Saturday, October 18, 2008


For a look at some other opinions on the "statistics" I copied out of a "Family Research Council" post, try clicking here.

Or here.

My motto of "give the devil his due" may have led me over the line here... I was paying those dues to someone closely related to that motto's hero, however: the FRC is clearly a nest of vipers.

I still say it's time for us to take a long, hard look at the Whole Truth, and not just the figures that make us look good. But then, I'm also the guy who has often said: What the hell do I know? And it's a good question...

It is intriguing, though, that nobody seems to know how many of us there are. A Singaporean website [click here] asks the question: What percentage of the population is gay? and then states flatly: This question is virtually unanswerable. A UK study found 2.6% of the respondents in a large poll [the NATSAL II] to have had a same-sex partner within the last five years.

The old 10% figure comes from Kinsey, and is still bandied about, but it seems pretty clear that Harry Hay and the Mattachines seized on it for completely understandable political purposes: it put the gay population on a par with blacks, and in a position, like them, to argue for minority rights. Even today, some gay civil rights organizations continue to trot the figure out in support of their ends. So far, so good.

The trouble comes when Kinsey comes into question, and when there is suddenly pressure to make the "normal" segment of the gay population seem larger. You do not have to be as crazy as Judith Reisman [click here] to believe that Kinsey fudged his figures in an effort to make deviant behavior appear normal. And it is no accident that the Human Rights Campaign has entirely given up on the 10% figure, and uses 5% [click here, and scroll ALL the way down]:
In the last three elections, the Voter News Service exit poll registered the gay vote between 4 percent and 5 percent. While concluding that the Census 2000 undercounted the total number of gay or lesbian households, for the purposes of this study, we estimate the gay and lesbian population at 5 percent of the total U.S. population over 18 years of age.
Oops: they immediately swing from "between 4 percent and 5 percent" to "5 percent." Oops again: exit polls are taken as valid for the entire population, despite widespread agreement that more affluent groups [like gays, statistically at least] are over-represented at the polls. That would tend to indicate that the figure is significantly lower for the general population. There is always some reason to look the other way when the numbers come out wrong, or to claim homophobia made people underreport their orientation.

As some of you may remember, the numbers become crucial when you consider the push for marriage rather than civil unions, which even our Offender-in-Chief supports, or used to. If we extrapolate the number of marriages and civil unions onto 10% of the population, support for it looks pretty measly [especially among the Y-Chromosome Community], who are outnumbered 2:1 by their more eager sisters. But even their numbers look better when applied to 5%. Hence, to my mind, the HRC's willingness to accept the 5% number, which represents a classic political choice: high enough to be able to defend the size of the "community" and low enough to make those interested in marriage look more significant--it's a tight-rope act...]

The Independent Gay Forum [click here] says:
So how many gay couples are there really [in the US]? Two million? Three million? Four million? No one knows...

For instance, last year's Williams Institute study noted that the government's 2002 National Survey of Family Growth asked its sample of more than 12,000 men and women aged 18-44 about their sexual orientation. The survey found that 4.1 percent said they were gay, lesbian, or bisexual. But here is Gates writing in his 2005 Gay and Lesbian Atlas based on the 2000 census: "(T)hese calculations suggest that gay men and lesbians represent 2 to 3 percent of the U.S. population."

And here is the 1994 Social Organization of Sexuality by Edward O. Laumann, et al.: "Altogether, 2.8 percent of the men and 1.4 percent of the women reported some level of homosexual (or bisexual) identity."
Interesting here is the renewed "discovery" of a two-fold discrepancy between the figures for men and women, which is mirrored in some European statistics, but which sometimes seems to be on the wane.

Given that the right-wing wingnuts are always pushing 1%, and the HRC now settles for 5%, I would opine from my lofty position here on the fence [always trying to find the middle ground, as bi guys do] that we are really talking about 3%. That puts me in the Laumann/Gates camp, I guess, if camp is the right word...

If the figure is correct, that would put us somewhere the number of Presbyterians and the number of Asians in the US [click here].

Oh, well. It's a short life, but a merry one, out here in the Big Woods.

Hang in there!


  1. Ugh, math. I'll have HB explain this one to me.
    What I think these figures leave out, though, is under-reporting. Too many people think that because things have become a tiny bit freer and more tolerant in big cities that the same attitude applies all across 'fly-over' country... but it doesn't. I think that if we used a different yardstick to measure what is gay and what isn't, the numbers would be higher... But I can't see them topping ten percent.

  2. I tend to believe that any "self-reported" sexual orientation statistics are highly suspect.

    Think about it, Troll, a husband and wife are leaving their neighborhood polling place -- having just done their civic duty -- and a pollster stops the gentleman and says, "Who did you vote for?" ... "And, by the way, are you straight or gay?" To which the handsome man in his pink Polo shirt with the popped-up collar and penny loafers takes his lovely wife's hand and responds, "Of course I'm straight, we've been married twenty years."

    (OK, crucify me for stereotyping the friend of Dorothy. Ignore the fact that the hot young pollster gave him an instant chubby.)

  3. Paul,

    nice to see you're still here.

    I agree that "self-reported" statistics are suspect, but what statistics aren't? I can't see that the "gay vote" question would be put to anyone coming out of a polling station on the arm of a person of the opposite sex, but who dates at the polling station anyway?

    It is interesting, that what I suspect is over-reporting reflects under-reporting to you. But then, what the hell do I know? The HRC certainly has no incentive to "under-report" in their estimate, and their landing on 5% really does put the 10% figure to rest for me.

    I watched a South African movie last night where an "out" gay man tells a friend that he saw a third party picking up an army officer in Amsterdam. Nonsense, replies the guy on the fence, he's married. To which the tired rejoinder is: "Aren't they all?"

    I suppose we are.