, fuzzy math, always good. And now this “new” study will make the press, and the nation will think, so what’s the big deal with such a tiny bunch?

  • All Natural Loving

    This person took the percentages bandied about by professional homophobes, ignored all other studies, and jumped to the conclusion most useful to those who wish to oppress GLBTQ people.

  • Joetx

    I’m surprised this study came out of the Williams Institute. And although I think 3.5% is a little low, I think the percentage of gays is nowhere near 10% of the population.

  • SteveC

    I have never believed that 10% of the population was gay.

    Maybe the figure is 10% in the larger cities (where gayfolk tend to move to).

    But in the population as a whole… I doubt it.

    We will never know the true percentage.

    In any case, it’s irrelevant.

    Everybody deserves equal rights and treatment

  • missanthrope


    Joe, for the sake of your own sanity don’t even try to engage Jason, he’s the resident misogynist and according to him all of the maladies of queer men can be linked to women, especially bi women. He’ ridiculous.

  • Kev C

    What percentage of LGBTs listen to Hot97 FM?

  • PopSnap

    4 million? At the high school I went to alone I knew atleast 8 gay/bi guys, half of which were closested. And that’s out of a sample of 900 in a small Ohio town. You can’t get a sample from calling 100 people, that’s absolutely ridiculous and why I don’t trust polls.

    The fact that you called 100 people at random and 2.5% were LGBT is actually pretty surprising actually and makes me belive that there are much more. I mean… what if they were all straight? Would he say that no gays existed? I don’t get pollsters…

  • Red Meat

    I see gay people in every room I enter in school, in stores, and in public. 3/100 is too low of a probability to be anywhere near the truth.

  • Joe

    @missanthrope: I appreciate the warning, I finished my post, and jumped to another article where he was saying some very racist stuff and then I realized my effort had probably been wasted on him.

  • Jeffree

    @Missanthrope: Thank you for saving me from having to issue the “jason alert” to the newbies; lol. You were very kind to me when I was a Queerty newbie too, so you’re also a good role model.

  • jason

    Unless you can invent a device which reads the sexual thoughts and feelings in a man’s brain, you will never get a complete and truthful picture of male sexuality. Surveys are useless. So long as there is a stigma on male-male sexuality in our society, men won’t report their most personal feelings in an unhindered way.

    Regarding these surveys, if it’s a choice between something which carries a stigma and something which doesn’t, men will overwhelmingly choose the non-stigmatic option. Sex researchers fail to understand this.

  • Jeffree

    @jason: where did you get your PhD in biostatistics? Liberty U? BYU?

  • TheRealAdam

    @jason: I agree with Jason here. This should be obvious to all.

  • Enron

    I am Gay, but I am not out and probably never be because of my environment and fear of getting hurt if I disclose it. Although America is considered a liberal society, there is still a significant amount of stigma and discrimination that goes with being gay. I have friends there and I was amazed at the amount of homophobic comments made about gay people, I had to turn a blind eye. As for the statistics, its hard to accept, a population of 308 million, its a bit more enlightened than many other nations on the topic of sexual orientation. I am willing to put a figure on the Gay population exclusively at 27 to 50 million, if you add bi-sexuality to it, that’s probably about 10 million, transgendered, probably about 5 to 10 million. So the total LGBT population is roughly 50 to 70 million.

    Could be wrong, if I am, I will leave my estimates at a total 25 to 35 million for the entire LGBT population as a more realistic figure.

    I put the world wide LGBT population at around 300 to 500 million.

  • McMike

    @Jim Hlavac: Actually the most recent CDC survey went to people’s houses which is even more insane then calling them on the phone.

    btw, if you find a sexually attractive, confident gay man he will tell you about 4 out of 5 guys are into cruising.

    The only true test, IMO, would be a peter-meter test and you could NOT use male/female movies to conclude if a man is heterosexual because I’m mostly gay and I’m mostly watch “straight” porn.

  • McMike

    Also, if I may, you can walk into any Exodus meeting and even though 100% of the men are gay, 100% of them will tell you they’re not.

    There’s a Topix forum and in they’ve had 2 sexuality polls in the past few years and the first poll had 20% of men reporting themselves as 100% heterosexual and the most recent one only had 15% of men reporting so.

    btw, it’s insane this study is only considering those who identify as LGBT since almost triple that number reporting having gay sex. Would you think if you’re reporting the number of LGBT people you would go by the number of people have gay sex and not the number of people who identify as LGBT? That’s like trying to count overweight people and instead of actually going by the number of people who are officially overweight, you guy by the number of people who tell you they’re fat.

  • Marc

    Having outed myself after years of flying under the radar I can assure you that 3.5% is way off. The fear of being an open gay is still very strong. After years of watching the world around me I think the number is 6-8%, but we may never know.

  • kuy

    There are a lot of different people who engage in homosexual sex or have homosexual desires. There are the guys who reject their feelings towards other men, there are the guys who accept their feelings and personally identify as gay but not publically, there are those that are publically gay, and there are those who accept their feelings towards other men, but do not identify as gay. This last category is interesting because the reasons for doing so can vary from believing that gay refers to effeminate homosexual men (which the man in question does not consider himself to be), bisexual men (more often than not they don’t even identify as such or would prefer to call themselves gay), to cultural differences that make a gay identify unworkable.

    My problem with these results is that people will take it to mean that number is all the men that exist having sex with men. Because of some idea that only gay men have sex wtih men.

  • jerry

    Funny I dont remember a survey asking me if I were gay or not, I wonder how many other gay people were not asked? how easily numbers can be manipulated..

  • Jeffree

    This “meta-analysis” of other research included a study which excluded people over age 44.

    It also included data that was based on self-identification. So, if your male neighbor occasionally does or gets done by another guy, but doesn’t think that makes him gay or bi, he’s not included in either of those 2 categories for purposes of the study.

    Shoddy analysis leads to wrong conclusions. This info wasn’t published by a peer-reviewed journal, so take it with a micron of salt. And a lime…

Comments are closed.