Gay Sex vs. Straight Sex

October 12th, 2010 by Christian Rudder

Gay issues have been in the news a lot lately, from the debate over same-sex marriage in Congress to a sickening rash of gay-bashing here in New York City. We see a lot of emotion out there, instead of information, and we wanted to provide some data-based context on sexuality so that people might make better choices about what they say, think, and do.

We run a massive dating site and therefore have unparalleled insight into sex and relationships. Here's what we've found, in numbers and charts.

First of all, gay sexuality is not a threat.

Gay people are not sexually interested in straights.

The subtext to a lot of homophobic thinking is the idea that gays will try to get straight people into bed at the first opportunity, or that gays are looking to "convert" straights. Freud called this concept schwanzangst; the U.S. Army calls it Don't Ask Don't Tell.

We combed through over 4 million match searches, and found virtually no evidence of it:

Match Search Returns
  • only 0.6% of gay men have ever searched for straight matches.
  • only 0.1% of lesbians have ever searched for straight matches.
  • only 0.13% of straight people's profile visitors are gay.
Furthermore
In our dataset, there was not a single gay user, male or female, who primarily searched for straight people.

Gay people aren't promiscuous.

Another common myth about gay people is that they sleep around, but the statistical reality is that gay people as a group aren't any more slutty than straights.

Median Reported Sex Partners
  • straight men: 6
  • gay men: 6
  • straight women: 6
  • gay women: 6

Here's how the distribution curves compare:

  • 45% of gay people have had 5 or fewer partners (vs. 44% for straights)
  • 98% of gay people have had 20 or fewer partners (vs. 99% for straights)

It turns out that a tiny fraction of gays have single-handedly two-handedly created the public image of gay sexual recklessness—in fact we found that just 2% of gay people have had 23% of the total reported gay sex, which is pretty crazy.

Straight people have gay sex, too.

Another inquiry that had unexpected results: we asked 252,900 straight people have you ever had a sexual encounter with someone of the same sex?

Almost a quarter answered 'yes'.

Click the airport-bathroom style icons to toggle the sex(es) displayed. Not unexpectedly, more women than men have had same-sex desires:

    straight women's same-sex desires:
  • 1 in 3 straight women has hooked up with another woman.
  • and of those who haven't, over 1 in 4 would like to.

As for straight men, a surprisingly high 13% have had a same-sex experience, and another 5% haven't yet but would like to.

Using the incredible power of computers, we were able to break down this question geographically. Here are straight people who either have had or would like to have a same-sex experience in the continental U.S. and lower Canada. You can see some sharp geographic divides.

Awesomely, the mountain West lives up to its Brokeback reputation, and Canada is orange nearly coast-to-coast. Even in the yellow and blue areas, you can see pockets of gay curiosity in interesting places: Austin, Madison, Asheville. Anywhere soy milk is served, basically.

Sidenote

Doing the research for this post, I came across many awful things our elected officials have said about gay people; here's a relatively calm example:

For starters, I found that a fun game to play with stuff like this is to replace the words "homosexual" and "gay" with "politician"—then you have something that's actually true.

I also spent a lot of time looking up match questions to debunk this particular claim. Down in the database I discovered one question with a surprising disparity, not between orientations, but between genders. Like Frodo to the Balrog, I wished I'd never unearthed it.

Come on, people. #facepalm.

Beyond Sex: Gay & Straight Personalities

More than just asking about specific desires and behaviors, our match questions are designed to tease out our users' underlying personalities. We've collected over 669 million answers from users so far. Below is a straight/gay comparison on 23 personality categories. You can mouse-over the ?s for each category to pop-up some examples of the many questions that affect it.

Two things: (1) The idea of the typical straight man as a kind bullying jock seems to be broadly true, though there is also a strong dork streak there, as well.

(2) Looking closely at the chart for females, we can improve upon Marx's famous dictum.

Religion is the opiate of the masses, so long as the masses are straight. However, amass a bunch of lesbians and you're going to need actual drugs.

In any event, a lot of these measured traits are reflected by the users' own words. Like we did before with race, we looked at the interests and tastes statistically unique to the different orientations, according to their personal profiles. We crunched millions of words of essay text and found the phrases most correlated to a particular sexual preference; again, these are the users' own words.

The Stuff Gay People Like

For both sexes, a lot of this stuff is way stereotypical. The size of the phrases indicate their relative popularity to the norm, and I actually had to shrink "The L Word" down to fit in our template. Meanwhile gay men's interests speak for themselves, evidently with an exaggerated lisp.

Compare those lists to their equally typical straight counterparts, below. It's like two zen koans, one by Meg Ryan, one by a viking:

The Stuff Straight People Like

As you can see, sexual orientation makes a huge difference in the words you choose to describe yourself. The small but enormous difference between lesbians' a girlfriend and straight women's my girlfriends says it all.

We extended this gay vs. straight analysis and for each orientation measured the frequencies of all one-, two-, and three-word phrases against the site-wide rates. Here's the breakdown:

There's no question that according to this analysis gay people are "different;" as you can see, gay interests and self-descriptions have little to do with the mainstream's. In fact what these numbers are saying is that the average gay person has only about 30% in common with the average American. But, ironically enough, when it comes to identity, it's hardly rare to be an outlier here. Adding an ethnic group to the plot helps put it in perspective:

Of course, as far as I know, no one's saying that Indians shouldn't get married or shouldn't be allowed to adopt children. The people of Louisiana even elected Bobby Jindal, an openly Indian man, as their governor!

We hope gay people can expect the same treatment very soon.

Adventurous

Would you consider trying food without being told what it is?

Would you consider permanently living in another country?

Would you ever get on a motorcycle?

Aggressive

Do you like to argue?

Have you ever yelled at the TV?

Do you go to great lengths to avoid conflict?

Ambitious

Would you be happy raising the kids while your spouse worked?

Which comes first for you, work or friends?

Do you want to be famous?

Artsy

Are you an aspiring actor/artist/writer or other creative type?

Do you like going to museums?

Do movies with subtitles bother you?

Compassionate

Is it your responsibility to help your fellow human beings?

Are you the type of person to tell a homeless person to get a job?

Do overweight people annoy you?

Competitive

Is it important to you to have the last word in an argument?

Do you like board games?

If someone wrongs you...do you eventually exact revenge?

Confident

Would you say you're smarter than average?

Are you okay with trying things that you're bad at?

Are you intimidated by a partner who is more sexually experienced than you?

Dorky

Do you think the International Space Station would be a cool place to get married?

Do you know what 'http' stands for?

Do you own any dice with more than six sides?

Generous

Do you give your best friend a birthday gift?

How much do you give each year to charity?

When you loan something small to a friend, do you really care if it gets returned?

Horny

How often do you think about sex?

How often do you masturbate?

Ideally, how many dates would you go on with someone before you have sex?

Into Drugs

What's your relationship to marijuana?

Do you think drug use with your partner can be a romantic activity?

Have you tried hard drugs, like, anything you need to 'cook'?

Into Sports

Do you play actual sports?

Do you enjoy exercise?

Do you have a favorite sports team, that you really like to follow?

Introverted

Does the idea of staying in and reading a book on a Friday night appeal to you?

Do you need "alone time" to re-charge after social situations?

At parties, do you go up and talk to people?

Kinky

Does group sex sound like a great idea?

Do you like sex toys?

Have you ever used nipple clamps?

Literary

Can you name an author from each continent (besides Antarctica)?

In high school, did you read books that weren't assigned in class?

Do spelling mistakes annoy you?

Optimistic

Do things generally turn out for the best?

Can just one person significantly change the world?

Do you think happiness is possible for all people?

Polite

Do you say something like 'bless you' when a stranger sneezes?

Do you hold the door for people?

Are you frequently under-dressed for special occasions?

Political

Have you ever marched in a protest?

Is it a person's civic duty to vote?

Do you know who your state's Senators are?

Romantic

Have you been around candlelight recently?

Do you like costume dramas?

Do you like to say 'I love you'?

Religious

Do you believe in the power of prayer?

Is there a God?

Do you believe in miracles? You sexy thing?

Spontaneous

Do you bring an umbrella if it looks like rain?

Do you often find yourself bored in relationships after a few months?

Have you ever had a one-night stand?

Trusting

Do you think most people give to charity?

Do you ever leave your drink unattended at a bar?

Do you think a straight man and a straight woman can truly just be friends?

Violent

Would you find it easier to kill for your beliefs or to die for them?

Have you ever thrown an object in anger during an argument?

Do you own a gun?

702 Responses to “Gay Sex vs. Straight Sex”

  1. Howard says:

    Thank you Okcupid for taking the time to compile this research and write this article. As a gay man, I feel the love and support from your site. Although not everyone was pleased with this article, I was! Thanks again :)

  2. Giancarlo says:

    I mean this question innocently, so please don’t jump down my throat, but I’m curious: Why is it that so many gay people seem to put so much personal stock into their identity, and into how others perceive them?

    I imagine the end goal of equality not to be further segregation- i.e. expanding the already remarkably semantic database of queer identity- but rather as a state where no one gives a flying crap about “who” anyone else is. The goal is not to put all things gay at a separate but equal footing with heterosexuality, (we’ve already figured out that this logic doesn’t exactly work), the goal is to eliminate the need for a distinction. The fact that you love a person of the same sex should simply be a fact, and not weigh on anyone’s sense of pride or shame in their identities or others.

    I read Grace’s rebuttal to this fair if not very gracious perception of homosexuality in our society and I was shocked by how self-serving and arrogant her response was. I think this attitude hinders the steps taken towards eliminating discrimination. Your identity is not as important as the effort to make this world a more accepting place, so please, stop allowing your identity issues to get in the way of equality. Stop adding letters to your LGBT status and appreciate the fact that we are getting closer and closer to living in a world where you are allowed to love whoever the hell you choose to.

    I don’t mean to vilify the whole gay community, but those who view the struggle as a battle to cement their own unique identity against the masses are as cancerous to the cause as the nutty right wingers that actively work to stop sexual equity from ever occurring.

  3. Andres says:

    I wonder if an article so exhaustive and so well written and documented could be offered, about people who stand against anything “gay.” I think it would balance the weight this one carries about the issue, and I would like to see it. Why people like me have such an opposition to all kinds of sex/gender deviations on what has been a social norm throughout all history.
    I don’t believe same-sex anything is in any way helping to fix the social problems we face today as a society, I believe just the opposite is true, and the majority of us are still inline with this belief no matter how much opposition is against it.

    To all those who will have the desire (which will turn into unpleasant replies to this, here) to belittle my belief on this issue, I say… I respect your belief and understanding, RESPECT MINE as it is of the majority of citizens of this nation of ours. And the majority should rule as it is stated in our constitution, no matter how politically incorrect that may sound.

  4. Jonni says:

    Mary, I think you’re being very sensitive to even spot any “othering language” in this post. I appreciate that you probably have personal reasons I can’t even imagine and I appreciate your cause, but I still think this is a detail where more understanding is needed.

    I had to read your quoted sentence and the proposed alternative several times to spot any difference between them. That makes me think I couldn’t differentiate between these even if I was speaking to an audience and trying to choose my words, no matter how much I wanted to. Also I feel that some connotations you found in the first example are simply not shared with all english speakers.

    Probably “othering connotations” are seldom deliberate, and reminders to “watch one’s language” can meet with incapability and stubbornness. I even fail to see why I wouldn’t describe myself with your first quote. I don’t think language is in the root of the problem, nor can it be a significant part of its solution.

  5. scQue814 says:

    @Grace & Steve C: Actually you’re both quite right. But just because the idea of this study was to look at overall trends, does NOT mean that OKC doesn’t marginalize folks whose gender identity doesn’t neatly fit into prescribed binary models.

    @Garet: Building stronger social ties only works when a person feels they fit into the stereotype that is so clearly reinforced by the data. Otherwise, the person (such as myself) only feels further marginalised. (To be snarky: Yes, I’m sorry OKC couldn’t affirm my existence, too.)

    @OKC: Sadly, you’ve made me (basically a self-identifying gay man) feel even further removed from the binary label to which I feel I must prescribe. I don’t list any of the things that either straight or gay men list. In fact, I seem to have more in common with lesbians (Harold & Maude) than anyone. Sure it’s all “interesting” to look at, but (again, being snarky) there isn’t even a proverbial sex-change scenario I could prescribe to to make myself feel more included here.

    Mostly, though, I’d like to point out that the data-set really does help display why I don’t get along with so many straight women: ambition, sports, religion, and polite optimism–not to mention a lack [I've even witnessed loathing] of simple scientific knowledge, such as the relative size of heavenly bodies. These qualities are as far from what I look for in a human being as you can get. Does our culture really value ignorance in women that dearly??? (And is this data global or US-only?)

  6. Nils Taranger says:

    Thank you for releasing this on Spirit Day. I’m now officially hooked on OkCupid!

  7. Pete says:

    I guess this is as good as any to use as a forum for reform on this site. I have emailed okCupid several times with no success … so if you agree with the following, please write them and let them know.

    I think the average person on OkCupid really would like a filter allowing only certain other categories of users to search for them. For instance, I have many lesbian friends who get hit on by straight males that have no interest obviously, they hate using dating sites because of this and the accessibility straight men have to their profiles.

    I myself am a bi male, and I continually get hit on and harrassed by gay men on your site, even when I clearly stated “I AM NOT INTERESTED IN GAY MEN” on my profile. I am only into straight females and bisexuals male or female. That’s just who I prefer to date, I can give reasons… but aren’t they unimportant, shouldn’t I have the choice to let users search me in the way I would like to interact with them. This would cut so many of the undesireable matches out for all people and make a much happier dating pool… while also cutting down on sexual harrassment that is brought on by sexuality.

    I saw a hater post earlier about how he thought that the constitution was supposed to invoke the power of the majority and suppress the GLBT community (he said it much more eloquently). The fact that this is said makes one realize how ignorant many are to American politics… don’t use examples unless you understand basic concepts of what you are talking about. American politics were based on freedom of choice, specifically ignited by migration to the (now) states for religious freedom. The politics here were originally were set up to protect the rights of the minority and to give them a choice to live the way they wanted freely and equally. A majority of our problem in poiltics these days stems from anti-American thoughts brought on by misguided religious teachers. I think the bible for the most part is a good book, I love the church and how it helps the community.. however, many church leaders use their right to interpretation to skew their congregations into believing falsities. Unfortunately because so many children are raised with the church instead of making a choice to their religion they never question its beliefs and take it for fact. My recommendation… extensive world beliefs and world politics taught all throughout the schooling process, learn about our differences and similarities and all religions and belief systems. They should ban one-religion schools as being comparable education and legal schooling, they breed ignorance and hate. Many of our wars and the dumbest political decisions are made out of ignorance, very often associated with naivity of religious people that never seach for their own answers. Go and learn the orgins of your beliefs, the history of them… not just what a few wack jobs in a local church tell you. This is not me hating religion, I think religion has the best of intentions and teaches good morals in many respects, yet knowing only one religion, one type of thinking often poisons the mind. Before others refute this, religion is not the inly culprit… but they are the biggest cults in America… don’t get offended. Religions ARE cults, look up the definition, as they only perpetuate tunnel vision and close mindedness

  8. moom250 says:

    Straight people have gay sex, too.

  9. AB says:

    Thank you for this article, I loved it. I also figured out that I like the same things as a straight male, gay male, gay female, but not a straight female (even thought I am one).

  10. SemnaticTom says:

    “Andreas The constitution (I assume you speak as an US american citizen) explicitly states that the minority should be protected from the majority.

    Also, nothing needs respecting because “it is so”, respect needs to be earned. You have the right to say anything you want, and as Voltaire said, I would die for your right to do so. However, I can also despise you for what you are propagating.

  11. Christopher Terry says:

    Thank you for bringing this article to my attention. I never understood all the hysteria surrounding this issue. I work in an industry with a large gay population and have enjoyed working along side with many of them. People are people gay or straight. I don’t think sexual preferences have any bearing on a person’s ability to serve our nation, schools, or any occupation for that matter. The quality of an individual’s character is an altogether different matter. Here in Chicago where I live we regard the fear-mongerers as scary and to be avoided.

  12. Not a commie says:

    All life forms have two ultimate goals, survival and reproduction. Anything and I mean ANYTHING that goes against those two goals is CLEARLY agenda laden.

    Homosexuality is a communist agenda to reduce the number of white people by jews. The jewish and islamic religions are less religion and more politics. The goal of jews is to rule a corrupt world.

    Oh and before the tools bother to count that remember that your perception is limited to the part of town you are in of the county of the state of the country on the planet in the galaxy you live in. The vast majority of people are sheep and don’t know what’s going on. If you don’t like what I’m saying then you don’t like the truth and truth is black and white when you ultimately break it down. The commies will push their agenda as hard as they can and it’s up to each person to decide if they will live free or be a tool of their own people’s destruction.

  13. Carolyn says:

    Wonderful article; data is always fascinating, especially data about how people describe and identify themselves. Human minds are so interesting!

    I am slightly dissapointed that, while OKC is logical enough to allow users to tag themselves as bisexual, any statistics on bi users appear only once in the whole article.

    Also, since we’re talking about sexuality and gender, and many of us are using these comments to promote a platform… why don’t we talk about the fact that gender is not simply a duality, and OKC hasn’t yet taken the leap of allowing people to self-identify in the myriad other ways that they do in their day to day lives – transgendered, gender queer, MtF, FtM, etc.? Never mind hermaphrodidic, which if you want to make a case about science/biology vs. how people feel and self-identify, there’s a great example of no choice, no way, no how – simply not born male or female exclusively.

  14. Vintersorg says:

    Apparently, we’ll never win any Olympic Games or other sports competition with a gay team =)

  15. Vintersorg says:

    By the way, I (from Germany) really do like this kind (mostly) American forum where no holds are barred, the redneck opinion from Tennessee is valid (though debated) just as much as the lesbian HIV positive negro jew opinion from downtown New York. In Germany, you’ll get banned as a Nazi from most forums if you say anything which is slightly left of the middle, and the middle is pretty skewed to the left currently.

  16. James says:

    Giancarlo, our rights are an entitlement, not a priviledge.

    We’re actually not so concerned with our identify. How many gay people do you see out holding hands or kissing in public? And then, how many straights to you see doing the same thing?

    You might have a heightened awareness of us simply because we’re finally getting our fair share of things – which makes news. You’ve always had your piece as a straight.

  17. mostimpatient says:

    why are the defaults for this chart set to show male statistics? you should know better, OKCupid.

  18. Flavio says:

    How stereotypical are gay dudes. Get your shit together, guys.

    -Fellow gay

  19. Consciousness says:

    So canada is gay? Is that what these nonsense statistics are saying? Look i am a straight male and i am by no means homophobic at all, in fact i have a few friends who are gay.
    However i think this article is complete biased garbage. You cannot categorize and easily reference people. Every single person is different regardless of there sexual orientation.
    I haven’t been an okcupid user for very long but i have already had a bunch of gay men view my profile and send me messages. This has made me feel quite uncomfortable when i would have to write back to these people explaining to them that i am a heterosexual.
    So for this article to say that the majority of gay people on this site aren’t searching for straight people is complete nonsense.

  20. Mary says:

    I found the stats on how often people check out other people’s profiles to be interesting.

    I’m a bi woman, and I have a straight man friend that uses this thing a lot. We both regularly send profiles of people we think are potentially worth pursuing to each other for vetting. So I’ve checked out hundreds of straight women’s profiles (whom I haven’t the faintest desire to get with), and he’s checked out hundreds of gay/bi women & straight/bi men. I wonder how often this happens, and how much that ‘poisons’ the data.

    As usual, bi people are nearly ignored, and transsexuals and asexuals and other folks might as well not exist. Are people worried about asexuals cornering them in the locker room, and converting them to a blissful life of not caring? Who knows? (I often envy my asexual friends).

    As for all the people that decide to stop listing themselves as ‘bi’ at some point or other, all I can point to is the huge discrimination against bis–the so-called bi-bye. All these women tell me that they’re afraid I’ll leave them ‘for something they can’t provide’. Anyone that leaves you, leaves you for something you can’t provide–love, respect, humour, sex, camaraderie, whatever. Get over it already. We’re all different, we’re all able to provide various stuff to various degrees. Sometimes that’s not going to meet the requirements of the person we’re with. It sucks, but…

  21. mika says:

    Thank you very much for this.

  22. Faye says:

    I love that no one ever figures out that when OKC does these things and lists “what gay people/Indians/people who ilke math/whatever” say they like, the majority of people are listing things they think will attract others they would find interesting.

    Therefore, everyone unintentionally becomes a stereotype of themselves. Even if they just list one thing that every other gay man(/Indian/math major) likes, ie, Madonna, and the rest of it is totally unique, they play into that cloud.

    Seriously guys- you’ve never thrown in an interest or claimed to be an activist or coyly described something that you don’t actually do that often or that doesn’t really define you, just because you know people you like might be into it or because it’s the kind of person you imagine yourself to be?

    No one should be feeling OTHERED here because they don’t listen to Kelly effing Clarkson. If anything you should be feeling like your own person. These are not the things you SHOULD like, or that you HAVE to like, or that EVERY GAY PERSON likes (or every straight person). These are things people self-identify as liking. It’s meant to be ridiculous: clearly not that many people think the earth is bigger than the sun. Probably half of those answers were sarcasm.

  23. Clay says:

    I have only one thing to say on this issue. If homosexuality were normal, which is what the gay-rights crowd preaches, then it should be reasonable to assume that homosexuality would not be a harmful trait were it to apply to the majority, or even the entirety, of the general populace.

    Yet consider: two people of the same gender cannot have children. No, they can’t – not without the assistance of a surrogate mother or a sperm donor, at least. If gays are not interested in heterosexuals, as the article states, then imagine what would happen if all of us turned gay – really, devoutly gay, without a hetero instinct in us. The birthrates would plummet to zero, and all of humanity would die off within a century.

    That, my friends, would be the result of universal homosexuality. And you’re calling that normal?! I’m not suggesting that we persecute gays or anything of that nature, but in my mind there’s no denying that homosexuality is not a normal sexual state – it’s deviant, it’s a disorder, like schizophrenia or retardation or autism or psychosis. Why is this a reasonable comparison? Because, just as the world would be badly off if all of us were psychotic or retarded, so would it suffer if everyone were gay. Because child-bearing is absolutely essential to human survival, and because that process can ONLY occur between and man and a woman, homosexuality cannot be considered a normal sexual state, because it fundamentally negates the very process that was required to bring us all into existence.

    I rest my case.

  24. Dave says:

    I can’t vouch personally for others but the things listed as straight guys interest like violence, fixing things and beer seems pretty dead on. The only problem I have is that my gay friends are also interested in a lot of those things yet they aren’t listed as any of the things gay people like… I guess you’re going for the “with us or against us” approach here? I admit I’ve never seen a gay person fix or engineer anything personally but the ones I know love violence, video games, queens of the stone age and drinking just as much as any of my straight friends. You make it out as if they all pick flowers and talk about boys like a 13 year old girl all day lol.

  25. Scott says:

    “And the majority should rule as it is stated in our constitution, no matter how politically incorrect that may sound.”

    The real problem with this seemingly innocuous statement, is that it simply isn’t true, nor was it ever the intention of the framers of our republic. Majority rule and reaching consensus within the confines of liberty and law ARE NOT THE SAME THING. To misunderstand this basic point is to have a fundamental lack of understanding of our Constitution…or even what it is to be American. Majority rule to the exclusion of the tenets of Liberty is not far removed from Totalitarianism in effect. It’s time to revisit your junior high civics class my friend.

    The definition of Liberty has not changed, to the unfortunate consternation of many. But people have for two centuries grossly misinterpreted and misunderstood it. Liberty allows one to live their life as they see fit, provided they do not harm others or society as a whole.

    The only criteria here that has changed over the course of two plus centuries is the definition of “harm”.

    While there are those who claim they are “harmed” by the mere existence of homosexuals, I would remind these individuals that it was once considered harmful to society to even consider that females, children, and people of other ethnic origin have equivalent rights to Caucasian males. If we have matured and grown as a culture through the free exchange of ideas and dismissed such aged and unworkable ideologies, I merely posit that it’s time we move on with the whole sexual orientation issue as well.

    I’ve never once been harmed by an orgasm, whether it is my own or someone else’s. Quite to the contrary I find them to be quite entertaining and fun. I’m straight, and yet I am not afraid of those who are not aligned to my specific sexual orientation.

    If you are afraid, truly afraid, of what other adults do behind closed doors in the privacy of their own home, I’d say it’s time you admit you have a problem and get some help.

  26. Gareth says:

    I’m straight and I think if you spend so much time caring about a sexual preference that has NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU then maybe you should quit crying about it and experiment or shut up.

  27. RJ says:

    Giancarlo,

    You asked “Why is it that so many gay people seem to put so much personal stock into their identity, and into how others perceive them? ”

    You answered your own question and have, in one way, shape, or form ignored an already established heterosexual culture – one where gay men and women were actively persecuted not so long ago.

    Back in the day when homosexuality was often punishable by time in prison, it was essential that gay men and women formed a sense of culture + community in order to unite and build some semblance of protection. While that isn’t as much necessary today, it is still very present.

    You asked a question. Why do “gay people”? Well, part of the answer resides in your wording. Perhaps without realizing it, you kind of placed us in a bucket.

    The second part of the answer resides in a well established, often ignored heterosexual culture. You have dances. You have proms. You have Valentine’s Day. You have weddings, baptisms, bridal showers, bachelor parties, etc. etc. etc. You go out with your significant others, proudly display pictures of your husbands or wives, bringing them to work functions. At younger ages, guys hang out with the guys and talk about how many girls they’ve banged or how hot is.

    Without much, if any effort, you are able to exist with privilege enough to live out your lives where part of your identities are just… accepted. It’s the benefit of existing in the norm.

    As for me and other gay men and women, we exist in the bucket that is not the norm. The first thing many people ask me after getting to know me is whether or not I have a girlfriend. I do not. I have a boyfriend. If I talk about him with another person that may or may not know I’m gay, their reaction is either one of quiet hesitation or comparison to another gay person they know.

    Perfect example:

    I was at a laundromat the other day and a woman was sitting near me whom I never met. It was a small town laundromat near my office. The conversation went like this:

    Her: “Are you new to the area? I’ve never seen you here before.”
    Me: “Know. This is my first time here. I work around the corner and the laundry in my building is broken.”
    Her: “Oh, where do you live?”
    Me: “I live in Boston”
    Her: “That’s nice. Must be a long commute.”
    …. fast forward to folding dry laundry …
    Her: “My, that’s a very nice shirt.”
    Me: “Oh, it’s not mine. It’s my boyfriends. He threw a few things in for me to wash.”
    Her: “Oh, that’s nice. Do you two live together?”
    Me: “No, but he’s always leaving his clothes at my place.”
    Her: “My cousin and his lover are different. He never does his lover’s laundry. You should talk to him and tell him that he should. He lives in Boston, too. You might know him.”
    … and scene…

    While very innocent, it points out one common social factor: Even the most LGBT friendly heterosexuals often seem to group us up without even realizing it. It is not isolated. Someone finds out you’re gay and most of the time, another gay person or couple they know is brought into the conversation.

    I’ll wrap this up.

    You ask why so many gay men and women put so much personal stock into our identities? The answer is pretty simple. We don’t, really… but that doesn’t stop the bulk of society from believing we are.

    -RJ

  28. Micah says:

    Great article. I’m amazed to see that gay men aren’t more of sluts than the straits. All my gay friends are super sluts lol.

  29. Tobi says:

    Can we get some further clarification on that first point? Of the small number of gay and lesbian folks searching for straight users, were they searching for straight users of the same or opposite sex? That makes a big difference.

    Also, how many straight users have searched for gays or lesbians? For bi folks? I could imagine there being a lot more straight men and women searching for lesbians or gay men than the other way around.

  30. Chelsey says:

    This is a fantastic article! Thank you, OKC, for taking the time to post it. I will happily pass this along in hopes that many others will acknowledge how similar we all really are.

  31. val says:

    From the way this is presented turns out that the gay dating pool consists of people with generally similar likes and interests, but the gap between those of straight males and females is quite something… Makes you wander…
    btw how does one get their hands on the actual raw data collected from the site?

  32. alex says:

    oh my god i laughed TOO much when i clicked lesbian women’s interests and THE L WORD was really big

  33. Chuck FInn says:

    I don’t see anything here that says anything about methodology. One thing is for sure, users of a dating service is a self-selected group, and likely significantly different than others. I would certainly think within different age groups the differences would even differ. Another statistical point is who on earth tells the truth, the whole truth, to a dating service? C’mon. Who tells the whole truth to a dating service? Are gays, for instance, more likely to use one? As a ‘minority’ – and one that has a stigma, albeit a rapidly diminishing one. It would make sense to me they’d be more likely to do so just in terms of FINDING another person in their ‘minority’.

    I don’t pretend to know which way the missing info would skew these charts. I only know that garbage in leads to garbage out. I see a lot of reasons to believe there’s absolutely no way to tell what this amalgamation of self-filtered data means. I’m sure it means something to the DATING SERVICE about their customer, and that’s fine, too. But that’s about it,

    Chewie

  34. MAZIE says:

    @Grace The only category you need is ANGRY LESBIAN!

  35. JL says:

    It would be interesting for comparing apples to apples to normalize the comparisons for gay and bi folks to their peers of equivalent education/class/other predictors (using PCA presumably this wouldn’t be difficult). Its not exactly a secret that there is a correlation between gay/bi and intelligentsia or even just ‘college educated’.

  36. Angela says:

    Once again…. bisexuals and transgendered, and transexuals left out in the periphery… there isn’t just straight and gay….

  37. Seth says:

    Giancarlo, this is in response to your comment:

    I do understand your point and it pains me to agree but I do (only slightly so).
    There is a very important reason why we emphasize pride and making it a big part of our personalities in the beginning stages of accepting who we are.
    For those of us who were ostracized, beat and abused because of who we are, our spirit tries to bring us up from the dregs by turning what we are hated for into something to be proud of and envelope ourselves in so as not to fall prey to others’ ill intentions.
    This is a very important stage when coming to terms with something that’s not socially acceptable.
    There is also the reason that so many straight people use it to define us as well. So we flaunt it and say, “So what. I’m proud of who I am.” It’s really all for not falling into a depression due to a society that has yet to fully accept us and give us our full rights as citizens.
    Another answer as to why would be it’s somewhat necessary when searching for a love. At times it’s nearly impossible to tell who is gay or not. So in order to make sure that we aren’t missing out on a potential date or club buddy, we will force it a little or don a rainbow.
    Political aspect also play a part. The purpose of Gay Pride is not just to celebrate who we are, but also to build each other up, give each other hope, and unite to honor the people who enabled us to be gay in public.
    I hoped this has provided a little insight.
    I myself used to make the gay part of me the most prominent, because I was discovering myself, finding a niche in which to socialize, and using it as a way to individualize. After I was gay-bashed I started wearing rainbows to let my attackers know that I would not fall victim to their sadistic hate, or change who I am.
    Sometimes, it’s just necessary to be a bit arrogant or self-centered because it’s one of the few ways to not lose hope, or lose the will to go on when so many are against you.

  38. Jessie Maims says:

    As for the criticism of the trait/interest pools, even if the people in question are declaring their specific distaste for something they mention, it still says something about the interests, trends and mores of the subculture that they largely associate with. For instance, a rice farmer in Topeka, Kansas who likes fishing and baseball is unlikely to have a strong enough opinion of or familiarity with Devendra Banhart to name check him. A college student in Williamsburg, New York who likes moustaches and thrifting is infinitely more likely to do so, even if it’s because she loathes him.

  39. Jeremiah (Cupid!) says:

    I am thrilled with the idea that you have put the power of your database into creating this powerful set of insights. This is a phenomenal illustration of the facts, backed by DATA.

    I would also like to give OkCupid huge props for taking interest in more than simply expanding their numbers. this is so so rare in the world of InterWeb trafficking/masses manipulation that you all deserve an award for your example!

    I run a dating advice site – cupids dating tips – (ironically ;) and I wanted to let you all know that if ever you need any help or promotion from me or my team, just let me know.
    I also host the current number 1 podcast on Dating Advice for Men in iTunes, and I intend to do a show about this next week, or the week after to trumpet your efforts and encourage my listeners to visit both this page, and to make use of OkCupid above other dating sites.
    (I shall also post this comment there to further encourage visitation to this page =)

    Thanks a million times for your ethics!
    My site is for “The Good Guys”,,, it is now apparent to me that yours is too!

    Fantastic job,,,
    Keep up the good work!
    Jeremiah
    (Cupid)

  40. lologo57 says:

    @ Andres. Can you reference the line where ” the majority should rule as it is stated in our constitution.” I’ve read the Constitution more than once. I don’t recall reading that the majority should rule. Much of it…including the checks and balances of the 3 branches of government…is written in a way to protect us from the tyranny of the majority.

  41. ChickPea says:

    Heh. Looking at the “gay women are more…” categories is interesting- it’s given me some insight into why so many of the matches OKCupid comes up with for me identify as bi. :)

    Unfortunately, many of them are also too young and on the wrong continent. :(

  42. Frazo says:

    Splendid article, great visuals and really fascinating. I feel fortunate now to move in circles where any differences between gay and straight don’t really effect how we interact. I didn’t realize how many people are still being so primitive about all this.

  43. Dave Maza says:

    Nicely done. It’s a shame that in this day and age, so many still buy into the FUD. Thankfully we’re growing into a more tolerant society, and will continue to progress that way as long as gentle reminders like this can help debunk the drivel that stirs the masses up periodically.

  44. BruceChris says:

    The “Gay Agenda” is often indistinguishable from the “American Dream”.

  45. A+ says:

    Gay HAS been a ‘social norm’ throughout history i.e. ancient Greece and perhaps more hidden but nevertheless everywhere else, read a book.
    As far as ‘fixing social problems facing society’ , equal rights and an end to marginalization of a very large group of people is not about fixing social problems as a whole but merely one aspect of it, its s ad how ignorant and nonsensical you are, as far as the ‘majority’ goes, thankfully most people are not hateful bigots like you and your dinosaur ilk are going the way to extinction. I guess you never ‘deviate’ from the standard missionary position and only have penile-vagina sex, because anything else is wrong.

  46. Ana Thema says:

    Uh…. only “gay vs. straight”? C’mon… bisexuals do exist.

  47. jason says:

    this was a great article but heres my opinion seriously i think people in the world need to leave each other alone. so what if someone likes someone of the same sex. if it makes them happy then i say go for it. the world is one big toddler right now, and it needs to grow up. im straight and i have gay friends and i even know a transsexual so if i can accept them then so can everybody else

  48. Katabasis says:

    Sweet post dawg, keep on keeping on :-)

  49. Rakish Cad says:

    Brilliant article chaps (and chapettes). Keep up the good work at okCupid! x

  50. Jonathan says:

    Thank you OkCupid for compiling this study of really obvious things.