Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 46, Issue 1, pp 265–272 | Cite as

Gay, Mostly Gay, or Bisexual Leaning Gay? An Exploratory Study Distinguishing Gay Sexual Orientations Among Young Men

  • Ritch C. Savin-WilliamsEmail author
  • Brian M. Cash
  • Mark McCormack
  • Gerulf Rieger
Special Section: The Puzzle of Sexual Orientation


This exploratory study assessed physiological, behavioral, and self-report measures of sexual and romantic indicators of sexual orientation identities among young men (mean age = 21.9 years) with predominant same-sex sexual and romantic interests: those who described themselves as bisexual leaning gay (n = 11), mostly gay (n = 17), and gay (n = 47). Although they were not significantly distinguishable based on physiological (pupil dilation) responses to nude stimuli, on behavioral and self-report measures a descending linear trend toward the less preferred sex (female) was significant regarding sexual attraction, fantasy, genital contact, infatuation, romantic relationship, sex appeal, and gazing time to the porn stimuli. Results supported a continuum of sexuality with distinct subgroups only for the self-report measure of sexual attraction. The other behavioral and self-report measures followed the same trend but did not significantly differ between the bisexual leaning gay and mostly gay groups, likely the result of small sample size. Results suggest that romantic indicators are as good as sexual measures in assessing sexual orientation and that a succession of logically following groups from bisexual leaning gay, mostly gay, to gay. Whether these three groups are discrete or overlapping needs further research.


Sexual orientation Bisexuality Gay Pupil dilation 



This research was funded by the American Institute of Bisexuality and the United States Department of Agriculture (NYC-321421).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ritch C. Savin-Williams
    • 1
    Email author
  • Brian M. Cash
    • 1
  • Mark McCormack
    • 2
  • Gerulf Rieger
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Human DevelopmentCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyDurham UniversityDurhamUK
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of EssexColchesterUK

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