Mostly Heterosexual and Mostly Gay/Lesbian: Evidence for New Sexual Orientation Identities
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A sample of 1,784 individuals responded to an online survey advertised on the Facebook social networking website. We explored the sexual orientation continuum by focusing on three components: self-reported sexual orientation identity, sexual attraction, and sexual partners. Results supported a 5-category classification of identity (heterosexual, mostly heterosexual, bisexual, mostly gay/lesbian, gay/lesbian) in that two added identity labels (mostly heterosexual and mostly gay/lesbian) were frequently chosen by participants and/or showed unique patterns of attraction and partners, distinct from their adjacent identities (heterosexual and bisexual, and bisexual and gay/lesbian, respectively). Those who reported an exclusive label (heterosexual, gay/lesbian) were not necessarily exclusive in other components; a significant minority of heterosexuals and the majority of gays/lesbians reported some attraction and/or partners toward their nonpreferred sex. The five identity groups differed in attraction and partners in a manner consistent with a continuous, rather than a categorical, distribution of sexual orientation. Findings also supported a sexual orientation continuum as consisting of two, rather than one, distinct dimensions (same- and other-sex sexuality). Having more same-sex sexuality did not necessarily imply having less other-sex sexuality, and vice versa. More men than women were at the exclusive ends of the continuum; however, men were not bimodally distributed in that a significant minority reported nonexclusivity in their sexuality.
KeywordsSexual orientation Heterosexual Gay/lesbian Sexual identity Sexual behavior
A version of this article was presented at the University of Lethbridge Workshop, The Puzzle of Sexual Orientation: What Is It and How Does It Work?, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, June 2010. We thank Dr. David Pizarro for his financial support and contribution in designing the study, to Dr. Gerulf Rieger for his valuable feedback regarding this article, and to Jegath Athilingam for her help with data collection and preparation.
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