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Over 20 million Americans identify as LGBTQ people

American flag with stars and gay pride rainbow stripes being waved at the annual Gay Pride Parade in Greenwich Village, NYC
American flag with stars and gay pride rainbow stripes being waved at the annual Gay Pride Parade in Greenwich Village, NYC Photo: Shutterstock

At least 20 million adults in the United States identify as LGBTQ, according to a recent report from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation.

HRC reported that 8% of respondents to the United States Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey said they identified as LGBTQ, with an additional 2% saying their sexual orientation is something other than gay, lesbian, bisexual, or straight.

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The Household Pulse Survey also indicates that over 2 million adults (more than 1% of adults in the country) could identify as transgender, with an additional 2% of respondents saying they do not identify with either cisgender or transgender.

This marks the first time the Census Bureau has asked about sexual and gender identity in a survey. While the survey reported numbers much higher than have been previously estimated, HRC says it is likely still an underestimate of the true size of the nation’s LGBTQ community.

Between those who are in the closet and those who identify with labels not asked about in the survey, HRC posits there could be millions more LGBTQ people than Household Pulse identifies.

Nevertheless, the survey shows that a massive portion of Americans identify as LGBTQ.

“LGBTQ+ people are here – in every town, in every city, in each and every ZIP code,” said Interim HRC President Joni Madison in a press release. “This data shows what we’ve suspected: our community is larger and more widespread than we could have known up to this point. We’re proud to bring this data to light and set the stage for a future where all the millions of LGBTQ+ people in America enjoy full legal and lived equality.”

Madison also thanked the Biden Administration and Census Bureau for finally allowing the LGBTQ community to be counted.

The press release also pointed out, however, that there is a long way to go before LGBTQ people are fully accounted for by the Census Bureau.

HRC said the Bureau’s two largest surveys, the U.S. Census, itself, and the American Community Survey, do not ask questions about LGBTQ identity, which means the community loses out on significant federal funding.

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