The Australian Survey on Sexual Health and Relationships 3: Sexual identity

“Sexual identity” is how people think of themselves: heterosexual, bisexual, gay or lesbian, or “other”. Identity means how people think of themselves, what they identify themselves as. 

Identity is something fundamental, but it’s different from “sexual experience”, because people can have a sexual encounter with someone who isn’t the sex they usually fuck, without changing the way they “basically” think of themselves. And it’s different from attraction: people can decide that they fancy someone who isn’t the sex they usually lust after, without changing their sexual identity. We’ll be looking at the results for “experience” and “attraction”, too.

Ranting roaring Brian Blessed, for example, identifies as heterosexual. So does, oh, Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor and (puzzlingly) anti-gay bigot. Ellen Degeneres identifies as lesbian and Allen Ginsberg identified as gay. Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong and that Drew Barriemore identify as bi. 

The “other” category includes asexual people, people who are attracted by non-living things like machines, and so on. 

 So, this is what men answered. 

MEN: Sexual identity

Heterosexual   96.7%

Gay                  1.9%

Bisexual            1.3%

Other                0.3%


The results for women are quite different.

Women: Sexual identity

Heterosexual   96.3%

Bisexual            2.2%

Lesbian          1.2%

Other              0.2%

So the great majority of both men and women identify themselves as heterosexual. But the men who think of themselves as something other than heterosexual are more likely to think of themselves as gay rather than bisexual.

With women, it’s the other way round. Women who don’t identify as heterosexual are more likely to identify as bisexual rather than as lesbians.

But here’s an interesting thing, when we consider bisexual invisibility. When you combine the men’s and women’s results, you find that 1.7% of the total population identifies as bisexual, while 1.55% identify themselves as gay or lesbian.

This is consistent with the results of the previous survey. More people consider themselves to be bisexual than consider themselves to be gay or lesbian. So bisexuals are invisible because …?

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