More Americans Are Now Identifying As LGBTQ+ More Than Ever

More Americans Are Now Identifying As LGBTQ+ More Than Ever

The results came following a survey by Gallup where Gen Z adults between the ages 18 and 23 were questioned.

Representative Image Source: Getty/ Arctic-Images

A survey data released this month reveals that a growing population of Americans identify as LGBT. Gallup's recent poll provided detailed and one of the most updated estimates of the size of the nation's LGBT population. The results, which were based on over 15,000 interviews that were conducted throughout 2020 among people who were 18 and older, showed that 5.6 percent of adults in the country identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. And this percentage was more than Gallup's 2017 findings - which were just 4.5 percent. 




The researchers at Gallup explained that with a majority of residents supporting gay rights, a decade after same-sex marriage was legalized by the Supreme Court, it was clear this was a time many began identifying as LGBT. But what remains unclear is the reason behind it. Could it be because there has been a real shift in gender identity sexual orientation? Or simply due to the significant willingness among youngsters to identify as LGBT? According to Washington Post, if the second part is true, there a possibility that Gallup's recent findings have undercounted the actual size of the population, especially because the 2020 data included only the oldest of Generation Z i.e. people aged between 18 and 23.




"As we see more Gen Z become adults, we may see that number go up," revealed Jeff Jones, Gallup's senior editor. A psychology professor and director of the Sexual and Gender Diversity Laboratory at the University of California at Santa Cruz, Phillip Hammack, found the results of Gallup "extremely exciting." He says that their findings are consistent with his own research - which is about young people in California identifying as LGBT. According to him, one of the biggest reasons for his growth is the Internet which has given people access to social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube. It has allowed people to research extensively about gender and sexuality outside of mere libraries. 




"The rigid lines around gender and sexuality are just opening up for everybody," said Hammack. "Young people are just doing it. … They’re leading this revolution, and they’re forcing scientists to take a closer look." Back in the 1990s when Hammack came out, he did not have access to this information that teenagers have at their fingertips today. The research also revealed that "the silent majority of the LGBT community" were bisexual people. Gallup's survey data found a quarter of people were gay, 11 percent of them were transgender, 12 percent identified as lesbian, and 3 percent preferred using terms such as queer. This meant that 3.1 percent of Americans identify as bisexual.




But the number is greater among Generation Z where bisexual people make up for most of the LGBT community. Apparently, 72 percent of them identify as bisexual, and almost 12 percent of all Gen Z adults are bisexuals, with 2 percent each identifying as lesbian, gay, or transgender. When compared to millennials, around half of them identify as LGBT and say they are bisexuals. 




Despite their greater number in the LGBT population, bisexual people are still faced with pervasive stigma from within and outside the community, according to Hammack. When 18-year-old Jenny Granados-Villatoro realized that she was bisexual, she had a tough time coming out to her friends and family even though she studied in an LGBTQ-friendly high school in Montgomery County. Apparently, she had heard that people in the community are not very open to dating a bisexual person because "they’re afraid that in the end, someone will realize, “I’m not actually interested in you," she said, "A lot of people will think it’s just a phase." 




Jasper Swartz, who was 8 when same-sex marriage was legalized in Maryland, thinks that people have had more freedom to express their gender in new ways due to the closure of schools and the sudden surge in TikTok's popularity. They've had more time and opportunity to examine gender binary in a more critical gaze. "A lot of people are realizing, why do we have to live our lives this way?" said now 16-year-old Jasper. 

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