|Abstract:||Data from the 2008 General Social Survey (GSS) indicate that nearly 9% of adults either identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual or report having had same‐sex sexual experiences as an adult. Although 90% of LGB people are out about
their identity to other people, only 25% report being out to all of their coworkers in the workplace. The data show that bisexuals differ in several ways from those who identify as gay or lesbian, including being much less likely to be out or have a high school diploma and being much more likely to be women and/or racial or ethnic minorities.
Surveys that ask questions about sexual orientation and behavior are rare. Among the few surveys that ask these questions, few are representative of the US population. Even rarer is information about the coming out process from such surveys. As a result, little is known about how and if thinking of oneself as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, or experiencing same‐sex sexual behaviors and telling others about one’s sexual orientation or behavior varies by sex, age, race/ethnicity, and educational attainment.
The General Social Survey (GSS), conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, has monitored social and demographic changes in the United States since 1972. The 2008 GSS marks the first time that survey participants were asked about their sexual orientation (prior surveys had only asked about same‐sex sexual behavior). The 2008 survey also includes a module of questions (added with the financial support of the Williams Institute) directed at sexual minorities that ask about the experience of coming out, relationship status and family structure, workplace and housing discrimination, and health insurance coverage.
This report marks the first in a series that will focus on the topics described above. These analyses focus on the coming out experiences and the demographic characteristics of sexual minorities who identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual or report same‐sex sexual behavior.