Friday, October 19, 2012

Gallup poll (new) finds fewer people self-identify as "gay" than had been thought, but numbers are still open to interpretation

An AP story by Paul Stanley, reprinted widely today in conservative publications, reports a new Gallup poll of 120,000 interviewees, with a result that only 3.4% self-identified as homosexual  (bisexual) or transgender (or both). 

Surprisingly, more non-whites now classify themselves as LGBT than whites, and higher income people and people with advanced degrees are less likely to do so.  But young adults (especially young women) are more likely to so.  Among young adult women, the rate is over 8%. The poll reported about 4.6% for young adult men.  In major cities, I'm rather confident that among young "professional" adult men the number would be well over 10%.  Around Washington DC, in some suburbs where there are not many bars as such, it's very clear that there are a lot of gay and lesbian young adults living there (particularly  some upscale "gentrified" areas in Arlington, Falls Church, and closer in areas of Fairfax county).  
It’s not clear how the sampling was done.  In urban areas, the numbers surely would be higher.  But many people have long accepted the 3-4% range, as that would lead to about 8-10 million openly gay American adults.  In major cities, on Saturday nights, gay discos can pack hundreds of people, but then there are only so many such big discos (maybe 50-75 or so in the nation).  Pride parades in major cities can attract in the hundreds of thousands – at least to observe. 

Politicians might take the "lower" Gallup numbers as reason to take gay equality issues less seriously, but candidates could be mistaken in the way they interpret the polls. On the other hand, if gay numbers are relatively low as part of the population, what explains the mass homophobia of the past? 
By my general observation over the past decade or so,  the percentage of people in discos who are not white males has increased slowly.  There are more non-white males, including Blacks and non-European Latinos than before (say than 15 years ago), and a lot more women.  There has been a general belief that non-white cultures are less accepting of homosexuality, but in the past five years or so, among young adults in the US, that seems to be changing rapidly (again, according to what people say to me directly).  As an older white male (who can look a bit younger with a fake Argo Navy cap, and still a slender build), I find a lot of people who are not white males approach me (maybe 70% of those who approach are other than white male), and leave the impression that it would be politically incorrect (to say the least) for me to ignore or turn them down, while I am watching activity more “interesting” to me.  One could take this and try to spin moral arguments out of it.

A typical link for the AP Gallup story is in the “Christian Post”, here

A version in the Washington Times today seems a bit more complete, here

Gallup's page on gay issues is here

Another story today, on the issues blog, is very distantly related: it concerns the idea that parents should be able to vote for their children as well as themselves.  

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