Demographics of the Asexual and LGBT Populations
Gallup recently released a new report indicating that 3.4% of US adults say they identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered. While the real number is likely to be higher than that, the report also indicated that African Americans, Asian Americans, and Hispanic people were more likely to identify as LGBT than the white people surveyed. This stood out to me because I recently reviewed Anthony Bogaert’s paper on asexuality that produced the 1% figure, and one of his findings was that a higher proportion of asexual respondents were “non-White” as compared to the non-asexual respondents (the difference was significant— 13% vs. 4%).
These results could reflect a real difference in the populations being surveyed, or a reporting difference. Perhaps people who differ from the American and European “ideal” of being straight, white, male and cis along one axis are more likely to realize that they differ along another axis as well? The fact that a disproportionate percentage of both the asexual respondents and the LGBT respondents were women offers some mild support for this theory.
Another interesting similarity was that the Gallup poll found that LGBT adults were more likely to have low levels of education and income than all other adults in the population; the Bogaert paper also found that asexual respondents had, on average, lower levels of education and income than all the other respondents. (I tentatively theorized at the time that that income deficit might be because the asexual respondents were significantly less likely to be cohabiting (and therefore sharing expenses) than the non-asexual respondents, but we don’t really have an explanation.)
(Of course, many aces identify as LGBT as well as ace, and many members of the LGBT community are also ace. The distinctions I’ve drawn here are meant to reflect the two populations surveyed; the Gallup poll did not ask about asexuality and the other poll did not ask about romantic orientation. Also, I should note that one survey was done in Britain and the other in the United States.)
I think it’s important to remember, though, that Bogaert and the Gallup poll were measuring two very different things - While Gallup used self-identification data (do you identity as X?), Bogaert used data about experiences (Do you experience Y?) and grouped them into categories regardless of how they personally identifies - for example, most of the “asexuals” in Bogaert’s study likely did not self-identify as such; similarly there are also likely people who experience same-sex attractions (and would perhaps be considered gay, queer, bi, etc.) yet would not self identify as such. Thus, categories based on reported behavior/desires and categories based on self-identification will be very different.
I do, however, think it’s interesting to see how much these statistics differ from the general mainstream queer and ace groups that we do see, esp ace groups which tend to generally be much more educated than average - perhaps a function of who has the resources and exposure to be able to discover asexuality and asexual communities.
I think it’s also interesting that more ethnic minorities were IDing as lgbtq+ identities, esp. since in most of the interactions I’ve had in queer spaces it seems that they are often less able to come out openly and safely.
(I was going to add that my LGBTQ+ contacts also tend to be more highly educated bu thten I remembered they’re almost all from college groups, so…it’s kind of an inherent bias)
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