Poorer blacks and Asians are more likely to be gay than wealthier whites, a controversial study claimed yesterday.
A Gallup survey – said to be the largest of its kind ever undertaken in America – estimated that 3.4 per cent of US adults saw themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).
That figure consisted of 4.6 per cent of African-Americans, 4.3 per cent of Asians, 4 per cent of Hispanics – but only 3.2 per cent of whites.
In contrast to earlier, smaller studies, researchers also found that Americans with the lowest levels of education were most likely to say they were gay.
A similar pattern was found in wealth, with more than 5 per cent of those with annual incomes of under £15,000 identified as gay compared with 2.8 per cent earning more than £37,000 a year.
And while 21 per cent of American adults earn more than £56,000 a year, only 16 per cent of gay people claimed to earn that much.
The survey – based on interviews with more than 121,000 people – contradicts the perception that lesbians and gays are mostly white, urban and affluent, said lead author Gary Gates.
‘Contemporary media often think of LGBT people as disproportionately white, male, urban and pretty wealthy,’ said Mr Gates of the University of California, Los Angeles. ‘But this data reveals that relative to the general population, the LGBT population has a larger proportion of non-white people and clearly is not overly wealthy.’
The survey revealed a slight gender difference – 3.6 per cent of women identified themselves as lesbian or gay, compared with 3.3 per cent of men.This discrepancy was particularly marked among younger adults, aged 18 to 29, where 8.3 per cent of women said they were LGBT compared with only 4.6 per cent of men.
The survey noted that it could not account for those not admitting their sexual preference.
Very little research has been done into which races are more likely to be homosexual. Estimates of the proportion of the population who are lesbian or gay range from 2 per cent to 10 per cent, although recent US surveys have put it at around 4 per cent.
In 2010, a survey by the Office for National Statistics concluded that 1.5 per cent of Britons identified themselves as gay or bisexual, although a 2008 poll put the proportion at 6 per cent.