GLBT People: Many Lives to Live Highlights of the Largest Annual Gay/Lesbian Study

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That’s the goal of the Gay/Lesbian Consumer Online Census, an annual online survey that collects responses from gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people. The survey, now in its fifth year, is a joint venture between OpusComm Group and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. Last year the survey had approximately 8,000 respondents. This year’s version of the survey runs from July 11 to Aug. 22 and invites all GLBTs to log onto http://www.glcensus.org to “Stand Up And Be Counted” in the largest annual study of the gay community and their consumer behavior.

One lifestyle to live? The lifestyle of the party? Those phrases don’t have much of a ring to them. So it’s understandable why gay people chuckle over the saying: Why is it that straight people have lives, and we have lifestyles?

What straight Americans and corporate America need is some information about those lives.

That’s the goal of the Gay/Lesbian Consumer Online Census, an annual online survey that collects responses from gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people. The survey, now in its fifth year, is a joint venture between OpusComm Group and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. Last year the survey had approximately 8,000 respondents. This year’s version of the survey runs from July 11 to Aug. 22 and invites all GLBTs to log onto http://www.glcensus.org to “Stand Up And Be Counted” in the largest annual study of the gay community and their consumer behavior.

Survey responses help paint a clearer picture of GLBT people — their relationships, their families, their politics and their consumer and media habits.

“Information of this kind can go a long way in helping straight America understand the issues of GLBT people,” said Jeffrey Garber, president of OpusComm Group. “And it helps businesses target the GLBT consumer.”

The visibility marketing affords is crucial in fostering more understanding between gay Americans and straight Americans, said Amy Falkner of Syracuse University and lead researcher for the survey.

“When businesses find out what GLBT people look for in their purchases, and feel comfortable about publicly portraying gay people in their advertisements, it puts a face on a segment of the population that is underrepresented and not always understood,” Falkner said. “Our survey is long — it takes nearly 45 minutes to complete, so we know that our respondents are dedicated to this cause. They have told us so. ”

Hundreds of the e-mails received by G/L Census last year from respondents had to do with praise, thanks and encouragement to continue to survey the consumer behaviors of the GLBT community.

Here are just a few of the comments:

•“Thank you for giving me and my partner a space to voice our opinions and shopping habits. Today, it feels like I’ve done something that might help us and our case/cause. In turn, I’ve done something to help myself. Thanks!”

•“Great Survey, glad SOMEONE is taking the time to ask how WE feel!!”

•“I think this census is awesome! I find the information quite relevant to the GLBT community. Thank you so much for remembering to count our opinions in your research!”

•“Thanks for a questionnaire that asked specific questions for GLBT folks just like us! What a neat feeling! Thanks for tallying and listening.”

•“Thanks for taking the time to investigate our habits. This is a great way to get the attention of businesses.”

•“I do believe in the power of the dollar, and I believe this information is step in convincing the world we are force to be recognized.”

The G/L Census is the largest and most comprehensive gay and lesbian consumer and media study. And G/L Census Partners has been the most successful group at finding and engaging the GLBT community. In the first year of the survey, 6,351 GLBT people answered the inaugural call to "Stand Up and Be Counted," making it the largest independent study of its kind. The G/L Census is available exclusively through Scarborough Research.

Each year G/L Census Partners receives over 1,000 comments about the survey from participants. These comments stay anonymous; they are not affiliated with the respondent's e-mail address. E-mail addresses are stripped from the collected data before it reaches the research team. G/L Census Partners does not sell the list or publish it in any way. It asks people for their e-mail address only if they wish to see a topline summary of the survey results in the fall. This is unusual, but Garber and Falkner think it's very important respondents get this kind of feedback, especially since they've taken the time to participate.

Highlights of the 2004-2005 "Gay/Lesbian Consumer Online Census" (from GLBT demographics, consumer behavior to media including television habits) can be found at the link below:

http://www.glcensus.org/press/2005-06-30.html

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Jeff Garber
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