Thursday, 23 September 2010

How Many Gay Men Are There? Not That Many

Today the Office of National Statistics publishes Measuring Sexual Identity: An Evaluation Report.
You can read it as a pdf here.
It's their first attempt to try and answer the eternal question; what percentage of the population are lesbian or gay?
There is - but of course - much in the report on how aware they are that its findings may be flawed, how they conducted the interviews, yada yada yada...
Anyway, you want to know the figures, don't you?
Here they are...

Heterosexual/Straight 46,922 - 94.8%
Gay/Lesbian 481 - 1.0%
Bisexual 245 - 0.5%
Other 242 - 0.5%
Don't Know/Refusal 1,393 - 2.8%
No Response 233 - 0.5%

The figure the ONS are now touting as an "Estimate of the population who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual" is 1.5%.
This is much lower than the popular guesstimate - which usually puts the figure at between 5 and 10%.
Sadly this just seems like wishful thinking with little bearing on the facts.
The ONS survey may be closer to the truth - but its low figure will cause much wailing and gnashing of teeth from those who prefer living in a land of make-believe.
Most reliable surveys however have put the figure at between 1% and under 5% (For examples see Tables 6 and 7 on the report).
Interestingly twice as many men identified as gay as women identified as lesbian.
And twice as many women identified as bisexual as men did.
There are also breakdowns of the figures by age, socio-economic classification, religious/non-religious, employed/unemployed and educational qualifications.
It's fascinating stuff but - of course - flawed.
Fagburn has worked out a simple but reliable mathematical formula to work out the gay male population.
This puts the percentage at between 2 and 4%.
Ask me how!


  1. How?
    Does it include the prison population (who are all at it)?

  2. But isn't there a difference between men who identify as gay, or even bisexual, and men who have sex with men?

    I can perhaps buy that only 2% of us are gay and out to ourselves, but speaking as someone who gives erotic massage to an unending queue of married men, I don't buy for five minutes that only 0.5% of us are bisexual.

  3. The survey was on how people self-identified - they were read the options and asked to choose one.
    I think you're right - lots more men have or would have sex with men than would consider themselves bisexual.
    Though I think gay men tend to exagerate the number of men who would...

  4. How do you work it out, then?

    I take the yearly Big Brother intake to be a reliable barometer of society's sexual mores.
    So that's anywhere between 60-80% what are gay.

    Either that or what I call the Jason Orange/Mark Feehily Ratio: 1 in 5.

    Fagburn's method can't be more scientifically accurate than that, surely???

  5. Tell us oh great one.