Interview : Stereotypes of homosexuals [with J. Michael Bailey, Department of Psychology, Northwestern University]
Q: What stereotypes have turned out to have some truth to them?
A: One big thing is occupational and recreational interests. In fact, hairdressers, professional dancers, actors and designers tend to be gay men, at least at much higher rates than their population rate, which is somewhere between 1 and 4 percent. And women who are in the armed services, or professional athletes (two of the three best all-time women's tennis players are lesbian), are disproportionately lesbian.
Children who are sex-atypical do tend to become homosexual. Especially males. Boys who want to be girls become men who want men. Most very masculine girls probably become heterosexual women, but their rate of homosexuality is probably still higher than would be expected given the population rate of female homosexuality, which is probably less than 1 percent.
Recently, we have shown that on average, gay men and lesbians are very different on average from straight people in the way they walk and speak. There is such a thing, evidently, as a gay voice. And lesbians tend to look different than straight women -- in particular, they have shorter hairstyles.
On the other hand, some stereotypes about homosexual people are due to the fact that they are in certain other ways psychologically like straight people of their own sex. For example, gay men have lots of sex partners compared with straight men. This is because they have a male-typical level of interest in casual sex, but because they are seeking other men with the same interest, they can have as many partners as they want. Straight men are constrained by the desires of women. I think that there is nothing intrinsically "gay" about having hundreds of sex partners. Lots of straight guys would if they could. But they can't, because they can't find female partners who'll have anonymous sex with them.
My, but the commentary in various places on this article will be fascinating. And huffy, too.
Interesting ongoing research projects, too. That "Dating Preferences Study" sounds like it must have some interesting results. Although I think I'm going to need it put into words of one, or maybe even two, syllables. Regarding the latter, our research would suggest that feminine gay men, in particular, may be most likely to suffer rejection from other gay people. In addition to their mistreatment by heterosexual people, we might expect that they would have more adjustment problems than most. So, basically, if you're a nice nelly gayboy, you're going to be getting it on the chin from both straights AND gay men. What a profoundly alienating experience that has to be.Posted by iain at August 28, 2002 01:38 PM