A Gallup poll conducted last month reveals surprising data about the average American’s estimate of gay and lesbian population numbers. The poll found that adults in the U.S., on average, believe that at least 25% of the country is gay or lesbian.
Participants were asked, “Just your best guess, what percent of Americans today would you say are gay or lesbian?” 35% of those polled said that they believe gays and lesbians make up over 25% of the population, while another 17% responded that gays and lesbians number between 20% and 25%.
The new findings appear to contrast with a previous report released by the Williams Institute in April, which tallied gays and lesbians as 3.5% of the population. Only 4% of Gallup’s participants answered “less than 5%.”
Women, young people (ages 18 to 29), people with lower incomes and people with less education gave higher estimates than other groups polled. Politically, slightly higher estimates were also given by Democrats, liberals, moderates and independents than Republicans and conservatives.
This is the second Gallup poll where Americans were asked to estimate the gay and lesbian population in the U.S. The first poll, conducted in 2002, found that participants estimated 21% of men were gay and that 22% of women were lesbian. Neither poll asked participants to estimate the bisexual or transgender population.
So what is the real size of the U.S. LGBT population? While the Gallup poll only reflects perceptions of gay and lesbian numbers, the poll’s authors found that responses were influenced by demographics. Participants may be counting LGBT friends and family who didn’t self-report in identity surveys such as those aggregated by the Williams Institute.
As reported by Gallup’s Lymari Morales, the recent poll “suggests Americans’ estimates are based more on who they are — and perhaps whom they know — than on their worldview.”
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