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

Posted on June 26, 2024 by Media Culture

The LGBTQ+ community in the United States is a vibrant and diverse group, encompassing a wide range of identities, experiences, and perspectives. As of 2023, 7.6% of U.S. adults identify as LGBTQ+, marking a significant increase from 5.6% in 2020 and 3.5% in 2012. This growth reflects a growing acceptance and visibility of LGBTQ+ identities in American society, as well as an increased willingness for individuals to openly identify as part of this community.

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


/// Identity Spectrum

Within the LGBTQ+ umbrella, there is a rich tapestry of identities. The largest subgroup is bisexual individuals, who make up 57.3% of the LGBTQ+ population. Gay men represent 18.1%, lesbian women account for 15.1%, and transgender individuals comprise 11.8% of the community. Other identities, including pansexual (1.7%), asexual (1.3%), and queer (0.1%), also contribute to the diversity of the LGBTQ+ spectrum.

It's important to note that these identities are not mutually exclusive. For example, a person can identify as both transgender and bisexual. The complexity of these identities underscores the need for nuanced understanding and representation within and outside the LGBTQ+ community.

/// Age and Generational Breakdown

Generational differences play a significant role in LGBTQ+ identification. Generation Z (born between 1997 and 2012) shows the highest rate of LGBTQ+ identification at 22.3%, compared to 9.8% of Millennials, 4.5% of Generation X, 2.3% of Baby Boomers, and 1.1% of the Silent Generation. This trend suggests that younger generations feel more comfortable openly identifying as LGBTQ+, possibly due to increased societal acceptance and visibility of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities.

The stark difference in identification rates across generations raises interesting questions about social change and personal identity. It's unclear whether this trend represents a genuine increase in the prevalence of LGBTQ+ identities or simply a greater willingness to openly identify as such. Factors such as increased visibility of LGBTQ+ role models, more inclusive education, and changing societal norms likely all play a role in this generational shift.

/// Gender and Race/Ethnicity

Gender disparities are evident within the LGBTQ+ community. Women are nearly twice as likely as men to identify as LGBTQ+ (8.5% vs. 4.7%). This difference is even more pronounced among Generation Z, where 28.5% of women identify as LGBTQ+ compared to 10.6% of men.

The reasons for this gender disparity are complex and not fully understood. Some researchers suggest that women may have more fluid sexualities or may feel more comfortable exploring and expressing diverse sexual orientations. Others point to societal factors, such as differing levels of stigma for LGBTQ+ men and women.

The LGBTQ+ community is also racially and ethnically diverse. While 52.3% of LGBTQ+ individuals are White, the community includes significant populations of LatinX (19.9%), Black (10.7%), and Asian (4.9%) individuals. This diversity underscores the importance of intersectionality in understanding LGBTQ+ experiences, as individuals may face unique challenges and opportunities based on the intersection of their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, and ethnicity.


Related: Decoding LGBTQ+ Consumer Behavior: Trends, Preferences, and Purchasing Patterns


/// Geographic Distribution

LGBTQ+ individuals are spread across the United States, with the highest concentration in the South (35.9%). However, when adjusted for population, some states show higher representation. California has the largest share of the total LGBTQ+ population at 11.1%, while Oregon has the highest index relative to its population at 142.

The distribution of LGBTQ+ individuals across the country is influenced by various factors, including urban vs. rural environments, state and local policies, cultural attitudes, and economic opportunities. Urban areas often have larger and more visible LGBTQ+ communities, which may attract individuals seeking community support or greater acceptance.

/// Education, Income, and Employment

Education and employment patterns within the LGBTQ+ community reveal both challenges and opportunities. LGBTQ+ adults are 21% less likely to have a college degree compared to the general population, which may be partially attributed to the younger age distribution of the LGBTQ+ population. Additionally, LGBTQ+ individuals face higher unemployment rates (9%) compared to non-LGBTQ+ individuals (5%), highlighting potential workplace discrimination or other barriers to employment.

These educational and employment disparities may be influenced by various factors, including family rejection, homelessness (which disproportionately affects LGBTQ+ youth), discrimination in educational settings, and lack of LGBTQ+-inclusive policies and protections in the workplace.

In terms of income, dual-partner LGBTQ+ households report a median income of $110,600, slightly higher than opposite-sex couples. It's important to note that this figure represents households with two partners, and single LGBTQ+ individuals may have a significantly different economic experience. Despite the relatively high median income for dual-partner households, LGBTQ+ individuals are much more likely to rent a home, with 37.4% renting compared to 22.5% of opposite-sex couples. This higher rate of renting may be due to factors such as discrimination in housing markets, lower rates of intergenerational wealth transfer, or personal preferences for urban living where homeownership is often more expensive.

/// Marital Status and Household Composition

LGBTQ+ adults are more likely to be single/never married (53%) compared to the general population (33%). Among those in relationships, there were approximately 1,277,000 same-sex couple households in the United States in 2022, with 58% being married couples.

Of the 740,500 same-sex married couples, 53% are female and the other 47% are male. The number of same-sex couple households has increased 30% from 980,000 since 2019, compared to a 2% increase in total households during the same period. This significant increase likely reflects both the 2015 Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide and growing societal acceptance of same-sex relationships.

When it comes to raising children, 29% of the LGBTQ+ population has children under 18. In dual-parent households, 14.6% of same-sex couples have children in the household, compared to 37.6% of opposite-sex couples. The lower rate of same-sex couples raising children may be due to various factors, including biological constraints, adoption challenges, and personal choices.

It's worth noting that LGBTQ+ families come in many forms, including those with adopted children, children from previous relationships, and children conceived through assisted reproductive technologies. The diversity of LGBTQ+ family structures highlights the need for inclusive family policies and support services.

/// Key Takeaways

  1. LGBTQ+ identification has increased to 7.6% of U.S. adults in 2023, with bisexual individuals comprising the largest subgroup.
  2. Younger generations, especially Gen Z, show higher rates of LGBTQ+ identification.
  3. Women are nearly twice as likely as men to identify as LGBTQ+.
  4. The LGBTQ+ community is racially and ethnically diverse, highlighting the importance of intersectionality.
  5. LGBTQ+ individuals face unique challenges in education and employment, with lower college degree rates and higher unemployment rates.
  6. LGBTQ+ households have a slightly higher median income but are more likely to rent than own homes.
  7. LGBTQ+ adults are more likely to be single, and same-sex couple households have increased significantly in recent years.
  8. Same-sex couples are less likely to have children in their households compared to opposite-sex couples.

/// Conclusion

Understanding the diverse identities within the LGBTQ+ community is crucial for fostering inclusivity and addressing unique challenges. The demographic data presented in this article highlights the complexity and multifaceted nature of LGBTQ+ identities, spanning across generations, gender, racial and ethnic backgrounds, and geographical locations.

As society continues to evolve, understanding the diverse demographics of the LGBTQ+ community becomes increasingly important for marketers. The varied needs and experiences of different segments within this community present both challenges and opportunities for businesses seeking to engage with LGBTQ+ consumers effectively.

The increasing visibility and acceptance of LGBTQ+ identities, particularly among younger generations, suggests a shifting consumer landscape. The demographic trends discussed in this article have significant implications for market segmentation, product development, and marketing strategies. As we move forward, it will be crucial for businesses to continue monitoring these demographic shifts to better tailor their offerings and communications to the diverse LGBTQ+ market. Companies that can effectively address the unique preferences and concerns of various LGBTQ+ subgroups may find themselves well-positioned in this growing and increasingly visible consumer segment.

Harness the power of the diverse and rapidly growing LGBTQ+ market with our comprehensive demographic insights. Partner with us to create inclusive marketing campaigns, develop products and services that resonate with various LGBTQ+ subgroups, and forge authentic connections with this influential consumer segment.

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


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