Even as an overwhelming number of America's LGBT adults say society has become more accepting, members of the LGBT community are less happy with their lives than the general public, according to a new Pew survey released today.
Additionally, LGBT adults were split on the best way for the LGBT community to pursue equality. Half of the survey respondents said LGBT people could best achieve equality by becoming a part of mainstream culture and institutions. An equal percentage said LGBT people should be able to achieve equality while maintaining a distinct culture and way of life.
Pew's survey, which draws from the responses of 1,197 self-identifying LGBT individuals, may be one of the first comprehensive studies of the attitudes, values and experiences of LGBT Americans. It covers an impressive range of topics, including social acceptance, internet use, and religious beliefs. The research group also compiled the coming out stories of about 300 individuals in a pretty nifty interactive.
That thoroughness is why Pew's report happens to be 158 pages long. To spare you some reading, I've picked out a few of the survey's more important and intriguing findings:
- 92 percent of American LGBT adults say society has become more accepting in the past decade, with an equal number predicting society will be more accepting in the decade to come.
- 83 percent of LGBT adults described themselves as happy, compared to 87 percent of the general public. Additionally, only 18 percent of LGBT individuals said they were "very happy" compared to 30 percent of the public at large.
- Survey respondents were more likely to have come out to their mother than their father. 56 percent had mentioned their sexual orientation with mom, compared to 39 percent discussing it with dad.
- Gay men were more likely to come out at younger ages (the median age was 18) than lesbians (21) or bisexual individuals (20).
- 39 percent of those surveyed says they were rejected by a friend or family due to their sexual orientation or gender identity, while 30 percent say they've been threatened or physically attacked
- 39 percent of LGBT adults said same-sex marriage has drawn too much attention away from other issues important to the LGBT community
- Bisexual individuals were far less likely to say that most of the important people in their life were aware of their sexual orientation, with only 28 percent saying this compared to 71 percent of lesbians and 77 percent of gay men.
- The survey found lesbians to be more likely than gay men to be in committed relationships (66 percent compared to 40 percent), and bisexual women more likely than bisexual men (68 percent compared to 40 percent).