The largest population-based survey of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual and Transgender people ever conducted in the U.S. found LGBT identity is highest among those who are younger, non-white and low income. The Gallup survey released Thursday found 4.6% of blacks, 4.3% of Asians, 4% of Latinos and 3.2% of whites identify themselves as LGBT.
The Gallup poll was released the same day a Pew Hispanic Center study that found “rapidly growing support for same-sex marriage among Latinos, mirroring growing support among the general public.”
The Pew report found more Latinos favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally (52%) than oppose same-sex marriage (34%). Among Latino Catholics that favor allowing gays and lesbians that number is even higher (54%).
Nonwhites are more likely than white segments of the U.S. population to identify as LGBT. The survey results show that 4.6% of African-Americans identify as LGBT, along with 4.0% of Hispanics and 4.3% of Asians. The disproportionately higher representation of LGBT status among nonwhite population segments corresponds to the slightly below-average 3.2% of white Americans who identified as LGBT.
Overall, a third of LGBT-identifiers are nonwhite (33%), compared with 27% of non-LGBT individuals.
More than 5% of those with incomes of less than $24,000 a year identify as LGBT, a higher proportion than among those with higher incomes — including 2.8% of those making $60,000 a year or more.
Among those who report income, about 16% of LGBT-identified individuals have incomes above $90,000 per year, compared with 21% of the overall adult population. Additionally, 35% of those who identify as LGBT report incomes of less than $24,000 a year, significantly higher than the 24% for the population in general. These findings are consistent with research showing that LGBT people are at a higher risk of poverty.
These data also explain why LGBT Americans are less satisfied with their standard of living than non-LGBT Americans. Nearly three-quarters of non-LGBT individuals (73%) say they are satisfied with their standard of living, compared with less than two-thirds (65%) of LGBT individuals.
“It helps to counter what I think are some inappropriate stereotypes of the LGBT community,” the report’s lead author, demographer Gary Gates of the Williams Institute at the University of California-Los Angeles told USA Today. “If you spend a lot of time watching network television, you would think most LGBT people are rich white men who live in big cities. These data suggest the LGBT community reflects more of the diversity in the U.S. population.”
The Gallup and Pew study released this week debunks many stereotypes about blacks and Latinos being overwhelmingly homophobic.
In 2008, after Californians voters passed Prop. 8 and banned same-sex marriage many news outlets including national agencies like CNN blamed blacks and Latinos for banning gay marriage because of their increase turnout. That was quickly debunked.
Most recently, in an apparent outreach to Latino voters, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney regularly reminds them that as president he’ll protect the sanctity of marriage—as if gay marriage trumps immigration, economy, education and healthcare reform for Latinos.
“These findings show that Latinos aren’t going to be as easy to mobilize against gay marriage as the right might wish,” said Rinku Sen, president of the Applied Research Center, Colorlines.com’s publisher.
“There are a numerous examples of Latino organizations like Causa and PCUN in Oregon taking up LGBT rights and emerging organizations representing gay Latinos, while LGBT organizations have spoken out on immigrant rights issues like the DREAM Act and police harassment of day laborers.
Oregon’s Causa, an immigrant rights organization, and PCUN, a farmworker union, are profiled in ARC’s “Better Together” report. The study highlights racial justice groups currently engaging lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBTQ) constituencies and equity issues to improve opportunities to greater engagement.
Most recently in Los Angeles, home to the nation’s largest enclave of undocumented immigrants, The LA Gay & Lesbian Center; Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund and City of West Hollywood hosted a discussion called “Coming Out of the Shadows - LGBTQ and Undocumented.” The discussion that included LGBTQ undocumented teens was organized to “heighten awareness about the realities faced by many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people living in America without legal citizenship.”