Many numbers have been circulated and published with the answers coming mainly from census forms.
If we pay careful attention to those figures it would seem that the results are very low. Some reports have the percentage of gays and lesbians between one and two per cent. One must take into account that these numbers are according to those who were willing to be identified and do not mind admitting to their respective orientation.
One account published has bisexuality in Canada at 0.7 per cent. We will never be able to ascertain the exact figures, but we are able to decipher and perhaps conclude that they are much higher than what is reported by stats and other means.
We must remember that even with a more open society and a solid increase in those who are more than willing and indeed find it necessary to “come out,” many remain tight-lipped about their sexual orientation or true gender identity and expression. In Canada and some other western nations, folks tend to be more explicit than those in most other countries where revealing our true nature is followed by punishment, beatings and killings under the umbrella of the law.
We are a naturally inquisitive lot and wish to know what the true answers are regarding the percentage of LGBTQ people in Canada. We may also assume that the numbers are similar in most countries because sexual orientation and transgender issues are a natural human trait.
Having been involved with LGBTQ activism for over 40 years has given me the opportunity to study and meet countless folks who have opened the doors to a more positive life, as well as countless who remain silent and live in secretive existences.
Perhaps if the low numbers generally reported are viewed as incorrect, which in my estimation and many others are far too low to be realistic, then more folks would perhaps feel more comfortable in revealing their true identity. Living life in an enclosed environment can be mentally or physically challenging, and in many cases result in illness or suicidal thoughts. It’s imperative that people be allowed to be themselves and live fulfilled lives.
So when the percentages are published we must look beyond those reports to get a more accurate picture. LGBTQ citizens of Canada and elsewhere are decidedly alive and well, so a more detailed account is required and we must look well beyond the official documents such as census forms.
I have encountered hundreds of LGBTQ folks over the years who continue to live secret lives because of society’s judgments, family rejection, or peer pressure and many other negatives. It remains a serious issue, especially when these attitudes rule our lives. Census results are of assistance, but in the case of LGBTQ numbers they do not paint a canvass true in actual figures.
I am about to divulge my estimate and yes, this is also not factual but closer in truth, according to my estimation. Many others are in agreement that the percentage is about 20 per cent. That indicates that out of 35,151,728 Canadians the LGBTQ population is at approximately 7,000,000. Of course, that is an estimate, but I daresay, a close count.
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Gerard Veldhoven is a longtime activist for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. His column appears Wednesdays in The News.