An Incredible Number of People Came out on Facebook This Year

October 19th 2015

Laura Donovan

To celebrate National Coming Out Day and Spirit Day, Facebook released new data on its LGBT users and social presence. The new Facebook research report found that roughly 800,000 users came out "to express a same-gender attraction or custom gender" in 2015.

This is a huge increase for the number of people coming out on the social media platform.

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According to the data, more than 6 million Americans have come out on Facebook, but Facebook suspects this number is actually "an underestimate of the total number of 'out' Americans" since the company only factors in "those who have expressed a same-gender attraction or list a custom gender on their Facebook profiles." Nearly 80 percent of those who are out on Facebook have come out within the past three and a half years.

"Further, not only has the total number of Americans who have come out on Facebook risen dramatically, but so has the number coming out each day," Facebook's report reads. "As the chart demonstrates, the number of people on Facebook coming out per day is on track to be three times what it was a year ago."

Facebook also shared a graph that shows a large increase in the number of people who have come out on Facebook. This increase comes more than a year and a half after Facebook introduced a custom gender tool so users could better express themselves on the platform. As noted in the research report, the most obvious spike came after the June U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage in all 50 states:

Facebook research on LGBT data

Here's what Facebook found:

"On a typical day, one out of every ten people who change their “interested in” status on Facebook do so to reflect a same-gender interest. On the day of the Supreme Court ruling, this ratio was double, one out of every five people. Additionally, in the days following the June 26 Supreme Court decision, we saw more than 26 million people display a rainbow filter on their profile picture."

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"While this figure may be somewhat conflated by growth in the number of people on Facebook, the sheer magnitude of this increase suggests that the LGBT movement has made significant strides in recent years," the report states.

This fits with Facebook's hard numbers as well. Roughly 5.7 million Americans "like" one of the top 300 LGBT Facebook pages, including big gay rights organizations such as Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, and Equality Now, among others. The research also reveals that LGBT fan pages grew significantly in popularity following the Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage everywhere in the U.S. during June.

Facebook research on LGBT data

After the historic Supreme Court ruling over the summer, more than 26 million Facebook users participated in the social media platform's "celebrate pride" picture editing tool that puts a rainbow on a user's profile image.

Facebook profile pictures celebrating marriage equality

"Celebrate pride" wasn't the first highly-publicized LGBT rights trend to hit Facebook. In 2013, Human Rights Campaign inspired millions of Americans to use the organization's logo as their profile pictures in spirit of two Supreme Court decisions on marriage equality cases. A research paper on the campaign found that users were more likely to use the logo for their profile pictures if many of their friends had done so.

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