Bi Statistics: 1 in 2 or 1 in 50?

YouGov does bi

Last month YouGov were busy asking people about sexual orientation – with headline grabbing and intriguing results.

1,632 people took part in the survey over 13-14 August, while many BCN readers were busy at BiCon.

Participants were asked to place themselves on the sexuality scale from 0 (exclusively heterosexual) to 6 (exclusively homosexual) put themselves somewhere in between, between 1 and 5.

It’s a scale of sexuality as used by Alfred Kinsey in the 1950s in his ground-breaking research into human sexuality. Today we might like more nuanced representation – that Kinsey line doesn’t reflect other aspects like kink or attraction toward or on the part of non-binary gendered people. Still, it’s simple enough to understand for most people, which is a good quality for research that wants mass participation regardless of how much time you’ve spent geeking out about gender and sexuality.

Bi Youth?

They found 43% of under 25s placed themselves in the 1 to 5 range. 6% of under 25s rated themselves a 6 (what we might think of as “wholly gay”)

Across the population as a whole, 76% placed themselves as a 0 or 6 on the scale (72% straight, 4% gay). 20% find themselves somewhere in between, with more people toward the lower numbers, and another 4% split between asexuality and “don’t know”.

That’s a world away from the number identifying as bi. 2% chose the label; 20% chose a 1-to-5 placement on the line. That says nine in ten of the people we are trying to reach with bi resources, events, support and information, don’t feel a connection to the “b word”.

No such thing!

The survey also found one in five lesbian or gay people, and three in ten heterosexual people, still think there is no such thing as bisexuality and everyone is really either gay or straight.

That said, 11% of who put themselves slap bang in the centre of the attraction scale on 3 nevertheless agreed that ‘there is no middle ground’. But that only amounts to four respondents: all polling has ‘noise’ from people who didn’t understand the question, or who have just realised they gave the wrong answer five questions ago. The way YouGov polling works, they are not then allowed to go back and correct themselves.

Unlabelled centre

Respondents who preferred not to categorise themselves as gay, straight, or bi, lay in the centre of a Kinsey scale. On this 0 (exclusively straight) – to – 6 (exclusively gay) scale of sexual attraction, the unlabelled rated themselves as 2,3 or 4. The comparative acceptance of gay and straight identities, combined with social stigma associated with identifying as bisexual may be behind this.

What does it all mean? That for those trying to make it easier to be bi and raising the pink, purple and blue bi flag for this year’s Bi Visibility Day on 23 September we have two battles to fight. On the one hand to make it easier for the ‘one-to-fives’ to own the label bisexual, and on the other we need to make it easier for them to just get on with living a “one-to-five” life even if they’d rather not own any labels.
Research in full: