Academic journal article
By Hewitt, Christopher
The Journal of Sex Research , Vol. 35, No. 4
This paper presents a meta-analysis of the demographics of male homosexuality in the United States during the postwar period, and examines the numbers, age distribution, life expectancy, marital status, and fertility of men who have sex with other men. The data are from both national surveys and surveys of the gay population. A typology, which is used to explain why so few women appear to have been infected with HIV by bisexual men, is included.
Numerous surveys of gay men have been carried out by academics, journalists and gay activists. These surveys are of convenience samples usually collected by distributing questionnaires in gay bars and publications, or through homophile organizations. Some are national in scope (i.e. Jay & Young, 1979; Spada, 1979), others restricted to a single city. The first nationally representative survey was carried out by the Kinsey Institute in 1970, although the results were not published until much later (Klassen, Williams, & Levitt, 1989). In 1988, Harris Polls conducted a face-to-face survey using male interviewers. That same year the National Opinion Research Center (NORC), as part of its General Social Survey, began to include questions about the number and gender of sex partners. Harry (1990) interviewed a national probability sample by telephone. Other academic studies include one conducted by University of California San Francisco (Bower, 1991) and another by Diamond (1992). The 1992 New York Times exit poll of voters was the first to ask a question on sexual orientation. The results of two other studies (Brecher, 1984; Hunt, 1974), while not based on truly random samples, appear credible. The most ambitious and sophisticated survey is the study by Michael, Gagnon, Laumann, and Kolata, (1994).
Prevalence of Homosexuality
The prevalence of homosexuality can be measured over various periods of time (last year, last five years, lifetime, etc.), and can be defined behaviorally or in terms of an individual's sexual identity. Table 1 shows the results of several national surveys using both criteria.
Table 1. Percentage of Males Who Define Selves as Gay/Bisexual or Report They Had Sex With Men Current/Last Year Study Kinsey (1970) male sexual partner 1.6-2.0 Hunt (1972) male sexual partner 2.0 Brecher (1978) male sexual partner 2.3 Harris Poll (1988) male sexual partner 3.5 Harry (1988) gay/bisexual identity 3.7 NORC (1988) male sex partner 2.4 NORC (1989) male sex partner 1.2 NORC (1990) male sex partner 1.9 UCSF (1990) male sex partner 2.0 Diamond (1992) gay/bisexual identity 3.0 NYT (1992) gay/bisexual identity 3.2 Michael et al (1994) gay/bisexual identity 2.8 male sex partner 2.0 Lifetime Study Kinsey (1970) 11.9 since 15 6.7 since 21 Hunt (1972) 10.0-11.0 since 15 Brecher (1978) 13."ever" Harris Poll (1988) -- Harry (1988) -- NORC (1988) -- NORC (1989) 4.9 since 18 NORC (1990) 4.8 since 18 UCSF (1990) -- Diamond (1992) -- NYT (1992) -- Michael et al (1994) -- 9.0 since puberty 5.0 since 18
Note. Dates refer to date study was performed.
There is a remarkable agreement among the studies. The proportion describing themselves as gay or bisexual averages slightly more than 3%, while those who say they had sex with a man in the previous year averages about 2%. The behavioral figures are noticeably higher if we consider lifetime incidence. …