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OU Study Explores Rainbow Wave and Identity Gaps in LGBTQ

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June 24, 2019

OU Study Explores ‘Rainbow Wave’ and Identity Gaps in LGBTQ Liberal Political Perspectives

Meredith Worthen

Norman—A University of Oklahoma study explores the so-called ‘rainbow wave’ of LGBTQ voters that emerged during the Trump presidency. Specifically, the study examines sexual, gender and queer identity gaps in liberalism among a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults collected by Survey Sampling International after the November 2018 polls. The OU study works toward a deeper understanding of the political motivations of LGBTQ people.

“Within the LGBTQ community, political perspectives among many groups are underexplored. The phrase ‘rainbow wave’ itself is a broad sweeping term for LGBTQ people’s voting patterns yet few have taken the time to critically consider the accuracy of this phrase,” said Meredith Worthen, professor, Department of Sociology, OU College of Arts and Sciences. “This study goes beyond the few studies that focus only on heterosexual vs. LGB (lesbian, gay and bisexual) people to include the sexual identity gaps in political perspectives of other sexual groups (pansexual vs. gay/lesbian; asexual vs. bisexual.)”

Worthen highlights the importance of considering the unique experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, transgender, non-binary and queer individuals and their political perspectives.

Findings demonstrate tensions between trans individuals and liberalism, while confirming lesbian/gay liberalism, and illuminating three additional groups of liberals: pansexual, non-binary, and queer individuals. These patterns support ‘luminous lavender liberalism’ among the political perspectives of LGBTQ people.

 “A Rainbow Wave? LGBTQ Liberal Political Perspectives During Trump’s Presidency: an Exploration of Sexual, Gender, and Queer Identity Gaps,” was published in the Springer Nature journal, Sexuality Research and Social Policy at Funding for the SSI dataset for this study was provided by the University of Oklahoma Office of the Vice President for Research through its Faculty Investment Program. For more information about this study, contact Professor Worthen at or visit