Dispelling Myths

I saw a recent posting online that used statistics to dispel myths about the gay community. It was an interesting collection of data.

OKTrends compiles data from OKCupid, an online dating site. This gives OKTrends a huge database from which to gather data on sexuality and dating. In their own words, they state their reason for releasing this information: “Gay issues have been in the news a lot lately, from the debate over same-sex marriage in Congress to a sickening rash of gay-bashing here in New York City.

We see a lot of emotion out there, instead of information, and we wanted to provide some data-based context on sexuality so that people might make better choices about what they say, think, and do.”

From this database of over three million users came some very interesting statistics.

The first myth they wrote about is the idea that gay people are trying to convert straight people. I have touched on this idea many times in this column too. It seems there are some individuals who are convinced that if you, as a gay person, are remotely nice to them, then you are hitting on them.

Going even further are people who believe that gay people shouldn’t be teachers because they will convert impressionable young people into the gay lifestyle.

OKTrends found both these fears to be unfounded. Their data shows that only 0.6% of gay men searched their database for straight matches, only 0.1% of lesbians searched for straight matches. They also found that only 0.13% of all the visitors to straight people’s profiles were gay.

In other words, gay people may be on these same web pages, but they are not interested in the straight people. So much for the “gay agenda.”

Another common belief is that gay people are promiscuous, in particular gay men. OKTrends found the opposite: that gay men on average had as many sex partners straight men did. The researchers also found that 2% of the male gay population had 23% of the reported gay sex. In other words, a small fraction of the community is having most of the sex.

Another interesting fact OKTrends discovered was that straight people didn’t need to be “converted” (even if that was of any interest in the gay community) because they were already having same-sex relations.

The pollsters asked: “have you ever had a sexual encounter with someone of the same sex?” More than one-quarter of the respondents answered “yes”. For straight men, more than 13% admitted to having had sex with another man. And one out of three women admitted to being with another woman sexually.

OKTrends broke down the data on straight people who have admitted to having a gay experience or who would like to have one. Data showed that the west coast of the U.S. was very gay curious, as was all of Canada. Canada is a gay-loving population.

The data on straight people is not really all that surprising. Alfred Kinsey deduced a long time ago that sexuality falls along a continuum between straight and gay and that many people fall into various places along that continuum.

The more we evolve, and the more our way of thinking evolves, the more we will see that sexuality is complex and there are no absolute rules. In the future we may not even bother to label who we are. We may just label ourselves as sexual beings.

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