Heterosexual College Students Who Hookup with Same-Sex Partners
- 660 Downloads
Individuals who identify as heterosexual but engage in same-sex sexual behavior fascinate both researchers and the media. We analyzed the Online College Social Life Survey dataset of over 24,000 undergraduate students to examine students whose last hookup was with a same-sex partner (N = 383 men and 312 women). The characteristics of a significant minority of these students (12% of men and 25% of women) who labelled their sexual orientation “heterosexual” differed from those who self-identified as “homosexual,” “bisexual,” or “uncertain.” Differences among those who identified as heterosexual included more conservative attitudes, less prior homosexual and more prior heterosexual sexual experience, features of the hookups, and sentiments about the encounter after the fact. Latent class analysis revealed six distinctive “types” of heterosexually identified students whose last hookup was with a same-sex partner. Three types, comprising 60% of students, could be classified as mostly private sexual experimentation among those with little prior same-sex experience, including some who did not enjoy the encounter; the other two types in this group enjoyed the encounter, but differed on drunkenness and desire for a future relationship with their partner. Roughly, 12% could be classified as conforming to a “performative bisexuality” script of women publicly engaging in same-sex hookups at college parties, and the remaining 28% had strong religious practices and/or beliefs that may preclude a non-heterosexual identity, including 7% who exhibited “internalized heterosexism.” Results indicate several distinctive motivations for a heterosexual identity among those who hooked up with same-sex partners; previous research focusing on selective “types” excludes many exhibiting this discordance.
KeywordsHookups Same-sex sexual behavior Sexual identity Internalized heterosexism
The authors thank Joseph Padgett, R. James Leister, Lonnie McLendon, Rachel Madsen, and Stephanie Pruitt for their research assistance on this project, as well as Sara Crawley and Joseph Padgett for their helpful advice. This project was funded by a University of North Carolina at Greensboro New Faculty Research Grant and a New Faculty Summer Excellence Award Grant, as administered by the Office of Sponsored Programs. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Southern Sociological Society Conference, Charlotte, NC, 2014.
- Armstrong, E. A., England, P., & Fogarty, A. C. K. (2009). Orgasm in college hook ups and relationships. In B. Risman (Ed.), Families as they really are (pp. 362–377). New York: Norton.Google Scholar
- Bleich, S., & Taylor-Clark, K. (2005). Black men on the “down-low” and the HIV epidemic: The need for research and intervention strategies. Harvard Journal of African American Public Policy, 11, 13–20.Google Scholar
- Bogle, K. A. (2008). Hooking up: Sex, dating, and relationships on campus. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
- Bower, J., Gurevich, M., & Mathieson, C. M. (2002). (Con)tested identities: Bisexual women reorient sexuality. Journal of Bisexuality, 2(2–3), 23–52.Google Scholar
- Boykin, K. (2005). Beyond the down low: Sex, lies, and denial in Black America. New York: Avalon.Google Scholar
- Cass, V. C. (1996). Sexual orientation identity formation: A western phenomenon. In R. P. Cabaj & T. S. Stein (Eds.), Textbook of homosexuality and mental health (pp. 239–266). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press.Google Scholar
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010). HIV among African American gay and bisexual men. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/risk/racialethnic/bmsm/facts/index.html.
- Chandra, A., Copen, C. E., & Mosher, W. D. (2013). Sexual behavior, sexual attraction, and sexual identity in the United States: Data from the 2006–2010 National Survey of Family Growth. In A. K. Baumle (Ed.), International handbook on the demography of sexuality (pp. 45–66). Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Collins, L. M., & Lanza, S. T. (2010). Latent class and latent transition analysis: With applications in the social, behavioral, and health sciences. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
- England, P., Shafer, E. F., & Fogarty, A. C. K. (2008). Hooking up and forming romantic relationships on today’s college campuses. In M. S. Kimmel & A. Aronson (Eds.), The gendered society reader 3 (pp. 531–547). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Hutchins, L., & Kaahumanu, L. (1991). Bi any other name: Bisexual people speak out. Boston: Alyson Press.Google Scholar
- Kimmel, M. S. (2008). Guyland: The perilous world where boys become men. New York: Harper.Google Scholar
- King, J. L. (2004). On the down low: A journey into the lives of “straight” black men who sleep with men. New York: Broadway Books.Google Scholar
- Lanza, S. T., Dziak, J. J., Huang, L., Wagner, A. T., & Collins, L. M. (2015). LCA Stata plugin users’ guide (version 1.2). University Park, PA: The Methodology Center, Penn State. Retrieved from https://methodology.psu.edu/.
- Laughlin, S. (2016). Gen Z goes beyond gender binaries in new innovation group data. J. Walter Thompson Intelligence. Retrieved from https://www.jwtintelligence.com/2016/03/gen-z-goes-beyond-gender-binaries-in-new-innovation-group-data/.
- LCA Stata Plugin (Version 1.2) [Software]. (2015). University Park: The Methodology Center, Penn State. Retrieved from https://methodology.psu.edu/.
- Ochs, R. (2007). What’s in a name? Why women embrace or resist bisexual identity. In B. A. Firestein (Ed.), Becoming visible: Counseling bisexuals across the lifespan (pp. 72–86). New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
- Ochs, R., & Deihl, M. (1992). Moving beyond binary thinking. In W. J. Blumenfeld (Ed.), Homophobia: How we all pay the price (pp. 67–75). Boston: Beacon.Google Scholar
- Sanday, P. R. (2007). Fraternity gang rape: Sex, brotherhood and privilege on campus. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
- Silva, T. (2017). Bud-sex: Constructing normative masculinity among rural straight men that have sex with men. Gender & Sexuality, 31, 51–73.Google Scholar
- Wade, L. (2017). American hookup: The new culture of sex on campus. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.Google Scholar
- Walker, A. (2014b). “I’m not a lesbian; I’m just a freak”: A pilot study of the experiences of women in assumed-monogamous other-sex unions seeking secret same-sex encounters online, their negotiation of sexual desire, and meaning-making of sexual identity. Sexuality and Culture, 18, 911–935.CrossRefGoogle Scholar