Bisexuality on the rise

Statistics from the USA suggest more and more people are identifying as bisexual – while the numbers for lesbians and gay men remain fairly constant.

Analysis of the US’ GSS statistics (roughly equivalent to ONS household survey data here) over the past ten years shows the number of people identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual growing across the decade, with the growth overall in the “B”.

In 2008 1.1% identified as bi while 1.6% as gay or lesbian; ten years later the lesbian and gay tally is 1.7% – not a significant variation surely.  But the 1.1% of bis in 2008 had trebled to 3.3%.

While the number of people identifying as gay or lesbian has moved mildly up or down each year the numbers labelling themselves bi has grown every year across the decade.

Blogger Tristran Bridges examines the change over time here.

What’s Changed?

But the numbers mask gender variation – gay male, lesbian and bi male figures have all varied up and down from year to year and it is the numbers of bi women that has driven the growth in overall bi numbers – with an apparent step change since 2016 where the increase in the proportion of women identifying as bi grows even faster.

Likewise a breakdown by age shows the bi surge as happening among under 35s.

And by race the proportion of people identifying as bi is greater among black and other groups than among white people – though by 2018 all three groupings show higher rates of bisexuality than homosexuality.

Sample Size

However some of these figures need to be taken with a pinch of salt: the General Social Survey statistics at these levels of intersectional data come down to small sample sizes.

For example with the number of black bi people in the 2014 survey being 6 and in 2018 that being 14, the big growth rate could reflect just a very few individual experiences of what words are socially acceptable labels.