In an attempt to encourage more research into the health and well-being of gay people, a California demographer has estimated that more than 9 million Americans are gay or bisexual, a number equivalent to the population of New Jersey.
Gary Gates, who studies the demographics of the gay community for the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, said in a report released Thursday that about 3.5 percent of Americans identify themselves in surveys as being gay or bisexual.
But those who said they have had same-sex encounters are almost evenly divided between gay people and bisexuals, leaving just 1.7 percent who say they are gay. The percentage more than doubles, however, if it includes people who say they have engaged in same-sex sexual behavior at some point.
Gates arrived at the estimates by averaging the results of five surveys conducted in the United States between 2004 and 2009. In the survey results, the range of people who say they are gay or bisexual varied widely, from a low of 1.7 percent to a high of 5.6 percent. In contrast, studies conducted in other countries have made much smaller estimates — as low as 1.2 percent in a 2010 survey in Norway.