from Social Issues
New Study Shows More Americans Experimenting with Gay Sex
A recent study in the prestigious Journal of Sex
Research reveals a surprising upsurge in
According to the study, the percentage of U.S.
women who say they recently had gay sex has
increased 15 times from 1988 to 1998, with rates
among American men doubling over the same ten-year
Positive media images of gay life, like hit TV
shows "Ellen" and "Will and Grace," may be helping
to spur the increase, according to a March 14th
press release from Reuters Health.
Researcher Amy C. Butler of the University of Iowa
examined 1988-1998 data from the General Social
Survey, a poll of adult Americans conducted every
two years by the National Opinion Research Center.
According to the survey, the number of men who
said they had recently had gay sex rose from 2% in
1988 to 4% in 1998, while rates among women
climbed from 0.2% in 1988 to nearly 3% ten years
Butler suggests that positive images of gay people
in the media "may have made it easier for people
to recognize their same-gender sexual interest and
to act on it." She noted that some of the increase
is likely due to heterosexuals who are
experimenting with homosexuality.
Butler suggests another reason for the upsurge in
lesbian sexuality: "Equalizing the earning
potential of men and women may enable women to
consider family structures and sexual partnerships
that do not include men." More than 90% of women
said their sexual relationships were exclusively
heterosexual in 1988, Butler notes, compared with
86% of women ten years later.
Yet more than half of Americans believe that gay
sex is "always wrong," according to another study
quoted in the Journal of Sex Research.
SOURCES: Reuters Health (Mar. 14)
Journal of Sex Research 2001;37:333-343.