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"More Americans having gay sex,
March 15, 2001 4:41 AM   Subscribe

"More Americans having gay sex, study shows."
posted by clevernickname (40 comments total)

 
The article was ok, but this part bothered me:

But while economic, social and legal constraints may be loosening, many gay individuals still face discrimination on a daily basis. One study cited in the report found that more than half of Americans believe that gay sex is ``always wrong.''

Are they implying that unless you think gay sex is right you're discriminating against gays?
posted by pnevares at 4:56 AM on March 15, 2001


If you think gay people shouldn't have sex with each other that you're prejudiced. But, that's true, being prejudiced doesn't necessarily mean you're discriminating. Kind of a fine distinction, though, really.
posted by u.n. owen at 5:08 AM on March 15, 2001


I disagree. The Cambridge New English dictionary describes prejudice this way:
an unfair and unreasonable opinion or feeling, esp. when formed without enough thought or knowledge
I would argue that while there are many homophobes who truly hate homosexuals, the majority of Americans who oppose homosexuality do so for moral reasons, and as such are not being unfair or unreasonable based on their religious or moral valuesets. I would also put forward that they do so with forethought and knowledge, rather than ignorantly. Therefore the word prejudiced is incorrect. Those who live a homosexual lifestyle will disagree, because they believe that those who oppose homosexuality are simply ignorant of it, when in fact the opponents simply do not share the same position on the issue.
For example, just because I oppose many of D-Dubya-40's policies does not mean I'm prejudiced against him -- I simply am on the opposite side of the aisle from him on most policy matters.
posted by darren at 5:28 AM on March 15, 2001


Sorry, darren, but you appear to be misinformed. Some "who live a homosexual lifestyle will disagree because they believe that those who oppose homosexuality are simply ignorant of it"; many homosexuals - myself, my partner and many of my friends amongst them- simply don't care what those who oppose homosexuality think because our sex life is simply none of their business. We don't need the approval of others in order to make our lives meaningful.

What we do care about is being accorded the simple courtesy of being allowed to make choices about our own lives. Those who disapprove are free to disapprove all they want - and should feel free to express their opinion - but they may not deny me the freedom to choose what's right for me, especially since this issue isn't one in which they can argue that it affects them in any way.
posted by m.polo at 5:46 AM on March 15, 2001


And Merriam Webster's dictionary defines prejudice as 'an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge'.
What could consitute 'just grounds' for hating homosexuals? They're not forcing their choices on someone else (i.e. pedophiles).
But we could argue semantics all day. My point is simply that it's unfortunate that so many people in the US and elsewhere are so closed minded to a group of people over something that they haven't chosen and that isn't hurting anyone else. And it's a fine distinction because prejudice leads to discrimintion. It's human nature.
posted by u.n. owen at 5:55 AM on March 15, 2001


Back to the poll - "More Americans Having Gay Sex" or more Americans admitting that they are having Gay sex? I have no opinion on how many Americans are Gay or having Gay sex, but I'm really tired of absolute conclusions being drawn from statistics that can mean many different things.
posted by quirked at 6:14 AM on March 15, 2001


Another point to distinguish is that participating in same-gender sex does not make you gay, nor does it mean it is "gay sex." A prime example is same-gender penetration in prisons, which rarely has anything to do with gayness.
posted by fleener at 6:27 AM on March 15, 2001


Darren, would you feel the same way if someone's religion led them to hate black people? Or, at least feel that black people were inferior?
And I think the article is implying that discrimination can be expected if half the people in the country think that the homosexual lifestyle is wrong. I don't think it's saying that every one of those people will discriminate, though.
posted by Doug at 7:22 AM on March 15, 2001


My thoughts exactly, quirked. The headline is stupid. The article does say that the number of people who said they had gay sex has risen. I just wonder why it's an issue. Sex is sex. The end result is pretty much the same. Why do we really care about each others sexuality? Is the population rapidly in decline and we're trying to find out why?
posted by jdiaz at 7:45 AM on March 15, 2001


... our sex life is simply none of their business.
Agreed. I take it from this that you disapprove of inappropriate public displays of sexuality [public nudity, over-the-top gay pride parades, sexual liaisons in public parks and restrooms, heterosexual activity in the back seats of cars in parking lots by presidents' nephews, etc.]?

We don't need the approval of others in order to make our lives meaningful.
Agreed.

Darren, would you feel the same way if someone's religion led them to hate black people? Or, at least feel that black people were inferior?
I think they have to right to believe what they believe, yes.
It's their actions that I believe can and should be regulated -- when they adversely impact the rights and freedoms of others.

What you think is none of my business. What you do behind closed doors is none of my business. What we do to and for others is everything.
posted by darren at 7:59 AM on March 15, 2001


I'm with quirked and jdiaz. Statistics used in articles like this never seem to take into account that as people feel more free to disclose information it creates an artificial increase in a given parameter. My wife recently wrote a research paper about rape, and she kept coming up with statistics showing that American women are several times more likely to be raped than women in other countries. The decrease in the stigma of reporting rape was scarcely addressed in the literature.
(note: I know how heinous a crime rape is and that it needs to be more seriously addressed. I'm not implying that is overreported here, but that it may be underreported elsewhere.)
posted by gimli at 8:18 AM on March 15, 2001


The story does note that the numbers for gay female sex show more of an increase than the numbers for gay male sex, which tends to agree with my experience. Women in general seem less judgmental of homosexuality, more likely to openly act on feelings of same-sex attraction, and less likely to be judged harshly by others for doing so. I don't know any straight men who admit to having fooled around with guys but know several women who admit to having had sex with other women. Anecdotal to be sure, but it seems credible, and also supports to a degree the increased-reporting hypothesis.
posted by kindall at 9:51 AM on March 15, 2001


Darren, it's "Dubya-D-40." If this meme is going to catch on, we have to be consistent. :)
posted by daveadams at 9:58 AM on March 15, 2001


Why not "Dubya-D 43" (since he's the 43rd person to, uh, you know ...)?
posted by allaboutgeorge at 10:30 AM on March 15, 2001


more than half of Americans believe that gay sex is "always wrong.''

I think that's awfully pessimistic. In my experience, there are a lot of gay men who do it wrong, but there are still some who get it right.


posted by anapestic at 10:41 AM on March 15, 2001


I knew a guy in high school who would crack us up: whenever the term "practicing homosexual" would come up, he'd say, "I'm not practicing, sweetheart. I'm damn good at it!" Very brave guy for the times.
posted by gimli at 10:52 AM on March 15, 2001


Darren, it's "Dubya-D-40." If this meme is going to catch on, we have to be consistent. :) ...

Don't sic the MPs (meme police) on me! I'll be good from now on! :-)
posted by darren at 11:51 AM on March 15, 2001


"Are either of you men homosexuals?"

"No."
"No, but we're willing to learn."
posted by darren at 11:52 AM on March 15, 2001


Hmmm, now this story is released. Is there a connection?

And a quote from the Simpsons: "Gay?! I wish!"
posted by jdiaz at 12:07 PM on March 15, 2001


More Americans having gay sex? This is like "more Americans are buying Pokemon products." I had no idea sexual orientations were fads. Except when you're in college, anyway.
posted by aaron at 12:35 PM on March 15, 2001


I imagine more people really are having same-sex encounters now than before. Wider acceptance not only makes people more comfortable talking about what they were already doing, it also makes people more comfortable about trying new things.

…sexual liaisons in public parks and restrooms…

There has been a problem for years at one of our local parks, it is a real hangout for gays at night and every so often you hear about forty or fifty guys being arrested in a police raid of the park. The thing that sticks out to me about this is that the media and local religious organizations are inappropriately labeling it.

Because it is not so much a matter of homosexuals being responsible for indecent public behavior like this, as it is men being responsible for it. While you always hear about "gays congregating in our public parks and making them unsafe for children" or whatever, there are always some problems with heterosexual prostitution as well, even if it is not in the exact same place.

And it is always men that are causing this problem. The only women are the (few) prostitutes who are making money off the idiots that are willing to pay a stranger in a park for sex. For some time, there have been Internet directories to help people find hookers or to find a place where men meet in large numbers for gay sex.

I guess the answer is to ban men from parks. Heh.

Actually, I think there are two things that need to be done to 'clean up' the public parks and rest stops. For one thing, I think it should be considered a criminal act to provide information that helps one to abuse public parks. It is already criminal to provide information on making bombs or other illegal activity, so I think something specific should be put into law regarding this problem.

Also, I think arrests for any kind of inappropriate behavior in a public park should carry a pretty strong sentence. Make prostitution legal to help control it and get it off the streets, make legislation that makes it harder for local churches to interfere with gay bars or other gay-owned or frequented establishments, get rid of the main reasons for people to meet in public places. Public parks and rest areas and the like should always be safe for anyone who wants to stop at one, any time of the day.

posted by bargle at 12:36 PM on March 15, 2001


Homosexuality is new Teen Craze! (And Tiger Beat is on the case!)

posted by sonofsamiam at 12:40 PM on March 15, 2001


Being from the South, I've seen my fair share of discrimination, hatred and prejudice. Homophobia (and every other type of prejudice) comes from ignorance. That ignorance breeds fear which feeds prejudice further. The common ignorant fear-based stereotype of the gay man (as ridiculous as it is) is a flamboyant, in-your-face man who sometimes dresses in women's clothing and sleeps with (or attempts to with) thousands of nameless people, as long as they have a penis (straight or gay, adult or child). I know of exactly zero people who fit that description. I know of only a few people who even fit half of that description.

While certainly there are gay men who will f*ck any man, aren't there straight men who feel the same way about any women? Hell, I know a lot more of the latter than the former. What's more, I know a hell of a lot gay men who wouldn't touch 99% of the male population with a ten-foot pole, and yet how many straight men can you say that about (but with women again).

That ignorance leads to a fear based less about physical harm to oneself than to perceived moral harm to those around them (e.g. children), their community and their "way of life". Silly fear.

Thankfully, I believe that just as with racism, ignorance is fading with every generation. People learn from their prejudices from their parents and the people around them. These prejudices are less acceptable now than they were in my father and grandfather's time. Homosexuality is talked about openly now more so than ever before. Homosexuals are open about it and proud of it. You see it on the streets and there are gay characters on TV (although usually they are stereotypical caricatures). This is not going back into the closet (hehe). Once people break those stereotypes ("Really? But he doesn't LOOK gay!"), the fear will subside and the prejudice can be broken down.

That said, it's not over and probably never will be completely over. There are always stupid close-minded people in the world, and from my perspective, they seem to breed at a faster rate. Let's just hope that enlightenment can outrun ignorance.
posted by fooljay at 12:46 PM on March 15, 2001


Actually, I think there are two things that need to be done to 'clean up' the public parks and rest stops. For one thing, I think it should be considered a criminal act to provide information that helps one to abuse public parks.

Theoretically, that would mean that the newspaper articles about the park raids would be illegal because in some sense that tells you 1) where these activities happen and 2) which ones might not be advisable. :-) Seriously, the 1st amendment issue aside, stopping the flow of information is useless in a democratic society. People will always find ways to find ways... :-)

Also, I think arrests for any kind of inappropriate behavior in a public park should carry a pretty strong sentence.

Oh man... So when I go camping in Yosemite, are you saying that I can't have sex in my tent!? And what exactly is inappropriate behavior? Would a very passionate kiss count? Slippery slope man. We need less legislation not more...

Make prostitution legal to help control it and get it off the streets, make legislation that makes it harder for local churches to interfere with gay bars or other gay-owned or frequented establishments, get rid of the main reasons for people to meet in public places.

Actually there's no need to make legislation here. It's about removing legislation. It's certain zoning laws that make this sort of thing happen. Making more laws to take care of the symptoms is, in my view, much less attractive than removing laws which caused the problems in the first case.

Public parks and rest areas and the like should always be safe for anyone who wants to stop at one, any time of the day.

Actually, it's very hard to attack someone when your pants are tangled around your ankles.

Seriously though, I can appreciate the desire to not have one's child walk into a public restroom and see people (straight or gay) having sex, but you might want to be careful of your word choice. I know you don't mean physical safety. What concerns me is the idea of "moral safety" and further the idea of legislating morality.
posted by fooljay at 1:11 PM on March 15, 2001


For one thing, I think it should be considered a criminal act to provide information that helps one to abuse public parks. It is already criminal to provide information on making bombs or other illegal activity, so I think something specific should be put into law regarding this problem.

The strict enforcement of laws already on the books should be an adequate solution to the problem of prostitution and public indecency in parks. To advocate censorship as a means of preventing this type of crime seems a tad excessive. The idea of censoring "bad ideas" is a very slippery slope.
posted by gimli at 1:21 PM on March 15, 2001


I may regret getting involved in this conversation, but I don't entirely agree with you, fooljay. I think that ignorance is responsible for a significant chunk of homophobia, but not all.

Sexuality is something that's very central to who a person is, and it can't always be understood. No amount of self-knowledge will explain why a particular person reacts in a particular way to a particular sexual practice. A lot of straight people have a visceral dislike of homosexual acts. (Similarly, I know a lot of gay men who get pretty creeped out thinking of some heterosexual acts.) A lot of straight people are able to compartmentalize a persons sexual behavior so that they can tolerate or even like a gay person by ignoring his private life (which is generally a good idea anyway, for anybody). But not everyone can do it, and more knowledge about gay life or whatever won't enable them to do that.

I should point out that what over half of the survey participants said was that gay sex is wrong. That refers to the act, not the people. I know plenty of people who think gay sex is wrong but who are perfectly accepting of homosexuals. I think I'm with Darren and M.Polo on this one: they can think what I do is wrong as long as they treat me with some measure of civility.

As far as homophobia goes, some of the most homophobic people I know are gay, and they're not ignorant. They are clearly intolerant, but it has nothing to do with lack of knowledge. I'm not intolerant, but I am very uncomfortable with the way a significant number of gay men act.

Some of the gay homophobes I know would clearly not admit, even in a confidential study, that they had had sex with another man. I think the increase in men who've had gay sex is largely due to their being fewer people who are too ashamed to admit it. But I also think that some of the increase is due to the Internet. When I was going through my divorce, my ex-wife and I saw a counselor who said that she had been flooded with inquiries from couples in the same situation. Men who would never have gone to a gay bar felt a lot more comfortable going to a gay chat site. The net gave many of us a safe environment to find out who we really are. I don't know how many people that is, as a proportion of the gay population, but in absolute numbers, it's a lot of guys.

My out-of-the-air, no-foundation-in-research guess is that approximately 5% of the male population is gay. Over time, as society becomes less oppressive to gays, more people will be comfortable both finding and expressing their orientations.

posted by anapestic at 1:26 PM on March 15, 2001


I was clearly not very specific in my post. I think I did mention 'inappropriate activity' and was not just referring to sex, but anyway. I do not want to go to a public park and see some church having a sermon there either.

Parks should be reserved as a place for people wanting to enjoy the park in the way that it was intended. It really has nothing to do with morality, at least in my opinion.

And I think national laws are needed to knock down existing zoning laws or whatever, and to enforce park-related laws across the board, but anyway. I really do not want to think about the headache that is law at the moment, so I'll just concede the point that more laws might not be the answer.

As to someone having sex in a tent, well, you are inside of a tent. Essentially a private space, not that much unlike your home. You are probably also isolated and thus are not in a place where people are going to congregating such as they do in a city park. Someone might walk into a bathroom at a rest stop or the city park, where you are doing whatever, but they are not going to innocently walk into your tent.

And yes, it would be impossible to keep people from simply listing places to go for sex or drugs or anything else that should be kept out of public places, but a lot of sites really go into detail, they do not simply list locations.

I'd suggest that public parks have a mandatory security staff, but that wouldn't work either.
posted by bargle at 2:35 PM on March 15, 2001


The strict enforcement of laws already on the books should be an adequate solution to the problem of prostitution and public indecency in parks. To advocate censorship as a means of preventing this type of crime seems a tad excessive. The idea of censoring "bad ideas" is a very slippery slope.

Do you also think it is wrong to censor sites that say, help people learn how to create and spread computer viruses? Basically, do you think censorship is wrong across the board or just disagree with something about this in particular?

posted by bargle at 2:39 PM on March 15, 2001


It is wrong to censor those sites as well.
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:42 PM on March 15, 2001


More Americans having gay sex? Well, we're just one more step to becoming an amoral cultural similar to Rome full of sexual perversions.
posted by PrivateParts at 3:06 PM on March 15, 2001


PrivateParts: How you like dem billy-goats?
posted by sonofsamiam at 3:12 PM on March 15, 2001


bargle, I am against censorship in almost every case. A good example is the proposed Feinstein-Hatch Bill, which seeks to prohibit "unapproved" drug information from being disseminated. The intent is to try to curb the production of methamphetamine, but the broad brush of that law might ultimately do more harm than good. In fact, it could have a chilling effect on discussions such as this. I will reiterate: in the case you refer to, the laws already in place should suffice to solve the problem.
posted by gimli at 3:22 PM on March 15, 2001


Recruiting Drive Works, Say Gay Leaders; Toaster Give-aways Strain Organization Finances

This study will stoke the fire of the cultural wars crowd for years to come.
posted by dhartung at 3:33 PM on March 15, 2001


I think that ignorance is responsible for a significant chunk of homophobia, but not all.

As long as gay rights proponents continue to use words like "ignorance" to describe the feelings of the other side, it will be impossible to get rid of all anti-gay sentiments in society. If you call people "ignorant" for having religious beliefs different from yours, they're going to pretty much hate you automatically no matter how many other points you may eventually be able to agree upon.

Like it or not, many (the majority?) of those who are anti-gay feel that way because of their spiritual beliefs. If God says homosexuality is evil, then it's their duty to take God's side, no matter what. And the only way you'll have any chance of coming to terms with those people is to accept that one fact and attempt to work around it. Instead, many gay rights activists do the exact opposite: They make that one fact the very basis of their entire strategy, attempting to humiliate those people for having those religious beliefs at all.

They really ought to stop using the word "homophobia" as well, for similar reasons. "-phobia" means "fear of". And while there are plenty of people who are literally afraid of homosexuals and/or of having homosexual acts practiced upon them, most people who are anti-gay are not that way because homosexuals scare them. They're just against such activities. So again, it comes off as insulting, as if they have some sort of disease because they don't agree. (Are white supremacists called "negrophobes?" If I don't care for the taste of cheeseburgers, am I a "dairyphobe?")

And yes, I know much of the rhetoric from the anti-gay side makes gays feel just as insulted. But "much" is different than 100%, and almost 100% of the gay rights side uses terms like "homophobia" and "ignorance." Besides, someone has to be the first to take the high road, or nobody's ever going to get up there at all.
posted by aaron at 3:58 PM on March 15, 2001



I wouldn't say 100% of the gay rights side does that aaron. The more vocal people, sure. But I mostly agree with you otherwise.
posted by sonofsamiam at 4:00 PM on March 15, 2001


Regardless of the source, aaron, it's still ignorance. If someone believes the earth is flat, we don't give them extra credit just because they read it in a holy book somewhere. Why should we give that credit to someone who believes there's something wrong with homosexuality?

posted by Mars Saxman at 5:00 PM on March 15, 2001


I know. I'm not saying you have to give them credit in your own heart or mind. But you do have to respect their own right to have such a belief in their own hearts and minds, no matter how distastefully loud they might be about it. Otherwise you're not ever going to get anywhere with them. What I'm saying is that the fight needs to be over the tolerance issue, not the belief issue, because the latter will never be settled. Not in our lifetimes, anyway.

Of course, many people couldn't care less about them or what they think, which is fine too, but those people are going to have to accept that they'll never have a prayer (ahem) of achieving a full victory.
posted by aaron at 6:56 PM on March 15, 2001



Do people who oppose gay sex on principle mind companies providing domestic partnership benefits? Or gay couples adopting children? People are entitled to their own opinions, but these opinions can have an effect on how others are allowed to live their lives.
posted by Loudmax at 7:52 PM on March 15, 2001


Why not "Dubya-D 43" (since he's the 43rd person to, uh, you know ...)?

Have gay sex?
posted by solistrato at 9:18 PM on March 15, 2001


Do people who oppose gay sex on principle mind companies providing domestic partnership benefits? Or gay couples adopting children?

Often (usually), yes.

People are entitled to their own opinions, but these opinions can have an effect on how others are allowed to live their lives.

I think that's what some (most) of the people with these opinions are hoping for.
posted by daveadams at 10:21 AM on March 16, 2001


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