Using the national census, Gallup polls, Facebook, dating sites and porno searches, a study from The New York Times estimates that at least 5% of American men are gay, while many are in the closet or quietly suffering in heterosexual marriages — particularly in traditionally conservative states.
Times opinion contributor and economics smarty-pants Seth Stephens-Davidowitz set out to figure out how many men in this great, gay land of ours practice the love that dares not speak its name. Stephens-Davidowitz found that Rhode Island was the most tolerant state — despite being relatively late to the marriage equality party — and (surprise, surprise) Mississippi is the least tolerant. Here are some key findings from his research:
* At least 5 percent of American men are “predominantly attracted” to men.
* Millions of gay men are still in the closet to some degree; one-tenth of gay men say they haven’t come out to most of the important people in their lives.
* Gay men are half as likely as straight men to be open about their sexuality on social networks.
* More than one quarter of gay men hide their sexuality from anonymous surveys; about 3.6 percent of American men tell anonymous surveys they are attracted to men.
* While some gays move out of less tolerant states, it’s not as many as you’d think. The openly gay population of those states would only be about 0.1 percent higher if they stayed.
* In all states, about 5 percent of porn searches are for gay porn, suggesting that there are just as many gays in less tolerant states as anywhere else.
* For every 20 percentage points of support for marriage equality, about one-and-a-half times as many men from that state will identify openly as gay on Facebook.
* A “large number” of gay men are married to women. Google searches suggest wives suspect their husbands of being gay. Like, a lot. Especially in the super Bible states:
In the United States, of all Google searches that begin “Is my husband…,” the most common word to follow is “gay.” “Gay” is 10 percent more common in such searches than the second-place word, “cheating.” It is 8 times more common than “an alcoholic” and 10 times more common than “depressed.” The states with the highest percentage of women asking this question are South Carolina and Louisiana. In fact, in 21 of the 25 states where this question is most frequently asked, support for gay marriage is lower than the national average.
* Among the states with the highest percentages of Craigslist ads for males looking for “casual encounters” are Kentucky, Louisiana and Alabama.
Read up more on Stephens-Davidowitz’s research over at the Times.