Dr. James Emery White Christian Blog and Commentary

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The Real Reason for the Rise

A new Gallup poll has found that the number of adults self-identifying as LGBTQ has increased from 5.6% of the adult American population when measured in 2020 to 7.1% today. That’s almost double the percentage since Gallup began measuring people who self-identify as something other than heterosexual in 2012.

Not surprisingly, this rise is being driven by Generation Z, of which one in five (21%) self-identify as LGBTQ. Also unsurprising is that the vast majority of those consider themselves bisexual. As the chart below illustrates, the percentage goes down with each preceding generation.

As I wrote in my book Meet Generation Z, this is a generation marked by sexual fluidity. The rise in the number who embrace something other than a purely heterosexual identity is less a shift in actual sexual orientation as it is a new openness to all things sexual. Again, the vast majority would claim to be bisexual, not purely homosexual.

Why is this happening?

Culture is best identified as both the world into which we are born, and the world that is born in us. Those who are a part of Generation Z who have now entered adulthood – which Gallup considers as those who were born between 1997 and 2003 – would have been between 12 and 18 years of age when the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in 2015 and former Olympian turned reality TV star Bruce Jenner very publicly became Caitlyn Jenner. 

As a result of this kind of cultural context, Generation Z has become sexually and relationally amorphous. It is doubtful that 21% are truly bisexual. What they are is truly open. There is a difference. For many, to say you are bisexual – even though you may have never engaged in homoerotic behavior – is the ideologically correct thing to say. Sexual fluidity is the refusal of either the homosexual or heterosexual label, even the male or female label. The idea is that all labels are repressive. Sexuality should be set free of any and all restrictions and allowed to follow its desire, moment by moment, relationship by relationship, feeling by feeling.  

As more and more members of Generation Z enter adulthood, expect the percentages of those self-identifying as something other than heterosexual to climb even higher, and again fueled by increasing numbers of even younger members of Generation Z entering adulthood. But don’t read into such findings that our growing cultural tolerance is finally allowing the true size of the LGBTQ community to come into focus. Instead, read into the results of the Gallup poll and others like it to come that our post-Christian world and its individualistic amoral embrace of all sexual choices,

… has given birth to its first generation.

James Emery White


Jeffrey M. Jones, “LGBT Identification in U.S. Ticks Up to 7.1%,” Gallup, February 17, 2022, read online.

James Emery White, Meet Generation Z (Baker).

About the Author

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunct professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His latest book After “I Believe” is now available on Amazon or your favorite bookseller. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @JamesEmeryWhite.

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