Chapter 1. Who is homosexual? The false homosexual/heterosexual dichotomy

SO YOU SAY YOU’RE STRAIGHT: The one in five hidden homosexual heterosexuals  by the late Dr Neil McConaghy book proposal placed here on StraightGuise.com with permission by the author’s daughter, Dr. Finola McConaghy.


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Chapter 1.  Who is homosexual?  The false homosexual/heterosexual dichotomy

Discussion of homosexuality as a sexual orientation entered the scholarly literature in the nineteenth century, when it was initially referred to by a number of names including man-love and inversion.  In 1869 Benkert writing under the pseudonym Kertbeny used “homosexual” to label people sexually attracted to members of the same sex.  The term was adopted by the influential writers on sexuality, Krafft-Ebing, and Hirschfeld, and became accepted.   Benkert stated that sexual attraction to members of the same sex created a horror of the opposite sex.  This may have encouraged the tendency pointed out by Kinsey in his 1948 book as occurring everywhere in our society, to consider an individual “homosexual” if he or she  is known to have had a single experience with another individual of the same sex.    The person is then considered to have no real sexual interest in the opposite sex and any heterosexual activity he or she has had is disregarded.  Kinsey added that in society at large, a male who has worked out a highly successful marital adjustment is likely to be rated “homosexual” if the community learns about a single contact he has had with another male. This all or nothing view of sexual orientation continues to be shown to Oscar Wilde, for example.   When his life is examined in biographies, plays, or films, no interest is shown in his heterosexual sexual activities, his attachment to his wife, or his relationship with his children. Similarly media innuendo that contemporary prominent persons have had some homosexual involvement, is likely to result in their being labeled a homosexual.   Their reported heterosexual behaviors are then considered not to have occurred or to have been carried out to conceal their real sexual interest.

Understandably this view of the homosexual is that held by the majority of the educated public since they encounter it in both popular and scholarly literature.  In an article in the February 2002 New York Review of Books, Gordon Craig, Professor Emeritus of Humanities, commented of a book “The Hidden Hitler” that the author was intent “on proving that Hitler was a homosexual”.  Craig concluded that the thesis was challenging enough to engage attention, but in the end unconvincing and trivial due to lack of evidence “to prove even latent homosexuality”.  Craig, like the author of the book, did not question the underlying concept that someone is a homosexual if they had some homosexual feelings or experiences.  John Boswell, a historian with a particular interest in homosexuality stated in his 1994 book on same-sex unions that the vast majority of heterosexual people at least consciously have no erotic feelings for their own gender.  Paralleling heterosexuals, gays who make up only a very small percentage of the population, have no erotic feelings for the opposite gender. While such widely read scholarly statements accept that men and women are either homosexual or heterosexual, and ignore the extensive evidence to the contrary, it is understandable the educated public will continue to believe this.    Dover in his 1978 book, Greek Homosexuality, commented “So long as we think of the world as divided into homosexuals and heterosexuals and regard the commission of a homosexual act, or even the entertaining of a homosexual desire, as an irrevocable step across a frontier which divides the normal, healthy, sane, natural and good from the abnormal, morbid, insane, unnatural and evil, we shall not get very far in understanding Greek attitudes to homosexuality.”    We also should not get very far in understanding the reality of the sexual feelings and behaviors of present day women and men.

The entrenched nature of the all or nothing, or categorical view of sexual orientation was evidenced by its failure to be reversed by the 1948 and 1953 books of Kinsey and his colleagues despite the widespread publicity they received throughout the world media. The books reported the results of interviews of 5300 white males and 5940 white females in the United States  which  focused on the degree of their sexual interest in and choice of members or other sex as sexual partners.  Contrary to the categorical view of sexual orientation, they found that many of the subjects could not be described as either heterosexual or homosexual.   Rather they could best be classified on a dimension, with exclusive heterosexuality at one end, and exclusive homosexuality at the other. To quantify points on this dimension Kinsey introduced the Kinsey scale.  Men or women who had never had homosexual feelings or behaviors were rated 0.  Those whose feelings and behaviors were exclusively homosexual were rated 6.  If their heterosexual feelings and/or behaviors were preponderant, but at the same time they had incidental or more than incidental homosexual feelings and/or behaviors, they received ratings of 1 or 2, respectively. Equivalent degrees of preponderant homosexual relative to heterosexual feelings and behaviors led to ratings of 4 and 5.   Subjects who accepted and equally enjoyed both types of physical sexual contact were rated 3, with the proviso that some might have more experiences of one sort. For single men, male contacts may have been more often available and for married men, female contacts.   The complete contrast of Kinsey’s findings with the view that men and women are either heterosexual or homosexual is apparent in Table 1, for two of the age ranges he reported.

Table 1.

Percentages of American men and women with Kinsey scores 0 to 6

0             1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6


Aged 20          69.3     4.4                   7.4                   4.4                   2.9                   3.4                   4.99

Aged 45          89        2.3                   2                      1.3                   0.9                   0.2                   1.8




Aged 20          83        6                      2                      1                      1                      1                      1


Aged 45          ? not given


?All                             11-20               6-14                 4-11                 3-8                   2-6                 1-3

women                        66        15.5                 10                    7.5                   5.5                   4                      2



men                             18-42               13-38               9-32                 7-26                 5-22             3-16


From the table it can be seen that of the 20 year old subjects in the study, 8% of women and 11.8% of men were Kinsey 1 and 2, predominantly but not exclusively heterosexual.  Similarly 2% of women and 6.3% of the men were Kinsey 4 and 5, predominantly but not exclusively homosexual.   One percent of the women and 4.4% of the men were equally heterosexual and homosexual, Kinsey 3.  Of the 45 year old subjects, the oldest group reported, more were exclusively heterosexual and fewer had ratings of 2 to 6, reflecting the reduction in homosexual behavior and feelings which occur in the majority of people with age.  [CHECK FOR WOMEN] There is some public and scholarly acceptance that some men and women can be bisexual or predominantly but not exclusively homosexual.   However, the existence of those who are predominantly but not exclusively heterosexual, that is those labeled homosexual heterosexuals in this book, remains ignored.   This is despite the fact that in the study of Kinsey and colleagues more  women and almost an equal number of men with homosexual feelings or behaviors were homosexual heterosexuals, than were bisexual, or predominantly or exclusively homosexual.  Kinsey and colleagues’ findings that 37% of the men and 13% of the women he studied had had at least one sexual experience with a member of the same sex since puberty which resulted in orgasm for at least one of the couple, continues to be regularly quoted.   At times the proviso is added that it may not be a completely true of men and women in the general community, as those studied by Kinsey were not a representative sample.   Nevertheless if it is  considered to be largely correct, it should indicate that a significant percentage of heterosexuals have a homosexual component.   Resistance to this belief may explain why the finding is not given significance.  Kinsey’s additional findings that 50% of the men and 28% of the women studied said they had experienced erotic responses to members of the same sex received less attention, possibly for the same reason.

As I pointed out in a 1993 book, “Sexual behavior: problems and management”, a  prevalence of same-sex sexual feelings and activities in women similar to that reported by Kinsey and colleagues had been found earlier by women researchers.  Schbankov and Iakowenko in Moscow in 1907 initiated investigation of the prevalence of homosexual feelings and behavior in normal members of the community.  In 1929, an American woman physician, Davis, discussed their findings.  Most had been destroyed after confiscation by the Tsarist government.  Those which were preserved included the questionnaire responses of 324 women university students. About half stated they had experienced intense emotional relationships with other women, about two-fifths of which had included overt homosexual practices. Davis reported comparable data from her own study of U.S. college graduates. Fifty percent of 1200 single and 30% of 1000 married women had experienced intense emotional relationships with other women. Over half of both groups who reported these relationships recognized them as sexual in character and usually expressed them in sexual activities such as mutual genital contact or masturbation.   These surveys carried out in two different cultures reported reasonably consistent findings that about a quarter of the women studied were aware of homosexual feelings and about a fifth had expressed them in homosexual behaviors.   These earlier studies by women continue to receive little attention, as compared to those of Kinsey, which reported comparable findings.

Exclusion of the homosexual heterosexuals from thinking about homosexuality

The existence of an entity is best established by giving it a name.  No appropriate name, such as homosexual heterosexuals, was given to the significant number of the women and men rated by Kinsey as predominantly but not exclusively heterosexual.   This would seem a major factor contributing to the continued failure to recognize their existence as a different group from bisexual women and men.   As the majority of homosexual heterosexuals conceal their homosexual feelings or behaviors, they come to public attention only if the feelings or behaviors become known.   They are then seen as homosexuals who had previously concealed their homosexuality.  In the last two decades, due to their risk of developing HIV infection, a group of “men who have sex with men” but consider themselves heterosexual has been recognized and given this label.   This recognition tends to focus on encouraging them to accept safer sex practices in heterosexual as well as homosexual activities and determining their possible need for treatment.   There is little interest in understanding the nature of their sexual orientation, or the significance of their sexual interest in men as compared to women.  It is likely that most could appropriately be labeled homosexual heterosexuals.


Non-anonymous studies by sex researchers ignored Kinsey’s findings

While the lack of public awareness of the predominantly heterosexual homosexuals is understandable, that of sexology researchers is less so.  As I pointed out in a paper read at the 1981 annual meeting of the International Academy of Sex Research these researchers showed a curious ambivalence to Kinsey’s findings of a much higher than expected prevalence of homosexual feelings and behaviors in men and women in the community.  In some articles researchers cited the findings with respect, though frequently with reference to the fact that the percentages Kinsey reported were exaggerated due to the subjects investigated not being representative of the total population.  In other articles they reported findings completely opposed to those of Kinsey, without acknowledging or even appearing to be aware of the opposition.

A series of such studies published by leading researchers in the 1960’s and 70’s reported that none of 68 girls and only one of 42 boys studied experienced any homosexual feelings.  The finding was unquestioningly accepted by the scientific community.   No reference was made to the expectation from Kinsey’s data that about 30% of girls and 50% of boys would have had some awareness of homosexual feelings.   About half the girls and boys had been exposed in their fetal development to increased levels of opposite sex hormones taken by their mothers for medical reasons.  It was concluded that these hormone levels did not influence sexual orientation.  The finding was used to support the belief of the time that sexual orientation was determined entirely by social  factors.   The possibility, supported by later evidence, that adolescents aware of homosexual feelings would not openly report this was not considered.


Studies employing anonymous questionnaires supported Kinsey’s findings

In 1979 I and colleagues reported a study aimed at resolving the conflict between the two sets of evidence:  that of Kinsey and the earlier women researchers that a significant percentage of the population was aware of homosexual feelings, and that of the above studies accepted by the scientific community that such feelings were rare.  The 1979 study investigated the possible effect of giving women and men the opportunity to report the presence of homosexual feelings anonymously.  Students in the second year of the Human Behavior component of the medical course at the New South Wales University were asked to complete anonymously a Sex-linked Behaviors Questionnaire.  Two items of the questionnaire asked the subject to rate the degree to which she or he felt sexually attracted to members of the same as compared to those of the opposite sex on the following scale:


to same sex    :     0        10      20      30       40       50        60        70        80        90        100

to opposite sex               100      90       80      70       60       50        40        30        20        10          0




0      =       not attracted to same sex             ;     100 = the reverse;   50  = bisexuality  ; etc.

100      exclusively attracted to opposite sex         0                            50


The scale was included in the questionnaire twice, once for feelings experienced until the age of 15 years, and once for feelings experienced currently.  It was apparent in tutorials that all the students attending the course presented themselves as heterosexual, so it was realized the questionnaires would need to be administered anonymously if there were to be any possibility they would be answered honestly.

Eighty-four percent of the students in the year completed the questionnaires.  In contrast to their social presentation as exclusively heterosexual, in their anonymous responses just under half of both men and women reported they were currently aware of some degree of homosexual feelings.  Over half stated they had been aware of some degree of these feelings by the age of 15 years. The study was carried out again in two subsequent years with similar results.  An additional finding supported the accuracy of the students’ assessments of the degree of their homosexual to heterosexual feelings.  The degree they reported correlated with the degree they reported having a number of opposite sex-linked behaviors.  Sex-linked behaviors are those shown to be more common in members of one than the other sex, such as involvement in sport in males and in housework activities in women.  The association of opposite sex-linked behaviors with identification as homosexual is the most consistent finding in the literature concerning homosexuality.  It is discussed in Chapter 2.

The incidence of homosexual feelings reported by the medical students studied was in the range of the incidence of these feelings reported by the men and women in the studies of Schbankov and Iakowenko, Davis and Kinsey.  It has been generally argued in the sexology literature that the percentages reported by Kinsey were excessively high as his subjects were volunteers for a study of sexual behaviors and hence could be unrepresentative of the total population.   Though the medical students studied by myself and colleagues were representative of the medical students at the university, men and women with homosexual feelings may have been over-represented in those who chose this profession at that time.   In addition or alternatively, they may have been more ready to anonymously reveal their awareness of such feelings than other groups in the population.  The responses to the same questionnaire by men on the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council Twin Registry who were more representative of the total population, were reported by myself and colleagues in 1994.   Twenty percent reported awareness of some homosexual feelings in adolescence and 12% were currently aware of such feelings. It was suggested these figures might underestimate the prevalence of homosexual feelings in the total sample, as some subjects with homosexual feelings may have failed to complete the questionnaire as they were concerned that their anonymity might be breached.  As with the medical students, the accuracy of the twins’ reported degree of their homosexual to heterosexual feelings was supported by the relationships of the degree of feelings with their reported degree of a number of opposite sex-linked behaviors.

The majority of the male and female medical students and the male twins who anonymously reported some homosexual feelings reported predominant heterosexual feelings, that is, they were homosexual heterosexuals.  The largest groups with homosexual feelings were those with 10% homosexual and 90% heterosexual feelings.   They made up 17% of the male and 26% of the female students, and 6% of the male twins.   Exclusive homosexual feelings were reported by about 2% of the three groups.


Non-anonymous studies continue to ignore the homosexual heterosexuals

The studies carried out by myself and colleagues, the findings of which were published from 1979 to 1994, added further evidence to that provided by Kinsey that 50% of the men studied  were or had been aware of homosexual feelings, most of whom were homosexual heterosexuals.   Nevertheless the existence of these homosexual heterosexuals remained ignored not only by the general public but most sexology researchers.  Studies continued to be published in leading journals, which accepted without question the non-anonymous reports of their subjects that only a small percentage had homosexual feelings.   A 1985 study in the American Journal of Psychiatry stated of 34 males aged 13-23 years, selected to be representative of the normal population, that they had never engaged in homosexual behavior and that only two had slight homosexual fantasy.  In a letter to the journal I pointed out the need to confront the contradiction of the finding with that of Kinsey that 50% of men reported awareness of homosexual feelings and those of myself and colleagues that a similar percentage of students also reported this awareness.   I suggested that few  of the 34 adolescents and young adults would be prepared non-anonymously to report homosexual feelings of which they were aware, so invalidating the finding of the study.   In response the author of the study stated that only 10% of Kinsey’s sample were homosexual or bisexual, and hence only 3 or 4 of the 34 males would be expected to be homosexual or bisexual.  The fact that none were could have occurred by chance.   The failure of the author to acknowledge that the presence of awareness of homosexual feelings was different from identification as homosexual or bisexual enabled the existence of homosexual heterosexuals to continue to be ignored. In 1991 the Archives of Sexual Behavior, a major international journal of sexuality research, published an investigation of the sexual arousal patterns of normal men which described 95% of male undergraduates as  exclusively heterosexual.

A further example of the failure to confront the evidence of the existence of a significant percentage of homosexual heterosexuals was Hamer’s widely publicized 1993 report, advancing evidence of what he termed a gay gene in homosexual men.   He commented of 142 of their relatives, that the striking feature was that almost all were easily categorized as either gay or straight with few if any in between, and that most men who reported any attraction to men reported predominant or exclusive attraction to them.  Reviewers of Hamer’s study criticized a number of its features, but not that this finding which conflicted with those of Kinsey or of myself and colleagues that most men reporting attraction to men report predominant attraction to women.   Hamer concluded it was appropriate to treat sexual orientation as categorical, that is either heterosexual or homosexual, rather than as dimensional.  To support this conclusion he quoted other studies of the time published in the leading journal of psychiatry, the Archives of General Psychiatry.  These also reported that the Kinsey scores of the men they studied were distributed categorically, that is, the men were either heterosexual or homosexual.  In 2001 the editor of the Archives of Sexual Behavior stated of subjects recruited from the general population that over 95% would be expected to be heterosexual.   He did not mention the effect of the method of recruitment.  If subjects from the general population are asked non-anonymously if they are heterosexual or homosexual, only those who identify as gay or bisexual will say they are homosexual.   Homosexual heterosexuals, the majority of men and women with homosexual feelings, either do not volunteer for such studies, or state they are heterosexual.


Careful evaluation given the sexual orientation of laboratory animals, but not human subjects

The continued acceptance of sexual orientation in human subjects as categorical, that is, either heterosexual or homosexual, was apparent in a series of articles presented at a recent  international conference on the biological basis of sexual orientation and sex-typical behavior.  The articles were published in 1997 in “Sexual Orientation: Towards Biological Understanding” by Ellis and Ebertz.   Most reported differences in biological factors between men or more rarely women, who non-anonymously identified themselves as heterosexual or homosexual.  A few studies also included some subjects who identified as bisexual.  One study reviewed evidence that homosexuals are more likely to be left handed or mixed handed than heterosexuals.  It devoted considerable attention as to how handedness should be determined and what its prevalence was in the population.  It gave no attention as to how homosexuality should be determined, and stated that homosexuals probably constitute between one and ten percent of the population.  No problem was seen with attempting to determine the difference in handedness between homosexual and heterosexual subjects despite uncertainty as whether up to nine percent of the population was or was not homosexual.  This cavalier attitude to the prevalence of homosexuality was not unique.  A 1993 textbook for students, “Abnormal Psychology” by Halgin and Whitbourne stated  “It may surprise you to learn that between 20 and 25% of males and approximately 15% of females have had at least one sexual experience with a person of the same sex”.   Another text-book with the same title published in 1995 by Barlow and Durand quoted what they termed a recent well done survey of men aged 20 to 39 which produced the surprising finding that only 2.3% of men had engaged in homosexual activity.

Studies in “Sexual Orientation: Towards Biological Understanding” gave much greater attention to the determination of the sexual orientation when the subjects were animals rather than humans.   One examined the behavioral changes in male rats stressed prenatally (before birth) by subjecting their mothers when pregnant with them to potentially damaging stimuli, such as excessive heat.  The frequency of sexual behaviors in adulthood of the prenatally stressed rats was compared with that of unstressed comparison rats.   The stressed rats showed statistically less frequent normal male copulatory behavior towards female rats in heat, and statistically more frequent characteristic female copulatory behaviors, such as a lordotic or curved back receptive response to male rats.   The combination in the stressed rats of some male responses to female rats and female responses to male rats was said to be strikingly similar to bisexual behavior in human males.   Even if the comparison of rats and humans is accepted, the unstressed rats also showed some similar male responses to female rats, and female responses to male rats, though the former to a statistically more frequent, and the latter to a statistically less frequent extent than did the stressed rats.  No statistical comparison was considered necessary to conclude the mixture of “male” and “female” responses of bisexual men was equivalent to that of the stressed rather than the unstressed rats.  Whereas bisexual behaviors in animals were considered to need statistical assessment, what constituted bisexuality in men was regarded as self-evident, requiring no equivalent assessment.  The issue of whether all or indeed most bisexual men showed “female” responses equivalent to those of the stressed rats in their sexual activities with other men was not considered.  In a 1995 collection of scientific articles,  “The Psychology of Sexual Orientation, Behavior, and Identity” edited by Diamant and McAnulty, the same lack of awareness of a need for adequate assessment was shown when men and women were labeled as homosexual, bisexual or heterosexual.   The terms were either used without clarification or were accepted as valid on the basis that subjects who volunteered for research studies had identified themselves using one of the three labels.

Anne Perkins and a colleague in their article in “Sexual Orientation: Towards Biological Understanding” showed appropriate concern to accurately assess sexual orientation.  The subjects were rams.   Perkins observed the rams’ behavior over some years at a Sheep Experiment Station in the United States and concluded that a percentage showed behavior she labeled homosexual, based on strict criteria.  These were that the rams were mature, had been exposed to female sheep, had never shown sexual interest or activity towards females, and when provided with both males and females, exhibited sexual behavior only towards males.   The sexual behavior they showed to the male rams was normal male copulatory motor patterns.  Heterosexual rams were those attracted only to ewes.  Perkins did not discuss why she required exclusive interest in same or opposite sex partners to define homosexuality and heterosexuality in the rams.  She may have been influenced by the belief of scholars and the public that the majority of men and women are exclusively heterosexual or homosexual in their preference for sexual partners.   Sexual preference in animals therefore needed to be exclusively to partners of the same sex if it was to be considered of relevance to homosexuality in humans.

Savin-Williams and Cohen in 1996 commented that studies found same-sex sexual activity to be fairly common in many species.  However, if the focus was only on long-term preferences for members of the same sex, rather than occasional sexual contacts, especially in the first year or two following puberty, the prevalence of homosexuality in most mammalian species was characteristic of only a small percentage of humans.  That is, they believed that homosexuality in most humans was in the form of long-term preference for members of the same sex.  Similarly a review in the 2001 Archives of Sexual Behavior accepted without question the statement concerning the relatively common same-sex behavior of nonhuman primates that “nothing behaviorally akin to human homosexual behavior, characterized by almost exclusive same-sex interactions, has been observed.”   Sexuality researchers appear determined to ignore the evidence that exclusive homosexual feelings and behaviors are not typical of men and women who report homosexual feelings and behaviors.


Rarity of exclusive homosexuality in humans

In 1994 Laumann and colleagues reported a study of the sexual behavior of 3432 men and women representative of the population aged 18 to 59 in the United States.   It demonstrated the rarity of exclusive homosexual activity.  It was reported by only 0.2% of women and 0.6% of men since puberty.  Yet 1.4% of women and 2.8% of men considered themselves homosexual or bisexual (including lesbian or gay). Hence less than a quarter of those who self- identified as homosexual or bisexual had never had sex with members of the opposite sex. A further 1.5% of women and 3% of men reported they had had same-sex partners since puberty, but considered themselves heterosexual.  In a 2000 study by Dunne and colleagues in which 20% of men and women anonymous reported homosexual behavior or awareness of some homosexual feelings, 97% of men and 96% of women reported they had been sexually attracted to someone of the opposite sex at some time in their life.


Modifications of the Kinsey Scale

While researchers interested in sexual orientation from a biological perspective continued to ignore the findings obtained with the Kinsey Scale of the dimensional nature of sexual orientation in humans, a small number of sociological researchers attempted to make the scale more comprehensive.   Kinsey in the 1948 book commented in relation to the rating taking into account overt sexual experiences and psychosexual reactions, that in the majority of instances the two aspects of the history parallel, but sometimes they are not in accord.  In the latter case, the rating of the individual must be based upon an evaluation of the relative importance of the overt and the psychic in the person’s history.  He gave no guidelines were given as to the relative weight to be given attraction versus behavior.  Some researchers used the scale twice for each person, rating behaviors on the first occasion and fantasies on the second.  Substantial differences were found between the ratings on the two scales.   Some people preferred partners of the same sex, but had sexual activities with partners predominantly or only of the opposite sex.  Others in environments where they mixed mainly with persons of the same sex such as prisons or the armed forces, showed the reverse pattern.

In 1990 Klein attempted to broaden the concept of sexual orientation, arguing that other important dimensions should also be rated.  He pointed out the inability of the original Kinsey scale to meaningfully rate a married man who dearly loves his wife, has sex with her on average once a week and goes to the baths for sex with men on average once a month.  On the basis of frequency of sexual outlets he is a Kinsey 2 in that he has sex with a woman four times as often as with a man.   On the basis of number of partners he is a Kinsey 5, as he has sex with 12 men but one woman in a year.   He assesses his sexual orientation as Kinsey 3.  He only loves his wife and never had loving feelings to men, so on the variable of emotional preference he is Kinsey 0.  His sexual fantasies are exclusively homosexual, Kinsey 6.  In respect of sexual attraction he rates himself as Kinsey 5.  He enjoys the company of men and women equally, so on social preference he is Kinsey 3.  His life-style is almost exclusively among heterosexuals, apart from his visits to baths, making him Kinsey 1 on this variable. On self-identification he labels himself Kinsey 4.  Dimensions not mentioned by Klein include identification to others, which in view of his life-style would be likely to be exclusively heterosexual, Kinsey 1, as would his attachment behavior as his long-term relationship was only with one woman.   To attempt to classify men and women on all the variables he listed, Klein developed a Sexual Orientation Grid.  As it was accepted that people’s sexual orientation could change over time, all the variables were rated for the past, the present and the ideal.   However as pointed out earlier, unfortunately this and similar assessments have not replaced the narrow classification of men and women as heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual, in almost all research studies of sexual orientation.  Comprehensive assessments may be unnecessary for studies that are entirely focussed on same-sex sexual interest and activities.   However they are clearly essential if the totality of sexual behavior in relation to sexual orientation is to be understood.


Subsequent anonymous studies again demonstrated the existence of homosexual heterosexuals 

In 1999 I published another article which attempted to overcome the persistence of sex researchers in ignoring the extensive evidence demonstrating the existence of homosexual heterosexuals.   The article referred to evidence provided by Sell and colleagues in 1995, additional to that already discussed.  They investigated the sexual behaviors of representative samples of the populations of the United States, the United Kingdom, and France, aged 16 to 50, using an anonymous questionnaire.  About twenty percent of the women and men in the three countries reported awareness of homosexual attraction by age 15.  This percentage of men aware of homosexual feelings by age 15 was in the same range as that I and colleagues had reported of the male twins in the study discussed earlier.   Since my 1999 article, Dunne and colleagues reported in 2000 that about 20% of 1721 male and 2901 female twins had experienced same-sex behavior and/or attraction.


Homosexual heterosexuals found in some non-anonymous representative population studies

In 1994 two studies were reported which used non-anonymous interviews to investigate the sexual orientation in its limited sense of attraction and behavior, of representative samples of total populations.   As could be expected, the number of men and women reporting homosexual feelings and behavior was markedly lower that that found in anonymous studies.   Nevertheless both studies showed that sexual feelings and behaviors were distributed dimensionally rather that categorically. Johnson and colleagues investigated in face-to-face interviews the sexual behavior of 18,876 men and women, a representative sample of the population of Great Britain aged 16-59.  Of the 5.5% of men and 4.5% of women who reported ever having felt sexually attracted to one or more members of the same sex, over 70% stated they were aware of mostly heterosexual attraction.  Of the 5.2% of men and the 2.6% of women who reported any homosexual experience, also over 70% reported mostly heterosexual experience.  That is, the majority reporting homosexual feelings and experiences reported predominantly heterosexual feelings and experiences and so were homosexual heterosexuals.

The other study was that of Laumann and colleagues which investigated men and women representative of the population aged 18 to 59 in the United States.  Subjects were asked about the sex of their sexual partners at various periods of their lives. Of the approximately 3% of women and 6% of men who reported they had same gender sexual partners since puberty, over 90% reported they had heterosexual experiences also.  The ratio of their homosexual to heterosexual experiences was not reported.  They were also asked whether they were currently sexually attracted only to men, mostly men, both men and women, mostly women, and only women.  Of the 6.3% of men and 4.4% of women who reported awareness of sexual attraction to members of the same sex, 40% of the men and 60% of the women stated they were mostly attracted to the opposite sex, with the remainder reporting equal attraction to both, or predominant or exclusive attraction to the same sex.  Hence in this study, unlike that of Johnson and colleagues, of those non-anonymously reporting awareness of some sex-attraction, the majority of the women, but not the men were homosexual heterosexuals.

In the anonymous studies reviewed earlier at least 20% of men and women report awareness of sexual attraction to members of the same sex.  As less than 7% of men and women in the non-anonymous studies of Johnson and Laumann and colleagues reported this awareness, about 13% of the men and women in their studies would have been aware of homosexual feelings, but did not report them.  The majority of subjects who report awareness of homosexual feelings in the anonymous studies report predominant heterosexual feelings, that is they are homosexual heterosexuals.  Hence it would be expected that most of the approximately 13% of women and men in the studies of Johnson and Laumann and colleagues who were aware of homosexual feelings, but did not report them, would have predominant heterosexual feelings, that is they would be homosexual heterosexuals.  It is understandable that the majority of homosexual heterosexuals would not acknowledge homosexual feelings in a non-anonymous study, in view of their wish not to disclose this to others.


A sixth of adults with bisexual, predominant or exclusive homosexual feelings consider themselves heterosexual 

Laumann and colleagues reported of their representative population sample that 1.4% of women and 2.8% of men considered themselves homosexual, or bisexual, lesbian or gay.  However a larger percentage, 1.7% of women and 3.7% of men, reported they were equally, predominantly or exclusively attracted to the members of the same as compared to the opposite sex.   Hence about a sixth of the 1.7% of women who non-anonymously acknowledged bisexual, predominant, or exclusive homosexual feelings considered themselves heterosexual.  For the men, the percentages who reported bisexual or predominant as compared to exclusive homosexual feelings was also reported.  About a third of the 1.3% of men with bisexual and predominant homosexual feelings and a sixth of the 2.4% of men with exclusive homosexual feelings considered themselves to be heterosexual.   The sex of the partners of the .3% of women and about 1% of the men in the population with bisexual, predominant, or exclusive homosexual feelings who considered themselves heterosexual was not reported.   Presumably to maintain social acceptance of their identity as heterosexual, the majority would choose partners, at least those known to their colleagues, who were of the opposite sex.   These men and women with bisexual, predominant, or exclusive homosexual feelings who identify as heterosexual could along with the much larger number of men and women with predominant but not exclusive heterosexual feelings, be termed homosexual heterosexuals.


The need for anonymous questioning in studying sexual orientation

The evidence discussed make it clear that attempts to determine the sexual orientation of women and men by non-anonymous questioning fail to identify many women and men who have experienced some homosexual feelings and/or sexual activities since adolescence.  Whereas the anonymous studies of Sell and Dunne, as well as those by myself and colleagues found the percentage with these experiences to be at least 20%, the non-anonymous population surveys of Laumann and Johnson found it to be less than half this.  In my clinical experience I had found that when interviewed adolescents are even more reluctant than adults to reveal sexual feelings or behaviors inconsistent with what they regarded as normal.   Other researchers reached similar conclusions.  When Schofield surveyed the sexual behavior of adolescents in Britain in 1965 he avoided asking questions about homosexuality as he considered this would limit the subjects’ cooperation.  This reluctance could explain the virtual absence of homosexual feelings reported by the adolescent subjects exposed to abnormal prenatal levels of sex hormones and the unexposed comparison girls and boys, in the 1960’s and 70’s studies discussed earlier. Money and colleagues reported in 1984 that girls exposed prenatally to increased levels of male hormones due to congenital adrenal hyperplasia treated their sexual activity as an unspeakable issue when they were adolescent. At follow-up in adulthood many reported they were aware of homosexual feelings.   The authors commented that aging of these subjects led to increased sophistication and the ability to talk about their sexual feelings and behavior.


Reduction in homosexual behavior and feelings with age in the predominantly heterosexual

While adolescents as compared to adults are less likely to report homosexual feelings or behaviors, Laumann and colleagues’ non-anonymous population study found a higher percentage of men reported carrying out homosexual acts in their adolescence than in their adulthood.   Women were most likely to carry out homosexual acts in early adulthood.  In the study both women and men reported their sexual activity in the periods since puberty, since age 18, in the previous five years, and in the previous year.  Bisexual behavior decreased with age in both men and women, being reported by about 6, 4, 2 and 1% of men and 3, 4, 1.5 and 0.3% of women, over the four periods.   Exclusive homosexual behavior increased with age.  It was reported by 0.6, 0.9, 2, and 2% of men and 0.2, 0.4, 0.8, and 1% of women for the same four periods, respectively.   So, only for the previous year of their life did more men and women report exclusive homosexual behavior than bisexual behavior.  This was due not to an increase in the number of men and women having homosexual behavior in the previous year, but to the number who had been bisexually active ceasing homosexual behavior.  The highest percentages of homosexual behavior were found in adolescent men and young adult women, 6.6% and 4.4% respectively.  The lowest percentages were found in the subjects’ previous year, 3% and 1.3% in men and women respectively.

The reduction in the percentage of men and women who carry out homosexual activity with age may be due in part to a reduction of homosexual feelings in the predominantly heterosexual.  In the anonymous studies I and colleagues carried out, the men and women were asked to report the degree to which they were aware of homosexual as compared to heterosexual feelings at age 15 and currently.   In the three studies with medical students about 55% of the men and 65% of the women reported they had been aware of some degree of homosexual feeling by the age of 15 years.  About 40% of the men and 45% of the women were currently aware of such feelings.  The male twins reported a similar reduction with age, from 20% to 12%.  These findings suggest that any homosexual activity of homosexual heterosexuals is carried out predominantly in their adolescence or early adulthood.


Reduction in heterosexual behavior with age in the predominantly homosexual

The reduction in homosexual behavior with age in the predominantly heterosexual is paralleled by reduction in heterosexual behavior with age in the predominantly homosexual.  In the study of Laumann and colleagues, whereas exclusive homosexual behavior in the preceding five years was reported by 2% of men and 0.8% of women, it was reported since puberty by only 0.6% of men and 0.2% of women.   Hence about one and a half percent of men and half a percent of women in the representative sample of the U.S. population reported having sex with both men and women since puberty, but only with members of their sex in the preceding five years.  The decline in heterosexual behavior in the predominantly homosexual and the decline in homosexual feelings and behavior in the predominantly heterosexual could both be due to the general decline in sexual interest and frequency of behaviors, which occurs with aging.


How do homosexual heterosexuals identify?

In the three studies of medical students by myself and colleagues about 40% anonymously reported current awareness of some homosexual feelings, with almost all being aware of predominant heterosexual feelings.   That is, almost all were homosexual heterosexuals.   They were not asked whether they identified as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, or other.   However it was obvious from their behavior in discussions in the course of tutorials on sexuality that all identified as heterosexual to their fellow students.  In a recent unpublished study, medical students anonymously completed a version of the Sex-linked Behaviors Questionnaire, which, in addition to asking the ratio of their heterosexual to homosexual feelings, asked how they identified.  A third of the 36 women and a sixth of the 34 men reported current awareness of some homosexual feelings, with almost all again being homosexual heterosexuals.  All the students stated they identified to others as heterosexual, and all the women and three of the five men with some homosexual feelings considered themselves heterosexual.   The other two men considered themselves bisexual. In the anonymous survey of Dunne and colleagues, twins were asked if they considered themselves heterosexual (straight), bisexual, or homosexual (lesbian/gay).   They were given the usual definition that heterosexual meant that sexually they desired contact only with members of the opposite sex; bisexual meant that they desired contact with both men and women; homosexual meant that they desired contact only with members of the same sex.   Despite being asked to follow this definition, of the 20% who had experienced some same-sex behavior and/or attraction throughout their lives, about 70% of the men and 80% of the women said they considered themselves heterosexual rather than bisexual or homosexual.  In Laumann and colleagues’ non-anonymous survey, only 1.4% of women and 2.8% of men considered themselves bisexual or homosexual.   In anonymous studies at least 20% of women and men report awareness of some homosexual feelings, with the majority reporting awareness of predominant heterosexual feelings, justifying their being labeled homosexual heterosexuals.  It could therefore be expected that 20% of the subjects representative of the general population in Laumann and colleague’s study were homosexual heterosexuals.  It would appear that almost all homosexual heterosexuals consider themselves heterosexual rather than bisexual.   This means that in most current research of sexual orientation, any homosexual heterosexuals recruited are, in view of their self-classification,  included in the heterosexual group.


Who identify as bisexual?

An American psychotherapist, Altshuler, argued in an article published in the American Journal of Psychotherapy in 1984 that bisexuality did not exist. He claimed that if the heterosexual-homosexual range were truly a continuum, bisexuals at the midpoint would show equal frequency and pleasure with either sex, and therefore an equal preference and relatively random choice in the sex of their partners.  As 13 men he treated who termed themselves bisexual reported they had had more male than female partners, he concluded that they were homosexual, and bisexuality could not exist.  I pointed out the naivety of this concept of bisexuality.  It was equivalent to arguing that for a person to like herrings and caviar equally he or she must eat equal quantities of both.  Currently, heterosexual compared to homosexual relations are socially approved and enhancing of self-esteem.  Hence of the men and women who are bisexual in the sense that they enjoy equally sexual relations with men or women, those who are concerned to maintain an acceptable public image would select more opposite sex partners, reduce or cease their homosexual behavior as they age, and identify as heterosexual.  Men who choose equal number of partners of both sexes and so identify as bisexual would be those with stronger homosexual than heterosexual feelings. Freund reported that men who self-labeled as bisexual showed penile volume responses to pictures of nude men not nude women, indicating a predominant homosexual orientation.

This conclusion was consistent with the findings of Laumann and colleagues.  In their study, 2.8% of men identified as homosexual or bisexual, whereas more (3.1%) were attracted mainly or exclusively to males.   Hence most of the men who identified as bisexual were mainly or exclusively attracted to males.  Of the further 0.6% who were equally attracted to males and females most must have identified as heterosexual.   Unlike men, a significant percentage of women equally attracted to females and males may identify as bisexual.  The number in the study of Laumann and colleagues who identified as bisexual or homosexual (1.4%) was greater than the number who were attracted mainly or exclusively to females (0.9%).   The extra 0.5% who identified as bisexual or homosexual was presumably largely made up from the 0.8% of women who were equally attracted to both sexes.

The findings of Laumann and colleagues indicating that bisexual men are predominantly homosexual in feelings contrasted with those of a 1993 study by Stokes and colleagues. Unlike Laumann and colleagues who studied a representative sample of the U.S. population, they  investigated 105 men who responded to an advertisement in a weekly newspaper seeking men who identified as bisexual.  Asked to estimate their subjective sexual orientation 34 considered they were more heterosexual than homosexual, 38 the reverse, and 28 that they were equally heterosexual and homosexual.  In regard to their sexual partners in the previous six months, 10% had none, 14% women only, 24% men only, and 52% both women and men.  That unlike the findings of Laumann and colleagues, the majority of men who identified as bisexual in the study reported bisexual or predominant heterosexual feelings may have been due to the men who volunteered for the study differing from men in a representative population sample.  They were all resident in Chicago.   Evidence discussed subsequently indicates there is greater acceptance of homosexuality in large cities than in the United States as a whole.  This increased acceptance may encourage some men who are equally or more attracted to women than men and have sex with both, to identify as bisexual.  Men in the study who had partners of both sexes in the last six months rated themselves as more heterosexual than the remainder, and scored higher on self-esteem.  Higher self-esteem and increased acceptance of homosexuality may encourage some homosexual heterosexuals to non-anonymously reveal their bisexual feelings and behaviors and to identify as bisexual.   Nevertheless for men in the total population it seems Altshuler was correct in believing that the majority of men who identify as bisexual are predominantly homosexual in their feelings and behavior, but incorrect in concluding that true bisexuality of feelings does not exist.  Most men and a percentage of women with true bisexuality of feelings seem likely to continue to identify as heterosexual while the existing prejudice against homosexuality, discussed in Chapter 4, remains widespread.


Is the resistance to recognition of homosexual heterosexuals due to gay activism?

Voeller, a self-identified homosexual activist, writing in 1990, pointed out that surprisingly little of what he termed Kinsey and his colleagues’ myth-exploding discoveries had influenced the thinking of the general public, or even of scholars or the shapers of public policy.  His explanation was that though the culture’s profound sex phobia contributed, political factors were mainly responsible.  As he phrased it, a witch-hunt followed the publication of Kinsey’s 1953 book on the sexual behavior of American women, with a senate investigation making sensational headlines of the scandalous idea that mothers, sisters, and daughters might be sexual. It resulted in erosion of public trust, and then of funding, so the Kinsey group’s capacity to enlighten the public and replace street information with fact was deeply undermined.   In this situation, Voeller claimed responsibility for himself and the gay movement in establishing general acceptance of Kinsey’s finding that a significant number of men and women had homosexual experience.  At the same time they suppressed the related finding that most of these men and women were predominantly heterosexual.

Voeller considered his knowledge as a scientist enabled him to contribute evidence from sex research which the nascent gay movement had neither time nor inclination to explore.  He encouraged the movement to use the information that 10% of men and women were rated in the Kinsey studies as Kinsey 4, 5, or 6, that is, as predominantly homosexual, to announce that at least 10% of the population could be designated as gay.  The gay movement, bent on uniting an invisible constituency, had to create a self-image, much as women and blacks had done, but the gay self-image lacked the advantage of the visibility provided by gender or skin color.   Voeller considered it was necessary to promulgate “the traditional public myth of ‘them or us’, of homosexual or heterosexual; we would simultaneously benefit from the Kinsey scale’s evidence of our universal presence while ignoring it by insisting everyone was gay or heterosexual.  We would expand a bit of the world’s sexual myopia by expanding people from 0s versus 6s, to 0s versus 4s, 5s, and 6s.”  As part of this political necessity women and men in the Kinsey 1 to 5 range were seen at best as transitional to gay, at worst as too cowardly to come all the way out of the closet.  They were told, almost as forcibly as by the traditional culture, that they must make up their minds whether they were gay or nongay.

Voeller considered that after years of educating the women and men who inform the public and make its laws, to believe that 10% of the population are gay (and presumably the rest “straight”), this has become a generally accepted fact.  As a necessary reminder, it is regularly stated by scholars, the press, and in government statistics.  He believed this resulted from the use of the Kinsey data he recommended.   If he is correct, the Kinsey group’s expectation that their data would demonstrate that heterosexuality and homosexuality are not categorically but dimensionally distributed was successfully subverted.   As few of the predominantly heterosexual or bisexual Kinsey 1, 2, and 3 men and women would consider themselves gay they are ignored as having no place in this construction of sexual orientation.

In fact the finding that Kinsey 4, 5, and 6 men make up ten percent of the population and so could be considered gay is a considerable over-estimate. The men and women studied by Kinsey and colleagues were non-representative volunteers.  In the three studies carried out by myself and colleagues of representative samples of male and female medical students, over 30% reported current awareness of some homosexual feelings.  At most 6% of the men and 3% of the women considered these feelings were greater than their heterosexual feelings.   The evidence from the most recent study indicates that all the men and women identify to others as heterosexual rather than gay, at the time of the study when they are students.  In the sample of male twins who were more representative of the total population, less than 4% had predominant homosexual feelings, and hence could be likely to identify as gay.  As stated earlier, in the study of Laumann and colleagues 2.8% of men and 1.4% of women representative of the U.S. population reported they considered themselves homosexual, gay, lesbian, or bisexual.  The evidence discussed previously indicated that many men and women in the non-anonymous study did not report homosexual feelings of which they were aware.   However if gay identity is taken to mean, as it usual is, open acknowledgement of this identity, it would seem that men and women who adopt this identity would acknowledge it in a questionnaire.   The percentage of these men and women must therefore be less than 3%.

Convincing the women and men who inform the public and make its laws by constant repetition that Kinsey’s data demonstrated that 10% of the population are gay and the rest straight was unlikely to be difficult.  As the belief that people are either gay or straight was already established, all that had to be accepted was the percentage.  Laumann and colleagues reported that 10% of men living in the central cities of the 12 largest metropolitan areas of the United States had same-sex activities in the previous year, as compared with 2.6% of the total male population.  Nine percent in the central cities identified as gay, homosexual or bisexual, compared with 2.8% of the male population.   The differences were less marked in women, with 2.1% living in the central cities having had same-sex activities in the previous year, compared with 1.1% of the female population; 2.6% in the cities identified as lesbian, homosexual or bisexual, compared with 1.4% of the female population.   Most of the women and men who inform the public live in urban centers where they would be aware of the number of men and women who identify as homosexual.  They would therefore accept the possibility that 10% of the male population were gay as true of the total population.  Support for this belief along with the belief that those who are not gay are totally straight would be provided by most of the 20% of homosexual heterosexuals, the majority of men and women with homosexual feelings or behaviors.  It is in their interest to maintain their public identification as exclusively heterosexual by supporting the stereotype that only men and women who identify as gay or lesbian have a homosexual component.   The few who have attempted to challenge the heterosexual-homosexual dichotomy by identifying publicly as bisexual are, as Voeller planned, regarded as gays who haven’t yet accepted that they are.


Continued acceptance by sexological science of the gay-straight dichotomy

What does need explanation is the acceptance by the scholarly community, in opposition to the extensive published data, that 10% of men and women are exclusively gay and the rest exclusively heterosexual.  A contributing factor may have been the failure of the Kinsey group to emphasize their finding that a significant number of men and women were neither gay nor exclusively heterosexual, but were Kinsey 1 and 2.  That is, they had some homosexual, but  predominant heterosexual feelings and behaviors.  Public and scholarly recognition of their existence may have been established if they had been given a label such as homosexual heterosexuals, so providing them with an identity which classification as Kinsey 1 and 2s failed to do.

In the absence of any motivation to focus on homosexual heterosexuals as possibly different from exclusive heterosexuals, sex researchers were able to regard the homosexual behaviors of homosexual heterosexuals as not really based on homosexual feelings, but as experiments based on curiosity.  The American historian of sexuality, Bullough appeared to adopt this position in evaluating the Kinsey data.  He considered that by demonstrating that some homosexual activity was widespread in the American population, almost a normative aspect of growing up, it gave assurance to many worried heterosexuals than they were not homosexuals, and could relax in their “normality”.  Homosexuals found they were more numerous than the general public and perhaps they themselves realized, and that others had at least experimented with homosexuality.   The dichotomy between those who could be regarded as “real” homosexuals who are presumably virtually exclusive in their sexual preference, and heterosexuals who are virtually exclusive in their preference, but show some behavioral curiosity, could thus be retained.   This may be an appropriate position for the general public to adopt.  However as discussed in the following chapters there is convincing research evidence that the homosexual feelings of homosexual heterosexuals are on a continuum with the homosexual feelings of men and women in whom these feelings are predominant.   The homosexual heterosexuals therefore require study in research of sexuality as an independent group from the exclusively heterosexual.


Was Evelyn Waugh a homosexual heterosexual?

Few people reveal sufficient details of their past sexual feelings and behaviors even to their closest friends and lovers to enable the nature of their sexual orientation to be established with confidence.  Even when many such details are available, the decision concerning the person’s sexual orientation may not be easy.   This is the case in regard to the letters, dairies, and autobiographical writings as well as the reports of acquaintances of the English novelist, Evelyn Waugh.   This material has supplied his biographers with a wealth of information concerning his emotional relationships as well as some concerning his physical relationships. The following account borrows heavily from Selina Hastings’s biography. She reported that in childhood he loved acting, and was no athlete, finding football and cricket boring then and later in life.  As discussed in the next chapter these are attitudes more commonly shown by boys who in adulthood have some homosexual feelings or behaviors, rather than being exclusively heterosexual.  Waugh also showed behaviors associated with a predominant heterosexual outcome.  He was pugnacious and enjoyed a good fight.  When he was aged 19, a fellow student at Oxford, Richard Pares, described as unusually good-looking in a girlish, Pre-Raphaelite way, became the subject of his first love affair, which lasted about a year.   A friend of Waugh was quoted as saying of Pares that “he lends his body”.  Hastings added that for Evelyn and Pares the affair was a powerful experience.  She considered it significant that both men destroyed the diaries they had kept during the period.  Years later Pares, then married, and with a family, admitted to a close friend that never in his life had he known such passionate intensity as in the relationship with Waugh.

Soon after Waugh became deeply attached to another young man, Alastair Graham, referring to him in his autobiography as “the friend of my heart” and saying that for two or three years they were inseparable.  They “drank deep together”, during long evenings in each other’s rooms in college and when driving about the countryside from pub to pub in Graham’s car.  On the rare occasions they were apart they remained in daily contact by letter.  Hastings termed it a time for Waugh of complete emotional and sensual fulfillment, saying that he neither needed nor wanted anyone but Alastair.  In a letter enclosed with a photograph of himself naked, Graham described an ideal way of drinking Burgundy with a peach.   A virtually identical relationship between two young men at Oxford is glowingly depicted in Waugh’s novel “Brideshead Revisited”, of which a very successful television version was made.   The hero, Charles Ryder is introduced by the beautiful and aristocratic Sebastian to a sensual and sybaritic way of life which Charles describes as being in Arcadia.   The Italian mistress of Lord Marchmain, Sebastian’s father, comments of the relationship that “these romantic friendships of the English and German (men).  They are not Italian.  I think they are very good if they do not go on too long”.   Charles Ryder refers to “its naughtiness high in the catalogue of grave sins.”

At the time Waugh was attached to Graham, Hastings said that at Oxford it was the fashion to pretend, for those for whom the pretence was necessary, to be homosexual.   Nevertheless it would seem some circumspection must have been necessary in the pretence.   She had earlier referred to the reaction to the discovery that Waugh’s older brother, Alec, then aged 17, was found to be in a “homosexual relationship of a kind entirely common among schoolboys”.  Alec managed to avoid expulsion, but his father, whose heart was nearly broken by his adored son’s disgrace, was asked to remove him from the school at the end of term.  Evelyn who had looked forward to going to the same school was obliged without explanation to go to another.  Alec went on to write a novel  published in 1917, “The Loom of Youth”, which made a sensation for its then unheard-of frankness on the subject of schoolboy sexuality.  By current standards, the frankness was muted, as in the following description:  “Thus began a friendship entirely different from any Gordon had known before… with Morcombe he was indescribably happy… more than once there came over him a wish to plunge himself into the feverish waters of pleasure… he realized how easily he could slip into that life and be engulfed.   No one would mind; his position would be the same; no one would think worse of him.  Unless, of course, he was caught.  Then probably everyone would turn on him, that was the one unforgivable sin – to be found out.”    The headmaster of the school Alec and his father had attended saw the book as a monstrous libel, and removed the names of them both from the rolls of the society of old boys of the school.

The strength of the negative attitude to homosexuality at that time was also apparent in the Hastings’ account of “the notorious scandal concerning the immensely rich and immensely grand” Seventh Earl of Beauchamp, father of close friends of Waugh.  The Duke of Westminster, Beauchamp’s brother-in-law, called by Hastings the “bad bully”, heard of Beauchamp’s homosexual predilections, and forced him on pain of public prosecution to leave the country.  Beauchamp had no alternative but to resign all his appointments and decamp to the continent to begin his exile.  An alternative account of his place of exile was given in “Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know”, a history of lesbian and gay culture in Sydney from 1901-2001, sponsored by the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby.   Under the heading “Our Queer Governor”, it stated that Beauchamp as a bachelor of 27 took up his position at the apex of colonial society in New South Wales in 1899 as the last pre-Federation governor.  He was dubbed “our boy Governor” by a local journal.  He returned to England in late 1900 and went on to marry and become leader of the Liberal party in the House of Lords.  In 1931 his wife sued for divorce, accusing him of a long series of affairs with young men.  The scandal forced him to leave Britain.  The account added that when the then king, George V was told of “Beauchamp’s trouble” he exclaimed, “Why, I though people like that always shot themselves”.

The account continued that Beauchamp was accompanied into exile by a good-looking private secretary.  They based themselves in a harborside mansion in Sydney.  In 1933 the secretary married a society girl with Lord Beauchamp escorting him into St. Mary’s Cathedral.  Three years later his glamorous bride filed for divorce, alleging that her husband was a homosexual with a group of like-minded friends, with the case causing one of the biggest scandals of the 1930’s.  The scandal was apparently limited to New South Wales.  Hastings made no reference to a period Lord Beauchamp spent there, but said that four years after his exile in Venice, Lord Beauchamp announced he would attend his son’s funeral in England and out of pity the home secretary suspended the warrant for his arrest.   He returned to live to live permanently in the family home, Madresfield Court, familiar to Evelyn Waugh from his friendship with Beauchamp’s children.   Waugh used it as a model for Brideshead in “Brideshead Revisited”. In the novel Lord Marchmain, the owner of Brideshead abandons both house and social position to live with his mistress in Venice, but finally returns to Brideshead to die.

When Waugh was about to turn twenty-one Alastair Graham became a Roman Catholic and soon after went to Africa to stay with his sister for a few months.   Hastings reported that Waugh became captivated by Olivia Greene, the sister of a friend, finding her combination of intellectual aggressiveness and Herbert high breeding irresistable.   He wrote in his diary for December 1924 “I wonder if I am falling in love with this woman”.  Later, when Olivia did not find him physically attractive and rejected even his most tentative physical embraces, he wrote “ I cannot cure myself of being in love with Olivia.  It is so trying for both of us.”  After Alastair returned to England,  Hastings said than the friendship between the two men remained as strong as ever but the erotic element had faded.  Alastair remained committed to his own sex, Evelyn, although still aware of his power to attract men, had turned his attention to women.  Hastings added that when he visited Alastair Graham in Athens a few years later, his tastes now tending in other directions, he was no longer wholly sympathetic to the unrestrained pederasty indulged in by his friend.

The following year he met Evelyn Gardner who became his first wife.  A year after their marriage she commenced a sexual relationship with a male friend of them both.   Hastings considered the factors which possibly contributing to her determination to end the marriage were that Waugh constricted her development by his knowledge and occasional sharp tongue as well as his being “bad in bed”.  Hastings added that she suspected his real preference was for men.  Apparently Waugh did not believe this.   Referring to comments of friends concerning the situation with his wife he wrote that it was extraordinary how homosexual people however kind and intelligent, simply don’t understand at all what one feels in this kind of case.  It was possible that independent of his sexual preference, his sexual interest was not great.  Hastings cited an article Waugh wrote on marriage in 1930 in which he stated that when couples find after some time of marriage that sexual relations are not so absorbingly interesting as they had been lead to suppose, they think it is because they have chosen the wrong mate.

At the time Waugh was described as miserable, talking of suicide, and quite beside himself but determined to divorce.  Following the divorce, Waugh indulged in what Hastings termed a kind of sexual free-wheeling he had not known even at Oxford.  She quoted his brother as saying Evelyn would successfully propose to attractive women that they have brief trips away together.  He then fell seriously in love with a rich and pretty young woman who was socially prominent and a devout Roman Catholic, Teresa Jungman.   Like Olivia Greene, his earlier love, she did not find Waugh physically attractive, and her rejection of his advances lead to frequent quarrels.   Waugh then became a Roman Catholic and a few years later when he was expecting to be told his marriage had been annulled, he proposed unsuccessfully to Teresa. In the intervening time he had continued to have casual heterosexual relationships, saying it was almost impossible for a bachelor to live chastely, and that he was not prepared to try. To tolerant friends he wrote of his sexual experiences in Tangier with Arab girls of fifteen or sixteen, with one of whom he said he had formed an attachment. There are no diaries for this period.  After his return to England he reported he had taken a great fancy to a girl of eighteen, Laura Herbert, and found she returned his love.  However the annulment of his marriage was delayed.  Hastings considered his depression concerning this contributed to his commencing an intense affair with another woman.  She points out in his casual relationships Waugh applied a somewhat convoluted Catholic perspective.  He was scrupulous in selecting women who would not be damaged by them, women outside the pale of the Roman Church, women who were morally unencumbered and sexually experienced.   In saying the women would not be damaged by the end of the relationship Hastings presumably meant not damaged spiritually.   She described some who were very emotionally distressed following the termination.

Within a year of learning his marriage had been annulled Waugh married Laura Herbert.  Some months earlier he had written to her, indicating what she could expect.  He was pretty sure he would be faithful, and could support her financially.  However his work would mean that for several months each year they would have to live separately or she would have to share some very lonely place with him.  She opted to live separately for the periods he was writing intensively.  Following the marriage they had a child each year for the following three years, the third being unwanted and dying soon after being born.  Subsequently they had three more children at two yearly intervals and their last child four years later.   Of a period during the war when they were apart Waugh wrote to Laura “I see no women.  Celibacy is not so irksome as the lack of female company.  The pansy clergyman does not really fill their place.”  There would appear to be no evidence to suggest that Waugh was not correct in considering that after the marriage he would be faithful, both physically and emotionally.   Hastings commented of his negative attitude to the flamboyant homosexual Ambrose Silk in his wartime novel “Put out more Flags”, that it was as though Evelyn was writing off the influence of Oxford and of his own period of aestheticism and homosexuality.   If so the writing off would seem to have been temporary.  “Brideshead Revisited” was published a few years later.

After the war when he was about age 50 Waugh began to take increasing doses of chloral and bromide for insomnia.    He became aware of memory lapses and decided to have a sea-trip to improve his health.   During the trip he had psychotic experiences which were later diagnosed as due to the excessive amount of drugs he had taken.  On his recovery he wrote “The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold” which according to Hastings narrated with absolute precision the circumstances of the psychosis.  In the novel Pinfold experienced hallucinations of voices accusing him of being a sodomite, a communist pansy, and attractive to women because he was homosexual.    From a psychoanalytic perspective it could be argued that this accusations were an expression of Waugh’s unconscious desires which he found unacceptable and repressed, but which returned to his consciousness as alien voices.  However another accusation was that he was a communist Jew.   From the references in his writings to communists and Jews, it would seem unlikely Waugh had a desire to be a communist Jew even at an unconscious level.  In the novel Penfold commented that the accusations that he was Jewish and homosexual were totally preposterous.  Other accusations were that he had sex with a female passenger in her cabin, had hundreds of girls, and was a secret agent during the war.   Penfold recounted that he developed feelings of love towards an imagined woman whose hallucinatory voice spoke warmly to and about him and he prepared to have intercourse with her when her voice requested this.  Possibly the accusation of homosexuality did reflect guilt about his past homosexuality, but the other accusations and his response to them suggest he was at this time mainly if not entirely heterosexual in his feelings.

In summary, it would seem from the totality of evidence available that Waugh was predominantly or exclusively homosexual in his feelings of love and attachment and probably in his sexual feelings and activities until he was 21.   Subsequently he was exclusively heterosexual in his sexual activities and predominantly if not exclusively heterosexual in his love and attachment behaviors.   He did not consider he was homosexual.   His sexual behaviors seem in accordance with  what is known of those of men who could appropriately be labeled homosexual heterosexuals.   If they have homosexual activity, most limit it to adolescence when their homosexual feelings are strongest, and most if not all identify as heterosexual.   However while students of sexual behavior continue to ignore the existence of this majority of men and women with homosexual feelings whose heterosexual feelings and behaviors are predominant, the diversity of their sexual behavior will remain hidden.

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