US Adults Think 25% of Americans Are Gay

Jim Burroway

May 31st, 2011

I really don’t know what to make of this:

U.S. adults, on average, estimate that 25% of Americans are gay or lesbian. More specifically, over half of Americans (52%) estimate that at least one in five Americans are gay or lesbian, including 35% who estimate that more than one in four are. Thirty percent put the figure at less than 15%.

How one views the percentage of gay Americans appears to have mixed results when it comes to equality. Those who support marriage equality peg the percentage of gay people at 25.1% versus 24.1% for those who don’t. But those who believe gay and lesbian relationships should be criminalized peg the percentage at 26.2% versus 23.8 for those who don’t. With a 4% margin of error, both results are a statistical tie, but the results on criminalization might be worth further investigation.


May 31st, 2011

Should the headline be, “Americans think life is ten times easier for gays than it really is”?


May 31st, 2011

Somehow those higher numbers make me feel better, more at home with more pride. I like it and tho it’s still a difficult number to truly calculate, my smile is a little bit brighter.


May 31st, 2011

Putting aside my opinion on this ridiculous poll’s results, we live in a country where people believe that a full QUARTER of the population is denied the right to marry the person they love, has second class citizenship status with fewer civil rights than the rest of the population, has no employment protections and is routinely verbally assaulted by pastors and politicians, and they’re pretty much cool with that?

Somehow, that doesn’t make me feel better about this country or its people.


May 31st, 2011


Given the fact that most Americans don’t really know how many Americans are gay – I really doubt they know anything about our legal rights. The vast majority of Americans simply don’t grasp what comes with “marriage”. That is where we come in to help educate them.


May 31st, 2011

Given the ranting on the right about what a danger LGBT are in our society, it is no big surprise that people over-estimate the number of LGBT. 25% represents a bigger danger than 5%. A bit weird as the “experts” on the right had originally tried to downplay the number of LGBT.

Priya Lynn

May 31st, 2011

I think you’re right John. The anti-gays make a huge issue out of gays so the general public gets the wrong impression that there are huge numbers of them.


May 31st, 2011

Those numbers seem so…bizarre. I haven’t read the full results yet, but I wonder what LGBT people think the breakdown is. I’ve come around to thinking that about 7.5% of the population is gay or lesbian.

Priya Lynn

May 31st, 2011

Phil, I think 10% of the population has significant same sex attraction and 75% of the population has some same sex attraction.

Eastside Jim

May 31st, 2011

I would love to know how all those people define what is Gay and what is Lesbian… vs Bisexual vs on the Downlow vs “I let these gay guys s**k me off BUT I’M straight” guys, etc…

I have a feeling it would be a pretty bizarre set of definitions.

Also, I would like to see how the stats were collected / how the sample was selected. How the questions were phrased? Many uncertainties come to mind when you get a result that is at least 2 or 3 standard deviations out…


May 31st, 2011

Wow, a truly puzzling survey.
It is troubling that inaccuracy is rife regardless of opinion.


May 31st, 2011

Now I’ve looked at the breakdown, I will summarise that:

You’re more likely to give a higher population percentage estimate if you’re a female, aged between 18 to 29, with high school level education or less, earning $30k or less, living in the East, identifying as a socially liberal, politically liberal, Democrat.

You’re more likely to give a lower population percentage estimate if you’re a male, 65+ years of age, a postgraduate, earning $75k or more, living in the West, a Republican who is a political and social conservative.

The absolute lowest average estimate of 16.4% was rendered by the postgraduate level educated respondents.

The absolute highest average estimate of 36.3% was rendered by the $30k and under annual income group of respondents.

Timothy Kincaid

May 31st, 2011


If we go by self-identity, by reported attractions, or by sexual behavior, about 4% of the US population would fit in the LGBT category.

Setting aside the guessing about who is being honest with themselves or with pollsters and using what the research shows us, this is what we get.

I dealt with this pretty thoroughly here.

Priya Lynn

May 31st, 2011

Timothy said “If we go by self-identity, by reported attractions, or by sexual behavior, about 4% of the US population would fit in the LGBT category.

Setting aside the guessing about who is being honest with themselves or with pollsters and using what the research shows us, this is what we get.

I dealt with this pretty thoroughly here.”.

And as I posted in that thread there are studies that give us good reason to believe 10% of the population fits in the LGBT category.

Chris McCoy

May 31st, 2011

Or a whole bunch of LGBT’s wishdar is interfering with their gaydar…

Mark F.

May 31st, 2011

“And as I posted in that thread there are studies that give us good reason to believe 10% of the population fits in the LGBT category.”

Um, transgender is NOT a sexual orientation.


May 31st, 2011

Chris – not necessarily. I’m at best a 1.5 on the Kinsey scale. Most days men don’t even remotely strike my fancy. I’d probably still think I was straight if not for being willing to consider the question openly.

Seeing the number of people who are involved in *far* more blatantly homosexual situations (for a good deal, ready this as U. S. congressmen) than I ever am and still identify as entirely straight, through in the fact that on average more women are willing to identify as bi than men generally are, as well as the inherant difficulty of recognizing bisexuality in this society for those who generally lean more towards straight, I’m willing to believe the numbers are fairly skewed.

I’m more likely to lean toward’s Priya’s numbers, though I would agree that the concrete knowledge we have *currently* would point to the percentage Timothy gave.


May 31st, 2011

@Mark F. Don’t be in such a rush to speak categorically about this. Sexuality is part of having gender, I’m pretty sure the way you use this word is reliant upon gender too (e.g. can a man be a lesbian because he desires women?). The sexuality you presume to be universal is less cohesive than it appears.

One person’s transgender doesn’t necessarily dictate anyone else’s so I’d prefer not to pretend that you or I can simply sum them all up. For example some people identify as transgendered while others do not (and don’t use the ‘ed’).

Also, intersexed people may have sex without falling unproblematically into either category of male or female. Yet if there is only gay, straight and bisexual how could it be possible to have desire for someone who is physically ambiguous?

Um, transgender is NOT a sexual orientation.

What you have written is a regulatory fiction – a way of controlling how to think and talk about identity. But when you start to look at the other kinds of identities that exist from pansexual, asexual to genderqueer or thirdgender then the boundaries between gender and sexuality become blurred and contested.

Leave A Comment

All comments reflect the opinions of commenters only. They are not necessarily those of anyone associated with Box Turtle Bulletin. Comments are subject to our Comments Policy.

(Required, never shared)

PLEASE NOTE: All comments are subject to our Comments Policy.


Latest Posts

The Things You Learn from the Internet

"The Intel On This Wasn't 100 Percent"

From Fake News To Real Bullets: This Is The New Normal

NC Gov McCrory Throws In The Towel

Colorado Store Manager Verbally Attacks "Faggot That Voted For Hillary" In Front of 4-Year-Old Son

Associated Press Updates "Alt-Right" Usage Guide

A Challenge for Blue Bubble Democrats

Baptist Churches in Dallas, Austin Expelled Over LGBT-Affirming Stance

Featured Reports

What Are Little Boys Made Of?

In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.

Slouching Towards Kampala: Uganda’s Deadly Embrace of Hate

When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.

Paul Cameron’s World

In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.

From the Inside: Focus on the Family’s “Love Won Out”

On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.

Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"

The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing The Myths

At last, the truth can now be told.

Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!

And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.

Testing The Premise: Are Gays A Threat To Our Children?

Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.

Straight From The Source: What the “Dutch Study” Really Says About Gay Couples

Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.

The FRC’s Briefs Are Showing

Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.

Daniel Fetty Doesn’t Count

Daniel FettyThe FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.