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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:


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  1. 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.

    Posted by: matt | Feb 15, 2013 11:09:10 AM

  2. 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.')

    Posted by: Chris | Feb 15, 2013 11:09:21 AM

  3. that should say "is NOT."

    Posted by: matt | Feb 15, 2013 11:10:32 AM

  4. And, yes Virginia, you can be gay without ever "self-identifying" as gay.

    Posted by: Chris | Feb 15, 2013 11:11:17 AM

  5. 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.

    Posted by: Francis | Feb 15, 2013 11:16:06 AM

  6. 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.

    Posted by: Francis | Feb 15, 2013 11:21:51 AM

  7. If you adjust for people who are but don't identify as such, about 5% is what you will get, IMO. Hasn't that always been the general estimate?

    Posted by: Jack M | Feb 15, 2013 11:22:48 AM

  8. 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.

    Posted by: Homo Genius | Feb 15, 2013 11:30:12 AM

  9. 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?

    Posted by: petes | Feb 15, 2013 11:31:07 AM

  10. 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.

    Posted by: Francis | Feb 15, 2013 11:33:39 AM

  11. 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?

    Posted by: MichaelJ | Feb 15, 2013 11:34:04 AM

  12. 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.

    Posted by: Acronym Jim | Feb 15, 2013 11:44:02 AM

  13. 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.

    Posted by: Michael | Feb 15, 2013 11:44:26 AM

  14. 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.

    Posted by: Michael | Feb 15, 2013 11:44:27 AM

  15. "Lies, Damn Lies, and STATISTICS."

    Posted by: Shannon | Feb 15, 2013 11:51:49 AM

  16. 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.

    Posted by: db | Feb 15, 2013 12:10:52 PM

  17. 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.

    Posted by: DB | Feb 15, 2013 12:15:11 PM

  18. notice the numbers column... DV had less than 500 people asked, and a high percentage... maybe they went to a gayborhood there?

    Posted by: V-8 | Feb 15, 2013 12:19:02 PM

  19. notice the numbers column... DV had less than 500 people asked, and a high percentage... maybe they went to a gayborhood there?

    Posted by: V-8 | Feb 15, 2013 12:19:04 PM

  20. 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.

    Posted by: Ken | Feb 15, 2013 12:32:05 PM

  21. 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%.

    Posted by: Michael | Feb 15, 2013 12:36:14 PM

  22. 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.

    Posted by: Cal | Feb 15, 2013 12:36:25 PM

  23. 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.

    Posted by: Alex | Feb 15, 2013 12:41:39 PM

  24. 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?

    Posted by: Hal W Lanse | Feb 15, 2013 12:42:58 PM

  25. 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.

    Posted by: rise | Feb 15, 2013 12:52:02 PM

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