Metro Weekly

Study: Large number of straight people have had same-sex experiences

The study found almost one in eight men and a quarter of women have had same-sex sexual encounters, but identify as straight

Photo: See-ming Lee / Flickr

Research has found that a large number of people have had same-sex experiences, but still identify as heterosexual.

The Archives of Sexual Behavior found that almost one in eight men and one in four women have had sexual encounters with partners of their own gender, but do not identify as gay or bisexual.

The results come after research was conducted on over 24,000 undergraduate students. The co-author of the study, Arielle Kuperberg, Ph.D., director of Undergraduate Studies in Sociology at The University of North Carolina, made it clear to Metro UK that having sexual experiences does not alter your sexuality.

“Not everybody who has same-sex relationships is secretly gay,” she said, adding, “There was a big disconnect between what people said their sexual orientation was and what their actions were.”

The study found that there are two central reasons for a straight-identifying person taking a same-sex partner to bed: experimentation and performance.

Experimentation is when a person wants to try out the experience, despite it not aligning with their sexual identity. They do not believe it changes their orientation regardless of whether they enjoyed the escapade.

Another factor is performative bisexuality, where someone engages in sexual contact with the same-sex because it elicits arousal in other people. More often found in women, this behavior is less about the act and more about the attention it can summon, which makes people less inclined to believe they are LGBTQ.

This is one of many studies that have shown that sexuality is more fluid than just identifying as straight and gay.

A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2016 found that straight women were “sexually aroused to both male and female stimuli.”

Another study conducted by YouGov found that less than half of 18 to 24 year olds identified themselves as something other than exclusively heterosexual when asked to place themselves on the Kinsey Scale.

Support Metro Weekly’s Journalism

These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!