01 March 2012

Charles Silverstein on the origin of the 10% are gay statistic

From: Charles Silverstein [mailto:CSILVERSTEIN2@nyc.rr.com]
Sent: Sunday, June 14, 2009 12:21 PM
To: James Cantor
Subject: the 10% statistic

Dear Jim,

            I was looking through your webpage & found where you said that that the 10% of males are gay was incorrect & too lengthy to discuss. I can tell you where the figure came from because I was there. It came out of the Gay Activist Alliance (GAA) in the early 1970s. There was a Press or PR Committee headed by Bruce Voeller and Ron Gold. Ron was an experienced PR man & Bruce a researcher at Rockefeller. The media always wanted to know how many men were homosexual. When Bruce would talk to them about statistics and sampling problems, their eyes would glaze over. The press does not want to know about sampling probabilities. So Bruce decided to tell them that 10% of males were gay, since that was a neat and easily understood figure. It then became the mantra of gay liberation. I’m sure that Bruce got 10% from somewhere in the first Kinsey book, but can’t remember specifically where. Nor did anyone at the time care how accurate it was. We were fighting for our rights and publicity was extremely valuable to our cause.

            I’ll be at APA in Toronto & hope that we’ll get a chance to meet. I enjoy both your good humor on the list-serve and your research – not necessarily in that order.

Charles Silverstein