Blacks more likely to identify as gay than any other group

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WASHINGTON (NNPA)—Blacks are more likely to identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender than any other racial or ethnic group in the nation, according a poll by Gallup.

The poll of 121,290 individuals, the largest U.S. survey of its kind, found that 3.4 percent of all Americans identified themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The figures were higher for people of color, with 4.6 percent of Blacks identifying themselves in that manner, followed by 4.3 percent of Asians, 4 percent of Hispanics and 2.2 percent of non-Hispanic Whites.

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TRUE BLOOD MOST INCLUSIVE–This image released by HBO shows Rutina Wesley, left, and Kristin Bauer van Straten in a scene from “True Blood.” The 17th annual “Where We Are on TV” report released Oct. 19 by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) found that 4.4 percent of actors appearing regularly on prime-time network drama and comedy series during the 2012-13 season will portray lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) characters. This is up from 2.9 percent in 2011, which saw a dip in what had been a growing trend. The HBO drama “True Blood” remains the most inclusive series on cable television, featuring six LGBT characters. (AP Photo/HBO, John P. Johnson) Right: “True Blood’s” Nelsan Ellis, the straight actor who plays Lafayette.

And those figures are probably low.

“As a group still subject to social stigma, many of those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender may not be forthcoming about this identity when asked about it in a survey. Therefore, it’s likely that some Americans in what is commonly referred to as ‘the closet’ would not be included in the estimates derived from the Gallup interviews,” according the narrative that accompanied the findings.

Respondents, interviewed between June 1 and September 30, were asked: “Do you personally, identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender?”

The report found, “… Younger women are more likely to identify as LGBT than are younger men. Among 18- to 29-year-olds, 8.3% of women identify as LGBT, compared with 4.6% of men the same age.”

It also cautioned, “It is possible that some of these age differences are due to a greater reluctance on the part of older Americans who may be LGBT to identify as such. In general, younger Americans are more accepting of equal rights and opportunities for gay men and lesbians.”

Sharon J. Lettman-Hicks, Executive Director and CEO, National Black Justice Coalition, the nation’s leading Black LGBT civil rights organization, said: “While it is easy to get lost in the rhetoric that pits ‘Black’ against ‘gay’ or depicts the LGBT community as wealthy White gay men, failing to recognize that our Black families are comprised of Black LGBT parents, siblings, children, co-workers and friends is a failure to recognize the full Black experience and our collective power.”

She cited 2000 U.S. Census figures that show that there are almost 85,000 Black same-sex couples in the United States. African Americans make up 13 percent of the United States population, while Black same-sex households are 14 percent of all same-sex households in the U.S., Lettman-Hicks said.

Politically, 44 percent of the LGBT community identify as Democrats, 43 percent as independents, and 13 percent as Republicans. By comparison, 32 percent of non-LGBT Americans identify as Democrats, 39 percent as independents, and 30 percent as Republicans. More than two-thirds of LGBT Americans who are registered voters –71 percent – support Obama, while 22 percent support Mitt Romney, according to Gallup.

Surprisingly, identification as LGBT was highest among least educated Americans.

“Among those with a high school education or less, 3.5% identify as LGBT, compared with 2.8% of those with a college degree and 3.2% of those with postgraduate education,” Gallup found. “LGBT identification is highest among those with some college education but not a college degree, at 4.0%.”

A similar pattern was found among income groups.

“More than 5% of those with incomes of less than $24,000 a year identify as LGBT, a higher proportion than among those with higher incomes—including 2.8% of those making $60,000 a year or more,” the survey found.

The report also noted, “Among those who report income, about 16% of LGBT-identified individuals have incomes above $90,000 per year, compared with 21% of the overall adult population. Additionally, 35% of those who identify as LGBT report incomes of less than $24,000 a year, significantly higher than the 24% for the population in general. These findings are consistent with research showing that LGBT people are at a higher risk of poverty.

“These data also explain why LGBT Americans are less satisfied with their standard of living than non-LGBT Americans. Nearly three-quarters of non-LGBT individuals (73%) say they are satisfied with their standard of living, compared with less than two-thirds (65%) of LGBT individuals.”

People of color are also more likely to rear children than Whites, the research showed.

“Prior research suggests that within the LGBT population, child-rearing is much more common among racial and ethnic minorities, a finding that is substantiated by the current data. More than 41% of Hispanic and African-American LGBT women, along with 38% of Asian LGBT women, are raising children, compared with 28% of white LGBT women. Some of this reflects the younger average ages of racial and ethnic groups in the U.S.

“Ten percent of LGBT white men are raising children, compared with 39% of Hispanic men, 31% of Asian men, and 14% of African-American men. Non-LGBT men are more likely to have children: 29% among whites, 34% of African-Americans, 44% of Hispanics, and 35% of Asians.”

Researchers stated, “Overall, the results from this analysis run counter to some media stereotypes that portray the LGBT community as predominantly White, highly educated, and very wealthy

(George E. Curry is NNPA editor-in-chief)

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