New report on homosexuality
NEW YORK - A major new study on homosexuality concludes that many homosexual men and women lead stable
lives without frenetic sexual activity and that some
are considerably happier and better adjusted than
heterosexuals as a whole.
According to one of its authors, Dr. Alan Bell of
the Institute for Sex Research at Indiana University,
the study's findings contradict stereotypes about
homosexuals. He said the study shows that "homosexuality Is not ipso facto pathological and that all
homosexuals cannot be lumped together."
Rather, Bell and his coauthor, Dr. Martin Weisberg^
found that there were at least five types of homosexuals, each with a different set of behavioral patterns. While some resemble the popular stereotype of
unhappy, unstable and highly promiscuous people, the
authors said, others are more like ordinary married
The new study represents the most comprehensive look
at the social and psychological adjustment of homosexuals . It is the first time. Bell said in an interview, that a truly diverse sample of homosexuals
has been studied, that homosexuals have been compared
with one another and that typeSof homosexuals have
been compared with heterosexuals. Most previous studies focused on special groups of homosexuals, such as
those undergoing psychotherapy, men in prisons and
members of homophile organizations.
The findings are to be published on Aug. 28 by Simon
and Schuster in a book called "Homosexualities,"
which is the product of a study begun in 1968 with a
$278,000 grant from the National Institute of Mental
The new study focuses not on the incidence of homosexual behavior — a subject on which Dr. Alfred Kinsey, who founded the Institute for Sex Research, reported 30 years ago — but rather on the relationship of sexual activity to a wide variety of social
and psychological characteristics.
To examine these relationships, 979 homosexual men
and women living in the San Francisco Bay area were
interviewed. The subjects were culled from among
5,000 people who indicated a willingness to participate in the study. Those interviewed included people
recruited in homosexual bars and steam baths, at
public and private places where homosexual "pickups" were often made and through homosexual organizations, personal contacts, mailing lists and public advertising.
"WE did not just draw subjects from the 'lavender
ghetto,' where everyone is free and open about his
homosexuality. Many of our respondents are highly
covert, and it took a long time to convince some of
them to participate in the study," Bell said. He
added that the sample of homosexuals interviewed
could not be said to represent homosexuals generally, but that the study included substantial
numbers of all types of homosexuals.
The homosexuals were interviewed in person in 1970.
In addition, 477 heterosexuals drawn from a random
sample of the San Francisco Bay area residents weie
From the data, the authors categorized homosexuals
into the following types:
— Closed couples, those living in quasi-marriages
characterized by self-acceptance, contentment and a
high degree of sexual fidelity. Those relationships
tended to be long-standing and to reflect a strong
emotional commitment and a stable sharing of
household responsibilities. As a group, the closed
couples scored higher on happiness measures than
the heterosexuals, the researchers said.
— Open couples, those living as partners but with a
fair amount of outside sexual activity. These couples
tended to be less emotionally* attached and dependent
oi one another, according to the study.
— Functionals, those who were sexually highly active
and free-wheeling, comparable in behavior to "swinging singles" among heterosexuals. They were more
likely to report feelings of exuberance than the
heterosexuals interviewed, the researchers said.
— Dysfunctionals, those who were also highly active
sexually but who reported regrets about being homosexual and said that they had sexual problems.
— Asexuals, those who were more secretive and have
more regrets about their homosexuality, were less
sexually active and less exclusively homosexual. Together with the dysfunctional group, the researchers
said, asexuals reported less self-acceptance and more
loneliness than other homosexuals and than heterosexuals.
In general, homosexual men resembled heterosexual men
in their reports of good physical health and feelings
of happiness at the time of the questioning. However,
in response to psychological questions, the homosexual men indicated that they felt "less self-accepting
and more lonely, depressed and tense than did the
heterosexual men," the authors reported. The homosexual men were also more likely to have considered
or attempted suicide and to have sought help for an
The homosexual women, on the other hand, differed
little from heterosexual women in many aspects of
'heir psychological adjustment. But as a group they
irijn'ted less current happiness, less self-esteem
and Tore suicidal thoughts that the heterosexual
The -jutlr rs concluded that "homosexual adults who
have come to terms with their homosexuality, who do
not regret their sexual orientation, and who can
function effectively sexually and socially, are no
more distressed psychologically than are heterosexual men and women." They said that it was primarily the dysfunctionals and asexuals who were less
w(- 1 off psychologically than heterosexuals, "but
here are certainly equivalent groups among heterosexuals. "
Nonetheless, the researchers did report characteristics of some homosexuals that are likely to become
subjects of controversy. For example, the authors
'ported, nearly half of white homosexual males and
ine-third of the black homosexual males interviewed
said that they had had at least 500 different sexual
partners. More than half had had more than 20 sexual
f^tners in the year before the interview. About
two-thirds of the men had contracted a venereal disease at least once.
Among the homosexual women, most had had fewer than
10 female sexual partners, and more than thr<e-
fourths were involved in a relatively stable relationship with another woman at the rime of the interview.
However, the majority of homosexual men said that
they had never.had sex with minors or with prostitutes. The authors contend that heterosexuals are
far more likely than homosexuals to seduce minors or
to make objectionable sexual advances.
— New York Times News Service