The answer to the above question has always been difficult to pin down with an exact number or percentage, especially with the closet still having such a negative impact on LGBT visibility in many parts of the nation. Historical estimates have ranged from as low as 2 percent of the population to as high as 10 percent.
Hoping to find a more concrete answer, Seth Stephens-Davidowitz with The New York Times analyzed surveys, social network info, pornographic searches and dating site date to arrive at the following conclusion:
At least 5 percent of American men, I estimate, are predominantly attracted to men, and millions of gay men still live, to some degree, in the closet. Gay men are half as likely as straight men to acknowledge their sexuality on social networks. More than one quarter of gay men hide their sexuality from anonymous surveys. The evidence also suggests that a large number of gay men are married to women.
Stephens-Davidowitz also looked at anonymous, aggregate data from Google related to searches using the terms "gay porn" or "Rocket Tube," a popular gay adult site, to see if the gay population might be more concentrated in states that were more tolerant of homosexuality:
While tolerant states have a slightly higher percentage of these searches, roughly 5 percent of pornographic searches are looking for depictions of gay men in all states. This again suggests that there are just about as many gay men in less tolerant states as there are anywhere else.
Since less tolerant states have similar percentages of gay men but far fewer openly gay men, there is a clear relationship between tolerance and openness. My preliminary research indicates that for every 20 percentage points of support for gay marriage about one-and-a-half as many men from that state will identify openly as gay on Facebook.
Another interesting piece of evidence that gay men in intolerant states are deep in the closet can be found by looking at the Google searches of married women:
It turns out that wives suspect their husbands of being gay rather frequently. In the United States, of all Google searches that begin "Is my husband…" the most common word to follow is "gay." "Gay" is 10 percent more common in such searches than the second-place word, "cheating." It is 8 times more common than "an alcoholic" and 10 times more common than "depressed."
Searches questioning a husband's sexuality are far more common in the least tolerant states. The states with the highest percentage of women asking this question are South Carolina and Louisiana. In fact, in 21 of the 25 states where this question is most frequently asked, support for gay marriage is lower than the national average.
To read the article in full, click HERE.