Demographic, psychological, and social characteristics of self-identified lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults in a US probability sample

Gregory M. Herek, Aaron T. Norton, Thomas J. Allen, Charles L. Sims

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

160 Scopus citations

Abstract

Using data from a US national probability sample of self-identified lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults (N=662), this article reports population parameter estimates for a variety of demographic, psychological, and social variables. Special emphasis is given to information with relevance to public policy and law. Compared with the US adult population, respondents were younger, more highly educated, and less likely to be non-Hispanic White, but differences were observed between gender and sexual orientation groups on all of these variables. Overall, respondents tended to be politically liberal, not highly religious, and supportive of marriage equality for same-sex couples. Women were more likely than men to be in a committed relationship. Virtually all coupled gay men and lesbians had a same-sex partner, whereas the vast majority of coupled bisexuals were in a heterosexual relationship. Compared with bisexuals, gay men and lesbians reported stronger commitment to a sexualminority identity, greater community identification and involvement, and more extensive disclosure of their sexual orientation to others. Most respondents reported experiencing little or no choice about their sexual orientation. The importance of distinguishing among lesbians, gay men, bisexual women, and bisexual men in behavioral and social research is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)176-200
Number of pages25
JournalSexuality Research and Social Policy
Volume7
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2010

Keywords

  • Bisexuals
  • Committed relationships
  • Gay men
  • Identity, community and disclosure
  • Lesbians
  • Politics and religion
  • Public policy
  • Sampling
  • Survey research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science

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