Cohort Increases in Sex with Same-Sex Partners: Do Trends Vary by Gender, Race, and Class?

Emma Mishel, Paula England, Jessie Ford, Mónica L. Caudillo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We examine change across U.S. cohorts born between 1920 and 2000 in their probability of having had sex with same-sex partners in the last year and since age 18. Using data from the 1988–2018 General Social Surveys, we explore how trends differ by gender, race, and class background. We find steep increases across birth cohorts in the proportion of women who have had sex with both men and women since age 18, whereas increases for men are less steep. We suggest that the trends reflect an increasingly accepting social climate, and that women’s steeper trend is rooted in a long-term asymmetry in gender change, in which nonconformity to gender norms is more acceptable for women than men. We also find evidence that, among men, the increase in having had sex with both men and women was steeper for black than for white men, and for men of lower socioeconomic status; we speculate that the rise of mass incarceration among less privileged men may have influenced this trend.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)178-209
Number of pages32
JournalGender and Society
Volume34
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020

Keywords

  • and sexual minorities
  • bisexuality
  • cohort trends
  • lesbian
  • sexualities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science

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