Experian Simmons first began measuring sexual orientation among respondents to our National Consumer Study in 2004. In one of our first full releases of the syndicated study in 2006, we found that 3.4% of all non-Hispanic adults self-identified as either lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered (LGBT) – a figure consistent with what leading LGBT researchers predicted at the time. However, today, 4.1% of the non-Hispanic adult population self-identifies as LGBT, a figure that has risen slowly but steadily year-after-year. As public attitudes become more open and accepting of LGBT American’s and issues dear to them, marketers, too, are increasingly showing their support of their LGBT customers and looking for trends among this growing and already influential demographic.
As a growing number of U.S. states pass laws recognizing same-sex marriages and civil unions, we see an increasing percentage of gay and lesbian Americans reporting that they’re married. Five years ago, for example, when only Massachusetts allowed same-sex marriage, 8% of adult gay men and 14% of adult lesbian women said they were married. Today, 12% of gay men and a full quarter of lesbian women are married. During the same timeframe, marriage rates among heterosexuals fell slightly. Today, 58% of heterosexual men and 53% of heterosexual women are married. Compare that to 60% of straight men and 55% of straight women who were married in 2007.
Percent of adults currently married, by sexual orientation
While marriage is a growing trend among the LGBT population, many gay and lesbian adults (as well as many heterosexuals) live with their partners without tying the knot. Today, two-thirds of lesbian women and 46% of gay men live in a household with one and only one member of the same sex. As expected, the majority of married gays and lesbians are found in these household formations, but we can expect to find many cohabitating couples in this arrangement as well. Among heterosexual adults, 71% of men and 61% of women share a home with one and only one adult of the opposite sex, the comparable formation most likely to contain married and partnered straight couples.
Percent of lesbian and gay adults who live with zero, one or two+ adults of the same sex
Percent of heterosexual adults who live with zero, one or two+ adults of the opposite sex
For more demographic and attitudinal information on the trends among the LGBT population, download the 2012 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered Demographic Report.
Learn more about the author, John Fetto