So Just How Many of Us Are There?
First there was Kinsey who said we made up ten percent of the population. More recently, a scientifically compiled sex survey by Indiana University concluded 15% of the American population, ages 14 to 94, identified themselves as homosexual or bisexual. Then came a Gallup poll about the same time that concluded our numbers were much lower, on average just 3.4% nationally.
Now, in what it touted as the first large-scale government survey measuring sexual orientation, the Centers for Disease Control says that only 1.6 percent of adults self-identify as gay or lesbian, 0.7 percent as bisexual, and an overwhelming 96.6 percent as straight.
So who’s got it right? Studies like the CDC’s that are “statistically significant” may still not tell the whole story since the bulk of America’s gay population lives in urban areas and such a study, by design, would need to be skewed to recognize this reality. Besides the obvious, that the cities are where the money and the jobs are, gays feel a sense of security in numbers.
Secondly, how many people when asked about their sexual orientation tell the truth? Even in our enlightened times, it’s more likely a homosexual might answer heterosexual or bi rather than the other way around since, like it or not, stigmas and discrimination are still rampant in many areas of this county, particularly the boonies. Some people are paranoid even when a survey is labeled “anonymous.”
And how do you define bisexual? By the number of sexual encounters the individual has with the same sex versus the opposite sex? Or how he or she is hardwired?
Gay is not an absolute, but shades of gray, and like sexuality itself, is as open to interpretation as color swatches at Home Depot. You’ve got guys, regular guys, beefy guys, who rap one another on the ass after a sweaty football game, homoerotic as hell, then go home and fuck their wives or girlfriends silly, maybe because they got turned on on the field? Then there’s the same guy type, maybe he’s a coach or a truck driver, with a male life partner or some fuck buddy who mirrors his under-spoken masculinity, and they very discreetly, or maybe not so discreetly, fuck the shit out of one another every chance they get. You’ve got openly effeminate men, many in the professions, who are as straight as a flagpole with seven kids to prove it and not a homo urge in their loins, and cross-dressers who have ten inch dongs and fuck bi-married men.
The CDC also concluded that gays tend to have more problems with smoking and drinking (what else is there to do while you’re waiting for Mr. Right or Mr. Right Now?) and also suffer from a greater degree of depression than straights. This last point is in direct conflict with a study published in the professional journal, “Psychosomatic Medicine,” which said homosexuals, in general, may suffer from less depression, anxiety and burn-out than heteros. That includes even gays still in the closet to family, friends and business associates where you would expect anxiety to be higher. The study involved both psych evals and measuring levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.
But let’s say the CDC is right with its numbers and we sexual “outliers” constitute less than 3% of the population. That still means we are equal to the largest current minority demographic in America, Latinos. And we’re unique in that we cross all race and ethnic lines.
And for the icing on the cake, there’s our discretionary incomes. Like all demographic groups, there are gays who have no money by wanton lifestyles or bad luck. But with the billions in gay tourist dollars generated in South Florida, just one sliver of the country, or the hundreds of millions of dollars benefiting businesses in states where marriage is legal, what we may lack in numbers we sure as hell make up in dollars.
And after all, isn’t that what this fucked up capitalistic society of ours is all about?