Monday, March 31, 2008

Big surprise: Lesbians are the most athletic sexual orientation group, gay men are the least: In my quest to document that we're not all the same, I looked at the relationship between sexual orientation and athleticism. The General Social Survey asked 1,723 people questions about these two characterstics, and here are the results:

Percent who say they are athletic

Lesbians 66.6
Straight men 43.7
Straight women 20.0
Gay men 17.3

Wow, gay men even lose out to straight women, and lesbians are almost 4 times as likely as homsexuals to describe themselves as athletic. Lesbians even outdo straight guys by quite a bit.

Lesbians are overrepresented among women who are really athletic, but don't make the mistake of thinking that most female athletes are into other girls: lesbians are 1% of all women, and 4% of all very athletic women.

By the way, this study reported an additive genetic variance of .58 for athleticism.


  1. Anonymous3:23 PM

    This contradicts a previous study which indicated that lesbians were much more likely to be obese, unless of course they are over-represented on both sides of the spectrum and under-represented in the middle.

  2. I am very surprised at the low figure for gay men. Most of the ones I've know have been seriously into fitness.

    In fact, in the early days of the AIDS epidemic, before the disease was fully understood, one of the things that really confused researchers was that all these seemingly super healthy and fit men were coming down with terrible sicknesses. Gay men seemed like the least likely candidates for fatal illness.

  3. Anonymous6:39 AM

    What is it with lesbians and softball?

  4. Anonymous10:53 AM

    Any evidence for the idea that excessive athletic activity causes lesbianism?

  5. Anonymous11:18 AM

    "Any evidence for the idea that excessive athletic activity causes lesbianism?"

    Can you define obsessive?

  6. Any evidence for the idea that excessive athletic activity causes lesbianism?
    That was one of Sailer's sillier ideas. Exercise doesn't raise your testosterone level or anything, though it can cause a young woman to stop menstruating. I'd expect the opposite order: lesbians tend to be more masculine and hence into athletics.

    About the obese lesbian thing: apparently polycystic ovary disorder is related to an excess of testosterone, and as a side effect you do get fat. So it's not too crazy to think there might be a connection between lesbianism and obesity.
    It is, of course, also true that obese women are likely to have much more trouble finding men (unless they develop an interest in Star Trek) and would be more likely to get bitter about societal standards of beauty, etc.

  7. Peter,

    Generally speaking, gay men are into fitness because they want to look good - and the gay community has some very high standards regarding who does and does not look good - not because they are predisposed to athleticism.

  8. Can you cross-tab with a question about self-confidence/self-assurance? Seems implausible that by some objective measure of athleticism that two-thirds of lesbians would make the grade but less than one-fifth of gay men would. Is this a window into athletic ability or, just as interestingly, into self-perception by sexual orientation and by gender?

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