Gay Marketing/Gay Marriage: What Are The Real Numbers?

KinseyWhat percentage of America’s population is gay? Go ahead, guess. If you presumed 10 percent, 25 percent or even 30 percent of the nation’s makeup, you would be in the majority of respondents according to Gallup research polls spanning a decade. But you would still be dead wrong.

Gallup conducted surveys in 2002 and 2011 asking respondents how large a chunk of the population they believed was homosexual. Both polls found that participants vastly overestimated the actual figure. Not surprisingly the percentage estimated by those polled had grown from the 2002 to the 2011 analysis, as awareness of homosexuality resulted in decreased stigmatization over time. Studies, however, conclude that the actual number of homosexuals in America, gay men, lesbians and transgender, comprise a whopping 1.7% of the population.

What is central about that fraction of the population that identifies itself as gay compared with the sway homosexuality holds over today’s culture is its pervasiveness. For centuries that hasn’t been the case. Numbers don’t lie. It is unrealistic to believe that the last ten or fifteen years have miraculously produced this seismic shift in the world’s social and political consciousness and created, instead, a need to dismantle cultural norms that have existed since men and women began to procreate.

If the 1.7% figure comes as a surprise, it shouldn’t. This percentage has been arrived at by several, extensive studies, such as that of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Perhaps the most significant of these is the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law study. What gives the Williams Institute such overarching credibility is that it is a gay and lesbian think tank. According to them, that 1.7% fraction climbs to 3.5% or 4.0% if one factors in self-declared bisexuals. A large number of “closeted” individuals also participated in their study. The Williams Institute findings were released in April of 2011.
Very little, if any, attention has been paid to it.

Two elements of the study are especially noteworthy. The first is that, according to an article in The Atlantic, May 2012: “These numbers (homosexual population percentages) are significant because identity — and not behavior — is the central determinant of whether or not someone will seek a same-sex marriage.” Secondly, and unexpectedly counter-intuitively, the percentage of self-described homosexuals has dropped from the publication date of the granddaddy of all such analysis, conducted in 1948 (Kinsey, “Sexuality in the Human Male”); the Kinsey report concluded that the homosexual population might be as high as 10%. The current figure, 1.7%, has dropped like a rock since then, despite the out-of-proportion marketing push to implement homosexuality as the new norm: “Such a misunderstanding of the basic demographics of sexual behavior and identity in America has potentially profound implications for the acceptance of the gay-rights agenda … people who overestimate the percent of gay Americans by a factor of 12 seem likely to also wildly overestimate the cultural impact of same-sex marriage.”

These observations are not intended as a dissection of the entire dispute about gay marriage. The subject, historically and ethically, is too cumbersome to encapsulate in one article. It is, however, intended as a Constitutional red flag. How and why has this issue taken such a predominant, societal role in contrast to the homosexual population’s minute numbers? Why worry?

Marilyn Assenheim

About the author, Marilyn Assenheim: Marilyn Assenheim was born and raised in New York City. She spent a career in healthcare management although she probably should have been a casting director. Or a cowboy. A serious devotee of history and politics, Marilyn currently lives in the NYC metropolitan area. View all articles by Marilyn Assenheim

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