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Exposing the Myths

By Editorial Staff
Published February 1, 1992

By Brendan Murray

Myth #1 – 10% of the Population is Gay

Recently, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (Glad) purchased air time on the most listened to radio show in the country. Their advertisement stated that ten percent of the population of the United States was homosexual, a statistic contradicting everyday experience.

There is but a single major source for this little tidbit of misinformation, Alfred C. Kinsey’s 1948 study entitled Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, and affectionately known as the Kinsey Report. What the report specifically claimed is that 10% of white males in the United States are “more or less exclusively homosexual” for at least three years between the ages of 16 and 55. Kinsey and his cohorts determined this primarily through interviews with 5300 white males. (For undisclosed reasons, 1000 black males were dropped from the evaluation process.)

Perhaps the strangest thing about the 10% theory is that it is widely accepted today not because of the accuracy of its findings, but simply because it is cited so much. The thing that most strikingly saps credibility from Kinsey’s findings is the wealth of problems with the sample used.

Approximately 25% of the 5300 individuals Kinsey used were prison inmates, who by the nature of their confinement, couldn’t have heterosexual intercourse. This is never admitted directly, of course, but it is known that 37% of the sample were non-college educated, and that 75% of this group were prisoners. This translates into 1471 inmates out of a total group of 5300, a sample which is supposed to be representative of the American population. Further skewing the results is the fact that 44% of these inmates many of whom were jailed for sex offenses, had “homosexual experiences” while in prison.

In case you were thinking that this is about as bizarre a representative sample as one could conceivably imagine, it gets worse. Kinsey also admitted using “several hundred male prostitutes” in his sample. If all were included, this alone could throw off his ten percent figure by half, or more.

Psychologist Abraham Maslow showed that because of the intimate nature of sexuality studies, if one relies primarily on volunteers, as Kinsey did, one obtains an overselection of individuals who tend to exhibit unconventional or disapproved behavior. Maslow himself showed Kinsey before the publication of the report how Kinsey’s particular sample would be affected. Kinsey ignored this, and in fact went on to write deceitfully on page 103 of the Male Report that how volunteering “affects a sexual history is not yet clear.”

A close look at Kinsey’s sample reveals flagrant disproportions between his interviewees and the population of the U.S. as a whole. For example, 78% of the sample 20 years old or older were single, as opposed to 30% of the U.S. population at large; 645 of the sample were college educated, versus 12% of the U.S. population; fully 80% of the sample were “inactive” Protestants, Catholics, and Jews who neither attended church nor participated in religious activities; and, 20% of Kinsey’s married sample between the ages of 20 and 50 were “widowed or divorced,” as opposed to just 3% of the U.S. at large. The list goes on, with the statistics from Kinsey’s sample seeming even more absurd when we consider that we’re talking about 1940s America.

So if these incongruities discredit Kinsey’s 10% figure, what’s the real truth? It would appear that one to two percent is the actual proportion of homosexual men in a given population, as demonstrated by two recent studies. First, David Forman, senior staff member at the Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford, authored a study in England and Wales between 1984 and 1987 which determined that only 1.7% of his sample had engaged in homosexual intercourse (British Medical Journal 298: 1137-1142, 1989). Second, sexual behavior researcher, Tom Smith of the University of Chicago authored a study two years ago entitled “Adult Sexual Behavior in 1989: Number of Partners Frequency and Risk.” His study resulted in a figure of “less than 1% exclusively homosexual.”

So it would appear that every publication or group that preaches the 10% theory are all grossly mistaken.

Myth #2 – The Government Isn’t Doing Enough To Combat AIDS

According to the New York Times, the government of the United States spent some $1.6 billion in the battle against AIDS during the fiscal year 1989. This enormous sum is more than the amount of money our government spends fighting all forms of cancer combined. (In addition, the Ryan White Act of 1990 authorized $4.5 billion in emergency funding for cities hardest hit by AIDS.)

Look at it this way. Every year over 500,000 Americans die from cancer; in the ten years from 1981 to the present some 116,000 Americans have died from AIDS. Yet our government continues to spend less on cancer, which kills five times as many Americans every single year as AIDS has ever killed. Put another way, over fifty times as many Americans have died from cancer over the course of the last decade as have died from AIDS, yet the fight against cancer receives less federal money than the battle against AIDS.

Thus it is even more difficult to justify in light of the fact that whereas one can usually do nothing to eliminate the risk of cancer, barring any unforeseen tragedies (such as a contaminated blood transfusion), mere behavior modification will almost guarantee that one does not contract AIDS.

We currently do virtually nothing, however, to promote such behavior modification. Consider that while the total number of deaths from AIDS in the U.S. stands, as stated above, at around 116,000, the Centers for Disease Control reported recently that in 1988 alone 434,000 Americans died from smoking, sometimes even making this dangerous behavior illegal in public places.Yet we seem unable or unwilling to discourage similarly the behavior that leads to AIDS.

Myth #3 – AIDS Is Not Just a Gay Disease

The Centers for Disease Control last year reported that over 90% of all AIDS sufferers are homosexuals, bisexuals, or intravenous drug users. Heterosexuals make up barely 5% of reported cases, but a large portion of this group probably contracted the disease through promiscuous contact with members of the first group. The remaining cases are the result of secondary infections, via the aforementioned contaminated blood transfusions, for instance. In April the New York Times reported that well over 90% of all AIDS cases are male, and they’re not getting it from heterosexual contact.

A second oft heard maxim: “Anyone can get AIDS” is quite true. However, anyone can also get struck and killed by a passing horse at the Kentucky Derby. The point is that you won’t contract AIDS if you don’t do certain things. Ultimately it is impossible to separate the genesis of AIDS (originally called GRIDS, or Gay Related Immune Deficiency Syndrome) from its origin and spread within the practices of a significant segment of the homosexual community.

Dr. William Foege, then director of the Centers for Disease Control, stated in the July 4, 1983 issue of Time, for example, that “The average AIDS victim has had 60 different partners in the past 12 months.” It is furthermore disingenuous to claim that moral equivalency exists between those who contracted AIDS via a conscious decision to engage in high risk behavior and those who contracted it in some tragic accident.

Myth #4 – Condom Distribution Is Crucial For Solving The AIDS Crisis

Condoms have been shown to have a 10 to 18% failure rate for preventing possible pregnancy. This is hardly acceptable as a measure designed to protect someone from AIDS, which is presently always fatal. In addition, the rate of failure with homosexual contact sends the failure rate skyrocketing.

Rather than groping at such pseudo-solutions we must address the unwillingness to state that only abstinence or a monogamous marriage relationship with a partner known not to have the disease will eliminate completely the risk of AIDS. This is hardly the imposition of a particular form of morality, it is common sense, and it is nothing less than a matter of life and death.

Myth #5 – Someone You Care About is Gay

If you frequent the university campus, you have probably already seen the posters with this slogan: “Someone You Care About is Gay.” But it’s probably not true. Contrary to the implication of the message above, it is possible to live for years on a university campus without ever coming closer to a homosexual than passing distance.


All of these myths have at least one thing in common – the evasion of responsibility. Instead of accepting responsibility for their actions, the ‘AIDS community’ and many radical homosexuals are desperate to blame anyone or anything they can, be it the federal government, fate, the Church, or anyone who espouses moral values and common sense.

People resent this, and the net result is a society composed of disillusioned and confused individuals. Because they feel they are being deceived the general public becomes alienated, insulted, and even angry whereas their natural disposition would be one of caring and compassion. This is understandable, for the vast majority of Americans find homosexuality to be inimical to their values and beliefs, but are made to feel guilty or even somehow responsible for a horrible disease that is largely the result of behavior that they simply do not accept.

In the end, we are fortunate that in times of crisis such as these, Americans have historically joined together most strongly on consciousness of others’ distress. Before completely losing this capacity, however, we must learn to effectively deal with the facts of AIDS, not the myths which a few radicals would have us believe. And we must do so quickly, for AIDS exacts a horrible, fatal price from its victims, and we may soon be too late.

Brendan Murray is a Peninsula staff writer.


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