Many people still believe that there are only a limited number of categories of sexual orientation. These people often believe that everyone fits in either of the boxes hetero sexual, bisexual or homosexual. Others believe that it is a sliding scale and that the ratio of being heterosexual or gay can be expressed in a percentage (“I am 83% hetero”). The whole idea of such a scale comes from the 1950s, when Alfred Kinsey introduced his scale for the first time.
The Kinsey Scale
The partition that Alfred Kinsey published between 1948 and 1953, has seven categories between fully heterosexual and fully homosexual. The category in the middle is bisexual.
Obver the years, this scale was commented on a lot. For example, there is no room for asexuality (persons that are not sexually attracted to either men and women) or pansexuals (people who are attracted, irrespective of their gender). Also, the ideas on sex, gender and orientation are much more nuanced than in the 1950s. We now know that thee may be a difference between sexual and romantic or emotional orientation and someones orientation may shift through their lives. Meanwhile there are over 200 different scales, for example stating someone’s masculinity or femininity, of someones biological gender (believe it or not, that is not as black and white as you may think).
Fives versus sixes
Until recently there was another big issue with regards to the Kinsey Scale. Because, when is someone a five on the scale, and when is he a six? Are fives just a six who are afraid to admit? Or are fives indeed more attracted to persons of the opposite sex than sixes? Until recently, because a study was published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior that tested just this.
The research was conducted among 58 homosexual men, that were mostly white and had an average age of 26. Of these respondents, 20 said they were a five and 38 said to be a six. With 36 of these men, a physical test took place in a lab. The physical arousal of these men was measured as they watched men-to-men and women-2-woman porn.
When asked how they would feel if they were supposed to have sex with a women, the fives said they would be turned on by it, while the sixes found it to be disgusting. The fives also showed more physical respons to the woman-to-woman porn. Striking is, that both the fives and sixes had similar arousal to the man-to-men porn.
Despite of the small sample size, the research clearly shows that there is a difference in the way people can be gay. Some men, that are homosexual, are slightly more bisexual and get turned on by the idea of having sex with women, while others find that repulsive. The research clearly shows that sexual orientation is more than just three distinct categories.