Sexual orientation in men

The recent studies, which at least should be well-known, led by J. Michael Bailey show that all men tested for arousal were either heterosexual or homosexual; none bisexual, even though he tested many that identified themselves as such. That conclusion agrees with many earlier studies and is not contradicted by any, and so I accept it without further comment. Yet, bisexual men surely exist; that is, men that can have relationships satisfactorily with both men and women. To avoid confusion, I will refer to a man's pattern of arousal as 'physically' heterosexual or homosexual, and will assume all men to be one or the other.

This essay will attempt to categorise better than before the sexual orientation of men. The famous Kinsey scale is inadequate, first because it is too vague, and secondly because it reports only behavior and not innate orientation. Similarly, relying on men's self-reported status can hardly be scientific; as many lie or deceive themselves, and even those that are completely honest may not be using the same criteria.

Before I start, let me note that this entire field of questioning in mainstream publications today, including Wikipedia, is so shot through with political correctness that it is useless. This censorship attempts to claim that only self-definitions are valid and that sexual orientation in men should be considered the same as it is in women, among other absurdities.

I shall begin with my 5-category system, similar to Kinsey's:

1 - Exclusively heterosexual
2 - Basically heterosexual but open to homosexuality
3 - Both heterosexual and homosexual relationships
4 - Basically homosexual but open to heterosexuality
5 - Exclusively homosexual

This appears symmetrical but we will see that 2 and 4 have important differences. Men in categories 1 and 2 - 1s and 2s for short - are physically heterosexual almost surely, 4s and 5s are physically homosexual, 3s may be either but are most likely homosexual.

1s and 5s are 'exclusively' heterosexual or homosexual. Since my scale refers to orientation, not behavior, this does not necessarily mean that a 1 has never had sex with a man or a 5 with a woman. But they have no real desire to; and we can assume any deviations are a result of coercion or social pressure. The most obvious example of the latter are homosexuals in the closet getting married and having an outwardly-heterosexual life and family because that's the thing to do. Social pressures may be more subtle though, and not even appreciated by their victim; for example with a youth 'questioning' his sexuality and getting involved with the wrong sex. That last, though, is likely to occur differently in the two cases; whereas 5s may feel pressure to date women, 1s get involved with older men on a private basis. However, even a single relationship with the wrong sex which does not qualify as pressured will disqualify a man from being 1 or 5. Well - one more exception must be noted: that if a man undertakes heterosexual sex with the sole purpose (from his perspective, not hers) of conceiving a child, it does not count.

A 2 is basically a heterosexual that will tolerate homosexual sex. Some straight guys, like me, have such a strong aversion to same-sex contact that we will certainly be a 1 no matter what, but many don't. The famous Casanova clearly shifted from a 1 to a 2 sometime in his life, if we judge by reading his memoirs; going the other way seems less likely. There seem to be quite a lot of men in this category, judging by the numbers that report some homosexual contact, and it is likely the second most common of my 5. (5 of course being the third.)

I speculate that only 1, 2, and 5 are 'natural' in the sense that if you asked men that had never had sex or a romantic relationship, they would likely place themselves in those three categories only. This is my basis for calling 1 and 2 'heterosexual', 5 'homosexual', and 3 and 4 'bisexual'; this could be called 'social' orientation, as opposed to the 'physical' orientation I described.

What, then, causes a man to be a bisexual? There are rather few true bisexual men, so it's clearly somewhat strange. If we look at the lives of known bisexuals, we see that the key to their bisexuality seems to be the emotional aspect of their relationships, not the sexual one (if they have casual sex at all it would presumably be in accord with their physical orientation). I believe, then, that the bisexual is a man whose is capable of being emotionally attracted to, or falling in love with, both men and women, and that this differs from his physical orientation. This is mainly a phenomenon of physical homosexuals that are capable of loving women; I do not know whether the other way exists. The difference between 3s and 4s then is just a matter of how strong that attraction to women is; for a 3, it is significant enough that he usually wants to be in a relationship with a woman, for a 4, that happens only occasionally or never. Both, though, are true bisexuals in that they can have nearly normal romantic relationships with both men and women.

The degree of (mental and emotional) masculinity or femininity a man has is not directly related to his orientation, though it is well known and amply confirmed that homosexuals (5s) are on average more feminine. They span the whole range, though, and some are as masculine as anyone, while the most feminine often become trans-sexuals. I would guess that the extremes of femininity are not found among 2s, 3s, or 4s.

It is commonly stated that about 2-4% of men are homosexual, but my scale draws finer distinctions than that. I would take a guess that about 96% of men are socially heterosexual, 1% bisexual, and 3% homosexual on my definitions, which are more useful. The sexual orientation of women can be grouped in the same 3, but that is another topic.


This is an essay created by Andrew Usher. Please do not edit it; but only comment in discussion.

Also see the original Usenet thread in which this was posted:
https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/soc.men/n6AtuFZpV30

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