Just How Gay Are You?

Sexuality is a label we put on ourselves. Heterosexual/homosexual/bisexual/asexual are boxes we are filed neatly into. But what do these labels even mean? **spoiler alert** Not much.  In the words of Honey Boo Boo, “Ain’t nothin’ wrong with bein’ a little gay. Everybody’s a little gay.”

In our media filled world, it’s extremely common to see #mancrushmonday or #womancrushwednesday, typically followed by an image of an extremely attractive celebrity. There’s nothing wrong with having an attraction to a member of the same sex, and it definitely does not make you homosexual.  Since adolescence, telling someone, “you’re gay,” was one of the biggest insults you could say to a person. It wasn’t until early high school that one of my close friends came out to me, which made me realize how much of an everyday occurrence it is for people to say “gay” instead of a more fitting word choice such as “lame” or “boring”. Maybe being “gay” represented the fear of not being accepted by peers, or the fact that many of us are somewhere lost in the mix.

It is estimated that 10% of the U.S. population is homosexual. However, according to Kinsey studies, 37% of males have participated in a homosexual encounter. You can have sex with a member of the same sex and not be considered homosexual. I believe that’s why younger people and the ill-informed are most likely to say anti-homosexual slurs – it’s because they can’t explain what they themselves are feeling. If 37% of males have participated in a homosexual encounter with another male, I can only assume that more have had provocative thoughts about fellow males who have not acted on it for fear of rejection. The Kinsey statistic for homosexual female encounters changes to 13%. (It is important to note, the Kinsey studies were studied in 1948 for male research, and 1953 for female research, and there was participation selection bias.) On a typical college weekend, it’s not surprising or terribly shocking to see two seemingly straight females making out on public display, but I imagine heads would turn to see two males, perceived as straight, to be caught in the same situation.

The Kinsey statistics point to greater instances of homosexuality. By age 16, 20.9% of males have had sex, and only 6% of females have participated in intercourse. As age increases the same pattern continues. This leaves an open interpretation, maybe there are a group of promiscuous females having sex with many men, or maybe the men are having sex with older women who experience there first sexual encounter later in life. Or maybe men are having sex with each other.  When looking at extramarital affairs, a similar pattern emerges. For men, 16.7% report having 1-3 partners outside marriage, while only 15.7% of females report 1-3 partners outside of marriage. Again, there are a few possibilities for these results, but the same question is there, who are these men having sex with?  In a number of studies, such as one done in 1994, 56% of men have had five or more partners in their lifetime, in contrast with only the 30% of women who have five or more partners. Lastly a noteworthy statistic by Kinsey is a staggering 69% of white males have had sex with a prostitute (wrap it, fools).

Sexuality is not what defines anyone. People are attracted to fellow humans and it’s not a crime. Even if you opt to pursue a same sex partner it does not mean you will be homosexual. There’s a broad spectrum and people are always changing. No one should have to live in fear that a choice they made will forever define them. Sexuality should not be a source of shame, but rather empowerment.

Author: Alexis Towler. Alexis is a  student at SUNY Albany, and a wonderful Alternative Rock DJ on WCDB.

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