The myth of male homosexual monogamy

For most of history, sexual attraction was not the basis of marriage. Marriage and children were a duty and an expectation arising from religion and culture. People married someone of the opposite sex, and usually had children, regardless of their own sexual orientation. Patriarchal social norms were too strong to be flouted, and the taboos and sanctions against homosexual activity too severe and too strictly enforced. (Female homosexuality is virtually unknown to history.) Today, however, marriage is viewed not as a religious, cultural or social duty, but as an avenue of self-fulfillment and self-actualization. There is an expectation of finding someone with shared values, interests, and tastes, and to whom one is sexually attracted, and marrying that person. Sexual attraction--whether innate, acquired in childhood, or some combination--seems to be hard-wired and difficult if not impossible to change. It thus seems unfair to deny marriage—at least the newly romanticized conception of marriage, if not the historical reality—to same-sex couples, especially so when it appears they want the same loving, exclusive, monogamous relationship that heterosexuals may enjoy. The push to redefine marriage to include two persons of the same sex has relied heavily upon the perceived unfairness of denying the legal and social stability of marriage to committed, monogamous, same-sex couples.

For example, in their documentary, “Seventh-Gay Adventists,” filmmakers Daneen Akers and Stephen Ayer follow three gay couples, including two male couples, through their daily activities, implying that these couples are in monogamous relationships just like those of heterosexual couples. To give another example, President Obama, when he announced that he was in favor of same-sex marriage (after having been against it), stated, “when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed, monogamous same-sex relationships . . . I've just concluded that . . . it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that same-sex couples should be able to get married.” This argument has convinced many, especially women and young people, that marriage should be re-defined to include same-sex couples.

But this argument is based on a myth. Male homosexuals are very seldom monogamous; they overwhelmingly reject the type of relationship most heterosexuals think of when they think of marriage: a long-term relationship where sexual activity is strictly limited to one's marriage partner. One homosexual writer admits that “trying to locate monogamy among gay men is like trying to hunt for truffles.”

Male sexuality, whether oriented toward females or other males, craves variety. But whereas almost all heterosexual men, perhaps after “sowing wild oats,” settle down with one woman, homosexual men do not settle down. Ever. A classic, large-scale study by Bell and Weinberg conducted during the 1970s and published by the Kinsey Institute found that forty-three percent (43%) of white male homosexuals had had sex with 500 or more partners, and twenty-eight percent (28%) had had sex with 1,000 or more partners. Seventy-nine percent (79%) said that more than half of their sexual partners had been strangers.[i] In 1985, Pollack found that gay men averaged “several dozen partners a year” and “some hundreds in a lifetime” with “tremendous promiscuity.”[ii] In their 1997 study of the sexual profiles of 2,583 older homosexuals published in the Journal of Sex Research, Paul Van de Ven, et al., found that “the modal range for number of sexual partners was 101-500.” In addition, 10.2 percent to 15.7 percent had between 501 and 1,000 partners. A further 10.2 percent to 15.7 percent reported having had more than one thousand lifetime sexual partners.[iii]

These numbers are extraordinary, to put it mildly.[iv] Outside of a few privileged categories—such as rock stars, movie stars, elite professional athletes, and royalty—heterosexual men do not have sex with hundreds or thousands of women. Straight men may want to behave, and sometimes fantasize about behaving, in this way, but very few actually do. A 2011 survey conducted by Britain's National Health Service found that the average number of lifetime sex partners for heterosexual men was 9.3; only 25% of men had been with more than 10 women in their entire lives. A 2007 survey in the U.S. found that the median number of lifetime sexual partners for men was seven.

The reason heterosexual men do not have sex with hundreds of partners is that straight men have to seduce women, and the idea that there are hoards of promiscuous, easy women is itself an absurdly false myth. It is a myth retailed in novels, movies, and cable television shows, but it is a falsehood. The British NHS survey found that women averaged 4.7 lifetime sex partners, and 24% of women had been with only one man in their lives. The 2007 U.S. survey found that the median lifetime number of sexual partners for women was four (4); only 9% of women reported having had more than 15 sexual partners. While many men are happy to have casual sexual encounters, women are not. Women want sex with an emotional component, within a relationship. A woman's sexual horizon is long, beginning with a monthly cycle, and then a nine-month cycle, and then the years of raising children from babies to adulthood. One result of these sharp differences in how men and women approach sex is that straight men do not get to have casual sex with many partners, but gay men do.

Obviously, homosexual men could not have hundreds or thousands of sexual partners if they spent much time in monogamous, sexually exclusive relationships. And they don't. Even though many male homosexuals describe themselves as being in a committed relationship, male homosexual relationships tend not to last long. According to one study, in 71% of cases, the male homosexual “long term relationship” had lasted seven or fewer years. Only 29% of male homosexuals who described themselves as being in a long-term relationship had been in a relationship lasting more than seven years, and only 9% had been in a relationship lasting more than 15 years.[v] By contrast, about half of first (heterosexual) marriages last 20 years or longer.[vi]

But even within relationships, the terms “committed” and “monogamous” mean something very different from what they mean in heterosexual marriage. A Canadian study of homosexual men in “committed relationships” lasting longer than one year found that only 25 percent of those interviewed reported being monogamous.[vii] In The Male Couple, authors David P. McWhirter and Andrew M. Mattison (themselves a gay couple, one an M.D. psychiatrist, the other a Ph.D. psychologist) reported that, in a study of 156 males in homosexual relationships lasting from one to thirty-seven years, only seven couples had a totally exclusive sexual relationship, and these men had been together less than five years. Stated another way, only nine percent (9%) of the male couples were actually monogamous, but none of the couples with a relationship lasting more than five years were sexually exclusive.[viii] McWhirter and Mattison consider monogamy to be a homophobic stage that gay couples pass through and out of; in other words, McWhirter and Mattison consider promiscuity to be definitional to male homosexuality.

One study of faithfulness in marriage reported that 75% of men and 85% of women self-reported as being faithful to their spouse, but in a similar study of homosexual men, only 4.5% self-reported as being faithful to their partner.[ix] German sexologist Martin Dannecker, who is himself homosexual, says fidelity between homosexual men living in a “committed relationship” is a myth. Dannecker interviewed 900 male respondents living in a “steady” relationship in Bonn, Germany, and 83 percent of them (747 men) said that they had had frequent homosexual contacts outside their “steady” relationship within the past 12 months.

Study after study has found that even in so-called “committed relationships,” male homosexuals are not sexually exclusive. This comment was recently posted on a homosexual message board:

In my experience monogamy among males str8 or gay is a fable pushed by the church. The most successful gay couples I know--the ones who have been together for years--have some sort of open relationship. . . . If you are looking for that c**p that Hollywood pushes: meet the one true love and you'll both be faithful and love each other and be sexually monogamous the rest of your lives, you are in for a long life of disappointment.

Blake Spears and Lanz Lowen (both homosexuals and academic researchers) recently published a study entitled, “Beyond Monogamy: Lessons from Long-term Male Couples in Non-Monogamous Relationships.” Like every other researcher who has studied the phenomenon, they found plenty of non-monogamous gay male couples, but most did not want to be interviewed: “We found long-term non-monogamous couples rather easily, but very few were willing to participate.” One man who chose to participate in the study said, “Having an open relationship feels like a funny way of being in the closet again. Family and friends expect that we’re monogamous, and we don’t tell them we’re not. It’s like a secret….In our community and society, it feels like something huge isn’t being talked about or studied or understood.”

As we've just seen, however, it is being studied. But it is not being understood by the larger heterosexual society, which assumes that homosexual couples are just like heterosexual couples, except for the same-sex attraction. And it is not being acknowledged by the homosexual rights lobby, because it points out that behavior—in the case of male homosexuals, extreme promiscuity—not mere same-sex attraction, is what is most problematic about the “homosexual lifestyle.”

Being in a so-called “committed relationship” clearly does not reduce gay male promiscuity, and it is now becoming clear that it does not reduce the transmission of AIDS. A study of homosexual relationships in Amsterdam found that steady partners contribute more than casual partners to HIV infection, because gays tended to engage in risky behavior (unprotected anal intercourse) more often with steady partners than with casual partners.[x] These findings confirmed an earlier study that found that 67 percent of HIV-positive men aged 30 and younger had been infected by a steady partner.[xi]

Lesbians exhibit radically different behavior patterns than male homosexuals. Lesbians tend to have about the same number of sexual partners as heterosexual women, which is very few. Lesbians are like other women in craving the security of a relationship; in fact, they seem even more anxious to be in a relationship than straight women. There is a famous joke about how quick lesbians are to move in together:

Question:  What does a lesbian bring on a second date?

Answer:  A U-Haul.[xii]

Moreover, the relationship seems to be far more important than the sex. A famous study conducted in 1983 by Pepper Schwartz and Philip Blumstein of the University of Washington found that only a third of lesbians in relationships of 2 years or longer had sex once a week or more frequently. Almost half of these lesbian couples (47%) had sex once a month or less. Schwartz and Blumstein also reported that lesbian couples seemed more limited in their range of sexual techniques, and less sexual as couples and as individuals, than either heterosexual couples or homosexual males. These findings led Pepper Schwartz to coin the term “lesbian bed death.”[xiii]

What these findings indicate is that men and women need each other. Men without women have no moderating influence on their testosterone-driven libidos. Hence, homosexual male culture is characterized by frequent sexual activity, anonymous or casual sexual activity, and an astonishing number of different sexual partners. Men need women to help them curb this excessive and potentially destructive aspect of their sexual nature. By contrast, women without men lapse into relationship-seeking, and tend to forgo normal frequency of sexual activity, resulting finally in “bed death.” Women need men to initiate sex and bring variety into lovemaking. (Women with low sex drives are sometimes prescribed small doses of testosterone to boost their libidos.)

It may be unfair to ask people to change the orientation of their sexual attraction, but it is not unfair to ask people to control their behavior. Men who are sexually attracted to children are commanded not to act on that attraction, on pain of severe criminal penalties. When men marry, they do not lose their attraction to all beautiful women other than their wives, but they are commanded to be faithful and not let their eyes wander. (Mat. 5:27-28) When women marry, they are commanded to submit to their husband's reasonable sexual desires, even though, left to their own devices, they would not seek sexual activity as frequently or in as great a variety as their husbands do. (1 Cor. 7:2-5) In short, all people must at times deny, modify, or control their sexual natures for the benefit of their families and the larger society.

But male homosexual culture will not accept limits on testosterone-driven, casual sex, even within “committed relationships.” It is pointless to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples because male homosexuals, who comprise two-thirds of all homosexuals, have demonstrated that they will not accept monogamy or sexual exclusivity. Marriage will have to be redefined not only to include same-sex couples, but also to exclude the element of sexual fidelity. By now it should be clear that gay marriage is motivated more by the desire to destroy the concept of marriage than by “fairness” concerns. Homosexual practice denies the need for discipline, self-control, and self-denial, making a god of sex, and insisting that the worship of that god trumps all other values. Because God designed marriage to put sexuality in its place—and sex is not to be worshiped—gays cannot tolerate marriage and would see it destroyed.


[i] A. P. Bell and M. S. Weinberg, Homosexualities: A Study of Diversity Among Men and Women (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978), pp. 308, 309; See also A. P. Bell, M. S. Weinberg, and S. K. Hammersmith, Sexual Preference (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1981).

[ii] Pollack, M. (1985) “Male homosexuality,” in Western Sexuality: Practice and Precept in Past and Present Times, ed. P. Aries and A. Bejin, (New York: Basil Blackwell) pp. 40-61.

[iii] Paul Van de Ven et al., "A Comparative Demographic and Sexual Profile of Older Homosexually Active Men," Journal of Sex Research 34 (1997).

[iv] Although the Bell and Weinberg research dates from the 1970s (a time of extreme gay male behavior prior to the AIDS epidemic), these numbers are still extraordinary, almost beyond belief. And the Van de Ven research dates to the mid 1990s, a time after AIDS had modified extremely risky gay male behavior.

[v] "Largest Gay Study Examines 2004 Relationships," GayWire Latest Breaking Releases,

[vi] Matthew D. Bramlett and William D. Mosher, "First Marriage Dissolution, Divorce and Remarriage: United States," Advance Data, NationalCenter for Health Statistics (May 31, 2001).

[vii] Ryan Lee, "Gay Couples Likely to Try Non-monogamy, Study Shows," Washington Blade (August 22, 2003).

[viii] David P. McWhirter and Andrew M. Mattison, The Male Couple: How Relationships Develop (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1984): 252, 253.

[ix] Laumann, The Social Organization of Sexuality, 216; McWhirter and Mattison, The Male Couple: How Relationships Develop (1984): 252-253; Wiederman, "Extramarital Sex," 170.

[x] Maria Xiridou, et al, "The Contribution of Steady and Casual Partnerships to the Incidence of HIV Infection among Homosexual Men in Amsterdam," AIDS 17 (2003): 1031.

[xi] Jon Garbo, "More Young Gay Men are Contracting HIV from Steady Partners," GayHealth (July 25, 2001).

[xii] The U-Haul joke is sometimes followed by a contrasting joke about male homosexuals:

Question:  What does a gay man bring on a second date?  Answer:  What second date?

[xiii] A dark side of lesbian relationships is that abuse is high, at least as high as in heterosexual relationships, and by some reports, higher. About 17-45% of lesbians report having been the victim of a least one act of physical violence perpetrated by a lesbian partner. Types of physical abuse named by more than 10% of participants in one study included disrupting other’s eating or sleeping habits, pushing or shoving, driving recklessly to punish, and slapping, kicking, hitting, or biting. Sexual abuse by a woman partner has been reported by up to 50% of lesbians. Psychological abuse has been reported as occurring at least one time by 24% to 90% of lesbians. See, generally, Burke, Leslie K., & Follingstad, Diane R. (1999), “Violence in lesbian and gay relationships: theory, prevalence, and correlational factors.” Clinical Psychology Review, 19 (5), 487-512; Ristock, Janice L. (1997) “The cultural politics of abuse in lesbian relationships: Challenges for community action,” in N. V. Benodraitis (Ed.), Subtle sexism: Current practice and prospects for change (pp. 279-296), Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage; Scherzer, Teresa (1998) “Domestic violence in lesbian relationships: Findings of the lesbian relationships research project.” Journal of Lesbian Studies, 2 (1), 29-47; Waldner-Haugrud, Lisa K., & Vaden Gratch, Linda (1997) “Sexual coercion in gay/lesbian relationships: Descriptives and gender differences.” Violence and Victims, 12 (1), 87-98; Waldner-Haugrud, Lisa K., Vaden Gratch, Linda, & Magruder, Brian (1997) “Victimization and perpetration rates of violence in gay and lesbian relationships: Gender issues explored” Violence and Victims, 12 (2), 173-184; West, Carolyn M (1998), “Leaving a second closet: Outing partner violence in same-sex couples,” in Jana L. Jasinski & Linda M. Williams (Eds.), Partner violence: A comprehensive review of 20 years of research (pp. 163-183), Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.