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Opening Arguments

A good LGBT number

This sounds about right:

The inaugural results of a new Gallup question -- posed to more than 120,000 U.S. adults thus far -- shows that 3.4% say "yes" when asked if they identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.

[. . .]

Gallup chose the broad measure of personal identification as LGBT because this grouping of four statuses is commonly used in current American discourse, and as a result has important cultural and political significance.

For decades the national discussion of issues of sexuality has been contaminated with the bogus claim, mostly pulled out of thin air by the Kinsey Institute (or perhaps Kinsely has been misquoted), that 10 percent of the population is gay. Relying on the truthfulness of people who self-identify is risky, but the 3.4 percent figure is consistant with what other studies have indicated. I realize some people are invested in minimizing the probable number of LBGT and that others have reason to make it seem as big as possible, but there are tremendous public policy issues involved, so we all should be interested in getting the number as right as possible.


tim zank
Thu, 10/18/2012 - 8:30pm

If one were to believe the left and the media machine (I know it, redundant) it seems more like 60% or 70%...Just about time for a Time Magazine cover "We're All Gay Now" eh?

Harl Delos
Sat, 10/20/2012 - 12:01am

Link's Gay Arena was always welcoming of straights, Tim.

In a period of great stress, aJames Buchanon kept this country together, but as soon as a straight  president was elected, weended up in an incredible bloodbath where brothers were shooting each other.  If there is a public policy issue here, it's that theyought to keep us straights out of public oddice and keeping weapons out of our hands.

Christopher Swing
Thu, 10/25/2012 - 10:18pm

Why the fascination with nailing it down to a specific percentage?

Are you trying to guage how offended you can pretend to be when LGBT people don't hide what they are?

Harl Delos
Fri, 10/26/2012 - 8:14am

The 1994 University of Chicago "definitive" survey of adults estimated prevalence of homosexuality among males at 2.8% and among females at 1.4%. Corrected for the exclusion of those over the age of 59 years, the estimates should be 2.3% and 1.2%.

There are several different definitions as towho is LGBT.  Have you a same-sex life partner? Do you regularly engage in same sex sexual activities?  Are you interested in same sex partners, even if you've never done anything?  Do you consider yourself LGBT ecen if you've never acted on your urges?  The study found that there were people who foit into each of these categories, but not in the other three.  I'm curious about the people who regularly engage in same-sex relations, but did not consider themselves LGBT.

And no, I don't know which of those definitionsthey used to generate those numbers.  It occurs to me that masturbation is a same-sex activity, and something like 90% of all adults masturbate....

Fri, 10/26/2012 - 4:27pm

My understanding is that Kinsey came up with the 10 percent figure innocently enough - he was simply counting, among others, his own friends and acquaintances. Kinsey, was, of course, gay. Of course he had more gay friends than average.

A more careful researcher would have chosen his subjects randomly. But you have to admire his courage just to broach the subject.

And I agree that defining a gay is difficult. Are you gay if you tried it once as a curious teenager? If you thought about it a time or two but didn't act on it? If you're bisexual but slightly prefer one sex? Anyway, as Christopher points out, what difference does it make?

I couldn't care less who's gay.

Harl Delos
Sat, 10/27/2012 - 5:58am

I will agree that Kinsey would have benefitted from a more random selection.  Many of the people he interviewed were housed in institutions like prisons and loonet bins, and they obviously are more likely than others to violate social norms.   Someone interested in bestiality isn't afraid that the sheep will testify in court, but would be more deterred by social pressure based on unprovable assertions.

The quality of the work Kinsey did at IU is less noteworthy than the fact that he did it at all.  More careful researchers didn't study human sexuality at all back then.

Laumann,et al, at the University of Chicago, took painstaking efforts to get a good sampling, which was partially made possible by Kinsey and Playboy, and partially made possible by the threat of AIDS.  One of the things he found was that America is made up of social "islands" and most people have sex only with people on their own island, but there were a few people who had sex with lots of people on different islands.

He came up with some numbers concernng the number of people that one has sex with over a lifetime, that took me a while to accept.  He said something like a couple of people in a hundred would have sex with ten partners in a llifetime.  I knew many order married people who had only one sex partner in a lifetime, and they thought maybe one in a thousand would have ten partners in a lifetime.  Others, who had never married would have relatioknships that lasted six months, and they figured by the age of 35, they'd had sex with about 30 partners.  Add those facts together, stir, and sprinkle in the fact that everyone llies about sex, and that number gets awfully nebulous.

Joni Mitchell claimed that if you want a lot of variety in your sex life, you need one partner for a long time.  If you date around a lot, you just do the same thing over and over, only with different people.