The (LGBT) Numbers Are In

John Scalzi

Polling company Gallup reports that the number of Americans identifying as LGBT is up to an all-time high, at 5.6%, and that this identification is especially high amongst the younger generations. Most surprisingly to a lot of people, I think, has been the rise in the number of (declared) bisexuals, which you can see from the numbers above has shot up considerably in recent generations. Likewise the number of (declared) trans folk is way up in younger generations than it is in previous generations. But in every case, the number of folks who are out in each generation is growing.

This will no doubt freak out some extremely conservative “family values” folks — the recruiting is working! — but I think the reason for the rise is pretty obvious: The number of LGBT people across all generations is almost certainly constant, what’s changed is the level of open social acceptance that comes with being LGBT. There’s a huge inflection point in identifying as LGBT that starts with Millennials, who are the demographic group who came of age when same-sex marriage started becoming legal in the US; Gen Z is the first group becoming adults in an era where it is completely legal.

Millennials and Gen Z are also the demographic groups who regularly see positive and varied LGBT representation in common culture, with, I think, trans representation being especially changed in recent years. As a Gen X person, nearly all my pop culture trans people were people with something to hide, played for comedy or disgust. Millennials and Gen Z get to see trans people in a far wider range of roles and situations, and sympathetically. And that matters. When you see yourself, you can be yourself.

Not that we live now live in a perfect world for LGBT folks, of course, particularly for trans folks. Transphobia is the new conservative hotness these days; having lost all the other culture wars, this is where they’ve decided to plant their flag. As someone who knows and cares for trans folk, it’s exasperating (to use the mildest possible term for it) to see the conservative outrage machine revving up on them. But that’s American conservatism for you, isn’t it. The American conservative prayer is Jesus Christ, let me have someone punch down on. Trans people are who they’re punching down on today.

Also, seeing the increase in the number of people identifying as bisexual, the thought I immediately had was I bet that’s driven by women. Anecdotally, the number of women I personally know who identify as bisexual is far higher than the number of men who do so. The Gallup poll seems to bear out that anecdotal observation of mine: “Women are more likely to identify as bisexual — 4.3% do, with 1.3% identifying as lesbian and 1.3% as something else. Among men, 2.5% identify as gay, 1.8% as bisexual and 0.6% as something else.” I personally don’t suspect women are actually more bisexual than men; I think men think they lose “man points” for coming out as bisexual. Patriarchy! It’s a hell of a drug.

(Also, not appearing in this poll: Non-binary, genderfluid and ace folks, who, again anecdotally, I see far more openly represented in Millennials and Gen Z than I do in older generations. I’d be curious to see the numbers there and how they interact with the other components of the queer spectrum, in terms of identity.)

We have more work to do before everyone feels free to be who they are. But it’s still nice to see more people feeling they can be so. If you feel more able to be who you are today, then I’m happy for you. And if you don’t well, I hope I can be part of making the world be a place where you feel you can.

— JS

92 Comments on “The (LGBT) Numbers Are In”

  1. Hey, folks, for this conversational thread what we’re not going to do is engage in any transphobia! The moment I see any “sharing bathrooms”-level bullshit/”cheeky” snarking about gender/etc, it’s going to get the Mallet. So if you’re coming here to do that, maaaaaaybe consider not wasting my time and yours. As I’m fond of saying, you have all the rest of the internet to do your thing, you don’t need to do it here.

    Likewise, if you see someone making a transphobic comment here, feel free not to engage with it, please. I’ll be along presently to deal with it. Don’t make the mess I have to clean up any larger. Thank you.

  2. I agree that the reality is probably very stable over the years and it is just the removal of stigma that sees the public numbers rise. Plus, removal of stigma should also raise mental health levels for members of society no longer worried about showing their true selves. Good for everyone.

  3. The idea that the leaders in reporting being transexual being women is interesting. Woman-on-woman porn has been more acceptable to regular male consumers of porn than man-on-man porn. (And conservative states sell a lot of porn) The idea that women consume porn is also a novelty.

    Except that the line between romance and porn novels has been disappearing enough that we want clues in reviews about how explicit the novels are. (I tend to skip over explicit sex scenes)

    I’m curious though about how much trans and bi romance there is now.

    What I expect will take the longest will be romance novels that mix genres. The other person’s type of sex doesn’t interest me when I’m looking for romance, if it’s not explicit, my buddy might pick a partner at the dance of the gender I’m not interested in, and we accept that we both get lucky.

  4. Thank you for this post. As a manly man that mostly hits on the cis-het side of the scale, most men don’t want to admit that they might have feelings in that way for other men, even when we do.
    I applaud those that are coming out as who they are, and hope that more do so. Even if we
    are in our later years, I think that there would be a lot more sanity in the world if we
    could all just say, “This is who I am, and I’d appreciate it if you could accept me for that”

    Thanks for your encouragement and decency.


  5. “Millennials and Gen Z are also the demographic groups who regularly see positive and varied LGBT representation in common culture, with, I think, trans representation being especially changed in recent years. As a Gen X person, nearly all my pop culture trans people were people with something to hide, played for comedy or disgust. Millennials and Gen Z get to see trans people in a far wider range of roles and situations, and sympathetically. And that matters. When you see yourself, you can be yourself.“


    This is also why diversity in hiring practices is so important. It is not just checking a box. It is invigorating your company culture with diverse ideas and experiences. Especially if you are a media or entertainment company, your end product will be more impactful to new audiences be more true to reality. You will have more people able to see themselves in your game/book/film/show.

    What worries me most about this Anti-Trans conservative machine is that it has some truly huge and popular proponents behind it (like the hideous JKR). Folks like JKR have such a large voice, I worry that people will listen and believe her lies.

  6. Reality television has to have helped. When you see same sex couples on House Hunters or similar shows debating whether or not the kitchen is the right lay-out or if they can live with the dated bathroom tile gays start looking a lot less scary.

    I am a little curious as to how long the boring normalcy of being LGBTQ will take to trickle down to the playground level. What sort of insults will 7-year-olds resort to hurling when calling a fellow student gay or queer becomes meaningless?

  7. This has absolutely been my experience as well. I’m a 3rd year teacher in the same district where I went to school and it’s wild how quickly things have changed. When I was in 7th grade, I spent a lot of time worried I was a lesbian because it was pretty clear I wasn’t straight and that was the only option I knew about. I knew maybe one kid that was out and while it wasn’t seen as a bad thing exactly, her sexuality was definitely at least a little taboo.
    Fifteen years later, I have so many 7th graders that are out. I have about one kid per class period using they/them pronouns (probably more this year in part because its easier for kids to share/update pronouns on zoom). The climate in our district is still far from perfect, and a lot of our kids have trouble at home still, but there is so much more knowledge and understanding for my kids than there was for me and they definitely have more room to experiment and discover themselves. It’s honestly super cool.

  8. @Nan
    “ What sort of insults will 7-year-olds resort to hurling when calling a fellow student gay or queer becomes meaningless?”

    Funny, I was about to comment on this. My oldest is about to hit grade six in the States (we live in a very red/conservative suburbs too). He and his friends just don’t use that language like we used to at that age. I don’t hear them use derogatory phrases like that. No use of the F-word, no “that’s so gay”. Or anything LGBT. It’s just not part of their vocabulary any more.

    Is this everywhere? Heck no. But I think that stuff is dying off and the only ones who use it learn from their parents. Not peer groups.

    Is this next generation perfect? Also heck no. Misogyny is still rampant. I hear the same phrases we used as kids still being used today when talking about girls. That is something I’m trying to correct.

    But I do think the more diverse media, and acceptance of LGBT lifestyle is making an impact on the next generation.

  9. This is the sort of story that keeps me from collapsing in despair. We might make a better species! Maybe! Some day!

    Regarding humor, I am a snowflake but I imagine even sterner folk find much “comedy” before 2000 to be difficult to watch, largely due to sex and gender attitudes. I just can’t watch it.

    I also wonder about what “the kids” will move to mocking…assuming abuse of this sort is inevitable. Maybe greater numbers of well-adjusted, sensitive parents will result in more kids with a nurturing nature.

    Maybe we can be a better species, one generation at a time.

  10. I think we have to remember that change remains a slow thing, and not become too self-congratulatory. In a rural county next to mine, a small town newspaper (they still exist) did a feature last summer on what Pride events would happen in the county since COVID* had cancelled large social activities. The organizer being interviewed would not give her last name, because she feared reprisals. In supposedly progressive Canada. In 2021.

    That said, I work with young people. We still hear a lot of the old attitudes and insults, but my experience in the last twenty years reinforces what you’ve said in your post. The self-identified LGBTQ+ population is significant, and the number of people in this generation who really don’t care what somone’s orientation/gender identification (beyond their potential availability as a date) is substantial.

    *As to what meaningless insults kids might use. How about, “You stupid coronavirus! You f’in pandemic!”

  11. I think there are other explanations for why fewer men than women identify as bisexual. In the half of society where anything other than cis-male/cis-female relationships are accepted at all (and I’m only going to consider that half for the remainder of this), female physicality and sexuality seems much more celebrated than the male kind. Such portrayals are certainly more ubiquitou*. Femininity is just femininity. Masculinity carries the taint of patriarchy (for a man at least). So – and I know I’ll get flak for saying this – it just doesn’t seem that hard for a previously assumed straight woman to say that she’s attracted to other women too. Of course she is. We’re all conditioned to be. Other than a small segment of the lesbian-feminist community, nobody will condemn either attraction. To the extent that a woman being bi represents a rejection of conservative sex norms, it’s almost a pure social positive.

    But where does this leave a bi male? Like me? (Or at any rate like me before it became a moot point, since my wife and I are about to celebrate our 25th anniversary.) Despite the taint of patriarchy, I never actually got all that much guff for being attracted to other men. OK, maybe a little on account of AIDS being more prevalent among gay men back then, resulting in suspicion from straight women. Really. The bigger problem was from gay men when I went from dating men to dating a woman. Oh boy. I got called a “faker” and a “traitor” more times than I can count. Everyone I’ve met who is in a position to say has reported the same thing. So losing man points by admitting attraction to other men wasn’t the problem. Losing woke points by admitting attraction to women was much more problematic (even though we didn’t call it “woke” back then). For a man, admitting to both attractions is a social mixed bag. Nobody trusts a bi man to “stay on the same team” because, well, he’s a man and we know how they are, right?

    I’m deliberately oversimplifying a bit here. I don’t think this is the explanation for all bisexual-male hesitancy. I just don’t think that “losing man points” sums it up either. I’m also not going to look down my nose at fellow bi men who aren’t ready to come out themselves. Their situation calls for encouragement, not more of the shaming that has been the problem all along.

  12. I think this is bang-on. I’m in my thirties and have the sense that bisexuality in cis men was treated for a long time like a logical possibility that had no real-world counterpart. I had to hide my internal surprise last year when a guy friend I’ve had for a decade mentioned that he dates people of a mix of genders…and both of us live in a country where equal marriage has been fully legal for 15 years.

    I am cis and closer to straight than anything else, but I love my LGBTQ+ friends and family and colleagues, and will continue to listen, support, and (when needed and helpful) fight for them.

  13. I thought genderfluid was a superset of bi?

    Being about as straight white male as you can be I tend not to be as aware of the various distinctions. I have a friend who transitioned a couple years ago and that was when I discovered that turf wasn’t just what was in front of Scalzi’s house. And it wasn’t until last year that I learned it was spelled terf. And is apparently a thing with gay men, too. (Tergs? Tegs?) Sigh. The reaction of some to being bullied is to become bullies themselves.

  14. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if more women identified as BI (or other LGBTQ categories) than men. I mean… have you seen teenage boys (and most other men) recently?

    Of course, as a cishet man, I have my own biases.

    Surely transgender isn’t a “sexual orientation”. The table doesn’t give all the results to know if people were forced to pick between that and the other categories or if it came from a second question.

  15. Peter Kerr:

    The poll notes that people were allowed to pick more than one, so someone who identified as transgender could also specify whether they were bi/straight/gay/lesbian.

  16. A multitude of factors (physical & psychological) over the last 15 years have interacted to bring me to the point of feeling “meh” about my gender and sexuality.

    If asked how I identify – my answer (if compelled to give more than a superficial response as generally required by application forms) would be that I don’t know.

    I’d like to think it was only relevant to a prospective partner, and otherwise was the least interesting/important aspect of “me”.

    It certainly should be of no relevance whatsoever to my government, employer, co-workers, bank, insurance companies, etc.

    Science fiction (and fantasy) as genres lend themselves to exploring what could be if certain underlying realities were different, and we have sci-fi novels going back to at least the 70s looking at the “what if” possibilities of gender & sexuality.

    It can be a disappointment, at the end of a good novel, to be plunked back into our real (not yet fully enlightened) reality.

  17. “Folks like JKR have such a large voice, I worry that people will listen and believe her lies.”

    This is a concern of mine, as well, but I rejoice in the power of cancel culture to straighten out this particular brand of bigot.

    I also have to wonder how or whether her attitudes might play among the emergent generations of readers who are less tolerant of intolerance, especially when you consider the number of kids that are out as trans.

    Is the overlap between these two groups significant enough to hurt her sales?

    Conversely, how significant is the overlap between the usually right-wing “HP is eeeeeeeeeeeviiiiiil because magic” and “I and everyone I know are going to go out of our way to prop up this canceled celebrity in order to own the libs” crowds?

    I ask because I can’t imagine that her transphobia is going to stand her in good stead now that she’s pissed in her own cornflakes.

  18. Sarah Marie, et al:

    Actually, I’d rather not get into a long discussion of JRK and Harry Potter sales here; it’s not especially on point to the general discussion of increasing LGBT identification, and increases the chance of a dramatic derail.

  19. @Jeff Darcy:

    Having been in a long-term relationship with a bi woman, and already known with the concept of ‘bi erasure’ before that, I can tell you from several bitter rants I’ve heard that bi women get the same shit from lesbians that bi men get from gay men.

  20. JKR and Harry Potter sales discussion, yes, please. A larger discussion of the impact of celebrities on the discussion about and lives of trans people is still a go, and can include JKR among others.

  21. If you look up the article numbered PMC6826861, “The Return of the Repressed: The Persistent and Problematic Claims of Long-Forgotten Trauma” in Perspectives on Psychological Science, you will see both that the notion of “settled science” in psychology when it comes to controversial issues simply does not exist, and that when people are surveyed about such issues, the results reflect the zeitgeist.

    You should in general be very suspicious when “studies show” things that you profoundly wish were true. Maybe they are, and that’s great, but we do have history that tells us that often those results aren’t real. The best example I know of is the 5-HTTLPR “depression gene”. There have been hundreds of studies linking a mutation in this gene to various psychological conditions. They’re all wrong – see the Slate Star Codex article “5-HTTLPR: A Pointed Review” for details and a link to the research.

  22. One of my favorite Republican moments was when Dick Cheney’s daughter Mary came out as gay. I think it was shortly after he was out of office as Veep, and as I recall, he sort of shrugged and accepted it and discarded the mantle that the RNC demanded.

  23. I remember a few years back my surprise that the 10% LGBTQIA figure was dramatically overstated, and the real figure was more like 5%. Now I wonder whether Kinsey’s 10% figure wasn’t closer to the right figure than the 5%. I mean, if we knew the numbers for closeted/unaware/in-denial folks, regardless of age, it would certainly be a lot more.

  24. “The number of LGBT people across all generations is almost certainly constant, what’s changed is the level of open social acceptance that comes with being LGBT.”

    I don’t think the number of living LGBT people of older generations is constant, sadly.

    We had a global pandemic that killed enormous numbers of gay and bisexual men in Generation X and older generations. I think that’s the other big part of the inflection point – an awful lot of gay men who’d now be in their fifties and sixties died from AIDS, which holds down the numbers in GenX and bends that curve into an inflection point rather than being a steadier growth as social acceptance changes.

  25. Wow. My bad. My only excuse is that I’m so old school that I like my links underlined, but that is entirely on me.

  26. It’s your thing, do what you wanna do
    I can’t tell you, who to sock it to
    It’s your thing, do what you wanna do
    I can’t tell you, who to sock it to

  27. Uh, something ate my comment…

    Anyway, I think there’s another reason why there are a lot fewer GenX and Boomer LGBT+ people, especially gay and bisexual men, is that AIDS killed off a lot of us.

    I wonder what the numbers would look like if those 700,000 or so dead people were still alive.

  28. Not flippant here, just old – I had to look up “ace folk”. Maybe that will be the next hill for reactionaries to die on.

    “Do Those People want humanity to die out?”

    More seriously, Scalzi’s right that gender and sex are in many ways defined by what society – or even fashion -will allow. Remember Florian in Cabell’s “The High Place” commenting that nowadays (17th C France, IIRC) only unsophisticated noblemen slept only with women. The underlying human doesn’t change, but what can be expressed does.

  29. @pappenheimer

    “Do Those People want humanity to die out?”

    Not entirely, but it seems like it wouldn’t hurt if we reproduced less. Accepting ace-ness more might help with that.

  30. Not only “if you see yourself you can be yourself” but also, if you see an option you may realize it fits. For instance, I know a woman who is happily married to a man, who began identifying as bi a few years ago when she realized she liked looking at women, even though she’ll probably never do anything about it. Or someone whose identity isn’t particularly strongly tied to their gender might have fallen easily into whatever gender label they were assigned at birth – and might be comfortable with that label by now – whereas the same person born a few decades later might identify as agender or genderfluid.

  31. On the question of stability over time, my impression is that one has to “come out” to oneself before coming out to others – so if there is less repression then in some sense the absolute numbers should rise as well.

    Biology doesn’t change much, but people may, and the conceptualization of gender certainly has.

  32. I feel like the bi- numbers are still low. I recall both the Kinsey studies but also that humans and bonobos share similar sexualities, and man, THEY’LL screw a knotty pine.

    I think the women’s are closer but you don’t have to entirely rely on “men are just more homophobic because men suck” argument. In this day and age the female form is the standard for beauty. The ancient Greeks had the opposite view…male bodies were the gold standard for The Hotness. It’s (IMO and MO only) much easier for a woman to say, “She looks sexy,” than for a man to say “He looks sexy,” for both homophobic AND social standards based reasons. And when you get to that point it becomes easier for a woman to answer “Would I do it with a woman?” on a survey with “Yes”.

    (Yes, sexism is a LOT of why the female form is the default, but the Pericleans were not exactly a hotbed of sexual liberation, and they were were all about That Dude.)

  33. Grant Morrison had some interesting comments about coming out as non-binary not long ago.

    As a for instance, when I was a kid there were no words to describe certain aspects of my own experience. I’ve been non-binary, cross-dressing, ‘gender queer’ since I was 10 years old, but the available terms for what I was doing and how I felt were few and far between.

    “We had ‘transsexual’ and ‘transvestite’ both of which sounded like DSM classifications rather than lifestyle choices! I didn’t want to be labelled as medical aberration because that’s not how it felt, nor was it something cut-and-dried and done. I didn’t want to ‘transition’ or embody my ‘female’ side exclusively, so I had no idea where I fit in,” they elaborated.

    The Doom Patrol writer continued, “Terms like ‘genderqueer’ and ‘non-binary’ only came into vogue in the mid-90s. So kids like me had very limited ways of describing our attraction to drag and sexual ambiguity. Nowadays there’s this whole new vocabulary, allowing kids to figure out exactly where they sit on the ‘color wheel’ of gender and sexuality, so I think it’s OK to lose a few contentious words when you are creating new ones that offer a more finely-grained approach to experience.”

    “Identifying as” can be a complex thing if you’ve got any but the most mainstream of inner lives. As with Morrison, different, more diverse language helps in turning “well, not that” feelings and a handful of different desires into a positive sense of “yes, this, and these because of this” self-appraisal. It helps widen non-verbal experience into experiences for which you have a name.

  34. Great news here!
    I’d be interested to see good stats on non-binary folks. From casual observation I think it probably is much higher for gen z. I am grateful for the changes we are seeing in media – I have noticed a lot of non binary characters show up in science fiction (with agency!) and it is great to see (although certain puppies might object). The positive representation in the stories we hear and tell matters. Particularly for people who are trying to come to terms with their identity.

    My teen came out as non-binary a couple years ago and suddenly (after a year-long internal battle to move from accepting to affirming) I went from a shrug-live-let-live attitude to someone deeply invested in the change we’re seeing in our culture.
    Funny how loving someone can change your perspective that way – now it’s personal, rather than an intellectual exercise.
    I see hope in the change in our culture, and I’m grateful for my kid helping me grow into a person who cares about these things.

  35. @Jeff Darcy: Yeah, it’s a thing, for both Bi men and women. I’ve dealt with it too. I’ve also dealt with the “So you’re straight now, too?” comments when I married my wife, to which the best reply, IMO, is to look at a very attractive man, raise an eyebrow, and say “Nope.”

    There’s also a fair amount of bias among women towards bi men. My wife was asked many times, by women of the Boomer generation, what she’d do if I left her for a man. My favorite of her replies was “What would YOU do if your husband left you for a skinny blonde?”

    @Richard Gadsden: Thank you for mentioning that. We lost far, far too many of our fellows to that damned disease. I’m a GenXer; I was still a teen when the epidemic began, but even I lost friends to it, and I’ve known many older gay and bisexual men and women who’d been shattered by the effect it had on their social circles.

  36. Sitting here reading Scalzi’s post and reading all the comments, I’m moved by how far we’ve come since I was a wee lad (last year of the Boomer generation). In addition to wider representation in tv/films/books/music, I think the advent of social media has played a large part in people’s acceptance of who they are and their willingness to be open and proud about it. Seeing someone like you represented on screen is great, but I think comments and posts (like we have here) has done far more in showing that there is more acceptance in society of gender identification and sexual attraction. You can watch a tv show and feel seen, but if you have a limited number of people to talk to about it, you still might be apprehensive about coming out. But, social media expands your circle conversational circle exponentially. You can easily find acceptance and support. Unfortunately, you also are exposed to the terfs and homophobes, but I think the positive outnumbers the negative group.

    And like I said, we still have a long way to go. Until
    there are solid laws that protect all rights, there are still reasons to decide you aren’t ready to come out about how you identify (employment, for one). But, we’ve come a very long way in my 50+ years.

    Let’s keep going!

  37. @pappenheimer
    @Jeff Darcy

    Yes, there actually are people who want humanity to die out. They are called Anti-Natalists and it is an actual philosophy or movement or whatever you want to call it. Not surprisingly there’s a large overlap with Nihilism. I have not read it myself (because it is dangerous for a person with depressive tendencies), but I’ve been told that Thomas Ligotti’s book, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race is a pretty complete manifesto for this idea.

  38. fwiw, the Washington Post had an article about how many in Gen Z were identifying as bi.

    And in today”s issue of the Post, there’s a piece about a US Rep. who got elected to advocate for the Equality Act, where the Rep has a transdaughter. Across the hall is the US Rep (R-QAnon) who claims that science has said that only two genders exist.

  39. Although I recognize the importance of having a gender or sexual orientation identity in the world we currently live in, I look forward to the time in the future when nobody gives a shit and you can do what you want with whomever you want without needing a label for it.

  40. Lindsay Ellis just came out with a great video about how trans people are represented in movies over the last few decdes.

    Its an hour long, so Tldr: it started out as harmless. Straight men dressing as women in some like it hot with marilyn monroe as a love interest. Bosum buddies. Etc. Etc.

    And then serial killer Ed Gein happenned, and the press latched onto the idea that he was a man who wanted to become a woman, and murdered women and skinned them. Turns out he was cis, but the press never corrected it.

    Soon after “Psycho” came out, inspired by Gein. And then just an amazing slew of trans-serial killer movies that is really shocking. Including Silence of the Lambs.

    And then movies and shows turned to “they’re not murderers, but they are disgusting” notion. In Family Guy, Brian (who is an anthropomorphized dog) finds out he had sex with a woman who used to be a man and projectile vomits for, literally, 60 seconds. A male dog has sex with a trans woman and the dog is the one who is disgusted. Jim Carey finds out a woman he kissed in Ace Ventura used to be a man, and spends a lot of time over a toilet making hurling noises. Leslie Nielsen does the same in a Naked Gun movie.

    And in the last ten years or so, movies and tv have been showing trans people in symoathetic and realistic portrayals. Just people trying to get through their day.

    Lindsay points out that the current arguments against trans people, like a man might use the law to dress as a woman and prey on women in a bathroom, has zero basis in reality, but ties in directly to the slew of “trans people are cross dressing serial killers” nonsense that came out after Gein and Psycho made headlines. Trans bigots are mostly informed by stupid, old, bigotted movies that appealed to their bigotry. I dont expect them to change their mind, but as they are dying off, the new generations seem to be much more into equality.

    Anyway, good video. An hour long though… so… a bit of an investment. But i thought it was pretty damn powerful.

  41. Be interesting to see just how the questions were framed in the survey. For instance, if one criteria was “Do you find (fill in the blank) attractive?
    Younger men these days (cue geezer voice) seem to be more relaxed about finding other guys attractive.
    I think that you’re going to see sexual communities splinter and maybe only come together over shared issues. But if boundaries aren’t respected, it’s not going to happen.

  42. Born in the middle of the baby boom (1955), I never knew any of those options existed. Had I been born later/been aware of the label, I may have identified as ace. It seems a tad late at this stage of life (post-menopause, married for many years).

  43. In a completely non sequitur observation, why do the time spans of the listed “generations” vary? Specifically, Baby Boomers is listed as a 19-yr span (’46-’64), Gen X (’65-’80) and Millennials (’81-’96) are each listed as 16-yr spans, and Gen Z (’97-’02) is a 6-yr span. I understand the shortened Gen Z span because the survey was among adults of each generation, by why the earlier discrepancies? Are these simply arbitrary lines drawn by sociologists, or is there something more fundamental about the groupings?

    I’ll go away now.

  44. It’s funny how much confusion the word “identity” causes. I think of gender or sexual identity as being more like a mathematical identity: your identity is who you are. Others seem to look at it more as a way of saying, “what flag do you fly?” Who do you side with, and what do you call yourself?

    I blame this confusion for an awful lot of shenanigans–attack helicopter jokes being one of the milder examples.

    Anyway, this was a gratifying post to read, and the comments even moreso. Thanks to everyone involved.

  45. Re: Anti-Natalists
    I have a couple of old friends (and one newer one) who are sympathetic to that POV, but they arrived at “let’s die out” through environmentalism and anticapitalistism rather than nihilism. None of them have had kids (that I know of), but both have had heterosexual relationships.

    I have to admit that I’m prejudiced in favor of continued human survival; I’d like to reduce the collateral damage, though.

  46. Several commenters have made the distinction between gender and sexuality, but others don’t seem to grok it.

    My understanding of this, as of about a decade ago was;

    Each of us has a gender identity axis of “who am I,” from female through non-binary to male (with, I’m sure, numerous named stops and offshoots along the way).
    We separately has a sexual preference axis of “who turns me on” that gets muddled by adding the qualifier of “and do they have a different identity than me.”
    The two axes are orthogonal (as mentioned above).

    Lately, I find this approach too rigid (even though it offered far more options than the survey seemed to acknowledge). Today (yes, due to social media) I am aware of a lot more folks whose gender and/or sexual preference is truly not on these axes.

    But it still helped me (with my semi-autistic love of categories and labels) to find comfortable “less than 100% slots on two scales (to describe myself).

  47. Not to feed the digression too much, but a handy way of dealing with anti-natalist argument, which can seem ferociously sharp and focused: depression lies. Every single person I’ve never known with severe depression, including me, has had times of feeling brilliantly insightful, confronting harsh truths the non-depressed masses are afraid to face, and then getting a bit of relief and realizing “I was totally spinning in a rut and missing the completely obvious”.

    It’s really common. “Brains lie more than your friends do”, or just “brains lie”, is a thing you’ll hear from many, many people who have to deal with depression.

    And, well, anti-natalist arguments have exactly the same flow as your brain lying to you because you’re short on serotonin and the other mood-helping neurotransmitters.

  48. As a child and early adolescent it was forcibly drummed into me that no one would ever find me sexually attractive. It was difficult to come to terms with that, because there is no obvious physiological reason for it. I was no more chubby, acne-ridden, awkward, etc., than dozens of other youngsters who were expecting a future of dating/”doing it”/relationships/etc.

    I wasn’t bad-looking, but I was smarter than almost everyone in my peer group, and in response to the rejection I weaponized it to perpetuate the rejection. (Not THAT smart, in other words…)

    The rejection itself bothered me, but oddly enough the not-being-sexually-sought-after thing didn’t really leave me unfulfilled, because my experience left me baffled about the whole “who SHOULD you want to have sex with” thing.

    I never wanted to have sex with anyone who was cruel, stupid, childish, selfish, arrogant, manipulative, etc. no matter what they looked like. OTOH I found myself sexually attracted (IRL) by lots of people who were wise, empathetic, kind, smart, etc., regardless of their gender or appearance.

    As far as fantasies went of course I liked “attractive” people of all genders. Was turned on by porn of both hetero- and same-sex (both) varieties (there wasn’t much genderfluid porn then, at least none crossed my orbit. I probably would have loved it.) But I always knew it was FANTASY and while later on I did some fairly fun and kinky role-playing with various partners, there was never any consistency about gender.

    In my young adulthood I had a longish-term, co-parenting relationship with a partner of the same gender. No idea whether we would have married if it had been possible then. We didn’t actually consider ourselves “gay”, we were just in love and parenting a child (rather well, I might add, she’s quite the wonderful human being) and having a good time.

    After that relationship ended due to illness, I was celibate for 30 years. (See the paragraph on “fantasy” above– I had a rich enough sex life for me, but I was lonely.)

    Then I met the World’s Most Wonderful Human Being who just happened to be a different gender than me, and we have been joyfully and enthusiastically married for more than twenty years. With very little sex involved.

    I don’t miss it.

    Honestly? I do NOT get the extent to which sex rules peoples’ lives in our culture, other than as an artifact of hormonal development and/or a cultural control device (as OGH said above, “Patriarchy- what a drug!”)

    What I DO get is the extent to which we have weaponized gender, identity, and sexual expression to define, degrade, and exclude Those Skeery Peeps who are so, so different from Normal Me.

    It is LONG past time we got over this shit and I am glad that younger generations are leading the way.

  49. Dear Folks,

    Bi-queer, here and out for over 50 years. Born in 1949, which makes me an early Boomer. Skipping around and addressing various topics…

    Jeff in Texas: sociologists prefer to talk about “cohorts,” a group which shares common qualities. It doesn’t well-reflect commonality. The Boomers cover at least three distinct cohorts. Furthermore, there is no significant cohort difference between someone born in, say,1963 and 1967. This Generation thing is mostly popspeak combined with population demographics.

    About those differences — those younger than ~35 years old cannot imagine what it was like before the world became interconnected. You could not find your sex/gender “tribe” at the touch of a button (yeah yeah, I know, BBSs and USENET newsgroups, and I was an early adopter, but the vast majority of folks didn’t even know what those words meant). That changed the ability of marginalized folks to connect with their kin and kindred spirits to a degree you cannot comprehend if you didn’t live through it.

    Mart: What you said. I know too many lesbians, significant figures in their communities, who are still in the closet about having male partners (ofttimes long-term ones), because if they let it be publicly known, they will not be considered “true.” Bi-prejudice and erasure have always been around, the 1980s was especially bad, but it’s still substantial. I could tell you some real horror stories from the past decade.

    Kat Tanaka Okopnik has some very insightful thoughts on the subject (in truth, she has insightful thoughts on almost any subject).

    Richard: Surprisingly, AIDS doesn’t change the Gallup statistics by much. “Only” about 10% of gay men died of AIDS (medical citations available). Given the vagueness of any of these polls, it hardly matters if 1.3 or 1.2% of boomers identify as gay.

    Lest folks be surprised that the number was “only” 10% (more or less), given the huge social and cultural devastation that occurred in the LGBT community, consider that the 1918 pandemic killed less than 1% of Americans and the current one has — so far — only killed one in 400 adults. Look at the amount of social disruption both of those have caused, and these didn’t even involve a beleaguered and ostracized subset of the population.

    Jeff Darcy: The terminology (like genderfluid) can get confusing, because pretty much no one outside scientific researchers or Queer Theorists uses accurate and precise terms to define the many axes of sex and gender. Hell, mostly people don’t even use “sex” and “gender” correctly!

    None of the axes are really orthogonal nor even necessarily strongly independent, because they are all mediated through the social constructs around gender, etc. I wouldn’t sweat it in lay-usage, unless it’s actually getting in the way of understanding. You’ll just make yourself crazy.

    FYI, a fair fraction of genderfluid people do think of bisexuality as a subset of it, not so much because they don’t fall along different (non-independent) axes, ’cause they do… but because they both are bombarded with many of the the same misconceptions and outright prejudices. To whit (but not limited to): “You’re afraid to commit”, “you just haven’t met the right…”, “it’s a phase you’ll grow out of once you figure yourself out”, “it’s just an excuse for catting about.” In other words, on the gender-axis of “How you are perceived by others,” they do occupy adjacent space.

    Dan, Chris, and others: On the subject of TERFs — or as I’ve seen them more appropriately identified, Feminism-Appropriating Radical Transphobes — if you think it’s bad today, you shoulda been around in the 1980s when what we now call “toxic” or “puritanical” feminism established a powerful position in the political discourse. Be distressed by, but don’t worry about folks like JKR. Compared to the dominant position the toxic feminists held in the discourse, the Farts today are just one more source of noise.

    A reprehensible one, but we’ve dealt with a lot worse. You think not? Check out the first wave of Farts and what happened to my sweetie, Sandy Stone, back in the 1970s (you can Google it).

    When they’re showing up at your place of work with guns to murder you on the spot, that’s a whole different level from ranting on the Internet!

    pax / Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]

  50. @Ctein,

    Despite being as straight as a ruler and cis to boot, I’ve always hung around the LGBT scene since my student days (slightly younger than you, from ’72).

    My first contact with a bi person was a fellow student, in whom I had no romantic interest, nor given signals that way, belligerently informing me that she fancied both men and women, and daring me to disagree with that.

    I had absolutely no issues with that, but I knew her to be a confrontational sort, and her aggression made me realise that there were obviously people who did care about it, and not in a good way. And the longer I hung around LGBT people, the more I realised it was not just the straight bigots.

    My ex merely confirmed something I already knew. There was no hostility around her by the time we were dating, as she had winnowed her friend pool down to people who accepted that even a female-preferring bisexual woman could legitimately date a man. But she did have some bitter stories about not being considered good enough by some lesbians.

    I noticed some growing acceptance in my Gen-X cohort towards lesbians and gay men, but the stigma of “you just don’t want to make a choice” towards bi people was still as strong as the homophobia used to be.

  51. I, too, had to look up what “ace folk” means–I thought maybe successful fighter pilots? And I must confess that I’m often temporarily stumped when yet another letter or symbol is appended to the “old” LGBT abbreviation That said, I (a mostly but not entirely cis Baby Boomer) agree that it’s not only “about time”–it’s long overdue, and to be welcomed.

    But could someone, or some group of someones, perhaps start trying to discover or invent some felicitous new pronouns? “Hir” looks and sounds a bit weird to me; “shim” is generally a small piece of wood used to, e.g., square up a doorframe. I’m starting to get used to the whole “they/them” thing, but that still requires context to determine if it’s referring to several people or a single, possibly nonbinary, one…and it’s all too easy for me to get confused.

  52. @Wayne: “I think it was shortly after he was out of office as Veep”

    Nah, she was out before the 2004 election. Kerry even brought her up at a debate, in the context of the Republican push for anti-gay policies.

  53. “I had to look up “ace folk”. Maybe that will be the next hill for reactionaries to die on.”

    It’s really all the same hill – disdain/rejection/hate towards anyone who won’t toe the line for showing and enforcing traditional gender presentation. Transgender folks are the primary target because it’s easier for them to gin up fake threats – non-existent transitioning 3 year olds, bathroom predators – but the end result is harassment for folks who identify as their birth gender but who don’t fit the traditional bill.

    It’s not hard to find stories of women being harassed for trying to go to the bathroom while sporting a short haircut or more “masculine” clothing. The transphobes give a collective shrug to that as the price to pay for vigilance. Anyone who doesn’t like it should put on some lipstick and hose and that hippie can cut his hair if he wants to walk into the men’s room without a dirty look.

    This is in-group vs out-group. Transgender folks get to be prime target but anyone who won’t go along are happily targeted when possible. Just putting your boring-ass cis pronouns in your twitter bio marks us as The Wrong Kind and they’ll target you for it.

  54. I don’t know, 5.6% of American adult population has got a ‘different’ sexual orientation? That seems low to me.

    I think maybe people are still lying on sex surveys . . .

  55. I’m always glad to see terms like “genderqueer” used fluently in spaces like this. I got laughed off of a trans “support” group for using the term, about… wow, how time flies… 15 years ago, now.

    Richard Gadsen: There is certainly that demographic hockey stick on the graph, caused by the AIDS epidemic. In addition, I observe a lack of trans people in my generation. Part of it is, of course, that trans women also died and continue to die from that same plague. Part of it is my firm belief that in decades and centuries past, trans people killed ourselves at a very high rate, and so the older trans people who are still alive are those who were able to gut it out to where we are, and/or lucky to be subjected to more survivable levels of chronic stress and trauma. I often wonder what percentage of all suicides, in Western culture, across the years, have been trans people who saw no other way to win free. I have no idea if it’s true, but a commonly-held belief among trans women I ran across, 15 years ago, was “fifty by thirty”. That is, of all trans people, 50% of us were dead by the age of thirty.

    It fills me with joy to see younger trans and NB people able to come out. I’m very glad that, forty years from now, a much higher percentage of them will still be around.


  56. My Gen Z child would have checked “Other” in that survey. Their friends have a much higher LGBTQIA average than the survey respondents, though I think that’s less about identity and more about being compassionate, open-minded, etc. It’s the same generation that was born in the shadow of 9/11 and graduated high school online during the pandemic. This group retreats into fandom and fantasy and a thousand other diversions, but simultaneously seems much more clear-eyed about the world and its complexity, including sexual orientation and identity. I’ve learned far more from my child than they’ve learned from me in this area, and I’m grateful.

    And not to dwell on the JKR thing, but my child and their friends think carefully about into whose pockets their money is going. They still love the HP books and movies, but aren’t going to plunk down big bills for the Universal theme park attraction, even if it does have butterbeer.

  57. Dear Peter,

    OK, English major cap on, now.

    I know what you mean about the additional letters, plus it’s bloody hard to pronounce. LGBTQ does not roll off my tongue easily.

    About five years ago I ran across, in Midwest radical circles, the term QUILTBAG, which seemed to cover everybody and had the benefits of being pronounceable and a slightly amusing word. Unfortunately it does not seem to have caught on.

    Those of us beyond a Certain Age have been known to joke LGBTQ-LSMFT.

    Don’t worry, you’ll get used to “they/them.” It’s now in one of the Standard Written English bibles, so it’s definitely a coming thing. It does require slightly more careful writing, but then anytime you’re relaying a conversation involving two people who both identify as “he” or “she” you run into some version of problem. Pronouns are ambiguous. I’ve read way too many novels where I got confused by the dialogue because the author didn’t take sufficient care to keep people, ummm, straight.

    “Both of them said” and “they all said” work well to distinguish from “they said.” There are other ways of handling it.

    For what it’s worth, the singular “they” has always been grammatical although it has fallen in and out of favor as part of SWE. An historical linguist penned the following truism:

    Roses are red
    Violets are blue
    Singular “they”
    Is older than “you”

    pax / Ctein (who prefers they/them, but is not at all fussy — you can even call me Shirley, thank you Leslie Nielsen!)

    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]

  58. Working in theatre, I’ve worked with a higher variety of gay, queer, genderfluid, etc. folks….possibly much higher than your typical American.

    “They/them” seems to come rather easily; “Latinx” only a little less (because that’s how I was introduced to the term….to apply to queer and nonbinary folks).

    I still make my share of faux paus, but I strive to do better….

  59. One of my daughter’s friends (she’s 9) uses “gay” as an epithet – I’m not sure why (her family isn’t particularly conservative or anti-gay, so I don’t know where it comes from).

    Kids can always find something to make fun of other kids for, so I’m sure they will manage somehow.

  60. Awwww! Thanks! I’m Bisexual myself and I actually didn’t realize it until I was in my early 20s (back in the early 80s!) Up until then, I thought I was just jealous of buff, good-looking guys, and the liking girls thing threw me off! Nice to know there’s a lot of us coming out and coming forward!

  61. As a gay male millennial myself, boy, I sure have some thoughts about this. Probably not very organized thoughts, but thoughts!

    The first thing that struck me seeing this graphic was “Wow, that is a hell of a lot of bi folks in relation to gay folks!” I mean, the joke as old as time about bi people–especially in the gay community–is of course that they just haven’t made up their damned minds yet. Which is in poor taste, though certainly with its grain of truth. My first boyfriend in undergrad had come out as bi to his high school girlfriend, who had encouraged him to “experiment” in college–meaning me. I didn’t find out about that until later, and even ended up meeting her, which was… very strange, to say the least. And eventually the guy did decide he was full-on gay, rather than bi.

    And all of that makes me wonder about what the “real” ratio of gay to bi folks actually is. On the one hand, I think it’s almost certainly true that I myself think too much in a gay-straight binary. Hell, the classic “10% of people are gay” number originally came from men who who were rated a 5 or 6 on the Kinsey scale, as I understand it–which itself describes a range rather than a binary. And Kinsey himself took pains to emphasize that sexual attraction was a continuum, not a binary.

    On the other hand, as John has already said, the numbers in this poll don’t reflect people’s actual sexuality, but rather society’s increasing acceptance of LGBT folk. Asking people questions about their identity is always going to produce grossly inaccurate results, there’s just too much “noise” from other factors coming in. Kinsey was able to get the numbers he got because of the way he went about asking the questions, which the 2004 film “Kinsey” with Liam Neeson did a good job of showing.

    But the self-identification numbers are interesting in their own way, of course! I just find it sort of fascinating that people are apparently so much more willing to self-identify as bi rather than gay… maybe I’m just old and out of touch now!

  62. Does anyone have any insight into the tension between the transphobes hiding under the feminist banner and actual feminists who advocate for doing away with biologically essentialist constructions of gender as justifications for overprotective, discriminatory policies and practices?

    I have yet to meet or debate the terf who can square the “the physical inferiority of the female body is not a universal truth and thus shouldn’t inform laws or professional qualifications” logic with the assertion that women are tender, vulnerable little flowers who need to be shielded from “maaaaaaaashers!” in drag who might pounce on them in the “girls'” room.

    But that’s the problem with bigots, isn’t it?

    So blinded are they by their fear and hatred of the other that they completely miss the inherent sexism in their argument.

    Theirs is the Transphobes Encroaching on Real Feminisms movement, and I can’t wait until they find out what we do to trespassers.

  63. Dear Joe,

    It’s not merely “in poor taste,” it’s promulgating a dismissive and damaging stereotype, because… well… you know cases.

    As one whose lived in the SF arena for merely 50 years, I know a lot more gays/lesbians(and straights, tho’ not the point of your remark) who discovered they were bi than bi’s who discovered they weren’t.

    Which, as anecdotal data goes, is worth as little as yours. Which is zippo.

    But the real issue is spreading damaging stereotypes because, oh, they’re sometimes true, is not the way to be supporting your community.

    Or maybe we should spread the word about how gay men are child molesters because y’now there’s a “grain of truth” there.

    pax / Ctein

  64. Margaret and Pappenheimer,

    Might it be interesting to make a Venn diagram to see to what extent the Anti-Natalists overlap, among others, anti-vaxxers and Covid deniers? Ace folk too, I suppose, although I suspect theirs would be a smaller circle with minimal overlap.

  65. Well, Little Ms. Jewish Space Laser herself went on a transphobic rant and put an anti-trans poster on her door b/c Democratic Rep. Marie Newman had a pro-Trans Rights poster on hers and they wouldn’t make her take it down.

  66. Boomer Bi here. It took a long time to admit to other than my closest friends an attraction to both sexes – actually, I’m attracted by personality that I get to know over time, rather than to a chromosome pairing. Retired now – and all this social distancing stuff makes me care less about what others think.

  67. I suspect the ace circle wouldn’t have much more overlap with anti-natalism (or the others) than any other orientation—after all, it’s not as though we care about other people having sex, it’s just that we don’t want any ourselves. (Or at least, I don’t—there are plenty of aces who want children or who’ll have sex for the sake of a romantic relationship, but I’m an old-school aro-ace, and as far as I’m concerned, I don’t care what you’re doing so long as I’m not involved and you’re not hurting anyone.) There might be an overlap with conservatism, though—after all, their stance is that they should be allowed to watch everyone having sex so they can be sure everyone’s doing it right. It’s kinda perverted, if you ask me, but then I don’t care about sex, so what do I know?

  68. @ Peter:

    “Might it be interesting to make a Venn diagram to see to what extent the Anti-Natalists overlap, among others, anti-vaxxers and Covid deniers?”

    Why would there be any overlap? Anti-natalists are (typically) not science deniers. Their goal is a passive sort of human extinction through non-procreation, not the unnecessary mass death of existing humans.

  69. Timothy Liebe: Oh, it’s worse than that. Greene put up a transphobic poster (and a particular stupid one, in my opinion, if there even ARE degrees of stupidity in such things) in response to Marie Newman’s putting up a trans flag in support of her daughter. Greene then went on twitter to make a comment about Newman’s “son” and bathrooms–that woman (Greene, I mean) really is absolutely toxic, even for Congress. Even for one of the more backwards parts of Georgia. And actually, I think that’s insulting any part of Georgia, but they elected her so I’m going to let it stand.

    I’m still trying to figure out where this falls on the “we need to be civil to our colleagues” scale . . .

  70. “But, but, but, but she’s the victim in all this!”

    QAnon supporting insurrectionists are human, to./ sarcasm.

  71. Meanwhile, Biden’s appointee to be assistant secretary for HHS is facing transphobic questions during her committee hearings; I note that The Hill put transphobic in quotation marks, which I submit is also transphobic, implying that Rand Paul’s questions might not be transphobic. Yeah, right. I have so much respect for Rachel Levine right now. If I were in her place, I’d have tossed the contents of my water glass in Paul’s face: Rachel Levine hearing.

  72. Haters challenge our capacity to love.
    How tolerant should we be to intolerance?

    Many claim the US as a “christian nation,” and an awful lot of self-described christians seem to struggle with–or, frankly, reject–the foundational concept of the teachings of Jesus, which is love. The spirit is willing, etc, and I can hardly fault others for failure to live by their creed given my own spotty performance (I try leave the stones uncast) but there are an awful lot of haters.

    Perhaps I have misunderstood the gospels.

    Rep Space Lasers is about as challenging as a person can be, but as has been pointed out, she was duly elected.

  73. I love the kids in this generation. They have the “what matters and what don’t” thing figured out. What is the opposite of “get off my lawn?”

    The kids are gonna be all right.

  74. Rand Paul validates nearly every “strawman” argument that has ever been made about the right .

    His conflation of an atrocity like genital mutilation (assuming he is even remotely informed on this practice,something tells me he may not be all that opposed to it, given its purpose) with the conscious decision to make changes to one’s own body only illustrates the stupidity and evil that defines 21st century conservatism.

    I’d like to believe Paul knows the difference and is pretending otherwise, but, given the GOP’s embrace of incuriosity as a core principle and political strategy, I won’t bet on it.

    I’m also not shocked that these transphobes are screaming and stomping their wittle feetsies because their intolerance isn’t being tolerated.

    I just want them to keep talking and making cancel culture all the more necessary to maintaining “civility” in political discourse.

    By all means, QTrumplicans, keep saying the quiet part out loud.

    Keep shitting on folks’ heads and telling thinking voters that it’s hailing.

    Keep launching an all-out assault on human rights and hiding behind a God you don’t know.

    Keep it all up, because tens of thousands are jumping ship and, even if they don’t vote for democrats or join the party, they won’t be elevating Gilead commanders, grand wizards or QAnon adherents to the white house.

    I hope they all write in Micky Mouse and leave you in the wilderness for the next decade, even if they and I never agree on anything but your lot being unfit to govern so much as an ant farm.

    Thanks to the likes of Marjorie Taylor Green, “Don” Johnson, Andi Biggs and Rand Paul, the next time someone on the right lets fly with the “just because I/they/they disagree with you” defense, we can all point to the objectively terrible shit that oozes from republicans’ mouths and rest our cases.

  75. @Sarah Marie

    “By all means, QTrumplicans, keep saying the quiet part out loud.”

    The problem is the frightening number of people who hear the quiet part and think, “yeah, that person understands things.”

    Someone who believed that Jewish Space Lasers started forest fires and school shootings are staged got elected to public office.

  76. @Jd:

    Yes, and the back on which that person road lost republicans the white house and senate and failed to deliver the house.

    And this was before January 6th, the day before which the state of Georgia turned blue for the first time in decades, notwithstanding republicans massive effort to suppress the vote.

    Trumpism might have eaten the republican party, but it hasn’t swallowed the nation.

    Trump managed to grow his base by more than ten million and still couldn’t pull it off, so I’m not all that worried about a QAnon president in 2024.

    I doubt even the racists and fundies want to see the rise of an autocratic state.

  77. One thing that comes with it being more generally accepted to be LGBTQ+, is that young people seem to feel the freedom not to commit to an identity early on – they are more free to explore, find out who they are and what they like. I see a lot more young people identifying as bi or pan or “I don’t know yet and it might change”, and I think that’s a definite positive. I also see a lot less of the hostility towards bi people from both ends of the orientation spectrum – at they very gay end, you no longer have to try to erase the bi experience out of existence to convince those in power that sexual preference is something you can’t do anything about and so they shouldn’t persecute people for non-heterosexual behaviour. I mean, for some people it matters more, for some people it matters less what the gender of those people is they’re sexually/romantically interested in, and it shouldn’t be anyone’s business to stop anyone being interested in anyone they are interested in, whether or not they could also theoretically choose to be interested in someone else. (And a disclaimer – I’m not saying that all very gay people would’ve been hostile towards bi people, of course not, quite the contrary – what I’m trying to say is that it’s nice that with increased general acceptance, the incentive to be hostile is going away.)

  78. I concur with what I think most people are saying here–that it’s just easier to be open to possibility in today’s society at a young age, and that’s to the good. But I don’t think the basic demographics have changed over time. I think they just look larger today based on what people are comfortable about saying to poll. And it might be about finding cachet in a queer identity, that they may or may not keep by adulthood.

  79. Are these the same family values folks who think putting 4 year olds in cages and losing track of their parents is what Jesus would do?

    Yeah. Fuck those guys,

  80. I wonder how much the change in language over the years affected the numbers.
    In my generation (and midwest locale) I met lots of guys that wouldn’t dream of calling themselves bisexual–they just ‘liked to fool around”. And trans meant someone in the process of a sex change. Now I’ve had Millennials try to convince me that David Bowie was an example of transgender.

  81. “I think there are other explanations for why fewer men than women identify as bisexual. In the half of society where anything other than cis-male/cis-female relationships are accepted at all (and I’m only going to consider that half for the remainder of this), female physicality and sexuality seems much more celebrated than the male kind.”

    I think it’s because women don’t have sexual orientations in the same sense that men do. In the 70s, quite a few women decided to be lesbians because, though sex worked for them with either men or women, they were much less likely to be engaged in endless arguments about housework with female partners. There are plenty of women who do have sexual orientations, but as a group we are much more fluid than men.

    There are probably even more people who are bisexual who don’t want to claim the identity because of the punishment inflected on them for admitting to same sex desire. Note that most bisexuals are married or partnered heterosexually–that follows just from doing the math. For every possible same sex partner out there, there are 10 to 20 opposite sex partners available.

    I don’t think that transgender should be included in a survey of sexual identity because it is about who you ARE, not about who you are sexually attracted to.

  82. Dear Eridani,

    You are equating a single axis of gender/sexuality with “sexual identity.” No one who studies this subject does that.

    Who you are sexually attracted to is one component… but only one.

    pax / Ctein