On counting and reporting sexuality in regards to desire, experience, and identity.
Cross-posted at Social (In)Queery
When nationally representative surveys first started appearing that addressed issues of gender and sexual identities and practices, most people had the same question. It was some derivation of, “How many gay/lesbian/bisexual/trans*/etc. people are there?” And, from a sociological perspective, it’s a question often associated with a fundamental misunderstanding of how complicated a question like that actually is.
In 1994, Edward Laumann, John Gagnon, Robert Michael and Stuart Michaels published an incredible book on one of the first nationally representative surveys of the American population concerning issues of sexuality, sexual behavior, and sexual orientation–The Social Organization of Sexuality. In their chapter, “Homosexuality,” they begin a brief section of the book on the “dimensions of sexuality” that encompasses some of my favorite findings out of the study. In it, they write,
To quantify or count something requires unambiguous definition of the phenomenon in question. And we…
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