Using Add Health, a US-based nationally representative survey, this study predicts the likelihood of identifying as straight among (1) individuals who reported same-sex attractions and/or sexual practices and (2) among those who reported neither, given that many respondents nonetheless identified as something other than straight. It also (3) predicts the likelihood of changing one’s sexual identity to heterosexuality across survey waves. Weighted logistic regression identifies political conservatism and religiosity as predictors of straight identification and changing to a straight sexual identity, even after controlling for attractions and sexual practices. The results suggest that individuals with same-sex attractions and/or sexual practices do not identify as straight simply because of limitations of well-known sexual identities (straight, bisexual, gay/lesbian), given that Add Health offered more nuanced options, such as mostly straight. Instead, the results suggest that non-sexual social factors, such as religiosity and conservative political attitudes—themselves shaped by patterned social forces—are keys to heterosexual identification and heterosexual identity change. This paper offers the first quantitative test of critical heterosexuality theory using a nationally representative sample, suggesting that the approach is theoretically generalizable beyond qualitative studies.
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I would like to thank Clare Evans and CJ Pascoe, both of whom provided helpful feedback that greatly strengthened the paper, as well as the editor and anonymous reviewers of this manuscript. All errors are my own.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
Conflict of Interest
The author declares that he has no conflict of interest.
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Silva, T. A Quantitative Test of Critical Heterosexuality Theory: Predicting Straight Identification in a Nationally Representative Sample. Sex Res Soc Policy 15, 353–366 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13178-017-0307-8