Mostly Heterosexual and Mostly Gay/Lesbian: Evidence for New Sexual Orientation Identities.

Published: February 11, 2012


A sample of 1,784 individuals responded to an online survey advertised on the Facebook social networking website. We explored the sexual orientation continuum by focusing on three components: self-reported sexual orientation identity, sexual attraction, and sexual partners. Results supported a 5-category classification of identity (heterosexual, mostly heterosexual, bisexual, mostly gay/lesbian, gay/lesbian) in that two added identity labels (mostly heterosexual and mostly gay/lesbian) were frequently chosen by participants and/or showed unique patterns of attraction and partners, distinct from their adjacent identities (heterosexual and bisexual, and bisexual and gay/lesbian, respectively). Those who reported an exclusive label (heterosexual, gay/lesbian) were not necessarily exclusive in other components; a significant minority of heterosexuals and the majority of gays/lesbians reported some attraction and/or partners toward their nonpreferred sex. The five identity groups differed in attraction and partners in a manner consistent with a continuous, rather than a categorical, distribution of sexual orientation. Findings also supported a sexual orientation continuum as consisting of two, rather than one, distinct dimensions (same- and other-sex sexuality). Having more same-sex sexuality did not necessarily imply having less other-sex sexuality, and vice versa. More men than women were at the exclusive ends of the continuum; however, men were not bimodally distributed in that a significant minority reported nonexclusivity in their sexuality.

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