LGBT stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. Common variants of LGBT are LGBTQ, LGBTQ+, LGBTQIA, and LGBTQIA+, which do not represent different community politics but are preferred by some. These variants are more inclusive of all individuals who are non-heterosexual and non-cisgender instead of exclusively applying to people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.
Unfortunately, LGBTQ+ people face discrimination, inequality, and violence worldwide. Countries have different rights encompassing everything from legal recognition of same-sex marriages to the death penalty. In the United States, the landmark Supreme Court case, Obergefell vs. Hodges, ruled it unconstitutional for the state to ban same-sex marriages. As of 2020, 37 states and D.C. have legalized gay marriage. The remaining 13 states have a ban on same-sex marriages; however, eight have court rulings in favor of allowing them.
LGBTQ+ Population by State
The demographics of sexual orientation are very difficult to track because there are no official ways to obtain this information. While surveys gather self-reported data, there are challenges to researchers in inquiring on such a sensitive subject. Also, different questions yield different results. For example, one set of questions may seek self-reported data on same-sex sexual experiences, while another set may seek data surrounding personal identification as lesbian, gay, or bisexual.
The UCLA Williams Institute analyzed surveys conducted by Gallup Polling from 2012 to 2017 and CDC data from 2015 and 2017 to gather estimates of the LGBT population in each state.
The states with the highest LGBTQ+ populations, as a percentage of the total population, are:
- District of Columbia - 9.8%
- Oregon - 5.6%
- Nevada - 5.5%
- Massachusetts - 5.4%
- California - 5.3
- Vermont - 5.2%
- Washington - 5.2%
- New York - 5.1%
- Maine - 4.9%
- New Hampshire - 4.7%
In terms of actual population numbers, California has the largest LGBTQ+ population of 1,859,000. San Francisco and Santa Rosa are considered the gayest cities in the U.S.. Seattle, Boston, and Portland finish the top five.