Beyond Identity: LGBTQ+ Experiences in Health, Politics, and Faith

Posted on June 26, 2024 by Media Culture

The LGBTQ+ community in the United States represents a diverse and growing segment of the population, with unique experiences and perspectives that shape their interactions with healthcare, politics, and religion. As society continues to evolve in its understanding and acceptance of LGBTQ+ individuals, it's crucial to examine the multifaceted aspects of their lives beyond just identity.

For additional detail, and for a full list of sources, please make sure to download the full report: LGBTQ+: Audience Insights Report.


/// Demographics and Growth

The LGBTQ+ population in the U.S. has seen significant growth in recent years, with 7.6% of adults identifying as LGBTQ+ in 2023, up from 5.6% in 2020 and 3.5% in 2012. Within this group, 57.3% identify as bisexual, making it the largest subgroup. Generation Z shows the highest rate of LGBTQ+ identification at 22.3%, indicating a generational shift in openness and self-identification. The community's composition is diverse, with 52.3% identifying as White, 19.9% as Latinx, 10.7% as Black, and 4.9% as Asian. This diversity underscores the importance of intersectional approaches when addressing LGBTQ+ issues.


/// Health Disparities and Challenges

LGBTQ+ individuals face unique health challenges and disparities compared to their non-LGBTQ+ counterparts. These differences manifest in various aspects of physical and mental health, as well as in interactions with the healthcare system. In terms of physical health, 25% of LGBTQ+ people report being in fair or poor health, compared to 18% of non-LGBTQ+ individuals. Additionally, 50% have ongoing health conditions requiring regular care, versus 45% of non-LGBTQ+ people, and 25% report having a disability or chronic disease, compared to 16% of non-LGBTQ+ individuals.

Mental health concerns are particularly prevalent, with 67% of LGBTQ+ people reporting needing mental health services in the past two years, a stark contrast to 39% of non-LGBTQ+ individuals. Bisexual individuals experience particularly high rates of mental health issues, with 53.9% of bisexual females and 43.3% of bisexual males reporting any mental illness in the past year. Suicidal thoughts are significantly more prevalent among bisexual individuals, with 14.7% of bisexual females and 13.8% of bisexual males reporting serious thoughts of suicide, compared to 4.2% of straight females and 4.4% of straight males.

LGBTQ+ individuals also show higher rates of substance use across various categories. Cigarette use is more prevalent among bisexual (27.2%) and lesbian females (25.0%) compared to straight females (13.8%). Alcohol consumption is higher among gay males (65.0%) and lesbian females (57.9%) compared to their straight counterparts. Illicit drug use is nearly double among gay males (47.8%) and bisexual males (49.7%) compared to straight males (26.7%).

In terms of healthcare experiences, 45% of LGBTQ+ people reported at least one negative experience with a healthcare provider in the past two years, compared to 33% of non-LGBTQ+ individuals. Furthermore, 12% reported discrimination during a healthcare visit, double the rate of non-LGBTQ+ individuals (6%). These disparities highlight the need for targeted healthcare interventions and policies that address the specific needs of the LGBTQ+ community.


Related: LGBTQ+ in America: A Demographic Portrait of a Diverse Community


/// Political Engagement and Perspectives

The LGBTQ+ community is highly politically engaged, with distinct preferences and motivations that shape their electoral participation. In terms of voter registration and motivation, 50% of LGBTQ+ individuals consider themselves Democrats, while 22% identify as Independents and 15% as Republicans. An impressive 94% of LGBTQ+ registered voters are motivated to vote in the 2024 election. When it comes to candidate and party preferences, LGBTQ+ voters strongly prefer Democratic candidates, favoring President Biden over Donald Trump by 53 percentage points nationwide (68% Biden / 15% Trump). In congressional races, LGBTQ+ voters favor Democratic candidates by an even wider margin of 63 percentage points (79% Democratic / 12% Republican).

94% of LGBTQ+ voters believe that Republican politicians should prioritize key issues like inflation and healthcare rather than restricting women and transgender rights. Notably, 53% of all likely 2024 voters oppose candidates who support restricting healthcare and sports participation for transgender youth, indicating broader support for LGBTQ+ rights.

The impact of political discourse on mental health is significant, with 72% of LGBTQ+ Americans experiencing negative impacts on their mental health and emotional well-being as a result. Moreover, 49% of LGBTQ+ voters have experienced real-world harassment or bullying because of political discourse, underscoring the tangible consequences of heated political debates on this community. These findings demonstrate the LGBTQ+ community's strong political engagement and the potential impact of their voting bloc on electoral outcomes.


/// Faith and Religiosity

A significant portion of the LGBTQ+ community identifies as religious, with notable patterns across age, race, and geography. In terms of religious affiliation, 46.7% of LGBTQ+ adults are religious, with 27% being moderately religious and 19.7% highly religious. Among religious LGBTQ+ adults, 28% are Protestant, 24.8% are Roman Catholic, and 24.5% are affiliated with other Christian religions. Religiosity among LGBTQ+ adults increases with age, from 38.5% among those aged 18-24 to 64.9% among those 65 and older.

There are notable racial and ethnic differences in religiosity within the LGBTQ+ community. Black LGBTQ+ adults are the most religious at 71%, followed by Latino/a LGBTQ+ adults at 57.3%. White LGBTQ+ adults have the lowest religiosity at 37.6%. Regional variations are also apparent, with the South having the highest concentration of religious LGBTQ+ adults at 54.1%, while the West has the lowest at 38.8%.

Parental status also correlates with religiosity, as 45.8% of moderately religious and 57.7% of highly religious LGBTQ+ adults have children. Additionally, 25.4% of moderately religious and 31.3% of highly religious LGBTQ+ adults have children under the age of 18. These statistics challenge the notion that LGBTQ+ identity is incompatible with religious belief and highlight the diverse spiritual experiences within the community.


/// Key Takeaways

  1. The LGBTQ+ population is growing, with 7.6% of U.S. adults identifying as LGBTQ+ in 2023.
  2. LGBTQ+ individuals face significant health disparities, including higher rates of mental illness and substance use.
  3. Healthcare experiences for LGBTQ+ people are often negative, with higher rates of discrimination and difficulties accessing care.
  4. The LGBTQ+ community is highly politically engaged, with strong preferences for Democratic candidates and progressive policies.
  5. Political discourse has a significant negative impact on the mental health of LGBTQ+ individuals.
  6. Nearly half of LGBTQ+ adults identify as religious, challenging stereotypes about sexuality and faith.
  7. Religiosity among LGBTQ+ adults varies significantly by age, race, and region.
  8. The LGBTQ+ community is diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, and geographic distribution, necessitating intersectional approaches to addressing their needs.

/// Conclusion

The experiences of LGBTQ+ individuals in the United States are complex and multifaceted, extending far beyond issues of identity and acceptance. From health disparities and challenges in accessing quality healthcare to strong political engagement and diverse religious experiences, the LGBTQ+ community navigates a unique set of circumstances that impact their daily lives.

Understanding these varied experiences is crucial for advertisers and marketers seeking to connect with the LGBTQ+ community authentically. By recognizing the diversity within this demographic and addressing their specific challenges and preferences, brands can create more inclusive and effective marketing strategies. As research continues to shed light on these issues, it's clear that a nuanced, intersectional approach is necessary to truly resonate with LGBTQ+ individuals across all aspects of their lives. Advertisers who can navigate these complexities and represent the LGBTQ+ community in all its diversity are likely to build stronger brand loyalty and engagement within this growing and influential market segment.

Unlock the potential of the diverse LGBTQ+ market with our in-depth insights into their health, political, and religious experiences. Create authentic, resonant marketing strategies that address the unique needs of this growing demographic. By understanding the intersectionality within the LGBTQ+ community, you can craft campaigns that truly connect with their varied lifestyles and values. Contact us today to develop targeted, inclusive advertising that captures this influential audience's attention and builds lasting brand loyalty in the evolving LGBTQ+ market landscape.

For deeper insights and data into marketing to LGBTQ+ adults, download our comprehensive Audience Insights Report below.


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