What Percent of Americans Are Gay?

7 01 2009

I ask because Rick Warren claims it’s two percent while I’ve always had the Kinsey 10% in mind, and somewhere along the line I had internalized the truism that this percentage was remarkably stable since ancient times —

So here’s a Gallup Poll story I found interesting (if not definitive.)

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27 responses

7 01 2009
Kristina

Hmmm, could the reason Rick Warren believes it’s so much lower is because many Christians believe that homosexuality is an aberation that will go away if the person just finds G-d and gets married? If you believe that, then, sure, the gay population must be much lower than what others believe.

8 01 2009
themcp

My guess is that Rick probably thinks it’ll be easier to use the apparatus of the state to oppress 2% of the American people rather than 1 in 10.

My lord that guy looks smarmy.

8 01 2009
JJ

Even if it IS only two percent instead of ten —
how dismissive he is of other human beings! Hmmm, I was reading this riveting Sunday magazine feature about unusual service animals, from miniature ponies to monkeys, ferrets and even a duck, about the policy challenge when majority grousing escalates to banning this tiny minority of “people with unusual companions they can’t get along without” from restaurants and grocery stores (just because their comfort in conformity is disturbed when the different dares to shows up in public.)

But “two percent” as Warren’s status quo-threatening minority to be legislated against, caught my eye in the first place because of home education! That was the rough national estimate of homeschoolers back when NHEN was getting started ten years ago, and we all were so enthusiastic about discovering our diversity and our secular voices — two percent was a million or more Americans daring to be openly different not just from the other 98% but from even from each other, individuals speaking out to reach the public about home education that wasn’t subjugated by HSLDA conservative Christian conformity even if there were more of “them” than of us.

And Mensa came to mind, proudly described as “the two percent society” when I qualified back in college (more than 35 years ago?!) Maybe that’s a better parallel to gayness than home education is, because hsing really isn’t an inherent human characteristic that defines who we are (much as some people act like it is!)

Whatever we may think about IQ tests or the geeky boorishness of the highest-scoring having their own exclusive social organization based on those tests, my only point here is that the two percent descriptor positively defined a viable group of unique individuals with one significant common characteristic, as a minority. Nurture-socialization matters too, but we’re born with both a brain and sexual orientation. Not born into home education.

And Mensa, like the openly organized gay percentage of the population, gets a lot of criticism from the “normal” majority including the Rick Warrens of the world, sometimes even from within the high-scoring two percent, from IQ-qualifying individuals who for their own reasons choose not to identify with this two-percent minority and instead join the majority in ridiculing those who do.

I wonder which is really more to Warren’s advantage, two percent or ten percent? Seems to me sophistry can use either one. A tiny number of deviants can be preached against as so aberrant and freakish, that it’s easy to legislate against. A much larger percent, say ten to fifteen percent, can be preached against as threatening to take over and be the new normal, and make deviants of the good comformists. OTOH, from one individual all the way up to a majority, I can’t see how a preacher gets around the problem of that conflicting with messages like every person made in god’s image and “god doesn’t make junk.” Unless no one listening is of Mensa-caliber intelligence. . . 😉

Lynn, Sam, a little help?

8 01 2009
JJ

And hmmm, Christianity is big on being the persecuted minority itself, although the real persecuted minority remains the biblical “Chosen” who really are a small percentage, say around “two percent” of Americans??

The plot thickens!

8 01 2009
Crimson Wife

Kinsey’s study has been long discredited in the scientific community. When I took Biology of Human Sexuality course at Stanford back in the late ’90’s, the number the prof gave for the percentage of the population with a true homosexual orientation (as opposed to bisexuals or those who are heterosexual but who engage in homosexual acts because they are in a single-sex environment like prison) is ~3%. I have no reason to believe that my prof was lowballing the number for ideological reasons.

What’s amusing is that I received the highest grade of all the students taking the course even though I was very likely one with among the least personal experience in the subject matter at the time. How’s that for evidence of the difference between book-learning and true knowledge? 😉

8 01 2009
JJ

CW, did he teach then that this “true” same-sex orientation was a) biological and b) therefore a stable percentage unaffected by culture change and opportunistic change?

I’m curious because so much of the argument from Warren’s world view seems unscientific and based on preventing um, let’s say seduction or devolution into an orientation change? Maybe the Warren view would be something like, never mind the biological lost but let’s pull out the stops to prevent any among that larger percent from engaging in any cultural/opportunistic behavior? — if so, I wonder whether better prevention would be emptying the prisons and canceling acolytes and altar boys, hmmm . . .

8 01 2009
JJ

Or maybe it’s a more problematic change among the rest of us, that he’s worried about?? 😉

Just reread the Gallup piece and noticed this:
“In the last 10 years, the number of Americans saying they feel homosexuality should be considered an acceptable alternative lifestyle has gone from 38% (June 1992) to 51% (May 2002).”

8 01 2009
Nance Confer

Google Answers says: http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview/id/478685.html

3 to 5%
1 to 10%

Something like that.

I hope Obama is smart enough to use the so-called Christian Warren for what he’s worth (not much) and abandon him. Mollify a few people and do no harm.

Nance

8 01 2009
While We’re Debating Who Deserves Humanity. . . « Cocking A Snook!

[…] we took a close look at dominionists — including the homophobic and misogynistic — through ethically opened eyes using changed measures to assess what we […]

9 01 2009
boremetotears

re: I wonder which is really more to Warren’s advantage, two percent or ten percent?

That’s an interesting question. I would guess that Warren uses the two percent figure for the same reason he insists on calling homosexuality a “lifestyle choice.” While “God doesn’t make junk,” wo/man corrupted God’s Perfect Design by surrendering to their “sin nature”; all sin is freely chosen, and what can be chosen, can be unchosen, with God’s help, blah blah blah… Maybe in minimizing homosexuality’s percentages and nature, it’s easier to oppress other human beings with less internal conflict… but, I’m speculating.

Those are interesting numbers about growing openness toward homosexuality. While they seem to contradict recent election results, I’ve seen similar findings – even among young evangelicals – which are encouraging.

One of these days, I’ll get around to blogging about Saddleback. I don’t think that many Sunday morning attenders had (note past tense) a clue about some of the the stuff coming to light now. I attended for a time and never knew about membership rules, for example, until I heard it from Rachel Maddow! I’ll have to give it more thought — and spend more time on that website 🙂

9 01 2009
themcp

The specific number of gay people is completely immaterial to the debate about marriage – one of the most important functions of the social convention we call “human rights” is to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority.

If you extend Warren’s argument, it becomes more ethical to strip someone of their rights the smaller their identifiable population becomes.

Imagine if we said that minorities with populations of less than a certain percentage couldn’t vote! Or couldn’t speak freely! That’s insanity.

9 01 2009
JJ

I agree that the numbers don’t really matter (to either view)– when you take a stand for civil rights or against deviance, then you are for/against it whether it’s one individual or the new normal.

Rick Warren won’t change his stand, and neither will themcp. But the way either stand would be argued for translation into policy and culture, does tend to change with the numbers, doesn’t it?

9 01 2009
Nance Confer

Sure, the WAY either stand would be argued would change. But the stand would not change.

Nance

9 01 2009
Nance Confer

I’m thinking it’s easier to dismiss people, though, when they are “only” 2% of the population. And to make young gay people feel even stranger and more prone to try to act straight.

Which, after all, is the only thing some people care about.

Nance

9 01 2009
boremetotears

re: I’m thinking it’s easier to dismiss people, though, when they are “only” 2% of the population.

Doesn’t the argument go something like, “Marriage has been defined by all civilizations since the beginning of time as a union between one man and one woman” — and, we’re going to change all that based on the lifestyle choices of a mere 2% of the population?”?

Of course, even if it were true, it’s immaterial; but I agree with Nance that it makes is easier to assuage the conscience.

9 01 2009
Crimson Wife

The class I took covered a number of different theories about the origin(s) of a homosexual orientation but the takeaway conclusion was that scientists don’t really know for sure. There’s some evidence for a genetic component, some evidence for an atypical prenatal environment, and some evidence to support the idea that childhood sexual abuse can play a role (particularly for females).

But there’s a big difference IMHO between having a biologically-based predisposition for a behavior and actually making the choice to engage in that behavior. Someone may be biologically predisposed to alcoholism but he or she is the one deciding whether or not to drink alcohol. Is it “fair” that the majority of people can have a drink while that individual ought to abstain completely for his/her own good? Maybe not, but life is not always fair.

9 01 2009
JJ

Well, I guess being compared to alcoholics isn’t QUITE as stereotypically demeaning to whatever percentage of the population gay people really are, as the comparisons Warren has made, to pedophiles and such . . .

9 01 2009
Nance Confer

How about comparing the biologically-based urges that heterosexuals have to those some are concerned with homosexuals having?

Sure. That works.

Because we tell heteros to resist those urges, wait until marriage and do it the right way. The only right way.

But wait. A hitch in the plan.

Homosexuals can’t marry. Too bad, too sad. They’ll just have to resist acting on THEIR urges forever.

How can anyone take such a plan seriously?

Nance

9 01 2009
writestuff444

I can’t follow the logic of comparing alcoholism, which is a clinical disease…with homosexuality which is sexual orientation? I don’t care what the cause is. Why are you heterosexual? ..and perhaps you chose to wait to engage in sexual activity until marriage..but that is not comparable to not taking a drink..that will negatively impact your life, say by causing you to become inebriated and commit a crime. Choosing to express sexual feelings or desires between two consenting adults is not criminal or doesn’t hurt anyone anymore than sex between two heterosexual consenting adults. But then taking a drink and following legal guidelines to do so is not criminal behavior either

9 01 2009
JJ

At least Sam still has his sense of humor, even if he does drink . . .
🙂

10 01 2009
boremetotears

I loved that video! It could have been produced in any age to demonstrate the preposterous, acrobatics-like mental leaps we’ll make in order to reconcile our human-born decency with our indecent religious creeds.

10 01 2009
JJ

In my other post about my championship Gators, I was about to link this story, when I realized it fit better here.

Apparently UF’s amazing defensive coach Charlie Strong is a great guy in every way, except he acted on a dangerous urge that wasn’t “good for him” and married despite society’s disapproval. . . Strong is black and his wife is white.

I guess the only reason Obama is acceptable to be our president-while-black is that he (unlike his own mother and father ) wisely controlled his own errant biology and liberal delusions, with his own safe same-race marriage? Hmmm, and President Thomas Jefferson had the sense not to acknowledge where his sexual urges led . . .otherwise I suppose he’d be in hell too. Maybe he is anyway?

MIAMI – During a morning press conference the day after winning the BCS National Championship, Florida head coach Urban Meyer said he didn’t want “to spoil a great day” by talking about how his much-admired defensive coordinator is being overlooked for head-coaching jobs.

Then he proceeded to get mad anyway about the apparent lack of advancement opportunities for Charlie Strong, who is African American.

During media day on Monday, an Orlando Sentinel reporter asked Strong if his interracial marriage played a role in his being passed over for jobs, including one at a Southern university a few years ago.

Strong reportedly shook his head affirmatively.

“Everybody always said I didn’t get that job because my wife is white,” Strong said at media day Monday. “If you think about it, a coach is standing up there representing the university. If you’re not strong enough to look through that [interracial marriage], then you have an issue.”

Wow, Nance is right. Strong’s urges and choices have been so GOOD; they don’t seem sinful in any way that would hurt him or others, yet society is manipulating situations to serve their own unethical prejudices, to make his urges and choices hurtful to him anyway.

So it seems anti-marriage agitation against gays isn’t about the good of the individual at all, loving and working to help everyone be happy and fulfilled and moral as Warren claims, but merely the conventions of the conventional insisting their way is the Only Way.

10 01 2009
JJ

Btw, I love the ambiguity of reporting that Strong “shook his head affirmatively.”

What does that REALLY mean?? Do you think the reporter just didn’t know what he was saying and misused an idiom, or do you think he was accurately and effectively conveying Strong’s ambiguity?

10 06 2011
Brad

When we are afraid, we tend to attack the person or community. Unfortunately, churches have had a history of doing this, and so too, the gay community. Because someone holds a moral value on something doesn’t make that person or organization bad, no more than a gay person believes they can exercise their value of being gay (gay pride). Why the fighting? Stop feeling so threatened everyone and keep talking to each other out of respect. In doing so, we can actually love the person while still holding onto our values. I love what Ellen said on one of her talk shows. She said, “I wish no harm to churches that hold to their values. I also want my values respected as well.” I believe that this is a terrific first step to building a better future with those who disagree with our gay lifestyle. People will always find an enemy to justify what they can do or shouldn’t do. Anger just shows me you lack control and confidence in your position – and perhaps are threatened by the truth of the other side.

10 06 2011
NanceConfer

Or perhaps it means that you are actually threatened. That you are actively having your rights infringed upon by someone with religious beliefs. That you are being physically assaulted by someone who thinks he has a god on his side.

Sometimes feeling threatened is the reasonable response. Sometimes the other side’s values are not respectable and don’t deserve respect.

10 06 2011
JJ

Y’all know me, it’s not just the words but the meaning/s behind them. Brad’s comment came to Snook with a email address from a church organization that I wanted to check out because he also used the phrase “our gay lifestyle.”

Is it a Christian church emphasizing service by and for that community? I wondered and was sufficiently curious to check it out (and while I was dallying around doing that in my usual rabbithole fashion, Nance took the bull by the virtual horns, approved the comment and responded, good for her.)

What I saw first was that the Church sets forth its core belief in the “relentless pursuit of those far from God” — uh oh. Relentless pursuit of truth or justice or self-examination, okay. But relentless pursuit of any other PERSON or class of PEOPLE? As I said, uh oh.

Would Brad care to explain how “relentless pursuit” of people far from sharing his own beliefs, can possibly be the truth behind his peaceful-sounding, tolerant, respect-honoring words above?

10 06 2011
NanceConfer

And I’m not even gay. 🙂

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. . .

But I don’t believe I’ve been “relentlessly pursued” before. Is this exciting or creepy?

Nance

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