Many Gay People are There in the US?
As well as the problems
outlined above in estimating the number of gay people, the
geographical size and dense population presents an
additional problem for anybody trying to calculate the
number of gay people in America.
However, Alfred Kinsey
carried out research in the 1940s and 1950s into the sexual
behaviour of 12,000 men and women in America. Although his
work has been heavily criticised it remains a rare and
relatively authoritative study of sexual behaviour in
Among the men he found:
37% reported some homosexual contact;
13% reported more homosexual than heterosexual contact;
4% reported exclusively homosexual contact.
Among the women he found:
13% reported some homosexual contact;
4% reported more homosexual than heterosexual contact;
1% reported exclusively homosexual contact.
results Kinsey realized that not only were few people
exclusively homosexual, but also far from the vast majority,
particularly of men, were exclusively heterosexual. This led
him to develop an orientation scale, which had exclusively
heterosexual and exclusively homosexual at opposite ends
with a wide middle range to cater for the majority of people
who were neither.
More recently, data has been collected in America, during the ten-year national census, on married and unmarried-partner households. They did not ask the actual sexual orientation of the respondents, so there is no measure of single gay people, nor is their a measure of those gay people in committed relationships but not living together. Whilst the census cannot give us a figure for the number of people who are gay in America, it can inform us on how many same-sex partnership households identified themselves in the survey. The 2000 census tells us that...
there are 105.5 million households in the USA....
5.5 million of these consist of unmarried partnerships...
of these, 595,000 consist of same sex partners...
This can be interpreted as there being nearly 1.2 million gay people living with a same sex partner in America. This is a huge increase from the 1990 census, which identified only 145,000 same sex unmarried households. As with the NATSAL survey in the UK, there is undoubtedly a large amount of under reporting in these sorts of surveys. Possible explanations of this include continued prejudice and discrimination against gay people.
been various other surveys in the US that have tried to
measure numbers of gay people. An analysis of these surveys
by the Human Rights Campaign came up with this conclusion.
last three elections, the Voter News Service exit poll
registered the gay vote between 4 percent and 5 percent.
While concluding that the Census 2000 undercounted the total
number of gay or lesbian households, for the purposes of
this study, we estimate the gay and lesbian population at 5
percent of the total U.S. population over 18 years of age,
(209,128,094). This results in an estimated total gay and
lesbian population of 10,456,405. A recent study of gay and
lesbian voting habits conducted by Harris Interactive
determined that 30 percent of gay and lesbian people are
living in a committed relationship in the same residence.
Using that figure, we suggest that 3,136,921 gay or lesbian
people are living in the United States in committed
relationships in the same residence. '
So, if we
accept that the data presented by the Human Rights
Commission is indeed indicative of the real numbers, then it
shows that the census data is only showing up a small
percentage of the actual number of gay people living in
America. Until, however, a nationwide survey is done, asking
questions on sexual attitudes and behaviour, then we can
only use data and analyses, such as the ones above, to work
out an answer to the question of gay people living in