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No, the SF study did NOT illustrate that half of gay marriages are “open”

Timothy Kincaid

February 10th, 2010

One of the primary purposes of Box Turtle Bulletin is analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric. And perhaps the largest component of that is to review “studies” that relay astonishing “facts” about gay people and to determine whether they have any basis in fact.

Sometimes these are efforts conducted by anti-gay activists seeking to support their presumptions, but more often it is misrepresentation of legitimate work. One such misrepresentation has been making the rounds purporting to show that gay couples reject monogamy.

For several years, Sean Beougher and Colleen Hoff of the Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality at San Francisco State University have been looking sexual agreements among gay men. This interest was generated by incidences of HIV transmission within relationships and a desire to understand how sexual agreements relate to this phenomenon.

But analysis of investment of couples into agreements and how that correlates with adherence (which impacts transmission within relationships) doesn’t make sexy headlines. So when the New York Times’ Scott James reported on this study, he decided to talk about something else entirely:

Many Successful Gay Marriages Share an Open Secret

A study to be released next month is offering a rare glimpse inside gay relationships and reveals that monogamy is not a central feature for many. Some gay men and lesbians argue that, as a result, they have stronger, longer-lasting and more honest relationships. And while that may sound counterintuitive, some experts say boundary-challenging gay relationships represent an evolution in marriage — one that might point the way for the survival of the institution.

New research at San Francisco State University reveals just how common open relationships are among gay men and lesbians in the Bay Area. The Gay Couples Study has followed 556 male couples for three years — about 50 percent of those surveyed have sex outside their relationships, with the knowledge and approval of their partners.

The sensational (but as I’ll illustrate, flatly untrue) statement that monogamy is not a central feature for many gay relationships is exciting and sure to elicit conversation. But it just wasn’t defamatory enough for those who wish to portray gay people as sex-crazed and incapable of commitment.

Conservative NewsMax reported:

Study: Gay Marriage Involves More Outside Relationships

A federally-funded study by San Francisco State University that followed 556 local male couples for three years found that half “have sex outside their relationships, with the knowledge and approval of their partners,” according to The New York Times.

On its website, the Center describes the importance in conducting the study as revolving around the fact that “gay and bisexual men in relationships engage in substantially higher rates of unprotected” homosexual activity than do “single men with their casual partners.”

A commentary on GetReligion.org took the opportunity to say

I’m not sure if the description of the study’s findings is written up as well as it could be. If 50 percent of those surveyed have sex outside their primary relationship with the knowledge and approval of their partners, that’s an utterly fascinating, and newsworthy statistic. Still, I’m curious about the remaining half. What percentage of those surveyed have sex outside of their primary relationship but don’t have the knowledge and/or the approval of their partners? It seems like a key piece of information.

Certainly there’s at least one person in the world who thinks that sex with multiple partners is not the key to a successful marriage, right? And I’m not just talking about advocates of traditional marriage vows, or advocates of spousal fidelity.

The bottom line, though, is that this study breaks news. Really interesting and important news.

And even gay sites got on board with this notion with Edge Magazine running the headline, Surprise! Lots of Gay Marriages Are ’Open’, and Dan Savage declaring Half of All Gay Couples Non-Monogamous (though Edge did note some caveats).

But those who delight in denouncing the hedonistic sex-driven homosexuals and their non-monogamous marriages share a problem with those gays who may champion the abandonment of the heteronormative demands of conformity and spearhead the evolution of marriage: this study tells us nothing whatsoever about gay marriage and little about monogamy within gay relationships as a whole.

In order for a study to report on the characteristics of a population, it must be representative of that population. If a study selects a convenience sample rather than a statistically valid sample, the non-representative demographics of the sample cannot be presented as a “finding”.

For example, if I went to Dodger Stadium, i might find a sample which was useful to tell me whether Dodger fans think Dodger Dogs taste better than garlic fries, but I could not claim that my sample proves that 80% of all baseball fans support the Dodgers. That is simply a non-representative demographic of my sample, not a finding of my study.

So to see if this study supported the claim that half of gay marriages are open (non-monogamous), I contacted the study authors and obtained previously published information that reveals the sample methodology. I do not have all of the data on which the final study is to be reported, but the sampling methodology was consistent.

Let’s look at how the sample for this study was constructed and how that differs from the population as a whole.

Definition of relationship:

To be eligible participants had to have been at least 18 years old, have been in a their current relationship for at least 3 months, have knowledge of their own and their partner’s HIV status, be fluent in English, and be residents of the San Francisco Bay Area.

All were men. Contrary to James’ breathless reporting (and the example with which he started his article) the researchers said nothing about lesbian relationships. They were excluded.

The study was conducted in several phases and the details of each is not available, but the sampling methods were consistent. The breakout for Study 2 found that only 13% of participants identified as being married (perhaps the 2004 San Francisco variety) and only a third had made any sort of public commitment.

It is ludicrous to suggest that a study which includes three month long relationships without any public commitment is informative about marriage. The average length of the relationships was 7 years (more or less) but the median length was about three years earlier (half of the relationships were less than 4 years in length), suggesting that there were a few very long relationships and many much shorter ones.

The way this study has been reported, it has been suggested that gay relationships are more likely to be open than straight relationships, but no comparison was made and I’m not aware of any study that looked at the level of fidelity in three-month-old heterosexual relationship and pretended that they were representative of straights as a whole.

As the research was not applied separately by relationship structure or length, this study says nothing about gay marriage or even domestic partnerships. And any use of the results which makes (or even implies) a comparison to straight relationships is bogus and irresponsible.

Location and social perspective of the population sampled:

It must be emphasized that gay men living in the San Francisco Bay Area are not representative of gay men as a whole. In fact, it would be difficult to identify a group of gay men less representative of the US gay population.

Significant factors in the consideration of monogamy surely must include attitudes about sexuality and whether one’s general approach is more conservative or liberal overall. Additionally, the perspectives of the community in which one lives most certainly effect the values that one adopts.

While I cannot point to a study and state with certainty that those who view themselves as “conservative” are more likely or less likely to value monogamy, I can state that selecting only participants from the SF area sharply skews the sample towards those who identify as “liberal” and significantly under-represents a sizable segment of the gay community.

The means of reaching participants:

Active and passive recruitment strategies were implemented in community settings. Field research staff reached potential participants either by handing out study postcards or placing flyers and postcards in gay-identified social venues such as bars, clubs, and cafes, as well as in community health and HIV and AIDS service organizations and by placing advertisements in gay-oriented publications, Web sites, and listserves.

Recruitment materials contained text describing the study as “one which examines important relationship dynamics associated with HIV.” Recruitment strategies were designed to produce a diverse sample in terms of race or ethnicity as well as serostatus.

Recruitment in bars and clubs and on listserves skews the sample towards those who are actively seeking sexual connections. While some gay people go to bars solely for social interaction, monogamous couples that do not regularly go to bars or look at Craigslist were far less likely to hear of this study.

Additionally, this study was more likely to attract those who were interested in how relationship dynamics impact HIV transmission. I think it is a reasonable assumption that, on average, couples committed to monogamy might not have the same interest level as those who have open relationships.

The demographics of the sample:

For two of the studies, 41% of the participants were HIV positive (Study 3 had 32%). While this may be advantageous to a study which seeks to look at sexual agreements, it is not representative of the population of San Francisco, and has almost no reflection of the gay male population at large. Only about 12% of gay men in the United States are infected with HIV.

While this is undoubtedly useful for looking at variances of agreement structure among sero-concordant and discordant couples, claiming a blended rate of monogamy as though it were reflective of the community would be bad science.

This study found that couples which were both HIV negative were far more likely to establish monogamy than those in which one or both parties were positive. So by significantly over-representing HIV positive participants, the percentage who embrace monogamy were skewed downward.

About half of the sample had a bachelors degree (more than 20% had a post-graduate degree). Yet only about 43% were employed full time, with another 10-12% employed part time and 9-12% self employed. I don’t know whether there is a correlation between employment and valuing monogamy, but I think that we can all agree that 35% unemployment is not reflective of gay men as a whole, especially in the mid 2000’s when the participants were questioned.

About half of the men made less than $30,000 per year, with only a quarter making over $60,000. The average salary for San Francisco Bay Area jobs is about $65,000 and it is absurd to assume that gay men make, on average, less than half of their heterosexual counterparts.

I do not have adequate research at hand to correlate gay male monogamy (or fidelity) with employment or economic position. However, I believe that social position can influence relationship structure so it is a reasonable assumption that a study which is skewed towards a lower economic status may not accurately reflect the extent to which gay male couples as a whole value monogamy.

Conclusion:

The Gay Couples Study does reveal valuable information about the formation of sexual agreements among gay couples. For example, it reveals that gay men are almost universally talk about monogamy and fidelity and define the rules of their relationship. This seems true regardless of the structure, length, or investment into the relationship. And research into breached agreements and how it impacts HIV transmission is essential to targeting prevention efforts.

But in my opinion, Scott James’ statement that “New research at San Francisco State University reveals just how common open relationships are among gay men and lesbians in the Bay Area” may be among the most irresponsible reporting I’ve ever seen. The study says nothing whatsoever about lesbians and it tells us little about “just how common open relationships are” among anyone. It’s pure sensationalism and shoddy journalism.

But the real culprits are those who saw this study and decided that it says something about, for example, gay couples marrying in Iowa or New Hampshire. This was either lazy response or a deliberate attempt to fraudulently demonize gay couples for political gain.

In short, those reporting on this study got it wrong. If there is any story here, it would be that a study of San Francisco bay area gay male couples, a sample which was highly skewed to include many participants who are less likely to value monogamy and which defined “couples” to include those who have been dating as little as three months, still found that half of them set monogamy as the agreement for their relationship.

Comments

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daftpunkydavid
February 10th, 2010 | LINK

thank you for taking the time to do the hard-work !!!

many of us with a modicum of statistics training had an inkling that the nyt interpretation was irresponsible and the pick up from many blogs with the domino effect it produced was really frustrating.

i do have a question: is there any record as to the age of the different couples? i have a feeling age may play a rule too, but i’d like to hear if it was recorded and if they found any correlation with monogamy.

thank you.

Christine
February 10th, 2010 | LINK

Thank you for your analysis – what all of you at BTB is so important.

I stumbled on the Gay Christian Watch website (I think this is run by DL Foster, but I might be wrong on that) and they totally exploited this study to reinforce their stereotypes.

Believing is seeing.

Burr
February 10th, 2010 | LINK

Well I hope this is reported back to NYT and that some kind of retraction is made.

It’s a shame because stuff like this gets in the way of a study that would be much more representative. It wouldn’t necessarily surprise me to see gay relationships and marriages to be more open, but certainly not to that degree (50%!) and as it stands with the evidence here it’s a completely bankrupt assertion to make at the moment.

Timothy Kincaid
February 10th, 2010 | LINK

daftpunkydavid,

The study was primarily about sexual agreements and did not seek to determine whether monogamy correlated with any other specific attributes such as age.

Emily K
February 10th, 2010 | LINK

Thank you, Tim, for this excellent research.

BUt why did so many gay outlets jump on board with these findings, if they point so negatively and so incorrectly at us??

Matt
February 10th, 2010 | LINK

Thanks for this. The irresponsibility surrounding this study has been unbelievable, and I’m including the way so many gay writers and media outlets handled it.

Ray
February 10th, 2010 | LINK

I knew something stunk in that NYT report. The way it was framed suggested that all 18,000 couples who got married in California in 2008 were out beating the bushes for sex sans their spouse.

This is seriously good criticism. I hope Joe.My.God reads the damn thing.

Burr
February 10th, 2010 | LINK

BUt why did so many gay outlets jump on board with these findings, if they point so negatively and so incorrectly at us??

It probably appeals to their sex positive streak..

David
February 10th, 2010 | LINK

“It must be emphasized that gay men living in the San Francisco Bay Area are not representative of gay men as a whole. In fact, it would be difficult to identify a group of gay men less representative of the US gay population.”

Back this up with evidence please. It is a shame that your criticism of someone else’s subjective interpretation is contaminated by subjectivity of your own.

Sure, gay men in the Bay Area (like those in NYC, LA, and other major metropolitan areas) live in a more ethnically, economically, educationally and religiously diverse part of the country than most gay men live in. But diversity does not equal promiscuity.

Emily K
February 10th, 2010 | LINK

Burr, that’s an interesting thought. And because of that, more and more, “sex positive” to me just equals “reactionary impulsive counter-culturalism.” And more and more it smacks of the same immaturity as “sex negative” attitudes. But instead of making those who want open relationships feel “slutty” and “shameful,” they make anyone who wants a relationship with just one other person that doesn’t involve an invitation for certain types of fetishism feel “repressed” and “trying to appease the hetero-normative overlords.”

Timothy Kincaid
February 10th, 2010 | LINK

David,

It is not subjective that the SF Bay Area is atypical of the cultural attitudes of the nation.

Frank DeFrancesco
February 10th, 2010 | LINK

It is unfortunate that the “damage has already been done” and that the NYT and others likely won’t give your analysis the light of day. But we appreciate it.

David Roberts
February 10th, 2010 | LINK

Excellent work, Timothy. This story was so badly skewed I have to wonder about Mr. James’ motivation. This really goes way beyond sloppy journalism.

JMG
February 10th, 2010 | LINK

This is an excellent analysis of the methodology behind the study and does reveal some real problems in the manner in which the NYT story, which I quoted on JMG, was presented. Incidentally, your questions about the unemployment rates and incomes cited in the study could be explained, at least in some part, by the fact that many HIV+ men, particularly older ones, are on disability.

However, my personal opinion is that a 50% rate of non-monogamy is, if anything, understated. Understand that my opinion on this only applies to men, is obviously non-scientific, and only comes from having been out for 35 years and having lived for the better part of a decade in each of the three (arguably) largest gay cities in the country. My *anecdotal* experience of these 35 years and the thousands of gay male couples that I’ve known tells me that the rate of non-monogamy grows as the relationships age. This gives me the intuitive feel that since non-monogamy increases as relationships endure, it must play some part in their success.

I understand that my experience is doubtlessly colored by the manner and places in which I socialize, however I don’t *think* my social life over the last 35 years has been remotely unique. It’s true that for *me*, monogamy has seemed an archaic, unnatural, and ultimately (in most cases) doomed expectation for men, gay or straight. However, I can’t recall having ever cultivated a friendship based on that opinion, so I doubt it has much influenced the relationship status of the men I’ve called friends.

While our enemies may leap on studies like this and others that, to them, paint us in a bad light, I don’t think we should disavow the truths of our people. If somebody has a problem with non-monogamous gay relationships, one needs merely to point to the rate of heterosexual marital infidelity and divorce.

FAR more troubling to me is the way that our own people villainize non-monogamous gay couples as shallow, promiscuous sluts unable or unwilling to “do the hard work” or lacking the emotional capacity of “true love.” In fact, most of my coupled yet non-monogamous friends *have* done that “hard work” and found it to be either valueless or a critical roadblock to remaining together.

Regarding my fellow gays, on this issue I feel the same as I do about those who criticize the presence of drag queens and leatherfolk at our Pride parades as detrimental to the image of our movement. Naysayers wish to disavow, deny, or cloak the existence of non-monogamous gay couples from the rest of the world. This they do to either prove the validity of their own relationship decisions or to promote a non-existent gay utopia to outsiders in the misguided belief that suppressing such folks improves or advances the movement. In my opinion, it does neither.

Bryan
February 10th, 2010 | LINK

Brilliant blogging, Timothy – thank you for taking the time to set the record straight

Eddie89
February 10th, 2010 | LINK

Not all gays are “San Francisco Gays”, not that there’s anything wrong with that, just that we shouldn’t all be painted with one broad brush like this.

Also, as one of the 18,000 same-sex, California married couples, we have been together for 13 years and have never had an extramarital encounter.

So, if I read of some opposite sex, married couple (one man, one woman) that has an “open” relationship, should I then think that ALL straight, married couples are exactly like this?

No?

Well, same goes for the gays!

I tell ya, we just can’t get a break!

Amicus
February 10th, 2010 | LINK

Tim, I still don’t understand this study completely.

I gather the question to be tested is whether monogamy is a risk factor for HIV infection.

To test this, you’d have two groups, one monogamous and one not, both at risk for HIV infection (i.e. not currently positive).

It seems you would have to do an expensive longitudinal study.

It’s not clear why one would include HIV+ people in the study since they are not at risk of infection.

A simpler method would be to survey people who are positive, to find out how many believed that a false belief in monogamy was the risk factor leading to their seroconversion. And compare it to the number of ‘open couples’, one of whom seroconverted during the course of a relationship.

Some of the stuff reported about “rules” that couples use seems to be far afield of he questions at hand. Were the researchers just on an anthropology exercise or did they try to go one to find out what rules keep couples safest from HIV risks?

Altogether, the motivation and method of this whole study seem up in the air, still. All we know for certain is that Scott James is a f**ktard.

David Roberts
February 10th, 2010 | LINK

In response to JMG, I can only say that my own experience has been quite the reverse. However, the issue at hand concerns the study data and not our own anecdotal evidence. I can find no flaws in Timothy’s analysis of the problems with this one and anti-gay publications are already misusing what data exists to further denigrate GLBTs. It would seem important that we deal with that strongly, regardless of individual proclivities.

Jason D
February 10th, 2010 | LINK

“FAR more troubling to me is the way that our own people villainize non-monogamous gay couples as shallow, promiscuous sluts unable or unwilling to “do the hard work” or lacking the emotional capacity of “true love.” In fact, most of my coupled yet non-monogamous friends *have* done that “hard work” and found it to be either valueless or a critical roadblock to remaining together.”

JMG, I’m surprised you haven’t found the troubling trend amongst non-monogamous gays to be equally as apt to villianize the monogamous as “naive”, “immature”, “lying”, “repressed”, “prudes”. To condescendingly pat monogamous gays on the head and say “oh, I used to be just like you…” I don’t know how many times I’ve heard non-monogamous folks toss out the cliche of “I’m not in an Open Relationship, I’m in an honest relationship.” implying that monogamy is in and of itself a lie.
There seem to be a great deal of non-monogamous gays who feel personally threatened by any gay couple who has a claim on monogamy.

They seem to forget, that even when they find a couple that claims monogamy but one partner is sneaking around — the one who isn’t having sex on the sly might actually, legitimately, honestly, be monogamous because they actually like it.

In then 10 years I’ve been out, there seem to be fundamentalists on both sides. Monogamous gays who dismiss and insult people in open relationships, and Non-monogamous gays who seem to do their fair share of insulting as well.

Switching gears, this one is a particular nuisance:

“If somebody has a problem with non-monogamous gay relationships, one needs merely to point to the rate of heterosexual marital infidelity and divorce.”
I thought open relationships were still fidelity in the eyes of that couple? Why is it people who espouse open relationships want it both ways? To seperate themselves from the immature, the slutty, the shallow, etc —- but are quick to toss themselves in with those very same people when it supports their beliefs?

Infidelity and divorce are caused by MANY FACTORS. Surely someone who’s been around 35 years should know that. People cheat for a variety of reasons, and yes, a desire for sexual variety is one of them. However, you should be well aware that it isn’t the ONLY one, nor is there any evidence that it’s the primary one.
People cheat to end a relationship, out of hurt, out of desperation, to attempt to make their partner jealous, because they’re afraid of intimacy, because they have low self esteem, to attack and manipulate their partner — none of which is conducive to a healthy relationship, and zero of which would be solved by an open door policy.

Ya can’t have it both ways. You can’t separate open relationships and infidelity when it’s convenient and lump them together when it works in your favor.

Emily K
February 10th, 2010 | LINK

Jason D, I think you covered any and all of my qualms I have with JMG’s post. Although i think I seldom agree with the entirety of your comments, this one is an exception.

mike/
February 10th, 2010 | LINK

Tim, you touched every salient point brilliantly and without editorial comment; and then to have other “media” outlets twist it to their own purpose without understanding its supposed purpose borders on criminality.

having worked in Education my entire adult life, i worked with statistics closely; it was a requirement from government;

one thing i would explain to my teachers when they would be upset about statistics that were made forced to evaluate what they were doing was that i could make statistics say anything i wanted them to, and then i would precede to show them;

your going into the research process used itself step by step showed how it can be manipulated;

personally, if i were doing this, i wouldn’t be able to avoid editorializing; namely, how do these people account for the 50%+ divorce rate of straight couples? would the majority be caused by infidelity? multiple partners? knowledge of a spouses lovers? how can you point to the efficacy of traditional marriage when it does not follow what you purport it to?

thanks, again.

Amicus
February 10th, 2010 | LINK

Joe,

It could be that your experience is irrelevant, in this way. The reality could be that the gay men you know and have known were all socialized in a way that promoted the beliefs that you call ‘truths’.

With the bars and the gayborhoods gone and with more options for gay kids to be open an integrated into a wider society than any that was open to us as youngsters, we find the new crop of gay men do not share the same understanding of the ultimate doom of monogamy.

I believe that these kids ought to grow up with the same expectations of marriage, if they want it, as their non-gay peers. No ‘civil union’ will substitute. I think that trumps any vocal concern about villainizing non-monogamous couples. In fact, I’m relatively unaware of non-monogamous couples being villainized by monogamous couples, on a regular basis, within the community, although my experience is small wide. If anyone is accused of being shallow, it’s those who are single, who seek only a hook-up here or a hook-up there, possibly eschewing male intimacy, etc., not couples.

Monogamy may be difficult and it may also fail, leading to shorter relationships. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have value.

The notion that non-monogamy is a route to longer relationships is unpersuasive, because it could be seen as changing the nature of the relationship.

Personally, I couldn’t care less if there were a swingers float in the Pride march. But let’s be serious about the impact of that and a vocal shout-out of it on our advocacy. For instance, recently, the SF Gay Men’s Chorus did a tour, as you know. Now picture this storyline, “They wore wonderful pink cowboy hats, but I wondered how many of the gray-haired ladies who saw them knew that it was Thursday and 50 miles from SF, so it meant that one of two were probably using the occasion of the tour to dine out on their lawfully wedded husband.” Do you see how that’s different than leatherfolk and drag queens and bi-curious supermodels on ecstacy?

JMG
February 10th, 2010 | LINK

I should have made it clear that when I referred to “somebody” in that sentence, I meant heterosexuals who use the existence of non-monogamous gay couples to attack the marriage equality movement.

Debating the *value* of closed vs. open relationships is a fruitless exercise comparable to a discussion between an atheist and a devoutly religious person and is irrelevant to this discussion. As you note, there are fundamentalists on both sides and it’s an argument that cannot be “won.”

My main point is that furiously denying the factual existence and widespread prevalence of non-monogamy among gay male couples denigrates and devalues their relationships, which by many accounts, constitute a large portion of coupled gay men, whether one believes that number to be 50% or something else. That our enemies use that against us is inescapable, but it *is* our truth, right now, like it or not.

However, as Amicus notes above, the culture is evolving at a rapid race and in ways that are probably incomprehensible in real time. In a decade, maybe two, the new generations of gay men may act and believe far differently than those of today. However, biology/nature tells us that non-monogamous gay couples will continue to exist. To what degree, we cannot know.

Joe
February 10th, 2010 | LINK

Timothy, many thanks for putting this together. I remember seeing a note on Joe Jervis’s blog that a study was about to be released that might be skewed in just the way that the religious conservative writers have done so. I gotta say, I’m immensely frustrated with the NYTimes for feeding it the way they did. Tabloid reporting. Ugh.

Bravo for setting the record straight. There simply is no correlation between couples–gay or straight–who have been together 3 months and couples–gay or straight–who are married.

Amicus
February 10th, 2010 | LINK

“Deny” is too strong a word. No one serious denied the facts. The situation is changing, so there is no need to emphasize a description (not “truth”) about where we are now, as we pursue a vision of where we want to be tomorrow.

As for winning the debate about value, consider this. The questions from our opponents that will come will concern the _social value_ of non-monogamous relationships, insofar as they are asking others to call them marriages and suggest they are suitable to rearing kids, not questions about their value to the two adults (which we can probably agree is a value debate that dead-ends in some ways).

I hope the non-monogamy-is-best folks have answers.

JMG
February 10th, 2010 | LINK

Amicus, if you want to see some serious denial and denigration, drop in my two recent posts on this issue. To the tune of hundreds of comments, many of whom cried “Untrue! Untrue!” Granted, the comment universe on JMG isn’t quite as academic as found here on BTB. ;)

David Roberts
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

My main point is that furiously denying the factual existence and widespread prevalence of non-monogamy among gay male couples … but it *is* our truth, right now, like it or not.

"Couples" is not a very well defined term in your comment.  What we have been addressing here is the idea that half the gay men in America define a "committed relationship" such as marriage to be open by definition.  That has not been my experience at all, nor does this study contribute to that conclusion in a useful way.  You haven’t provided any facts for me to consider, so I would have to take exception to your statement being "truth."

This is not denial on my part, it is dealing with the hard facts and those only.  There is no other way to approach these issues because the slightest bit of wiggle room is exploited by some very nasty people.

That said, I suspect it will be a century or more after full equality before one can make real apples to oranges comparisons.

Amicus
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

i wouldn’t be able to avoid editorializing; namely, how do these people account for the 50%+ divorce rate of straight couples? would the majority be caused by infidelity? multiple partners? knowledge of a spouses lovers?

mike, my sentiments exactly. This kind of research can be damaging because it is incomplete. In the time between when a limited study that raises more pressing questions than it answers on the ‘hot topic’ of the day and when the rest of the answers come around, scientifically, a great deal of distortion can create lasting damage, in terms of old saws that can’t be put to rest easily.

Uki
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Actually, I have my own theory on why 50% of gay men in SF Bay Area are non-monogamous. It’s not about the methodology of the research, it’s much more about the creation of sub-cultures in SF Bay Area.

We should start to ask questions on why does gay men over there puts less value in monogamy, different than the majority?

I was thinking about the similarities about the creation of “ghettos” in many African-American communities in the old days; “Punk” sub-culture in the UK; or the “Flower Power” era at the 60s.

Those three sub-cultures have some other sets of values that is different from the rest of the population (And usually quite a controversial ones), and it was considered the norm by the people within the sub-cultures.

So, somehow, this idea of open relationships in gay men will soon change if gay men are already considered normal by everyone, and if gay men are no longer feel like they are not part of the rest of the population.

Let’s just say that if a gay man feel like they are normal, like they are just another man on this earth, their mindset will also think similar like other people. If a gay man feel like they are different and he is being differentiated, he is going to have a mindset different from the rest of the population.

So, solution of this non-monogamy? Acceptance by the population.

A few weeks ago, I read about a research in Ontario, Canada about the value of monogamy among gay people there. It turns out that young gay men (Who are already being accepted by everyone without ever feeling discriminated), and gay men who aren’t exposed of gay venues but still open about his sexuality, are the ones who still believes in monogamy.

I’m trying to re-find the research, but I couldn’t find it, as I haven’t bookmarked it :( But I’m pretty sure it still around.

Amicus
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Joe, true-smoo, who cares? If someone, a denialist-denigrater, walks onto a subway car and says, you’ve got a red dot on your chest, do you immediately take off your shirt to prove him wrong, just because they asked, even when you know all the black dot people are suddenly going to swarm? (Um, because they are black dot people, not because they just saw your chest…).

It looks like some ego got involved, quite understandably, pretending that an appeal to a scientific fact-base might somehow change that basic equation, or the ultimate realization that, no matter the ‘facts’ the value question, as posed, is just as tough, as I think we agreed above.

I can’t see how this debate is going to help anyone, except those who don’t want to take the final steps to full equality and cling to notions that gay is fundamentally different or even teachably different. If we keep it up, all we’re going to inspire is the black-dot people to turn on the red-dot people, inside the community, and visa-versa. That’s not leadership. (Myself, I don’t want to be forced to choose-up sides in that fight, do you?). It would be a lot easier to lead that discussion after we had full equality and employment protections at law.

And it’s not just marriage. These conversations may seem ‘academic’, but that may be required if one wants to fight for more than a right to simply be let alone or to have a good time. For instance, has everyone figured out how this is going to affect the DADT debate, potentially? Think about it.

Regan DuCasse
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Salon magazine had a recent article about hetero polyamory.
The different factor from gay couples was CHILDREN.
Despite the original couples who were married, they may or may not have had children with each other, but with the partners outside of their marriage.

I noticed that in this study of gay men, I don’t think children were mentioned.
Anyway, of course those who are anti marriage equality or anti gay would run with this research and by the time THEY have reported it, it could be completely unrecognizable from the original and the context changed altogether.

And of course, a similar sample among a demographic of hetero couples could easily be found, and as Tim pointed out, it wouldn’t be pointed to as an example that heteros are incapable of and/or don’t respect monogamy. Let alone use it as a reason to ban heteros who have had affairs or divorces, right?

Sometimes I wonder what the point in ANY of these studies and research on the sexual habits of gay people is for anyway. Ultimately, because gay lives are under such harsh socio/political scrutiny, I wonder if it wouldn’t be better to just bag research like this for a while?
The samples are so small, and the geographic area is too, and then the results are misinterpreted anyway, so seriously, what’s the point?

Uki
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

The studies on sexual habits of gay people are usually done to see why the spread of HIV among gay men are the fastest compared to other groups.

Uki
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Bay Area is a common place for HIV researchers to do their research.

It wasn’t supposed to portray gay people’s mind. But they (homophobes) are just using it anyway.

Amicus
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Acceptance by the population.

Maybe tolerance, but not acceptance. If it is acceptance, I’ll be long dead and I’m not even that old.

Tolerance itself has limits. Just how much “outside sex” can there be before one asks whether the “couple” aren’t really just two single people living together?

Amicus
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Uki, I’ll wait for the study, but coming out of a liberal University’s ‘gender studies’ group, it’s already suspect …

Uki
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

lol, right, tolerance is first.

anteros
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Thanks Tim!

Great work!

This masterpiece must have taken a great deal of thought, patience, determination and love. I gotta say, you’re one very smart guy! …not that I ever thought you weren’t:)

I’m gonna have to read it again, slowly.

Chitown Kev
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Thank you for this very very detailed breakdoen of this study, Timothy

Baptist Press jumps on the “lack of gay monogamy” bandwaggon « Queer Hatred
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

[…] expected, the irresponsible coverage of SF State University’s gay couples study by the New York Times continues to be trumpeted on anti-gay media. Today the Baptist Press picked up the story and ran […]

Baptist Press jumps on the “lack of gay monogamy” bandwaggon « Queer Hatred
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

[…] claims made about the study are false. It does not show that “half of all male homosexual couples have sex outside of the relationship […]

Timothy Kincaid
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

uki,

If you find the study, please email me a link. Thanks

Uki
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Oh, here’s the study http://www.gaycouplesinstitute.org/blog/2008/02/25/understanding-monogamy-and-gay-couples/

though it is still saying about non-monogamy, but at least it makes a conclusion of what kind of person still thinks of monogamy, and why they are thinking of it.

It is quite making sense.

Jason D
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

“My main point is that furiously denying the factual existence and widespread prevalence”

factual existence, yes.

Widespread prevalence? Not seeing it.

What I see are studies, like this one, that are non-representative being used as if they were representative.
What I also see are anecdotes, like yours, JMG.

I have no friends who are die-hard sports fans. No family members who are die-hard sports fans either. A few with casual interest in one game, or one team, or just their college football team (if they’re doing well) but no true, die-hard, damn-i-love-sports! Fans.

I myself am not a sports fan, so that may have something to do with it, but I honestly never even meet those kinds of people. They obviously exist, I see them on TV and hear about them through friends and acquaintances. They are not people I have consciously tried to avoid, the subject really doesn’t come up.

The point I’m making is that you’re making a common mistake: The assumption of universality. You assume that your experience is representative, that it is the universal experience. In reality it is your experience.

It’s not my experience, though, and so what you claim to be “denial of prevalence” I would call “avoiding over-representation”.

“..of non-monogamy among gay male couples denigrates and devalues their relationships, which by many accounts, constitute a large portion of coupled gay men, whether one believes that number to be 50% or something else. That our enemies use that against us is inescapable, but it *is* our truth, right now, like it or not.

Perhaps it is our truth, or maybe it’s just some of the truth. Those accounts are anecdotal, and as a friend of mine likes to say “the plural of anecdote is NOT data”. I’m not denying your experience, I’m just pointing out that one man’s experience cannot be given the same weight as a representative study. Monogamists may be your version of my “die hard sports fans”.

Priya Lynn
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

JMG said “My main point is that furiously denying the factual existence and widespread prevalence of non-monogamy among gay male couples denigrates and devalues their relationships, which by many accounts, constitute a large portion of coupled gay men”.

You have no proof of that. Your opinion is not proof.

Priya Lynn
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

I get a “brodband link error” when I try to open the link Uki posted. Is it working for anyone else?

Timothy Kincaid
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

uki,

Thank you. I’ll take a look at it.

Emily K
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

To provide the converse example to Jason D, here in Philly you can’t go two feet without encountering a “die hard sports fan.” By definition, I mean a fan of Philly teams. The night the Phillies won the 2008 World Series, never was the city safer, so full of brotherly love were the streets! (I was there.) During football season, the city’s blood bleeds green for the Eagles – and woe unto anyone spotted wearing a Cowboys jersey! And this trait defies gender, age, race, and yes, sexual orientation.

I myself, personally, am not “die-hard” – but will I dance in the streets when the Eagles win the Super Bowl or the Flyers take the Stanley Cup? Hell, yeah!

Uki
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

@Priya Lynn

there are also some other sites that host the research. Just look at them in search engines: “Relationship Innovation in Male Couples. Adam, Barry D.; Sexualities, Vol 9(1), Feb 2006. pp. 5-26.”

Uki
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Fyuuuh….google search results about gay men and monogamy are abundant with that SF research.

Apparently, that news is the golden bullet to strike down gay marriage. I’m looking at the comments in blogs and articles about that research. Not just from the homophobic websites, but from gay blogs as well.

I wonder what will happen next…….

Dr. Matthew
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

As a psychologist in the Bay area (I actually guest taught one of Colleen’s classes just last week!), I loved this commentary – she’d be the first to tell you that she’s exploring communication within gay couples, with a focus on how it relates to sexual risk, so for the sake of this research question it made sense to have a large percentage of participants who have HIV (as you point out, this is high…. last I heard from my colleagues at the SF DPH, the prevalence rate in SF is considered to be about 17% for the gay community, so higher than the country as a whole, but less than half that of Colleen’s study).

RE: the debate about who’s *really* representative of the gay community, I’d like to throw out another controversial view, and bring up that we’re possibly seeing a generational gap in the debate on this blog. Broadly sampled data from before the time of HIV suggests, as JMG implies, very high rates of non-monogamy. There’s really not nearly as good or representative a study as those early ones done in recent years to say, however, and with both HIV, as well as the advent of marriage as the rallying point of the queer youth movement, I don’t know that the pendulum would’ve swung entirely opposite but I *would* expect it to have changed, in some direction. Differences in sexual practices among male couples based on urban or rural living are also under-researched.

Anyway…. just my two cents, but basically, I don’t think we have the data to say what most male couples do today, we don’t have data to know how HIV impacted that, we don’t have data on just HOW different SF gays are than others, but we DO know that Colleen’s sample, her study design and goals, and the findings are, no matter the importance (because I think it’s great research), not intended to or gathered in a way to answer any of those questions.

Richard Rush
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

I tend to think that gays who are single or in open relationships would be likely to spend more time in social settings (including the Internet) that facilitate meeting other people for hookups. And that would create one appearance of reality.

My own observation is that monogamous couples tend to spend more time in alternate social settings (including a lot of time just being at home together), and thus have a different appearance of reality.

I think these different realities would occur in big cities as well as smaller towns. But the big cities would have a much larger percentage of people looking to meet people simply because that’s what draws so many gays to large cities in the first place.

JMG
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

“Let’s just say that if a gay man feel like they are normal, like they are just another man on this earth, their mindset will also think similar like other people. If a gay man feel like they are different and he is being differentiated, he is going to have a mindset different from the rest of the population.So, solution of this non-monogamy? Acceptance by the population.”

I think that pretty much sums up of what I was talking about. Non-monogamous couples are not “abnormal.” They aren’t a problem that needs to be “solved.” The issue of mutually agreed upon non-monogamy is morally neutral, despite what our desperately heteronormative friends want to believe. They exist in vast numbers that will likely never be properly counted because LGBT activists consider the issue to be “dirty laundry.” That’s shameful.

Emily K
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Oh, well congratulations, JMG, you found exactly what we are all saying exists: gay people who oppose non-monogamy and who are against those who support it. Guess you can count yourself among the “persecuted.”

Except, notice that there wasn’t an immediate universal “here, here!” in the comments section after that post.

Dr. Matthew, yes marriage equality, “normative” courtship ritual and the like are a large part of the gay youth culture. I’m 25, came out at 15. It’s always been about meeting people for camaraderie and possible dating, not for hooking up and going to bars. Just like straight people!

Amicus
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Joe, the item you quote doesn’t say what you think it does at all – it’s arguing for broad _acceptance_ of nonmongamy as a way out of the conundrum.

There is no amount of counting that will clarify the key issues. I doubt that appeals to biology will make us more sanguine.

For all those who find non-mongamy (which can mean a giant _range_ of things) ‘morally neutral’, one wishes that those who truly think that is a valid philosophy would engage with our opponents with _arguments_ about what’s good for society, for children, for couples, and so forth, rather than just calling anyone who disagrees a name. Let them get up and explain their vision for the future, what is allowed and what is disallowed and what the consequences might be if everyone were to become ‘homonormative’ w/r/t non-monogamy.

As for the injunction of “heteronormative”, which I’ve heard before in the most bitter terms, why is it that those who would seek monogamy get thrown under the bus so that we can be “true” to a time-slice statistic about non-monogamy that no one really knows what it means? Those people who _insist_ that we hang the laundry, rather than just get on with their lives, turn out to be rather selfish, yes?

JMG
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Frankly, Emily, I would not presume that a 25 year old lesbian would have more than a remote sense of understanding of the life history of a 50 year old gay man. Come back to me when you’ve spent 35 years living every day in an urban gay male culture, then you can lecture me about my opinions and experiences.

Not incidentally, “just like straight people” is the bumper sticker shorthand that best describes what I fear will be the irretrievable loss of uniquely gay culture that will result from the social assimilation that we are all working towards. Many young gays, including, I suspect, yourself, believe that will be a good thing. I do not.

Priya Lynn
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

JMG said “They exist in vast numbers that will likely never be properly counted”.

Once again, you don’t know that they exist in “vast numbers” and you ironically admit that in the same sentence. Your opinion is not proof and its time you stopped pretending it is.

Priya Lynn
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

JMG said “Not incidentally, “just like straight people” is the bumper sticker shorthand that best describes what I fear will be the irretrievable loss of uniquely gay culture that will result from the social assimilation that we are all working towards. Many young gays, including, I suspect, yourself, believe that will be a good thing. I do not.”.

JMG, its really none of your business if gays become or are “just like straight people. No one’s trying to deny you your right to promiscuity, stop trying to tell gays they shouldn’t be monogamous.

JMG
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Priya, please point to where I suggested that gays shouldn’t be monogamous. I happen to think it’s a perfectly valid decision for anybody it makes happy. And you’re wrong, the future of gay culture is ALL of our business. That’s why we’re commenting on this post. But nice job with the “promiscuity” zinger. Dead giveaway, that.

BobN
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Nothing in decades has more seriously shaken my belief in the journalistic integrity of the NYT than this article.

Five minutes of Googling and you can find the origins of this study and find that it had nothing to do with a survey of gay couples in general.

A full retraction wouldn’t help much at this point but it certainly is in order.

Amicus
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Here’s a more concise framing, that might help:

Should non-monogamy be normative and why (with specifics about the character/type of non-monogamy in question)?

If one doesn’t believe in any sexual norms, can one explain how a society can remain cohesive and not fall apart over questions of sexual ethics?

{by “norm” I don’t mean ‘criminal law’, just social understanding}

Priya Lynn
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

JMG said “Priya, please point to where I suggested that gays shouldn’t be monogamous.”.

I quoted you saying that JMG, here it is again so you can try to pretend you didn’t say it:

“Not incidentally, “just like straight people” is the bumper sticker shorthand that best describes what I fear will be the irretrievable loss of uniquely gay culture that will result from the social assimilation that we are all working towards. Many young gays, including, I suspect, yourself, believe that will be a good thing. I do not.”.

When you complain about gays being monogamous “just like straight people” and say you don’t think that will be a good thing you’re suggesting gays shouldn’t be monogamous.

That an open relationship is another term for promiscuity is reality, not a “zinger”.

Amicus
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Dr. Matthews, with due respect, perhaps I can suggest that all research is not “great research”, even if it is true about a small hypothesis that gets some people a paycheck and the jazz about writing something ‘cute’ or cutting edge about gender. Here’s something to mull over (and this is from our opponents!):

Notice to Reader: “The Boards of both CERC Canada and CERC USA are aware that the topic of homosexuality is a controversial one that deeply affects the personal lives of many North Americans. Both Boards strongly reiterate the Catechism’s teaching that people who self-identify as gays and lesbians must be treated with ‘respect, compassion, and sensitivity’ (CCC #2358). The Boards also support the Church’s right to speak to aspects of this issue in accordance with her own self-understanding. Articles in this section have been chosen to cast light on how the teachings of the Church intersect with the various social, moral, and legal developments in secular society. CERC will not publish articles which, in the opinion of the editor, expose gays and lesbians to hatred or intolerance.”

Emily K
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

aaaaah, and HERE we find the generation struggle! Because JMG grew up in the gay culture that, in the 70’s and 80’s for example, confused common-sense restraint with sexual persecution, he has created a false dichotomy between “the gays” and “the straights.” Isn’t equality about being considered.. human?

I guess JMG isn’t really interested in equality, he’s interested in making damn sure the things he grew to believe about being gay never ever change.

Growing up, I believed that people who were attracted to the same, opposite, or both sexes were on the same terms. JMG grew up believing gays need a special segregated sewer to have relations in, and anyone who doesn’t is “betraying” The Gay Community™ and just wants to “conform” to straights. Hate to break it to ya Joe, but being gay is different today than it was back in your day, when you apparently had to troll truckstop bathrooms in order to “properly” go about having a relationship with another man. Since people my age don’t believe that straights and gays are inherently unequal, we don’t believe that straights “own” the things that some people do to have a relationship: courting someone, dating someone exclusively, getting married under a chupah, and having children and a backyard BBQ.

JMG
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Sigh. Priya, do you honestly believe that sexual behavior is the entirety of gay culture?

Priya Lynn
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

JMG, you made that post in response to Emily saying “Oh, well congratulations, JMG, you found exactly what we are all saying exists: gay people who oppose non-monogamy and who are against those who support it. Guess you can count yourself among the “persecuted.””.

She was talking about monogamy and you responded that it would be a bad thing if gays “became just like straights”.
Sexual behavior is the entire reason you came to post on this thread and it is what this thread is about. Stop pretending you were saying something other than you think it would not be a good thing of gays were, or became monogamous.

Scott
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Emily,

I’m confused by your statement taht “being gay is different today than it was back in your day…”

It sounds as if you are saying anyone over 40 is no longer gay. That only “young” people have the right to define what it is to be gay, and that only the “young” definition is valid.

What if there is a range of meaning in what it is to be gay? What if monogamy and open relationships are equally valid?

I’m glad to read that you are certain in your own beliefs and identity – that’s wonderful. However I’m disturbed that you seem to also dismiss and personally attack others who don’t share those beliefs.

JMG
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Allow me to translate the coding in Emily’s last post: “Gay men deserved to get AIDS and die by the hundreds of thousands because they couldn’t keep it in their pants.”

Uki
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Personally, Joe, I am okay if gay culture and lifestyle no longer exist due to being assimilated by the popular culture.

Isn’t that what we all are fighting for? To be equal? To be considered worthy just like any other people?Doesn’t it mean that the purpose of this whole fighting for gay right thing has been met?

We are, afterall, like it or not, a minority.

The whole process of a minority culture to disappear and being assimilated by the majority, is part of the whole social process. Nobody can fight against it, we all are going to conform one way or another to the majority if we no longer have any purpose on our movement.

Remember the speech by Martin Luther King, “I dream a Dream”.

Priya Lynn
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

JMG said “Allow me to translate the coding in Emily’s last post: “Gay men deserved to get AIDS and die by the hundreds of thousands because they couldn’t keep it in their pants.””.

Oh, grow up JMG she said no such thing.

Amicus
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

I fear will be the irretrievable loss of uniquely gay culture that will result … Many young gays … believe that will be a good thing. I do not.

The ship has already set sail. The question is whether a sentimentality, even heartfelt and true, for a lost age will hold up progress.

You can buy a fancy cappucino in the Haight. The Roxy can’t even get space on the West Side drive. You can count the number of leather bars on one hand. Gay kids today want the white picket fence, as much as anything else on offer.

I’ve made peace with that. I think we’re fighting the right battles.

JMG
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Uki, I don’t disagree that assimilation is inevitable and that what we have known as the vibrant and unique gay culture of the last 40 years will disappear. I expect that most gays my age, should they live to see it go, will miss it dearly. Younger people, who may have only experienced it in fading retreat, will not.

JMG
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

And incidentally, the fact that the activism I embark upon every day is speeding the loss of the very culture I hold most dear….that irony is not lost on me. Yes, Amicus. That ship has most definitely sailed.

Uki
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Besides, I personally don’t think that gay culture would extinct and gone to zero :-)

Just like the examples I gave earlier, “Flower Power”, “Ghetto”, or “Punk”. The culture transform into different form.

Only the symbols are being kept, however, the idealism and value that used to be in the culture, no longer exist because it will lose to the mainstream.

but still, I think Pride Parade would always be around, although it won’t be about LGBT issues anymore. Movies started to sexualize both women AND men. Men grooming utility becomes mainstream as well, etc. :-)

Truth Wins Out - How The Game Is Played…
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

[…] mistakes here are honest ones.  They’re not.  Timothy Kincaid over at Box Turtle Bulletin does a sharp analysis of what this study does, and does not actually say about same-sex […]

Uki
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Naah, Joe, everything will be alright. Even those who only taste them in fade are going to be alright as well.

There may be a new era born from them, or they will found something else eventually.

It’s just how the world goes.

JDW
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

All anybody has to do is go to Provincetown for a weekend to see what the truth is.

Wringing our hands over monogamy or non-monogamy is ridiculous. Everybody is entitled to enforce the CONTRACT the way they want. The study has been completely misinterpreted by the media but I don’t think the true results would be different than the misinterpretation.

Gay MALE couples involve two men. These relationships will never be the same as straight relationships no matter how assimilated we become. To think otherwise is denial.

Truthfully, just don’t do anything you aren’t proud of. Or have the Pride parades from the past taught us nothing? Trying to enforce your view of what a relationship should be sounds familiar. Let the anti-gay forces have their fun. If we win this battle by pretending to be something we aren’t the we didn’t win.

I’m a married man (almost 7 years, together 10) with a wonderful husband. Two teenaged children who we raised half-time. We have a great sex life but if a hot guy wants us and we’re in the mood, watch out!

Priya Lynn
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

JDW said “All anybody has to do is go to Provincetown for a weekend to see what the truth is.”.

Of course! Just like all anybody has to do is go to Mardi-Gras or Carnival to see what the truth is for heterosexual relationships.

JDW said “We have a great sex life but if a hot guy wants us and we’re in the mood, watch out!”.

And of course when other gay couples live monogamously they’re not representative of gays, just your relationship is. Right, got it.

Dan
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

JMG,

I love your blog, but I can’t even begin to tell you how much I disagree with your comments here!

My partner and I have been together for over 16 years and we’ve been 100% monogamous.

As i see it, a couple that is not monogamous might still love each other very much, but they’re not willing to do the “hard word.” Hard Work is being the ONLY ONE for your partner. If a relationship fails due to lack of freedom to share intimacy with a third person, then at least one of partners is the relationship does not consider the other partner as fulfilling and there lies the problem.

Uki
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

I don’t understand what you mean by having children ‘half time’. What kind of father is doing ‘half time’ to the children?

I thought parenting is supposed to be ‘full time’?

Chris McCoy
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

JMG said:

Frankly, Emily, I would not presume that a 25 year old lesbian would have more than a remote sense of understanding of the life history of a 50 year old gay man. Come back to me when you’ve spent 35 years living every day in an urban gay male culture, then you can lecture me about my opinions and experiences.

Thank you for showing just how much you really don’t get it.

Your opinion is no less valid than Emily’s, or Priya’s, or Timothy’s; and just as equally, the diversity of opinion expressed so far in this thread only goes to prove Timothy’s whole point, which was that this survey was not indicative of Gay America.

Not incidentally, “just like straight people” is the bumper sticker shorthand that best describes what I fear will be the irretrievable loss of uniquely gay culture that will result from the social assimilation that we are all working towards. Many young gays, including, I suspect, yourself, believe that will be a good thing. I do not.

Times they are a changing, whether you like it or not.

40 years ago, african americans who went to school and “got educated” and got jobs in corporate America were selling out their blackness to the oppressor. Today that opinion is largely ridiculed, although there are still holdouts at the extremes.

No one is begrudging you your sexual revolution.

But the reality is, that was then, and this is now.

You just need to be more aware of the pulse of the next generation of the Youth in America, or you will be discarded, like last year’s model.

The reality of the Assimilation of gay culture, is that Assimilation is not Elimination. Assimilation is Absorption.

What was once outside of the norm is now part of the norm. Cultures that are Assimilated don’t disappear, they just become unremarkable.

Amicus
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

I expect that most gays my age, should they live to see it go, will miss it dearly.

At the risk of personal estimation bias, if you mean about 50%-55%, I’d concur. You may be among the few who found true and happy expression in that rich culture, that was in many ways conforming/conformist. On the other hand, I can think of four, maybe five, people in a small circle of acquaintances who cut out after concluding that there was nothing there for them (cut out of the dance floor, the Pines, Ptown, the baths, etc.). Some people never _found_ their niche, even though one existed. There are a number of other people who ‘burned out’, for lack of a better term and continue to look for a ‘center’ to their lives.

we don’t believe that straights “own” the things that some people do to have a relationship: courting someone, dating someone exclusively, getting married under a chupah, and having children and a backyard BBQ.

Not for nothin’, Em, but you coulda said all that without the preamble. If you are listening back, it’s the cutting/condescending … er… relegation that so many who have a different view resent, even deeply resent.

JDW
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Priya Lynn, that is the point. My relationship is representative as are all types of relationships. Marriage can’t be defined as one man and one woman or in any other ways other than it involves the two people getting married. The study references 50%. FYI, a quiet weekend by the beach and Mardi Gras are hardly the same. And Provincetown can be a quiet weekend at the beach

Gay couples who live monogamously are very representative of the gay community. But that poses a greater challenge for a relationships that is two parts testosterone. The challenge isn’t just that for guys it is harder to keep it in your pants. The challenge is in the understanding of how men think.

As I discussed with a straight female co-worker once men can have sex for sport and when they say to their wives “it meant nothing” they are telling the truth (not that a woman can’t have meaningless sex but it is not how most are hardwired).

If I understand that my husband’s desire for the hot trainer at the gym “means nothing” then why not let him have that hour of pleasure? It comes down to insecurities and jealousy.

I read an article by a sex therapist years ago when I was deciding whether an open relationship was something I could even handle. His theory was that ideally a relationship (he was writing about straight relationships) would be completely open but the reality is that you are dealing with two people who have different and differing degrees of insecurities so you can only go as far as those insecurities will allow. I don’t know whether I agree with the premise but it was interesting and it did help me understand what I wanted and what I could handle.

I never said that my relationship was the only true gay relationship, just that the misinterpration of the study wasn’t that far from the truth.

Jason D
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Dr. Matthew wrote a synopsis of the situation for us with bears repeating(bold is mine):

BI don’t think we have the data to say what most male couples do today, we don’t have data to know how HIV impacted that, we don’t have data on just HOW different SF gays are than others, but we DO know that Colleen’s sample, her study design and goals, and the findings are, no matter the importance (because I think it’s great research), not intended to or gathered in a way to answer any of those questions.

JDW
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Dan, that is your definition of hard work. There are many other ways to work hard in a relationship. And again, you sound like the one man one woman brigade. There is not only one way to be married and for the marriage to be fulfilling and successful.

Amicus
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

You just need to be more aware of the pulse of the next generation of the Youth in America, or you will be discarded, like last year’s model.

Chris, you are not persuasive. You may not even know what you are discarding! Joe is a fantastic resource for the community, someone of the few who are a living link with _your_ social history, the kind of stuff that you are *never* going to get out of a book.

His assessments do have additional weight, because he has years more experience and clearly is one who is thinking about it, too.

Understanding can come from the young, or from anywhere, for that matter, but wisdom … that usually comes from those with experience. It’s not a question of deference, it’s a question of knowing what you don’t know.

Priya Lynn
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

JDW said “My relationship is representative as are all types of relationships.”.

That is nonsensical. You have no reason to believe your relationship is representative of gay relationships in general and there most certainly are gay relationships which are not representative of gay relationships in general.

JDW said “I never said that my relationship was the only true gay relationship, just that the misinterpration of the study wasn’t that far from the truth.”.

You have no proof of that. That your relationship is open is not proof, that’s an anecdote. Your opinion is no more proof than JMG’s. When you’ve got a study of 1000 randomly sampled representative married gay couples come back and show me the results. Until then you’ve got nothing.

Chris McCoy
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

JDW said

All anybody has to do is go to Provincetown for a weekend to see what the truth is.

All anybody has to do is go to WaKeeney, Kansas, for a weekend to see what All Americans believe.

Wringing our hands over monogamy or non-monogamy is ridiculous. Everybody is entitled to enforce the CONTRACT the way they want. The study has been completely misinterpreted by the media but I don’t think the true results would be different than the misinterpretation.

And those people who chose monogamy are NO LESS than the people who don’t.

Gay MALE couples involve two men. These relationships will never be the same as straight relationships no matter how assimilated we become. To think otherwise is denial.

Right, because men are incapable of forming meaningful relationships. We’re all just a bunch of sex crazed animals who can’t keep our dicks in our pants, waiting around for the next available hole to walk by so we can satisfy our sexual urges without regard to the thoughts and feelings of the (current) object of testosterone-filled lust.

Obviously I’m exaggerating for effect.

The meme that homosexual relationships are different from heterosexual relationships has been systematically dismantled thanks to the hard work of Jim and Timothy here on this very site.

You WANT gays to be different, to be special.

I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but the evidence strongly points to the opposite.

Ray
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

What JMG calls “honesty” in an enduring relationship, the forefathers of the study of gay males relationships called “Emotional Monogamy” and that was meant to contrast with “Sexual Monogamy”.

When Dr. Andrew Mattison and Dr. David McWhirter (btw, a gay couple, themselves) researched nearly 156 male couples in San Diego twenty years ago, they distinguished two types of “monogamy”; emotional monogamy represents the force of the bond the couple has achieve and it is the most sacred aspect of the relationship. Sexual monogamy was the other type that was described and on that latter type McWhirter and Mattison made CLEAR that there is a WIDE variation in how gay couples approach sexual monogamy.

It be sure, The Male Couple concluded that about 95% of couples did not maintain strict sexual monogamy but emotional monogamy was the RULE while sexual monogamy was the EXCEPTION.

Ah, but there’s more. When they looked at what gay couples actually did, they didn’t find all 95% having no-holds barred sexual relationship outside their own. The found couple where, perhaps, one of the two had a fling on a business trip away from home and then returned to an exclusive relationship. McWhirter and Mattison included that couple in the “open” or not sexually monogamous tab.

There was such a broad range of sexual openness described that as little as one incident outside the relationship made put the couple in the “non-sexually monogamous” group. On the far side of the scale, some couple were described as being almost like having a partners with whom they never had sex with each other but still regarded themselves as “emotionally monogamous” or exclusive to each other.

Note. NONE of these couple reflect our circumstances in California today. None were married nor was domestic partnership even available. These men achieved extraordinary level of commitment WITHOUT be natural pressures brought to bear by marrying, having a legally defined relationship nor even a “commitment ceremony.”

So when I saw the NYT story, I thought that 50% rate in “openness” was a SIZABLE drop in sexual monogamy when compared to the 95% that McWhirter and Mattison studied.

JDW
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Chris: defensive much. I just live my life and I know a LOT of people. Gay relationships aren’t special they are different from straight ones. Or are you one of those people that think that equal rights for women mean that they are indistinguishable from men?

Priya: You’re just a nasty person and I don’t deal with nasty people. You’re also probably single.

Priya Lynn
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Ray, it is doubtful that the Mattison and McWhirter study was randomly sampled and as it involved only San Diego it was not representative either. Many, if not all of the problems Timothy pointed out with the topic survey also apply to the one you mentioned and as such it has nothing to say about what the typical married gay couple is like.

Priya Lynn
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

JDW, its not me that you find nasty, its the reality of science that you find nasty. For the record I’m extremely happily married to the most wonderful man in the world.

JDW
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Chris: As someone who was married to a woman for 12 and to a man for 10 (7 actually married) I can tell you that straight relationships and gay relationships are inherently different.

Almost every married woman I know has a best girlfriend. There is a level of intimacy that branches off to this friend, something that the husband does not share. In gay relationships this evaporates and in almost every successful gay relationship I have seen the spouse fills both positions.

This changes the dynamic a great deal.

Jason D
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Gay couples who live monogamously are very representative of the gay community. But that poses a greater challenge for a relationships that is two parts testosterone. The challenge isn’t just that for guys it is harder to keep it in your pants. The challenge is in the understanding of how men think.

A) Women have testosterone in their bodies. Smaller amounts than men, but they still have it.

B) Yes, please, tell me how I’m supposed to think.

As I discussed with a straight female co-worker once men can have sex for sport

Key word being CAN. Doesn’t mean we all do, or want to.

and when they say to their wives “it meant nothing” they are telling the truth (not that a woman can’t have meaningless sex but it is not how most are hardwired).

Actually, biologically, women are quite capable of meaningless sex, and surveys on the subject are showing women’s libidos and all that entails are on par with men.

I thought one of the positive qualities of the gay community was the rejecting and inversion of stereotypes about men and women? Your whole post here is all about stereotyping men and women.

I’m a man, and I’ve never been much of a “hunter” as regards to sex. I tried it, and I found it unfulfilling.

It’s great you and your partner found what works for you. So why the need to explain things in terms of “this is the way men think..” when we all know it’s BS? Why isn’t enough to say “This is the way me and my partner ARE”. What’s the shame in that? I thought this was about freedom, so why the need to hide behind stereotypes about male sexuality? Why not have the courage to say “this is just the way I am” without having some sort of psychological crutch to lean on?

JDW
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Yeah, yeah, the science. My husband was a research psychologist and professor at Penn and then at Columbia. Science can be manipulated. I know what I see. If you don’t want to see it then there’s nothing I can do about that.

Chris McCoy
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Amicus said:

Chris, you are not persuasive. You may not even know what you are discarding! Joe is a fantastic resource for the community, someone of the few who are a living link with _your_ social history, the kind of stuff that you are *never* going to get out of a book.

“Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it.”

Which is the greater folly – to repeat the mistakes of history because you were unaware, or to repeat those mistakes even though you were aware?

His assessments do have additional weight, because he has years more experience and clearly is one who is thinking about it, too.

And he writes a blog. That makes his opinion Better(tm).

Understanding can come from the young, or from anywhere, for that matter, but wisdom … that usually comes from those with experience. It’s not a question of deference, it’s a question of knowing what you don’t know.

Joe has made his opinion quite clear. I chose a different path. Does that make either of our paths any more or less valid? No. Does that make Joe’s path or my path any more or less indicative? Only time can answer that.

My point is to show that Joe’s argument takes the form: “Gay means X because it has always meant X.”

That is the view of the opponents of change.

Most people are resistant to change. But the reality is that times change, people change, cultures change. Change is inevitable. You can either chose to cling to the past and spend your life pining for a lost Golden Age, or you can embrace change and look forward to the future.

Uki
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

So, I could conclude that this article by Tim, failed to meet it’s purpose?

Because obviously, the discussion here is still about the proportion of monogamous vs non-monogamous gay men. Just like what is being represented in the NYT article.

Priya Lynn
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Sure science can be manipulated – I’m making no claims about what the science does show, only about what it doesn’t show. What your relationship is like and your opinion that it is representative isn’t manipulated science, it isn’t science in any way shape or form. That your husband was a research psychologist and professor is irrelevant – it has no bearing on what you’ve presented, or more accurately, failed to present here.

Priya Lynn
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

My last post was responding to JDW.

JDW
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Jason, yes everything you say is true but again to suggest that women and men are the same is silly. Have you ever spoken to women and asked them what they want? At some point you have to base your opinions on your exposure to other people.

My point only being that there are reasons men willingly enter into open relationships that have nothing to do with an inability to control themselves. I wasn’t explaining my relationship. I also would have talked to the press if I had been a part of that study as is evidenced by the full page picture and article in OUT magazine about us last Summer.

JDW
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Priya, my husband’s credentials were only relevant in my learning how studies are garbage. Coffee is bad for you, coffee is good for you, (actually, coffee is good for you black, bad for you with any kind of milk). He explained to me since, unlike the rest of you I don’t claim to know everything, I didn’t understand how a seemingly well run study would fail.

The fact that I know at least 500 couples like me is an indication that I am representative of the gay community. If you don’t believe that then you really don’t want to believe the truth. Sometimes the sky is blue and I don’t need a study to tell me so.

Priya Lynn
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

JDW said “At some point you have to base your opinions on your exposure to other people.”.

Which is what JMG has done and which is most certainly not science and not a vailid way to make claims about what all gays, or all men or all women are typically like.

Dan
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

JDW,

We’re all on a journey to find our happiness, truth, whatever. I’m not at all calling for non-monogamous relationships to be treated any differently, so making me part of the “one man one woman brigade” is unfair.

However, I’ve been around long enough to see gays and straights alike start with great ideals only to settle for a more “pragmatic” attitude towards sexual fidelity or any other aspect of what consitutes a satisfying relationship. This is not a gay issue at all. It is simply magnified in the gay community because of the easy access to sex that gay men have over their straight counterparts.

Ray
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Priya Lynn, I was careful to say that the study was exclusive to the San Diego community so you and others would know of the limitations of its value. So no argument there. But some interesting and original findings relevant to the present discussion, nonetheless.

Jason D
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

“It’s not a question of deference, it’s a question of knowing what you don’t know.”

In my experience, those with true wisdom know that they don’t really know anything at all.

Conversely, those that think they have it all figured out, are usually in for a rude awakening at a very inopportune time.

Priya Lynn
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

JDW said “Priya, my husband’s credentials were only relevant in my learning how studies are garbage.”.

That’s quite an amazing revelation. He should publish that in a peer reviewed journal – its extemely important information the world of science needs to confront.

JDW said “The fact that I know at least 500 couples like me is an indication that I am representative of the gay community.”.

I find it hard to believe that you know not just 500 couples but 500 couples just like you. If as you say you’ve “learned how studies are garbage” you’d know that “the people I know” is not a representative sample. You clearly have no idea what you’re talking about or how science works.

What happened to your claim that you weren’t going to “deal with” me?

JDW
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Uki, the truth is you would be correct. As long as the gay community continues to judge itself the same way that straights judge us then this is where the discussion will go.

I didn’t hear straight people screaming from the rooftops when the study came out showing how 50% of them cheat. It was more of an “isn’t that interesting” type of reaction.

Our reaction should have been the same instead of trying to prove as if your life depends on it that it isn’t true.

And Jason D: calling a relationship two parts testosterone was a figure of speech. I know women have testosterone. All you would have to do it see my wife. . . . .

Uki
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

JDW, you obviously haven’t learn the concept of gender roles.

What men and women think are not biological, it’s more socially construct! Women wants sex less? that’s absurd! Women want sex as much as men do. But society have constructed them to be more emotional and to be controlling of their sexual urges.

Men can’t control their sexual urges? you think women can? Control of sexual urges are in our head, not in our body!

Priya Lynn
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Jason D said “In my experience, those with true wisdom know that they don’t really know anything at all.”.

That’s an oxymoron. You’re not making much sense here Jason. Experience is no guarantee of knowledge or wisdom. My parents had a great deal more experience than me, that didn’t stop them from being bigots.

JDW
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Dan, at least you’re civil. My relationship started out kind of wild and we’re pretty monogamous at the moment and become more so as time passes so I’m not talking about the kind of relationship you are describing. In many ways I don’t disagree with you. But I don’t really judge other relationships. I just work on mine. What transpires between any two people is unique and between them and them alone.

Truthfully, my husband and I could have been monogamous somewhat easily but from where we came from we both thought we had missed something so we came up with a plan that worked for us. I will add that my parents who have been married for 50 years did something similar in the 70s. My mother got married at 19 and at 35 she was upset that she had missed out on something. Much to his credit or to his being a human doormat (I still don’t know which) he gave her the freedom to explore things she never did. A year later she was done and they’ve been Ozzie and Harriet ever since. It was very hard on my father but it paid off. See what I mean about work?

Ted Gideonse
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Wow.

Timothy’s analysis of the study and the pathetic ways it was described in the press are both interesting, helpful, depressing, and not surprising. He’s done a very good job over the years at showing how studies are misused by our enemies, so I’m not shocked that this study has not been treated any differently. I would quibble with his criticism of the recruitment efforts — the subjects were not only recruited at bars and clubs, but also in health centers, cafes, and in community publications. And I would also quibble with the assertion that gay men in the Bay Area are totally unrepresentative of gay men in the United States. I would say they’re different but definitely comparable to large gay urban communities. But more important is that the study was about one thing and was described as being about another — and by the New York Times. Bad, very bad.

However, even if we can criticize the statement that 50% of gay male couples are non-monogamous, we cannot deny that a large percentage of gay male couples both aren’t monogamous and don’t believe that monogamy is important in their relationships. Joe’s conclusions based on his anecdotal evidence of 35 years of knowing a helluva lot of gay men correlates to just about all of the research done on gay male couples in the United States. Read “The Close Relationships of Lesbians and Gay Men” in the 2007’s Annual Review of Psychology (Vol. 58: 405-424) for a review of the research. You can also type in “gay men monogamy” into Google Scholar to find a few thousand studies that confirm Joe’s assertions.

Joe’s assertions, by the way, are not simply “opinions.” They are not “scientific” conclusions that have been reviewed by social scientists for an academic journal, but his analysis is nevertheless based on extensive experiential evidence and knowledge and understanding of gay male culture vastly deeper than Emily K and Priya Lynn clearly have. I find especially bizarre the attacks on Joe by Emily K and Priya Lynn, both of whom have been appallingly nasty and, based on their comments, ignorant of the issues, facts, and history of the issue at hand.

JDW
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Uki, I never said women want sex less. What I meant was when they have it there is more to it (most of the time) and if there isn’t more to it they don’t want it again with that person(most of the time). And as I said that is something I have learned from talking to thousands of women, some young some old.

Women and men are not the same. Why the hell would we want them to be?

Chris McCoy
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

JDW said:

Chris: defensive much.

Pot-Kettle-Black.

I just live my life and I know a LOT of people. Gay relationships aren’t special they are different from straight ones.

[Citation needed]. Also, please provide references from these “a LOT of people.”

You’re sample set seems to differ from other posters here (which was whole point of the OP).

Or are you one of those people that think that equal rights for women mean that they are indistinguishable from men?

Are you one of those people that think that men are superior to women?

I means seriously, what else am I supposed to take from that question?

Chris: As someone who was married to a woman for 12 and to a man for 10 (7 actually married) I can tell you that straight relationships and gay relationships are inherently different.

For you.

Almost every married woman I know has a best girlfriend. There is a level of intimacy that branches off to this friend, something that the husband does not share.

So the only thing preventing men from cheating on their wives is a BFF….

In gay relationships this evaporates and in almost every successful gay relationship I have seen the spouse fills both positions.

My anecdotal experience shows that successful (meaning long-term – 25+ years) heterosexual marriages are ones where the husband and wife are each others’ best friend, and that the unsuccessful ones are the ones where one partner must seek emotional fulfillment outside the relationship.

Since neither of us have independent studies to back up our experience, we are at a stale mate.

Ray
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

JDW said “Priya, my husband’s credentials were only relevant in my learning how studies are garbage.”.

I’m delighted you or your husband wasn’t testifying for the Plaintiffs in the Prop 8 trial. Studies were central to Plaintiff’s case and to call those studies “garbage” as an analysis of the facts of gay lives would have dealt the Plaintiffs case the death blow.

Jason D
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Priya, it’s an eastern philosophy thing.

think for a second.

Thousands of years ago they thought they had it all figured out. The sun revolved around the earth, right? Now we know different.

They thought the earth was completely flat, that eventually you’d just fall off of it. Now we know different.

The authors of the first dictionary thought they’d have to write one, maybe two more editions—but after that they’d never need to update their books again.

They thought the patent office would eventually close because surely, surely people would run out of ideas, right?

The point is that what we THINK we know right now, this moment, is often not what is truly real, or even completely the truth when all is said and done.

We thought that identical twins had identical DNA, and that’s been proven false.

We thought Pluto was a planet, but apparently it doesn’t fit the criteria.

What do we know, believe to be certain today that we will find out tomorrow is wrong, misguided, short sighted or only part of the puzzle?

That’s the long form of the philosophy. A wise person knows that he knows nothing at all.

JDW
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Chris said:

“Are you one of those people that think that men are superior to women?”

And you got that from what that I said?

No, women and men are different. It was an unfortunate result of the women’s movement that women didn’t embrace and acccept their differences.

I agree about successful heterosexual relationships. However, most that I know of involve both spouses having two best friends, one being each other.

JDW
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Ray: He taught me how a study could be garbage not that all are. For example and as I said briefly before, there are studies that show that coffee is bad for you (high blood pressure, impeding absorption of glucose). There are studies that show coffee is good for you (lowers blood pressure, prevents alzheimers). The second study showed that there is a difference in the result if coffee is black. A subsequent study which did not control for coffee drinkers who drank coffee black or with milk and which found coffee to be bad for you, was garbage.

Priya Lynn
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Ted said “we cannot deny that a large percentage of gay male couples both aren’t monogamous and don’t believe that monogamy is important in their relationships.”.

This may or may not be true, however no such evidence has been presented to allow you to make that statement with certainty. The fundamental problem with any researchon gays is that many, if not most gay men are in the closet and unknown to researchers. As such any study that claims to say “what gays are like” is highly suspect.

Ted said “Joe’s conclusions based on his anecdotal evidence of 35 years of knowing a helluva lot of gay men correlates to just about all of the research done on gay male couples in the United States.”.

That is one of the dumbest statements I have ever read on this blog. Yes, let’s just throw out all research on gays and take Joe’s opinion as fact, after all, he knows everything.

Dan
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

JDW,

I really can see myself in your shoes and I really make an effort not to “judge.”

Unlike your parents’ experience, I remember my father telling me, as a teenager, that “all men cheat.” My parents marriage did not last. I’m not even putting the full blame on my dad; My mom had (has) plenty of faults of her own. I’m sure my upbringing had a bit to do with my perspective and why the issue of monogamy was so important to me.

When I was younger I did resent gay men for making a pass at me or my partner even though they were fully aware that we’re together. I found it disrespectful to our relationship.

I’m not really saying much I know, but I do want to acknoledge your own words that your relationship is moving towards more and more monogamy which to me indicates that you yourself see that as a worthwhile goal.

JDW
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Priya: Your reliance on science is showing a complete in ability to think for yourself. Do you leave the house or do you just read studies all day long? And how many more people are you going to insult today? Your wonderful husband is one lucky man.

Priya Lynn
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

JDW said ” He taught me how a study could be garbage not that all are.”.

You initially said that “studies were garbage” without any discrimination. In any event, that some studies are poorly done doesn’t in anyway support your contention that most gay couples aren’t monogamous. Timothy pointed out all manner of problems with the the study in question and you’ve presented nothing to refute that other than your opinion and your unbelievable claim to know not just 500 gay couples, but 500 gay couples just like you.

Priya Lynn
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

JDW as far as insulting people goes, its you who called me “nasty”. I made no such insults towards you.

Priya Lynn
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

And JDW, if you want me to think for myself instead of relying on what the science shows (or fails to show in this case) then in my experience 100% of gay couples are monogamous. Do you want to take my experience to the bank just like you want to take your own?

JDW
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Dan, actually it wasn’t really a goal. It just happened because our needs changed. I still read judgment in your words and the belief that now my relationship has a chance of being as perfect as yours. I’m overstating of course but that is how you sound to me.

The last ten years have been the most amazing of my life. I don’t think “gosh, I wish we didn’t want to play around and the last ten years could have been so much more fulfilling.”

For us as long as we have sex with each other then there is no issue about sex. As my mother always said, sex is not very important until you aren’t having it. Then it becomes very important.

In a lot of ways I think this conversation is meaningless (not yours and mine, which I think is very meaningful actually). Gay life is represented by every slice of life as is straight life. Just accept it and move on. When I saw the results of this study the first time I just thought “that’s news?”

Ted Gideonse
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Priya Lynn: I provided evidence. I even gave you a citation. The evidence is extensive. We have a pretty good idea what gay male couples are like. You shouldn’t demand research and then disregard the research because of an assertion of what gay men are like (they’re all closeted!) that is on an evidence-less assumption.

And I didn’t say that all other evidence should be thrown out because of what Joe said. In fact, the sentence you quoted says the opposite. I said that Joe’s conclusions *correlate* to all of the research. His assertions are the same as what all the researchers are saying. In other words, he knows what he’s talking about. You do not.

JDW
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Priya, I know thousands of gay couples. Hundreds are like me, hundreds aren’t. That is the point of everything I have said. I never said I ONLY know 500 couples and they are all like me. I don’t think calling you nasty was insulting you. Your tone today (and I’ve never read your posts before today) has been incredibly nasty and dismissive of everyone who disagrees with you or who you think is missing the point. You catch more flies with honey. . . . .

Are you a straight woman? Are you a gay man. There might be a reason why you think every gay couple is monogamous. Or you might really know only monogamous gay couples. I have no way of knowing, and truthfully neither do you.

Priya Lynn
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

JDW said “When I saw the results of this study the first time I just thought “that’s news?”.”

You’ve unbelievably completely missed the point of this post – the study is non-random, non representative, and cannot be used to extrapolate the behavior of the typical married gay couple. I’m chalking it up to willful blindness.

Jason D
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

“Are you a straight woman? Are you a gay man. There might be a reason why you think every gay couple is monogamous. Or you might really know only monogamous gay couples. I have no way of knowing, and truthfully neither do you.”

I think that’s the point that I, and Priya have been trying to make.

“I have no way of knowing, and truthfully neither do you.”

JDW
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Priya, I understand the point of this post. What I’m saying is so what? It’s nice that he debunked it and it’s especially ridiculous to use a study against gay marriage when it wasn’t a study involving married gay couples.

But maybe you don’t want to know the results of a study that is actually representative of married gay couples. Whatever the result was would be fine with me. I don’t think monogamy or non-monogamy is anything to be ashamed of.

Brian QTD
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

My usual caveat: I don’t usually comment here, but follow the blog daily.

I agree that this study is not representative of the population at large and, at best, is a representation of gay men’s relationships (generally) in one locale. However, the tone both of some comments and Kincaid’s post is that it would be some kind of cataclysm if this study turned out to be “correct” or close to the truth. That is what JMG and JDW are reacting to, and they are right to do so.

Because, when the right-wingers misused the study for their own nefarious ends, the reaction from Kincaid was not: I find this study flawed, but even if many gay men are nonmonogamous, so what? The reaction was to imply that gay men really are mostly monogamous (correct me Mr. Kincaid if I am wrong).

The authors of the study also cite corroborating evidence, but I will have to wait for the study to see what literature they cite. I am willing to withhold judgment on the question of “how many” until I get a handle on the lit.

The problem I have is that many will not even entertain the possibility that these numbers COULD, just MAYBE approximate the truth. Even still, no one states the obvious: there is no evidence that most gay male relationships are monogamous either (or at least Kincaid did not present any to undermine this study). So everyone has to be open to the idea that at least that a good chunk–perhaps even an embarrassingly high number–of gay male relationships (even marriages!) are nonmonogamous.

The best answer, IMO, is: We don’t know how many are monogamous versus nonmonogamous. Either way, it shouldn’t affect our civil rights or our right to live freely–marrying or not marrying whomever we wish–without interference from the law and hateful busybodies.

Ben in Oakland
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

I’ll throw in a few 2 cent pieces here.

I am nearly 60 years old. I have been out for nearly forty years. I came out in the very hedonistic culture of the 70’s, and lived in SF since 1975, which made that aforementioned hedonistic culture of my youth in Honolulu look like a seminary. Whoops, not like that. Like a nunnery. There we go.

I have, in my time, been a total slut, of the type that Joe in his most slutty moments could (probably) only aspire to. It was fun, and i caught no fatal diseases. I have been with the same man for the past seven years. We are legally married. We are monogamous. We like it that way.

Like Joe, I lost most of my friends and my four serious relationships in the eighties and nineties due to HIV. Promiscuity, ignorance, stupidity, and plain bad luck were the four horsemen of that apocolypse.

I liked being promiscuous. I like being monogamous. If I weren’t married to Paul and value my life with him as much as I do, I could be very promiscuous again. not as cheap as unlimited free porn, but often much more satisfying.

I recognize where the very promiscuous gay male culture came from– centuries of oppression, the need to do it quickly and in the dark, a legacy from the ancient world down to this very day, the psyches of a lot of men, and not just gay ones. It served us once.

I also recognize that that culture was both a lot of fun and very much a factor in the liberating of our psyches, and at the same very destructive to health and happiness, and very much the opposite of liberating for a lot of people.

My opinion: it has served its purpose, but it is no longer of benefit. Whatever wisdom I have accumulated in my 60 years says that our young men– and ultimately, the wider society, both straight and gay– would be much better served by restraint, by not making sex do and represent something that it cannot do and cannot represent.

This is not about morals, it is about practicalities, personal responsibility, and making our world a better place. I don’t want young gay men to die of a highly preventable disease. I don’t want young gay men to choose a chambersexual, a glatzesexual, a thomassexual mode of existence because they don’t see alternatives that will actually work for them in the long run instead of scratching a short-run itch. At the same time, I do not advocate removing the choice from them.

But the world is changing, and that culture is dying, though as long as there are Ted Haggards, Naggie Gallaghers, and Alan Chambers in the world, it will continue on. I’m glad i had it, but I don’t mourn its passing.

Gay people are in a unique position to help heterosexuals, who have never had to come out, who have never had to confront their sexuality, who frankly, don’t have to do much thinking at all, at least when it comes to being heterosexual.

Emily K
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

All I see here are a bunch of comments talking about very personal things that they personally experienced in their own little microcosm of the universe.

JMG is extremely sentimental for the gay sewer sex culture of decades past.

My coming out was compounded with the view that all sexualities are equally human and equally able to embark on faithful/honest/open/kinky/vanilla/deviant/religious/whateverelse relationships.

Jason D finds “male-hunter-sex” unfulfilling.

Priya finds value in monogamy like Jason D, but still disagrees with other comments he has made.

JDW agrees with the “complimentary” “men want sex all the time” “women have lower sex drives” canard.

And each one of these opinions has “truth” backed up behind anecdotal evidence and personal experiences.

Someone said it before, but the only thing this proves is that the queer community is quite diverse, just as some are trying to “prove” it is not!

Priya Lynn
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Ted said “You shouldn’t demand research and then disregard the research because of an assertion of what gay men are like (they’re all closeted!)”.

I never said they were all closeted, I said many, perhaps most are – we have no way of knowing how many so all research on gays is questionable. If you’re going to deny that an unknown number of gays are closeted you’ve discredited yourself far beyond what you already have to this point.

I haven’t read the research you’ve posted but I’ve learned there’s certainly no way I can take any person’s assurances for what the research they post supposedly says. I have seen many, many, studies purporting to describe what the typical gay is like and every one of them is flawed in a miriad of ways so excuse me if I don’t rush out to look over what you’ve posted.

JDW said “Priya, I know thousands of gay couples”.

I don’t believe you and in any event if you knew science at all you’d know the group described by “people JDW knows” is not a representative sample any more than the group “people JMG knows” is.

JDW said “I have no way of knowing.”

Now you’re on to something. Keep reminding yourself of that everytime you claim your relationship is representative of what married gay couples are typically like.

JDW
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Jason D:

I never said I knew anything concrete other than there are many monogamous and non-monogamous gay couples living in the United States. I just don’t care so much. It doesn’t somehow make us a more worthwhile commmunity if one or the other is completely or mostly true.

JDW
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Priya:

“I have no way of knowing.”

You do the same. And regarding gay couples I assure you that you know even less than I do.

JDW
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

“Someone said it before, but the only thing this proves is that the queer community is quite diverse, just as some are trying to “prove” it is not!”

Exactly.

Priya Lynn
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

JDW said “I don’t think monogamy or non-monogamy is anything to be ashamed of.”.

I never said it was. I haven’t criticized anyone’s choice to be promiscuous or tried to discourage them from being as they want as long as they don’t hurt others. I never said open relationships were a bad idea or harmful, knock yourself out, do what you want, but don’t claim your life is representative of the typical married gay unless you have 1000 randomly sample representative married gay couples to prove your claims.

Priya Lynn
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

JDW said “You do the same.”.

I never made any claims about what the typical married gay couple is like – that’s your dishonest schtick.

JDW said “And regarding gay couples I assure you that you know even less than I do.”.

You’re not in any position to make such assurances. Your opinion is not science.

JDW
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Priya, I never said I was typical but my relationship is representative in some ways of a faction of gay life. If you deny that then you’re just being ornery or you live in a monastery. Oh wait. . . . .

JDW
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Priya, no but my opinion is correct in this instance. I don’t need science to back me up. I just need to read what you write to know you know virtually nothing about gay men. You’re kind of a gay man’s Sarah Palin, only where you say “science,” she says “job creation” and “healthcare.”

Ted Gideonse
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Priya Lynn: Please detail how exactly anything I’ve said has been discredited. I’ve written nothing even remotely illogical or dumb, as your so bizarrely and incorrectly claimed. I clearly never stated that there aren’t closeted gay men. I was pointing out one of your many logical errors. You are continually discrediting yourself by demanding research on gay men and then negating research on gay men out of hand for being “flawed,” even though you have no reason for such a claim other than your own evidence-less assumptions. You simply refuse to believe anything contrary to your evidence-less assumptions. Your narcissism seems to know no bounds. And please, if you are unable or simply refuse to read the research on this issue, you should stop making wild, biased claims about the way the world is.

Burr
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Meh.. having never really participated in most of what seems to be deemed as part of the “gay culture” I find the obsession over it waning or selling out to not be terribly important to me. I’ve always been one to cut my own path as far as my interests and social activity goes. That said I don’t think it’s going anywhere, it just might be a bit “diluted” to old-timer’s tastes..

As far as monogamy vs. non-monogamy goes, everyone is arguing from their gut feeling and it’s really gotten us nowhere. Personally I’m in a bit of an “open” relationship (though only virtually) but I know many that are monogamous and I don’t really see any significance in anyone’s choices as long as they act responsibly and it works for them.

People are attaching too much weight to something I think is purely personal. My relationship isn’t a political statement against “heteronormative” culture and monogamous couples aren’t trying to undermine “gay culture” or look more appealing to straights. That does not factor into anyone’s motivation. If it does then they need to re-examine their life.

Ted Gideonse
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

JDW, you’re right. It is like arguing with Sarah Palin. Which, as we know, is a waste of time. I’m done.

Dan
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

JDW,

What exactly do you mean by “our needs changed” ? It is wrong of me to conclude that your needs matured?

I’ll be the first to say that I do consider monogamy to be more “perfect” than non-monogamy, but that is only one aspect of a relationship. I don’t know the other details of your relationship, maybe it is more “perfect” than mine in some of those other aspects.

Priya Lynn
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

JDW said “Priya, I never said I was typical but my relationship is representative in some ways of a faction of gay life. “.

Uhhuh, what about this? “My relationship is representative as are all types of relationships.” and this:
“The fact that I know at least 500 couples like me is an indication that I am representative of the gay community”.

Now you’re backing off from what you’ve said before and saying your relationship is representative of a “fraction” of gay life. That’s progress, but you’re lying when you say you never said you were typical.

JDW said “I don’t think calling you nasty was insulting you.”

Riiiight, because no one finds being called nasty an insult. This kind of statment isn’t helping your credibility.

Ted said “Please detail how exactly anything I’ve said has been discredited. I’ve written nothing even remotely illogical or dumb, as your so bizarrely and incorrectly claimed.”.

Already detailed it Ted here it is again. You said “Joe’s conclusions based on his anecdotal evidence of 35 years of knowing a helluva lot of gay men correlates to just about all of the research done on gay male couples in the United States.”.

That’s incredibly dumb. If you believe that then why even bring up research? You should just be relying on Joe’s opinion.

Ted said “I clearly never stated that there aren’t closeted gay men. I was pointing out one of your many logical errors.”.

I never said you did say that, I said “IF you are going to claim that…”. You didn’t point out any “logical errors” on my part, you falsely claimed I had stated all gay men are closted – I said no such thing.

Ted said “if you are unable or simply refuse to read the research on this issue, you should stop making wild, biased claims about the way the world is.”.

I’m not making any claims about the way the world is, it is people like you who are doing so. I haven’t made any statements about what the typical married gay couple is like. As far as your research goes, I have been unable to find anything but an abstract online which tells me nothing. If you have a link to an actual copy of the review, and it is merely a review, please post it. Based on other research reviews I’ve read I’m going to be highly skeptical of what it claims to have found given that I’ve previously seen the studies footnoted in such reviews frequently don’t say at all what the reviews claim they do.

Scott P.
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Wow, just wow. I’ve never read so many judgmental postings on this board before. Even the bible-thumpers seem calm compared to some of the venom I read here. It all boils down to “My version of morality is superior to your version of morality, therefore I am superior to you.” Does this sound familiar to any of you?

Warren Lathe
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

wow, thank you thank you thank you.

this is what gives journalists bad names, and I have to say, I wish Dan Savage and Andrew Sullivan had done a bit more homework. Though in Sully’s defense at least, he’s posted your entry here to clarify.

Sad how we jump on poor reporting and re-report it as fact.

Thank you for doing… journalism. As it should be.

Priya Lynn
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

JDW said “no but my opinion is correct in this instance. I don’t need science to back me up.”.

See that’s just an ignorant statment. Your opinion means nothing, you DO need science to back you up, your opinion is not science.

JDW said “I just need to read what you write to know you know virtually nothing about gay men.”.

I never claimed to know anything about gay men. It is you making the claims and the onus is on you to prove them, not me to disprove them.

JDW
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Ted Gideonse: Well one can only try.

Priya: I never said “fraction,” I said “faction.” I’m not backing away at all. My personal opinion is that the 50% number is correct. I mean if 50% of straight couples cheat how could it not be?

Also, science can only go so far. When a study purports to prove that children of gay couples do as well as children of straight couples there is no way for that to be proven. They can see how well the child did in school, the percentage of suicides, ask some random questions about their social life, etc. But unless a child grew up twice, once with straight parents and one with gay parents the answer is really not an answer at all. I think you need to get out more. And when I called you nasty I was stating a fact. You are nasty. If I had said what I was thinking that would have been an insult.

To say this is skewed because the study was done in San Francisco is not realistic. What percentage of the gay population in this country lives in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Chicago and Boston for example? 50%, 80%?

Dan, actually when I entered this relationship I was adamant that monogamy was the ONLY way to live. I matured and tried to see things from his point of view and understand his needs as they existed. After that initial period anything we did was not borne out of need but because we thought it was fun. When we got together it was too early for both of us but we weren’t going to let each other go either.

Now it’s just not on our minds. My relationship is pretty incredible, but not perfect. But I wouldn’t point to our inviting 3rds into our bedroom as one of the things that makes it imperfect.

Priya Lynn
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Ted said “we cannot deny that a large percentage of gay male couples both aren’t monogamous and don’t believe that monogamy is important in their relationships.” and said “The Close Relationships of Lesbians and Gay Men” in the 2007’s Annual Review of Psychology (Vol. 58: 405-424) supports his assertion.

I found a summary of the review’s findings and it said “While having a sexually exclusive relationship tends to be associated with satisfaction in lesbian and heterosexual couples, this
pattern is less common among gay male couples. Gay men are less likely than
lesbians or heterosexuals to believe sexual exclusivity is important for
their relationship, and are more likely to engage in sex with someone other
than their partner.”.

Sexually exclusive relationships being “less common” does not equate to “a large percentage of gay male couples both aren’t monogamous and don’t believe that monogamy is important in their relationships.”.

Ted is simply in no position to say from this review what percentage of gay couples are non-monogamous, and as this review primarily relies on older studies where couples weren’t allowed to marry it says virtually nothing about the monogamy rates of the typical married gay couple. This review simply does not make the claim that most gay couples are non-monogamous contrary to what Ted was implying.

Timothy Kincaid
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

BrianQTD

Because, when the right-wingers misused the study for their own nefarious ends, the reaction from Kincaid was not: I find this study flawed, but even if many gay men are nonmonogamous, so what? The reaction was to imply that gay men really are mostly monogamous (correct me Mr. Kincaid if I am wrong).

Brian, I tried to avoid making assertions (or implications) that I could not support.

I suspect that the percentage of gay men in the US who are married value monogamy as an ideal at a greater percentage than the 50% found in this sample. I think that the direction of the bias in the sampling* suggests this.

However, I don’t know that to be true. Ultimately it is simply speculation and of no greater value than that of those who are convinced that the exact opposite is true.

I think that Dr. Matthew said it best

I don’t think we have the data to say what most male couples do today, we don’t have data to know how HIV impacted that, we don’t have data on just HOW different SF gays are than others, but we DO know that Colleen’s sample, her study design and goals, and the findings are, no matter the importance (because I think it’s great research), not intended to or gathered in a way to answer any of those questions.

And it is also true that:

We don’t know how many are monogamous versus nonmonogamous. Either way, it shouldn’t affect our civil rights or our right to live freely–marrying or not marrying whomever we wish–without interference from the law and hateful busybodies.

* I’m not calling the study biased, just noting that the sample was by necessity for it’s purpose. A truly random statistically valid sample of gay American men would have made it more difficult for the researchers to address HIV transmission within couples in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Priya Lynn
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

JDW said “Priya: I never said “fraction,” I said “faction.”.

I’m not seeing an important distinction between “fraction” and “faction” in the context you used it.

JDW said “My personal opinion is that the 50% number is correct.”.

As previously stated, your personal opinion is irrelevant without 1000 randomly sampled representative gay married couples demonstrating what is typical.

JDW said “I mean if 50% of straight couples cheat how could it not be?”.

Where’d you get this figure of 50% of straight couples cheating from? I see people referring to a 50% divorce rate, but I see nothing to show a 50% cheating rate amongst straight couples.

JDW said “Also, science can only go so far.”. Agreed. Unfortunately for you, your opinion goes much, much less far than science.

JDW said “And when I called you nasty I was stating a fact. You are nasty.”.

No, you were not stating a fact, you were stating a misguided opinion yet again. What did I say that you consider nasty? I never insulted you, it is you who has, and continues to insult me. And then you had the nerve to lie about it and say I was the one making the insults. Its not me that you find nasty, its the reality that your opinion means nothing that you find nasty.

JDW said “To say this is skewed because the study was done in San Francisco is not realistic. What percentage of the gay population in this country lives in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Chicago and Boston for example? 50%, 80%?”.

Of course its skewed because its done in San Francisco. A representative sample must include people from all areas, including rural areas. I doubt very much that 50-80% of gays live in those few cities but we can’t know that given that an unknown percentage of gays are in the closet and likely more gays in smaller towns and rural areas are closeted than in cities.

Dan
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

JDW,

I’m with you about Priya Lynn’!

Timothy Kincaid
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

OH MY.

A 2006 article in the Bay Area Reporter (BAR) a gay magazine in the SF area described the study and invited participants. It began:

San Francisco AIDS researchers are looking to interview 450 gay male couples as part of an ongoing study on open relationships. Simply called the Gay Couples Study, the research is examining the agreements couples make on having outside sex partners and what rules, if any, regarding safe sexual practices govern those sex encounters.

Although the article invited “couples, whether monogamous or in open relationships”, it was clear from tone of the article that truly monogamous couples were not of much use to the research. I don’t know how many couples got involved due to this article, but I very much suspect that those who did were unlikely to be monogamous.

Burr
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Well it doesn’t get more selective and non-random than that..

Jason D
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

JDW “My personal opinion is that the 50% number is correct. I mean if 50% of straight couples cheat how could it not be?”

What does cheating have to do with non-monogamy?

A friend of mine was engaged to be married and about 6 months before they were to walk down the aisle her fiance said to her that he was seeing someone else. That he wasn’t sure if they should get married. Within a week she moved out. After another month and a half of hemming and hawing from him with no real answer, and no sign of this other woman leaving the picture, my friend rightly dumped him.

This particular man had a history of messy breakups, usually brought on by him cheating or in some way doing something passive aggressive in order to force the girlfriend to break up with him.

Do you really want to lump honest, caring non-monogamous couples in with this piece of garbage?

Cheating could be an indicator that someone wants an open relationship, but it could also be an indicator that the person is done with the current relationship and wants to move on. A 50% divorce rate does not equal a 50% cheating rate. And a 50% cheating rate does not equate into 50% wanting an open relationship.

JDW
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Jason D: There have been numerous studies, some putting the infidelity rate as high as 70% among straight couples. Most coming in around 50%. In the study done in San Francisco one of the conclusions was that infidelity or sex outside the marriage was less likely to end a gay relationship than it was a straight one. FYI, cheating equals non-monogamy. Whether it’s done honestly or not is another story.

As to the rest of your post you are making assumptions about what I think. The problem most of you people make is you automatically assume you’re smarter than everybody else. But if you go back and read the things you assume and the ways in which you respond it is clear that most of you need a remedial reading comprehension course.

This is useless. I’ll stick with Andrew. No comments allowed.

NancyP
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

What’s all this about the incidence of monogamous vs open relationships? That’s not the point of the study!

The study seems to have been designed to observe communication techniques around safer sex in various gay couples. Presumably the study was meant to identify characteristics of couples who communicate well over safer sex. The expected use of study conclusions would be to target populations who may need “coaching” and the best strategies to recommend to them.

The study was not meant to be a definitive examination of the sex lives of all gay men. It is NOT a population-based random sample, and CANNOT be mindlessly generalized to the gay population as a whole.

BTW, “gay culture”, like the general culture, is constantly changing. I regret the decreased importance of reading and the increased consumption of broad-market television in both the LGBT and general populations. So? There’s precious little to be done about technology-driven social change.

Timothy Kincaid
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Sigh…

No, the SF study did NOT conclude that “infidelity or sex outside the marriage was less likely to end a gay relationship than it was a straight one”. It made no comparisons to straight relationships so it couldn’t make such a conclusion.

And, no, for this study’s purpose, cheating did not equal non-monogamy. It meant breaking the agreement, whether it was for monogamy or something else.

DAB
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Well. I must say this has been an entertaining exchange. What strikes me most about this whole conversation is how passionately invested some people are in proving that monogamy is the norm in gay couples. Which of course raises the question, “why?” Why should it matter if 8% or 80% of gay couples have open relationships? If it turns out the figure is closer to 80%, does that mean the right wingers are right, and we don’t deserve marriage rights after all? Brian QTD pointed this out very well.

I’ve had similar exchanges over the years with people in other online fora and there is always a very strong contingent of gay people who are all too ready to sling mud at me and my relationship for not conforming to the monogamy norm. I’ve been told that I don’t deserve to be married. I’ve told I’m an irresponsible parent. I’ve been told I’m an inherently destructive, antisocial, and all around bad person, that my relationship is empty and/or immature, and that my sex life is depraved. Tonight I hear that, better still, it’s “sewer sex.”

I don’t understand this compulsion to enforce these norms. I have NEVER, not once, questioned another couple’s decision to be monogamous. Who are you all to judge mine not to be? And please, no false protestations that you “don’t judge.” When someone says “I don’t judge,” it’s inevitably followed by something like, “Go ahead and f**k everything that moves. Go ahead and have all the empty meaningless promiscuous sex you want. I don’t judge.” Or there will be those who are more subtle, suggesting that a trend toward less outside sex over time reflects a “maturing” of the relationship, which of course necessitates that sexual openness is “immature.”

Regardless of how valid this survey is (like all reasonably designed surveys, it is valid subject to certain limitations), the desperate drive evident on this blog to disqualify and dispute the results of this study are revealing. Many, many gays and lesbians are intensely threatened by data that might suggest that there are ways in which we are different from heterosexuals. Why? Because they buy into the notion that in order to be EQUAL, we must be THE SAME. This is rubbish. Gays and lesbians, and particularly our relationships, ARE different in meaningful ways from heterosexuals’, and WE ARE STILL EQUAL. Different does not mean inferior, and to frantically try to sweep the mere suggestion of difference under the rug is no less homophobic than the conservative drive to deprive us of equal rights under the law.

Emily K
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

Hey everybody, let’s wish DAB a happy time growing up and getting over themselves.

Jason D
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

JDW said “The problem most of you people make”

I find that whenever starts out with such a largely blanketed phrase, what follows is generally snide, condescending, and an appeal to broad stereotyping….

“is you automatically assume you’re smarter than everybody else. But if you go back and read the things you assume and the ways in which you respond it is clear that most of you need a remedial reading comprehension course.”

Gee, I was hoping to be disappointed.

JDW, yes, please go. We don’t need any more people who are more interested in making ad hominem attacks instead of actually having a discussion.

Jason D
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

And just for the record, I don’t see a lot of people fighting for the “Monogamy is the norm” position.

I see a lot of people like me who are saying what Tim and others have said “We simply don’t have the data, the hard data to say what is the norm and what is not the norm.”

Then I see anecdotes about how so-an-so knows 5 million gay couples and all of them are exactly like him, so there, my observation trumps everything!

My point is that we don’t know, and until someone does an actual, representative study, we’re not going to know. Adding up tons of convenience studies, tons of non-representative studies, studies that don’t even have anything do with the broad spectrum of the gay community and it’s relationships is no substitute for an actual representative study. Nor is anyone’s world tour of gaydom wherein they apparently peek in windows to see who’s doin who and writing down that data just in case someday there’s a blog out there that needs their expertise a substitute for actual, scientific study.

The point is that we don’t know what the gay norm is. This study doesn’t reveal what the norm is because this study wasn’t even about that!

The only thing we “know” is what we’ve each experienced — and that can’t be refuted. You can’t refute what I’ve seen with my own eyes, and I can’t refute what you’ve seen either. Which is why when people are smart, they use the scientific method and get out the spreadsheets.

We seem to be arguing over who’s got the biggest, thickest, longest, heaviest, firmest, anecdote at this point. It’s completely ridiculous.

Uki
February 11th, 2010 | LINK

I wonder if Tim can look for researches about this nature of gay men’s relationship in Bay Area, periodically?

Maybe, just maybe, that 50% of non-monogamous gay men is actually a decrease from past years. Say, from the 70s or the 80s? If that so, surely, that means that gay men in Bay Area are being more monogamous than before.

Not that the research should be used to justify about the proportion of monogamous vs. non-monogamous in general. But Bay Area is the epicenter of this so called ‘gay culture’, which hold non-monogamy as the it’s norm. So just wanted to see trend of the relationship.

Bay Area has long been a ground for research about the nature of gay men’s relationship. So, it must be easy to look for that kind of research.

chiMaxx
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

The one thing I do know: Once actual valid studies do come out about how married gay couple do structure their relationships, we don’t really have to worry about Priya’s unknowable quantity of closeted gay men, whether they number in the hundreds or the gazillions, because the overlap between married gay couples and closeted gay men is vanishingly small.

Emily K: Is your gratuitous nastiness (“sewer sex,” “let’s wish DAB a happy time growing up and getting over themselves”) an inborn trait, or did you choose to be that way?

JDW: Priya Lynn is obnoxious, but she’s right that the gay couples that you know and Joe knows and I know are not necessarily representative. But we’re also not necessarily unrepresentative either. What I suspect is that the forces that shaped gay men of our generation (I was 10 when the Stonewall riots happened, in college when Harvey Milk was killed, and having my first meaningful relationship when just about the only ongoing trickle of information about who gay people were and what they were like was biweekly issues of The Advocate) are different enough from those that shaped gay men and women of Jason D’s generation (Hi, Jason! –Monselet) and some of the other commentators here, that our early expectations of what was possible in a relationship and our early experiences of what sort of support our relationships would get have had an impact on how our relationships play out–in terms of monogamy and other factors.

It’s a difference we will probably never be able to measure the extent or nature of, but it is felt.

Finally, no, the plural of anecdote is not data, but anecdote is not meaningless. Anyone who thinks it is should read Samuel Delany’s “Times Square Red, Times Square Blue”–in which a mixture of anecdote, data and analysis are compellingly combined to make a case for why the closing of the adult theaters in the Times Square area–and the social forces that caused and flowed from those decisions–have made the area less safe and less livable.

DAB
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

Emily K: What did I say exactly to deserve such a dismissive, insulting, and hostile retort from you? What’s wrong with saying that being different is OK?

DAB
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

Jason D: As a researcher for over 10 years in the field of HIV prevention, I can say that, although it has limitations, and although the Times certainly erred in extrapolating its findings to the entire world of “same sex marriage,” the study is valid enough not to be dismissed out of hand. Perhaps the rate of nonmonogamy in same sex relationships is 50%, perhaps much less. But it is clearly not zero.

And this study is not the first to make this observation. As Ted Gideonse pointed out there is ample evidence that many gay couples choose nonmonogamy. I think it’s very, very telling that nearly everyone posting here has tried to sweep his post under the rug. Denial is a powerful thing, as is the fear that drives it.

While we don’t have precise estimates of this phenomenon it’s simply not true that we know nothing. And at any rate as I mentioned before, it shouldn’t matter WHAT the rate is. Unless you believe that there’s something wrong with the choice other people are making in their private lives, there’s nothing the gay community needs to disavow. And instead of a passionate fisking of every word of the article on this blog and hundreds of comments, the story would be greeted with a collective shrug.

I don’t need to look further that my personal experiences to know that gay couples can make long-term commitments. I was with my first partner for 14 years, and I’ve been with my husband now for 10. Both relationships were/are open, for what it’s worth. No, I’m not claiming that my sample of 2 relationships means that 100% of gay relationships are open; I know the difference between an anecdote and a statistical sample. What I’m trying to say is that couples who are nonmonogamous exist in our community, and discussions like this show me that the community has a long way to go toward accepting us.

DAB
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

Oh, one last entirely non-scientific, non-random, totally anecdotal data point on the difference between men and women: I’ve discussed my open relationship with a small handful of straight men and women.

Every single straight woman said some version of, “Oh, I could never do that.”

Every single straight man said some version of, “Wow, I wish I could do that.”

Somebody should do a study on THAT.

Jason D
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

Jason D: As a researcher for over 10 years in the field of HIV prevention, I can say that, although it has limitations, and although the Times certainly erred in extrapolating its findings to the entire world of “same sex marriage,” the study is valid enough not to be dismissed out of hand. Perhaps the rate of nonmonogamy in same sex relationships is 50%, perhaps much less. But it is clearly not zero.

Is anyone saying it’s zero? I don’t see that anywhere.

The reason the study from this very blog post is being dismissed is because the data was not collected in a way, nor did the actual researchers who conducted this study come to the conclusions that journalists, bloggers, and others have come to.

The dismissal is not of the research itself, but how it is being interpreted to mean things it doesn’t and to apply in ways it cannot.

And this study is not the first to make this observation. As Ted Gideonse pointed out there is ample evidence that many gay couples choose nonmonogamy.

And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the word “many” in this context. The Real issue is “how many”. Again, I see the non-monogamous folks saying that it’s the rule, and other side saying “you don’t know that”

I think it’s very, very telling that nearly everyone posting here has tried to sweep his post under the rug. Denial is a powerful thing, as is the fear that drives it.

It’s been ignored because it’s inaccessible. Ted didn’t provide us with a hyperlink so that we can go and read this study ourselves, he provided us with a title. This title appears to be something we have to purchase.
http://www.annualreviews.org/catalog/2007/ps58.aspx

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have $75 to waste on a blog argument. And I certainly don’t have $75 to waste in order to find out that this is, yet another, non-representative sample.

While we don’t have precise estimates of this phenomenon it’s simply not true that we know nothing.

If you’re referring to my little eastern philosophy, it’s a reference to the fact that things change, and our understanding changes with them. What we think we know today may be proven false tomorrow.

And at any rate as I mentioned before, it shouldn’t matter WHAT the rate is. Unless you believe that there’s something wrong with the choice other people are making in their private lives, there’s nothing the gay community needs to disavow.

I don’t think it’s about disavowing, it’s about accuracy. Like I noted above, some people swear that non-monogamy is the norm and the other side (my side) seems to be simply pointing out that the data doesn’t support that assertion —we complain profusely (in fact that’s one of the pillars of BTB) when our enemies rely on anecdotes rather than data regarding any and all gay issues, then we certainly should expect no less from ourselves and each other.

And instead of a passionate fisking of every word of the article on this blog and hundreds of comments, the story would be greeted with a collective shrug.

I don’t need to look further that my personal experiences to know that gay couples can make long-term commitments. I was with my first partner for 14 years, and I’ve been with my husband now for 10. Both relationships were/are open, for what it’s worth. No, I’m not claiming that my sample of 2 relationships means that 100% of gay relationships are open; I know the difference between an anecdote and a statistical sample. What I’m trying to say is that couples who are nonmonogamous exist in our community, and discussions like this show me that the community has a long way to go toward accepting us.

I see very few people, on either side of this issue, who are able to discuss their position WITHOUT taking a swipe at the other side. There seems to be a lot of emotion and insecurity on BOTH SIDES.

Amicus
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

As a researcher for over 10 years in the field of HIV prevention

Can one ask whether you are on the physical science side of research or the social science side?

I have to ask because I’ve observed that, in the early 1970s, black people defaulted on their loans more often than white people. Of course, blacks are not inferior, they are just different and,of course the white loan officers should treat them equally when making loans.

Perhaps that will illuminate some of the problems with your narrow viewpoint.

In fact, in reading similar comments from others, I was reminded of the famous note sent from the King of Saudi Arabia to the Shah of Iran, who was trying to press forward with his White Revolution and more, which basically said (paraphrase), “May I remind you, you are not the Shah of the Élysée”.

Amicus
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

The study seems to have been designed to observe communication techniques around safer sex in various gay couples. Presumably the study was meant to identify characteristics of couples who communicate well over safer sex. The expected use of study conclusions would be to target populations who may need “coaching” and the best strategies to recommend to them.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but, let me guess the conclusion: “We find that the couples that communicate the most and concisely about sex with others are often the ones at least risk of unwanted transfer of infected bodily fluids. We therefore recommend that couples communicate fully and concisely.”

Did I just save the trustee’s $250,000 dollars?

DAB
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

Amicus: “Can one ask whether you are on the physical science side of research or the social science side?”

I’m a clinical psychologist. I’ve conducted behavioral as well as clinical outcome research.

“I have to ask because I’ve observed that, in the early 1970s, black people defaulted on their loans more often than white people. Of course, blacks are not inferior, they are just different and,of course the white loan officers should treat them equally when making loans.

“Perhaps that will illuminate some of the problems with your narrow viewpoint.”

Nope. In fact I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.

ZRAinSWVA
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

Timothy, thank you for the work you’ve done in researching and reporting on this study. And, yes, the study is unfortunately being misrepresented to our detriment—but that’s only to be expected.

Jason D wrote, “The point is that we don’t know what the gay norm is. This study doesn’t reveal what the norm is because this study wasn’t even about that!”

One other commenter indicated that s/he would require a study of 1, 000 married couples before s/he would accept the results of that study. (Sorry, I’m too lazy to scroll back up to find the original comment).

Two comments: First, I don’t expect that we would find a ‘gay norm’. We might find a gay ‘mean’ or ‘median’, but we’re a non-homogenous country/society with values varying from urban to rural and from north to south and east to middle to western parts of the country—and any attempt to establish something as ‘norm’ would be meaningless. I live in rural Virginia. There are 38 churches in a 3 miles radius of my house. You can bet the ‘gay culture’ and the culture in this area in general is different than that found in, say, SFC or even NYC. (Love your blog, BTW, JMG!)

Secondly, you cannot focus strictly on married couples. Most states don’t recognize SSM. And I suspect that there may be subtle differences between those who have established committed relationships and those who have actually married. I can, though, only speak from my own personal experience: when my partner and I married…things, well, changed in very subtle and rewarding ways. Bottom line: studying our people and our culture would be complicated, and I have never seen a study that did us justice.

Amicus
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

1. I don’t understand this compulsion to enforce these norms.

2. the choice other people are making in their private lives

3. the community has a long way to go toward accepting us

1. Two things. Most psychologists will tell you that there is an ideation that comes along with coupling/relationship formation. First, you have to understand and respect that. To the extent that there are wildly different ideations, there is going to be conflict. Second, you seem to have no understanding of the term “norm” in terms of how they function in society, including how societies manage/tolerate exceptions to the norm (either in law or otherwise). This is the cause of confusion and conflict.

2. The sexual relations that a society allows/disallows are, sad to say, not simply matters of “private choice”. No matter how much anyone *wants* them to be or makes some abstract legal case about how they could be, there is just no escaping it. Of course, as social progressives, we can seek to maximize private choice and non-interference, but it’s not very compelling simply to state that we can get along with no limits. (Indeed, if I understand it right, open couples are prescribing limits on themselves, restricting their own choices). In fact, the very notion of “society” includes ‘limit’ of some kind, which is why is it amusing to see people refer to the desires of nongay men for sexual adventurism, as if we could have unlimited adventurism yet still have retain everything else that we value that social structures can bring.

3. Part of the problem is that many don’t even know what they are being called to accept. Non-monogamy seems to have many characteristics, depending on who you ask. Until that is known (not by study, either), it’s not clear whether “tolerance”, “accpetance”, or “rejection” is in order. Another aspect is that some non-monogamous folks are, indeed, trying to make a rather undefended “normative statement” of their own, which seems out-of-step with both the current level of tolerance they enjoy to go about their own lives and the worthy political goals of other parts of the community that could no doubt be held up, by various means.

DAB
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

Jason D: “I don’t know about you, but I don’t have $75 to waste on a blog argument. And I certainly don’t have $75 to waste in order to find out that this is, yet another, non-representative sample.”

Well by all means, since you’re not willing to actually READ THE SCIENCE, assume that it’s “yet another non-representative sample.”

Some of us posting here actually know and follow this literature as part of our careers. I am one; I’m willing to bet Ted Gideonse is another. There is a broad literature that discusses the frequency and implications of non-monogamy in gay male relationships. Here are a few recent citations:

“Advocate Sex Poll,” 2002; Bettinger, 2006; Bonnello & Cross, 2010; Davidovich, de Wit, & Stroebe, 2000; Heaphy, Donovan, & Weeks, 2004; LaSala, 2004; Prestage, Mao, McGuigan, Crawford, Kippax, Kaldor, Grulich, 2006; Shernoff, 2006, 2007.

The best-conducted of these studies was Prestage et al. They interviewed 1,333 gay men in Sydney, 822 of whom were in primary relationships; according to the authors, “The non-random convenience sample of men was recruited into the study from diverse gay community based sources, such as (in descending order of frequency): gay community events (53.7%); word-of-mouth (13.4%); other studies (7.0%); gay venues (6.3%); gay and AIDS organizations (5.2%); the internet (4.1%); general practice clinics (3.7%); and gay press (2.9%). The remaining 3.7% were recruited from miscellaneous sources.”

For studies of this kind, where a large sample of gay men is the goal, this is about as good as it gets. Sure, random digit dialing or other “true” random sampling strategies would be ideal, but prohibitively expensive when you’re trying to find a small minority population among the general population. You’re going to have to take my word for this as an expert in the field; if you decide to reject my assessment because I’m “biased” I can’t help that.

Bottom line, this survey found that: “87.2% reported clear verbal agreements with their primary regular partners about the sex within and/or outside their relationships. 64.6% made agreements for sex both inside and outside the relationship; 8.0% made agreements only for sex inside the relationship, and 14.6% only for sex outside the relationship; 12.8% made no agreements.” Is that figure necessarily representative of the entire universe of gay men? No. Is it a reasonable, high-end guesstimate of the rate of non-monogamy among urban gay men in the early 21st Century? Yep, I’d have to say it probably is. And, although it’s only one study, I think the finding that only 8% of couples had an explicit agreement of monogamy should be enough at least to make us stop and think for a moment about what the “science” may really say about the universe of gay male relationships.

If these citations make an impression on you, then let’s discuss that. If you’re unwilling to read the literature that we point you to, and if you’re unwilling to take our word for what it says, and if you intend reflexively to reject any such literature as “non-representative,” then you’re basically saying you refuse to accept any information that contradicts your preconceptions, and I might as well be talking to a Creationist.

Amicus
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

A survey is science?

We took a survey in 1814, and found out that up to 70% of urban white men thought that slavery was a good idea. Indeed, some had both verbal contracts and non-verbal contracts with others about it.

DAB
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

Amicus:

“Two things. Most psychologists will tell you that there is an ideation that comes along with coupling/relationship formation.”

OK, fine. But if both partners share the same “ideation” about nonmonogamy, what’s the problem?

“Second, you seem to have no understanding of the term “norm” in terms of how they function in society, including how societies manage/tolerate exceptions to the norm (either in law or otherwise). This is the cause of confusion and conflict.”

That doesn’t make them right. Society has long enforced a “norm” of heterosexuality in a variety of horrifying and unjust ways. Are you defending that?

“…it’s not very compelling simply to state that we can get along with no limits. (Indeed, if I understand it right, open couples are prescribing limits on themselves, restricting their own choices).

Who ever said anything about ‘no limits?’ Of course, even nonmonogamous couples have rules. What I object to is a complete stranger in a blog discussion implying that he has the right to set limits on my choices in my relationship. Those choices are intensely private, and nobody has any business sticking his nose into it.

“Part of the problem is that many don’t even know what they are being called to accept … Until that is known (not by study, either), it’s not clear whether “tolerance”, “accpetance”, or “rejection” is in order. ”

Oh really? So I need to lay my choices out for you, and then you’ll decide whether they deserve acceptance or rejection? Who died and made you God?

DAB
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

Amicus:

“A survey is science?”

“We took a survey in 1814, and found out that up to 70% of urban white men thought that slavery was a good idea. Indeed, some had both verbal contracts and non-verbal contracts with others about it.”

Now you’re being intentionally obtuse. Several people on here insist that only good “science” will convince them of what the “truth” is concerning nonmonogamy in gay relationships. I present a very well conducted BEHAVIORAL survey of nonmonogamy, and you set up a straw man argument comparing it to an OPINION survey?

A survey IS SCIENCE when you’re trying to study behavior. How else would you propose studying this question?

And are you REALLY comparing nonmonogamy to slavery? REALLY?

DAB
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

Not to mention, if your goal was to study public opinion on slavery in 1814, that hypothetical survey you postulated would be ENTIRELY valid for that purpose. Obviously your intent was to make a moral judgment on the institution of slavery, implying that an 1814 survey supporting slavery doesn’t make it moral.

Which again only exposes your personal bias on this issue: you see nonmonogamy as a MORAL wrong. Which is utterly irrelevant to this discussion.

JDW
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

Jason D: Nobody’s attacking you. I’m just sick of you and your intentionally obtuse ornery pedantic comments. The world may not be as you seem to think it is. Your level of discomfort at that thought is comical.

But DAB basically has proven all my points so no need to continue posting. You should know that telling someone to go is probably the only thing that makes them stick around. If you read all my posts I just spoke from my perspective (which is all any of us can do) to have a discussion. You and the two others either thought that was just too threatening or you’re just really not nice people. Everything you write is dripping with sarcasm and nastiness. Accusing others of ad hominem attacks is laughable.

And Emily K. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to live life as a cliche. Perhaps you can enlighten me someday.

Amicus
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

DAB,

I’m not going to do back and forth. The answers to your rejoinders are all, in my first post. Anyone can read it carefully and find them.

You are stipulating that you surveyed behaviors. All human behaviors are the subject of moral inquiry.

(You do understand that there are quite a few people who would find little value in most descriptive social measures like a poll or survey, right, other than, say, how someone might take a photograph on any given Monday?)

“Acceptance” implies a burden of proof. For the sake of exposition, all I’ve done is suggest two things.

1. It’s not reasonable to expect those who don’t know much about it to take up the burden (on behalf of the whole community or otherwise), while those who do, say, “none of your damn business” (even generalizing to avoid having to talk about their personal choices).

2. That non-monogamy seems to be a very wide concept, not one category, moral or otherwise, requiring clarification(s).

Amicus
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

DAB, Here’s another way for me to be constructive.

Take a look at this “note”, with particular notice of section “E” and the conclusions. (Bring a hazmat, because it’s really ugly – n.b. this is also not their most up-to-date stuff, either).

Your point is that gay relationships are different and good.

Their point is that gay relationships are different and bad.

Do you see how it might be possible for someone, gay or lesbian, to refute their points, but not know exactly what to do about section “E” (which admittedly may or may not be gratuitously offered in their document)?

Jason D
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

JDW:
“Jason D: Nobody’s attacking you.

Oh good!

I’m just sick of you and your intentionally obtuse ornery pedantic comments.”

Oh wait, what?

You sir, are a brilliant satirist.

moving on

DAB:

“Well by all means, since you’re not willing to actually READ THE SCIENCE, assume that it’s “yet another non-representative sample.””

I didn’t assume anything.

What I said was that I didn’t have the money to find out.

It’s a great strategy to only make references to studies and literature that is cost prohibitive for people to access and therefore find out if someone is telling the truth about the work.

I’m glad your job gives you access to these materials, mine doesn’t. I don’t have the funds to verify your claims on my own, so what am I supposed to do, just accept them?
You wanted to know what it was being ignored, I told you. It was ignored because it cannot be verified easily or cheaply.

The onus is on the person making the claims to provide the evidence in a way that is accessible to those he is trying to convince. Since Ted, and you, don’t appear to be making claims that can easily be substantiated (unlike the authors of this blog) we have no option other than to ignore them. I cannot take your word, and I cannot verify myself, so it’s pointless to continue that avenue of discussion.

If either of you were truly interested in making your case, you’d find a hyperlinked source or upload helpful documents. But you don’t, you want us to either accept your word by default or to do your work for you.

That’s why nobody dealt with them. Congratulations, you have more money than I do, does that mean you should win the argument because your sources are beyond my reach? How is that fair or helpful to the debate?

Timothy Kincaid
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

The dialogue is interesting and informative. The bickering is not. So, can everyone please breath for a moment before hitting “post” and go back and re-read your comment and remove the taunts and personal insults? thanks.

Timothy Kincaid
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

DAB,

Can you please provide a source for the Prestage article – I’ve only found the abstract. It appears to be related to HIV transmission which would suggest to me that the sampling methods may have been selected to maximize nonmonogamy. Additionally, your statistics about sex outside the relationship don’t appear to coincide with the abstract.

Thanks

Jason D
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

You and the two others either thought that was just too threatening or you’re just really not nice people.

Uh, no, the thing I keep saying is that we don’t have enough data to make the claims that some people are making.

Why that can be interpreted as feeling threatened, I have no clue.

You make a lot of claims about me, but none are based on things I’ve actually said. They’re based on your subjective interpretation of me, one you have no interest in verifying in any way.

Everything you write is dripping with sarcasm and nastiness.

You’d get further if you made fewer broad generalizations and actually dealt with statements.

So I’m nasty and not nice, and yet you’re the one slinging mud, and calling people names.

Interesting.

Accusing others of ad hominem attacks is laughable.

And Emily K. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to live life as a cliche. Perhaps you can enlighten me someday.

And I’M the not-nice nasty one?

Ironically, Emily and Priya are probably just as offended that you’ve lumped me in with them as I am.

We’ve taken very different approaches to this subject even though we are coming from essentially the same side. Our tactics are demonstrably different, yet you keep tossing us al together as if we’re just one big voice when in fact we vary significantly on what we believe about this subject.

Jason D
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

oops, Tim, go ahead and remove the last few posts of mine if you wish, you’ve got a point.

Ben in Oakland
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

and here I thought I had something interesting to contribute.

Oh, well.

George
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

Just to throw fuel on the fire, wikipedia says national samples for the United States (presumably of only heterosexual married couples) place the rate of extramarital sex at 10-15% for women and 20-25% for men. All other things being equal (eg, societal pressures, social acceptance, etc) wouldn’t we expect 20-25% of gay men to be non-monogamous? That number “feels right” to me but I’d be curious to see a proper study. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monogamy#Incidence_of_monogamy_in_humans

Priya Lynn
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

JDW said “Jason D: There have been numerous studies, some putting the infidelity rate as high as 70% among straight couples. Most coming in around 50%.”.

I find that very hard to believe – present some proof or no one’s going to buy it.

DAB said “I must say this has been an entertaining exchange. What strikes me most about this whole conversation is how passionately invested some people are in proving that monogamy is the norm in gay couples.”.

No one’s attempted to prove that monogamy is the norm. We are merely pointing out that those of you who claim open marriages are the norm amongst gay couples haven’t made your case.

Chimax said “we don’t really have to worry about Priya’s unknowable quantity of closeted gay men, whether they number in the hundreds or the gazillions, because the overlap between married gay couples and closeted gay men is vanishingly small.”.

That’s just your opinion, You don’t know that.

Chimax said “Priya Lynn is obnoxious”.

Obnoxious? Nasty? Where are you people getting this from? How about some examples. Just because I don’t accept that anyone’s opinion is proof of the reality of married gay couples doens’t make me obnoxious or nasty – its reality that angers you, not my personality.

DAB said “as a researcher for over 10 years in the field of HIV prevention”.

Oh spare us you’re irrelevant horn-blowing. That doesn’t qualify you to make statments of certainty about the rates of monogamy in gay marriages.

DAB said “the study is valid enough not to be dismissed out of hand. Perhaps the rate of nonmonogamy in same sex
relationships is 50%, perhaps much less. But it is clearly not zero.”.

That it is not zero says precious little about the rate of monogamy in gay marriages, so little as to be irrelevant.

DAB said “Ted Gideonse pointed out there is ample evidence that many gay couples choose nonmonogamy. I think it’s very, very telling that nearly everyone posting here has tried to sweep his post under the rug.”.

I addressed his “study”, I most certainly didn not “try to sweep it under the rug”. It did not as he claimed say that a very large percentage of gay couples are non-monogamous and contained few surveys of actual married couples so it has little to say on the topic.

Priya Lynn
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

DAB said “What I’m trying to say is that couples who are nonmonogamous exist in our community, and discussions like this show me that the community has a long way to go toward accepting us.”.

I accept you. As long as you are honest with your sex partners beforehand about your sexual history and usage of protection I have no problem whatsoever with you doing as you please. You’re wrongly assuming that because we don’t accept that you’ve proven most married gay couples are non-monogamous that we don’t accept you – that’s not the case, the two aren’t related.

ZRAinSWVA said “I don’t expect that we would find a ‘gay norm’…Secondly, you cannot focus strictly on married couples.”

You MUST focus stricly on married gay couples if you are going to make a valid comparison on rates of monogamy between straight and gay couples.

DAB said “Some of us posting here actually know and follow this literature as part of our careers. I am one; I’m willing to bet Ted Gideonse is another.”.

Please, you’re both suffering from confirmation bias. You’re promiscuous and you want to feel that you’re typical so you ignore any evidence that contradicts your pre-chosen conclusion.

DAB said “There is a broad literature that discusses the frequency and implications of non-monogamy in gay male relationships. Here are a few recent citations:”

And you give us an Advocate poll as an example?! That’s pathetic. And the the other example you give you admit is a non-representative convenience sample. You can whine about true random sampling being prohibitively expensive all you want but that doesn’t change the fact that the surveys you’re promoting aren’t representative and no real conclusions about the typical married gay couple can be drawn from them. And after the farce that was Ted’s citing of a study that didn’t say at all what he claimed it did I’m certainly not going to take your word for it that any of the ones you listed show that open relationships are the norm amongst married gay men in particular given that gay men have only been allowed to marry for a brief time and as you admit your surveys are on gay male relationships, not marriages.

DAB said “What I object to is a complete stranger in a blog discussion implying that he has the right to set limits on my choices in my relationship.”

Once again, no one’s tried to deny you your right to do whatever you please as long as you aren’t harming others. You’re just imagining this persecution.

DAB said “Several people on here insist that only good “science” will convince them of what the “truth” is concerning nonmonogamy in gay relationships. I present a very well conducted BEHAVIORAL survey of nonmonogamy”.

No, you didn’t. By your own admission you presented a non-random convenience sample that wasn’t even about married gay couples. You cannot compared married couples to those who have not made such a committment, many of whom haven’t thought out their “relationship” beyond “I’m okay with this for this immediate moment”.

Priya Lynn
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

George said “Just to throw fuel on the fire, wikipedia says national samples for the United States (presumably of only heterosexual married couples) place the rate of extramarital sex at 10-15% for women and 20-25% for men.”.

That sounds much more realistic than JDW’s unsupported claims of 50-70% which I strongly suspect he made up.

George said “All other things being equal (eg, societal pressures, social acceptance, etc) wouldn’t we expect 20-25% of gay men to be non-monogamous?”.

I agree, that would be my expectation.

Priya Lynn
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

Timothy said “DAB, Can you please provide a source for the Prestage article – I’ve only found the abstract. It appears to be related to HIV transmission which would suggest to me that the sampling methods may have been selected to maximize nonmonogamy…”.

Oh, that would just be oh so typical of people like DAB. I shouldn’t be surprised that he might have done this but it hadn’t occurred to me that he might be that dishonest.

Priya Lynn
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

Further to DAB’s comment ““What I’m trying to say is that couples who are nonmonogamous exist in our community, and discussions like this show me that the community has a long way to go toward accepting us.”.

That you’re finding the community doesn’t accept you strongly suggests you’re wrong when you claim non-monogamous couples are typical of gays.

DAB
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

Timothy Kincaid:

“Can you please provide a source for the Prestage article – I’ve only found the abstract.”

I have access to it through my university’s library account, but I can’t post a hyperlink to it because the journal is subscription-only. I’ve emailed you a PDF of the article.

“It appears to be related to HIV transmission which would suggest to me that the sampling methods may have been selected to maximize nonmonogamy.”

The study was on how gay men negotiate safer sex within the context of a relationship. They didn’t over-sample nonmonogamous couples. The recruitment strategy was as I described, and there were no inclusion/exclusion criteria that would “maximize nonmonogamy”. FWIW this paper dealt with a subsample of a larger survey sample that included both single and attached gay men. They describe the larger sample as “an open cohort of HIV negative gay men in Sydney.” I didn’t dig further back to get more details on how that open cohort study was originally designed, but I’m willing to accept the level of detail the authors presented for this report.

Interestingly, most of the larger sample (69.7%) were in what they considered to be a primary relationship, and these comprised the sample reported for the paper. One shortcoming of the study is that “primary relationship” wasn’t operationalized, and was apparently left to the respondent to define. 25% of the relationships reported were of 6 months’ duration or less, so I’m also willing to concede that the category may be a bit loose. Also only 62% of the sample were in the same relationship a year later. (They don’t report the rate of nonmonogamy among this subset, which would be interesting. Based on my experience working in the field I’d be willing to bet that nonmonogamy agreements are higher in the longer-term couples, but that’s just a guess, and I suspect you’d disagree.)

“Additionally, your statistics about sex outside the relationship don’t appear to coincide with the abstract.”

You’re right; the block of text I quoted was worded somewhat ambigously and I misinterpreted it. The correct statistic for couples agreeing to monogamy is 28.6%, with a further 27.4% having made no explicit agreement on sex outside the relationship. Among those who had an explicit agreement on monogamy, 39% were sexually exclusive, and 61% had some kind of agreement about outside sex. I apologize for the error.

DAB
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

I’ll probably regret this, but…

PRIYA LYNN: “Oh, that would just be oh so typical of people like DAB. I shouldn’t be surprised that he might have done this but it hadn’t occurred to me that he might be that dishonest.”

I’m sorry, but what exactly have I said that earns me that kind of contempt? I’ve been nothing but completely honest in the information I’ve posted about myself and this topic. What exactly do you mean by “people like DAB?” Clinical psychologists? Published behavioral researchers?

Or could you simply mean, “promiscuous gay men?”

This post is a dead giveaway.

Brian QTD
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

Some more thoughts:

1. One of the things this dialogue and debate has raised is the perennial battle between “experience” and “empiricism”. This is a debate that continues to go on in all kinds of political discussions and how to handle the tension will be critical in determining the success of our and others’ social movements. Will we do the work to explain science so that it makes sense “intuitively” in the same way that experience “feels true”? Or will we continue to act like know-it-alls ridiculing people’s experiences and intuitions. As an academic in another field that sparks emotion (religion), I don’t have an answer. But we better find one.

2. Experience is important. Remember that even though anti-gay science was always flawed, it was not until gays insisted, based on our own subjective experiences, that we were not sick that science even began to reevaluate its “evidence”. Perhaps it will take nonmonogamous people being louder about their experiences before someone actually does the work to figure this question out. Maybe enough people will be tired of being called “sick” and “immature” and part of a “sewer” that social researchers will be forced to deal with this question. I’d rather not, because I would hope that our community can just accept diversity regardless of the numbers. But some people insist it is one way or the other, so someone will have to do the work to show that certain segments of our community are being left out.

3. There has been a lot of talk here about how the “holier-than-thou” attitudes cut both ways between both nonmonogamous and monogamous people. But there is one important difference: LGBT political discourse is solidly anti-nonmonogamy. We can point to testimony about how marriage will curb “promiscuity” and foster “responsibility” to demonstrate that. A lot of people don’t like this tone, and feel as though it denigrates a lot of families and people. One view has the support of official discourse, the other does not.

4. The point about raising the divorce rate and cheating rate for heterosexuals is that it is unfair to compare gays to Pollyannish images of the family (which is what our enemies do to make us look horrible). Straight people do not live like Leave it to Beaver and these scare tactics about how many of us are nonmonogamous is obnoxious on its face. We need to defend ourselves based on how people actually live not based on a fictional, mythical view of the two-parent home versus gays.

5. Timothy, thank you for clarifying that you believe that our rights are not tied to whether most of us are monogamous or not. I did not take your post to simply be an analysis of the study, but also a political response to our opponents.

DAB
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

As a researcher for more than 10 years in the field of HIV prevention (not horn-blowing): I consider my integrity in how I conduct and report research of the utmost importance. I strongly resent the implication that being “so dishonest” would be “so typical of people like” me.

You don’t know me lady. Don’t you dare presume to.

Priya Lynn
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

DAB I can judge you based on your postings here and that has been less then perfectly honest. I know all I need to know about people like you.

DAB
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

What’s been dishonest in my posts? Give me, as you often say, some examples.

DAB
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

BRIAN QTD: Great post. Thanks.

DAB
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

oh and by the way PRIYA: You asked for examples of how you were nasty and obnoxious. This is one. (Just FYI.)

Priya Lynn
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

DAB, go back and read my first two longer posts of today. I highlighted some of your dishonesty there.

Priya Lynn
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

DAB pointing out another’s dishonesty isn’t nasty and obnoxious. No one’s got the right to be dishonest without being called on it.

DAB
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

I did re-read your long posts, and my dishonesty escapes me. I’m still going with nasty and obnoxious.

Priya Lynn
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

Of course your dishonesty “escapes” you. You’re suffering from confirmation bias and you wouldn’t admit the truth if I slapped you in the face with it. Just to prove it, here’s a couple of examples:

“What strikes me most about this whole conversation is how passionately invested some people are in proving that monogamy is the norm in gay couples.”.

Once again, no one attempted to prove any such thing, they merely rejected claims to have proven the opposite. You dishonestly characterized this whole thread.

You dishonestly claimed we had all “swept under the rug” the study Ted mentioned when I specifically addressed the fact that it did not say what he claimed it did.

You dishonestly claimed people here were trying to dictate to you how you should live your life.

You dishonestly used the logical fallacy “As a researcher for more than 10 years in the field of HIV prevention” as though that meant what you were saying had to be true.

I could go on, but no doubt you’ll now dishonestly deny the reality of what I’ve just posted.

Timothy Kincaid
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

George,

Cheating and non-monogamy, in this context, are two different things.

Non-monogamy is an agreement by both parties that the relationship will allow sex with outside individuals. Most often these agreements have rules (e.g. no regulars, no anal, always safe, no emotional attachment, etc.)

Cheating is breaking the agreement, whether it be for monogamy or the rules of the open relationship.

Most heterosexual marriages are based on a monogamous agreement (or, more likely, a monogamous assumption or ideal). The question which is, as yet, unanswered is whether gay marriages (male or female) value monogamy or a monogamous ideal and how that compares with heterosexual marriages.

Timothy Kincaid
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

OK

The bickering stops now. I’ll delete comments that are nothing but personal sniping until this gets back on track

Timothy Kincaid
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

DAB,

Thank you for providing the Prestage study. Unfortunately, I don’t think it adds anything to the discussion.

This, too, was a convenience study that never set out to measure the extent to which monogamy is valued in gay marriages, or even in gay relationships.

The study didn’t even discuss relationships, per se, choosing instead to measure behavior in people who had a “current regular partner”. A quarter of these sexual partners had been “currently regular” for less than six months and about 28% hadn’t even had “the talk”.

The sample was comprised of urban gay men of whom over 70% were completely ghettoized (had only or mostly gay friends).

And I think you misunderstood the discussions about those who “made agreements for sex both inside and outside the relationship”. They made agreements about the rules of sex inside and out, not to have sex inside and out. Agreements about sex outside the relationship can include the agreement not to have it.

I do not doubt that there are many gay relationships – defined loosely – that allow sex outside the couple. And I think it likely that there are some gay marriages that do likewise.

But until we have any decent research, we simply cannot extrapolate from HIV research of convenience samples of short-term gay sex buddies in urban gay male bar-culture and think it says anything at all about two lesbians getting married in Iowa.

Each of us have experiences which color our perceptions. And most of us have a social circle that mirrors our own values. It may be difficult for us to distinguish “all my friends” from “gay people in general” but if we are to have meaningful dialogue it’s a task we should all seek to master. Both studies and experience add value to understanding life, but we can’t confuse them for each other.

Amicus
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

@Ben in Oakland

If it is any consolation, I read your post, remember it, and find it interesting because you are one who has actually lived all of these forms.

Separately, I have to clarify something I wrote above. I meant to suggest that it was possible to generalize, so that one doesn’t have to talk about their particular relationship. The way it is written, it could be read the other way around (gasp!).

Ben in Oakland
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

Thanks, Amicus. at least someone was interested.

Sniff.

Priya Lynn
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

I appreciate your posts as well Ben.

RHysom
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

Thanks-As a gay man who has had three five+ year monogamous relationships, one of which lasted 10 years, in the past 25 years, I appreciate your insight and accurate analysis.

In all my years I have yet to know a committed gay or lesbian couple who are comfortable with his/her partner sleeping around.

And I don’t live in Kansas!

chiMaxx
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

Priya Lynn writes:

“Chimax said “we don’t really have to worry about Priya’s unknowable quantity of closeted gay men, whether they number in the hundreds or the gazillions, because the overlap between married gay couples and closeted gay men is vanishingly small.”.

That’s just your opinion, You don’t know that.”

==========

No, it’s not my opinion. Marriage implies public recognition of the relationship–legal, social or religious. Please explain how someone could be in a publicly recognized same-sex marriage (whether legally recognized as a marriage or domestic partnership/civil union or recognized only by one’s community) and still be so closeted that you would be invisible to researchers.

Priya Lynn
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

Chimax, some couples may choose to marry but keep their orientation quiet. Public in this case means recognized by the government, it does not mean such a couple has gone out and had a church wedding with 100’s of guests. I do know some gay married couples who continue to be secretive about their orientation.

DAB
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

Tim:

I’ve already addressed your critique of Prestage et al. offline and I’m not going to bother reposting it here. Frankly I’m getting tired of this discussion. I do have just one question: what makes you think that a sample in which a majority are “ghettoized” is not representative of gay men generally?

DAB
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

And I mean “ghettoized” as you define it.

Jason D
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

Ben, your posts are always helpful. Do not stop.

Amicus
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

following Brian QTD:

1. …I don’t have an answer. But we better find one.

Well, have you considered that there is no answer?

One of the reasons one doesn’t diddle with norms carelessly is because they are sometimes very difficult to reshape, once “lost”. There is no rule that says a group can organically come up with a set of norms. We are wretched things, and the truth is that one group will often fight for supremacy – even with war – in order that a dominant ethic be established. Have you noticed that fundamentalists the world over choose sexual ethics almost invariably as a lifting off point? There is a reason for that. Secondly, have you noticed that nearly 30% of the population in America are self-described Evangelical, with another 40% or so in mainline Christian groups, none of whom formally believe that an “answer” even needs to be sought?

2. But some people insist it is one way or the other, so someone will have to do the work to show that certain segments of our community are being left out.

Left out? Half the time these groups just want to be left alone, yet now -now- they are loudly complaining about being left out. The psychology of that just doesn’t add up. There is more going on (and some of it may well be troublemaking).

3. …We can point to testimony about how marriage will curb “promiscuity” and foster “responsibility” to demonstrate that. A lot of people don’t like this tone, …

Okay, give us a page of nonmonogamous couples – however defined, I guess (?) – who are willing to go on television and tell their stories and answer our critics persuasively, while we seek access to marriage. If they don’t want to be married, then, apologies-in-advance, but the show must go on, right?

4. The point about raising the divorce rate and cheating rate for heterosexuals is that it is unfair to compare gays to Pollyannish images of the family .. We need to defend ourselves based on how people actually live not based on a fictional, mythical view of the two-parent home versus gays.

One can easily be partial to this viewpoint (myself included), which will have traction on the Left, but you are begging the question by saying they are “unfair comparisons”. What’s more, how can people take up a defense of choices that aren’t fully explained and that they don’t fully understand? In court, we are being held up to the standard of the “ideal”, the ideal not only for individuals, but for rearing kids and for society, not to the nongay couple that swings (or whatever). You might complain about that, but that’s the fight as it has been brought to us and that, in some ways, has shaped the reply. Do you really think we can choose to fight on our own terms or that any serious gap isn’t going to be seized upon, whether it should be or not? Indeed, for some it might not be a ‘mythical view’, but a vision for how things can be and are likely to change. And its not too much to ask, politically. People decide what “truths” they want to traffic in for political purposes all the time, including our opponents, frankly. Both sides did so during the AIDS crisis, for instance.

5. ..thank you for clarifying that you believe that our rights are not tied to whether most of us are monogamous or not.

Do you understand that a super-majority is seized of the notion that marriage implies fidelity and you’ll be flying a kite for a long, long time if you ask everyone to please disregard that (for any purpose, really). Put more succinctly, which states in the union do you believe would vote for marriage, today or in seven years, for gays or nongays, if they thought it meant “institutionalizing” “cheating” (and don’t simply assert that it is not “cheating”, because it will be portrayed as “cheating”).

Priya Lynn
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

DAB, what makes you think a sample in which the majority are “ghettoized” is representative of gay men generally?

Brian QTD
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

“One of the reasons one doesn’t diddle with norms carelessly is because they are sometimes very difficult to reshape…”

Those of us interested in truth should be interested in an answer. We are tired of good ideas being derailed by junk science (creationism, climate change denialism, anti-gay research, etc).

“Left out? Half the time these groups just want to be left alone…”

I don’t know who these mythical groups are you are talking about. I do know that the discourse presents the community as one way and denigrates nonmonogamous people. I know that there are nonmonogamous people in the LGBT community. Hence, the discourse attacks nonmonogamous people. Not only that, but the discourse authorizes leitmotifs like: “irresponsible,” not doing “hard work,” “immaturity” etc. If nonmonogamous people start responding to this increasing pathologization (however many there are), it is not troublemaking. In case you haven’t noticed, people don’t like for their relationships to be called “sewers” and “immature”.

“In court, we are being held up to the standard of the “ideal”, the ideal not only for individuals, but for rearing kids and for society, not to the nongay couple that swings (or whatever).”

Why don’t we start with the truth? What makes a family? Why are families actually successful? Families do not fail because people don’t have the right kind of sex, just as families are not successful because the partners have certain genitals. Family success (and children’s success) depends on pretty prosaic things like material and economic support. Not any starry-eyed notions about “the one” and “masculine and feminine”.

“Do you understand that a super-majority is seized of the notion that marriage implies fidelity and you’ll be flying a kite for a long, long time if you ask everyone to please disregard that (for any purpose, really)”

And many people also believe that gays are not monogamous–even some allies (see Joy Behar). So I suppose we should always capitulate to public perception. Why not just go for civil unions or domestic partnerships, since we are kowtowing to public opinion so much?

You know, I have the same advice for LGBTs that I have for the Democrats: Sometimes, just sometimes, you’re going to have to win an argument on its merits instead of trying to find some shoddy, rickshaw compromise with right-wing ideology. Jus sayin’.

Priya Lynn
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

Brian said “Family success (and children’s success) depends on pretty prosaic things like material and economic support. Not any starry-eyed notions about “the one” and “masculine and feminine”.”.

I think you’re way out to lunch there. Most families have adequate meterial and economic support and yet there is a 50% divorce rate anyways. The success of a family is much more due to how compatible people are – its much more about “the one” than about how much stuff you have.

Amicus
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

Hence, the discourse attacks nonmonogamous people.

Personally, I think this is a perceived and/or contrived slight, not a real one, at least in relation to our political goals, recently sought.

Having followed the ads and the testimony in at least three marriage campaigns with a modicum of attention (ME, CA, and NJ), I can say that no where did I hear anyone on our side overtly attack nonmonogamous couples. I followed the Prop8 trial exceptionally closely, and I found no animus by our side toward nonmonogamous couples. [Did I get it wrong?]

If anything, the distinctions are between the married and the unmarried. Which seems natural, because the argument is that marriage has benefits and is related to couples, not singles.

Of course, in the popular discourse, emotions run high. But even then, I’m not aware of a group of ‘monogamy seekers’ making a point out of attacking couples. In fact, the questions have come the other way, no? There was one post, somewhere, suggesting that, if you have just accidentally shot your partner in unusual circumstances, you might consider not giving testimony at the State House on marriage equality. Otherwise, …

Brian QTD
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

“prosaic things like material and economic support”
Priya Lynn responded: “I think you’re way out to lunch there…”

Actually I meant to say material and emotional support (none of which necessarily have to do with whom you have sex–that was my point). Obviously, if money were the issue, we wouldn’t have so many screwed up rich kids (tongue in cheek!). Although, of course, finances are pretty high on the reasons for conflict within couples.

Rewind: Week of Feb. 12 | DC Agenda
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

[…] and gay couples. Although the research out of San Francisco State University only includes men and does not have a statistically valid and representative sample, the author carelessly pronounces that “monogamy is not a central feature for many” gay […]

Ephilei
February 12th, 2010 | LINK

Excellent research! Thanks

Karen Booth
February 13th, 2010 | LINK

Timothy, I’m often critical of your work, but this was really good. Thank you.

Amicus
February 14th, 2010 | LINK

From McWhirter and Mattison, who studies gay couples in San Diego in the late 1970s and published a very interesting summary, called, “The Male Couple: How Relationships Develop”, upfront in the introduction, page xi:

“We clearly recognize the risks of having our findings etched in stone as the way male couples should and must be, setting new standards, as it were, against which others measure themselves. Once again, the limitation of a nonrandom, geographically limited, moderately sized sample must be recognized. Also, we anticipate the development of a still young gay culture to influence male couples in the future. We did not intend or want a new typology for male couples to emerge from these hypotheses. The dangers of creating new myths about male relationships through studies such as this are clearly to be avoided.”

Doesn’t get more responsible than that.

Doctor Whom
February 14th, 2010 | LINK

This isn’t the first time that people have tried to extrapolate from a subset of San Francisco gay men to the LGBT community elsewhere; I’ve commented such attempts at extrapolation before.

Amicus
February 15th, 2010 | LINK

Not the first time at all:

http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/Articles/000,003.htm

News bytes: your weekly news roundup | Pundit Country
February 15th, 2010 | LINK

[…] Box Turtle Bulletin: No, the SF study did NOT illustrate that half of gay marriages are “open.” […]

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