Only half a century ago, homosexuality was society's worst-kept secret -- everyone knew it existed, but you didn't see gay people on TV or movies, and you didn't talk about them at Thanksgiving dinner. Understandably, there were a lot of ridiculous misconceptions about the homosexual community back then, but today there shouldn't be any excuse -- we have openly gay celebrities, politicians, and plenty of well-written fictional examples in pop culture to pick from.
Yet, the misconceptions persist. For example ...
Myth: We Know How Many Gay People There Are
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We live in a world that runs on detailed demographic breakdowns -- we know roughly how many people have a fear of heights, or how many "people" like thin crust pizza -- surely we couldn't be in the dark about something as simple as how many of us are gay, right? The most common figure you hear is that it's one in 10 for dudes and about 6 percent for women. Those numbers date all the way back to legendary studier of boning Alfred Kinsey, and they've stuck around ever since.
This is approximately the percentage of the world population he had sex with, too.
But Actually ...
Nobody has any clue. That 10 percent figure might actually be as low as 2 percent, or as high as 20 percent. Polls keep being conducted, and the only thing they've determined so far is we have no fucking idea.
The problem is obvious -- we're relying on surveys in an era when it's still not OK to be gay in huge swaths of America, let alone the rest of the world (for example, if we went purely by self-reporting, there has been only one gay player in the 94 years the NFL has existed). So in those surveys, gays could hide their sexual orientation, refuse to answer the question, or simply not know the answer themselves yet -- it's not like it's a binary question (as Kinsey himself could have told you).
In his own unique way.
Being homosexual isn't like being Asian, or tall, or having brown hair -- hiding it is as easy as not saying anything. Try as he might, even Daniel Day-Lewis can't convince a census taker he's, say, a pretty Japanese schoolgirl. But he could convince them he's a homosexual -- even a happily married man could turn out to just be in the closet. So even if the pollsters and scientists spent the next year lurking in the shadows and closely observing every human's dating and sex habits, they still wouldn't get their answer.