Gay Republicans and the Closet of Conservatism

GSS: 1990-2014 for behavior, 2008-2014 for identity

GSS: 1990-2014 for behavior, 2008-2014 for identity

Who are the homocons, and how many are there? I’ve been dealing with an R and R that raises some questions about the political diversity of GLB populations and so I was investigating this “diversity.” What is interesting is that the GSS measures for sexuality are twofold: one is behavioral—who did you have sex with in the last five years? The other is identity—do you consider yourself heterosexual or straight, or bisexual or gay or lesbian? The numbers aren’t there for the identity measure for separating gender and sexuality, but even without that, there are some interesting associations.

While about 23% of GSS respondents claim Republican Party identifications the percentage is about 11% for behavioral GLB people (people who report having sex with someone of the same sex). That proportion may have declined in the last few years, with the continuation of vehement homophobia in the Republican Party–but only down to 9.6%. So, nearly 1 in 10 are Republicans…..if we only look at behavior. When we examine identification as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, the proportion of Republicans declines to 6.2%.

Obviously, many more closeted people are Republicans than are self identified GLB people. And, the closeted make up a much higher proportion of Republicans:

Percentage of Republicans who are GLB: GSS

Percentage of Republicans who are GLB: GSS

Since 1990, about 2% of self-identified Republicans are GLB based on behavioral measures, and that doesn’t decline much from 2008-2014 where 1.9% of Republicans are GLB on behavior. But, identification matters, and the GSS shows that only 1.1% of Republicans are self-identified GLB people. It appears than nearly half of the remaining “gay base” of Republicans are closeted.


2 Responses to “Gay Republicans and the Closet of Conservatism”

  1. Daniel Says:

    Interesting post. I love the GSS and could spend hours getting lost in the data. Two observations:

    1. I am not sure that it is accurate to refer to the .8% of Republicans who do not identify as LGBs, but who report same-sex behavior, as closeted. After all, these people disclosed their same-sex activity to the GSS; they don’t seem to be hiding. Isn’t it more likely that these people are: 1) “mostly straights” i.e., Kinsey 1 and 2s, such that their weak same-sex attraction impacts behavior, but is insufficiently strong to influence self-identification, or 2) religious conservatives who are conflicted over their sexual orientation and can’t accept the label even if they engage in the associated behavior?

    2. While only 6.2% of self-identified LGBs also identify as Republican, exit polling from 2012 showed self-identified LGBs voting 24% for Romney. GW Bush’s and John McCain’s LGB vote in 2004 and 2008 were about the same. So it seems likely that a lot of LGBs who are conservative and are de facto Republicans do not want to be associated with the GOP brand and instead call themselves independent.

    • sherkat Says:

      Yeah, you are certainly right. I don’t know who those people are comparing behavioral to identity measures. We can kind of speculate, but anyone deep into the closet would also surely lie about their sexual behavior even though the GSS ensures their anonymity.

      I am not sure about the exit polling. I have not investigated serious studies of that. I expect that the old line conservative gays are quite active and vote and would have turned out for Romney to protect their trust funds. But 24% sounds very high…..GSS isn’t showing anything near that…..I think the quality of the exit polls has likely also declined, and so most of the GLB people we are seeing are in places like NYC and San Fran and Miami where they are also very likely to be worthless rich trust funders who don’t give a fuck about anything except for how much their monthly stipend will be…..

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