A new Gallup report says that 5.6% of Americans now identify as LGBTQ. That number is significant for two reasons: First, it equates to 1.8 million people1; and, second, it’s a sizable increase from the 3.5% reported in Gallup’s first report nine years ago.
Many people will be tempted to look at this report and infer that there are more LGBTQ people in the country than ever before. While I can’t claim anything with absolute certainty, I’m willing to bet that this conclusion is wrong. The much more likely scenario is that the percentage of LGBTQ people in this country has been constant over time, and what we’re witnessing is an increase in people willing to disclose their sexual orientation and gender identity.
The reason for this trend, I think, is destigmatization. To wit:
- There are many positive depictions of LGBTQ people on teevee and in movies
- Public figures freely talk about their sexual orientation and gender identity
- Young people are coming out of the closet early — in fact, I don’t think some of them ever spend any time in the closet!
- Marriage equality has normalized same-sex relationships
- Admired companies (such as Apple, Google, and Microsoft) have demonstrated a commitment to LGBTQ equality
- Mainstream society is recognizing the inherent falsehoods in anti-LGBTQ viewpoints and condemning anti-LGBTQ actions
As time goes on, I’m sure we’ll see the number of people identifying as LGBTQ increase. That’s a good thing. It means more people are living openly, proudly, and authentically.
1 That’s 4½ times the entire population of Tampa.