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US bisexual population at record high thanks to women of colour

Reiss Smith April 25, 2019
A black woman holding a rainbow flag next to a white woman wearing rainbow braces

Queer women at the Columbus Pride Festival. (Scott Olson/Getty)

More people than ever before have identified as bisexual in a major US survey, a trend which analysts have said is driven by women of colour.

New data from the biannual General Social Survey (GSS) found that over 3 percent of Americans identified as bisexual in 2018, compared to about 1 percent in 2008.

This would mean that there is a population of almost 10 million bisexual people across the US.

Analysts found that the increase is led by women, 6 percent of whom labelled themselves as bisexual.

Sociologists D’Lane Compton and Tristan Bridges have said that the increase can be attributed more specifically to women of colour.

They wrote in an April 12 blog post: “As Tristan and Mignon Moore showed in 2016, young black women account for a disproportionate amount of the growth in LGB identification.”

Almost 7 percent of black people identified as bisexual in the survey, as did about 4 percent of people listed as “other race.”

No increase in US numbers of lesbians and gay or bisexual men

Compton and Bridges found that in comparison, the amount of men identifying as bisexual has barely changed over the past decade.

The number of people identifying as gay or lesbian has also remained stagnant, and has in fact decreased slightly since 2016 when the survey was last taken.

“Young black women account for a disproportionate amount of the growth in LGB identification.”

—D’Lane Compton and Tristan Bridges

For the survey, people were asked to label themselves as “heterosexual or straight,” “gay, lesbian, homosexual,” “bisexual,” or “don’t know.”

The research, from NORC (National Opinion Research Center) at the University fo Chicago, is not the first to suggest a rise in bisexuality.

Compton and Bridges referred to a Gallup survey published in May 2018, which found that “much of the change in LGBT identification between 2012 and 2016 could be accounted for by young people, women, college-educated people, people of colour, and those who are not religious.”

In January the UK’s Office for National Statistics revealed that 2 percent of people in Britain are LGB, with more women identifying as bisexual than men.

More: bisexual, black women, US, Women of Colour

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