Commentary

More LGBT People Coming Out On Facebook

The number of people who are coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) on Facebook has increased threefold over the last year, according to a new study conducted by the social network. The findings were published in a blog post this week in honor of “National Coming Out Day” on October 11.

For the purposes of the study, Facebook researchers Bogdon State and Nils Wernerfelt defined “coming out” as meaning a user either updated their profile to express same-gender attraction, or used Facebook’s custom gender tool, introduced in February 2014, to express a new gender identity.

According to the researchers, around 800,000 American Facebook users came out on the social platform over the last year, bringing the total number of U.S. Facebook users identifying as LGBT to around six million. Meanwhile, the number of users coming out every day has increased by around 220% since October 11, 2014, the date when the study began.

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Unsurprisingly, the researchers observed a major spike in the number of people coming out every day around the historic Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges on June 26, when the volume was more than 250% greater than the study start date. On a normal day, roughly one out of ten Facebook users who change the “interested in” part of their profile do so to express same-sex attraction, but in the days after the Supreme Court decision that increased to one out of five.

In the days surrounding the decision Facebook also saw over 26 million adopt the rainbow-colored overlay to show support for marriage equality (which many users have left in place). Additionally, 5.7 million Americans are fans of one of the roughly 300 LGBT pages on the network. The number of LGBT pages, including for interest groups and advocacy organizations, also increased sharply around the Supreme Court decision.

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