more americans are identifying as lgbtq+

And according to a new survey, most of these people are millennials and women.

by Emily Manning
13 January 2017, 12:20am

Sorry Mike Pence: an increasing number of people in the nation you will soon vice-preside over say they identify as members of the community you like least. A new Gallup survey sampled 1.6 million people in the United States, and 4.1% of them say they identify as LGBTQ+. The survey was conducted over five years, and each year, the percentage of queer-identifying individuals continued to grow. Based on these results, Gallup estimates there are now 10 million LGBTQ+ adults living in the United States.

Unsurprisingly, the group most responsible for this increase is millennials, who are "more than twice as likely as any other generation" to identify as queer. Gallup defines a millennial as an individual born between 1980 and 1998, and according to its sample, it is the only generation in which the percentage of LGBTQ+ identifying people consistently increased over the five year survey (Generation X, Baby Boomers, and "traditionalists" — is that what they're called now? — all saw declines). Gallup estimates that though millennials account for nearly a third of the general population, they comprise over half of the total LGBTQ+ community.

More and more women identify themselves as LGBTQ+, too. In 2012, 3.4% of men and 3.5% of women told Gallup they consider themselves queer — roughly the same. Over the past five years, that number of men has only increased by .3%. Women, though, have increased from 3.5% to 4.4% — figures that make a 2015 University of Essex study, which found that most women sampled are either bisexual or gay, all the more interesting. Stateside, Gallup pointed to pronounced growth among Hispanic and Asian people, too.

So what's driving this increase? Despite backward-thinking idealogues like Pence — who has advocated for Draconian electroshock conversion therapy — and brutal violence against queer people (especially trans women of color), Gallup cites the "differences in social climate" as a major factor. "Since 1977, Gallup has asked Americans if they think that gay and lesbian relationships between consenting adults should be legal. In July 1986, just 32% supported legalization of same-sex relationships, marking a low point in that support in Gallup polling. By 1999, when the first millennials were becoming adults, half of Americans supported legalization and, as of May 2016, the figure had risen to 68%," survey author Gary Gates writes.

Additionally, according to Gallup, "it's likely that millennials are the first generation in the U.S. to grow up in an environment where social acceptance of the LGBT community markedly increased." And because of this shift in attitudes, it's likely many millennials haven't experienced the same abject discrimination or violence that older LGBTQ+ people have; many millennials weren't alive during gay liberation in the 70s, and are too young to remember the AIDS crisis.

It's great that more and more Americans see their sexuality on an evolving spectrum, and feel comfortable aligning themselves with a historically marginalized community. But now more than ever, we need these people, and all queer people, to be visible and proud! 


Text Emily Manning