According to its latest polling data, the Gallup organization reports 5.6 percent of U.S. adults are now “identifying as LGBT,” adding, “The current estimate is up from 4.5 percent in Gallup’s previous update based on 2017 data.” This number was only 3.5 percent in 2012.
Are a higher percentage of people gay than in years past? Given the growing political and moral significance of this topic in our culture, it’s essential all Americans ask what data like this truly means.
To begin, it is essential to understand “being LGBT” isn’t the thing most people assume it is. Being LGBT is not a clinical sexual attraction, nor is it a medical or scientific term. No one is simultaneously a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender person (much less all of the other letters that seem to be added every year).
This designation is merely a socio-political mash-up — a broad and imprecise term of political or ideological identity. This is demonstrated in the very fact that Gallup employed the term “LGBT” in its investigation, rather than any of the ever-evolving longer strings of letters like “LGBTQ,” “LGBTQQIAA,” or the clumsy catch-all “LGBTQ+”.
If “being LGBT” were really a thing, a meaningfully precise measure of what someone is, we could reasonably ask what Gallup’s percentage would have been if they offered respondents additional lettered options. Would their number have been larger if they asked how many were either “Q” or “queer and questioning” or included any of the other many letters?
None of the many news stories on the report bothered to ask this important question. This shows the general media lazily accepts “being LGBT” is simply shorthand for being “experimental.” This designation is therefore clearly not an objective, scientific thing, but merely a loose identity grouping rooted in politics and self-perception.
For this reason, the new data doesn’t truly tell us much other than that people are becoming more elastic in how they view their sexuality and gender. Unfortunately, this doesn’t reveal anything reliable about what people objectively are.
That’s because how people identify and what they actually do are often different. So research on how people behave sexually rather than just how they “identify” is well documented among scholars as famously complicated.
Gallup’s report backs up this fact, showing that young adults today are more than three times more likely to report “being LGBT” than even Gen Xers are. Gen Xers are certainly not so traditional that they would be reticent to admit any alternative sexual practices to pollsters or their peers. It is simply becoming increasingly fashionable to be seen as sexually experimental today, evidenced in the fact that 55 percent of those who told Gallup they were “LGBT” said they were bisexual. Most of those are coupled with opposite-sex partners when they do have a romantic partner.
Queer advocates and their media partisans regularly tell us that “being LGBT” is a normal, natural thing. But the data is beyond dispute that young people are far more likely to identify as being LGBT than are all other age groups. Also, that identity is often at odds with their actual sexual behavior, as evidenced by the fact that women who openly identify as lesbian tend to have stunningly high unwanted pregnancy and abortion rates.
We have been carefully and secularly catechized to believe that being “gay,” “lesbian,” or “transgender” is an actual biological thing. But as catchy as it might be, Lady Gaga’s pop song “Born This Way” isn’t science. Even the American Psychological Association still admits no one is quite sure how or why people come to identify as any of the letters in the LGBT alphabet soup:
There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors.
What’s more, leftist scholars in the field of gender studies have increasingly been questioning if sexual orientation really is what our current cultural script says it is. Few journalists are aware of this fact.
Based on how the political and practical ideology of gender studies is shifting, other scholars hold that the concept of sexual orientation should be retired in favor of something called “sexual configuration theory.” That’s because, as one scholar holds, “sexual orientation as a term is increasingly seen as regressive.”
Why? Because it “belongs to the bioessentialist project” that doesn’t provide a chance for someone to “become” or “experience” something “other,” new, or emerging with equal legitimacy. Apparently, the idea that sexual orientation is “set” is so 2015.
Scholarship out of Cornell University explains the majority of people who identify as LGBT can simply be described as either “mostly straight” or “mostly gay” rather than fully one way or the other. The whole game is shifting right under our feet, while gender theorists reconceptualize what sexual orientation is, finding it’s quite different than what most leftists assume.
So, when you hear in the news “1 in 6 Gen Z adults are LGBT” like we did in the Washington Post — or as USA Today announced in a headline, “Society is Changing” — the wise and informed person must receive this information with the essential question of “What does it actually mean to be ‘LGBT?’” Tellingly, even the supposed “LGBT community” itself isn’t clear on the answer to this seemingly simple question.
So it really shouldn’t be news to anyone that an inherently imprecise political and ideological identity is growing in popularity with young people searching for purpose and identity.