A survey conducted by the Public Religion
Research Institute (PRRI)
shows that more Americans in the Millennial generation, those born from the 1980s through the early 2000s, identify as LGBT than any before. The survey reveals that only 88% of millennials identify as heterosexual, or straight, while 3% identify as homosexual (2% of which identify as gay and 1% as lesbian). Even more interesting, 4% of millennials identify as bisexual. Rounding out the LGBT acronym, another 1% identify as transgender.
The contrast of the millennial generation with others generations is clear. According to a 2011 Williams Institute report
, just 3.8% of the overall U.S. adult population identify as LGBT. This compares to a total of 7% for millennials.
This difference likely has many causes. Many may even find this unsurprising, given the incredible progress that the gay rights movement and the LGBT community has made. Perhaps the most obvious markers of this progress are in the laws of the land. The most prominent progress has been made for same-sex marriage, which has become recognized by most states and the federal government. Further legal progress is yet to be one, but could happen later this year
as the US Supreme Court will be making an important decision on the matter.
However, politics and laws are not the only form progress takes. Many believe that LGBT social stigma has decreased because of the presence and more positive light in which LGBT people and characters are portrayed in the media and entertainment.
But most of all, simply the fact that more and more LGBT people have come out and are open with and proud of their sexuality has perhaps done the most to progress us toward a more tolerant and accepting society. Simply the fact that many people know an LGBT person, let alone if that person is their friend or family member, generally has a positive impact on attitudes toward the LGBT community as a whole.
The bisexual statistic in the PRRI report is particularly interesting because the 'B' in LGBT is so often ignored or misunderstood. Generally, at least to this author, it seems like bisexuals are often underrepresented in the LGBT community. They can be ignored, misunderstood, or perhaps even feel unwelcome. Certainly, in contrast to LGTs, bisexuals may find it easy to "hide" if they find themselves in a heterosexual relationships, perhaps only acknowledging their true sexual orientation to few people, if any. That said, the perception among that a man who identifies as bisexual is merely "on the path to becoming full-blown gay" is not uncommon, among LGBT and straight people alike. It's important to recognize these data from this survey which truly show us that self-identified bisexuals are numerous, making up around half of the LGBT population as a whole!
The survey also revealed that 15% of millennials say their understanding of their sexual orientation has changed since young adolescence, while 82% report that their orientation has not changed.
Another interesting tidbit: fully 3% of respondents refused to identify their sexual orientation. There are many reasons this could be, one of which might be that some millennials simply refuse to apply a sexuality "label" to themselves. They could also have refused to identify their orientation for plenty of other reasons, including privacy.
The report by PRRI
is based on a survey of over 2,300 adults between the ages of 18 and 35.