The problem in measuring the actual % of gays is the definition is not
exact as many would like to think.
There are many men who engage in homosexual activity, but would never
call themsevles gay, even if it's the only type of sex they have. The
reason is they don't see themselves as part of gay culture. Which is a
defining element of being considered "gay."
So ask the question "are you gay" and you will get a sizable # of men
who are homosexual but do not consider themsevles gay who will answer
Gay and homosexual are not exact synonyms. Gay is a culture created
and sustained by homosexual men. Homosexual specifically and only
applies to the sexula orientation and does not define a man as being
part of gay culture.
Another problem is the many men who are bisexual.
Depending on the political agenda of the person or organization you
ask will determine how much of this "bisexual" component will be
merged with "gay."
Those with a pro-gay agenda will say it's about 10% by including a lot
of men who are not completely homosexual, and do not live the gay
lifestyle. Anti-gay agendists will claim it's as low as 1%. They seem
to focus only on the out and loud gay identified homosexuals.
In reality they are both kind of right depending on the definition.
10% would probably reflect the amount of bisexuals who are primarily
homosexual and only have sex with a woman on rare occasions. For the
general population that would be a homosexual too. The confusing part
is very few of the bisexuals live in or participate in gay culture.
The 1% is probably a good reflection of the # of gays who live in gay
dominated urban parts of our largest cities. These men are very active
and define gay culture. For the public at large they are what is
thought of when someone says "gay."
What's the truth? Well, it's probably somewhere in the middle, and
depends on how strictly you define "gay."
In reality the 10% is probably too high. Any minority population in
this nation like blacks or hispanics that each make up about 10% of
the population are widespread, and almost everywhere there is a city
of 50,000 or more. In many places they are the majority population.
For example in the South there are many locals where blacks are
greater than 50%. In the SouthWest there are areas where Hispanics
make up more than 50%. There is NO PLACE in this nation where out and
visible gays come close to making up 50% of the population save for a
few gay neighborhoods nestled and secluded in our very largest,
perhaps only the top 10, urban areas. Outside those mega-cities, an
identifiable, focused "gay presence" almost completely disappears
except for a low key bar or two. Even adding in the broader population
of "homosexuals not identified with gay culture" doesn't significantly
alter the visibility outside the larger urban areas.
Of course one might say that gays have all migrated to the large
cities. Well if they have, and they make up 10% of the population
about 6-7% are doing a fantastic job of hiding and making tremendous
efforts to successfully be identified as heterosexuals based on
demographic data of large cities. An example of the low numbers is SF,
where 20% of the adult male population is considered gay. When broken
down it's not a large #, somewhat less than 100,000 in a city of
800,000+ That's only 1 in 8 or 12% of the population at best.
So when considering all "visible" signs of significant gay population.
The lower #s are probably more accurate than the higher numbers. 3-5%
are actively homosexual and about 1% live in gay cultural centers.
That's about as accurate as a person can get when trying to deliniate
a subjective term like "gay."