New research from YouGov suggests that nearly half of young people aged between 18 and 24 are “something other than 100% heterosexual”.
Using the Kinsey scale, YouGov asked participants to place themselves on the scale from 0 (exclusively heterosexual) to 6 (exclusively homosexual).
72 per cent of participants identified as completely heterosexual, with 4 per cent describing themselves as fully homosexual – and 19 per cent indicating they are somewhere in between. These results seem quite unremarkable.
Among younger people, however, a different picture emerges. Among 18-24 year olds, only 46 per cent claimed to be “completely heterosexual” and 6 percent has exclusively homosexual. 43 percent of respondents in this age group saw themselves as somewhere between the two ends of the scale – suggesting that younger people see their sexuality as more fluid than do older generations.
This should not be taken as an indication that almost half of people aged between 18 and 24 are actively bisexual – many still identify as heterosexual even if they are reluctant to place themselves at Level 0 on the scale – but it does point to changing attitudes among younger people and a growing understanding that sexual orientation is not rigid.
It also suggests younger people are more confident in self-identifying as either gay or bisexual, which may well be due to changing social perceptions and progressive changes in legislation in recent years.
YouGov also found that “people of all generations now accept the idea that sexual orientation exists along a continuum rather than a binary choice – overall 60% of heterosexuals support this idea, and 73% of homosexuals.” More alarmingly, the pollsters also discovered that “28% of heterosexuals believe that ‘there is no middle ground – you are either heterosexual or you are not’”.
It is difficult to draw too much from where individuals place themselves on a scale which itself is both subjective and based on feelings rather than experience. However, the research suggests that “23% of those at level 1 have had a sexual encounter with a member of the opposite sex, while 52% of people at level 2 have had such an experience”.
What is clear is that societal attitudes towards sexuality and sexual orientation are becoming far more open-minded – and especially among younger people.
The full poll results can be found here.