A new study showed that Americans have changed their cultural conception concerned with same-sex relationships since the 70s. The survey registered a ‘cultural shift’ regarding same-sex sexual acceptance and experiences.

Researchers from San Diego State University, Florida Atlantic University, and Widener University have evaluated 30,000-adults data from the General Social Survey to analyze their attitudes towards same-sex behaviors. The survey was published on June 1, in Archives of Sexual Behavior.

The General Social Survey (GSS) is a sociological study used as a tool for evaluating American thoughts and feelings related to diverse issues.

The survey focused on two main issues: same-sex sexual acceptance, on one hand, and homosexual sexual experience on the contrary.
The survey focused on two main issues: same-sex sexual acceptance, on one hand, and homosexual sexual experience on the contrary. Image Credit: Wikipedia

This time, Jean Twenge alongside Ryne Sherman have inspected samples from the GSS composed by 33,728 participants. Twenge is a psychology professor at San Diego State University, while Sherman comes from the Florida Atlantic University and Brooke Wells. The data was compiled from volunteers at Widener University to evaluate same-sex experiences and acceptance since 1973 up to 2014. The study involved men and women, aged between 18 to 96 years old.

Acceptance of same-sex sexual behavior has been tested since 1973 to 2014 and same-sex sexual experience have been measured since 1990 and 2014.

What could past surveys foretold for years to come regarding homosexual acceptance?

The findings revealed that homosexual acceptance had a little increase since 1973 to 1990, with a rising from 11 to 13 percent, respectively. It was among young populations (aged 18 to 29) where the standard answer was “ok”, regarding same-sex sexual relations.

However, the biggest increase linked to same-sex sexual acceptance was registered from 1990 to 2014 with a 49 percent among all adults questioned and a 63 percent of Millennial generation in 2014. Hence, the amount of American citizens who have said they have no problem regarding homosexual relations has quadrupled.

Supporters for Gay Marriage Rights in Florida smile for the camera at a Gay Pride parade earlier this year.
Supporters for Gay Marriage Rights in Florida smile for the camera at a Gay Pride parade earlier this year. Image Credit: Tampa Bay

On the other hand, same-sex sexual experiences have doubled since 19990. Between the period of 1990 and 2014, the amount of men stating have had sex with another man increased from 4.5 percent to 8.2 percent, and the rate of women who have reported having had sexual encounters with at least another woman rose from 3.6 % to 8.7 %.

Some adults who have had bisexual intercourses, male and female partners, increased from 3.1 percent to 7.7 percent. Among Millennials, there was a 7.5 percent of men reporting same-sex sexual experiences, and a 12.2 percent of women have had lesbian sexual experiences.

So, considering these findings, Twenge has said that there is an increase in same-sex sexual activities that differs from previous decades.

A significant leap towards cultural acceptance for homosexual relationships 

As per researchers, all participants were asked about their attitudes towards same-sex sexual encounters, and 28,000 among them, gave details about their sexual experiences. Thus, it was also found that same-sex sexual experiences in women were more likely to occur during women’s youth, males, on the contrary, do not fit in this pattern.

Based on the survey’s results, researchers have linked the increase in both same-sex sexual issues to a “quick cultural shift” that has been taking place since last 40 years: “This data showed strikingly how quickly opinions on same-sex sexuality changed,” affirmed Jean Twenge.

The bearable attitude registered on same-sex relations responds to higher levels of freedom than those former times where social rules were extremely inflexible about this topic.

The increase on same-sex sexual intercourses might react to a willing attitude of society to accept such sexual activities, what reasserts survey’s conclusion about the cultural change that has lately taken place in U.S. citizens.

Furthermore, this cultural shift towards same-sex sexual behavior might have been fostered by social and media factors. But there is also an individualistic reinforcement that has appeared in youngest generations, which makes American focus more on their needs rather than social standards.

 “These trends are another piece of evidence that American culture has become more individualistic and more focused on the self and equality,” she said. “Without the strict social rules common in the past, Americans now feel more free to have sexual experiences they desire,” said Twenge.

Homosexuality is still stigmatized in the U.S.

Despite the results provided by the survey, homosexuality is still stigmatized in the U.S, by a large proportion of its citizens. Over half of Americans has said they do not “accept” same-sex relations, according to Ilan Meyer, senior scholar at the Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at the UCLA School of Law in Los Angeles.

Furthermore, Meyer stated that the tendency proved is not necessarily linked to gay or lesbian preferences. Most of the high rates involving same-sex encounters occurred during participant’s youth, and they could be rather associated with an “experimental phase” than to a trend about same-sex relations.

Source: EurekAlert!