And now for some mush numbers

Numbers Mush for Gay Folks; we know more of unicorns.

OK, so here’s the brief report on Yahoo News, issued at 1 PM. It’s been all over the gay blogs this morning already. This “study” will of course get lots of attention. But what the “study” does is take a few other “studies” which showed that 1.7% are gay, and then compiled them and came to the same startling conclusion. Without a shred of new data. Nor a shred of reason on the issue. Instead, the “numbers” of the previous studies are perceived as valid, and so this “new study” is perceived as valid. And what does Gary Gates have as a “best guess”? That’s it? A best guess? Nothing more concrete? That’s not a study, that’s a straw grasped and made to look like a sledgehammer.

So here’s the Yahoo comedy, um, verbiage:

“Study: US has 4M gay adults; 1.7 pct. of populace

“By Lisa Leff, Associated Press.

SAN FRANCISCO – A California demographer has released a best guess of how many gay men and lesbians there are in the U.S.

Gary Gates puts the figure at 4 million adults, representing 1.7 percent of the 18-and-over population.

That’s much lower than the 3 to 5 percent that has been the conventional wisdom in the last two decades, based on other isolated studies. It’s also a fraction of the figure put out by Alfred Kinsey, who said in the 1940s that 10 percent of the men he surveyed were “predominantly homosexual.”

Gates has advised the Census Bureau. He’s a demographer-in-residence at the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles.

He derived his results from five studies that asked subjects about their sexual orientations.”

Here’s the article from

“At least 8 million adults in the United States identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, according to a new study released Thursday by the Williams Institute.

In total, with approximately 700,000 transgender Americans, nearly 4% of the nation’s population is openly LGBT.

Furthermore, an estimated 19 million people, or 8.2%, have engaged in some relationships or sexual behavior with someone of the same sex, and 25.6 million admit to harboring at least some same-sex attraction at some point.

The research shows that slightly more people identify as bisexual (1.8%) than as lesbian or gay (1.7%), and women are more likely than men to identify as bisexual.

The Los Angeles-based think tank came to the number after cross-referencing four recent national and two state-level population-based surveys

And here’s the article as reported by

“So much about that 1-in-10 figure you keep bandying about: Just 3.5 percent of Americans, or nine million people, are LGBT. So concludes Gary J. Gates at the UCLA School of Law, who looked back on six studies conducted in the past half decade. Not only that, but apparently there are more bisexual folks (1.8 percent) than gays or lesbians (1.7 percent)? Some 700,000 (or 0.3 percent) identify as trans, meanwhile. But that doesn’t mean America isn’t filled with folks who’ve gotten it on with the same sex!

Gates, who pegs America’s LGBT population as roughly the size of New Jersey, finds some 19 million Americans (8.2 percent) say they’ve tried the same-sex sex thing, while about 25.6 million Americans (11 percent) say they fall somewhere in the middle of the Kinsey scale and have some same-sex attraction.”

And here’s the chart (ooh so official looking:)

And I crack up laughing. First, the obligatory reference to Kinsey’s 1948 study which was debunked decades ago – so nothing like comparing a “Best Guess” to a flawed debunked study, you know, for the science and accuracy of it all. Not to mention, the Associated Press doesn’t even go by the numbers on the charts. But does anyone think they called up this number of people to find this number? Oh, no, just best guessing.

Second, the study comes to the bizarre conclusion that there’s just as many lesbians as gay men. Yep, weirdly – 4,000,000 gay men and women, and/or bisexuals. How convenient, except woefully absurd as anyone in the gay world can tell you – there’s lots less lesbians than gay men.

Third, he used “five studies that asked” … well, six, but who’s counting? And how did they ask? They called people up! Yes, just a random phone survey. “Hi, I’m doing a study, are you gay?” Sure, I can picture the accurate numbers such as could be derived from random strangers asking personal questions. And about such a personal subject too. And not a one of these phone call methods seems to take into account any bigger concentrations of gays in big cities and off the rural and small town hustings. Not a one of the studies was ever systematic, and usually involved calling a thousand or two people and asking, and extrapolating from that. Sure, they best guessed to, the previous studies did. And so this is a best guess of best guesses best guessing. I think.

And I love how the man “advises” the Census Bureau, lending the “study” and the “studier” a level of legitimacy, even perhaps officialness, since, well, it’s the Census Bureau. Except, oddly, and not mentioned by these people, is that the census is prohibited by law from asking if people are gay. They won’t count. The premier counting agency in this nation simply will not count gay people whatsoever. So who the hell cares if he advised the Census Bureau on anything? It certainly can’t be on gay numbers. The Census Bureau doesn’t want to and is not allowed to know. And in fact, when gay couples in 2000 put themselves on the census form as gay couples the Census Bureau simply changed one of the partners to the opposite sex. Now that’s a bit of un-counting that surely should be advised against.

But the funniest number, “4 million adult gays.” And I laugh my head off. The country doesn’t seem to notice that there are a tad more than 4 million people at gay pride parades at the same time all over the nation on a late weekend in June in every burg, city and hamlet in the nation at this point. If a town has 30,000 people, there’s a gay pride festival already. And does anyone think all the gays go to the parades? Or that there’s lots of heteros down at the gay fest to share the joy?

Ay, but this is the new study. And this rare study of studies, with lots of speculation and best guesses and a not a sprig of fact, but mere fantasy, will now join all the rest ever since Kinsey came up with his numbers. And no one will have a blessed clue, and everyone will continue to speculate, and be correct of course, for it’s an opinion.

And no one will ever consider how 5,000,000 gays can be at gay pride parades on one day, and magically have only 4 million the next. Maybe we lost them somewhere. Maybe Gates is seeking another grant so he had to publish something. And they forgot to count the kids.


1 Comment

  1. ted

    I keep hearing that Kinsey was debunked. What I don’t hear is that Kinsey studied sexual orientation before people knew it was a classifying stigma – and I do mean stigma – and were therefore mor elikely to be less than candid about it. Asked simply about sexual relations, the bell curve showed that only 4% were exclusively homosexual, and that conversely only 10% of heterosexuals were exclusively “never had sex with the same sex”. When people say Kinsey was debunked I understand they say it was bunkum, but how did he get the numbers in the first place? By asking people with no downside to answering honestly. Over the years I have known many gay men that always say they are straight, for many reasons. Ten percent is and accurate figure of men in relationships or seeking sex with men, no matter what they say they are. And Eighty Percent have some attraction to the same sex, to varying degrees, or bisexual. Most people are bisexual in desires, but select one gender to relate to almost exclusively. But where do you fit in a guy that likes women but likes two? Simultaneously? Or that has both a boy and girl friend, or switch dates. He would not identify as gay, he would say he is straight with a kink. So modern polls? Unless they are asking what they are attracted to first and foremost it does not mean much, for that is the definition of gay – who you are attracted to. an that is at least ten percent, whether they admit it or not.

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