“All the Gays Are Liberal?” Sexuality and Gender Gaps in Political Perspectives among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Mostly Heterosexual, and Heterosexual College Students in the Southern USA

  • Meredith G. F. WorthenEmail author


Despite the stereotype that “all the gays are liberal,” sexual identity (sexual orientation) has largely been overlooked in explorations of political attitudes save a handful of studies. The existing research indicates that lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) people tend to be more liberal than heterosexuals, supporting a “sexuality gap” in liberalism; however, there is significantly less work focused on LGB attitudes toward specific politicized topics, even less research that investigates the role of gender in these relationships, and no existing studies focusing on mostly heterosexuals’ (MH) political attitudes. The current study explores sexuality and gender gaps in political perspectives among college students enrolled at a university in the southern USA (N = 1940). Specifically, sexual identity (lesbian, gay, bisexual, mostly heterosexual, and heterosexual); gender (man/woman); and the intersections among sexual identity and gender are explored as they relate to politicized perspectives (liberal ideology and feminist identity) and support of politicized issues (death penalty and legal abortion). It is hypothesized that liberal social justice perspectives may be particularly common among LGB people as a group and perhaps especially among lesbian and bisexual women due to their multiple oppressed identities. Results confirm sexuality gaps (heterosexual-LGB, MH-LGB, and B-LG) as well as gender gaps among MH and LGB students (MH women-MH men, bisexual women-bisexual men, gay men-lesbian women), though some gaps (B-LG and G-L) are in the opposite direction from expected. In addition, there is evidence of a bisexual woman consciousness that relates to strong liberalism among bisexual college women. Overall, this research seeks to fill the gaps in the literature, expand our knowledge about sexuality and gender gaps in political attitudes, and contribute to new lines of inquiry that focus on MH and LGB people’s perspectives. In doing so, the current study works toward a deeper understanding of ways college students can promote political change and advocate for social justice.


Liberal Politics Gender gap Sexuality gap Lesbian Gay Bisexual Mostly heterosexual Heterosexual College students Social justice 



Support for this research was supported by funding awarded to the author from The University of Oklahoma Department of Sociology.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

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 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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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of OklahomaNormanUSA

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