About 4 percent of men and women described themselves as homosexual or bisexual, but in a finding that surprised the researchers, 14 percent of the women aged 18 to 29 reported at least one homosexual experience, more than twice the proportion for young men.It would be naive to conclude that this means that women are inherently more bisexual than men. I think this shift hinges a lot on the weakened stigma of women kissing women which, in my view, has more to do with men than with women. It strikes me as evidence of the widespread fetishization of girl-on-girl action. It's hard to know what these experiences mean to the women who had them, if they are referring to half-drunk kisses with men cheering them on in a bar at 2 am on a Friday night or if they represent private, audience-free sexual exploration.
Among adults ages 15 to 44, almost 3 percent of men and 4 percent of women reported having a sexual experience with a member of the same sex within the past year, and over their lifetimes, 6 percent of men and 11 percent of women had such experiences. About 1 percent of men and 3 percent of women had had both male and female sexual partners in the previous 12 months.
Nearly 6 percent of all men ages 15 to 44 reported having oral sex with another man at some time in their lives, and nearly 4 percent reported having anal sex with another man.
The data comes from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth, a survey of 12,571 men and women ages 15 to 44.
When asked, "Have you ever had any sexual experience of any kind with any female?" 14 percent of the 18- to 29-year-old women said yes, compared with slightly under 10 percent of the 30- to 44-year-olds.
Regardless, it does expose a pretty dramatic cultural change in attitudes about same-sex attraction and should bode well for the future of same-sex marriage and the eventual increased acceptance of gay couples and their families. It may also help resolve the 'how many gay people are there' population question-- statistically speaking 4% of America's total population of 295,734,134 is 11.8 million. For the sake of comparison, in the United States there are 38.7 million people(pdf) of African descent, approximately 13.3%, and there are 37.4 million people of Hispanic descent, 12.8%. There are approximately 5.3 million Jews in the United States, less than 2% of the total population, and reportedly .06% of the overall population is Muslim. The number of Americans who are non-religious/atheist/agonistic is 15%, which is over 44 million.
The bottom line is that 11 million gay people Americans is nothing to sneeze at, that's roughly equal to the population of New York City and Los Angeles combined or half the population of the state of Texas or a third of the population of California. It would also be like everyone in the following states turning gay all at once-- Montana, Nebraska, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Wyoming and Utah. (I've been studying for the math section of the GRE lately, can you tell?)
I hope that this is all enough to keep the anti-gay bigots up at night, perhaps make them consider heading for a country with a less tolerant future. As of now it appears pretty certain America will be much more queer and queer-friendly than it is now.