Gallup Breaks Down Percentage of LGBT People by State in Largest Study of its Kind: POLL

Gallup is out with new poll results today based on responses to the question, "Do you, personally, identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender?" The question was asked in tracking interviews during the second half of 2012 and is the largest single study of the LGBT population distribution on record.

GallupThe District of Columbia was found to have the largest percentage of LGBT-identifying residents by far with 10%, and North Dakota the least, with 1.7%.

They note:

As was outlined in the first report of these data in October, measuring sexual orientation and gender identity can be challenging because these concepts involve complex social and cultural patterns. There are a number of ways to measure lesbian, gay, and bisexual orientation, and transgender status. Gallup chose a broad measure of personal identification as LGBT because this grouping of four statuses is commonly used in current American discourse, and as a result has important cultural and political significance. One limitation of this approach is that it is not possible to separately consider differences among lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, or transgender individuals. A second limitation is that this approach measures broad self-identity, and does not measure sexual or other behavior, either past or present.

Here are the results:

Gallup

Comments

  1. matt says

    Self-reporting is an inaccurate measure of the percentage of LGBT people as it doesn’t include closeted and confused individuals which are both large groups within the gay community.

  2. Chris says

    I can attest that even in supposedly liberal bastions like Vermont and New York City there are many closet cases who would never “self-identify” as LGBT. Considering that the percentages drop precipitously in more conservative parts of the country, these studies, at BEST, establish a floor. Not to mention those ahead-of-their-time liberated folks who are “queer” but refuse to label themselves (not that I think that is a sizable population, but it certainly highlights the problems with going by ‘self-identification.’)

  3. Francis says

    These self-identification studies don’t mean anything. A lot of LGBT persons WILL NOT out themselves to pollsters even if they are fully out. That doesn’t include the closeted, the questioning, the confused. The legions of ex-gays who are in denial. No-one knows nor will know the true number of gay people in the world and percentages in society anytime soon give the homophobia in our society that drives I’d venture to say at least half of LGBTQ persons into the closet.

    Oh, and this study doesn’t add on pansexuals, queer-identifiers………non-heterosexuality is much more common than 1 percent, anywhere.

    Washington DC being #1 isn’t surprising. With that said, the city also has a horrendous hate crime rate.

  4. Francis says

    The overwhelming majority of guys I had sex with and I knew had sex regularly with men identified as straight or “open” through my early college years. So, so many people who are gay will never come out and be honest and say those words because they hate what being gay means.

    Is it a coincidence essentially all of the states at the bottom are Southern and Midwestern states? That’s a sign, a sign that people in those states are CLOSETED.

    Anyway, I’ve never seen anyone but Gallup doing these polls and Gallup is completely not respected in the industry. Don’t get too twisted by these polls.

  5. Homo Genius says

    ummmm. did they break it down any further? Would have liked to have trans and homo broken down since they dont actually have anything to do with each other.

    My issue with a poll of this kind is that you cant actually use a random sampling. If some one identifies as gay, chances are they are going to locate themselves in more gay friendly areas. Even if you polled a city there might be tons of gays in the central city and it would thin out as you get to the suburbs. Like were I am forced to live at the moment. I feel like only gay for miles because people live in this area for the schools for their 2.5 kids.

    I think thats the reason DC is so much higher because its essentially a city rather than actual state but then virginia rates really, really low.

  6. petes says

    What’s up with South Dakota? Never really struck me as a bastion of gay tolerance, but it’s gayer than California. Were the half-dozen gay residents of North Dakota visiting their friends in South Dakota when they conducted the poll?

  7. Francis says

    Jack, I read that 6% of people 16-24 identify as LGBTQ. In fact, I think that was from Gallup, something like 6.4% of persons who are teens/young adults identify as something outside of straight. So the real number is something none of us truly know.

  8. MichaelJ says

    I can believe that DC is an outlier. But other than that, I am suspicious. Why would there be such a difference betweem North Dakota and South Dakota, for example? Is there some statistician out there would could tell us if these differences are statisically significant?

  9. Acronym Jim says

    Gallup specifically addresses the fact that this is not an accurate measurement for counting the percentage of TOTAL LGBT population, just those who self-identify.

    That said, it does indicate that the total percentage of people who are LGBT is higher than the claim of 1% or less put forth by anti-equality groups. After all, if approximately 4% of people self-identify, that number should go up if you include those who are closeted or “don’t like labels.”

    Luckily for the self-identified gays in North Dakota, they don’t have far to go to find a decent party.

  10. Michael says

    I find it strange that both Kansas and Alaska would rate percentage wise higher than Maryland where I live. I doubt there are more gays in either state than in the Baltimore Washington area. This poll seems to be of very limited use.

  11. Michael says

    I find it strange that both Kansas and Alaska would rate percentage wise higher than Maryland where I live. I doubt there are more gays in either state than in the Baltimore Washington area. This poll seems to be of very limited use.

  12. db says

    Of course we have to remember that this is people who 1. idenify as GLBT and 2. admit to it. I know many people who are always out there having sex with people of the same gender and yet insist they’re straight. Either that or people who “refuse to label” themselves–which usually means they’re gay.

  13. DB says

    It probably goes without saying, but this is only a measure of the number of OPENLY gay people. Since the majority of gay people are closeted, whether to pollsters, others, or to themselves, this percentage is only a minority of the gay population. A person’s sexual orientation is not affected by how he or she identifies that orientation. An extremely large percentage of gay people self-identify as heterosexual, even though they in fact can be romantically attracted to someone of the same sex.

  14. Ken says

    Take it for what it’s worth. To me it has a certain value in that it’s unusual to get statistics on our population for each state.

    @V8: DC has less than 500 people in the respondent column, true, but that’s probably statistically reliable in the opinion of Gallup’s statisticians. You know, there are plenty of national presidential polls that have about as many respondents.

    @Michael, these numbers don’t mean there are more LGBTs in Alaska and Kansas than in Maryland. These numbers mean there are more LGBTs proportionate to each state’s population.

    At the very least, it’s interesting information.

  15. Michael says

    Yadda, yadda and so many of us have lost count of the self identifying heterosexual men we have screwed.

    IMO, the better stat would be of men who have had sex with other men. My guess is 80%.

  16. Cal says

    I am one of the people that is included in this report and while I don’t know what other methods were used, I responded to an email questionnaire (I get them all the time). I was just happy that the question was asked, frankly.

  17. Alex says

    I think it might be far more interesting to see this table ranked in reverse “No, do not” order. Especially in states towards the bottom of the list, there’s often a very significant gap between the total “yes” and “no” and a full 100%.

    Obviously many people refused to answer the question directly for one reason or another, but therein may lie some additional answers.

  18. says

    In the 70s, when I was a shame-based 20-something, I joined a cult that promised to make me straight. Their program failed, but for several years while I was inside this group I “self-identified” as straight. I was not. When researching a book about this cult (Erasing Reason) I found many others who “self-identified” as straight when inside the cult but recanted years later. So this poll is hardly authoritative. And let’s not forget that the Gallup Poll put Romney ahead in the presidential election. How’s that working out?

  19. rise says

    These polls are pointless. Why admit to something you can be legally discriminated for? Also, being thought of as gay is still embarassing. People hide it and won’t reveal it to some stupid polling firm like Gallup.

  20. rise says

    These polls are pointless. Why admit to something you can be legally discriminated for? Also, being thought of as gay is still embarassing. People hide it and won’t reveal it to some stupid polling firm like Gallup.

  21. Homo Genius says

    well…. fwiw….

    I went to the Gallop site and read some of their methodology. They used a lot of phone surveying and used land lines as well as cell phones.

    I always question this in polling since the people who have dedicated phone lines tend to be old or rural or both. Plus most people I know wont answer calls from strange numbers.

  22. Sargon Bighorn says

    It’s so amazing that Gay Americans are STILL the subjects of pokes and prods, studies and papers, questions and comments, healing attempts and curses. Gay Americans are STILL like zoo animals. STILL the other, STILL outsiders. STILL not free and equal. The fight goes on. The Civil Rights Struggle continues. Thank you Gallup for asking, but to what end?

  23. Icebloo says

    I think this is pure bullsh@t.

    It doesn’t take into account the number of closet cases who will never admit to being gay and the number of liars who still claim to be bisexual because they are too afraid of admnitting they are gay.

    Texas has one of the largest populations in the USA but has such a low number of gays ? RIDICULOUS !

    Everyone knows that the nearer you get to the Bible belt the less men are “gay” and more and more identify as “bisexual” even though they have never even been with a woman. This study will never be accurate until all gays have the balls to be honest. I have lived in Texas for ten years. Never have I met so many liars. NO ONE lies more about being gay than Texans !

  24. GregV says

    I used to live in an area where I could and would have been discriminated against by my employer (among other entities around me) if I had told the truth, with no legal recourse avaiilable (as is the case in pretty much the entire bottom half of that list of states).

    At that time in my life, I gave false information on every such survey. (Even to say “prefer not to answer” could potentially have put me at risk, so I always answered “heterosexual,” even though it was BS)

    Another potential way of seeing this survey is “Which state has the most closeted population?” (Possible answer: North Dakota).

  25. Kim says

    So for the people critisizing this poll how do you suggest we get an accurate count or is that possible? For the Openly Gay guys why do you have sex with guys who claim they are straight? Particularly they ones that won’t even acknowledge in public.Just curious?

  26. David Hearne says

    I’ll call this poll bunk right now. Anyone who thinks there are fewer gay people in Florida than some of the places higher on the list has never been here. You can’t swing a dead cat in Florida without hitting a gay person.

    Having said that, it’s not a big old bordello like some places and every here isn’t in or should be in recovery. We’re spread out. We don’t have a thousand bars. We sail and swim because unlike the West Coast, the water is warm here and the weather is nice.

    One of the first things new people notice is that there are a lot of blue collar gay people here. Lesbians fish, and wear make-up. Gay men own farms and dirtbikes. Hairdressers join bowling teams and young gay people have friends who are old who aren’t customers.

  27. David Hearne says

    I’ll call this poll bunk right now. Anyone who thinks there are fewer gay people in Florida than some of the places higher on the list has never been here. You can’t swing a dead cat in Florida without hitting a gay person.

    Having said that, it’s not a big old bordello like some places and every here isn’t in or should be in recovery. We’re spread out. We don’t have a thousand bars. We sail and swim because unlike the West Coast, the water is warm here and the weather is nice.

    One of the first things new people notice is that there are a lot of blue collar gay people here. Lesbians fish, and wear make-up. Gay men own farms and dirtbikes. Hairdressers join bowling teams and young gay people have friends who are old who aren’t customers.

  28. David Hearne says

    @ Kim

    The only accurate way to find out how many gay people there are is to get a high school yearbook in a town where most people go to public school. and then four years later interview everyone in it; asking not only “Are you gay?” but getting them to identify who else they know to be gay. It’s really the last time a group is as representative as it can be. After that self selection increases rapidly.

    Other than that, get ten thousand people at random and I’ll decide who is gay and who isn’t.

  29. David Hearne says

    @ Kim

    The only accurate way to find out how many gay people there are is to get a high school yearbook in a town where most people go to public school. and then four years later interview everyone in it; asking not only “Are you gay?” but getting them to identify who else they know to be gay. It’s really the last time a group is as representative as it can be. After that self selection increases rapidly.

    Other than that, get ten thousand people at random and I’ll decide who is gay and who isn’t.

  30. Lilnemo says

    As a former South Dakotan, I can explain it. The relatively high percentage is due to the large Native American population (approx. 10% of the population). Homosexuality within the Lakota culture is somewhat tolerated due to historical cultural norms.

  31. Carter says

    This poll is total BS. I know gay people who don’t identify as gay and never would. They don’t understand that having sex with their own gender actually means they’re gay.

  32. Carter says

    This poll is total BS. I know gay people who don’t identify as gay and never would. They don’t understand that having sex with their own gender actually means they’re gay.

  33. Joe says

    Michael at 11:44, I’m not sure you’re doing the math right. Step away from the percentages.

    Wait, no. I’m certain you’re not doing the math right. Run! Run! From the percentages! I bet you make a mean omelette, though. I dunno why. You just have that “make a mean omelette” glow.

    hungry now :(

  34. scollingsworth says

    I always wondered what the difference between North Dakota and South Dakota was. Now we know. The gay folk live in South Dakota, the heterosexuals up North.

  35. GregV says

    @David Hearne: My high school was homophobic, so no one was out. Four years after graduating, I could not have named one gay classmate and none of them could have named me as gay, either. A lot of people move away and don’t keep up with high school classmates. Even my high school best friend would name me as straight, though he did, only very recently, contact me and say we should meet up. Your suggestion could not possibly come up with an accurate number.

    @Carter: Whom you have sex with does not necessarily indicate your actual orientation. A lot of straight and bi guys have only experimented with males, and millions of gay males have only experimented with females.
    Even when all of my sexual experience was with females, I knew I was not at all straight or bi and would only fall in love with a man.

    @Kim: Until discrimination is eradicated (as it has already, for example, toward left-handed people), there is no way to get an accurate count. Any survey can only indicate to us that there are “more than” whatever number we get. But the real number could be double or triple or quadruple whatever result you get.

  36. Kristin says

    I identify as lesbian and have never taken any on these polls. I believe they may be taken in places were the percentage is low are purpose. Seriously anyone will a brain can see it is lower in the southern conservative states. These are polls are not accurate because many people haven’t came out to themselves yet.

  37. Robert says

    I live in the Illinois/Indiana border, so color me stunned that they basically have the same percentage of gays. I mean, Chicago has the biggest gay population outside of NYC or L.A, and we know how Chicago can skew numbers (Illinois is always a “blue” state solely because of Chicago, after all) so you’d expect to see faaar more gays in Illinois than Indiana.

  38. says

    The survey pool was the largest in Gallup history: 122,000 interviews. Even the state subsets are large enough to be statistically reliable.

    The numbers (as many commentators here noted) are not % of lesbians and gays, but % or persons telling the pollster that they are lesbian or gay.

    Sexual orientation is biologically determined. 8.5% of rams show no jump in their blood testosterone level when around ewes in heat. Those same-sex attraction rams have a pre-optic anterior hypothalamus that is 50% smaller than in rams whose blood testosterone level shoots up in the presence of ewes in heat. The identical difference occurs in gay men (but not lesbians).

    That section of the hypothalamus controls our reactions to odors, particularly sexual scents. In straight men and lesbians, exposure to female musk scents excites that area. In straight women and gay men, exposure to male musk scents does the same.

    In the 18-29 age cohort, 6.4% told Gallup that they identify as gay or lesbian, but even that number is artificially suppressed by internalized homophobia among the male respondents. 8.3% of the women in that age cohort say they are lesbians, basically the same number as for gay rams.

    It will take awhile to prove it all up, but everything points to 3 conclusions: the younger they are, the more likely to be out; there is no gender gap between % of gay men and lesbians; and 1 in 12 Americans are gay or lesbian whether they know it or say it or not.

  39. David B says

    Hey folks. One has to take this survey only for what it is. It does not claim to represent the numbers of LGBT folks. It does not claim to represent those who engage in sexual behavior with members of the same sex. It merely asks a question, records the answers and reports the data.
    I think it IS valuable to report these data. And as there are no clear definitions for exactly who is or is not “L, G, B or T,” it’s the best we have, and certainly valuable in the discussion as DOMA and Prop 8 are being discussed.

  40. says

    in the world of hypothetical never-gonna-happens, what if we all woke up one morning and all gay people had some identifiable “mark” on them?

    Outing the anti-gay poseurs among us, and waking everyone else up to the fact that YES, we are everywhere. the world can’t, and won’t, disown 20 million sons and daughters.

    *sigh*

    and yeah, even in completely anonymous surveys many deeply closeted people will still lie.

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