We Don't Know As Many Gay People As Our Parents, But The Reason Is Surprisingly Good

by Candice Jalili

If you're reading this article, I'm going to go ahead and bet you're a millennial.

ZOMG, was I right?! OK, OK, OK. I'm gonna take another ~lucky~ guess.

I bet you have a gay or lesbian friend. And even if you don't have a gay or lesbian friend, you, at the very least, KNOW someone who's gay or a lesbian.

Was I right AGAIN?! Wow, I'm on a roll here.

I mean, as millennials, we tend to think of ourselves as one of the most accepting, tolerant generations to date when it comes to our gay and lesbian peers.

But GLAAD's 2017 Accelerating Acceptance report found something pretty interesting: We are way less likely than any generation before us to actually know someone who identifies as gay or lesbian.

Before you go smashing your computer across the wall and calling this fake news, let me explain. The reason we know fewer gay and lesbian people is actually a really good one.

The report found that 20 percent of millennials are not straight, but that doesn't necessarily mean they automatically identify as gay or as a lesbian.

So where do we fall on the spectrum of sexuality?

According to GLAAD, we are the most sexually fluid generation to date.

Ch-ch-check it out for yourself here:


Did you see that?! People in the 18-34 year old age group (read: us) were way less likely to be strictly heterosexual. However, that didn't necessarily mean the age group defaulted to identifying as strictly gay or lesbian.

No, instead, millennials fell all over the spectrum, from bisexual (6 percent) to asexual (4 percent) to pansexual (2 percent) to unsure (1 percent).

What about gender identities?


The GLAAD report also found we're the most gender-fluid generation to date. A whole 12 percent of millennials identify as something other than cisgender (identifying as the sex assigned to you at birth), which is significantly higher than any other generation.

Why do millennials know fewer gay people than their parents did?

So YES, as the chart below shows, millennials know fewer strictly gay or lesbian individuals than our parents and grandparents did.


But that's only because we know so many other individuals who are more fluid in their identities, beyond being strictly gay or lesbian (more so than any other older age range).

As a generation, we are much more aware of and comfortable with all sorts of different sexual orientations and gender identities.

Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President and CEO, told Refinery29,

This report shows a remarkable new era of understanding and acceptance among young people – an inspiring indication of the future. Though laws can be unwritten, hearts and minds in America have been changed for the better – and that is a reality less easily unraveled.

So pat yourself on the back — you're one accepting mofo.

Citations: Millennials Are Apparently The Most Gender & Sexually Fluid Generation Ever (Refinery29), Accelerating Acceptance 2017 (GLAAD)