Exploring the Q in LGBTQ: Demographic characteristic and sexuality of queer people in a U.S. representative sample of sexual minorities

Shoshana K. Goldberg, Esther D. Rothblum, Stephen T. Russell, Ilan H. Meyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Although queer identity has been used among sexual minorities for decades, little is known about the population of queer-identified people in the United States. We compared people who identify as queer (unweighted n = 88; 5.8% weighted) with those who identify as lesbian/gay (n = 833; 46.9%), bisexual (n = 493; 40.6%), or other sexual minority identities (n = 93; 6.7%), to describe queer-identified people as a distinct sexual minority group. The study is the first to estimate demographic characteristics and sexuality of queer-identified people using a U.S. nationally representative sample. We found that queer people are overwhelmingly cisgender women and genderqueer/nonbinary (GQNB), younger, and more highly educated than other groups. After stratifying by gender identity (cisgender women; cisgender men; GQNB), survey-weighted descriptive differences in attraction, sexual partnering, and relationship patterns show that queer individuals are more likely to report attraction to, and sexual relationships with, transgender and GQNB people, though differences by respondent gender identity were noted: The majority of queer women are attracted to and partnered with both women and men, and were more likely than other groups to be attracted to and partnered with cisgender and transgender people. In contrast, queer men are split in their attractions-about half were attracted exclusively to men, and half to men and women-but the majority partnered with men only. Of all groups, queer men are the most likely to partner with transgender men, but none had partnered with transgender women. GQNB people are more likely than cisgender people to identify as queer (25.9%, versus 6% of cisgender women and 1.5% of cisgender men), and are attracted to both cisgender and transgender women and men, yet predominantly partnered with cisgender people. The results provide support for queer as a distinct sexual identity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-112
Number of pages12
JournalPsychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2020


  • Gender and sexuality
  • Generations study
  • Queer identity
  • Sexual identity self-identification
  • Sexual orientation measurement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • General Psychology


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