45 Loy. L. A. L. Rev. 693 (2011-2012)
LGBT Identity: A Demographer's Perspective

handle is hein.journals/lla45 and id is 715 raw text is: LGBT IDENTITY:
A DEMOGRAPHER'S PERSPECTIVE
Gary J. Gates*
In a recent study, the Author of this Article estimated that the self-
identified lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community
makes up 3.8 percent of the American population. The Author's
estimate was far lower than many scholars and activists had contended,
and it included a relatively high proportion of persons self-identifying
as bisexuals. This Article responds to two of the central criticisms that
arose in the controversy that followed. First, in response to claims that
his estimate did not account for people who are in the closet, the Author
describes how demographers might measure the size of the closet.
Second, in response to those who either ignored the reported large
incidence of bisexuality or misconstrued the meaning of that incidence,
the Author considers how varying frameworks for conceptualizing
sexual orientation might alter the ratio of lesbian or gay individuals to
bisexuals. This Article goes on to offer observations about the
challenges and implications that are associated with the varying
estimates of the size of the LGBT population. And it concludes by
arguing that, today, the size of the LGBT community is less important
than understanding the struggles of its members and informing crucial
policy debates with facts rather than stereotype and anecdote.
* Williams Distinguished Scholar, Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law; Ph.D., Public
Policy and Management, Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon University; B.S., Computer Science,
University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown; M.Div., Saint Vincent Seminary. This Article is adapted
from the Author's keynote address at the Loyola ofLos Angeles Law Review's LGBT Identity and
the Law Symposium on October 21, 2011. Dr. Gary J. Gates, Williams Distinguished Scholar,
Williams Inst., UCLA Sch. of Law, Keynote Address at Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review
Symposium: LGBT Identity and the Law (Oct. 21, 2011). The keynote address was based in part
on the Author's recent study of LGBT demographics. GARY J. GATES, THE WILLIAMS INST.,
How MANY PEOPLE ARE LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, AND TRANSGENDER? (2011), available at
http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/Gates-How-Many-People-LGBT-Apr-
2011.pdf.
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