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18 September 2002

An article by Jane Galt on the troubling phenomenon of HIV+ people who don't disclose their status to sex partners provoked a little side discussion about the old 1 in 10 of us have limp wrists canard. While I think the number is bogus, it's important for straight people to understand that there's no conspiratorial Ministry of Fagitprop that issues these statistics -- the reasons that gay activists throw this unsubstantianted 10% figure around so carelessly are largely innocent ones. First, the vast majority of people, gay or straight, have piss-poor critical thinking skills; give them a figure from some vaguely scientific-sounding source ("According to the Kinsey Report...") and they won't bother asking for supporting citations. The 1-in-10 number, then, persists in part by the same benign mechanism that urban legends do. Second, despite the visibility of gay characters in mainstream pop culture -- from the aggressively inane Will & Grace to the polished and credible Six Feet Under -- many gay people will testify to how pervasive the ''I thought I was the only one'' delusion remains among those still in the closet. So the 10% figure, even if overinflated, serves a good end by reassuring closeted gays that they have a chance of finding support (and camaraderie, and dates) within their own communities -- no need to sever links with the folks in Peoria and go on permanent Haaj to the freaky-deaky Meccas of NYC or San Francisco.

So what's the real percentage, then? 2-3% seems to be accepted figure if you're talking about fulltime professional 'mos like me. I'm inclined to think that this number is a tad low, however, based on my personal experience as an out-of-the-closet gay man who is usually assumed to be straight, and who has about zero interest in mediagenic gay-pride events. There are a lot of us stealth wand-gobblers roaming around, so I'd probably double the percentage and say 6% of men identify, in the privacy of their own minds, as gay-gay-gay! Now, the interesting question is: What percentage of adult men fool around with other guys occasionally? I'm going to go out on a limb and say that, um, 70% of men have fantasized about polishing their pool cues with a buddy, and that about one-third of these have, as adults, actually followed through on their male-to-male daydreams up to and including mutual masturbation. (Once again, South Park has been the dispassionate voice of empirical Truth.)

posted by Throbert | 9/18/2002 03:14:00 PM |
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