Monday, August 24, 2009

Kinsey scale

A lot has been written about the Kinsey scale. Many have criticized it as over simplifying something as complex as sexual orientation.

I like the Kinsey Scale because it is simple - it's easy to understand and to explain to others. While I agree that it is an over simplification, I also think it helps illustrate to others (read 'clueless straight people') that sexual orientation is not a binary state where you are either gay or straight - it is a continuum with infinite degrees.

Personally, I put myself at about a 5 - I think I must have, at least, some heterosexual attraction in order to stay married. I mean, I'm not totally repulsed by my wife. Although, the online tests I've taken for Kinsey score tend to put me more at a 3 or 4 - because they focus on action rather than attraction.

For me, the Kinsey scale also helps to explain why there is so much disagreement on the proportion of the population that is gay. I've heard estimates ranging from less than 1% to 10% or greater - I think they are all correct - it depends upon the definition of 'gay'. If you're only looking at '6' on the Kinsey scale (totally gay) then 1% or less may be correct. If you're looking at 4 or greater (mostly gay) then 3%-4% might be a good figure. If you're looking at anything greater than zero (anybody who has any gay feelings whatsoever) then 10% or greater might be accurate.

But, I don't think we'll ever truly know how much of the population is gay
  • sexual orientation is largely misunderstood by the masses
  • it's too politicized
  • I think human nature would cause many people who are a 1 or 2 to have difficulty admitting it (how many straight guys will admit to being 'a little gay'?)
But does it really matter? The fact is - gay people exist. We're here and we're queer! Does it really matter if it's 1% or 10%? We exist even if we are a minority population.

What I find interesting is that the people who insist that the gay population is smaller than most believe are also the same people who feel most threatened by the gay population. How can a 1% minority be such a threat to a 99% majority? For that matter, how can a 10% minority be such a threat to a 90% majority?

Here are the final results from my Kinsey scale poll. I find the results of this poll interesting. The distribution on the gay side of the scale is about what I would have expected. But, I am surprised at the number of straight (or mostly straight) people who read my blog.


Scott said...

I think I must have, at least, some heterosexual attraction in order to stay married. I mean, I'm not totally repulsed by my wife....

I've wondered about this myself, and I've come to the conclusion that the Kinsey scale doesn't say anything about repulsion - just attraction, and only sexual attraction at that.

I don't remember where I read it, but in one of the many (gay-themed) books I've read since coming out, it was speculated that revulsion at the thought of sex with a woman is not an inherently "gay" trait--that is, a Kinsey 6 is not, by default, going to be sickened at the thought. Rather, those gay men who are made ill by the idea (and I've learned that they certainly do exist) harbor some other psychological issues that have resulted in said revulsion.

But a man can be a Kinsey 6--totally and exclusively attracted to men--and still be able to function sexually with a woman. I consider myself one of those men. I can't remember a single time I've ever seen a woman and experienced any sort of feeling that I would consider sexual attraction. My wife is the sole exception to that blanket statement, and I believe that's only because I've learned to respond sexually to her over the course of our marriage. I'm exclusively and solely attracted to men.

(Of course, all of this supports the idea that the Kinsey scale is over-simplified, and that love and attraction and chemistry and sexual behavior can't so easily be codified--but I agree that as an illustrative tool the Kinsey scale does its job).

Kengo Biddles said...

I'm convinced sexuality is a lot more fluid than any of the gay-rights activists would have us believe, and I agree with Scott.

Philip said...

Regarding the comments made on gay married men being somewhat attracted to their wives...

I think there's some truth to that.

However, I don't think we are talking just about physical attraction.

For me it's more emotional.

I am attracted to my wife at some level because I love her.

There are alos varying degrees of physical attraction and I think gay men run the gamut.

For instance, every once in a long while (usually years) I am physically attracted to a woman.

However, while I am constantly and continuously physically attracted to men, on the rare occasions when I am physically attracted to a woman, the attraction is always much, much greater than anything I have expereienced for a man.

I don't know what that says about me.

All I know is that one is constant and continuous and the other rare and magical.

I have wondered how my sexuality would have been like if I had partnered with a man.

Which brings me to sexual fluidity which some might say is what my sexuality is all about. I don't think it's fluid. My sexuality is consistently inconsistent and that's also a pattern even if it's an inconsistent pattern.

When I was young, I use to think that one day my heterosexuality would get stronger because my physical attraction to women was so magical but it never did.

Instead the magical moments became rarer with time.