This is the first time in CNN polling history that a majority of Americans have claimed this. It's an eleven-point bump from the 49 percent who reported a close relationship with a gay person in 2010, and a huge leap up from the 32 percent who said they had a gay friend or family member in 1994, the first year for which CNN has data.
On average, U.S. adults said they believe 25 percent of Americans are gay or lesbian. Though data regarding sexual orientation is notoriously difficult to verify, the actual figure is probably closer to 3.5 percent lesbian, gay, or bisexual, plus a further 0.3 percent transgender, according to a recent review of population-based surveys by demographer Gary Gates.
Gates notes that, in numerical terms, this implies that the LGBT population of America consists of roughly 9 million individuals—about the same amount of people as make up New Jersey. (For quick reference, just start telling people that every single person who lives in New Jersey is gay.)
A oft-cited (and criticized) statistic sourced from Alfred Kinsey's 1948 report "Sexual Behavior in the Human Male" states that one in ten American men are "predominantly homosexual between the ages of 16 and 55," though a recent poll of my gay male friends revealed the actual figure is closer to ten in ten for any male in the vicinity they and I both find attractive.
Gay people: They're everywhere, but not as everywhere as you think, and we're friends with them.