Monday, July 28, 2014

Reality vs. Perception

Before you read the rest of this piece, try a little quiz. Here’s the question: what percentage of the population do you believe is homosexual (same-sex attracted)?
In a minute, we’ll get to what others perceive that number to be. But first we’ll go ahead and look at some data.
Earlier this month the CDC reported the results of the first large-scale government study of the prevalence of homosexuality among Americans. They found that 1.6% of adults self-identify as gay or lesbian, and 0.7% consider themselves bisexual. Added together, that’s 2.3%. A full 96.6% self-identify as heterosexual, while 1.1% declined to answer.
In my writings, I have leaned toward the 2% estimate, rather than the oft-used 3%, which is backed by pro-homosexual movement groups. So it appears now, a decade later, that the studies I was using were pretty accurate.
There’s an often used 10% number floating out there. That comes from a Kinsey Institute estimate. It was a guess, not based on a study at all, and no actual data comes close to that. But it’s used because that percentage makes the population of homosexuals appear so large as to get attention, too big to ignore. In other words, it’s propaganda only.
But what do people perceive the percentage to be? According to a poll taken in 2011: 20-25%. Fifty percent of us estimate that 1 in 5 (20%) are homosexual, and thirty-five percent estimate that 1 in 4 (25%) are homosexual. The poll involved interviews with 1,018 U.S. adults in all 50 states. Even if we go with the lower majority opinion of 20%, that is ten-fold the actual number.
If we round numbers, we can say there are 300 million people in America. Two percent is 6 million. Twenty percent is 60 million. Six million isn’t really close to 60 million. And twenty-five percent (which more than a third of us believe it to be) is 75 million, a difference of 69 million from the reality.
For comparison, Catholics make up roughly 25% of the US population (about 78 million). Chances are extremely high that you know some Catholics. Even in small towns. In some areas, you might get the impression that practically everyone is Catholic—like if you attend Notre Dame University. And chances are you know something about how they live—that they have priests who don’t marry, people go to confession, take communion, have mass, etc. They have a lot of parochial schools, and many Americans are taught by nuns and other teachers in Catholic schools.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormons, make up about 2% of the US population, pretty close to 6 million. Most of you have probably met some Mormons. But it’s possible many of you haven’t, or haven’t been aware of it. You may or may not know that Mormons don’t drink alcohol, coffee, or tea, or smoke or take illicit drugs. You might not know they have no paid clergy. You might think you know they’re polygamous, which you don’t actually know since that isn’t true. Also, Mormons dress modestly but otherwise just like everyone else. Mormons dance, and sing, and participate in theater and other arts. And pretty much every legal pursuit you can think of. So you can find them in practically any job or neighborhood.
Here in Houston, we Mormons are about 2% of the population. However, in our particular part of town, we’re closer to 1%. A high school of 2500 students is likely to have only a couple dozen Mormon students. But the high school I went to in Utah was probably close to 70% Mormon. I remember a friend of mine asked one of our fellow choir members where he wanted to go on his mission (a common speculation among Mormon high school kids). He said, “Um, in my church, the missionaries wear black robes and can’t ever get married; I don’t think I’m going to do that.” He was Catholic. But there were so many of us Mormons, it was easy to assume everyone was Mormon.
Salt Lake City today is closer to about 50% Mormon, but an hour south in Provo, where BYU is located, it’s close to 88%. Fun fact: Did you know that Samoa is 50% Mormon? But in New York City, the percentage is .25%—that is, less than a quarter of a percent. You’ll find about 1 Mormon in every 400 New Yorkers. Catholics are 62% there, so you’d find almost two Catholics out of every three New Yorkers.
The percentage of Jews in the US is around 2%, almost the same as Mormons. (Their numbers worldwide are close as well: 13.3 million Jews, 15 million Mormons.) But chances are very high that you know one or more. And you certainly know of many. But in New York, where you have to hunt out the Mormons, Jews are over 20% of the population, so 1 in every 5 New Yorkers.
In other words, even though there are huge differences in percentages, there are places where perceptions are high.
So, if the perception of homosexuals in the population is off by a factor of 10, the question is why? Because we’ve been living through a long, well-funded, and pervasive campaign to saturate the media with homosexuals, so that people get the skewed perception that they’re everywhere you turn.
I could go through the list, but you see it. On Glee, a heterosexual was probably just someone who hadn’t considered being otherwise yet (and someone who would wait for marriage would need mental help). Almost every drama has at least a character or two that is homosexual, portrayed these days not with scorn or caricature, but positively and normally.
Most of us do encounter co-workers who fit those positive descriptions. It’s the rate of encounter that is skewed.
Also, there’s a movement toward the “they’re just like us” script. In reality, it is still as true as ever that homosexuals (not individuals, but statistically as a whole) are promiscuous, even when “married,” their relationships are temporary and non-exclusive, and they cannot reproduce nor provide male-and-female parent models for children.
Do they fall in love? I imagine they do. They say they do. It’s hard not to believe them. Still, the data shows that they mean something different from what most married heterosexuals mean—where 70% remain married for life (the 50% divorce rate comes from serial divorce seekers), and of those who remain married, 75% of men and 85+% of women are never unfaithful. Homosexuals in committed relationships who have an average of 8 casual partners per year (homosexuals not in relationships average 22 casual partners per year).[1] Few homosexual relationships are enduring (only 15 last 12 years or longer, even when not exclusive), and the vast majority end in five years or less.[2]
And what percentage of homosexuals consider themselves to be in a “committed” relationship? Hard to estimate, but we can extrapolate from places that have been doing this “same-sex marriage” thing longer than the parts of the US that have. In Sweden, for example, there are an estimated 140,000 homosexuals in a population of 3,679,317. Sweden has been registering same-sex partnerships (civil unions) since 1995 and giving them the rights of married couples (adoption and legal child custody) since 2003. There are 1500registered same-sex couples, or 3000 individuals. That is one in every 1226 persons in the country, that’s .08% of the population.
If we extrapolate those numbers to the US, we get more individuals (240,000), but the percentage remains. For 8 out of every 1000 Americans, we are being asked to deconstruct marriage—to change it from a contract of importance because of its effect on families through procreation, longevity, exclusivity, and male-and-female parenting models into something like a contract between any two individuals claiming to be in a romantic relationship for the time being, not necessarily long term and unable to reproduce or provide any child with male-and-female parenting models.
Let’s go back to the religious analogy for a moment. Every analogy breaks down at some point, and this one isn’t ideal, but suppose a group of about 2% of the population, say the Mormons, live a lifestyle that doesn’t include coffee. And say a subgroup of this population has an additional personal lifestyle that doesn’t even include caffeine (some Mormons actually do make this choice, but it’s personal, not part of Mormon doctrine or faith). Now suppose these 2% of the 2% insist that their lifestyle requires the greater society to do away with caffeine. No one gets to have it any more. Because it’s their “right” to live as they wish, in a world that shuns caffeine, and they claim it’s discrimination for the greater majority to deprive them of such a world.
I would say that marriage, with its influence on family—the basic unit of civilization—is more important to us than whether we have Coke, Pepsi, or Barq’s Root Beer. But the popular culture is dismissive of marriage as if it never had any value.
Think about the numbers as you watch the two short clips here of Ryan Anderson answering the question, “Why should I, as a gay man, be denied the same right to file a joint tax return with my potential husband that a straight couple has?”
Marriage still matters. No homosexual has been “banned” from marriage—but they are choosing not to engage in marriage as it has always existed, and are insisting instead that we redefine marriage to suit that 2% of the 2%. Their voice has been loud. It’s time we, the too silent 98% speak up while we still can.

[1] Xiridou, Maria, et al, “The Contribution of Steady and Casual Partnerships to the Incidence of HIV infection among Homosexual Men in Amsterdam,” 1029-1038 AIDS, 17 (7) May 2, 2003.  “Those with a steady partner and those without reported having an average of 8 and 22 casual partners per year, respectively.”
[2] McWhirter, David P., and Andrew M. Mattison, The Male Couple:  How Relationships Develop (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey:  Prentice-Hall, 1984), pp. 252, 3.  They reported that in a study of 156 males in homosexual relationships lasting from one to 37 years, only 7 couples have a totally exclusive sexual relationship, and these men all have been together for less than five years.  Stated another way, all couples with a relationship lasting more than five years have incorporated some provision for outside sexual activity in their relationships.  No “monogamous” relationship among men longer than the ones set out in this book have been documented.

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