Seven out of ten US heterosexuals today know someone gay

October 11, 2006

ROCHESTER, NY — Seven out of ten (70%) heterosexual adults in the United States say that they know someone who is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (GLBT). More than half of those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (54%) say that concern about being the victim of a hate crime would be a reason for a person to not come out. Other concerns that GLBT adults cite about why a person might not come out include rejection by their families (39%), rejection by their friends (32%) and losing their jobs (27%).

These are some of the highlights of a nationwide online survey of 2,932 U.S. adults (ages 18 and over) of whom 2,548 indicated they are heterosexual and 324 self-identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (this includes an over-sample of gays and lesbians). The survey was conducted between September 7 and 14, 2006, by Harris Interactive´┐Ż, a worldwide market research and consulting firm, in conjunction with Witeck-Combs Communications, Inc., a strategic public relations and marketing communications firm with special expertise in the GLBT market.

Fully 83 percent of those who self-identify as gay or lesbian consider themselves out. In general, when all GLBT respondents were asked if they considered themselves open about their sexual orientation, large majorities of them said they are out to their close friends (92%) and to their parents (78%). Many gays and lesbians also indicated they are out to other relatives such as grandparents or cousins (68%), acquaintances and to casual friends (68%) and to co-workers and colleagues (66%).

"Though attitudes throughout American society toward gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people have changed tremendously over the past several decades, it's not surprising to learn that there is still a widespread concern among gays and lesbians about becoming a victim of hate if they are open about their sexual orientation," said Wes Combs, President of Witeck-Combs Communications. "But the results of this survey are encouraging about the numbers of people who choose to be open in spite of the risks."

"If seven out of 10 heterosexuals know someone who is GLBT, then many gays and lesbians are making their identity apparent as a natural part of their lives - just like their age, height, hair color or personality," said Mark Shields, director of the Human Rights Campaign's National Coming Out Project. "For most people, coming out or opening up to someone starts with a conversation. And for those interested in fostering strong, deep relationships with their friends and family, living openly often allows for closer relationships with the people they care about most."

For more information, visit www.witeckcombs.com. – Issued by Gay Link Content

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