Kinsey Report -- excerpted entries on homosexuality

Kinsey, Alfred, Pomeroy Wardell B., & Martin Clyde E.
Place PublishedPhiladelphia
ExtentExcerpts from a book
Excerpts from research
Alfred Kinsey, Wardell B. Pomeroy, Clyde E. Martin.

Sexual Behavior in the Human Male.
Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders, 1948.  

[Chapter 7: Age and Sexual Outlet, pp. 259-261]

Homosexual activity and age

Homosexual activity in the human male is much more frequent than is ordinarily realized (Chapter 21). In the youngest unmarried group, more than a quarter (27.3%) of the males have some homosexual activity to the point of orgasm (Table 58, Figures 83-88). The incidence among these single males rises in successive age groups until it reaches a maximum of 38.7 per cent between 36 and 40 years of age.

High frequencies do not occur as often in the homosexual as they do in some other kinds of sexual activity (Table 49). Populations are more homogeneous in regard to this outlet. This may reflect the difficulties involved in having frequent and regular relations in a socially taboo activity. Nevertheless, there are a few of the younger adolescent males who have homosexual frequencies of 7 or more per week, and between 26 and 30 the maximum frequencies run to 15 per week. By 50 years of age the most active individual is averaging only 5.0 per week.

For single, active populations, the mean frequencies of homosexual contacts (Table 58, Figures 83-88) rise more or less steadily from near once per week (0.8 per week) for the younger adolescent boys to nearly twice as often (1.7 per week) for males between the ages of 31 and 35. They stand above once a week through age 50.

In the population as a whole, among boys in their teens, about 8 per cent of the total sexual outlet is derived from the homosexual. Calculating only for the single males who are actually participating, the average active male in his teens gets about 18 per cent of his outlet from that source, and the figure is increasingly higher until, at 50 years of age, the average male who is still single and actively involved gets 54 per cent of his outlet from the homosexual. This, and pre-marital intercourse with prostitutes, are the only sources of outlet which become an increasing part of the sexual activity of single males. For most other kinds of outlet, as we have shown, the figures drop with advancing age. Since there is a steady decline in frequency of total sexual outlet for the average male, and since there is an increase both in frequencies and in percentage of total outlet derived from the homosexual, it is obvious that this outlet acquires a definitely greater significance, and a very real significance, in the lives of most unmarried males who have anything at all to do with it.

There is considerable conflict among younger males over participation in such socially taboo activity, and there is evidence that a much higher percentage of younger males is attracted and aroused than ever engages in overt homosexual activities to the point of orgasm. Gradually, over a period of years, many males who are aroused by homosexual situations become more frank in their acceptance and more direct in their pursuit of complete relations (Chapter 21), although some of them are still much restrained by fear of blackmail.

Homosexual contact as an extra-marital activity is recorded by about 10 per cent of the teen-age and young 20-year old married males. By 50 years of age, it is admitted by only 1 per cent of the still married males, but this latter figure is undoubtedly below the fact. Average frequencies fluctuate between once a week to once in two or three weeks for the married males who have any such contacts; and there is no distinct age trend. From 4 to 9 per cent of the total outlet of these married males is drawn from the homosexual source, but again there is no apparent age trend.  

[Chapter 8: Marital Status and Sexual Outlet, pp. 259-261]

.... Homosexual contacts, as might be expected, are most frequent among unmarried males.

  • The lowest incidence, about 27 per cent, occurs between adolescence and 15 years of age (Table 66, Figures 83-88). The figures steadily rise in older groups of single males.
  • Between 36 and 40 years of age, over a third (38.7% is the corrected figure for the total U.S. population) of the unmarried males are having some homosexual experience, and uncorrected figures indicate that about half of the unmarried 50-year olds are so involved.
  • In marriage, the highest recorded incidence is 10.6 per cent, between 21 and 25 years of age. After that, the incidence in the married groups drops to about 2 per cent at 45 years of age, and still lower in still older married groups.

Social factors, particularly the physical and social organization of the family, make it difficult for the married individual to have any sort of sexual relation with anyone except his wife.

However, the incidence of the homosexual is probably higher than the available record on the married group shows. Married males who have social position to maintain and who fear that their wives may discover their extra-marital activities, are not readily persuaded into contributing histories to a research study.

While it is possible to secure hundred percent samples from younger males, which make the incidence figures for homosexual contacts fairly reliable there, it is rarely possible to get as good a representation of older married males.

There are hundreds of younger individuals in the histories who report homosexual contacts with these older, socially established, married males, and the post-marital histories of males who are widowed or divorced include the homosexual in 28.3 per cent of the teen-age group, and still in 10.8 per cent of the 31-35-year old histories. These data make it appear probable that the true incidence of the homosexual in married groups is much higher than we are able to record.

Homosexual relations, both among single and married males, are sometimes a substitute for less readily available heterosexual contacts. This is true at all social levels and at all age groups, especially among isolated, morally restrained, or timid males who are afraid to approach females for sexual relations.

On the other hand, it must be recognized that the homosexual is in many instances, among both single and married males, deliberately chosen as the preferred source of outlet; and it is simply accepted as a different kind of sexual outlet by a fair number of persons, whatever their marital status, who embrace both heterosexual and homosexual experiences in the same age period.

Consequently, the high incidence of the homosexual among single males is not wholly chargeable to the unavailability of heterosexual contacts. The increased incidence and frequency among older single males are, as previously noted, partly dependent upon the freer acceptance of a socially taboo activity as the individual becomes more experienced and more certain of himself. The very high incidence among the still older males may depend upon the fact that those persons who are not exclusively or primarily homosexual are ordinarily married when younger, and those who have no interest in heterosexual contacts are left in higher proportion in the older, unmarried populations.  

[Chapter 10: Social Level and Sexual Outlet]

[sub-heading: Incidences and Frequencies of Sexual Outlet, pp. 357-362]  

....  Homosexual Contacts.
Among single males homosexual relations occur most often in the group that goes into high school but not beyond, and least often in the group that goes to college.

The active incidence figures for single males of the high school group begin at 32 per cent in the early adolescent years and rise to 46 per cent by age 30 (Table 90, Figure 105). The accumulative incidence figure is 54 per cent for those who are not married by age 30.

Allowing for the fact that males of this high school group usually marry early, it is something less than 50 per cent which has experience in the homosexual, to the point of orgasm, between the onset of adolescence and marriage.

It should be noted that a high proportion of the males in the Army, Navy, Merchant Marine, CCC camps, and other such organizations belong to this educational level. During the age periods in which these men are actually in these services, about 40 per cent have at least incidental homosexual relations. After marriage, the high school level continues to have homosexual relations in something between 9 and 13 per cent of the cases. The active incidence figures during marriage gradually drop in successive age periods.

Among single males of the high school level, frequencies in the homosexual (for the total group) average about once in three weeks between the ages of adolescence and twenty. The averages for that portion of the population which is actually having experience range from a little under once a week in the teens, to about three times in two weeks if the males are still unmarried by their thirties.

In early adolescence this high school group draws nearly 9 per cent of its total outlet from the homosexual, and the percentage increases in subsequent age periods until it accounts for a quarter of the total sexual outlet of the high school males who are still unmarried at age 30.

While considerable attention has been given to the amount of sexual activity which males in general, and this high school group in particular, have with prostitutes, comparisons of Tables 87 and 90 will show that the sexual outlet which is provided by homosexual relations amounts to three or four times the outlet which is provided by prostitutes.

Among the males who ultimately go to college, homosexual relations are less frequent, but they are still a material part of the total sexual picture.

  • Between adolescence and 15 years of age, 21 per cent of the single males of the college level is actively involved, at least in incidental experience to the point of orgasm.
  • The active incidence figure drops to 17 per cent by age 30.
  • The number of college-bred males who ultimately have experience is 40 per cent, if they are not married by age 30.

Frequencies for the college males are much lower than for any of the other educational levels. They average only about once in ten weeks for the population as a whole, and less than once in two weeks for the active population. For those males who are not yet married by 30, the mean frequencies rise to as much as 1.3 per week for the active portion of the population. Only about 3 per cent of the outlet of the college males is derived from the homosexual between adolescence and age 25, but in the next age period they derive nearly 9 per cent of their outlet from such contacts.

After marriage only 2 or 3 per cent of the college males engage in homosexual relations, according to the histories that are now available. There is no doubt, however, that this is one of the points on which there has been considerable cover-up, and it is certain that a good many married males who are having homosexual relations have deliberately avoided contributing their histories to this study. The 3 per cent incidence figure and the low frequencies shown here are, consequently, absolute minima, and they should be increased by some unknown quantity if they are to represent the reality.

The data on the incidence, frequency, and total significance of homosexual relations among grade school males are intermediate between the data for the high school and the college males. In any single age period, about one-fourth of all the males of grade school level have some homosexual relations. This is true for all the years between adolescence and 30. Ultimately, about 45 per cent of the grade school group is involved.

Frequencies of homosexual contacts are about once in four weeks for the group taken as a whole, and nearly once a week for those who are actively involved between the ages of 16 and 20. In marriage, the grade school group continues its homosexual relations in 10 per cent of the cases, but the incidence figures drop to about 3 per cent by age 45. The frequencies of homosexual contacts for homosexually active married males of the grade school level begin at about 1.4 per week and drop to a few times per year, or once in a year or two, in the older groups.

A breakdown of the homosexual data for the several occupational classes [see below* for definition of occupational classes used by Kinsey] does not show marked or consistent differences between occupational classes 2, 3, and 5 (Table 114, Figure 105). On most items of sexual activity class 5 is closer to classes 6 and 7, but in regard to the incidences and frequencies of the homosexual, it is closer to the semi-skilled and skilled labor groups. The active incidence figures for homosexual contacts among the lower occupational classes may be as high as 35 or 40 per cent in different groups at particular age periods, but they never go higher than 14 per cent for the males of class 7, except during the period of earliest adolescence for that portion of class 7 which originates from parental class 5.

* Occupational Classes:
1. Underworld
2. Day Labor
3. Semi-skilled Labor
4. Skilled Labor
5. Lower White-Collar Group
6. Upper White-Collar Group
7. Professional Group
8. Business Executive Group
9. Extremely Wealthy Group

The frequencies of homosexual activity among the males of class 6 are a bit lower than the frequencies in the lower occupational levels. Class 7 is the most distinct. Its frequencies are very much below those of every other occupational class.

In practically every age group, and irrespective of the parental occupational class from which these class 7 males may have come, the frequencies average only about one-fourth or one-fifth of those for the lower occupational classes. If the calculations are made only for those males who do become actively involved, the mean frequencies for class 7 are still only half as high as the mean frequencies for the active males of classes 3 and 5. Males of occupational class 6 are intermediate between the males of the lower levels and those of class 7.

The situation portrayed by frequencies in the homosexual is more or less paralleled by the calculations showing the percent of the total sexual outlet which is derived from this source in each of the occupational classes. An average of 10 per cent or more of the total sexual outlet may be derived from the homosexual by males of classes 2 and 5, while among males of class 7 the average of the total outlet which is so derived is never more than 2 per cent. The males of class 6 are rather intermediate in this regard, or more nearly approach the males of class 5 in deriving upward of 10 per cent (in one group slightly more than 10 per cent) of their orgasms in contacts with other males.  

[sub-heading: Patterns of Behavior, pp. 383-384]

.... Homosexual Contacts.
The considerable differences which exist in the incidences and frequencies of the homosexual in the three educational levels (Table 90) would seem to indicate basic differences in attitudes toward such activity; but we are not sure that we yet understand what these differences are.

The fewest objections to the homosexual are found in the very lowest of the social levels, in the best educated groups, and in top society. At the lowest social levels sex, whether it be heterosexual or homosexual, is more or less accepted as inevitable. The children here are the least restrained sexually and usually become involved in both heterosexual and homosexual activities at an early age (Chapter 5).

Since this is the group in which pre-adolescent behavior most often carries over into adult behavior (Table 29), it is not surprising to find a fair number of the males at this level continuing both types of activity through the major portion of their lives. It is notable, however, that there are few individuals in this group who become exclusively homosexual. There are some who definitely condemn the homosexual, but there are many who accept it simply as one more form of sex. Rarely do they interfere with other persons who are involved, even though they themselves may not enter into such activities.

The acceptance of the homosexual in top educational and social levels is the product of a wider understanding of realities, some comprehension of the factors involved, and more concern over the mental qualities and social capacities of an individual than over anything in his sexual history.

The highest incidences of the homosexual, however, are in the group which most often verbalizes its disapproval of such activity. This is in the group that goes into high school but never beyond in its educational career. These are the males who most often condemn the homosexual, most often ridicule and express disgust for such activity, and most often punish other males for their homosexuality. And yet, this is the group which has the largest amount of overt homosexual activity.

Their involvement may be due to curiosity, to the fact that one may profit financially by accepting homosexual relations, or to the fact that one may derive a sadistic satisfaction from beating up the partner after orgasm has been achieved in the homosexual activity.

In a certain segment of this group the idea is more or less accepted that one may uphold the heterosexual mores while "playing the queers," provided one punishes them after orgasm is achieved in the homosexual relation. As a group these males may strenuously deny that their sexual contacts have anything to do with homosexuality; but the full and complete record indicates that many of them have stronger psychic reactions to other males than they care to admit. When they no longer find themselves being paid for such contacts, many of them begin paying other males for the privilege of sexual relations.

If there are group attitudes in regard to the homosexual, they are not as freely discussed at most social levels. It may be that this explains why community thinking is not so well crystallized on this subject as it is in regard to other forms of sexual activity.  

[Chapter 12: Rural-Urban Background and Sexual Outlet, pp. 455-459]

.... Homosexual Outlet.
Orgasm effected by contacts with other males is, on the whole, less frequent among the farm boys who have contributed histories to this study, more frequent among the urban males (Table 123).

The two groups are most distinct at the grade school and high school levels. The differences in incidence are very minor at the college level.

  • Among the boys who have not gone beyond grade school, 32 per cent of the city boys may be involved between the ages of 16 and 20, but only 21 per cent of the farm boys.
  • Among males of the high school level, at a corresponding age, the figures are 46 per cent for the city boys, 26 per cent for the rural.
  • For the boys of the college level, in the same age group, the figures are very nearly identical, 16 or 17 per cent in both groups.
  • Differences in frequencies are of the same general order, with the city boy having the most frequent contacts.

There is a wide-spread theory among psychologists and psychiatrists that the homosexual is a product of an effete and over-organized urban civilization. The failure to make heterosexual adjustments is supposed to be consequent on the complexities of life in our modern cities; or it is a product of a neuroticism which the high speed of living in the city imposes upon an increasing number of individuals.

The specific data on the particular rural and urban groups which are shown in Table 123 do seem to suggest that there is something in city life which encourages the development of the homosexual. But the distinctive thing about homosexuality in the city is the development of a more or less organized group activity which is unknown in any rural area.

Large cities have taverns, night clubs, restaurants and baths which may become frequented almost exclusively by persons interested in meeting homosexual friends, or interested in finding opportunities for discussions with others who do not object to the known homosexuality of their companions.

In this city group, the development of an elaborate argot gives a sense of belonging which may defend a minority group against the rest of society; but it also intensifies a feeling which the group has that it stands apart from the rest of the population. Moreover, it is this city group which exhibits all the affectations, the mannerisms, the dress, and the other displays which the rest of the population take to be distinctive of all homosexual persons, even though it is only a small fraction of the males with homosexual histories who ever display such characteristics. None of these city-bred homosexual institutions is known in rural areas, and this may well acount for a somewhat lower rate of the homosexual among farm boys.

On the other hand, the highest frequencies of the homosexual which we have ever secured anywhere have been in particular rural communities in some of the more remote sections of the country. The boy on the isolated farm has few companions except his brothers, the boys on an adjacent farm or two, visiting male cousins, and the somewhat older farm hand. His mother may see to it that he does not spend much time with his sisters, and the moral codes of the rural community may impose considerable limitations upon the association of boys and girls under other circumstances.

Moreover, farm activities call for masculine capacities, and associations with girls are rated sissy by most of the boys in such a community. All of these things are conducive to a considerable amount of homosexuality among the teen-age males in the most isolated of the rural areas. There is much less of it in the smaller farm country of the Eastern United States.

Beyond this, there is a fair amount of sexual contact among the older males in Western rural areas. It is a type of homosexuality which was probably common among pioneers and outdoor men in general. Today it is found among ranchmen, cattle men, prospectors, lumbermen, and farming groups in general - among groups that are virile, physically active.

These are men who have faced the rigors of nature in the wild. They live on realities and on a minimum of theory. Such a background breeds the attitude that sex is sex, irrespective of the nature of the partner with whom the relation is had. Sexual relations are had with women when they are available, or with other males when outdoor routines bring men together into exclusively male groups. Such a pattern is not at all uncommon among pre-adolescent and early adolescent males in such rural areas, and it continues in a number of histories into the adult years and through marriage.

Such a group of hard-riding, hard-hitting, assertive males would not tolerate the affectations of some city groups that are involved in the homosexual; but this, as far as they can see, has little to do with the question of having sexual relations with other men. This type of rural homosexuality contradicts the theory that homosexuality in itself is an urban product.