Homosexual lifestyle – Essential Information

Homosexual lifestyle or homosexual lifestyle is an expression used to describe the lifestyle formed by wealthy urban homosexuals in the second half of the 20th century in the United States and other developed countries.

The homosexual lifestyle is discussed in terms of the subculture of consumption, in which individualism and diversity are considered as key components of this subculture.

In journalism, the homosexual lifestyle can be defined by some authors as a lifestyle based on sex and associated with drug use, bad habits, sexually transmitted diseases as a result of promiscuous sexual intercourse.

Homosexual lifestyle as a consumer culture

In the wake of the civil rights movement that began in the 1960s in the United States, young homosexuals became more open and began to form their own homosexual identity in opposition to heterosexual norms. Wealthy urban homosexuals have created their own homosexual lifestyle based on their consumer lifestyle. They positioned themselves as consumers of various goods and services, including theater, cinema, clothing, and tourism. Gay neighborhoods have begun to draw to catering establishments for the childless wealthy public, wine boutiques, antique and bookstores. The homosexual lifestyle has given rise to a special class of consumer – childless and having free time, as a rule, white men. One of the objects of prestige for this consumer is vacations in exotic locations and on sunny beaches. At the same time, these images are applicable only to certain gays and lesbians, and some homosexuals, whose lifestyle does not fit into the described ideas, may feel alienated from the LGBT community. Since the late 1970s, more and more attention has been paid to the homosexual lifestyle in the gay press.

The Encyclopedia of Homosexuality notes that the viability of the homosexual lifestyle as an alternative subculture is associated with the possibility of open contempt for the norms of society intolerant towards homosexuals themselves. The formation of a special homosexual lifestyle took place in the 1960s in the United States as a result of the “gay liberation movement”. The rejection of heterosexuality and everything that was associated with it, including the traditional gender distribution of roles, led to the formation of a new set of values ​​and standards. The criteria for the emerging urban gay lifestyle of the 1970s were distinctive clothing style, special bars, baths and resorts, subscription to the gay press and participation in public events of political content. At the same time, the homosexual lifestyle of the 1970s was characterized by freedom from heterosexual marriage, sexual relations without commitment, sexual experimentation and a high level of tolerance for sexual promiscuity, as well as periodic attendance at rallies, demonstrations and various gatherings. Influenced by the media, this American model of homosexual lifestyles spread throughout the 1970s to Western Europe and the Third World, merging into a general “Americanization” that indulged a culture of consumption and pleasure. Criminal prosecutions of same-sex relationships have fostered a hedonistic lifestyle of drugs, promiscuity, and a constant pursuit of pleasure. In the 1980s, after the onset of the AIDS epidemic, the popularization of the idea of ​​monogamy and its acceptance as the norm for a certain part of homosexuals increased.

The term “lifestyle” describes various individual patterns of thinking and behavior (daily routines, opinions, values, interests, needs and perceptions) that characterize differences among consumers. In addition, the term lifestyle is directly related to fashion (trends).

Australian scholar and civil rights activist Dennis Altman notes that the 1970s gay lifestyle gave rise to avant-garde fashion in popular culture. In his opinion, the homosexual lifestyle was “a product of modern urban liberal capitalism”.

Sociologist Anthony Giddens, referring to Kenneth Plummer, writes that homosexuality as a way of life in modern Western culture is characteristic of individuals who, separated from the “heterosexual community”, belong to the homosexual subculture, which has become an essential part of their life. According to sexologist Erwin Heberle, homosexuals, having received a certain label from society, themselves adopt a certain style of behavior, integrating themselves into a homosexual subculture that offers them ready-made life scenarios. At the same time, they themselves begin to assimilate the model of behavior that society expects from them.

Marketing research on the terms of service for gay customers shows that equality, individualism and diversity are critical aspects of the gay subculture. Additionally, the consumption patterns of such customers are influenced by interaction with friends, heterosexual and homosexual cultural interface.

Mention in the context of medical research

The concept of “homosexual lifestyle” (“gay lifestyle” or “homosexual lifestyle”) has been present in scientific medical research since the 1980s. Before the discovery of HIV and a detailed description of the epidemiology and mechanisms of HIV infection (in particular, before the description in 1983 of HIV transmission during heterosexual intercourse), the homosexual lifestyle as a combination of drug use, bad habits, sexually transmitted diseases as a result of promiscuous sexual intercourse connections, within the framework of the outdated “theory of overload” was considered as the cause of the breakdown of the immune system, which in turn caused AIDS, or, as it was called until 1983 – GRID (gay related immune deficiency,).

Homosexual lifestyle as an object of criticism

The expression “homosexual lifestyle” is used by ex-gay organizations. The American human rights organization Southern Poverty Law Center describes it this way:

In the ex-gay lexicon, the word gay appears only in the phrase gay lifestyle, which is mostly understood as a hedonistic mixture of one-night stand and sexually transmitted diseases leading to early death and fading of youthful beauty. The ex-gay movement has no real-world concepts in which gays and lesbians are elected to government office, appear on television shows, and start families.

Among the stages of “engaging in homosexuality” highlighted by the ex-gay organization Exodus Global Alliance, the latter is called “homosexual lifestyle.” This stage in the organization is understood as penetration into the “gay subculture” (for example, work in establishments for homosexuals, having homosexual friends, etc.), in which a homosexual can find some support.

It should be specially noted that, from a medical point of view, it is necessary to distinguish the normality of any behavior (simply the fact that it is not considered as a disease in need of treatment) from its normality (suggesting that it is a model of socially acceptable and encouraged action). For example, today the American Psychiatric Association tends not to consider all paraphilias as mental illnesses, unless they lead to repeated illegal behavior or cause mental distress to the patient. Nevertheless, in justifying their decision, the Association experts point out: “This leaves intact the distinction between normative and abnormal sexual behavior … but without the automatic connection with abnormal sexual behavior of the mental disorder label.”

Expression stereotyped

The expression “homosexual lifestyle” is considered by many homosexual people as a derogatory label, when pronounced in people typical pictures of promiscuity and gay pride parades. The described ideas are actively cultivated by the media, which contributes to their further rooting. For example, when broadcasting messages about holding pride parades, television cameras, as a rule, capture the most defiant and shocking participants in the processions. In general, the stereotyping of the “homosexual lifestyle” is a case of reductionism (primitive simplification) of the concept of homosexual orientation. In addition, the use of the term “homosexual lifestyle” implies that all gay, lesbian and bisexual people allegedly lead the same lifestyle and that their sexual orientation is a conscious choice and therefore can and should be subject to change.

The general concept of a homosexual lifestyle as a life in which parties, promiscuous sex and drugs alternate non-stop, originates in the 1970s, when society did not know HIV and some people (both homosexual and heterosexual ) were more free in their sexual behavior. Of course, there are some representatives in the LGBT community who are characterized by very dangerous sexual behavior, but the same can be said about heterosexuals. At the same time, it would be wrong to assert the existence of a special homosexual, as well as heterosexual lifestyle.

The Encyclopedia of Homosexuality (1990) notes that the term “lifestyle” is more typical for journalists than for sociological science and is problematic in view of the fact that different lifestyles can overlap in one person, as well as upon closer examination. life, seemingly homogeneous, can disintegrate into many phenomena.


Groups at increased risk of HIV infection include certain categories of people, in the course of their personal life, the likelihood of direct contact of blood, or even intact mucous membrane, or damaged skin with the biological fluids of an infected person (blood, lymph, sperm, vaginal secretions, pre-seminal fluid, breast milk separated from wounds, cerebrospinal fluid, contents of the trachea, pleural cavity, etc.) is more likely than the average for the population. Therefore, an especially dangerous form of sexual intercourse for the receiving partner is unprotected anal sex, since this form causes the greatest number of small and large injuries. On the other hand, infection is possible even in the case of intact mucous membrane, since the mucous membrane contains a significant number of dendritic cells (including Langerhans cells), which can play the role of “carriers” of viral particles to the lymph nodes.


Number of sexual partners

There is an idea that homosexuality is associated with promiscuity. Some studies show its validity, some, on the contrary, argue that short and superficial homosexual relationships are characteristic only for some, but not all same-sex relationships; and many gays and lesbians build long-term relationships and live like a family.

L. S. Klein, referring to a number of studies, names the following numbers of sexual partners: “In 1971, every seventh German homosexual (“ Schwule ”) had more than 600 partners – though not in a year, as the above-quoted doctors assured, but during his life (Dannecker und Reiche 1974: 236). In 1981, half of homosexual students changed at least five partners in a year, while among heterosexual students, only 5% of students changed partners at such a rate (Clement 1986: 111-112). Ten times less. In the United States, the average number of homosexual partners in a lifetime is 50, while the average number of homosexual partners is only 4 (Michael et al. 1994). <…>. Meanwhile, 90% of heterosexual women in the United States and more than 75% of heterosexual men showed that they had no extramarital sex at all (Michael et al. 1994) <..> However <..> an increasing number of people prefer other types of intercourse and generally “safe sex “, And especially a great craving is felt for a permanent partner, for the creation of homosexual couples,” families “in quotes and without (where it is permitted by law). <..> Of the 50 homosexuals surveyed by Liddicout (Boczkowski 1988: 143), 22 (that is, almost half) had regular partners of St. 5 years, of which two are St. 10 years and six over 15 years. For ten years the sociologist M. Bohov has been conducting a survey of the German “gay”. Here are the results for 3,048 questionnaires for 1996. More than half, 53 percent, showed that this year they lived with a permanent partner, while 22 percent – with only one, without “cheating”. A survey on the number of partners found out: 16% had contact with only one person, another 27% with several (from two to five), 16% – from six to ten, and 24% – with many (more than 20 partners per year). This is less than in 1993 (44%), but still almost a quarter! Four-fifths practice anal intercourse, but only a quarter have no protective equipment (Bochow 1993; Polzer 1997). ”

Sexologist and sociologist I.S.Kon summarizes the results of a number of studies on same-sex relationships:

“According to various researchers, in the late 1970s. Between 40 and 60% of American gay men had more or less stable pairing relationships, and about half of them lived together, and 8% of female and 18% of male couples lived together for over 10 years. According to another American survey, 14% of female and 25% of male couples have existed for more than 10 years. Two-thirds of Dutch gay men were in long-term partnerships at the time of the survey, with an average duration of about 6 years. Less than 4% of the German gays surveyed in 1987 had never had a permanent relationship. At the time of the survey, 59% had a stable relationship, but many of them had this friendship no more than a year ago. In East Germany in 1990 56% of homosexuals had a permanent partner, 48% of them had a common household and another 36% would like to run it. In 35% of 30-40-year-old men, the duration of cohabitation was more than three years, in 24% – more than five years, and 10% – more than 10 years. In England in the late 1980s, between 57% and 65% of gay men had partnerships, the average duration was 4 years, and the maximum was 38 years. ”

People of homosexual orientation may or may not express it in sexual activity. Some homosexuals have same-sex sexual relationships, others may have heterosexual and bisexual relationships or none at all (live in sexual abstinence). According to a large 2006-2008 US survey, 15% of women and 12% of men who describe themselves as homosexual (or bisexual) have never had experience of same-sex relationships.

Duration of relationship

Most of the early studies show that homosexual people have more sexual partners than heterosexuals. Thus, according to Loney (1972), gay men have 194 male and 1.3 female sexual partners during their lives, while lesbians have 3.7 partners and 5.3 partners during their lives. Research by Sagir and Robins (1973) shows that over 75% of homosexual men have more than 30 partners in their lifetime. Additionally, researchers show that gay / lesbian relationships rarely last longer than 6 years. Bell and Weinberg (1978) conclude that half of homosexual men have sexual intercourse primarily with their first-time partners.

An interesting comparison in this respect is the study by Blumstein and Schwartz (1983), which concludes that the average duration of relationships between unmarried American heterosexual couples is 5 to 8 years. Moreover, only 2% of such couples live together for more than 10 years.

At the same time, many early studies of the sexual behavior of homosexual people have been criticized. For example, in a 1973 study by Sagira and Robins, which claims that only 15% of gays and 17.3% of lesbians had at least once in their lives a relationship that lasted more than three years, only 89 gays and 57 lesbians from San Francisco participated and Chicago.

A 2003 Amsterdam study that found the average duration of a gay couple’s relationship as a year and a half, during which they have an average of about 12 sexual encounters on the side, is often cited as justification that same-sex couples are not seeking long-term relationships. monogamous unions. According to data published on the official website of the Amsterdam Cohort Study, the recruitment of respondents for the study took place in several stages. At the first stage, from October 1984 to April 1985, only respondents aged 18-65 years old who had at least two sexual partners in the last six months were involved in the study. From April 1985 to February 1988, only respondents with a seronegative HIV test were interviewed. From February 1988 to December 1998, a study was conducted of respondents infected with HIV-1. Additionally, in 1995, a campaign was launched to attract young respondents under 30. In February 1996, all previously collected data on HIV-negative respondents were excluded from the study.

There are, however, very different studies (for example, Dannecker / Reiche, 1974; MacWyter / Mattison, 1984; Köllner, 1990, etc.), which cast doubt on the conclusions about the inability of homosexuals to build long-term relationships. Research by Thomas Hertling from the University of Munich, published in 2011, shows that 49.5% of respondents – homosexual men aged 14 to 78 years, who had a regular partner at the time of the study, had been in a relationship with him for more than 5 years, 24.9 % – from 2 to 5 years, 12.6% – from 1 to 2 years and 13% – less than a year. In addition, 62.5% of respondents were in the group of respondents from 35 to 44 years old in a relationship with a partner for more than 5 years, and 70.2% of respondents were in the group over 45.

The well-known sexologist and sociologist Igor Kon, summarizing various studies of same-sex couples in the 1970s and 1980s, writes that even though it was difficult for same-sex couples to live together before legalizing same-sex relationships, at the end of the 1970s from 40 up to 60% of American gay men had more or less stable pairing relationships. Cohn cites a study published in 1983 (Blumstein / Schwartz, p. 594), according to which 8% of lesbian and 18% of male homosexual couples have lived together for more than 10 years.

The lack of financial dependence of one partner on the other in same-sex couples (as is often the case in heterosexual marriages), the absence of common children (which is often impossible against the wishes of same-sex couples themselves) and a simpler legal procedure for dissolving partnerships (which is often the case for various forms of same-sex partnerships other than marriage) may indeed contribute to faster and more painless dissolution of registered same-sex unions compared to opposite-sex marriages.