Think of Gays and Lesbians as Gender Neutral? Think Again

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50% of females are homeowners vs. 45% of males; 11% of males are condo owners vs. 5% of females; 68% of females feel the right to civil unions extremely important, 59% of males do; 48% of females feel the right to serve in the military extremely important, 43% of males do; 12% of males read political blogs regularly, 9% of females do. The statistics quoted are from the 2006/2007 Gay/Lesbian Consumer Online Census, an annual online survey that collects responses from thousands of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) people. The GL Census, a joint venture between OpusComm Group and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

He's a magazine guy; she's into books. He goes to the theater and opera; she's more interested in sports and festivals. He's a Desperate Housewives fan; she would rather watch CSI.

Sound like they have nothing in common? Ah, but they do. They're both gay.

The statistics quoted are from the 2006/2007 Gay/Lesbian Consumer Online Census, an annual online survey that collects responses from thousands of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) people. On the surface, those quick portraits may look a bit stereotypical, but - in reality - they're anything but. The census deals with a significant percentage of the general population that - through courage or simply trial and error ¬- has come to terms with its sexual orientation and identity, even thought that revelation positions it outside of what society considers the norm.

The GL Census, a joint venture between OpusComm Group and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, runs through Nov. 11. For the seventh year, it asks GLBT people to "Stand Up and Be Counted" and logon to http://www.glcensus.org. It is the largest survey of the gay community, its consumer behavior and the oldest consecutive one. It poses questions from demographics, to politics, to what television shows respondents watch and what products they buy. Last year, 6,000 GLBT people participated in the survey.

Why is it important?

"Many subgroups of our population are studied," said Adrea Jaehnig, director of Syracuse University's LGBT Center, who believes it's "important work being done so that LGBT people can be visible to the business world. There's concern that the perception that the LGBT community is made up of white men with high incomes … that doesn't represent the reality of our lives."

Just as there is diversity among the heterosexual community, there is diversity among the GLBT community. The results of the GL Census showed respondents were single, coupled, grandparents, widowed. They lived in cities, in rural areas and in suburbs.

"The need to educate advertisers on diversity is an ongoing goal," said Jeffrey Garber, president of OpusComm Group Inc., "no different than advertisers' efforts to strive to understand that consumers come in all shapes and sizes and their consumer wallets reflect this axiom."

For GLBT couples, there is the added challenge that comes with loving someone and possibly creating a family, which has few - if any - legal rights.

"Maintaining a relationship in today's society is very challenging," said Jaehnig. "And members of the LGBT community lack, in support, what the heterosexual population has available to them - financially and legally."

Same-sex marriage and legal rights for their families was a concern among the 2006 respondents, particularly women, who were more likely to have children under 18 living at home. The movement for marriage, Jaehnig explained, is more for legal recognition of partners and protections for families.

It's a matter of "detangling" marriage from a religious institution to a legal one, she said. "Marriage is a legal contract LGBT people want to protect their families, their partners in the case of death, health issues, and for legal issues dealing with children."

The results of the 2006 /2007 GL Census support that: When it comes to religious recognition of same-sex partnerships, 48.2% of men and 35.2% of women said it was not important. Asked if it was extremely important: 17.9% of men and 26.1% of women said yes.

Here is a sampling of some of the results from the 2006 GL Census:

Politics

  •      98.2% of respondents were registered voters. Their political interests: Gay men were very much interested in political blogs and HIV/AIDS issues; women showed more interest in increased gay representation in government, recognition of civil unions and same-sex marriages for tax, estate and insurance purposes, and equal rights for both parents. (According to the U.S. Census Bureau's statistics following the 2004 presidential election, 72% of Americans were registered to vote, and citizens age 65 and older had the highest registration rate at 79%.)

Living

  •      Women tend to live in suburbs, villages and rural areas; men tended to live in cities.

Being out

  •      GLBT people were more likely to be out to friends than family, but less likely to be out at work than to family. The concern about being out at work is obvious, said Jaehnig, because it is there that GLBT people can potentially be discriminated against.

Advertising

  •      When GLBT people know a company is gay-friendly, they are more likely to buy goods and services from them. They like the idea of gay themes in advertising, and more likely to notice ads that appear in gay-oriented media than mainstream media.

GLBT people are not predictable, and the GL Census was the first to compile that information.

That's why the census is so important - why thousands of GLBT people take the time to answer the 40-minute long survey, year after year. And it follows that people listening to their hearts would carry that thread through to other loves - be they softball or opera.

What happens when men aren't interested in gaining the attention of women, and when women feel they don't have to impress a man? Maybe the answer is that they can just be themselves.

**See full highlights of the 2006 GL Census report with demographics, media and consumer behavior at http://www.glcensus.org/ads_2007/GLCensus2007Dem.pdf

Survey conducted: The NEW survey to be conducted online from October 4, through midnight November 11 of 2007 on http://www.glcensus.org?
Survey methodology: Please see our methodology statement at our web site at http://www.glcensus.com/downloads/Why_Online_Surveys.htm

For further information and to review a full summary of the "Gay/Lesbian Consumer Online Census", contact Jeffrey Garber, president of OpusComm Group at jeff@opuscommgroup.com (315) 637-2018 or visit http://www.glcensus.org.

Important Notice: All Information is to be Accredited to:

G/L Census Partner (http://www.glcensus.org) Study - A Syracuse University and OpusComm Group research partnership

About OpusComm Group ?OpusComm Group Inc., the founder of the annual Gay/Lesbian Consumer Online Census, is led by co-principals, Jeffrey Garber and Daniel Fedrizzi, who have been providing effective marketing, public relations and advertising to Fortune 1000 marketers for almost 20 years. As one of the world's leading researchers in gay/lesbian consumerism, OpusComm provides consulting services and market plan development for businesses seeking to target the gay/lesbian community in the mainstream media. For more information, please log on to http://www.opuscommgroup.com.

About the Gay/Lesbian Consumer Online Study The Gay/Lesbian Consumer Online Study (GLCensus) is conducted annually via a partnership between OpusComm Group, Inc. and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University (http://www.syracuse.edu) -. Professor Amy Falkner is the lead researcher on the project. The GLCensus Study is the largest and most comprehensive gay/lesbian consumer and media study and the only one sponsored by a major university. It addresses many consumer categories including demographics, purchasing behaviors, lifestyles and media usage. For more information, please log on to http://www.glcensus.org.

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JEFF GARBER

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