Advertisement

Springer Nature is making Coronavirus research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

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

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.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

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.

  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.

  3. Diamond, M. (1993). Homosexuality and bisexuality in different populations.Arch. Sex. Behav. 22: 291–310.

  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.

  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.

  6. Harry, J. (1990). A probability sample of gay males.J. Homosex. 19: 89–104.

  7. Johnson, A. M., Wadsworth, J. Wellings, K., Bradshaw, S., and Field, J. (1992). Sexual lifestyles and HIV risk.Nature 360: 410–412.

  8. Kinsey, A. C., Pomeroy, W. B., and Martin, C. E. (1948).Sexual Behavior in the Human Male W. B. Saunders, Philadelphia, PA.

  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.

  10. Klein, F., Sepekoff, B., and Wolf, T. J. (1985). Sexual orientation: A multi-variable dynamic process.J. Homosex. 11: 35–49.

  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.

  12. Miller, H. G., Turner C. F., and Moses L. E. (eds.). (1990).AIDS: The Second Decade National Academy Press, Washington, DC.

  13. Rubin, D. B. (1987).Multiple Imputation for Nonresponse in Surveys Wiley, New York.

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Randall L. Sell M.A., M.S..

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Sell, R.L., Wells, J.A. & Wypij, D. The prevalence of homosexual behavior and attraction in the United States, the United Kingdom and France: Results of national population-based samples. Arch Sex Behav 24, 235–248 (1995). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01541598

Download citation

Key words

  • sexual behavior
  • sexual attraction
  • sexual orientation
  • prevalence
  • homosexuality
  • bisexuality