More Americans Than Ever Identify as LGBTQ: Gallup

Rainbow flags at a Gay Pride parade in New York City, 2007. (Chip East/Reuters)

More Americans than ever before identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer, according to a Gallup report released Wednesday.

The report shows 5.6 percent of people in the U.S. identify as LGBTQ, up from 4.5 percent in 2017. 

Roughly 86 percent of respondents said they are heterosexual or straight. The number of people declining to answer a question about their sexual orientation was up as well: 7 percent in 2021, up from 5 percent in 2017.

Of those who identified as LGBTQ, the majority — 54.6 percent — identified as bisexual, while 24.5 percent identified as gay, 11.7 percent as lesbians, 11.3 percent as transgender, and 3.3 percent said they used another term to describe their identity, such as queer or same-gender loving. Respondents were able to choose more than one category, which brings the total past 100 percent.

The results were based on more than 15,000 interviews conducted with adults 18 and older throughout 2020.

Sexual orientation among the political parties varied widely, with around 13 percent of liberals, 4 percent of moderates, and 2 percent of conservatives identifying as LGBTQ.

The survey shows younger generations of Americans are increasingly likely to identify as LGBTQ: one in six adults aged 18 to 23 identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Almost half of millennials who identified as LGBT said they are bisexual. 

The generational difference likely reflects younger American’s greater willingness to be open about their identity, Gallup editor Jeffrey Jones told NBC News.

“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.”

In Gallup’s first poll on the topic, in 2012, just 3.5 percent of U.S. adults identified as LGBTQ. That number has increased 60 percent in nine years.

As more Americans identify as LGBTQ, support for gay marriage is also on the rise in the U.S., 67 percent of respondents backing gay couples’ right to marry in a June 2020 Gallup poll. In 2012, only 53 percent of respondents were in favor of gay marriage.

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