Gayish girls

When I was in high school, I barely knew that homosexuality existed; it never occurred to me that I actually knew anyone who was gay. Well, except for the female P.E. teachers. Now, says the Washington Post, it’s trendy for teen-age girls to be “heteroflexible,” flirting with lesbianism while also flirting with guys.

(David) Shapiro is head of the Edmund Burke School, a private, college-preparatory program in Northwest Washington. In 2002, Burke held a “diversity day” assembly in which students and teachers stood together in a circle. An adult leader took the group through various exercises, and in one of those, participants were asked to move inside the circle if they defined themselves as gay or lesbian.

One female teacher stepped forward, but no students did.

Then the leader called for those who thought of themselves as bisexual — the broadest label offered. Out of the approximately 60 pupils in the group, 15 obliged: 11 girls and four boys.

Shapiro says he was “astounded” at the number of kids who stepped into the bisexual group. As he thought about it, he concluded that “kids today know the difference between behavior and orientation. They say, ‘I may be behaving in this certain way, but I’ll make up my own mind about who I am in my own time.’ ”

He searches for a comparison. “It’s like saying, ‘Mom, Dad, I’m going to take some courses in science but I’m not sure I want to be a doctor.”

How about, “Mom, Dad, you’re paying to send me to a school that insists I declare my sexuality in public.”

Stories like this make me feel old, cranky and out of it. But perhaps it’s all nonsense. That stat about 5 to 7 percent of the population being gay is bogus. Based on the current research, 2 percent is a reasonable guess.

Update: Maureen Dowd throws the “gayish” girls story into a column about . . . I really have no idea what the column is about. I used to write a newspaper column and I know what it’s like to be low on subject matter after a holiday season, but a professional should try harder than this to have a point, however small.

In this Sun-Sentinel story, Florida girls say they play at being “faux bisexuals” because boys think it’s hot.

About Joanne


  1. Wacky Hermit says:

    Joanne, they make me feel old and cranky too, and I’m younger than you are! But I’m almost always cranky anyway.

    One of these days people are going to realize that nobody was “gay” until somebody invented the concept. People throughout history have always fooled around with people of various genders, but none of them considered themselves “gay” in our modern sense and most of them accepted the value of traditional marriage. This whole idea that there’s a class of people born with their brains on backwards, whose nature requires them to repudiate traditional marriage, is a thoroughly modern notion. Maybe this is a step toward society realizing the artificiality of the “gay” label.

    Until then, we will have nonsense. If it hasn’t already been done, one of these days some liberal kook is going to seriously propose that geometry classes be made more fair by replacing 5 to 7 percent of the straight lines with gay, lesbian, and transgendered lines. (I’ll counter with having equal time for transversals that slant toward the right.)

  2. Did this trend originate with college girls who were, just a few years ago, called LUGs? (Lesbian Until Graduation)? A way to “hook up” and have “safe sex” for those not ready to form a permanent (and procreative) relationship?

    Teens emulating college students and tweens imitating teens and now I gotta worry about my five year seeking out “Bratz” dolls …

  3. “Mom, Dad, you’re paying to send me to a school that insists I declare my sexuality in public.”


  4. It’s just fashionable.

    What teenager wants to be out of fashion?

    What’s a little odd is that it is so fashionable. Kinda goes against the notion that gays are oppressed victims of hate campaigns, doesn’t it.

    In fact, the main difference between when I went to college and when my daughters went to college is this: my generation postured and wept over the poor gays; my kids generation nominated the gays for sainthood. The reason? Gay men don’t do those awful things with women that straight men do. Thus, they are exempted from the wicked “oppression” of women. They are thus relieved of the Original Sin caused by the great Kitchen Holocaust of 1955.

  5. Kids trying to be cool

    Nothing new here

    They see Titney and Madonna doing it so they try it

  6. Former Philadelphia Lawyer says:

    I’m your age and cranky too. While we may not have been aware of homosexuality in those days, we were certainly familiar with the propensity of adolescent girls to form these kinds of emotionally and, to an extent physically (though rarely sexually)intimate relationships with other girls. I am sure you remember the girls who stuck together closer that married couples, exchanged secrets, clothes and possessions, were jealous of the attention their friend devoted to any other girl or worse, boy and whose fallings out resembled romantic breakups. What seems to have changed is our society’s insistence that these girls define these crushes in sexual terms and label themselves in sexual catagories before they have ever had a mature sexual relationships or even, one suspects, sex. Bizarre.

  7. Independant George says:

    it’s trendy for teen-age girls to be “heteroflexible,” flirting with lesbianism while also flirting with guys.

    One small point – this is just a guess based on anecdotal evidence, but I’d say that a significant number of these girls flirt with guys by flirting with lesbianism. Just watch one of those ‘Girls Gone Wild’ videos.* The fact of the matter is that for us guys, this is an almost 100% effective way of attracting attention.

    *Which I, of course, have viewed only for research purposes.

  8. The one thing I’ve never understood about being gay is this: isn’t procreation the basic function of every life form on this planet? Every organism, every animal is built to reproduce. So isn’t being homosexual going against nature. I’m not talking about experimentation, but full blown “I’m only attracted to my gender.” Just some deep thoughts from my end.

  9. Independant George has a point.

    Just watch “Blind Date.” You’ll see 20-something year old girl after girl proclaiming to her date that she has no morals, doesn’t care whether she jumps in bed with a man or a woman, is an absolute whore, etc.

    It’s all a front. But, what trendy girl is going to admit that what she really wants is marriage and family? That would be so boring.

    Even though that is just about what all of them want.

  10. Bill Leonard says:

    To carry Whit’s point a bit further (and this also challenges the “homosexuality is genetic so it’s not my fault” arguement), if homosexuality is genetic, shouldn’t it have been eliminated from the race eons ago? Since the natural (or at least usual) tendency is to procreate, I would have thought that homosexuality — if it is just genetic — would have been a self-correcting condition.

    More fuel for thought: ‘way back in my college days (more than 40 years ago now) I recall reading that studies of male homosexuals indicated a much greater than average incidence of individuals raised in homes ruled by domineering mothers/women, with the male/father figure either nonexistent or weak and ineffectual. That should give pause for thought about the prospect of adoption of children by homosexual, specifically lesbian, couples.

    But what the hell. It’s just another lifestyle — isn’t it?

  11. Steve LaBonne says:

    Don’t give me this “natural” crap. Wearing clothes and using the Internet are highly unnatural. Other people’s sexual preferences are not your business, nor mine, and sure as hell not the government’s.

    Which is not to say for a moment that what is going on in Edmund Burke School (imagine how rapidly he’s spinning in his grave!) is not idiotic and offensive- it is, like so much that’s excused in the name of “diversity”. But of course, in this case it’s at least voluntary tuition-payers rather than taxpayers who are being taken for a ride.

  12. “Other people’s sexual preferences are not your business, nor mine, and sure as hell not the government’s.”

    1. Read recently that the average lifespan of a homosexual man is (and I forget the exact figures) about 20 years less than a hetero man’s. Among the other societal costs of homosexuality is this seldom discussed one… it’s very expensive to tolerate. The cost of treating a single AIDS patient is astronomical. So, in some ways sexual preferences are a societal concern. What if those sexual preferences impose a tremendous cost?

    2. If the war in which we are currently involved is a religious war (as I believe that it is), the chief complaint of our Islamic enemies is that we harbor within our midst gays and feminists who want to impose a gay and feminist agenda within Islamic society. In other words, our society also bears the very heavy cost of defending gays against an enemy that wants to destroy them precisely because they are gay.

    So, it isn’t exactly just a matter of sexual preference, is it? And just so you don’t go ballistic, I believe in leaving people alone to do what they want to do. What I don’t believe in is pretending that those actions don’t have costs.

  13. Mark Odell says:

    Stephen wrote: That would be so boring.

    Even worse, they wouldn’t each get their 15 minutes of fame.

    Bill Leonard wrote: To carry Whit’s point a bit further (and this also challenges the “homosexuality is genetic so it’s not my fault” arguement), if homosexuality is genetic, shouldn’t it have been eliminated from the race eons ago?

    Not necessarily; if we suppose that it’s a recessive gene like blond hair, then I guess (says my limited understanding of genetics – please correct me if I’m wrong) it’s possible for it to loiter along in the gene pool for multiple generations, only being selected against by failure to reproduce when (like blond hair) it’s reinforced and expressed.

    Since the natural (or at least usual) tendency is to procreate, I would have thought that homosexuality — if it is just genetic — would have been a self-correcting condition.

    If genetic, then it is; but natural selection can take centuries, or millennia.

    A question I’ve never gotten an answer to–paging Dr. Dean Edell!–is this: If exclusive homosexuality (not bisexuality) is genetic as claimed, then how did the first generation produce the second generation? Did somebody invent the turkey baster circa 4000 BC? If OTOH bisexuality (not just exclusive homosexuality) is genetic, then the matter becomes vastly easier to explain.

  14. Steve LaBonne says:

    “2. If the war in which we are currently involved is a religious war (as I believe that it is), the chief complaint of our Islamic enemies is that we harbor within our midst gays and feminists who want to impose a gay and feminist agenda within Islamic society. In other words, our society also bears the very heavy cost of defending gays against an enemy that wants to destroy them precisely because they are gay.”

    That’s every bit as asinine and offensive as the left-wing bleating about “why do they hate us” after 9/11. (By the way, allowing women to walk around without veils also offends them- shall we consider cracking down on that in order to protect ourselves?) An interesting instance of the convergence of political extremes…

  15. “That’s every bit as asinine and offensive as the left-wing bleating about “why do they hate us” after 9/11.”

    I notice that you failed to actually respond to what I said in any substantive way. Do you have a substantive reply?

    I don’t belong to any political party or faction, nor do I have any plans to work against (or for) gay activists or feminists. I plan to do absolutely nothing about these things other than comment. In my real life, I am an artist. I value individual truth, not political cant.

    So, exactly what faction do I belong to? You seem quite convinced that you know. Please enlighten me. You might also tell me how you are so convinced that you know.

    Do you think that there are no people on this earth who take their religious values seriously enough to go to war to preserve them?

  16. Andy Freeman says:

    > 2. If the war in which we are currently involved is a religious war (as I believe that it is), the chief complaint of our Islamic enemies is that we harbor within our midst gays and feminists who want to impose a gay and feminist agenda within Islamic society.


    Their chief complaint is that we’re not Islamic. (Note that they also have it in for folks who are the wrong flavor of Islamic.) Tolerance of gays and feminists is merely one way to prove that we’re not Islamic.

    > In other words, our society also bears the very heavy cost of defending gays against an enemy that wants to destroy them precisely because they are gay.

    And, even if it was true, we bear the cost not because we value what they oppose, but because we value the right to do as we please.

  17. Do any of you even know anyone who is gay? Damn,
    some of these comments are downright scary.

    Stephen, you take the cake for your ignorance is truly astounding… according to you, the fact that I’m gay is one of the main reasons that Islamists hate the U.S.A., and therefore my very existence is a security threat to this nation… WOW, who knew I had so much power.
    I guess we should be exiled or imprisoned to show Osama that the USA doesn’t tolerate us degenerates, and then maybe he won’t attack us ever again… NOT!

    As for the shorter life spans… yes, HIV/AIDS has ravaged a significant minority of the gay male population, in the USA… but worldwide, HIV/AIDS is predominately a heterosexual disease… close to 90% of the victims are heterosexual WORLDWIDE… in many sub_saharan African countries, the lifespan has dropped into the 30’s…

    For context… it is not a “preference” in my case… I knew from middle school days that I was exclusively attracted to the same gender, but I hated myself for it… I was raised Catholic… I tried dating girls/women all through high school and college… I joined a conservative Christian group on campus, and prayed to God nightly to be “healed”…
    I was deeply depressed… Nothing changed, no matter how hard I tried to be straight, it just wasn’t going to happen…
    My struggle lasted for over a decade until I finally accepted the way God made me…

    I have no idea why I am gay… my guess is its a combination of genetic predisposition and early environmental factors, but I have no real idea… interestingly enough, I have two brothers and a sister, all straight… the four of us are separated in age by a total of 4 years… so we were raised in exactly the same family situation…

    Uuugh… I could ramble on for hours… this post just pissed me off… but I’ll leave it at that.

  18. Claims that homosexuality is genetically determined are based on exagerations of poorly performed studies. There have been socieities where homosexual love was nearly universal (Sparta, some New Guninea tribes, and some ancient Celtic tribes). I’m willing to provide citations for this claim upon request at my site.
    As well, the social costs are extreme. I don’t know about the claim that homosexuals die 20 years earlier on average, but gay men in the USA are 47 times more likely to be HIV positive than straight men (willing to provide citation for this as well), and recent outbreaks of other STDs (syphillis and ghonorhea) have hit this community harder than others.

    But that doesn’t preclude tolerance. You can claim something is wrong without making it illegal. That’s tolerance, and that’s one way I differ from the Islamofacists.

  19. I’ll bet you anything the girls who admitted to being bi-curious will start getting asked out (by guys) a lot more often now.

  20. My closest friend over the past 20 years is a gay man who is dying from AIDS and the various complications attendant upon that disease. I’ve lived my adult life in San Francisco and New York, so, yes indeed I know lots of gays.

    My personal experience (and my personal experience alone) do not lead me to believe the inate theory. The reason is quite simple. When my gay friends have tried to seduce me, they abandon the inate theory. They tell me I should take up homosexuality because (1) I can have all the sex I want without the interference of women, and (2) I can ditch the responsibilities to women and children attendant upon hetero men.

    I said, quite simply, that in my view which is extracted solely from my personal life, homosexuality is a choice that imposes huge costs and burdens upon society. My lifelong observation is that homosexuality seems to be an product of wealth. In every community I’ve lived in, the gay guy is almost always the product of an upper middle class or upper class family. In fact, gay culture recognizes this implicity in its endless insistence that gay identification brings with it a higher level of cultural taste. What is that but the expression of wealth?

    My immersion in gay culture has led me to an even more taboo observation. My gay friends seem to almost always have a near incest or actual incest relationship with their mothers. (This tendency was noted with great vehemence by lesbian feminists who blamed father incest for their sexual identification. We heard almost nothing else from the lesbian community for what seemed like forever.)

    While I love my friend, I cannot help but notice the great cost to everybody else that his sexual preference has created. I’m not condemning him, but the cost is obvious, and it is huge.

    I live now in a heavily Arab and Asian immigrant community. Both have traditional places for gays, but they do not want the gay activism and public visibility of gays to take over in their societies. I think that you will find, as time goes by, that many of these men and women are willing to fight and die to prevent that happending in their societies. And, yes that is a cost.

  21. Jack Tanner says:

    Back on the subject of gayish girls as it was explained to me ‘You can still get laid and not get pregnant’ seemed to sum up the appeal of it.

  22. Stephen,

    You really should quit digging the whole deeper…

    Let’s see… I grew up in povery and welfare…
    Although close to my mother, I am nowhere even close to being in a “near incestuous” relationship with her…
    Gee, and the same goes for my long-term partner…
    yes, I am in a monogomous relationship… we’re not all promiscuous degenerate heathens…

    Your extrapolations are truly amazing…

  23. Dear jab:

    15 years ago, if you said that lesbianism was caused by anything other than father-daughter incest, you would have been attacked as a bigot by lesbian activists.

    My friend has a near-incest relationship with his mother, and is just about entirely unaware of it. Any person looking on from outside can see it.

    The notion that traditional religious opposition to homosexuality is a form of bigotry is rank nonsense. The ancient communities either proscribed or regulated male homosexuality because (1) they needed more people, (2) folk wisdom told them that anal sex was an extreme health hazard.

    One of the things that gays are particularly good at is emotional blackmail. This tactic is evident throughout this series of posts. Like feminists, gays have attempted to enforce the absurd notion that the traditional roles are forms of bigotry akin to, no exactly like, Jim Crow slavery. This attempt at emotional blackmail is a lie.

    And, I’ve got work to do. I long ago learned to simply refuse to succumb to the emotional blackmail. So, I’ll go straight to the heart of the matter. Here’s a motif that I hear more and more often: “I’d have a great sex life if only Bush/the Republicans/the Catholics, the Evangelists would get off my back.” Sexuality is an arena of individual responsibility and initiative. If you aren’t getting what you want or need out of that part of your life, the fault lies within you. If you want a good sex life: (a) find a good and responsible partner, (b) work to make yourself and that partner happy, (c) learn to shrug off jealousy and hatred, and (d) quit blaming others when it doesn’t work.

  24. Ken Summers says:

    There are almost certainly both genetic and environmental influences on homosexuality (in all its varying degrees), but the “evolutionary” argument against it being genetic doesn’t really wash. In the words of a geneticist whose name I can’t recall offhand, “I would gladly lay down my life for two brothers or 8 cousins”. It’s the same for any “non-breeding” person – passing on one’s genes also occurs by protecting relatives.

    Beyond that, I have no further comment because the Shark beat me to the punchline.

  25. Stephen,

    “Emotional blackmail”?? Get a freakin’ grip.
    You came on this board, posting inflamatory rhetoric
    (Gays are the chief reason the Islamists hate us and its a huge cost to defend the US because of gays… yes, you said it… oh, and the gem that most gays have near or actual incestuous relationships with their mothers), and now you whine that I’m extorting you with “emotional blackmail” when I challenge your wild extrapolations?? Are you kidding??? Now you’re going to take your toys and go home, is that it?

  26. No, jab, I said I had work to do, but if you want to argue eternally, I guess I can do that.

    Yes, the outed gay life is viewed with extreme hatred by Islamic (and most Asian) societies. That doesn’t necessarily mean that those societies completely prohibit homosexuality. What it does mean is that they prohibit the open display and political agitation that dominates our society. And, yes, we will in the future, I am convinced, be forced to decide whether we are willing to kill and to die to defend the right to overt homosexuality. I don’t know where I stand on this. But, there is no higher cost.

    And, for my final words. We are engaged in this society in a dreadfully dangerous experiment. We have decreed that the several thousand years old proscriptions against homosexuality are simply forms of bigotry that can be discarded without cost or repurcussions. I seriously doubt that this is true. I am a student of literature, art and history. Traditions are not created out of whole cloth. Ancient societies experienced something in their lives and communities that led to that proscription against open homosexuality. I am afraid that we have simply forgotten why they did that. And I think that the cost of the forgetfulness could be extremely high.

    Every society has to decide what costs it can afford. I think that the cost of simply dropping the prohibition against openly gay life might be far more serious than we ever can imagine. But, we will find out in the future, won’t we. In fact, I hope I am wrong.

  27. Random thoughts:

    5-7% is lower than the 10% figure I remember from the 80’s. Studies I’ve seen always cite a higher number for men than women. And some studies show a rate twice as high among Blacks and Latinos as among Whites (William McGowan, “Coloring the News” pg 102).

    It is much more acceptable for girls to experiment than boys. Duh.

    Most people think that if you are willing to have gay sex and actually have had gay sex, then you are at least bisexual. The “anti-labeling” argument of the article sounds a lot like the “all people are somewhat gay” belief that I hear so often. Wishful thinking on the part of some gays and their sympathizers.

    I have a gay uncle, a lesbian first cousin, another gay 2nd or 3rd uncle, and substantial indication of 1 or 2 other close relatives being closet lesbians. Genetics? I don’t know. But there is a strong sense of “Women are from Venus and Men are from Hell” in my extended family.

    Islamicists are going to try to terrorize us regardless of how open our gays are. Our average GDP is 20 times that of the Arab world, which makes it awefully hard for them to demand that we “submit” to their religion.

  28. John, it isn’t just “much more acceptable for girls to experiment than boys” as you said. The health costs are not anywhere near as high is lesbian sex as in male gay sex.

    For example: Read a bit in another cite in which the writer claimed that swingers were “bigots” (isn’t everybody these days?) because they allow female bisexuality, but prohibit male bisexuality.

    Having once been involved in such activities, I can vouch for the fact that this is not bigotry. Swingers groups ban male bisexuals because they are extremely likely to bring AIDs into the group. Female bisexuals are not.

    We view female bisexuality differently than male bisexuality for the very good reason that the health risks are very different. When people’s lives are at stake, as swinger’s lives are at stake for allowing male bisexuality, people stop pretending.

  29. Stephen, you’re reading too much into this. A boy/man who has sex with another boy/man is thought of as a “fag” for as long as anyone will remember him, not just by bigots but by most people including myself. Such is not the case for women.

    A women I slept with told me about her one “experiment” when she was a teen, and hell yes it was a turn on. I can not imagine the same stimulating thoughts going through a woman’s head if the roles were reveresed, pre or post-AIDS.

    I thought that the first article missed a very obvious point, that girls have less to lose than boys, and even something to gain. That doesn’t make us all bigots, it just frustates those who wish we were all gay.

    Now will you please stop hogging the board with your public health theories?

  30. Have visited my friend in the hospital numerous times as his has battled against Karposi’s sarcoma and various other ailments. His body is literally burning up from within. This experience has caused me even to jettison the notion that the derivation of the word “fag” comes from the practice of burning gays at the stake. Could be it derives from the very obvious observation that a person dying from veneral disease looks like he is being consumed by fire.

    You decide when you want to post. I’ll decide when I want to. Obviously, what’s bothering you is that what I have to say makes sense.

  31. Actually, I’m just really entertained by all of Stephen’s sexual hangups. Thanks, man.

  32. Rita, I live a more active sex life than you can imagine.

    Living a great sex life requires, as I said before, individual initiative, responsibility and courage.

    I am married to a strikingly beautiful Filipino woman, and after 14 years of marriage, we still make love every night.

    What’s your sexual hangup?

  33. Stephen,

    My gay uncle has HIV, but not AIDS. I do not know the cost to society of his drug cocktails. He takes care of my bed-ridden grandmother, who is 93 years old. The cost of her full-time nursing care, from her savings and government programs, is somewhere around $70,000 per year. It would be considerably higher if she was not living with my gay uncle. My grandmother was not gay or promiscuous, she’s just old.

    Old people’s consumption of health care dwarfs that of gays. According to your logic, I should go to the nearest nursing home and shout out “Hey everyone, die already!”

    And why do you always have to identify your wife as Filipina?

    And yes, you are hogging this board.

  34. Stephen, my sexual hangups are my own business, and despite the fact that I’m a blatantly liberal member of the education establishment (and thus lack all common sense), I am conservative enough not to post about my sex life on a blog ostensibly about education. I have no need to imagine your sex life as you keep telling us all about it.

  35. Stephen,

    The word “fag” predates AIDS by many decades, if not a century. And I don’t think any other venereal disease comes close to being as physically ravaging… oops, there goes another of your wacko theories. I find it offensive that you pretty much equate gays with AIDS…

    Gee, you claim not to be a homophobe… yet you claim that gays are the “chief” (your word) reason why Islamists hate the USA, that the USA is expending extraordinary funds to defend the USA against hostile attack because of the quasi-tolerance of gays, that acceptance of homosexuality will lead to the fall of civilization (ha ha, you said you hoped you were wrong, spare us your faux compassion)… hmm, what else, oh, gay men have near or actual incestuos relationships with their mothers, and now… the word “fag” is somehow tragically fitting of gays since they will die burning from venereal disease…

    Oh, but I’m sure I took all of this entirely out of context, right? You love gays, well, gee, look you have a gay best friend dying of AIDS, you couldn’t possibly be a homophobe… your extrapolations from your limited experience just must be true for all gays…


    Stephen constantly lets us know about his non-Caucasian wife so that he can spout of his wierd racial theories (have you seen the thread where he pontificated on black male sexuality and machismo?)… he thinks it inoculates him against being called the R-word…
    “I can’t be a racist if I have a Filipina wife.” Similarly, he will now bring up his gay friend dying of AIDS in every discussion of homosexuality as way to inoculate him from being called a homophobe… “I can’t be a homophobe, I have a gay best friend dying of AIDS.”

  36. It’s fascinating how a post about some teenage girls flirting with lesbianism so rapidly becomes a discussion of the evils of *male* homosexuals.


  37. John from OK says:

    Jab, rolling on the floor, LMFAO!
    Myria, your right. I was hoping to learn more about Independant George’s research project on the “Girls Gone Wild” videos.

  38. If homosexuality is innate, that doesn’t necessarily imply a genetic factor. A whole lot of stuff happens during fetal development, due to the environment in the womb.

    Ever since I first read about the LUG phenomenon, I’ve wondered if college girls feel pressured to act out sexually more than they really want to; they don’t want to come across frigid or goody-two-shoes, so the excuse of being lesbian lets them out stay of the world of wild promiscuity that otherwise they’d feel compelled to enter. Obviously, if they’re really acting on that lesbian-ness, then my theory doesn’t hold.

  39. I’d prefer that commenters not comment about their sex lives or speculate about the sexual hang-ups of other commenters. I’m from the Midwest. And I’m old and cranky. In fact, I’m so old that I remember a time before AIDS. There was much more tolerance for lesbians than for gay men then, as now.

    The 10 percent gay figure comes from Kinsey, who had absurdly bad research methods. The 2 percent comes from AIDS researchers trying to estimate male-to-male sex. Studies in the U.S., England and France came up with similar numbers. If memory serves, Andrew Sullivan thinks it’s about 2 percent too. I think the same-sex sex percentage would be lower for women, but the AIDS research didn’t look at lesbians because they’re very low risk. And, yes, the researchers knew that people sometimes lie and tried to deal with that.

  40. “2. If the war in which we are currently involved is a religious war (as I believe that it is), the chief complaint of our Islamic enemies is that we harbor within our midst gays and feminists who want to impose a gay and feminist agenda within Islamic society. In other words, our society also bears the very heavy cost of defending gays against an enemy that wants to destroy them precisely because they are gay.”

    And it’s a cost well worth paying. They have no right to kill American citizens on their own soil just because we tolerate gays, visible women, Jews, Christians, or anyone else.

    “Do you think that there are no people on this earth who take their religious values seriously enough to go to war to preserve them?”

    They didn’t need to go to war to preserve their religious values – before they attacked, we weren’t the least bit interested in doing a damned thing to their religious values. But it doesn’t matter in any case – we’re just as willing to go to war to keep them from forcing us to take their religious values and their religious laws seriously, and with damned good reason.

    It’s one thing for American citizens traveling abroad to have to conform to local laws and local customs. But we shouldn’t even be considering the “cost” of allowing American citizens on American soil to do things that they disapprove of. They get no say in that, and if they try to cause trouble over it, then that’s about the most just cause for war there is.

  41. John from OK,

    One of the hallmarks of good science is the confirmation of results through replication by other researchers. I’m happy to report that my own research has confirmed Independant George’s results. After testing his theory that these videos are “an almost 100% effective way of attracting attention,” I can confirm that out of the 100 times I played the video, my attention was, in fact, attracted 100 times. I can’t help but add that I’ve always considered it to be an honor and a privilege to participate in the reasoned, dispassionate, observations that are at the heart of research, and it was purely with these noble values as my guide that I undertook this task.

  42. If homosexuality is innate, that doesn’t necessarily imply a genetic factor. A whole lot of stuff happens during fetal development, due to the environment in the womb.

    Perzactly. This isn’t a simple single allele problem. The organizational hormonal effects on sexually dimorphic neuro-physiology are substantial. There are a whole lotta things, both genetic and not, that can muck with that.


  43. Richard Heddleson says:

    Your columns were always great, practically the only ones at the Merc that were. I always wondered how you got a job there. The paper has suffered as a result of your absence, amongst other things.

  44. Reading Richard’s pleasant comment in the midst of the current discussion, I’m reminded of the scene in The Longest Day where the nuns walk right into the middle of a raging battle.

  45. Richard Heddleson says:

    Thank you Steve. Nuns have never been amongst the many things to which I have been compared, though I fear they shall blush when they see the company they now keep.

  46. Sean Kinsell says:

    “My personal experience (and my personal experience alone) do not lead me to believe the inate theory. The reason is quite simple. When my gay friends have tried to seduce me, they abandon the inate theory. They tell me I should take up homosexuality because (1) I can have all the sex I want without the interference of women, and (2) I can ditch the responsibilities to women and children attendant upon hetero men.”

    I think the whole “innateness” explanation is often too pat, also, but…um…you question theories because horny guys toss them aside when trying to manipulate you into bed? I thought you big-city artist types were supposed to have a sophisticated understanding of human nature.

    From the quoted article:
    “Shapiro says he was ‘astounded’ at the number of kids who stepped into the bisexual group.”

    Yeah, it’s truly amazing that a bunch of kids strong-armed into participating in a “diversity day” would try to strike the only available balance between being honest and pleasing the principal. This wanker’s in charge of children?

  47. Well, there’s always my solution to the problem of the exorbitant costs of the government paying for AIDS patients: have the government stop paying for them!

    Those people brought upon themselves through unsafe sexual practices (be they hetero- or homosexual)… The government certainly didn’t force HIV/AIDS on anyone, so why should it pay for the results? Answer: it shouldn’t.

  48. Nick,

    Do you REALLY want to go there?
    Some questions if you are serious:

    (1) You claim everyone who gets HIV somehow deserves it, or is responsible for getting it.
    Not necessarily true… infants sometimes get it. What about spouses/partners who get it from an unfaithful spouse? Do they deserve it? Nurses/health care workers can get it via needle sticks… what about people who responsibly use condoms, but the condoms break? Are you saying thay deserve this fate?

    (2) What about obesity? Diabetes? Lung cancer?
    People who participate in extreme sports? Liver cancer? Should the government set up an administartion to determine who deserves financial help and who should just be left to suffer because they somehow deserved it?

  49. jab,

    In short, yes, the government must draw a line to separate what it will pay for and what it will not. As I recall, several years ago, the state of Oregon listed 700+ diseases and medical conditions and ranked them, saying, “We’ll pay for the 500 at the top of the list, but not the 200 at the bottom.” The bottom was populated with very expensive, but low value treatments like heart transplants for 99-year-olds, as well as low-cost, but unimportant treatments like hangnails. Just like an insurance company that doesn’t want to go bankrupt, the government needs to decide what it will cover and what it won’t.

    In that process of deciding what to pay for and what not, I’m more than happy for the gov’t (or any insurer) to apply standards that if you self-inflict, you’re not covered. Smokers, drug addicts, and extreme sports enthusiasts could get special coverage, if they could afford it. This would reward responsible behavior and penalize irresponsible behavior. I believe climbers up Mt. McKinley are now required to either post a bond or pay for insurance to cover the cost of rescue, should it be required. I’m all for that.

  50. I understand and agree with most of what you are saying, but the self inflicted part has me a bit worried. I bicycle to work in traffic and after dark. Some people tell me I am taking an unreasonable risk. How do we decide what is reasonable? I know vegetarians who feel that anyone who gets a meat born illness should be allowed to die. Should adults who have not been properly vaccinated be treated for the disease the vaccination would prevent? How about kids whose parents refuse to allow vaccination?

  51. Stephen threw out a factoid that nobody here has yet challenged – the “20 years shorter lifespan” myth. That number is the number of years that the average person with AIDS loses to the disease, not the difference in average lifespan of gays and straights, or even gay men and straight men.

    My observations have led me to believe that homosexuality is not entirely innate. Most people, by the time they develop a sexual identity, have the capacity to live their lives within some range on the kinsey scale. Some people really only can be heterosexual, and some (fewer) really can only be homosexual. The vast majority can choose, or be pushed by circumstance into, a number of different options.

    So when toying with bisexuality is culturally acceptable, lots of college (or high school) girls are capable of choosing to do so. Most of them will be capable of choosing later on in life to become much more exclusively heterosexual.

  52. If I’m allowed to go back to the gayish girls thing, it seems fairly obvious to me. If you let a boy know you have a crush on him, he’ll go out with you just to get in your pants. If you let a girl, especially a close friend, know you hae a crush on her, at worst it’ll be awkward and you’ll both try to ignore it, and at best you’ll have some sort of a fumbling relationship.

    The parental factor plays in here – Dads, which scenario will you say yes to? “Hey, can I go to a party with Suzy”, or “Hey, can I go to a party with Rambo”?

    Plus, most of the guys that teenage girls have crushes on are practically girls anyway – Orlando Bloom? Nick Carter? It’s that whole “manly-men are frightening” jazz. Girls won’t hurt you.

    Teenagers are also more hormonal than anybody’s business, and generally develop instant crushes on nearby blades of grass, for crying out loud.

    I mean, I’ve probably had crushes on about as many girls as boys. And I don’t consider myself even bi-curious. My question is, if you can go back to your memories, did you ever have crushes on members of the same sex? Because my bet would be that teenagers are just acting on it more now because of the increased acceptedness of teenage promiscuity in general and homosexuality in specific, but they’re thinking the exact same things they did forty years ago.

  53. Some of the comments made on this board literally boggle my mind. I know from researching many papers throughout my college carreer that you can find statistics that will back up just about anything you want to say. Some of these less than adequate studies don’t take error in sampling into effect. The biggest problem with the studies being that most of them have extremely small sample sizes. For instance, one study that claimed 2-4 percent of men were homosexual came to this conclusion after questioning 20 men. I guarantee I could go somewhere and question 20 different men, 20 different times and get a different percentage every time. Maybe I’ll go to a gay bar and ask 100 men and then put out a study that says 98% of the men in the United States have had homosexual sex. Obviously it would be fact, because I said so.
    The reality of the matter is that homosexuality does not only exist in the human population. There are literally hundreds of studies about homosexuality in animal populations. The funny thing about it is, that in every species that they have found homosexual tendencies, there is usually a very similar percentage of animals that exhibit this behavior. It tends to be around 10% across the board. Which is around the same percentage you will find in most reputable studies on sexuality in humans.
    Furthermore, recent tests on homosexual cadavers have actually found parts of the human brain that are much more developed in gay men, which are manytimes almost non-existent in straight men. (Maybe this is just the part of the brain that helps with fasion, who really knows. haha)
    And as far as the whole AIDS argument goes, I’m not justifying the mass number of gay men that have contracted HIV. However, most RECENT studies (you know…studies that weren’t done in the 80’s) will show that there is actually a higher percentage of heterosexuals that are HIV+ than homosexuals. (Maybe its the swingers.)
    All I’m saying, is don’t assume anything based on your own feelings. My mom always told me not to assume because it just made an ASS out of U and ME. I really hate saying that because now you all know that since I speak to my mother we’re obviously having crazy wild incestous sex with each other. And yes, sometimes we let dad join in too.

  54. I’m not sure what the article proves other than a) teenagers experiment with their sexual identity (there’s news!), and b) private schools can do stuff that is equally as goofy as the stuff public schools do.

    I *suspect* that the activity was an attempt at building tolerance of homosexual students. Nobody really knows how to accomplish this as far as I can tell, so you see lots of strange and ill-advised stuff going on. The issue is important because homosexual students are often absolutely miserable in high school because of the way they are treated by their peers. One of the toughest parts of my job is to have a teenager in my room crying because their life is being turned into living hell over the issue. Their peers shun them, their parents won’t believe that they’re homosexual… it’s just a nightmare.

    The “heteroflexible” business is just typical goofy teenager stuff. But there is a real issue behind it.

  55. ***Julie*** says:

    Political Views aside, my concern in reading this is as follows:

    What happened to teaching Abstinence? How does discussing one’s sexual preferences teach students about diversity? This line of questioning really isn’t one that should be held publicly, if at all. If a student has questions about this area in their life, then they can discuss it privately with their Counselor, or their Health Teacher.

    Also, what about those four boys who openly stated that they are “heteroflexible”? I am sure that this school will have some discipline problems with the “straight” boys who want to “prove” their masculinity by ostracizing these four boys.

    And what of this teacher, I know that there will be some talk about her, and maybe some parents who will start some problems.

    What was the benefit of having students and teachers step forward? Why were they asked to do this? Doesn’t the school think that they may be creating targets? Or does this show Shapiro’s beliefs that his private college-prep school wouldn’t attract students with “that type” of sexual orientation? Why was he “astounded”, what made him think otherwise? What made him think about the sexual preferences of his students in the first place? It’s all too far out there. Lets hope nothing bad comes of this. I think this school may have created more problems for itself by having this “diversity day” activity than they solved. It would be interesting to see what happens in the school as a result of this. (Both in the short and the long run)

  56. I am pretty sure you can be homosexual and abstinent.

  57. Julie,

    You completely miss the point… you confuse
    sexual orientation with sex… sexual orientation is part of your public identity… sex is the private behavior or act…

    And for those who are going to jump in and say, no, sexual orientation should be private… that’s B.S… people constantly talk about their significant others, people wear wedding bands…
    turn on the T.V. and every comercial, show, movie… its clear heterosexulas declare their orientation verbally and nonverbally…

    Sex should always be a private, intimate affair between the loving partners… one’s sexual identity is part of your overall identity, completely apart from sex… it has to do with your ability to love, to share your life with someone, etc… there SHOULD be no shame in that, and there SHOULD be no reason to hide it or be secretive about it…

    At least be consistent, Julie… if your going to complain when gays openly declare their identity, you better start complaining about the kazillion ways straights verbally and nonverbally declare it… because it should be a big secret… not only should we not know who is gay, we shouldn’t know who is straight either… see how absurd that is?

  58. ***Julie*** says:

    >At least be consistent, Julie… if you’re going to complain when gays openly declare their identity…

    I would not dream of complaining about people who openly declare that they are gay or lesbian; I think it’s healthy for them to do so. There is no shame in being a gay or lesbian, just as there is no shame for being heterosexual.

    I think you miss my point; I believe that it’s not the principals place to be asking these questions. If students are comfortable stating their preference, fine, let them state it, however it is not the practice (or at least it shouldn’t be the practice) of school administration to initiate a conversation with the student body on their sexual preferences. (Whether you believe it is stating their identity or sexual preference, it makes no difference.) There has to be a million different ways to promote diversity in an environment that does not involve requiring students to openly admit their preferences. As you have stated yourself people constantly talk about their significant others, and they do so with people they feel comfortable talking about it with. People wear wedding bands, a visual cue, and there are many symbols that gays and lesbians wear to visually cue others as to their preferences, too. Live and let live, the world is a better place when people are free to love who they wish to love… AMEN! Just as people are free to worship whom they choose – I believe in that freedom, it’s the American way, but please don’t create a situation where you can not guarantee the safety of those you are asking to put themselves on the line. These kids may not have felt comfortable in stepping forward, but peer pressure is peer pressure. Do you not believe that their partner would have felt hurt if they did not step forward? Why did administration feel like they had the right to ask such a question? I work in a high school, and students are moved by their emotions more easily than adults are. We had a situation in our school where a teacher spoke with a female student who said she felt more love from her girlfriends than she did from any boy she had ever dated. The student was openly admitting to this teacher that she felt more secure as a lesbian; it was a healthy move for the student. What wasn’t healthy was the way the teacher handled it. She believed that it would help the student to openly declare that preference to the school faculty, and she started to tell all the teachers and administration. Of course, students overheard, and word got out, and this eventually leads to this student dropping out of school because she wasn’t comfortable with the looks she was getting from other students. It was out of control, not because of the student’s admission, but because of the teacher’s lack of privacy on behalf of the student. Now, I know that the situations are slightly different, but the same outcome is possible for this situation at the Edmund Burke School.

    I strongly feel that they created a situation that could have, and may still get seriously out of control. I may be erring on the side of caution, but I believe in “better safe than sorry”.

  59. Mark Odell says:

    jab wrote: (1) You claim everyone who gets HIV somehow deserves it, or is responsible for getting it.

    Nice try at setting up a straw man; but in fact Nick wrote:
    Those people brought upon themselves through unsafe sexual practices (be they hetero- or homosexual)…

    In other words, those who contracted HIV–note well the following key phrase–through unsafe sexual practices, a (very-large) subset of all HIV cases, brought it upon themselves and thus bear the responsibility. (And just incidentally, the excuse “But I didn’t know the gun was loaded” is strikingly ineffective at shifting the responsibility.)

    infants sometimes get it.

    Well, of course they’re not responsible for it! (As I pointed out above, he never said they were.)

    What about spouses/partners who get it from an unfaithful spouse?

    Then the unfaithful spouse is responsible.

    Nurses/health care workers can get it via needle sticks…

    That’s precisely why so much effort has been put into safety precautions.

    what about people who responsibly use condoms, but the condoms break?

    Then they’re not responsibly using condoms, are they?

    I have long argued that, by the anti-condom-distribution spokespeople’s own reasoning (“The failure rate of condoms is one in five”), a man should wear two condoms (odds of failure = 1 in 25) or even three (odds of failure = 1 in 125)!

    (2) What about obesity? Diabetes?

    Since a solution exists, if they don’t take advantage of it, then yes, they are responsible.

    Lung cancer?

    Would it be impertinence to suggest that those who smoke tobacco (we have to be specific these days 😉 take at least a modicum of personal responsibility, and quit smoking?

    People who participate in extreme sports?

    Oh yes, they are definitely responsible for consequences, not I.

    Liver cancer?

    Since AFAIK no one knows what causes this, it’s premature to talk about responsibility for it or precautions against it.

    Should the government set up an administartion to determine who deserves financial help and who should just be left to suffer because they somehow deserved it?

    No, it shouldn’t — that’s his point.

    Lest someone mistake my meaning, none of this is an argument against individuals contributing self-determined percentages of their incomes voluntarily towards the care of those who have contracted HIV, regardless of how it happened.

  60. Mark: You are correct on all points and have saved me the need to respond – thanks for covering my back! 🙂

  61. funny how posts on gayish subjects on non-gayish sites always seem to open the comments floodgates. Why is that do you think?

    On a side issue there’s an interesting roundup of the varying surveys of the gay percentage of the pop. here:

  62. What about “gayish” guys? I’m a heteroflexible man and I know that there are women who also like to see two man kiss. They are refered as “girlfags” and I wouldn’t mind kissing another man for a hot girlfag chick! Also, I want to say many straight men like myself are becoming bi-curious or heteroflexible. You can look in the chat rooms if you think I’m talking smack. Plus, many of us are on a discreet level about our curiosity towards men. Maybe I should’ve said,” on the downlow” so that’s why you hardly hear about us men making out with other men.

  63. It is ridiculous to state that only 2% of men are gay or bisexual. Janus and Janus, in their cross-sectional (not random) nationwide survey of American adults aged 18 and over, stated that 9% of men and 5% of women reported having had homosexual experiences “frequently” or “ongoing.” In another measure, 4% of men and 2% of women self-identified as homosexual. Gonsiorek, Sell & Weinrich (1995) put forward an estimate of about 10 percent (based on a 4 percent to 17 percent range in the studies reviewed) for “the prevalence of predominant same sex orientation (i.e. regular behavior or substantial attraction or both) in the United States.” Gonsiorek et al. (1995) also cite the cross-cultural study by one of the authors, based on random sampling of 10,500 men and women in America, England and France indicating that in America 6.2 percent of men are homosexually active, while 20.8 percent have at some time since the age of 15 experienced either same gender sexual contact, or homosexual desires. In 1996, the Voter Notes Service found that 5% of voters were openly gay. In 1993, a team at the Harvard School of Public Health reported that 6.2 percent of men and 3.6 percent of women reported a same-sex partner in the pervious five years. (Interestingly 8.7 percent of the men and 11.1 percent of the women reported feeling some same-sex attraction but not engaging in homosexual behavior.) The 1993 Yankelovich Monitor Survey, considered the first nationally representative survey to reflect what percentage of the population identified itself as homosexual, indicated that 5.7% described themselves as “gay/homosexual/lesbian.”
    Binson et al (1995) showed 5.3% of men reporting sexual activity with a same-gender partner since age 18. and 6.5% of men reporting sex with men during the previous five years. The highest prevalence was found the 12 largest cities (14.4% since age 18) and among “highly educated” White males (10.8%).
    A number of reasons have been advanced to account for these varying results: using volunteer samples may lead to biased estimates, and questioning by a stranger using traditional telephone and/or face-to-face interviews may not elicit a frank response; many homosexually oriented males have justified fears about disclosing information on their homosexuality to a stranger, especially when they are living closeted or partly closeted lives. In this respect, criticisms may be made of the two most recent studies (Billy et al., 1994; Binson et al., 1995) reporting demographic estimates based on sexual orientation. As Gonsiorek et al. (1995) observe: “A major problem facing such studies is the risk involved in self disclosure, especially where the studies fail to ensure complete anonymity. It is possible, indeed quite likely, that these recurrent 2-5% figures represent an absolute minimum and that they represent homosexual individuals who are relatively open and/or who live lives within tolerant or cosmopolitan communities.” Thus the Billy et al. (1993) study reported that their face-to-face interviews (following random sampling) produced an estimates of 1.3 to 2.3 percent for 18- to 29-year-old males who were exclusively homosexually active, and 2.8 to 3.0 percent for males who had at least one homosexual experience in the last 10 years. Citing the similarity of estimated rates of homosexuality with those of recent studies, the authors claim some reliability for their results. However, one of its authors, Koray Tanfer, presented a different perspective after the paper was published. On being questioned by someone knowledgeable about gay and bisexual males, she replied that the study “was not done to count the number of gays in the United States. It was specifically done to look at risky behaviors among heterosexuals. If we had wanted to count gays, we would have done a totally different study.” Similarly, a high degree of confidence was at first attributed to the results of a major American study published, in part, by Michael et. al. 1994 in the book Sex in America: A definitive study, and in a paper by Binson et. al. (1995). But Stuart Michaels, one of the authors of the Binson et al. (1995) study, conceded (in a Time interview with Dewitt, 1994) that “The biggest hot button he says is homosexuality. This is a stigmatized group. There is probably a lot more homosexual activity going on than we could get people to talk about.'” In other words, the studies that reported 2% of men were gay, has been discredited by the very organizations that did those studies.
    Finally, David Diamond looked at studies done on the prevalence of homosexual behavior. He included some studies done on populations outside the U.S. The date ranges varied from country to country, but spanned 1948 to 1991. Those studies discussed were compared and displayed in tablular form. He found the mean of males surveyed to be 5.5% of the population, and the median to be 5.3%. The mean of females that engaged in same sex behavior was 2.5% and the median was 3.0%. The calculations were of all non-Kinsey data.



    There is a story in the Washington Post entitled Partway Gay. Joanne Jacobs has commented on it. In my essay Learning, (linked on the sidebar) I wrote “Students who can’t depend on athletics or grade point average for an identity,

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