Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 235–248 | Cite as

The prevalence of homosexual behavior and attraction in the United States, the United Kingdom and France: Results of national population-based samples

  • Randall L. Sell
  • James A. Wells
  • David Wypij
Article

Abstract

Researchers determining the prevalence of homosexuality in nationally representative samples have focused upon determining the prevalence of homosexual behavior, ignoring those individuals whose sexual attraction to the same sex had not resulted in sexual behavior. We examine the use of sexual attraction as well as sexual behavior to estimate the prevalence of homosexuality in the United States, the United Kingdom, and France using the Project HOPE International Survey of AIDS-Risk Behaviors. We find that 8.7, 7.9, and 8.5% of males and 11.1, 8.6, and 11.7% of females in the United States, the United Kingdom, and France, respectively, report some homosexual attraction but no homosexual behavior since age 15. Further, considering homosexual behavior and homosexual attraction as different but overlapping dimensions of homosexuality, we find 20.8, 16.3, and 18.5% of males, and 17.8, 18.6, and 18.5% of females in the United States, the United Kingdom, and France report either homosexual behavior or homosexual attraction since age 15. Examination of homosexual behavior separately finds that 6.2, 4.5, and 10.7% of males and 3.6, 2.1, and 3.3% of females in the United States, the United Kingdom, and France, respectively, report having had sexual contact with someone of the same sex in the previous 5 years. Our findings highlight the importance of using more than just homosexual behavior to examine the prevalence of homosexuality.

Key words

sexual behavior sexual attraction sexual orientation prevalence homosexuality bisexuality 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Billy, J. O. G., Tanfer, K., Grady, W. R., and Klepinger, D. H. (1993). The sexual behavior of men in the United States.Fam. Plann. Perspect. 25: 52–60.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Coleman, E. (1990). Toward a synthetic understanding of sexual orientation. In McWhirter, D. P., Sanders, S. A., and Reinisch, J. M. (eds.),Homosexuality/Heterosexuality: Concepts of Sexual Orientation Oxford University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  3. Diamond, M. (1993). Homosexuality and bisexuality in different populations.Arch. Sex. Behav. 22: 291–310.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Fay, R. E., Turner, C. F., Klassen, A. D., and Gagon, J. H. (1989). Prevalence and patterns of same-gender sexual contact among men.Science 243: 338–348.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Gonsiorek, J. C., and Weinrich, J. D. (eds.). (1991). The definition and scope of sexual orientation. InHomosexuality: Research Implications for Public Policy, Sage, Newbury Park, CA.Google Scholar
  6. Harry, J. (1990). A probability sample of gay males.J. Homosex. 19: 89–104.Google Scholar
  7. Johnson, A. M., Wadsworth, J. Wellings, K., Bradshaw, S., and Field, J. (1992). Sexual lifestyles and HIV risk.Nature 360: 410–412.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Kinsey, A. C., Pomeroy, W. B., and Martin, C. E. (1948).Sexual Behavior in the Human Male W. B. Saunders, Philadelphia, PA.Google Scholar
  9. Kinsey, A. C., Pomeroy, W. B., Martin, C. E., and Gebhard, P. H. (1953).Sexual Behavior in the Human Female W. B. Saunders, Philadelphia, PA.Google Scholar
  10. Klein, F., Sepekoff, B., and Wolf, T. J. (1985). Sexual orientation: A multi-variable dynamic process.J. Homosex. 11: 35–49.Google Scholar
  11. Michaels, S. (1991). Counting homosexuals: The 10% number, community myth-making and sociological research. Presented at the Fifth Annual Lesbian and Gay Studies Conference, Rutgers University, November 1–3.Google Scholar
  12. Miller, H. G., Turner C. F., and Moses L. E. (eds.). (1990).AIDS: The Second Decade National Academy Press, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  13. Rubin, D. B. (1987).Multiple Imputation for Nonresponse in Surveys Wiley, New York.Google Scholar
  14. Smith, T. W. (1991). Adult sexual behavior in 1989: Number of partners, frequency of intercourse and risk of AIDS.Fam. Plann. Perspect. 23(3): 102–107.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Spira, A., Bajos, N., Bejin, A., Beltzer, N., Bozon, M., Ducot, B., Durandeau, A., Ferrand, A., Giami, A., Gilloire, A., Giraud, H. L., Leridon, H., Méssiah, A., Ludwig, D., Moatti, J., Mounnier, L., Olomucki, H., Poplavsky, J., Riandey, B., Spencer, B., Sztalryd, J., and Touzard, H. (1992). AIDS and sexual behaviour in France.Nature 360: 407–409.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Turner, C. F., Miller, H. G., and Moses, L. E. (eds.). (1989).AIDS: Sexual Behavior and Intravenous Drug Use National Academy Press, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  17. Voeller, B. (1990). Some uses and abuses of the Kinsey Scale. In McWhirter, D. P., Sanders, S. A., and Reinisch, J. M. (eds.),Homosexuality/Heterosexuality: Concepts of Sexual Orientation Oxford University Press, New York.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Randall L. Sell
    • 1
  • James A. Wells
    • 2
  • David Wypij
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Health Policy and ManagementHarvard School of Public HealthBostonUSA
  2. 2.Center for Health Policy StudiesWashington, DCUSA
  3. 3.Department of BiostatisticsHarvard School of Public HealthBostonUSA

Personalised recommendations