Thursday, October 18, 2012

False Impressions....

In a catechism class I asked what percentage of people identify as homosexual (GLBT total) and was surprised to hear from the students that they thought between one third to one half the population was gay.  When I asked if there were more Roman Catholics or gays, they all said more gays.  When I asked if there were more Lutherans or gays in the US, both youth and adults thought that were easily more gays than self-identified Lutherans.  Gallop suggests that about 15 million Americans self-identify as Lutheran (note I did not say they attend church) and this figures to be about 5% of the total or nearly 5 times the number one study found self-identify as gay.  When I asked adults, I found more reasoned responses but still rather surprising.  Many assumed between 15-20% of the general population self-identified as gay.  Even those on the conservative side were willing to grant 10-15%.

Perhaps if you let the media guide you, you would presume such high numbers.  In reality the percentage of the population identified as homosexual has never ever approached 10%, is generally thought to be less than 7%, and, some suggest, far less -- more like 2-3%.  Now, mind you, we are not talking the percentage who have had a same sex attraction or experience but who do not believe they are gay.  Even then, the numbers are not nearly as dramatic as you might think.

Now comes an Australian study that suggests even these numbers may be on the high side.  LaTrobe University did the study and the results are available here in summary or in fuller version in PDF format.  In its 2005 study on human sexuality, the Australian Longitudinal Study of Health and Relationships reported that .66 per cent of women and 1.03 per cent of men self-identified as gay/lesbian. Yet if you go deeper into the Australian study and look at Table 3 you will see the question of sexual identity is rather more nuanced.

Table 3: Sexual Identity, Attraction and Experience of Respondents


Sexual identityHeterosexual98.0897.728,027





Sexual attractionOpposite sex90.695.887,642

Both sexes8.893.31501

Same sex0.220.6435

Neither sex0.290.1719


Sexual experienceOpposite sex89.9491.087,418

Both sexes7.216.06544

Same sex0.10.3719

Neither sex2.742.5215


While the rate of self-identification as gay/lesbian in the population hovers at around 1 per cent, the rates for sexual attraction to the same sex and sexual experience are much higher.

My point is that we have generally false impressions from what we see on TV, what we see in the movies, what we read in the news media, and from the way this subjected is approached.  Clearly, the whole issue of gay and lesbian marriage, gay and lesbian rights, and gay and lesbian political influence has been inflated by the presumption of big numbers.  In reality, the percentage of self-identified gay or lesbian individuals is much lower.  I would suggest that the false impression of the size of the gay and lesbian population and their access to media have combined to give permission to the kind of experimentation that has inflated the numbers of those who have a same sex attraction or who have had a same sex experience.  The most pervasive influence of the media and its greatest danger to us are not the direct attacks upon the faith but the false impressions about the nature of what people think, how they live, what they want, and what is normal.  These are powerful forces both upon our thoughts and values and upon our willingness to stand up for what we believe.  This is not simply true in the area of sexuality.  We need to diffuse the false information and correct the false impressions that have so much sway over us (both in and outside of the Church).


Anonymous said...

Okay, without looking it up, what percent of Americans self identify as Jewish? as Muslim?

Anonymous said...

The majority has been fooled into thinking that it is the minority. There is definitely an agenda in play.

It is sad that amidst so much human suffering caused by meaningless trillion dollar wars, unrestricted immigration, and the offshoring of jobs to 3rd world sweatshops, our politicians are more interested in debating red herring issues such as guns, gays, and God.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't going to write it, but...THIS is your post for St. Luke's Day? Really?!

Anonymous said...

Another massive study agrees with what Pastor Peter posted. Read it all at

or you can read it here

In any case the real question is how the media works to shape and change perceptions and therefore allow points of view to have greater impact upon the national conscience and outlook.

Not a bad thing to promote fact in the face of perception on Stn Luke day.

The issue is truth.