More Than 9 Million and Counting

A new report estimates the LGBT population in the U.S. is roughly the size of...New Jersey

If you ever wondered where you figure into the U.S. population, a new study by the Williams Institute says you’re in very good company. The national think tank at UCLA, specializing in LGBT research, estimates that the LGBT population in this country is roughly equivalent to the population of the state of New Jersey. That’s 9 million people – or an estimated 3.5 percent of adults who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender based on six recent surveys. But New Jersey? Really?

Bisexuals – especially among women – lead the pack in this category compared to those who consider themselves lesbian or gay (hello, Lindsay Lohan). “Women are substantially more likely than men to identify as bisexual,” says Gary J. Gates, the William Institute scholar who authored the report. “Bisexuals comprise more than half of the lesbian and bisexual population among women.” In comparison, gay men account for more than half of the gay and bisexual males.

Perhaps the most telling figure from this study has to do with Americans who admit to having same-sex liaisons. An estimated 19 million (more than 8 percent) of the population say they’ve been sexual active with someone of the same-sex (down low and otherwise), while more than 25 million (that’s more than 11 percent) admit they’ve had the hots for someone of the same sex.

So what does all of this really have to say about the LGBT community? It speaks volumes, says Gates, especially when it comes to politics and health – two areas where recent studies have suggested gays are both making strides and falling behind, respectively.

“Understanding the size of the LGBT population is a critical first step to informing a host of public policy and research topics,” says Gates. “Adding these questions to more national, state and local data sources is critical to developing research that enables a better understanding of the understudied LGBT community.”