About 5.6% of American adults place themselves under the LGBTQ umbrella—a record number, per the latest Gallup poll. That's up one full percentage point from the last Gallup survey on the topic using 2017 data, which saw 4.5% of adult Americans identifying as LGBTQ. The poll, which conducted 15,000-plus telephone interviews with Americans over the age of 18 throughout 2020, found that of those who said they were LGBTQ, nearly 55% considered themselves to be bisexual, 25% said they were gay, 12% or so identified as lesbian, and just over 11% said they were transgender. A 3.3% demographic used other non-hetero terms to self-identify, such as "queer" or "same-gender-loving." Per the Gallup survey, 1 in 6, or 15.9%, of adults in Generation Z (those ages 18 to 23 in 2020) said they're LGBTQ. That numbers drops significantly in older generations: For respondents born before 1965, for example, only 2% or less identified as LGBTQ.
It's "generational shifts in awareness and acceptance" pushing those numbers upward, says Ineke Mushovic, executive director of the Movement Advancement Project nonprofit. "The younger generations haven’t experienced this level of fear where often being in the closet felt less like a choice and more like a survival mechanism," Mushovic tells USA Today, recalling tearful conversations she's had with older members of the LGBTQ community who had a much more difficult time coming out in years past. Gallup editor Jeffrey Jones tells NBC News that it may even be easier for younger people to speak openly in LGBTQ polls themselves than it is for older people who still feel the topic is "taboo." A National LGBTQ Task Force rep tells USA Today that representation in politics, the media, and elsewhere has also helped. However, a long path ahead remains: Even with President Biden on board to fight for the LGBTQ community, advocates note there's still much discrimination to combat. (Read more LGBTQ stories.)