An interesting study is out which shows that, among committed couples, both straight and gay, monogamy is going up:
Data on gay and heterosexual couples from 1975 and from 2000 — the most recent year such data with identical survey questions was available to researchers — show the percentage of partnered gay men who reported sexual activity beyond the relationship dropped from 83% to 59%, while lesbians reported a decrease from 28% to 8%. Married heterosexual men and women showed a similar trend away from extra-relational sexual behavior.
“Our findings reveal a marked movement toward monogamy over time,” study authors wrote in the September issue of the journal Family Process.
And that data is now eleven years old. I find a few things of interest here:
1. While nonmonogamy seems to still be obviously higher among gay men, it’s interesting to see that trend line move down as homosexuality becomes more accepted and integrated in society. It would seem, possibly, that the move away from homosexuality being an “underground” thing — and with that, more societal support for our relationships, which happens to allow young gay people to dream the same dreams for life as everyone else — might contribute to these numbers.
2. It gives lie to the idea, promulgated by the Religious Right, that gay relationships are inherently nonmonogamous or inherently unstable. [We gays already knew this, but whatever.]
3. Moreover, it gives lie to the Religious Right idea that somehow we are in or are headed toward some sort of morally hedonistic place as a society, whether we’re talking about homos or heteros.
I’m not getting into the whole subject of whether monogamy is right for every couple. What works for your relationship might not work for mine and vice versa. That’s a different subject, and one about which we could fight all day. And I’d like to see more data about this, but I would suspect that it would show similar results. The world for gay people in 1975 was very different from what it was in 2000 and what it is today, and anecdotally I find that many of my friends’ and acquaintances’ expectations for their relationships are a far cry from what the ooga-boogas of the Religious Right would tell you about gay relationships.