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Gallup asks how many gays

Timothy Kincaid

February 18th, 2013

The Gallup Poll people have conducted a rather massive survey – 206,186 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia – asking one simple question:

Do you, personally, identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender?

Gallup then ranked the states by most to least, and news and bloggers were quick to find that ranking interesting. Which was, in itself, interesting in that it illustrated that most folks don’t understand polls and that Gallup is more than happy to play into their ignorance.

Margins of error for individual states are no greater than ±6 percentage points, and are ±3 percentage points in most states. The margin of error for the District of Columbia is ±6 percentage points.

In other words, the ranking is all in the margin of error.

But the national margin of error is much smaller, +/- 1% (95% confidence). And the overall finding is pretty close to what we’ve long calculated here at BTB: 3.5%.

And it’s not exactly news either. Gallup told us back in October that the percentage was 3.4%, along with a lot of other inside-the-margin-of-error details. And this poll appears to be an extension of the last.

But, in any case, we are finally getting a number into general circulation that is probably more accurate than the old Kinsey 10%. (Though I’m sure we would all find it interesting what was in the heads of the three to four percent which refused to answer either yes or no.)

Comments

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Mark F.
February 18th, 2013 | LINK

Yes, why would you refuse to answer the question?

John
February 18th, 2013 | LINK

Because you’re lgbt and you don’t want anyone to know. Frankly I think that some of the people who said they are heterosexual are gay as well. Even now, what closeted person would disclose that they’re gay to someone who calls them randomly and asks? Even if it is automated. This survey really only shows what percent of the population is openly lgbt. No one who reports it seems to want to report it that way though. Its so frustrating.

markanthony
February 18th, 2013 | LINK

A certain percentage of the population will refuse to answer just about any question for any number of reasons. A pollster would have asked this question in the middle of the poll so its not obvious to the polled person what exactly the poll is about. If the person really didn’t know what the question meant (poor English skills, low IQ) the pollster can’t define the question for them. Also, unfortunately, i could easily see a small number of people completing the survey, but finding a question asking if they are “gay” offensive so they would refuse to answer.

I did polling as a college job…you contact all types of people for a poll. You are under the competing pressures of collecting the most answers to the questions, getting the right “mix” of people (half men, the right number of people the right locations,etc.), and doing the whole thing on your deadline.

Most or all of the people in that category are probably functionally heterosexual.

markanthony
February 18th, 2013 | LINK

I have seen numbers from other major US cities and DC seemed to match pretty closely.

Marcus
February 18th, 2013 | LINK

It’s irritating how this is being reported all over the place as a count of the gay population. It’s right there in the poll question – the number includes bisexual and transgender people. Bisexual people aren’t gay. Most transgender people aren’t gay (many transgender people are straight). It’s erasure.

Gene in L.A.
February 19th, 2013 | LINK

Until the mythic “some day” we keep talking about, when we’ll all “look back and shake our heads that sexuality ever mattered at all”, there will never be an accurate “survey” that tells us how many people are gay. It’s news-grabbing even to try. And we feed the media folly by paying attention to it.

chiMaxx
February 19th, 2013 | LINK

Well, even the “old Kinsey 10%” was never really 10%, as measured here. This survey asks what you consider yourself to be, now.

Kinsey looked at behavior and found that 10% of American males surveyed were “more or less exclusively homosexual for at least three years between the ages of 16 and 55.” That’s a period of 39 years; if you had only same-sex sex for 3 and only opposite-sex sex for the other 36 (or for 1/13 of your adult life), and never self-identified as gay or homosexual, you would still be part of Kinsey’s 10%.

Priya Lynn
February 19th, 2013 | LINK

John said “Because you’re lgbt and you don’t want anyone to know. Frankly I think that some of the people who said they are heterosexual are gay as well. Even now, what closeted person would disclose that they’re gay to someone who calls them randomly and asks? Even if it is automated. This survey really only shows what percent of the population is openly lgbt.”.

You got it exactly right John. When surveys are done that ask about sexual behavior rather than identification the percentage of people who are gay goes up a great deal and even then you can be sure some people who have exclusively or mostly gay sex lie and say they are having only heterosexual sex. For example:

“In 2003, Pathela’s team performed telephone interviews with nearly 4,200 New York City men. They conducted the interviews in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Russian; a translation service helped with interviews in Greek, Korean, Yiddish, Polish, and Haitian Creole.

In nearly every study of sexual behaviour, the percentage of men who report sex with men is higher than the percentage of men who report being gay.
– Nearly one in 10 men who say they’re straight have sex only with other men, a New York City survey finds.

And 70% of those straight-identified men having sex with men are married.
In fact, 10% of all married men in this survey report same-sex behaviour during the past year.”

http://www.webmd.com/sex/news/20060918/many-straight-men-have-gay-sex

Mark F.
February 19th, 2013 | LINK

I would assume that the person who refused to answer the question was gay or bisexual. Straight people almost always would answer the question with an emphatic “no.” There is no reason for anyone to hide being straight.

Mark F.
February 19th, 2013 | LINK

Kinsey’s sample has been widely discredited. It was a big sample, but it was certainly not representative. His books would never pass peer review today.

Mark F.
February 19th, 2013 | LINK

But, on the other hand, I could see someone heterosexual refusing to answer the question on the grounds it was “offensive.” They might view the question the same way I might view a question regarding whether I had sex with animals or children.

Priya Lynn
February 19th, 2013 | LINK

I can’t see anyone heterosexual refusing to answer that question even if they viewed it the same way as you would view a question regarding whether you had sex with animals or children. No way would either of you refuse to answer that question and let there be any doubt about what your answer would be.

TampaZeke
February 19th, 2013 | LINK

I don’t know how a survey that asks people to self report is any more or less accurate than the Kinsey survey. There was a time in my life that I would have said I was straight (even though I wasn’t) and another time when I would have said I was bisexual (though I wasn’t really). In a world where gay people still hide in closets, still kill themselves, still get married, still avoid talking about their sexuality and still consider “gay” to be an “accusation” or an “insult” self-reporting is hardly going to give truly accurate results.

Priya Lynn
February 19th, 2013 | LINK

I agree Tampazeke. Its nonsensical to take any survey asking people if they are gay and claim the percentage they get is representative of reality. The only thing we can say for sure about such surveys is that they undercount the true percentage of gays by an unknown amount.

I confronted Peter Labarbera on his claim that “Gays represent at most 1% to 3% of the population and probably less” by asking him if he thought anyone lied on such surveys and claimed to be heterosexal when they were not. He refused to respond to me after that.

When we consider that in a survey such as this with 3.5% of people willing to identify as LGBT, 3%-4% refuse to answer, and other surveys show close to 10% of people claiming to be heterosexual admit to having same sex sex, its probably a safe assumption that no more than 80% of people (and probably less) are completely non-lgbt.

Timothy Kincaid
February 19th, 2013 | LINK

No, “other surveys” do not find that 10% of people claiming to be heterosexual admit to having same sex sex.

ONE survey in New York City which targeted non-English speaking immigrants, made such a claim. And for non-English speaking immigrants in New York City, that may be true.

When I looked at the mega big daddy of all surveys, the CDC survey, almost five years ago now I found that whether you ask about identity, ask about attraction, or ask about behavior, you get roughly the same results.

And for all that we want to believe that we know what is really inside the heads of people who didn’t answer, all we really know is that they didn’t answer.

There may be a whole host of reasons. Some people aren’t very sexual at all, some are heterosexual religious extremists who may have sublimated ALL sexual urges as “impure”, and some may not even view themselves in terms of sexuality (consider a devout nun who might find the whole question irrelevant to her life – having taken a vow of chastity, her honest answer might not be on the list of options).

What we know is this: roughly 3.5% of Americans identify as LGBT. THat’s it.

And for a community that insists that we are all entitled to our own identity, I think we could do a better job putting that into action when talking about others.

Priya Lynn
February 19th, 2013 | LINK

“No, “other surveys” do not find that 10% of people claiming to be heterosexual admit to having same sex sex.”.

Yes, OTHER SURVEYS do find this, you are negligently excluding the extensive Kinsey surveys.

A Canadian study of teenagers showed that 14% have some degree of same sex attraction:

“Online interviews were conducted in October 2005 by Ipsos Reid with 1,171 Canadian teenagers aged 14 to 17. As well, 1,139 mothers of teenagers were interviewed, but these weren’t the mothers of the teens who were surveyed. The results are considered accurate to within 2.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

In addition, the study found 86 per cent of girls said they were attracted to boys only, while 87 per cent of boys said they were attracted to girls only.”

http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/Health/20080121/teen_sex_080121/

The percentages of teenagers that had some same sex attraction was undoubtedly higher than 14%

“What we know is this: roughly 3.5% of Americans identify as LGBT. THat’s it”.

No, what we know is that on THIS particular survey 3.5% of Americans ADMITTED to being LGBT. The number that identify that way is undoubtedly higher as is the number who actually are LGBT.

Priya Lynn
February 19th, 2013 | LINK

“When I looked at the mega big daddy of all surveys, the CDC survey, almost five years ago now I found that whether you ask about identity, ask about attraction, or ask about behavior, you get roughly the same results.”.

No, even by the link you posted you do NOT get roughly the same results. The results when you ask about behavior are up to to 50% higher than when you ask about identity if you exclude the younger respondents who are less likely to be sexually active:

Sexual same sex behavior

4.5% of 15-19 y.o.; 2.4% in the last year
5.5% of 20-24 y.o.; 3.0% in the last year
6.5% of 24-44 y.o.; 3.0% in the last year

Priya Lynn
February 19th, 2013 | LINK

A survey of men in the Southern U.S. recorded 6% of them had sex with other men:

http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/research/census-lgbt-demographics-studies/estimating-msm-population-southern-united-states/

Once again, unless you believe the absurd proposition that no one ever lies and claims to be heterosexual when they are not the figures are undoubtedly higher than what people report.

Timothy Kincaid
February 19th, 2013 | LINK

Well, Priya Lynn,

you can argue that Canadian teenagers polling on attractions proves that 10% of those who identify as heterosexual have gay sex, if you like. You can also argue that Kinsey’s reports do the same about today’s population. I might laugh out loud, but you can make those claims.

But your assertion that the number of people who identify as LGBT is “undoubtedly higher” than those who admit to being LGBT is based on nothing but your insistence.

Nevertheless, you can believe it. You can think it. You can even get the last word.

Timothy Kincaid
February 19th, 2013 | LINK

Sexual same sex behavior

4.5% of 15-19 y.o.; 2.4% in the last year
5.5% of 20-24 y.o.; 3.0% in the last year
6.5% of 24-44 y.o.; 3.0% in the last year

sexual experimentation in the past does not define orientation, attraction, or even “sexual behavior”. Many many gay people can prove otherwise.

The relevant number here is “in the past year”. The other numbers can shade that number somewhat, but a quick glance will show you that most of that the age brackets were increasing roughly one percent with about 3% consistency. In other words, there’s a significant amount of experimentation included in the larger number that took place in the pre-19 bracket and is not reflective of orientation, identity, or even attraction.

Priya Lynn
February 19th, 2013 | LINK

“you can argue that Canadian teenagers polling on attractions proves that 10% of those who identify as heterosexual have gay sex, if you like.”.
“You can also argue that Kinsey’s reports do the same about today’s population.”.

I haven’t argued that and I have no intention of arguing that.

“I might laugh out loud, but you can make those claims.”.

Go ahead and laugh, you’re arguing against an absurd straw man because you can’t make a convincing case against what I’ve actually said.

“But your assertion that the number of people who identify as LGBT is “undoubtedly higher” than those who admit to being LGBT is based on nothing but your insistence.”.

LOL, we both know the truth, but only I am willing to state it. I am certain you know LGBTs who are in the closet. It necessarily follows that you also know the number who identify as LGBT is undoubtedly higher than those who admit to being LGBT on a survey. Not even Peter Labarbera was willing to claim no one lies when being surveyed about being gay and falsely claims to being heterosexual. You fail to admit the obvious only out of a misguided sense of politcal correctness and an unwillingness to admit you’re portraying reality inaccurately.

Sexual same sex behavior

4.5% of 15-19 y.o.; 2.4% in the last year
5.5% of 20-24 y.o.; 3.0% in the last year
6.5% of 24-44 y.o.; 3.0% in the last year

Timothy said “sexual experimentation in the past does not define orientation, attraction, or even “sexual behavior”. Many many gay people can prove otherwise.

The relevant number here is “in the past year”. The other numbers can shade that number somewhat, but a quick glance will show you that most of that the age brackets were increasing roughly one percent with about 3% consistency. In other words, there’s a significant amount of experimentation included in the larger number that took place in the pre-19 bracket and is not reflective of orientation, identity, or even attraction.”.

There is nothing to support your claim that any of this is experimentation – you just made that up. I only know a handful of gay men but of that small group I know two who were virgins until their mid-forties. I also went through a ten year stretch from mid-thirties to mid-forties where I did not have sex. Just because its been more than a year since a person has had a sexual encounter (same sex or otherwise) doesn’t mean in any sense that they are “just experimenting”. Your assertion that any of the shown 6.5% of men who’ve had same sex sex are “just experimenting” is based on nothing other than your insistence.

Virtually every LGBT has been in the closet at some point in their lives. Every LGBT knows of people who have been or are in the closet. Only LGBTs who are liars would deny that any survey on the percentage of gays or LGBTs in the population undercounts the true number.

Priya Lynn
February 19th, 2013 | LINK

Further to this:

Sexual same sex behavior

4.5% of 15-19 y.o.; 2.4% in the last year
5.5% of 20-24 y.o.; 3.0% in the last year
6.5% of 24-44 y.o.; 3.0% in the last year

Timothy said “sexual experimentation in the past does not define orientation, attraction, or even “sexual behavior”.

The CDC labelled the table “Sexual same sex BEHAVIOR” NOT “Sexual same sex experimentation. That you choose to falsely characterize the CDC’s table only emphasizes your attempt to mislead.

Dave
February 19th, 2013 | LINK

I’ve got to agree with Priya on this. It seems ridiculous to me to think that everyone is now out of the closet and that the real percentage of gays would not be higher than those who will tell the truth in a survey. Timothy, are you saying that there are no gay people in the closet?

Timothy Kincaid
February 20th, 2013 | LINK

Not at all, Dave.

But I am saying that we don’t know and can’t assume that those who didn’t answer were thinking the thoughts we might like to attribute to them.

And while I think it is likely that there are some people who tell a pollster “no”‘ on the phone, we don’t know that to be true or how many it would be. For all we know, when talking to anonymous pollsters is the only time closeted people are honest. And for all we know, the wacky claim made by some anti-gays that straight liberals lie to make the gay population seem larger might actually have some tiny measure of merit.

Now I doubt those scenarios are true. They seem rather unlikely to me.

But I am troubled when our response to a poll is “oh, well I want to believe something else so i’ll just make up motivations for those who didn’t answer.”

The truth is that the polls lately have been circling a number and that number is somewhere in the 3-4% range of Americans who identify as LGBT. It’s kinda becoming expected.

Now there may be some additional percentage who are closeted or even some percentage who would be bisexual if they let themselves think about it. But we have no good comprehensive studies to tell us that number and absent any real research we are limited to “well based on my friends, x must be true and y is false”. And we don’t like to do that so much here at BTB.

Jim Hlavac
February 20th, 2013 | LINK

once again mush numbers from heteros — and you like it — and well, me here says you’re off by half — no way every single lbgt or any portion thereof answered the question “yes” — just because Gallop asked, doesn’t mean everyone told. And, say, what is the division in the lbgt — I’ve always been G — now I’m lbgt and well, I’m not, so the count is mush from that perspective.

Cass
February 20th, 2013 | LINK

Timothy: “And while I think it is likely that there are some people who tell a pollster “no”‘ on the phone, we don’t know that to be true or how many it would be. ”

Timothy to Priya: “But your assertion that the number of people who identify as LGBT is “undoubtedly higher” than those who admit to being LGBT is based on nothing but your insistence.”

Timothy Kincaid – How many LGBT folk are there? (April 8th, 2011)

” There are virtually no people who will identify on a survey as being gay when they are not. But there are a NOT-INSIGNIFICANT number who do identify as gay – to themselves, their friends, their family – but who will NOT DISCLOSE their orientation in a survey.
So language that says “are” rather than “at least” falsely implies that the lowest number is accurate. “

Timothy Kincaid
February 20th, 2013 | LINK

Thank you, Cass

Since 2008, I have become less convinced that the 3.5 number is grossly low. So I am not at all – at this point – ready to assign the non-answers as being the closet.

I believe that the closet is not as pervasive as I once thought. So in less than a year, today I would not use the same language I used last April.

But, yes, “at least” is better than “are” when speaking about those who are LGBT.

But I do not now (nor did I then) believe that we just mark the non-answers as being in the ‘yes’ column.

Cass
February 20th, 2013 | LINK

Timothy,

I disagree with you but I respect your opinion.
Thank you for your clarification.

Priya Lynn
February 20th, 2013 | LINK

Timothy said “But I am troubled when our response to a poll is “oh, well I want to believe something else so i’ll just make up motivations for those who didn’t answer.””.

How hypocritical of you. You’re making up motivations for the vast majority of LGBTs who believe the polls undercount. You also made up motivations for the people who didn’t answer by saying they were nuns who think sexual orientation doesn’t apply to them or religious fundamentalists who were too hung up to admit they were heterosexual. Even if every nun felt that way (and I’m sure they all don’t) there’s no where near enough nuns to affect the 4.4 percent of non-respondents by even 1/10th of one percent. Its not plausible either that significant numbers of the people who refused to respond did so because they are ashamed of their heterosexuality rather than hiding their gayness. I’m sure there are religious fundamentalists who see sexual urges as impure but its far more likely they’re refusing to say they are heterosexual because they have same sex sexual urges, not heterosexual ones.

Your last two responses are full of contradictions, at once agreeing there are people in the closet and then claiming there’s no way that means the poll is an undercount. You also excluded mention of key parts of the Gallup report that indicates they themselves believe the poll is an undercount due to people being in the closet:

“As a group still subject to social stigma, many of those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender may not be forthcoming about this identity when asked about it in a survey. Therefore, it’s likely that some Americans in what is commonly referred to as “the closet” would not be included in the estimates derived from the Gallup interviews. Thus, the 3.5% estimate can best be represented as adult Americans who publicly identify themselves as part of the LGBT community when asked in a survey context.”.

Thus gallup disagrees with you who say “What we know is this: roughly 3.5% of Americans identify as LGBT. THat’s it.”. The truth is what I said – the survey only shows those who will ADMIT to being LGBT, not those who actually identify that way.

Gallup also notes that those in urban areas are more likely to identify as LGBT than those in rural areas which may be due to LGBTs moving to more accepting urban areas or LGBTs being less willing to respond openly when they live in more prejudiced rural areas. It is not plausible that only the former explains this difference in reporting levels.

Gallup also notes that younger people are more likely to report being LGBT than older people. Once again, the only plausible explanation for this is that a greater percentage of older LGBT people are in the closet and unwilling to identify as LGBT.

The idea that the 4.4% figure of non-respondents is made up solely of uptight fundamentalist heterosexuals and nuns who think orientation doesn’t apply to them rather than including a large percentage of closeted LGBTs is absurd. In a false show of bravado you can claim to laugh at the idea that the Gallup poll number is a significant undercount but the joke is really on you.

Your assertion that recent polls showing a number of about 3.5 percent means this is an accurate reflection of the true number is unsupported by any evidence and is contradicted by the fact that every LGBT, including you, knows LGBTs in the closet and the percentage of LGBTs in closet increases with age. As the New York poll shows as many as 10% of married men who identify as heterosexuals are having gay sex and that 10% figure does not include any of the LGBTs who actually identify as LGBT You may claim the fact that those people didn’t speak English affects their sexual orientation but then you’ll be the one being laughed at.

When we look at polls, including the CDC poll you laud, asking about sexual behavior rather than orientation we see about 6% of men report gay sexual behavior and once again its a certaintly that not all those surveyed engaging in gay sex are willing to admit to it.

The idea that no LGBTs are in the closet is absurd (which you admit), the idea that a significant proportion, if not most, of the non-respondents are not LGBT is absurd. The idea that all the people who said they were heterosexual actually are is absurd. The idea that the 3.5% figure is not an undercount is also absurd. The idea that you don’t also believe this figure is an undercount isn’t believable. That you won’t admit it reflects poorly on your integrity.

Thomas Kraemer
February 20th, 2013 | LINK

I agree with your pointing out the margin of error is greater than many of the supposed differences. Also, I also agree that many early gay rights activists cited the “ten percent” Kinsey number and so it became a popular myth that did not capture Kinsey’s data accurately. Anyone who reads his original book will see Kinsey never gave one number, but gave a range of numbers based on different factors. Also, Kinsey focused on orgasm behavior statistics and not sexual orientation because he was a smart scientist. I am amazed how close Kinsey’s numbers match more recent studies when you compare similar data sets with the same conditions.

homer
February 20th, 2013 | LINK

The number of LGBT people is increasing as the stigma goes away. There are plenty of older people, like Marcus Bachmann, who say they are straight but probably are not.

TampaZeke
February 20th, 2013 | LINK

Arguing strongly that the lower number is likely more accurate and then complaining that someone else is arguing that a higher number is likely more accurate.

Ugh.

TampaZeke
February 20th, 2013 | LINK

I would expand on Timothy’s earlier statement to say that this survey only tells us the percentage of individuals who identified themselves to a survey taker as one of various sexual orientations at a given moment on a given day under the circumstances that existed at that moment. NOTHING MORE! We don’t know what those who didn’t answer were thinking or what their orientations were; NOR do we know the actual sexual orientations of ANY of the people who self identified as straight, gay or bi. We only know…(see above).

Until a survey can be done that bypasses the conscious mind we will have no idea of the actual percentage of the population that is gay or bisexual.

My only point above was that self-reporting is much more likely to under-report gay/bi people do to ongoing prejudice and continuing evidence that the closet is still alive and well in 2013.

TampaZeke
February 20th, 2013 | LINK

…due to…

Timothy Kincaid
February 20th, 2013 | LINK

In re-reading the stream, I see that I came off as being supportive of 3.5 as an accurate number. That isn’t the case, it’s likely not accurate.

I also seem to suggest that there are few people in the closet. Again not what I set out to do.

I do think 3.5% is likely low – though I think it’s closer than 10%.

My objection – which I expressed poorly – is that we not just insist that a number is wrong without evidence that it is. Until we have better documented info, we are stuck with “at least 3.5%” and should avoid being too specific about just how much that “at least” should be increased.

Nathaniel
February 20th, 2013 | LINK

I just have one question: Why do we care so much that LGBT people make up a particular portion of the population? When our opponents say our numbers are too small to justify equality, we shouldn’t be raking our brains for proof that our numbers aren’t so small. Rather, we should point out the ridiculousness of the assertion. So while it is interesting to know, I’m not sure why it is so important that we believe LGBT people make up 10% rather than 4%.

As for motives to not responding, there are many. Most of you have pointed to the closet. That could certainly account for some small percentage of non-reporting and straight reporting. However, we can’t know that percentage. Timothy suggested one alternative, asexual and non-sexual people that would find that question irrelevant. Again, we can’t know the percentages, but they do exist. Finally, I would add the individuals (particularly younger ones) who see assignments in these limited categories as untruthful to the nature of their orientation/gender identities. I am sure we can think of a few more possibilities, but without evidence, we cannot assign the bulk of non-respondants to any one of these categories.

Asking about sexual activity is as poor a proxy as asking about admitted orientation/gender identity. As Timothy pointed out, one limiting factor is focusing on whether one has ever had relations with a person of the same sex. There are a plethora of imaginable scenarios where a mostly-straight person might engage in same-sex sexual activity (is such activity even clearly defined?). If you want to dump all such individuals into the B category, I’d have to ask where exactly we draw the line with that. Do you need to be 95% straight, or is 90% OK, to claim to be truly heterosexual? This of course indicates a more serious problem that even this survey falls into: dichotomy versus continuum. Why are we submitting to the confusion of dichotomy rather than fighting for the right of continuum? Human beings are not so easily boxed up. It seems like we are demanding people conform to our pre-conceived notions of human sexuality. Yes our notions have expanded, but we are still trying to fit the whole mess into neat categories. We cannot honestly fight for the right for people to live out their orientations and gender identities when we are so committed to making sure they do so within predefined confines. So please, let’s follow Timothy’s lead by nodding our heads, saying “That’s interesting” and moving on.

Priya Lynn
February 20th, 2013 | LINK

“There are a plethora of imaginable scenarios where a mostly-straight person might engage in same-sex sexual activity.”.

Apart from prison, I don’t think so. And a “mostly straight” person is a bisexual, not a heterosexual. Its plausible that completely gay people will experiment with heterosexual sex due to social pressure but the reverse is not true. It’s unlikely that any person will try same sex sex without having any same sex attraction.

Some psychologists believe we are all bisexual to a degree. I’m inclined to agree. I think it unlikely that there are very many people who don’t have at least a little same sex attraction. There’s a reason why the most popular porn has men and women in it. If most men were totally unattracted to men they’d prefer all girl porn and that would be much more popular than it is.

Mark F.
February 20th, 2013 | LINK

“It’s unlikely that any person will try same sex sex without having any same sex attraction.’

I don’t know. They might be really horny and the girlfriend is away or maybe they are offered some money. Maybe they just want to try it to see what it is like.

Priya Lynn
February 20th, 2013 | LINK

I could see doing it for money if you had no same sex attraction but I can’t see doing it because the girlfriend is away or just to see what it is like if there was no attraction. How can there even be any arousal if there is no attraction?

xdevildawg4u@msn.com
February 20th, 2013 | LINK

Timothy, I suspected that was the case. I appreciate your clarification.

TampaZeke
February 20th, 2013 | LINK

That was me. I guess the secret’s out now. ;)

TampaZeke
February 20th, 2013 | LINK

Mark F. I’ve heard that silliness forever. Imagine someone making the argument that a gay person who doesn’t score at the bar or his boyfriend is out of town goes out and finds a girl to sleep with. That sounds outrageous but somehow, probably due to fantasy, people quickly buy into the “straight man struck out at the bar so he picked up a gay hustler” silliness. NO, straight men who strike out at the club or can’t get sex from their girlfriend/wife find another WOMAN to have sex with or find a FEMALE prostitute. If they are pursuing sex with a man without being payed or forced or raped he isn’t completely straight.

Varburg
February 20th, 2013 | LINK

Maybe this won’t been seen, since it’s so many replies deep, but the linked article contradicts itself. It says: “except for the District of Columbia, all are below ±2 percentage points”. This means that the rankings are not within the margin of error. It’s not valid to just add the margins of error when comparing two values when the samples are independent. If the margins of error are equal, the margin of error for the sum or difference is the original multiplied by sqrt(2).

See section 3 of this document:
http://abcnews.go.com/images/PollingUnit/MOEFranklin.pdf

If the ±3 figure is correct, the margin of error for the sum is 4.2.

If the “below ±2″ figure is correct, the margin of error for the sum is below 2.8.

Nathaniel
February 21st, 2013 | LINK

Again, we come back to definitions. I was using a broad definition of what a sexual encounter might be. Could it include college roommates who watched a porn together, but (“I swear”) no touching was involved? Sexual encounters, much like one’s own orientation, begins to be in the eye of the beholder. PL, you emphasize my point by throwing anybody with the least little attraction for the same sex into the bisexual category. You have made it too broad and meaningless. So why begrudge others their own definitions of their orientation?

Priya Lynn
February 21st, 2013 | LINK

“So why begrudge others their own definitions of their orientation?”.

Because who you’re attracted to determines your orientation, not what you wish to be thought of as. Its no different than same sex attracted people claiming they’re exgay – No, you’re not, if you’re same sex attracted you’re still gay or bisexual regardless of what you want to call yourself.

Its no different than me calling myself a doctor because I want people to think of me that way even though I’ve never been to medical school.

Mark F.
February 22nd, 2013 | LINK

“How can there even be any arousal if there is no attraction?”

A certain percentage of straight guys can close their eyes and think of a women while having sex.

Mark F.
February 22nd, 2013 | LINK

Priya,

I’m pretty sure I could get myself aroused enough to have sex with a woman if I had to. I don’t find the idea totally revolting. That does not mean I’m bisexual.

Priya Lynn
February 22nd, 2013 | LINK

Mark, I can see a gay guy doing that due to societal pressure to be heterosexual, but I can’t see a heterosexual man choosing to go against the stigma of being gay to force himself to have sex with a man, other than as we discussed unless he was being paid to do so.

Nathaniel
February 22nd, 2013 | LINK

PL, that is a false equivalence. A degree is earned after years of hard work and is a matter of provable record. Until we invent a way to quantify the degree of every person’s same- and opposite-sex attractions, no such comparison can be made with orientation. However, you still haven’t answered the question. Why does it even matter that everybody accurately reports the least little bit of same-sex attraction?

Priya Lynn
February 22nd, 2013 | LINK

No Nathaniel, its not a matter of false equivalence. In both cases a person is claiming to be something they’re not. May not matter to you if people are truthful, but it does to me.

Priya Lynn
February 22nd, 2013 | LINK

Nathaniel, as long as I don’t actually try to practice medicine, why does it matter if I tell people I’m a doctor?

Kevin M
February 23rd, 2013 | LINK

I think that estimates around 3% are almost always low. When you look at more granular data (http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/10/20/opinion/darker-rainbow.html) you see rates as high as 6% (in young men of color). Older and white men are less likely to identify as gay to survey takers, but not less likely to actually be gay; you’d expect a random distribution of gays among all ethnic groups, so rates that differ more than 2% between white men and black men mean something funny is going on. The sheer number of older, white men who are unlikely to identify as gay to a survey taker are depressing the average.

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