Gender Differences in Same-Sex Partnering Trends, 1988-2002

Amy C. Butler, University of Iowa

Prior research indicates that sexual orientation is, in part, socially constructed. It follows, therefore, that recent changes in the American social, economic, and legal environment may have been sufficiently great to have led to an increase in the prevalence of same-sex sexual partnering in the U.S., especially among women. Data from the GSS and NHSLS (N = 18,170) were used to examine gender differences in trends in same-sex sexual partnering between 1988 and 2002. There was a greater increase in the proportion of women compared to men who reported having a same-sex sexual partner in the previous year. The increase for women was present among both white and black women and was not limited to young adults. Changes in normative climate accounted for the increase in same-sex sexual partnering among men and for a portion of the increase among women.

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Presented in Session 138: The Attractiveness of Marriage among Straight and Gay Couples in Europe and the U.S.