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Opening Arguments

5 percent

An interesting piece of sociological research:

Using surveys, social networks, pornographic searches and dating sites, I recently studied evidence on the number of gay men. The data used in this analysis is available in highly aggregated form only and can be downloaded from publicly accessible sites. While none of these data sources are ideal, they combine to tell a consistent story.

At least 5 percent of American men, I estimate, are predominantly attracted to men, and millions of gay men still live, to some degree, in the closet. Gay men are half as likely as straight men to acknowledge their sexuality on social networks. More than one quarter of gay men hide their sexuality from anonymous surveys. The evidence also suggests that a large number of gay men are married to women.

Given that millions of gay men still live "to some degree" in the closet, I don't think any figure can be relied on completely, but 5 percent sounds closer to the truth than the 10 percent number we've had pounded into us (pretty much made up out of thin air by the Kinsey Institute folks, I remember reading somewhere).

One of the things the researcher discovered is that gay men in less-tolerant states tend to stay deeper in the closet. Relatively few of them move to more-tolerant states. That has implications, I think, for the debate we're having in Indiana over whether to put a gay-marriage ban into the state constitution. One argument against it, advanced by business interests, is that it would make it harder to recruit qualified and talented gay people. I wonder.