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What percentage of men experience same-sex sexual attraction?

Don't be misled by the occasion fanatic you hear on conservative radio talk shows!

It's hard to come up with an exact number, but the correct percentage is almost certainly much larger than most people think.

Based on face-to-face interviews he conducted in the 1940s, the pioneering sex researcher Alfred Kinsey thought that at least a third of men experienced some degree of same-sex sexual attraction, even though, in some surveys, 98 percent of men call themselves "straight."

A major study published in the Journal of Homosexuality in 2012 with more than 17,000 people in 48 countries suggests the true proportion of men who experience same-sex attraction may be much higher than Kinsey thought. In this recent study, about 90 percent of males reported having experienced some degree of same-sex sexual attraction at some point in their lives. The same researchers confirmed their earlier findings in April 2016 in a study with more than 330,000 people in 107 countries.

Both of these large studies were conducted on the internet, and that could mean they are getting closer to the truth of the matter. A number of new studies have shown that when it comes to socially sensitive issues like sexual orientation, the more anonymous people feel, the more likely they are to tell the truth. Similarly, the more in-your-face are you are with people and the less anonymous they feel, the more likely they are to say what's socially acceptable. This is important, because all of Kinsey's interviews were face-to-face, so he was probably underestimating any kind of behavior that was considered socially unacceptable, and he even said that in this books.

If 30 percent or 90 percent sound too large, think back on your teen years, or think about fleeting attractions you might have from time to time. Think about same-sex attractions you might have felt very briefly, which you then immediately suppressed, knowing such attractions are not "acceptable" in our society.

Lots of people, in many different cultures, do some "experimenting" when they're young, having sexual contact with members of both sexes. Then, in most cultures, they are put under enormous pressure to say they are straight and to avoid same-sex sexual encounters. Unless they have the guts to "come out," they will also hide any same-sex fantasies they have, any same-sex attractions they feel, and, of course, any same-sex sexual encounters they have.

So what's the truth of the matter? The truth is that the actual percentage of men who feel same-sex attractions at some point is probably quite large, probably somewhere between 50 and 90 percent. Because of the pressures we are all under throughout our lives to be straight, or at least to say straight, the exact number is hard to pin down.

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