3 Homophobic Myths, Debunked!

A survey of hundreds of thousands of people reveals some very interesting data about who is having sex with whom, and how much of it.

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(Image credit: Yellow Dog Productions/The Image Bank)

I've already talked a little, last week, about how upsetting I think it is when people have biased ideas about people who have sex with members of the same gender. And today I want to discuss that kind of bias a little more — and specifically to discuss how the mathematical analysts over at dating site OkCupid have crunched the numbers in order to debunk a few huge cultural myths. As OkCupid blogger Christian Rudder puts it: "Gay issues have been in the news a lot lately, from the debate over same-sex marriage in Congress to a sickening rash of gay-bashing here in New York City. We see a lot of emotion out there, instead of information, and we wanted to provide some data-based context on sexuality so that people might make better choices about what they say, think, and do."

As such, some of the things OkCupid found might surprise you. For starters ...

Gay men are not interested in straight men!

As Christian noted, a lot of homophobia ostensibly arises from straight men's fears that gay men will try to have sex with them. But after the OkCupid people combed through over 4 million match searches, they saw "virtually no evidence" of such a phenomenon. Instead, they found that only 0.6 percent of gay men have ever searched for straight matches, only 0.1 percent of lesbians have ever searched for straight matches, and only 0.13 percent of straight people's profile visitors are gay. "Furthermore," as Christian says, "there was not a single gay user, male or female, who primarily searched for straight people."

Gay people aren't promiscuous.

Contrary to popular belief, gay men don't sleep around. Based on OkCupid's stats, in fact, most gay and straight people have a median of six reported sexual partners. Additionally, 45 percent of gay people have had five or fewer partners versus 44 percent for straights, and 98 percent of gay people have had 20 or fewer partners vs. 99 percent for straights. Also, as Christian notes, "It turns out that a tiny fraction of gays have ... created the public image of gay sexual recklessness — in fact we found that just 2 percent of gay people have had 23 percent of the total reported gay sex, which is pretty crazy."

Plenty of people are bi-curious.

OkCupid asked almost 300,000 about their sexual experiences — and found that 13 percent of men who identified themselves as straight have had a same-sex experience, and another 5 percent haven't yet but would like to. 33 percent of women who identified as straight, meanwhile, have had a sexual encounter with a woman, and another 18 percent would like to.

Interesting, isn't it, how facts can be so different from pervasive cultural myths?