QUEER VOICES
07/15/2014 12:05 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Health Survey: About 2 Percent Of Americans Are Gay Or Lesbian

A federal report released Tuesday says just 2 percent of Americans over the age of 18 identify as gay or lesbian.

The report, released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), relates to sexual orientation and health among U.S. adults.

The NCHS used statistics gathered from the 2013 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), an annual health study including 34,557 adults aged 18 and over. The aim of the new survey was to determine the disparities in health-related behaviors, health status, health care service utilization, and health care access among participants based on sexual orientation.

The NHIS included sexual orientation-based questions, such as, "Which of the following best represents how you think of yourself?" Male respondents could choose from the following responses: "gay;" "straight, that is, not gay;" "bisexual;" "something else;" and "I don't know the answer." Female respondents could choose from: "lesbian or gay;" "straight, that is, not lesbian or gay;" "bisexual;" "something else;" and "I don't know the answer."

This is the first time the NHIS has "included a measure of sexual orientation, thereby enabling researchers and data users to examine how the prevalence of a wide variety of health-related behaviors" in its 57-year history.

According to the results, 96.6 percent of respondents identified as straight, 1.6 percent identified as gay or lesbian and 0.7 percent identified as bisexual. The discussion section notes, "Many of the associations between sexual orientation and various health outcomes found in this analysis are similar to those found in past research."

  • "[A] higher percentage of women aged 18–64 who identified as bisexual had experienced serious psychological distress compared with those who identified as straight..."

  • "[A] higher percentage of adults aged 18–64 who identified as gay or lesbian, or bisexual had five or more drinks in one day in the past year and were current cigarette smokers compared with adults aged 18–64 who identified as straight..."
  • "[A] lower percentage of women aged 18–64 who identified as gay or lesbian, or bisexual had a usual place to go for medical care compared with women aged 18–64 who identified as straight, whereas a lower percentage of adults aged 18–64 who identified as straight failed to obtain needed medical care due to cost compared with adults aged 18–64 who identified as bisexual."
  • "[A] higher percentage of men aged 18–64 who identified as gay received an influenza vaccination in the past year compared with men aged 18–64 who identified as straight."
  • ["A]mong men aged 18–64, a higher percentage of those who identified as gay or bisexual have ever been tested for HIV compared with those who identified as straight."
  • The reported number of less than 2 percent is lower than some figures released in previous years. Sex researcher Alfred Kinsey popularized the "10 percent" figure when his Kinsey Report claimed "10 percent of males were more or less exclusively homosexual" in his 1948 book Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. In 2011, demographer Gary Gates reported that 9 million American adults, or 3.8 percent, identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

    There is little reliable evidence about what percentage of the U.S. population is in reality gay or lesbian, due to few representative surveys asking about sexual orientation, complexities surrounding the groups and definitions involved, and the probability that some gay and lesbian individuals may not choose to identify themselves as such.

    HuffPost

    BEFORE YOU GO

    • 1 Megan Fox
      In a 2011 <a href="http://www.esquire.com/women/women-we-love/megan-fox-pics-0609" target="_blank">Esquire</a>&nbsp;interview
      AP
      In a 2011 Esquire interview, Megan Fox confirmed her bisexuality, stating, "I think people are born bisexual and then make subconscious choices based on the pressures of society. I have no question in my mind about being bisexual. But I'm also a hypocrite: I would never date a girl who was bisexual, because that means they also sleep with men, and men are so dirty that I'd never want to sleep with a girl who had slept with a man."
    • 2 Billie Joe Armstrong
      The Green Day front man&nbsp;opened up about his sexuality in a 1995 interview with <a href="http://theadvocate.com/" target=
      AP
      The Green Day front man opened up about his sexuality in a 1995 interview with The Advocate: "I think I've always been bisexual. I mean, it's something that I've always been interested in. I think everybody kind of fantasizes about the same sex. I think people are born bisexual, and it's just that our parents and society kind of veer us off into this feeling of 'Oh, I can't.' They say it's taboo. It's ingrained in our heads that it's bad, when it's not bad at all. It's a very beautiful thing."
    • 3 Margaret Cho
      Comedian Margaret Cho has long been open about her sexuality. In August 2013, Cho <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013
      AP
      Comedian Margaret Cho has long been open about her sexuality. In August 2013, Cho discussed the semantics surrounding her open marriage to artist Al Ridenour, saying that she's "technically not able to stay with one person sexually because I’m bisexual,” and joking that she just “can’t stop up that hole.” She also identifies as queer, and opened up about her sexuality in an interview with HuffPost Gay Voices Editor-At-Large Michelangelo Signorile.
    • 4 Clive Davis
      Twice-married record executive and music mogul Clive Davis <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/19/clive-davis-bise
      AP
      Twice-married record executive and music mogul Clive Davis came out as bisexual in his 2013 memoir, The Soundtrack Of My Life. Davis opened up about two long-term relationships he had with men after his divorce from his second wife.
    • 5 Anna Paquin
      Anna Paquin is adamantly open about her bisexuality. The actress<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/03/anna-paquin
      Getty
      Anna Paquin is adamantly open about her bisexuality. The actress told "Zooey" magazine in a 2009 interview, "For me, it’s not really an issue because I’m someone who believes being bisexual is actually a thing. It’s not made up. It’s not a lack of decision."
    • 6 Megan Mullally
      After telling The Advocate in 1999 that she was bisexual, Mullally clarified her statements in an <a href="http://www.queerty
      AP
      After telling The Advocate in 1999 that she was bisexual, Mullally clarified her statements in an interview with Queerty, telling the blog: "I said that I thought that everybody is innately bisexual. I think there are different levels of awareness attached to that, so I may believe that everybody is innately bisexual, but somebody who is very homophobic may not see that quality in themselves in any way, shape or form. That’s on a very philosophical or even metaphysical level, you know what I mean? It’s not something that I think people are ready for yet. I think if you ask the average guy on the street if he was innately bisexual, he’d be like, ‘What the fuck are you talking about?’ and then he’d punch you in the face. So, we’re not quite there."
    • 7 Azealia Banks
      The rapper has been <a href="http://www.rollingstone.com/music/blogs/thread-count/azealia-banks-on-why-the-c-word-is-feminine
      Getty
      The rapper has been openly bisexual since the early days of her career: "I mean, I'm bisexual, so it makes sense. But I don't want to be that girl who says all gays necessarily hang out together, of course! I have people say to me, 'Oh wow, my friend is gay, too,' and I'm like, 'Yeah, so?'"
    • 8 Andy Dick
      Many people mistakenly assume that Andy Dick identifies as gay. However, he told <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dy
      AP
      Many people mistakenly assume that Andy Dick identifies as gay. However, he told The Washington Post in a 2006 interview that, "just because I've been with guys, and I'm bi, doesn't mean I'm gay."
    • 9 Bai Ling
      Actress Bai Ling is openly bisexual -- and the identity category has often provided some humorous mix-ups involving her first
      Getty
      Actress Bai Ling is openly bisexual -- and the identity category has often provided some humorous mix-ups involving her first name. According to GLAAD, she discussed it in-depth in a 2009 interview with Entertainment Weekly: "[A]t first when I was in the United States I didn't always have an interpreter in interviews and I didn't speak English so well. There was some confusion. My name is pronounced 'bi,' so when I was asked, 'Are you bi?' I said, 'Yes, I am Bai.' Do you like men? 'Of course!' Do you like women? 'Why yes!' And later I found out what that means and I said, 'Sure, I am bi!' But I think the interpreters and the reporters thought that I didn't know what I was saying because I was so open about it. They were uncomfortable about it. Such a thing is not important for me."
    • 10 Carrie Brownstein
      The "Portlandia" star and former guitarist and vocalist for Sleater-Kinney is often assumed to identify as gay. However, she
      AP
      The "Portlandia" star and former guitarist and vocalist for Sleater-Kinney is often assumed to identify as gay. However, she told "Willamette Week" in 2012 that, "It’s weird, because no one’s actually ever asked me. People just always assume, like, you’re this or that. It’s like, ‘OK. I’m bisexual.’”
    • 11 David Bowie
      Though David Bowie has historically played coy surrounding his sexuality, he clarified the subject in <a href="http://www.vic
      Getty
      Though David Bowie has historically played coy surrounding his sexuality, he clarified the subject in a 1976 interview with "Playboy." "It's true -- I am a bisexual. But I can't deny that I've used that fact very well. I suppose it's the best thing that ever happened to me."
    • 12 Snooki
      The always-polarizing Snooki&nbsp;sat down with <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/07/jersey-shore-snooki-and-jwo
      AP
      The always-polarizing Snooki sat down with The Huffington Post in February 2012 and sought to clarify her sexual preference. "I would consider myself bi. I've done stuff with girls before. But I would never be with a girl because I like... penis. But I've experimented."
    • 13 Amber Heard
      Amber Heard has been <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/14/amber-heard-bisexuality-elle_n_3756186.html" target="_
      Getty
      Amber Heard has been openly bisexual for quite some time, and discussed this aspect of her identity in "Elle." The model and actress told reporters: "[I] didn't want to look like I was hiding anything."
    • 14 Angelina Jolie
      Angelina Jolie has been open about her sexuality for quite some time, having had numerous encounters and relationships with w
      Getty
      Angelina Jolie has been open about her sexuality for quite some time, having had numerous encounters and relationships with women. She reportedly told OK Magazine that, "I have loved women in the past and slept with them. I think if you love and want to pleasure a woman, particularly if you are a woman yourself, then certainly you know how to do things a certain way."
    • 15 Evan Rachel Wood
      Evan Rachel Wood <a href="https://twitter.com/evanrachelwood/status/238791671553351681" target="_blank">came out on Twitter</
      AP
      Evan Rachel Wood came out on Twitter in 2012: “I myself am bisexual and have always ‘joked’ about Miley giving me gay vibes. Not a bad thing! Just an observation.”
    • 16 Sapphire
      The author of <em>Push,</em> the book that inspired the critically acclaimed film "Precious," <a href="http://www.standard.co
      Getty
      The author of Push, the book that inspired the critically acclaimed film "Precious," describes herself as bisexual.
    • 17 Drew Barrymore
      Drew Barrymore originally came out in <a href="http://www.contactmusic.com/news-article/drew-barrymore.-.i-am-bisexual." targ
      Getty
      Drew Barrymore originally came out in an interview in Contact Magazine in 2003, saying, "Do I like women sexually? Yeah, I do. Totally. I have always considered myself bisexual... I love a woman's body. I think a woman and a woman together are beautiful, just as a man and a woman together are beautiful. Being with a woman is like exploring your own body, but through someone else."
    • 18 Frenchie Davis
      This former "American Idol" and "The Voice" contestant came out in 2012, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/21/fr
      Getty
      This former "American Idol" and "The Voice" contestant came out in 2012, telling her fans that she had been in a relationship with a woman for the past year and had dated men and women.
    • 19 Vanessa Carlton
      Musician Vanessa Carlton <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/20/vannesa-carlton-im-bisexu_n_618697.html" target="_
      Getty
      Musician Vanessa Carlton came out publicly at 2010's Nashville Pride, announcing to a crowd of 18,000 that, "I've never said this before, but I am a proud bisexual woman!"
    • 20 Fergie
      The Black Eyed Peas front woman confirmed speculation surrounding her sexual identity in 2009 through <a href="http://www.adv
      Getty
      The Black Eyed Peas front woman confirmed speculation surrounding her sexual identity in 2009 through an interview with The Advocate: "Q: After you discussed past sexual experiences with women in an interview with 'The Sun' in May, headlines everywhere read, 'Fergie Admits She’s Bisexual!' A: The funny thing is that I was very open and honest about that from the very beginning, and everyone was acting like it was some new trend. Go back four or five years, people, and you’ll see the same answer.

"
    • 21 Pete Townshend
      In his book,&nbsp;<i>Who I Am: A Memoir by Pete Townshend</i>, this musician <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/o
      AP
      In his book, Who I Am: A Memoir by Pete Townshend, this musician confirmed that he is "probably bisexual" and cited his attraction to Mick Jagger, calling him "the only man I've ever seriously wanted to fuck."
    • 22 Tila Tequila
      Tila Tequila is not one to shy away from anything. The former Myspace celebrity did <a href="http://www.mtv.com/shows/tila_te
      Getty
      Tila Tequila is not one to shy away from anything. The former Myspace celebrity did several reality shows centered around identifying as bisexual, beginning with "A Shot At Love With Tila Tequila." She was also the girlfriend of Casey Johnson, the Johnson & Johnson heiress, who passed away in 2010.
    • 23 Amber Rose
      Amber Rose&nbsp;has long been perceived to be openly bisexual without actually addressing the way she identifies. In an inter
      Getty
      Amber Rose has long been perceived to be openly bisexual without actually addressing the way she identifies. In an interview with Complex magazine, the model sought to clarify the rumors: "They label me a bisexual freak stripper that fucks Kanye on a daily basis. To answer that: I’m extremely open with my sexuality. I can be in love with a woman, I can be in love with a man. I’m not into bestiality, but as far as humans go, I definitely find beauty in everybody, whether they’re heavy-set, super-skinny, if they’re white, black, Indian, Asian, Spanish. I can see beauty in anybody. I’m not into threesomes or orgies and shit like that. If I see a women and I think she’s beautiful and I like her, and she likes me back we can definitely try to be in a relationship together."
    • 24 Cynthia Nixon
      Currently <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/28/cynthia-nixon-married-christina-marinoni_n_1550345.html" target="
      Getty
      Currently married to wife Christine Marinoni, Nixon confirmed in a January 2012 interview with The Daily Beast that she is bisexual. The "Sex And The City" star stated, "I don’t pull out the 'bisexual' word because nobody likes the bisexuals. Everybody likes to dump on the bisexuals... We get no respect."
    • 25 Jillian Michaels
      The first lady to ever come out in "Lady's Home Journal" as bisexual, "Biggest Loser" coach and personal trainer Jillian Mich
      Getty
      The first lady to ever come out in "Lady's Home Journal" as bisexual, "Biggest Loser" coach and personal trainer Jillian Michaels told the magazine in 2010: “Let’s just say I believe in healthy love. If I fall in love with a woman, that’s awesome. If I fall in love with a man, that’s awesome. As long as you fall in love… it’s like organic food. I only eat healthy food, and I only want healthy love!”
    • 26 Kim Zolciak
      Former "Real Housewives Of Atlanta" star Kim Zolciak was in public relationships with both the mysterious "Big Poppa" and DJ
      Getty
      Former "Real Housewives Of Atlanta" star Kim Zolciak was in public relationships with both the mysterious "Big Poppa" and DJ Tracy Young before marrying Kroy Biermann. In a 2010 interview with Life & Style, interviewers posed the following question for the reality queen: "Q: Do you feel you're giving a voice to other bisexual parents? A: I'm among the millions of parents who have been in a gay or lesbian relationship. It hasn't been an easy road lately, but I feel there are no mistakes in my life. Everything happens for a reason. To have the opportunity to speak for myself and to have people understand what I'm going through is really special. I myself was confused and scared at first. Being able to speak from my heart and get this all out, it's a huge relief for me."
    • 27 Lady Gaga
      Lady Gaga has been open for quite some time about her bisexuality, initially coming out in <a href="http://www.youtube.com/wa
      AP
      Lady Gaga has been open for quite some time about her bisexuality, initially coming out in a 2010 interview with Barbara Walters.
    • 28 'Mama June' Shannon
      The star of "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" revealed that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/25/mama-june-bisexual-_n_
      Charles Norfleet via Getty Images
      The star of "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" revealed that she's bisexual in an "Inside Edition" interview in April 2015. Her daughter "Pumpkin" Lauryn Thompson also came out as bi at the same time.
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