This is the first time since its inception 57 years ago that the NHIS has included sexual orientation in its questions. The survey documented many of the setbacks and disparities faced by individuals who identified as something other than heterosexual. The survey was considered a victory by members of the LGBT community and an important step for understanding health needs. But the results didn’t paint a rosy picture.
Less than 4 percent of the U.S. population identifies as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, a surprisingly small number given the outsized influence they have had on the nation’s cultural and legal landscape.
Based on 2013 data collected by the government in The National Health Interview Survey, 1.6 percent of adults identify as gay or lesbian and 0.7 percent identify as bisexual. The numbers were lower than earlier approximations, which placed gay and lesbians at closer to 3 percent of the population. More than 96 percent identified as straight, and 1.1 percent did not provide an answer or said they were “something else,” or “I don’t know the answer.”