Sunday, February 15, 2009

Which denomination has the most homosexuals? No, I'm not asking about clergy, so don't answer Catholic. It's those liberal Episcopalians. According to the General Social Survey, the breakdown looks like this (N = 17,969):

Percent of men who are gay

Episcopalian 8.1
Jewish 4.5
No religion 4.4
American Lutheran 3.0
Catholic 2.9
Southern Baptist 2.7
United Methodist 2.4
Christian 1.2

Percent of women who are lesbian

Episcopalian 4.2
No religion 4.1
American Lutheran 3.0
United Methodist 1.8
Catholic 1.5
Jewish 1.0
Southern Baptist 1.1
Christian 1.0

I'm guessing that: 1) more liberal churches don't lose as many of their homosexuals; 2) they gain converts; and 3) homosexuals in conservative denominations are less willing to admit their orientation.


  1. Okay, I prolly lose all my "GSS Wizard" points for this (I was up to Apprentice!), but I can't for the variable for "respondent is gay" or "homosexuality". All I see are questions about whether gay sex is okay or not....

  2. Anonymous2:06 PM

    I think part (3) in your summation could have been proven if they asked any muslims. the percent responding would have been 0% which of course is most definitely not true, no matter how many mullahs say it is so.

  3. Anonymous2:33 PM

    I'm surprised at the low number of Jewish lesbians.


  4. Blode, the GSS doesn't have questions sexual identity, only sexual behaviors.

    SEXSEX5 asks men if their sex partners in the last 5 years were exclusively male. This is a good proxy for homosexuality since it would encompass most homosexual adults and exceedingly few heterosexual adults.

  5. The number for Jewish lesbians is what I would've predicted based on typical population levels of lesbianism.

    What surprises me is the high number of Jewish gay men. People convert to Episcopalian, and it makes perfect sense that religious gay people would flock to a liberal religion that accepts them. But men are born into Judaism. Also Jews have smaller families and gay men are significantly more likely to come from large families.

    So either A) Jews have a higher genetic or biological propensity to homosexuality than gentile men, B) Homosexuality really does have nontrivial cultural causes (as fundamentalists believe), or C) Jews are more liberal and less closeted than gentiles, and the true population rate of male homosexuality is closer to 4.5%.

    I feel 'C' is the most likely. But it doesn't explain why conservative Catholic Hispanics have almost twice as much male homosexuality as whites.

    Family size could be one variable, but there has to be more to it.

  6. Ah hah! Thank, Jason Malloy. I was using none of the right search terms.

  7. "But men are born into Judaism."

    Unless they're Luke Ford ;)

  8. Jason Malloy has already alluded to this, but it's hardly surprising that homosexuals would gravitate toward a denomination that welcomes gay congregants and accepts openly gay clergy.

  9. I expect the incidence of homosexuality to be higher in conservative religious communities. Particularly in the next few generations. For a lot of closeted religious homosexuals, having a large family is good cover. "He can't be gay, he's got 8 kids!" In some cases, "I can't be gay, I've got 8 kids!" So the genes get passed on.

    Meanwhile, the ones who are out and proud don't have anything to prove.

    Religious faith is inherited even more faithfully than some genetic traits, so if you figure that conservative religious gays have 1 to 2 kids each on average, while liberal or non-religious gays have 1/2 a kid each, in a matter of a generation or two, religious faith and homosexuality will be strongly linked.

    Which might be ironic from our perspective, but I'm sure churches of the future and the gay subculture will rapidly adapt.

    Oh, SEXSEX5 isn't a good surrogate for actual homosexuality. Even if everyone answers honestly, for married gays using baby-beards, it simply wouldn't be the case.

  10. Oh, SEXSEX5 isn't a good surrogate for actual homosexuality. Even if everyone answers honestly, for married gays using baby-beards, it simply wouldn't be the case.

    But the point is it is approximately as good as self-identified orientation, and is even superior in some ways. Both rely on self-report, and can't account for hidden behavior, identity, or desire.

    There are no current methods for figuring out how high the hidden fraction is, if it exists at all.

    As I said above, the incidence in the Jewish/nonreligious population (where homosexuality largely lacks community stigma) could signify the fraction of gays hidden in the wider population. Or it could signify that liberal cultures encourage and "create" more homosexuals.

  11. By the way, here are the best numbers for homosexuality incidence yet, from Add Health (p 5-6):

    3.2% identify homosexual
    2.7% identify bisexual, so
    5.9% identify as bi or homosexual.

    4.4% of men say they have had a male sex partner.
    5.8% of men (same number as identity above) say they have had sexual attraction toward a man.

    (This is apparently highest in the current youngest age group. As Ron has already shown in Add Health, 7% of white, 8% of black, and 9% of Hispanic teens say they have been sexually attracted to a male. Either homosexuality declines with age, or male homosexuality (or admission of it) is on the increase).

    For females:

    3.7% identify homosexual
    10.7% identify bisexual, so
    14.4 identify as bi or homosexual.

    6.0% of women say they have had a female sex partner.
    13.1% of women say they have had sexual attraction toward a woman.

    So about 10% of the population has nontrivial homosexual tendencies. Contrary to earlier findings, with women more homosexual than men.

  12. 6.0% of women say they have had a female sex partner.
    4.4% of men say they have had a male sex partner.

    Add Health is for young adults. The GSS, with an average age of 44 shows that 5.7% of men have had sex with another man (same as the number of men who say they have same-sex attraction in Add Health), and 5.6% of women. (This is lower the same-sex attraction in Add Health. According to the CDC, bisexual behavior has tripled among young women, so 6-9% of men and up to 14% of women in the current generation may eventually have a same-sex partner).

  13. Anonymous4:24 AM

    Gays are usally more common in Urban areas, right? If so, are Episcopalians and Jews more concentrated in the cities too?

  14. We see a 2 to 1 male to female ratio for most of the denominations, which is pretty much the usual ratio for gay men to lesbians you see. I suspect the higher ratio seen among Jews is just due to small sample sizes, right?

  15. "I suspect the higher ratio seen among Jews is just due to small sample sizes, right?"

    Yes, it could be due to a small N.


Is skin tone correlated with job prestige?

The General Social Survey rated the skin darkness of a sample of black Americans, ranging from "very dark brown" to "very lig...