Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Blacks have the most gay men: I thought it would be interesting to see if the prevalence of homosexuality varies by ethnic group. I listed the results from the GSS. (By the way, the GSS rate for all American men is 2.9%).

Percent of men who are gay
1. Blacks 4.4
2. Italians 3.5
2. Mexicans 3.5
4. English/Welsh 2.7
5. Germans 2.5
6. Irish 2.4
6. American Indians 2.4
8. Scots 1.2

So the prevalence among blacks is 3 times that of Scots. Now, the differences could be due to groups differing in their willingness to admit a homosexual orientation, but I would have guessed that the most macho groups (blacks, Mexicans, Italians) would have been the least willing to confess this. What's the explanation here? What do these three groups have in common that could produce a higher percentage of men saying they were gay? Perhaps paternal dominance? Males using sex to dominate other males? Effeminate males becoming gay through sexual experiences with these dominant guys? Prison experiences? More gays leading to a macho reaction? Genetic differences? Differences in viral infections?

Next, I'll take a look at lesbians.


  1. Those numbers appear low. I am a strong believer in the fact that most gays are predisposed to be so at birth.

    In fact, scientific research backs me up (no pun intended).

    That being said, I do think nurture is capable of turning the odd dude gay. Perhaps poverty has a play in it, causing some desperate and/or confused teenagers to become male prostitutes.

  2. Paternal dominance? That wouldn't be the case with blacks, because they don't have such a culture. But jail may be an answer.

  3. If you buy the viral theory of homosexuality, that looks about right.

    The probability of being exposed to a human-borne virus in general goes up with the the number of different people a person is exposed to.

    Obviously someone living in a urban environment interacts with shloads more people than someone living in a rural environment.

    My perception is that blacks and italians (top of the list) are much more urban than irish and scots (see American south) and American Indians (the bottom of the list perhaps the most rural population in the US). I suspect that Mexicans are also more urban than rural but to a lesser extent than the other two.

    As a consistency test of my explanation, where do ethnic Jews - another very urban group (perhaps more urban than blacks) - fall on the list of prevalence of homosexuality?

  4. According to the GSS, 3.6% of Jewish men are gays, so they rank second, just below blacks.

  5. I would not underestimate the role of ADMITTING you are gay here, also how people denfine it. Is one homosexual experience enough?

    Maybe Blacks think having had sex once in jail is enough, while WASPs consider an gay experience or two normal for hetrosexuals.

  6. I'd always wondered about this. I think Jody nailed the reason why. But even among those who are more urban than rural, there's still variability -- looks like the farther away from the Equator your group is, the less risk you have of contracting the virus. So, is there some protective allele(s) that's more frequent among North Europeans compared to South Europeans compared to s-S Africans?

  7. If homosexuality is at least partly genetic, then we should expect differences in its incidence in groups based on how long their society has been tolerant of it. Or to be a bit more specific, how long the group's social norms have been such that homosexuals would be free enough to not father children.

  8. "I am a strong believer in the fact that most gays are predisposed to be so at birth."

    While I agree that sexual inclinations are likely already largely inherent at birth, 'gay' as such is a social construct which people can choose to identify with, or not, as a result of societal influence and other (not necessarily sexual) preferences. Hence 'gay lifetstyle'.

    Men tend to like to compartmentalise & define more than women do, so I'd expect more men than women to self-identify as homosexual (or as any other minority identification).


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