About 10% of Americans Are Having Sex With Partners of “Both Sexes,” Recent Study Finds

Get in loser, we’re being bisexual.

About one in 10 Americans is having sex with people of more than one gender, according to a 2023 study published in The Journal of Sex Research and reported by psychology news website PsyPost. To arrive at this conclusion, researchers analyzed data from the General Social Survey (GSS), a sociological survey created in 1972 by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago as a tool for measuring social change. The data analyzed came from over 32,000 respondents.

Researchers conduct the GSS by following up with the same people year after year, with new people added to each subsequent “wave.” Of the approximately 2,300 people surveyed in the 2021 sample, 9.6% of people reported having had both male and female sexual partners, up from about 3.1% in the data captured from 1989 to 1994.

The survey didn’t look only at sexual practices; it also collected information on how people self-identify. In the 2012-2018 cohort, while 9.3% had relationships with men and women, only 2.7% identified as bisexual. In 2021, while 9.6% of respondents reported having sex with both men and women, 4.5% of respondents identified as bisexual. (Because of pandemic-related sampling changes in how the survey was conducted, researchers said that the two data pools are not directly comparable.)

Researchers admitted in the journal article that bisexuality is often misunderstood and pointed out that in previous studies, even defining bisexuality has proved to be a “herculean task.”

“We define bisexuality as a sexual orientation that can be indicated by sexual attraction to persons of both sexes, sexual behavior involving both sexes, and/or a personal identity as bisexual,” the researchers wrote. “People are more likely to report sexual behavior or attraction involving either the same sex or both sexes than they are to identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual.”

A Gallup poll released in 2023 estimated that 4.2% of all U.S. adults identify as bisexual and that bisexual people make up almost 60% of the LGBTQ+ community. However, this poll was conducted by asking people how they self-identify. As the data above suggests, many more people engage in bisexual behavior than identify as bisexual.

Despite most people in queer and trans communities identifying as bisexual, bisexual erasure — or the questioning and denial of bi identity — remains a consistent issue. This erasure and ongoing social stigma contribute to the ongoing health disparities that bisexual people face. For instance, about a third of bisexual women and 40% of bisexual men are not out to their doctors about their sexual orientation, according to data compiled by the Human Rights Campaign.

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