The “Everyone is Gay or Straight” Study

So the latest study to make the rounds is Norris, Marcus, and Green “Homosexuality as a Discrete Class” which most people can’t read without $35, so I’ll go off the press release instead. The press release is quite careful to use “non-heterosexuals” as the term of choice, and “non-heterosexuals” are described as diverse:

Rather, the taxometric results establish a group of people that are, in effect, bona fide heterosexuals. Then there’s another group that is not a continuum but an assemblage, a variety of people united in their same-sex sexual orientation but who may reflect diverse sexual identities.

This hasn’t stopped a fair amount of the mass media to run clickbait on “Kinsey was Wrong” or “You’re Gay or Straight.” The former seems to be explicitly stated by Marcus, the later Marcus seems to be quick to avoid. Marcus says:

“People at some point are crossing a threshold between one group and another group,” said Marcus. “Why they do it, we can’t answer in this study. But that they do it tells researchers they should be looking at that question, not as much at the continuum question.”

And I don’t know. That discrimination and prejudice constructs categories of difference should be obvious. You don’t say that we’re criminal, mentally ill, our relationships inferior, bad role models, and spiritually unclean for the better part of a century without creating difference. We know this about a large number of culturally segregated communities.

It’s not as bad as blood-pressure studies, but I’m skeptical that a methodology used for analyzing taxonomic categories vs. continuum really means that much. This methodology has set off a big debate in talking about depression for example, and it’s not clear how these different lenses apply (or should apply) to discussing the sexualities of individuals.

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