How Many Americans Are LGBT?

The Williams Institute at UCLA, a think tank “dedicated to the field of sexual orientation and gender identity-related law and public policy,” just released new estimates about the size of the LGBT community in the United States. Based on data from four national and two state-based surveys, more than 8 million Americans consider themselves either gay, lesbian, or bisexual.

Combined with the number of transgender individuals, the research estimates that about 9 million Americans are LGBT. Of that entire American population, 1.8 percent identify as bisexual, while 1.7 percent identify as either gay or lesbian. Women are also much likely to identify as bisexual.

Approximately 19 million Americans (8 percent) say they’ve engaged in same-sex behavior, while 25.6 million (11 percent) acknowledge that they’ve had some kind of same-sex attraction.

The report, authored by Dr. Gary J. Gates, notes the challenges in surveying the LGBT community:

A final challenge in making population-based estimates of the LGBT community is the lack of questions asked over time on a single large survey. One way of assessing the reliability of estimates is to repeat questions over time using a consistent method and sampling strategy. Adding questions to more large-scale surveys that are repeated over time would substantially improve our ability to make better estimates of the size of the LGBT population.

To determine how many Americans have engaged in same-sex behavior, data from two surveys—the National Survey of Family Growth and the General Social Survey—was averaged together.

In the NSFS, male participants were asked if they’d engaged in oral or anal sex with another male. Female participants were asked if they’d had “any sexual experience of any kind with another female.”

—Photo -Marlith-/Flickr

About Ryan O'Hanlon

Ryan O'Hanlon is the managing editor of the Good Men Project. He used to play soccer and go to college. He's still trying to get over it. You can follow him on Twitter @rwohan.


  1. “In the NSFS, male participants were asked if they’d engaged in oral or anal sex with another male.” So, hand-jobs didn’t count? Come on, clearly that would be a homosexual act, which would raise the statistics.

    • I agree! Why is it so vague for the women? How many do you think checked “yes” just because they made out with another woman once?

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