Are Gays Really Just 1.6% of the U.S. Population?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the federal government’s watchdog for health statistics has just released a 2013 National Health Survey on its gay citizens, which it compiled by having the Census Bureau interview 33,557 adults between the ages of 18 and 64. The actual report can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr077.pdf. The government began by asking respondents their sexual orientation. Only 1.6% of those willing to be interviewed self-identified as gay, with another .7% announcing that they were bisexual. This is the lowest estimate of the number of gays in the country produced in modern times and it’s caused quite a stir. Homophobes were thrilled, with one blogger exclaiming, “
The CDC is doing a service, because it has clearly de-bunked the ‘10% of the population’ claim that the gay-rights movement has routinely pushed,” and another stating that even this new number is too high: “This comes from the Obama machine, trying to normalize their perversions. . . . The real number is less than 1/10th of 1%.” (Some people are never satisfied.) Many rightwing commentators bloviated that if there are that few gays in the country they're seriously over-affecting the national scene, and have way too much political clout. One asked, “Does every TV show have to have a gay character if there are so few of them around?” The American Family Association, proud as always of its homophobia, promptly noted that gays are a
The first is that Kinsey only interviewed volunteers who were willing to talk about the most intimate aspects of their sex life. Granted that Kinsey found many such people, but they can hardly be representative of the whole population, particularly where the subject is as alarming as is the topic of homosexuality. My father was a student at Indiana University when Kinsey took his survey and was in fact one of the people Kinsey interviewed. Had I been in his place and one of Kinsey's assistants had asked me if I, Douglas Whaley, would be willing to grant an anonymous interview about my most private sexual thoughts, I would have stiff-armed the assistant immediately and fled the scene in absolute terror. In my own college days I was still caught in the throes of societal homophobia, and I was not even talking to myself about homosexual urges. I dare say this is true of many, perhaps most people who later admit the truth and “come out.” Indeed, in the 1940s a large percentage of those aware of their homosexual desires must have been most unwilling to be interviewed by Kinsey and his crew. The Kinsey statistics have been attacked, but have stood the test of time; see the discussion in Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinsey_Reports.
Another difficulty with the Kinsey percentages lies in the definition of “homosexuality.” Even if Kinsey had a definition for the term (and he did), his subjects were not likely to appreciate it, and their own internalized homophobia would lead them so stretch everything they could into a heterosexual mold. My father, for example, believed that the excited recipient in an oral sexual encounter was not engaged in a homosexual act and could therefore truthfully answer “no” to the question of homosexual attractions. I hold that there are more people in the middle part of the Kinsey scale than anyone (even me) suspects. These people don't think of themselves as “homosexuals,” but they have some homosexual desires, and many of them on occasion act upon them. What they don't do is admit that this is happening. These people are the submerged portion of the iceberg.
"Alan Turing: Torturing a Gay Genius to Death," November 26, 2014
“A Gay Hoosier Lawyer Looks at Indiana’s RFRA: The Religious Bigot Protection Act,” March 30, 2015; http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2015/03/a-gay-hoosier-lawyer-looks-at-indianas.html