It is a widely held belief that 10 percent of the US population is LGBT. This number comes from the 1948 report by Alfred Kinsey, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. It was meant to measure that total population of white men who were exclusively gay (more on that later). Gallup reported the LGBT population to be 3.5% of the total in 2015, whereas the CDC reported 2.3% in 2013. I’ve seen numbers from studies that range from around 1% to 4%. The only fact we know is that we don’t know how many LGBT people there are in the United States.
I always have to question these studies because we don’t know how the interviewees were questioned. Were they told that their responses would be private? Were they alone when they answered the questions? Were they pressured into answering? Did they answer it while at work? All of these factors can lead to people not answering honestly. Sexual orientation is a sensitive topic. Certain answers are frowned upon in most of this country. Privacy among all other factors skews the numbers.
In 1948, Kinsey stated that 10 percent of the white male population was exclusively homosexual. The study was seminal in the research of sex and sexual demographics. What we must understand is how Kinsey put people into distinct categories. He believed that we shouldn’t label ourselves by crude labels such as homosexual, heterosexual, and bisexual. The believed the sexual orientation is on a continuum and can change over time.
He developed a 7-point scale to rate one’s sexual orientation. 68 years later, the scale is still valid today. I do believe in bisexuals. I do believe that sexual orientation is fluid. This information really opened my mind to accept all of us, no matter where we are on the scale.
- Kinsey, A. C., Pomeroy, W. B., & Martin, C. E. (1948). Sexual behavior in the human male. Philadelphia.