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Abstract

Individuals who identify as heterosexual but engage in same-sex sexual behavior fascinate both researchers and the media. We analyzed the Online College Social Life Survey dataset of over 24,000 undergraduate students to examine students whose last hookup was with a same-sex partner (N = 383 men and 312 women). The characteristics of a significant minority of these students (12% of men and 25% of women) who labelled their sexual orientation "heterosexual" differed from those who self-identified as "homosexual," "bisexual," or "uncertain." Differences among those who identified as heterosexual included more conservative attitudes, less prior homosexual and more prior heterosexual sexual experience, features of the hookups, and sentiments about the encounter after the fact. Latent class analysis revealed six distinctive "types" of heterosexually identified students whose last hookup was with a same-sex partner. Three types, comprising 60% of students, could be classified as mostly private sexual experimentation among those with little prior same-sex experience, including some who did not enjoy the encounter; the other two types in this group enjoyed the encounter, but differed on drunkenness and desire for a future relationship with their partner. Roughly, 12% could be classified as conforming to a "performative bisexuality" script of women publicly engaging in same-sex hookups at college parties, and the remaining 28% had strong religious practices and/or beliefs that may preclude a non-heterosexual identity, including 7% who exhibited "internalized heterosexism." Results indicate several distinctive motivations for a heterosexual identity among those who hooked up with same-sex partners; previous research focusing on selective "types" excludes many exhibiting this discordance.
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Archives of Sexual Behavior
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-018-1194-7
ORIGINAL PAPER
Heterosexual College Students Who Hookup withSame‑Sex Partners
ArielleKuperberg1 · AliciaM.Walker2
Received: 9 December 2016 / Revised: 13 March 2018 / Accepted: 14 March 2018
© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018
Abstract
Individuals who identify as heterosexual but engage in same-sex sexual behavior fascinate both researchers and the media.
We analyzed the Online College Social Life Survey dataset of over 24,000 undergraduate students to examine students whose
last hookup was with a same-sex partner (N = 383 men and 312 women). The characteristics of a significant minority of these
students (12% of men and 25% of women) who labelled their sexual orientation “heterosexual” differed from those who self-
identified as “homosexual,” “bisexual,” or “uncertain.” Differences among those who identified as heterosexual included
more conservative attitudes, less prior homosexual and more prior heterosexual sexual experience, features of the hookups,
and sentiments about the encounter after the fact. Latent class analysis revealed six distinctive “types” of heterosexually
identified students whose last hookup was with a same-sex partner. Three types, comprising 60% of students, could be clas-
sified as mostly private sexual experimentation among those with little prior same-sex experience, including some who did
not enjoy the encounter; the other two types in this group enjoyed the encounter, but differed on drunkenness and desire for a
future relationship with their partner. Roughly, 12% could be classified as conforming to a “performative bisexuality” script
of women publicly engaging in same-sex hookups at college parties, and the remaining 28% had strong religious practices
and/or beliefs that may preclude a non-heterosexual identity, including 7% who exhibited “internalized heterosexism.” Results
indicate several distinctive motivations for a heterosexual identity among those who hooked up with same-sex partners; previ-
ous research focusing on selective “types” excludes many exhibiting this discordance.
Keywords Hookups· Same-sex sexual behavior· Sexual identity· Internalized heterosexism
Introduction
Many people engage in same-sex sexual encounters or desire
them but maintain a heterosexual identity; others who adopt a
lesbian, gay, bisexual (LGB) or other sexual minority identity
later relinquish it for a heterosexual one (Diamond, 2003;
Hamilton, 2007; Walker, 2014a, 2014b; Ward, 2015). One
study of college students found 30% of women and 19% of
men who identified as heterosexual reported same-sex attrac-
tion (Hoburg, Konik, Williams, & Crawford, 2004). A study
representative of 18–26 year olds in the U.S. found 3% of
men and 11% of women identified as “mostly heterosexual”
when given that option, and same-sex attraction was reported
by 5% of men and 13% of women, but only 2% of men and
4% of women identified as LGB (Savin-Williams & Ream,
2007). Another study representative of U.S. 15–44 year olds
found 9% of women and 3% of men who identified as het-
erosexual had same-sex sexual experience (Chandra, Copen,
& Mosher, 2013).
Several theoretical frameworks have been proposed to
explain this discordance. Some studies with limited samples
examined “the closet” or “the down low” (Boykin, 2005; Ford,
Whetten, Hall, Kaufman, & Thrasher, 2007; King, 2004; Phil-
lips, 2005). Others focused on college “hookup culture” and
expectations of sexual experimentation, including young
women hooking up with other women at parties, ostensibly to
attract men (Diamond, 2005; Kimmel & Plante, 2002; Kuper-
berg & Padgett, 2015; Wade, 2017; Ward, 2015). A third line
of research examined LGB identity acquisition (Cass, 1979,
1996; Horowitz & Newcomb, 2002; Kaufman & Johnson,
2004). Negative feelings about homosexuality among those
with same-sex attractions or “internalized heterosexism” may
* Arielle Kuperberg
atkuperb@uncg.edu
1 Sociology Department, The University ofNorth Carolina
atGreensboro, PO Box26170, Greensboro, NC27402-6170,
USA
2 Department ofSociology andAnthropology, Missouri State
University, Springfield, MO, USA
Archives of Sexual Behavior
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also be a factor (Kaufman & Johnson, 2004; Taylor, 1999). We
examined whether a heterosexual identity among these students
correlated with characteristics that would be predicted by these
distinct and sometimes-competing frameworks, and the extent
to which students comprised distinguishable groups described
by these theories.
Same‑Sex Hookups Among Self‑Identied
Heterosexuals
Public fascination with self-identified heterosexuals hooking up
with same-sex partners arose in the 1990s, along with phrases
“on the down low” and “on the D.L.” Originating among Afri-
can-Americans, these idioms originally referred to any act done
secretly, but became associated with men who “publicly pre-
sent as heterosexual while secretly having sex with other men”
(Boykin, 2005; Ford etal., 2007; Phillips, 2005). Others used
“in the closet” to describe LGB individuals hiding their sexual
identity in public, or even to themselves (Seidman, Meeks, &
Traschen, 1999). Academic literature opted for “men who have
sex with men” or “MSM,” a term potentially obscuring the
meaning-making of sexuality (Young & Meyer, 2005).
Research on same-sex sexual encounters is generally lim-
ited and subject to sample bias. Some examined risk-taking
and sexual activity in same-sex hookups from a larger sample,
but most research focused on select groups, such as couples in
long-term relationships or those identifying as LGB (Eisenberg,
2001; Kuperberg & Padgett, 2015, 2017; Peplau & Fingerhut,
2007; Rust, 1992). Past research also mostly focused on men
and recruited subjects from biased sources, including web-
sites, bars, or parks known to be frequented by MSM or LGBT
organizations and magazines (Brady & Busse, 1994; CDC,
2010; Cole, Kemeny, Taylor, & Visscher, 1996; Hightow etal.,
2006; Kaufman & Johnson, 2004; Koblin etal., 2000; Lindley,
Nicholson, Kerby, & Lu, 2003; Rhodes, DiClemente, Cecil,
Hergenrather, & Yee, 2002; Rosario, Schrimshaw, Hunter, &
Braun, 2006; Rowen & Malcolm, 2002). Much research on
self-identified heterosexuals hooking up with same-sex partners
focused on African-American men, despite White men more
commonly exhibiting this disparity (Bleich & Taylor-Clark,
2005; Ford etal., 2007; King, 2004; Ross, Essien, Wiliams, &
Fernandez-Esquer, 2003; Ward, 2015). This focus may stem
from perceptions that “the down low” is limited to African-
American men due to the origins of the term or heightened
surveillance of the sexuality of men of color (Ward, 2015).
Women also seek out same-sex sexual partners while iden-
tifying as heterosexual (Walker, 2014a, b), although research
on students included only small samples of 80 or fewer (Dia-
mond, 2003; Hamilton, 2007; Peterson & Gerrity, 2006), and
research outside of college contexts is even more limited.
Walker (2014a) found women married to men who had affairs
with women felt these encounters “didn’t count” in terms of
monogamy. While reporting lifelong same-sex attraction and
sexual encounters, they rejected a bisexual identity, instead
explaining these acts as due to their “freakiness,” which they
felt was the accurate term for their sexual orientation (Walker,
2014b). Budnick (2016) found women with the least edu-
cation reported the most lifetime same-sex sexual events,
but for some early entry into motherhood closed-off sexual
exploration and possible development of a LGBQ identity.
College Hookup Scripts andSame‑Sex Hookups
Among Heterosexuals
Recent literature examined college hookups, casual sexual
encounters which most college students participate in, that
can range from an intense “make-out” session to intercourse
(Bogle, 2008; England, Shafer, & Fogarty, 2008; Kuperberg
& Padgett, 2015, 2016; Reiber & Garcia, 2010). Hookup
rates and risk-taking during hookups have been found to dif-
fer by gender, GPA, race, religiosity, mother’s education, and
age (Kuperberg & Padgett, 2015, 2016, 2017). The college
hookup scene is an opportunity for students to experiment
with and affirm non-heterosexual sexual identities or to con-
firm a heterosexual one (Rupp, Taylor, Regev-Messalem,
Fogarty, & England 2013). Social “scripts,” or expectations
of behavior, position college as a “time to experiment” sexu-
ally (Kuperberg & Padgett, 2015; Simon & Gagnon, 2003)
and may encourage same-sex hookups even among those
without same-sex attractions. Many dismiss these hookups
as “experimentation” or “accidental” (Ward, 2015).
Some women engage in same-sex hookups to attract mens
attention as an established part of the college hookup “sexual
script” (Diamond, 2005; Wade, 2017). Women often conduct
this “performative bisexuality” in public spaces for the bene-
fit of a male audience, as it is a commonly reported “turn-on”
for heterosexual men (Kimmel & Plante, 2002). Hamilton
(2007) described a campus culture where heterosexually-
identified women engaged in same-sex erotic behavior during
parties, later posting the pictorial evidence to social media.
Often attributed to alcohol consumption, these encounters
included kissing and fondling breasts or buttocks, but no
genital contact, and allowed young women to mark them-
selves as “edgy” (Hamilton, 2007).
However, suggesting that women engage in this behavior only
to attract men may obscure some functions of these encoun-
ters. In one study, two female roommates reported dancing
naked together when they were alone in their room, but jok-
ingly dismissed it as an activity for “when they were bored,”
while another study found women dismissing private same-sex
hookups as a result of inebriation (Hamilton, 2007; Wade, 2017).
Hooking up with other women at alcohol-fueled public parties
allowed women, particularly those who had negative views of
lesbianism, to experiment with socially acceptable same-sex
behavior assumed to be intended for male pleasure (Hamilton,
2007; Wade, 2017; Ward, 2015).
Archives of Sexual Behavior
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Other research focused on college men having sexual con-
tact with men in “heterosexual contexts,” per established social
scripts, including fraternity hazing rituals culturally defined as
heterosexual bonding activities rather than homosexual acts
(Sanday, 2007; Silva, 2017; Simon & Gagnon, 1986, 2003;
Ward, 2015). Members of organizations present these as ritu-
als of domination and humiliation aimed at increasing male
bonding, and frame participants as having “no choice but to
comply,” creating a context for homosexual encounters contex-
tualized as “obviously not gay,” while permitting sexual flex-
ibility and experimentation among men (Ward, 2015). These
hazing encounters and other encounters described as “situ-
ational” homosexuality among men in specific contexts (such
as in prisons) are not presumed to be significant to underlying
sexuality (Kimmel, 2008; Ward, 2015).
Sexual Identity Theory
While questions of sexual orientation aim to categorize sexual
attractions, desires, and behaviors, disparities between reported
orientations and behavior suggest these questions instead meas-
ure sexual identity. Identity theory understands identities as a
set of meanings individuals use to self-define what it means to
be in a particular role or situation, but which are malleable and
can change over an individual’s lifetime (Rupp etal., 2013).
Commitment to, acceptance, and integration of an LGB identity
is an ongoing process often lasting through adolescence and
beyond, with many first adopting a bisexual identity before later
adopting a gay or lesbian identity (Rosario etal., 2006). Indi-
viduals sometimes adopt identities to represent current sexual
partnerships or choices, rather than to embody their overall feel-
ings of attraction to members of either gender over their lifetime
(Seidman etal., 1999). Some lesbian and bisexual women later
relinquish their sexual minority identity for a heterosexual one
after forming relationships with men, to reconcile their identity
and behavior (Diamond, 2003). Others describe their identity as
“heteroflexible,” meaning they are mostly attracted to men, but
occasionally participate in same-sex sexual behaviors they may
describe as random, accidental, or meaningless (Ward, 2015).
The “developmental stages model” theory of sexual identity
positioned taking on a homosexual identity and integrating it
into your broader personal identity as the final stage in becom-
ing aware of one’s underlying or “real” sexual orientation (Cass,
1979, 1996; Horowitz & Newcomb, 2002; Kaufman & Johnson,
2004). Researchers initially described the stages as (1) feelings
of homosexual attraction and identity confusion; (2) homo-
sexual experiences; (3) disclosing identities to some; and (4)
sexual identity fully integrated into broader identity (Kaufman
& Johnson, 2004). An updated model later took the focus away
from homosexual experiences, with stages including (1) identity
confusion; (2) evaluating familial and social consequences of
an LGB identity; (3) beginning to tolerate an LGB identity; (4)
acceptance of identity, identifying to others, increasing contact
with other LGB individuals; (5) developing pride for identity,
perhaps anger toward society and heterosexuals; and (6) syn-
thesizing an LGB identity with other aspects of identity (Cass,
1996). During early stages, individuals may attempt to recon-
cile a heterosexual identity with same-sex sexual behavior and
attractions by interpreting them as temporary or a “special case”
(“If not for this special person whom I love, I would be hetero-
sexual”) (Cass, 1996). They may later adopt a LGB identity or
may cease that behavior and never adopt an LGB identity (Brady
& Busse, 1994; Cass, 1996; Horowitz & Newcomb, 2002; Kauf-
man & Johnson, 2004). They may be in “transition,” where they
have begun to “recognize that they are not heterosexual, yet
have not adopted a homosexual identity” (Taylor, 1999). One
study of college women found of those identified as being in one
of the stages of homosexual identity development, those with
“heterosexual” identities were all in Stages 1–3 of the updated
model (Peterson & Gerrity, 2006).
Researchers critiqued the developmental stages model as
stemming from an essentialist perspective, with sexual identity
conceptualized as unchanging (Horowitz & Newcomb, 2002;
Kaufman & Johnson, 2004; Peterson & Gerrity, 2006). Social
constructionists instead conceptualized identity as fluid over
time and social context, influenced by interactions that socially
create and reinforce that identity, and personal and social sig-
nificance at a specific time and place (Horowitz & Newcomb,
2002). Indeed, the idea that same-sex sexual behaviors con-
stitute an “identity” only fully emerged in the mid-twentieth
century (Ward, 2015). Research found that the gender of indi-
vidual’s sexual interest can shift over their lifespan or in cer-
tain contexts (Baumeister, 2000; Blumstein & Schwartz, 1977;
Diamond, 2003, 2008; Goode & Haber, 1997; Seidman etal.,
1999; Sophie, 1986). LGB identities can develop in response
to positive self-appraisals, appraisals from others, or in the con-
text of same-sex romantic relationships (Kaufman & Johnson,
2004). Some LGB individuals who self-label receive negative
appraisals from others and may deemphasize that identity to
avoid stigma, especially if they internalize those views (Kauf-
man & Johnson, 2004; Taylor, 1999).
Along with biphobia, this “internalized heterosexism” may
prevent some from taking on a LGB identity (Dworkin, 2001;
Hutchins & Kaahumanu, 1991; Ochs & Deihl, 1992; Peterson
& Gerrity, 2006; Rowen & Malcolm, 2002). Also called inter-
nalized homophobia, the internalization of negative societal
attitudes toward homosexuality, or “heterosexism,” by those
with same-sex attractions is correlated with higher religiosity,
substance use, sexual risk-taking, and poor mental and physi-
cal health (Amadio, 2006; Kashubeck-West & Szymanski,
2008; Rowen & Malcolm, 2002; Szymanski, Kashubeck-
West, & Meyer, 2008). Most prominent religious groups in
the USA oppose same-sex relationships, and internalization
of these views may explain why religious individuals who
engage in same-sex behavior are more likely to identify as
heterosexual (Szymanski etal., 2008). Additionally, the term
Archives of Sexual Behavior
1 3
“bisexual” often meets resistance and may be avoided due
to disbelief of bisexuality as a legitimate sexual orientation
(Israel & Mohr, 2004; Rupp etal., 2013; Yost & Thomas,
2012; Zivony & Lobel, 2014). Many bisexual individuals
wonder if they are “bisexual enough” to warrant the identity
(Bower, Gurevich, & Mathieson, 2002; Ochs, 2007), while
some privately consider themselves bisexual, but avoid social
conflict and rejection by allowing others to assume they are
heterosexual (Ochs & Deihl, 1992).
Present Study Objectives
We analyzed the Online College Social Life Survey (OCSLS),
a dataset of over 24,000 students at 22 colleges and universi-
ties, to examine those who identified as heterosexual, but
whose last hookup partner was same sex. Using only data
on students whose last hookup partner was same sex, we
analyzed whether a “heterosexual” identity correlated with
demographics, attitudes, past sexual and relationship expe-
rience, and hookup encounter characteristics, and whether
students comprised distinct groups. College experimenta-
tion scripts and theories related to performative bisexuality
and fraternity hazing rituals suggest that same-sex encoun-
ters among students who identify as heterosexual may be
more likely to take place among students with little prior
same-sex experience, among fraternity and sorority mem-
bers, those who are more accepting of or interested in sexual
experimentation, involve only “low-level” sexual behavior,
take place in public social settings, and involve intoxication.
These students may be less likely than those with other iden-
tities to enjoy the encounter or want additional hookups or
a relationship with their same-sex hookup partner. Our first
research question asks:
Research Question(R)1 Do characteristics of same-sex
hookups among heterosexual college students align with
college sexual scripting theory related to sexual experimen-
tation, performative bisexuality, and/or fraternity hazing
rituals?
The development stages model and the related social con-
structionist model predict that students with a heterosexual
identity would have fewer same-sex sexual experiences and
more other-sex sexual experiences shaping their identity. The
development stages model also suggests those with a hetero-
sexual identity may be younger, and especially attracted to and
want a relationship with their partner (the “special case”). We
next ask:
R2 Do these characteristics align with the developmental
stages model and/or social construction model of identity
theory?
Theory related to internalized heterosexism suggests hetero-
sexually identified students may be more religious and socially
conservative, have more negative sentiments about homosexu-
ality, and take more risks, such as unprotected sex and binge
drinking. We next ask:
R3 Do these characteristics students support an internalized
heterosexism model?
We also explored racial patterns and how well students knew
their partner to examine the degree to which Black men who
have sex with anonymous male partners—the subject of much
prior study—are prevalent in these data. We also explored
whether some of these encounters were due to sexual assault.
These research questions included:
R4 Are Black students and those who do not know their
sexual partners well more prevalent among men who identify
as heterosexual, but hookup with same-sex partners? and
R5 Were same-sex hookups among heterosexual students
the result of sexual assault?
Prior theories may describe distinct groups that together
comprise the students who identify as heterosexual but hookup
with same-sex partners. Prior research tended to examine one
group at a time, such as women who engage in public hookups
with women, or those who exhibit internalized heterosexism,
but has not addressed the prevalence of various groups or the
extent to which the wider group of college students who hookup
with same-sex partners can be described by these various and
sometimes-competing theoretical frameworks. We draw upon
latent class analysis methods to examine a final central research
question:
R6 Are college students who hookup with same-sex partners,
but identify as heterosexual comprised of distinct “types” that
conform to various prevailing theories described in R1–R3,
and what is the prevalence of each “type?”
Method
Subjects
We analyzed the OCSLS, a survey of romantic and sexual
partnering behavior collected between 2005 and 2011 from
24,131 students attending 22 colleges and universities. Ques-
tions asked about students’ most recent dates and hookups, life-
time sexual behavior, and a variety of demographic and attitude
questions. Professors of large introductory level courses and
courses addressing sociology, family, sexuality, gender, and
Archives of Sexual Behavior
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public health at these universities distributed surveys to students
as a course assignment, offering an alternative assignment for
students who did not participate. This sampling method resulted
in a non-representative sample; elite research-oriented univer-
sities, underclasssmen, and women were overrepresented, and
although almost 90% of participants were not sociology majors,
around 80% of courses in which data were collected were soci-
ology courses (Kuperberg & Padgett, 2015). The response rate
was over 99% (Armstrong, England, & Fogarty, 2009). The
study was IRB approved at every college and university sur-
veyed and at the university where data were analyzed.
Measures
The survey asked detailed information about student’s
characteristics and attitudes as well as the students’ most
recent hookup that occurred while they were in college,
which is the data we focus on in this study. We examined
variables related to students’ social activities and attitudes,
prior sexual and romantic history, characteristics of, and
sentiments about student’s last same-sex hookup. Several
variables were collected using “strongly agree,” “agree,”
“disagree,” and “strongly disagree” as options; for simplic-
ity sake, we dichotomize these measures into those who
“agree” and “disagree,” whether strongly or otherwise.
Several outcomes we examined had many missing responses.
Attitude questions were not added to the survey until the fall
of 2007, and we therefore had a smaller sample size for those
questions than for other questions in the survey. Since this is
a select small population, to make full use of the data we did
not harmonize the data according to missing outcomes on out-
come variables examined, and only deleted participants from the
data based on missing responses related to key sexual identity,
partner gender, and control variables. As a sensitivity test, we
examined the likelihood of missing values on these variables
for heterosexually identified students versus non-heterosexually
identified students and found no significant differences in non-
response with only two exceptions. (Full results are available
from authors).
Same‑Sex Hookups andSexual Orientation
We identified same-sex hookups based on the reported gen-
der of the participant and their most recent hookup partner.
We labeled sexual identity using participants’ response to
the question, “What is your sexual orientation?” They chose
from four possible responses: “homosexual,” “heterosexual,
“bisexual,” and “I don’t know.” Regression analyses com-
pared those “homosexual,” “bisexual,” or “I don’t know”
responses to “heterosexual” responses. We refer to the latter
as “heterosexually-identified” and the former as “non-hetero-
sexually-identified” for brevity; however, all such references
refer only to students whose most recent hookup was with a
same-sex partner.
While the overall measure capturing same-sex hookups
did not include transgender partners, in terms of past experi-
ences with partners we included some transgender partners;
among non-heterosexually identified students, two women’s
last date partners were FTM transgender, and two mens last
date partners were MTF transgender. We coded these as non-
heterosexual dates. Similarly, three non-heterosexually-iden-
tified women reported that their last long-term relationship
was with a FTM transgender person; we counted these as
non-heterosexual relationships.
We identified 718 same-sex hookups, including 398
male–male hookups and 320 female–female hookups in this
dataset using the self-reported gender of the participant, and
the reported gender of their most recent hookup partner. How-
ever, approximately 7% (27 students) of male participants who
reported a male partner in their last hookup also reported that
they had vaginal sex during their last hookup or date. We cannot
know if these participants mistakenly entered the wrong gender
of their most recent hookup partner, mistakenly reported that
they had vaginal sex during their last encounter, were using an
alternative definition of vaginal sex or gender, were “jokesters”
intentionally mis-answering questions, or were thinking of
two different hookup partners when they answered these ques-
tions. Some may identify partners or themselves as “male”
or “female” instead of identifying a partner or themselves as
transgender, despite the availability of “transgender” as an
option. Upon further investigation into other questions regard-
ing all prior sexual experience, 14 students reported past sexual
activity with a male partner; we retained these cases in the
sample and removed the 13 who indicated they had vaginal sex
with men but reported no sexual activity with men under their
lifetime sexual behavior. We also removed 10 students (eight
women and two men) missing information on race, religious
attendance, and/or mother’s education. Our final sample was
the remaining 695 students whose most recent hookup was with
a same-sex partner: 383 men and 312 women.
Social Activities andSexual Attitudes
We examined several social activities and attitudes related to
sexuality, homosexuality, and desires for hookups that may
illuminate whether student’s attitudes and characteristics
align with theory related to sexual experimentation scripts,
fraternity hazing rituals, and internalized heterosexism. We
examined a measure of fraternity or sorority membership and
agreement with the statements “Any kind of sexual activity
is ok as long as both persons freely agree to it,” “I wish there
were more opportunities for hooking up at my college,” and
Archives of Sexual Behavior
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“I don’t really want to be in an exclusive relationship now
because I’d rather be free to date or hook up with multi-
ple people.” Social activities and attitudes related to inter-
nalized heterosexism and prior descriptions of this group
included religious service attendance, divided into those
who attended “never,” “1–11 times per year,” or “12 + times
per year”; and agreement with the statement “My religious
beliefs have shaped and guided my sexual behavior.” Students
were also asked, “What is your opinion about sexual relation-
ships between two adults of the same sex?” and “There’s
been a lot of discussion about the way morals and attitudes
about sex are changing in this country. If a man and a woman
have sex relationship before marriage, do you think it is;” we
examined a dichotomous measure of whether participants
answered “always wrong” or “almost always wrong” versus
“wrong only sometimes” or “not wrong at all” on these two
questions. We also examined whether students characterized
their political views as liberal,” “moderate” (“middle of the
road”), or “conservative.”
Past Heterosexual andSame‑Sex Sexual Experience
Past same-sex relationship and sexual experience and past het-
erosexual sexual encounters may shape student’s sexual iden-
tity, in alignment with developmental stages theory and theory
related to the social construction of identity. Little prior same-
sex experience may also indicate students are engaging in sexual
experimentation. We first examined whether participant’s last
date and participant’s last long-term relationship lasting longer
than 6months was with a non-heterosexual partner, examining
only those who had been on a date or formed a relationship since
starting college. We next examined lifetime measures of partici-
pants’ experience with same-sex vaginal or anal sex (combining
“vaginal sexual intercourse,” “anal intercourse: you penetrated
your partner” and “anal intercourse: your partner penetrated
you”); same-sex oral sex (combining “you performed oral sex
on your partner” and “your partner performed oral sex on you”);
and hand-genital stimulation with a same-sex partner (combin-
ing “you stimulated your partner’s genital with your hand” and
“had your genitals stimulated by your partner’s hand”). We also
examined whether participants ever engaged in heterosexual
vaginal sex.
Characteristics ofMost Recent Same‑Sex Hookups
We examined several variables related to characteristics of
the same-sex hookup that students described in response to a
series of questions headed by the statement “For this section,
use whatever definition of hookup you and your friends gener-
ally use. It doesn’t have to include sex to count if you and your
friends would call it a hookup” and subheaded by the statement
“Now, some questions about the last time you hooked up with
someone you were NOT already in an exclusive relationship
(whether or not you knew the person beforehand).” To exam-
ine the prevalence of anonymous hookups related to R4, we
examined responses to “How well did you know the person you
hooked up with before the day you two hooked up?” including
the categories “very well,” “moderately,” “somewhat or a little
bit,” and “not at all.” To examine characteristics associated
with performative bisexuality narratives, we explored whether
hookups included kissing or non-groping only (including
“kissing” or “making out,” “you touched your partner’s breast
or buttocks area,” or “had your breast or buttocks touched by
your partner,” but no other sexual activity reported); whether
hookups included any type of genital contact, including
whether participants had oral sex, vaginal or anal sex, or hand-
genital stimulation (full definitions of these terms above); and a
separate measure of whether hookups included vaginal or anal
sex. We also examined whether hookups took place in public
via responses to a question “when you hooked up, where did
you go?” and whether students indicated “nowhere–we hooked
up at a social event in plain sight” instead of one of the other
options, which included “my room,” “the other person’s room,”
“in a private room somewhere else,” or “other.”
Risk‑Taking andSexual Assault
To examine characteristics associated with internalized hetero-
sexism and the college experimentation/hookup script, both of
which indicate a high rate of substance and sexual risk-taking
during sexual encounters, we next examined risk-taking during
same-sex hookups. We measured the number of drinks the par-
ticipant had consumed before or during the hookup by totaling
responses to questions about number of beers, glasses of wine,
mixed drinks or shots, and malt beverages (Smirnoff ice, Bac-
ardi breeze, Zima, etc.). In the latent class analysis, these were
divided into those who did not drink, those who drank moder-
ately or those who binge drank, measured as four or more drinks
for women and five or more for men, using cutoffs from prior
research on binge drinking in hookups (Kuperberg & Padgett,
2017). Whether the participant used drugs was measured by the
question “What drugs did you use before or during that occa-
sion (check all that apply)?” A response of “yes” to any of the
drugs (including marijuana, amphetamines (speed), cocaine,
ecstasy (x, e), heroin, mushrooms, other) resulted in a 1 or a 0
for a response of “I did not take any drugs before or during the
hookup.” We measured whether male participants had anal sex
during an encounter but answered no to the question “Did you
use a condom?” with 1 indicating both of these were true and 0
indicating that they did not have anal sex during the encounter
or used a condom if they did. Finally, we examined whether
the hookup was the result of sexual assault (R5), by measuring
whether the participant answered yes to any of three statements
about activity during last hookup, including “Did you have
sexual intercourse that was physically forced on you?”; “Did
someone try to physically force you to have sexual intercourse,
Archives of Sexual Behavior
1 3
but you got out of the situation without having intercourse?”;
and “Did someone have sexual intercourse with you that you
did not want when you were drunk, passed out, asleep, drugged,
or otherwise incapacitated?”
Sentiments About Most Recent Same‑Sex Hookup
Sentiments about hookups after the fact can illuminate whether
the hookup was a result of sexual curiosity now satisfied after
experimentation or the beginning of some of the stages of iden-
tity development that may lead to future changes in identity.
We examined responses to the question “looking back on this
hookup, how do you feel about it?” focusing on the responses
“I regret I did it” and “I’m glad I did it”; a third category “I’m
neither glad nor regret it” was included in denominators, but not
presented separately. We also examined average responses to
“How much did you enjoy the hookup overall?” with responses
ranging from 1 = “not at all” to 4 = “very much.” Finally, we
examined dichotomized responses to whether participants indi-
cated some interest in response to “At the end of the hookup,
were you interested in hooking up with this person again?” and
“Were you interested in having a romantic relationship with
the person you hooked up with after you hooked up?” with the
responses “Yes, I was definitely interested,” and “Maybe, it had
some appeal” counted as a “1,” and “Possibly, I didn’t really
know yet,” and “No, I wasn’t at all interested” counted as 0.
Demographic Variables
We present results related to selection into a heterosexual
identity among students whose last hookup was same-sex
by demographic characteristics and later controlled for these
characteristics in subsequent regression analyses. Related to
development stages described in R2, age was examined in
four groups: 18–19, 20–21, 22–23, and 24 + , although the
Latent Class Analysis (discussed further below) examined
only whether participants were 18 or an older age. Related
to R4, race was examined in response to the question “If you
had to pick one racial or ethnic group to describe yourself,
which would it be?” with results separated into White, Black,
Hispanic (including original categories Mexican–American
and Other Hispanic), Asian [including original categories
Chinese (from USA, PRC, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore,
etc.), Japanese, Korean, Filipino, Vietnamese, South Asian
(Indian, Pakistani, etc.), Other Asian/Pacific Islander], and
Other race (including original categories Native American
Indian/Native Alaskan and Other). To account for past dif-
ferences in hooking up and risk-taking found by past research
(Kuperberg & Padgett, 2015, 2016, 2017), we also examined
and controlled for participant’s mother’s highest level of edu-
cation by including a dichotomous measure of whether their
mother had a bachelor’s degree or graduate degree versus no
college degree, and current cumulative GPA, including four
dichotomous variables: < 2.1, 2.1–3.0, 3.1–3.75, and 3.76 + .
Analytic Strategy
We estimated mixed-effects logistic and linear regression
models comparing heterosexually-identified students whose
last hookup was with a same-sex partner to those other-iden-
tified students on the basis of demographic characteristics,
attitudes about sexuality, marriage, religion, past sexual and
relationship experiences, and various characteristics of stu-
dent’s same-sex hookups. These types of models allowed
us to account for clustering at the university level and were
estimated using the meqrlogit and mixed commands in Stata.
Results presented are regression-adjusted predicted means,
produced using the predict command in Stata and then gen-
erating average predicted values by sexual orientation using
tabstat. All models were estimated separately by gender, lim-
ited to students whose last hookup was with a same-sex part-
ner, and controlled for age, race, mother’s education, GPA,
and religious service attendance. Finally, we used the doLCA
command from the Latent Class Analysis (LCA) plugin in
Stata (Lanza, Dziak, Huang, Wagner, & Collins, 2015; LCA
Stata Plugin, 2015) to conduct a LCA to determine whether
certain characteristics correlated with underlying typologies
defining distinct groups among heterosexually-identified stu-
dents who engaged in same-sex hookups. LCA methods can
illuminate latent typologies or “classes” and are preferable
over more crude but analogous factor analysis or cluster anal-
ysis methods in offering analyses that are more in line with
what is theoretically meaningful in social science research
(Hagenaars & Halman, 1989). Classes are assumed to be
categorical, unlike factor analysis which assumes underlying
“factors” are continuous (Collins & Lanza, 2010). Results
presented are the predicted probability that a participant was
a member of a specific class; these are not interpreted simi-
larly to factor loadings. Rather, values close to 1 or close to
0 indicate a strong relationship between a given variable and
the latent class, but the distribution of probabilities across
classes must also be examined to determine which variables
are significant (Collins & Lanza, 2010).
Results
Table1 shows the self-identified sexual orientations or “sexual
identity” of participants who engaged in same-sex hookups.
Of the 383 male–male hookups examined, 12% (or 45) were
embarked on by a heterosexually-identified male participant,
and among the 312 female–female hookups, 25% (or 77) were
undertaken by a heterosexually-identified female participant.
In the broader sample, same-sex hookups comprised 8.4% of
Archives of Sexual Behavior
1 3
the 4746 most recent hookup experiences reported by men, and
3.3% of the last 9884 most recent hookup experiences reported
by women. In general, women who hooked up with women had
more variation in their sexual identities compared to men who
hooked up with men. Sixty-eight percent of men who hooked
up with men identified as homosexual, versus only around 39%
of women who hooked up with women. Around twice as many
women as men identified as heterosexual (25% of women vs.
12% of men) or bisexual (29% of women vs. 13% of men).
Rates at which the participant was unsure of their sexuality were
approximately equal, at around 7% for both men and women.
Characteristics ofStudents Who Hookup
withSame‑Sex Partners, bySexual Identity
Demographic Variables
Table2 presents odds ratios from mixed-effects models
predicting a heterosexual identity among students’ whose
most recent hookup was with a same-sex partner, provid-
ing evidence of demographic selection into a heterosexual
identity, with distinct patterns for men and women. Heter-
osexually-identified women were significantly younger, but
men showed no significant difference by age in a hetero-
sexual identity. Women had no significant difference in a
heterosexual identity by race, but Asian men were less likely
to identify as heterosexual than White men. Class impacted
women’s sexual identities, but not men’s; women with a col-
lege-educated mother were significantly less likely to identify
as heterosexual. GPA was not related to identity.
Social Activities andAttitudes
Religious, sexual, and political attitudes were correlated with
sexual identity among students hooking up with same-sex
partners. Table2 demonstrates that religious service attend-
ance was positively and significantly correlated with a hetero-
sexual identity among both men and women. Table3 presents
Table 1 Self-identified sexual orientation of students whose last
hookup was same sex
Men Women
N%N%
Homosexual 262 68.4 122 39.1
Bisexual 51 13.3 90 28.9
I’m not sure 25 6.5 23 7.4
Heterosexual 45 11.8 77 24.7
Total N383 312
Table 2 Mixed-effects logistic
regressions predicting whether
students who engaged in
same-sex hookups identified as
heterosexual (1) or homosexual,
bisexual, or unsure (0)
*p < .05; **p < .01; ***p < .001
Men
(N = 383)
Women
(N = 312)
Odds ratios 95% Confi-
dence interval
Odds ratios 95%
Confidence
interval
Age 18–19 (ref)
Age 20–21 1.44 0.63–3.31 0.54 0.29–1.01
Age 22–23 1.42 0.51–3.93 0.24** 0.09–0.66
Age 24+ 2.23 0.74–6.74 0.25* 0.09–0.74
White (ref)
Black 0.25 0.05–1.32 0.80 0.27–2.34
Hispanic 0.24 0.05–1.11 1.33 0.57–3.11
Asian 0.12* 0.01–0.98 1.78 0.67–4.70
Other race 0.67 0.12–3.80 0.00 0.00–0.00
Mother BA+ 1.14 0.56–2.30 0.51* 0.28–0.92
GPA < 2.1 2.33 0.27–18.44 0.95 0.23–3.82
GPA 2.1–3.0 4.39 0.88–21.98 1.36 0.46–4.03
GPA 3.1–3.75 3.40 0.72–16.09 0.77 0.27–2.23
GPA 3.75 + (ref)
Attends religious services sometimes 2.15* 1.05–4.41 1.97* 1.07–3.63
Attends religious services 1 +/month 4.62* 1.11–19.14 3.22* 1.28–8.10
Archives of Sexual Behavior
1 3
significant differences in social activities and attitudes, with
results presented being predicted percentages estimated from
mixed-effects logistic regressions. Fraternity and sorority
membership did not significantly differ by sexual identity nor
did attitudes related to whether participants believed any con-
sensual sex was ok, wanted more opportunities to hookup on
campus, or wanted to avoid relationships so that they could
date and hookup with multiple people. Four attitudes signifi-
cantly differentiated heterosexually-identified men from non-
heterosexually-identified men: Heterosexuals were more likely
to agree that “religion informs my sexual decisions”; less likely
to agree same-sex relationships were never wrong; more likely
to agree that premarital sex was always wrong; and more likely
to hold conservative political views. For female participants the
same patterns held true, except that women additionally were
more likely to identify as liberal if they had a non-heterosexual
identity.
Past Non‑heterosexual andHeterosexual Sexual Experience
All measures related to sexual and relationship experience
presented in Table3 were significantly related to students’
sexual identity. Among both men and women whose last
hookup partner was same-sex, those with a heterosexual
identity were significantly less likely to report their last date
or relationship was with a non-heterosexual partner, or that
they had past experience of same-sex hand to genital stimu-
lation, oral sex, and vaginal or anal sex. They were also sig-
nificantly more likely to report past heterosexual vaginal sex.
Characteristics oftheHookup andLater Sentiments
Table4 shows prior knowledge of partners, sexual activity,
assault, and substance use during encounters, sentiments
about the encounter, and differences by sexual identity among
students whose last hookup was with a same-sex partner.
Men with a heterosexual identity knew their same-sex part-
ners significantly better than men with a non-heterosexual
identity, but women had no significant differences in prior
knowledge of partner. Almost a third of same-sex hookups
among heterosexually-identified women took place in public,
significantly more than among non-heterosexually-identified
women, but this rate did not significantly differ among men.
Both men and women with a heterosexual identity were sig-
nificantly more likely to only engage in lower-order sexual
activity during encounters and less likely to engage in geni-
tal contact, although there were no significant differences in
prevalence of anal or vaginal sex, unprotected anal sex, or
sexual assault.
Table 3 Characteristics of students who hookup with same-sex partners, by gender and sexual identity (regression-adjusted means predicted
from mixed-effects logistic regressions)
Regression adjusted to standardize for age (Ref: 18–19), race (Ref: White), religious attendance (Ref: Never), GPA (Ref: 3.75 +) and mother has
a college degree (Ref: Does not)
*p < .05; **p < .01; ***p < .001
Men Women
Homosexual/
bisexual/
unsure
NHeterosexual NHomosexual/
bisexual/
unsure
NHeterosexual N
Sorority or fraternity member 7.7 337 17.8 44 4.1 235 4.2 77
Agrees any consensual sex ok 91.1 335 91.7 44 89.2 235 95.2 74
Wants more opportunities to hook up on campus 51.4 333 43.1 43 28.3 233 29.0 74
Doesn’t want to be in an exclusive relationship so can
date/hookup with multiple people
34.3 332 40.5 44 27.1 235 35.5 75
Agrees religion shapes my sexual decisions 16.3* 334 34.1 44 16.4* 235 31.4 75
Agrees Same-sex sexual relations are not wrong 97.8*** 304 73.3 43 97.2** 220 85.4 68
Agrees premarital sex is wrong 2.0** 302 14.7 42 2.9* 214 8.5 65
Liberal political views 77.0 311 58.6 43 88.2** 225 66.3 71
Conservative political views 3.9** 311 24.1 43 1.6* 225 9.4 71
Last date was with non-heterosexual partner (if dated) 91.3*** 265 54.6 34 80.6*** 187 16.3 59
Last long-term relationship was with non-heterosexual
partner (if long-term relationship)
90.1* 102 69.9 24 68.8*** 141 12.5 32
Past experience same-sex hand to genital stimulation 98.7*** 338 51.5 45 93.1*** 235 22.7 45
Past experience same-sex oral sex 97.6*** 338 54.0 45 82.0*** 235 21.9 45
Past experience same-sex vaginal or anal sex 80.3*** 338 17.3 45 43.1*** 235 4.1 77
Past heterosexual vaginal sex 21.8* 338 33.7 45 57.3** 235 75.4 77
Archives of Sexual Behavior
1 3
In terms of other types of risk-taking, men who identi-
fied as heterosexual had consumed a significantly higher
number of drinks before or during hookup, but women did
not, and no significant differences in drug use occurred by
sexual identity. There were no significant differences among
men and women by sexual identity in terms of regret about
the hookup, but both men and women with a heterosexual
identity were significantly less likely than those with another
identity to be glad about the hookup or to describe it as enjoy-
able, and women with a heterosexual identity were also sig-
nificantly less likely to be interested in a repeat hookup or a
relationship with the same-sex partner from their last hookup.
Latent Class Analysis
To investigate whether heterosexually-identified students
who hookup with same-sex partners can be described as
comprising distinct types, we conducted a latent class anal-
ysis of these students (N = 122) using several of the vari-
ables described above. This analysis did not include non-
heterosexually-identified students. We selected variables
for the latent class analysis based on several criteria: first,
several variables aligned with theoretical explanations for
heterosexually-identified students hooking up with same-
sex partners. Second, we selected variables that the above
analyses indicated were unusually common among hetero-
sexual-identifying students who hooked up with same-sex
students, compared to non-heterosexually-identified students
who hooked up with same-sex students.
Table5 shows fit statistics for the models with different
number of classes of heterosexuals who hooked up with
same-sex partners. AIC and adjusted BIC values gave support
for a 6-class solution; we gave greater weight to adjusted BIC
as recommended by Tein, Coxe, and Cham (2013). Table6
shows the variable correlations with each class. Numbers
represent the probability of certain characteristics occurring
among members of that “class”; probabilities close to 0 or
1, or unusually high for that variable, are especially of note
(Collins & Lanza, 2010) and we bold probabilities that are
unusually high. Rape or attempted rape during a hookup and
fraternity/sorority membership was not strongly correlated
with any of the classes.
The first three classes, which we describe as “Experimenta-
tion/Early Stages,” shared the fact that they were mostly private
encounters that took place among those who agreed premarital
sex, consensual sex, and homosexuality were not almost always
Table 4 Characteristics of last same-sex hookup partner and last same-sex hookup, by gender and sexual identity (regression-adjusted means
predicted from mixed-effects logistic regressions)
Regression adjusted to standardize for age (Ref: 18–19), race (Ref: White), religious attendance (Ref: Never), GPA (Ref: 3.75 +) and mother has
a college degree (Ref: Does not)
*p < .05; **p < .01; ***p < .001
Men Women
Homosexual/
bisexual/
unsure
NHeterosexual N Homosexual/
bisexual/
unsure
NHeterosexual N
Knew partner 338 45 235 77
Very well 12.2 17.6 33.0 36.8
Moderately well 13.1** 32.0 29.3 18.8
Somewhat or a little bit 45.5 40.7 29.4 33.6
Not at all 29.5* 10.9 8.5 10.7
Hookup took place in public 5.9 336 9.7 45 11.2*** 233 29.4 76
Hookup included kissing or above-the-waist groping only 6.7*** 336 29.0 42 28.1** 232 49.2 76
Hookup included any genital contact 93.3*** 338 71.0 45 71.9** 235 50.8 77
Hookup included vaginal or anal sex 37.7 338 24.7 45 17.4 235 26.0 77
Hookup included anal sex without a condom 6.4 338 10.5 45
Rape (forced, incapacitated or attempted) 5.7 337 12.1 42 2.3 234 3.4 75
# Of drinks before or during hookup 2.4** 338 4.3 45 3.0 235 3.9 77
Used drugs during or before hookup 15.6 338 18.0 45 11.4 235 6.9 77
Regrets hookup 13.8 260 13.3 35 9.8 172 13.8 63
Glad about hookup 38.0* 260 18.8 35 61.5* 172 43.7 63
How much Enjoyed Hookup overall (1 = not at all, 4 = very
much)
2.1* 317 1.9 40 2.5** 226 2.2 69
Interested in hooking up again 54.2 239 43.4 39 74.1*** 216 46.9 68
Interested in relationship with hookup partner 34.9 335 30.3 45 50.8** 235 35.9 77
Archives of Sexual Behavior
1 3
or always wrong, were not particularly religious, and whose
actions may be said to conform with a sexual experimentation
script, or may suggest earlier stages of non-heterosexual identity
development. Comprising 29% of heterosexually-identified stu-
dents who hooked up with same-sex partners, the first and larg-
est class, which we refer to as “wanting more,” were those who
very much enjoyed the encounter, had the second highest rate
of wanting a later relationship with the partner (57%), and were
the most likely to have engaged in prior same-sex penetrative
vaginal or anal sex; although only 30% had previously engaged
in this activity; this was the highest correlation for any class. A
total of 68% had some kind of genital contact with their partner
during the encounter. 42% had been binge drinking but nearly
half did not drink during the encounter; the second highest rate
for any class.
The second largest group, comprising 22% of partici-
pants, whom we describe as “drunk and curious,” consisted
of those with little prior homosexual sexual experience (5%)
and who were especially likely to be binge drinking during
the encounter (72%). They had the highest rate of describing
themselves as politically liberal among the first three classes,
and the second highest overall, and were strong supporters
of premarital sex and consensual sex generally, with 96%
agreeing both were ok, although 38% admitted to religious
influence on their sexuality, and 20% thought homosexuality
was almost always or always wrong. While this group had the
highest rates of engaging in genital contact at 80%, unlike the
first class, they mostly did not want a future relationship with
their last same-sex hookup partner, with only 4% wanting
such an encounter, and most commonly said they enjoyed
the hookup “somewhat” (57%), while 23% enjoyed it “not at
all” and none said they enjoyed it “very much.” By contrast,
in the first group, over half enjoyed the hookup “very much”
and almost all the remainder enjoyed it “somewhat.” This
group was most likely to know their partner “not at all” before
that night (34%).
The third group, which we describe as “little enjoyment,”
was least likely to report enjoying the encounter with 81%
stating they enjoyed it “very little” and almost none wanting
a future relationship. This group was most likely to describe
themselves as politically middle of the road, to have been drink-
ing moderately, and had the least overall support for any consen-
sual sex being ok of any class, although 76% still agreed it was
ok, and all were in support of premarital sex. Like the second
class, some said religion influenced their sexual decisions, and
not all agreed homosexual relationships were always ok. Apart
from their low level of enjoyment and level of inebriation, what
distinguished this class from the first two was their low level of
sexual activity; 82% did not proceed beyond kissing and grop-
ing during the encounter. All knew their partners moderately
or very well before they hooked up with them. Comprising 9%
of heterosexually-identified participants who hooked up with
same-sex partners, this was one of the smaller classes.
Comprising 21% of heterosexually-identified participants
who hooked up with same-sex partners, the fourth class, whom
we refer to as “maybe for show,” conformed closely to theory
regarding performative bisexuality. All participants in this
class were women, 70% were age 18, and 98% of these encoun-
ters took place in public “at a social event in plain sight.” Stu-
dents in this class were also most likely to be binge drinking
(84%), did not have any prior experience with same-sex vagi-
nal sex (0%), mostly only kissed or groped breasts or buttocks
during the encounter (91%), and only a minority were inter-
ested in a future relationship with their hookup afterward (9%)
although 31% enjoyed the encounter “very much.” Students
in this class universally described themselves as politically
liberal, and agreed premarital sex, any consensual sex, and
homosexual relations were ok. They were the least religious
of any class, with 82% never attending religious services, and
only 8% stating religion informed their sexual decisions.
The last two classes comprised those who were religious,
and whose religious identity perhaps conflicted with a non-
heterosexual identity. The fifth group we term “loved it, but
religious.” This group consisted of mostly women (92%),
who especially enjoyed their encounter compared to other
classes, but with 45% attending services at least once a month
and the remaining 55% attending at least once a year but less
than once a month, they were also the most likely to attend
Table 5 Model fit statistics for
the optimal number of classes
of heterosexuals hooking up
with same-sex partners
Bold values are unusually high proportions
Number of
classes
Log-likelihood AIC BIC Adjusted BIC Entropy R-Sqd
1 −1328.99 1549.28 1616.58 1540.69 NA
2 −1288.44 1518.19 1655.59 1500.66 .77
3 −1240.24 1471.78 1679.28 1445.31 .80
4 −1207.33 1455.97 1733.57 1420.56 .90
5 −1185.14 1461.59 1809.29 1417.23 .90
6 −1157.79 1456.88 1874.68 1403.57 .91
7 −1140.92 1473.15 1961.05 1410.90 .93
8 −1123.62 1488.56 2046.56 1417.36 .93
Archives of Sexual Behavior
1 3
religious services regularly. Further, 57% stated that religion
informed their sexual views. Regarding sexuality, their views
were more mixed: A significant minority thought homosexu-
ality (33%) and premarital sex (27%) was almost always or
always wrong, but 92% also stated any consensual sex was ok.
About two-thirds of this class were age 18 (65%). This class
distinguished itself by being most interested in a relation-
ship after a hookup (71%), and the most likely to state they
enjoyed the hookup very much (78%), while also the most
likely to have not been drinking during the hookup (51%).
This group shared much in common with the first class, but
was distinguished from the first class by their younger age,
less prior same-sex sexual experience (0%), and higher rate
of religiosity.
The final and smallest class (7%), which we refer to “just
not who I can be,” comprised those whose characteristics cor-
responded with theory related to internalized heterosexism.
Almost all men (98%), this class was not likely to attend reli-
gious services at least monthly like the prior class, but 98%
attended services between 1 and 11 times in the past year, and
they had the highest rate of stating religion informed their sexual
views (87%). This group was also almost universally likely to
state homosexual relations were almost always or always wrong
(98%), and 70% of this group thought premarital sex was almost
Table 6 Latent class analysis: Heterosexual students who hookup with same-sex partners
Bold values are unusually high proportions
Experimentation/early stages College scripts Religious
Wanting more Drunk and
curious
Little enjoyment Maybe for show Loved it, but
religious
Just not
who I can
be
Female 0.36 0.75 0.49 1.00 0.92 0.02
Age 18 0.35 0.20 0.26 0.70 0.65 0.25
Fraternity or sorority member 0.22 0.05 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.14
Religious services: never 0.29 0.48 0.33 0.82 0.00 0.01
Religious services 1–11×/year 0.65 0.44 0.66 0.11 0.55 0.98
Religious services 1 +/month 0.06 0.08 0.00 0.07 0.45 0.01
Religion informs sexual views 0.06 0.38 0.42 0.08 0.57 0.87
Premarital sex wrong 0.00 0.04 0.00 0.00 0.27 0.70
Homosexual relations wrong 0.00 0.20 0.17 0.00 0.33 0.98
Any consensual sex is OK 1.00 0.96 0.76 1.00 0.92 0.88
Politically liberal 0.67 0.84 0.39 1.00 0.35 0.42
Politically moderate 0.18 0.00 0.61 0.00 0.44 0.15
Politically conservative 0.14 0.16 0.00 0.00 0.21 0.43
At end of hookup interested in relationship 0.57 0.04 0.01 0.09 0.71 0.13
How much enjoyed hookup overall
None 0.05 0.23 0.00 0.07 0.00 0.14
Very little 0.00 0.20 0.81 0.14 0.00 0.41
Somewhat 0.44 0.57 0.18 0.48 0.22 0.44
Very much 0.51 0.00 0.01 0.31 0.78 0.01
Did not drink 0.49 0.16 0.27 0.07 0.51 0.25
Moderate drinking 0.09 0.13 0.72 0.09 0.07 0.25
Binge drinking 0.42 0.72 0.01 0.84 0.42 0.50
Rape or attempted rape during hookup 0.08 0.16 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.16
Prior experience same-sex vaginal/anal sex 0.30 0.05 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Only kissed or groped breasts or buttocks 0.32 0.20 0.82 0.91 0.35 0.43
Took place “at a social event in plain sight” 0.00 0.01 0.26 0.98 0.33 0.24
Knew partner before hookup
Not at all 0.00 0.34 0.00 0.20 0.00 0.25
Somewhat or a little bit 0.10 0.25 0.00 0.14 0.16 0.48
Moderately 0.67 0.15 0.83 0.29 0.39 0.26
Very well 0.23 0.26 0.17 0.36 0.45 0.01
Proportion in class 0.29 0.22 0.09 0.12 0.21 0.07
Archives of Sexual Behavior
1 3
always or always wrong. This group was most likely to describe
themselves as politically conservative (43%). Although only
some wanted a relationship with their same-sex partner after
the hookup (13%), this group mostly enjoyed the hookups some-
what or very little, distinguishing themselves from the fifth class
who were more likely to say they enjoyed it very much.
Discussion
This study was the first to conduct a systematic comparison
and analyses of heterosexually-identified students who hook
up with same-sex partners, and the specific circumstances
under which those hookups occur. The large, rich dataset we
draw upon is superior to other samples that relied on snowball
sampling or recruitment through specific LGB venues, because
the size allowed for us to examine rare groups, including het-
erosexually-identified students who hookup with same-sex
partners, and features of those encounters. However, it was not
without limitations. The dataset is not representative of col-
lege students in general. Within colleges, the inclusion of some
courses addressing gender and sexuality in the sample likely led
to greater selection among students who were questioning their
sexual orientation or generally more interested in sexual topics
than other students, leading to some skewing of results, espe-
cially overall rates at which sexual identities may occur. The
survey only included college students, and only asked about one
hookup they experienced, and cannot tell us about same-sex
hookups among self-identified heterosexuals who are not in
college, or the trajectory of sexual identity formation. Finally,
the large number of tests we conducted may have increased
Type-1 errors (false positives) while the small sample may have
increased Type-2 errors (false negatives).
Heterosexually-identified students who hookup with
same-sex partners comprised a substantial number of same-
sex hookups. In these data, heterosexually-identified students
accounted for approximately one in nine participants of the
most recent same-sex hookups among college men, and one
in four of the most recent same-sex hookups among college
women. Findings suggest that survey questions designed to
capture sexual orientation data may be instead measuring
sexual identity. Unlike sexual orientation, which describes
sexual feelings toward one or more genders and may be bio-
logically based, sexual identity is adopted by individuals
within a specific sociohistorical context, precluding some
with same-sex attractions from taking on such an iden-
tity. Same-sex sexual behavior may also be undertaken by
those who may not have an attraction to same-sex partners
in specific sociohistorical contexts where sexual “scripts”
encourage same-sex sexual contact and sexual experimenta-
tion (Simon & Gagnon, 1986, 2003). The script of women
engaging in same-sex low-level hookups at public parties in
college is one such social script (Sanday, 2007).
Sexual Experimentation Scripts
Our first research question asked whether findings aligned with
a sexual experimentation script, which could include performa-
tive bisexuality or fraternity hazing rituals. We found little sup-
port for fraternity hazing rituals being a factor; heterosexually-
identified students were not more likely to be in fraternities or
sororities. Students may not conceptualize these encounters
as “hookups.” However, many findings supported a sexual
experimentation/partying narrative. For instance, heterosex-
ually-identified men drank more during encounters. Hetero-
sexually-identified students reported enjoying encounters less
but were not more likely to report regretting the experience,
perhaps indicating some experimental nature of many of these
encounters; students did not regret experimenting, but some
found that they did not enjoy that experiment, reaffirming a
heterosexual identity. Heterosexually-identified women were
less likely to be interested in a repeat performance or future
relationship with their last same-sex hookup partner, also sup-
porting an experimentation narrative. Some findings challenged
a sexual experimentation narrative, as sexual identity did not
correlate with belief in the acceptability of any consensual sex,
wanting more hookup opportunities or wanting to avoid exclu-
sive relationships to hookup with multiple people. Performative
bisexuality explanations were also supported by our findings;
heterosexually identified women were more likely to hookup
with same-sex partners in a public space, consistent with prior
descriptions.
Sexual Identity Development andInternalized
Heterosexism
Our second research question asked whether student’s charac-
teristics aligned with sexual identity theory, either that related
to sexual identity development, or the social constructionist
model. When compared with those other-identified students,
heterosexually-identified women engaging in same-sex hookups
tended to be younger and were less likely to have had prior non-
heterosexual sexual, dating, or relationship experience, while
more likely to have had heterosexual vaginal sex. These findings
support both theories related to sexual identity development,
and the social construction of sexuality, which indicate sexual
identity is developed and reaffirmed via experiences with same-
sex and other-sex partners.
Our third research question focused on internalized hetero-
sexism. Internalized heterosexism was reflected in the lower
acceptance of same-sex sexual relations among those with a
heterosexual identity and, in line with literature on heterosex-
ism, religious service attendance and religious influence on
sexual behavior also correlated with a heterosexual identity
for both men and women, as did conservative political and
sexual views. In contrast to theory on internalized heterosex-
ism and risk-taking, heterosexual students were not more
Archives of Sexual Behavior
1 3
likely to have unprotected sex or use drugs during encounters,
but men (who we found in the latent class analysis comprised
almost all of those who could be described as experiencing
internalized heterosexism) drank more alcohol.
Race andKnowledge ofPartners, Sexual Assault
Our data also allowed us to systematically examine racial dif-
ferences in the same-sex hookups of heterosexually-identified
college men and how well they knew their partner. Our fourth
research question centered on whether race and knowledge of
partners aligns with research of men who have sex with men
anonymously on the “down low.” In contrast with a media
and academic research focus on African-American men who
have sex with men (Ward, 2015), we found that White men
are significantly more likely than Asian men and no different
than Black men to report a “heterosexual” identity despite
engaging in same-sex hookups. Other findings also call into
question the sample selection methods of researchers seeking
to examine men on “the down low”; heterosexually-identi-
fied men knew their partners better than those with other
identities, indicating these were not necessarily the random
hookups described in past studies that relied on, for instance,
samples of men who hooked up with men in public places.
Research has found that students who knew their partners bet-
ter tended to take more risks such as unprotected sex (Kuper-
berg & Padgett, 2017), indicating the importance of studying
encounters among heterosexually identified men who have
sex with men they know well, which may not be captured via
more commonly used methods of recruitment that focus on
anonymous hookups. Our fifth research question also asked
whether these encounters were a result of sexual assault, but
we do not find support for a higher rate of sexual assault
among those with a heterosexual identity.
Who Comprises Heterosexual Students Who Hookup
withSame‑Sex Partners?
Our final research question asked whether students who
reported hooking up with same-sex partners, but identified as
heterosexual, could be divided into certain “types” described
by the above theories, and we found through latent class
analyses that they comprised six groups. The first three were
those that can be classified as various types of mostly pri-
vate experimentation, which may be correlated with engaging
in a college experimentation script, and/or the early stages
of identity development and experiences that can lead to a
later identity change. Comprising 60% of same-sex hookups
among heterosexuals, these hookups did not take place in
public for the most part and took place among students with
positive views of premarital sex and homosexuality. The
three classes differed on the basis of students’ later senti-
ments about the encounter, desire for a relationship with that
partner, prior homosexual experience, and drinking during
the encounter. While the first class (“wanting more”) wanted
relationships with their partners and may later change their
identity, the second class (“drunk and curious”) seems to
have experimented perhaps for the sake of sexual experi-
mentation, and while they enjoyed their experiment, did not
desire a relationship with their hookup. In the future, they
may retain a heterosexual identity or change it in reaction to
a same-sex hookup or relationship they feel more strongly
about pursuing beyond a sexual encounter. These first two
classes may be akin to Cass’ (1996) “special case” pathway
for those identifying as heterosexual in early stages of iden-
tity development, where students view themselves as hetero-
sexual apart from this one partner or single event but may
later form a relationship that leads to adoption of an LGB
sexual identity. The third class (“little enjoyment”) consisted
of those who experimented and perhaps confirmed a hetero-
sexual identity after not enjoying the encounter and ended the
encounter before proceeding to higher order sexual activity.
This class may chalk this up as an experience to check off
their college experimentation list and retain a heterosexual
identity, or instead may later engage in more enjoyable same-
sex encounters that lead to a shift in identity.
The fourth class (“maybe for show”) was women, often 18,
who kissed and “made out” with same-sex partners in public
settings. These students may be engaging in performative
hookups (Hamilton, 2007) in accordance with performative
bisexuality social scripts aimed at attracting men, but may
also be using these opportunities to experiment with same-sex
attraction (Ward, 2015); about one in 10 stated they wanted a
future relationship with the partner, and a third enjoyed the
encounter “very much.” Finally, the last two classes were
religious students whose strong religious participation or
influence on their behavior likely affected sexual identity.
Comprising over one-fourth of students who identified as
heterosexual, the majority (“loved it, but religious”) did not
conform to theory related to internalized heterosexism, but
instead may have been conflicted about taking on a non-
heterosexual identity given their frequent religious attend-
ance. They were also especially young and inexperienced
in same-sex relationships and had a high level of enjoying
the encounter; this group also conforms to theory on sexual
identity development and may take on a non-heterosexual
identity later in life, but may delay that stage compared to
less religious students due to their religious engagement.
The final class (“just not who I can be”), the smallest class,
which was almost all male, were those who had strong views
against homosexuality, which has been termed “internalized
heterosexism.”
Past theory on sexual scripts, identity development theory
(whether via stages or socially constructed), and internal-
ized heterosexism all contribute to the patterns we find but
describes distinct groups who together comprise those who
Archives of Sexual Behavior
1 3
identify as heterosexual but hookup with same-sex part-
ners. Past research has usually been qualitative and gener-
ally focused on only one of these groups and/or theory of a
heterosexual identity among those who engage in same-sex
behavior, such as women hooking up with women at fra-
ternity parties (Hamilton, 2007). Our data allowed a more
comprehensive quantitative analysis which permitted us to
reveal the degree to which these somewhat different theories
may describe college students accurately, and the prevalence
of certain “types” among students.
Implications
The degree to which students and individuals choose to adopt
a non-heterosexual identity varies by social context and the
circumstances of the encounter, with college being a context
particularly fraught with specific sexual scripts institutional-
ized into the fabric of social life (Ward, 2015). We found most
students who engaged in same-sex hookups but identified
as heterosexual could be described as privately experiment-
ing and/or having religious conflicts with assuming an LGB
identity. Some of these students may later change their sexual
identity, but others will retain a heterosexual identity. Theory
related to performative bisexuality and internalized hetero-
sexism described only a minority of these students (12 and
7%, respectively), while research on Black men on the “down
low” and men having anonymous hookups with men exclude
most same-sex hookups between those who identify as het-
erosexual. Research limited to those self-identifying as LGB
will also miss a significant minority of those who engage in
same-sex sexual encounters. Findings also suggest that not
everybody who engages in same-sex behavior is “secretly
gay,” but rather may be engaging in socially scripted sexual
experimentation that will not have long-term implications for
their identity, while others may retain a heterosexual iden-
tity (rather than a LGB identity) to resolve conflicts between
their religious beliefs and community standards, and same-
sex sexual desires and actions. For a minority, a heterosexual
identity seems related to internalized heterosexism, and for
men, incongruence in identity and behavior is also associated
with higher alcohol use during same-sex encounters. These
findings have clinical implications for those experiencing
distress regarding same-sex hookups and/or sexual identity.
In recent years as LGB identities have become more
socially acceptable, the types of people selecting into a non-
heterosexual identity may have changed, as these identities
have been publicly adopted by a wider swath of the population
(Baunach, 2012; Laughlin, 2016). This dataset was collected
during a certain historical-time period (2005–2011), during
which gay rights activity was both energized and the subject of
polarizing debate as gay marriage was being adopted by more
and more states, but not yet legal nationwide. A research report
collected after the legalization of gay marriage nationwide
(2016) found that among a random sample of young adults
aged 13–20, who have grown up in a world where legal gay
unions have been available in some U.S. states for as long as
they can remember (civil unions became legal in Vermont in
2000; same-sex marriage in Massachusetts in 2004), only 48%
identify as “completely heterosexual,” down from 65% among
those aged 21–34 (Laughlin, 2016). As young adults come
of age in a new social system where gay marriage is legal,
and as progress continues to be made in anti-discrimination
legislation, patterns related to sexual identity will likely con-
tinue to shift and should be the subject of continuing research
among college students and in other settings and populations.
We suggest longitudinal studies to examine the evolution of
sexual identity, meaning-making, and heterosexually identi-
fied adults engaging in same-sex hookups.
Acknowledgements The authors thank Joseph Padgett, R. James Leis-
ter, Lonnie McLendon, Rachel Madsen, and Stephanie Pruitt for their
research assistance on this project, as well as Sara Crawley and Joseph
Padgett for their helpful advice. This project was funded by a Univer-
sity of North Carolina at Greensboro New Faculty Research Grant and
a New Faculty Summer Excellence Award Grant, as administered by
the Office of Sponsored Programs. An earlier version of this paper was
presented at the Southern Sociological Society Conference, Charlotte,
NC, 2014.
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... We examine only self-identified BDSM practitioners, yet individuals can engage in sexual practices associated with specific identities without claiming that identity (Kuperberg & Walker, 2018;Walker, 2014aWalker, , 2014b. Many incorporate BDSM activities into sex play (e.g., spanking, pulling hair) without awareness or acknowledgment. ...
... An essentialist perspective is the notion that one's sexual orientation or desires are inherent, something within them from birth, and represent their "true self." Essentialist sexual stories are the dominant narrative when it comes to sexual identities more generally, in part because they allow an escape from negative moral judgement by arguing identities are "real" or biologically determined, but they do not account for shifts in sexual interests and identities over the lifetime (Hacking, 1995;Kuperberg & Walker, 2018;Plummer, 1995;Yosta & Hunter, 2012). By contrast, sexual constructionism describes a process by which external forces shape sexual desires, interests, and sexual scripts, which are culturally influenced expectations about how sexual scenarios will unfold (Simon & Gagnon, 1986). ...
... While African-American people and Afro-Caribbean men report earlier ages at sexual debut (Cavazos-Rehg et al., 2010;Jayakody et al., 2011), people of color may avoid or delay stigmatized sexual practices because of an increased perception of or actual scrutiny of their sexual practices (Kuperberg & Padgett, 2016). Religiosity delays age at sexual debut and can similarly delay or reduce entrance into stigmatized sexual practices, but can affect sexual practices of women and men differently (Kuperberg & Padgett, 2016;Kuperberg & Walker, 2018;. Parental coupled status may influence the time adolescents spend unsupervised at home, increasing opportunities for sexual experimentation. ...
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Prior limited research on entrance into BDSM divided paths of entry into external or internal factors (Yosta & Hunter, 2012), while research on age at entry into BDSM has not considered variation by BDSM role identity, gender, sexual orientation, and other demographic differences. In this mixed-methods exploratory study, we contribute to this literature by collecting and analyzing qualitative interviews with 96 self-described practitioners of BDSM to more fully describe distinct pathways into BDSM, adding nuance to prior descriptions of entry. We also collected and analyzed surveys with 2,017 self-described practitioners of BDSM to examine patterns of age at entry into BDSM practices and fantasies, and selection into older or younger age at practice and age at fantasy by BDSM role identity, gender, sexual orientation, and other demographic characteristics. Interview respondents told “constructionist sexual stories” describing introductions to BDSM via popular culture including pornography and other media, the Internet, or a sexual partner that awaked an inherent interest, along with “essentialist sexual stories” which described self-discovery solely attributed to an inherent personality characteristic. Survey data revealed that age at fantasy and onset of behavior varied by social–environmental factors. Pathways and patterns into BDSM behavior and fantasies therefore reflect a combination of idiosyncratic interests, exposure to ideas via the media or partners, and stratified social norms and opportunities related to sexual behavior.
... Some studies focus on attitudinal differences between individuals who identify as gay/lesbian or bisexual compared to heterosexual-identified individuals, but include heterosexual-identified individuals who report a history of same-sex partnering and who report substantial same-sex attractions in the absence of same-sex behavior (Silva, 2019;Silva & Whaley, 2018). Researchers have thoroughly analyzed discordance between sexual identity and sexual behavior (Fu et al., 2019;Mishel, 2019;Mustanski et al., 2014; see also Pathela et al., 2006;Kuperberg & Walker, 2018), including as discordance relates to health (Caplan, 2017;Gattis et al., 2012;Krueger & Upchurch, 2019;Lourie & Needham, 2017;Mendelsohn et al., 2022;Nield et al., 2015). A large body of research has also estimated the size of the LGBQ population in the USA (Gates, 2017;Jones, 2021) and the percentage of individuals who report same-sex partners (England et al., 2016;Mishel et al., 2020;Twenge et al., 2016;Wienke & Whaley, 2015). ...
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This paper used the 2011–2017 National Survey of Family Growth to estimate population sizes and attitudinal characteristics of heterosexual-identified men who have sex with men (MSM) and women who have sex with women (WSW) aged 15–44 years. Analyses estimated population sizes in stages: after excluding respondents who reported only one lifetime same-sex partner, which happened before the age of 15; after excluding males who reported nonconsensual male–male sex; after excluding respondents who reported only one lifetime same-sex partner, regardless of the age at which that experience occurred; after excluding respondents who reported only two lifetime same-sex partners, the first of which occurred before age 15; and after excluding males who reported male–male sex work. The broadest criteria included many individuals with limited same-sex sexual histories or those who experienced nonconsensual sex or potentially coerced sex in youth. After excluding those respondents, analyses showed that heterosexual-identified MSM and WSW had a diversity of attitudes about gender and LGB rights; only a distinct minority were overtly homophobic and conservative. Researchers should carefully consider whether to include respondents who report unwanted sexual contact or sex at very young ages when they analyze sexual identity–behavior discordance or define sexual minority populations on the basis of behavior.
... Indeed, research shows that men are more likely to be relabeled "gay" or "bisexual" after a single same-sex experience, while women who have a single same-sex sexual experience predominantly retain assumptions of heterosexuality (Mize and Manago 2018). Another study of over 24,000 undergraduate students found that among those whose last "hook up" was with someone of the same sex, men were much more likely to identify as "gay," "bisexual," or "unsure" than were women (Kuperberg and Walker 2018). Some refer to this idea as the "one drop" rule of homosexuality (P. ...
Article
It is difficult to gauge people’s acceptance about same-sex sexualities, as responses to questionnaires are prone to social desirability bias. We offer a new proxy for understanding popular concern surrounding same-sex sexualities: prevalence of Google searches demonstrating concern over gay/lesbian sexual identities. Using Google Trends data, we find that Google searches about whether a specific person is gay or lesbian show patterned bias toward masculine searches, in that such searches are much more frequently conducted about boys and men compared with girls and women. We put these findings into context by comparing search frequencies with other popular Google searches about sexuality and otherwise. We put forth that the patterned bias toward masculine searches illustrates support for the enduring relationship between masculinity and heterosexuality and that it does so on a larger scale than previous research has been able to establish.
... While past research has examined features of hookups predicted by specific social scripts associated with partying and hooking up while in college (Kuperberg and Padgett 2017; Kuperberg and Walker 2018), the degree to which sexual experimentation may motivate hookups (Weitbrecht and Whitton 2020), and social expectations of hookups among students (Wade 2017), the extent to which getting "the college experience" directly motivates hookup behavior has not been examined. Past research has instead examined motivations for casual sex, and individualistic psychological motivations for hookups, but research examining the physical, relationship, social contextual and substance related factors that may motivate the broader category of hookups" is very limited (Uecker et al. 2015;Weitbrecht and Whitton 2020). ...
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Hookups are a normative experience for college students with 72% of college students reporting hooking up by their Senior year. Although there is over a decade of research on hookups, what motivates college students to participate in hookups is not clear, with prior research focused mostly on psychological rather than social motivations, and differences by gender, but not exploring whether students differ in hookup motivations by other factors. This study explored whether students hooked up and hookup motivations among a random sample of 180 heterosexual college students at a Southeast university, and differences by demographic characteristics, marital age expectations, and parent and peers’ marital status. Results showed the majority of participants hookup up to feel sexual pleasure, with a significant minority motivated by relationship formation and the ‘college experience.’ Significant predictors of hookup motivations include gender, mother’s education, religiosity, parent’s coupled status, and friends’ marital status, while race and age differences were not significant. Results of a latent class analyses showed five distinct classes of social hookup motivations: older and younger abstainers, relationship seekers, pleasure pathway, and college scripts. Implications for future research are discussed.
... In fact, we scrutinised the changing determinants of a selected pool of sexual behaviour which past research has already shown to be crucial and, according to our data, changed more significantly over time than others. These are the number of males watching pornography (Goodson et al., 2001;Braitwaite et al., 2015; for Italy, Romito and Beltramini, 2011;Cuccì et al., 2017;Scarcelli and Stella, 2019), the number of females who have had homosexual experiences (Goode and Haber, 1977;Kuperberg and Walker, 2018), the number of males betraying their partner (Allen and Baucom, 2006;McAnulty and Brineman, 2007;Norona et al., 2015), and having three or more sexual partners for females (Wiederman, 1997;Brown and Sinclair, 1999;Eisenberg, 2001;Zelin et al., 2015;Mitchell et al., 2019). As each of these behaviour has its own specificity, it is not possible to discuss in-depth every main determinant of these four sexual behaviours in a single study. ...
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While sexuality has radically changed across middle–high-income societies in recent years, only outdated studies are available for Italy. We aim to provide novel insights into the sexual behaviour and opinions of young Italians diachronically and through a gendered lens. Our analysis compares the results of two national samples of university students collected in 2000 and 2017. The sexual behaviour and opinions of young men and women seem to be converging in several respects. We observed a feminisation of male opinions and behaviour within couples, which is to say that men are more likely to experience first intercourse with a young woman of roughly the same age while in a stable relationship, and betray—or accept betrayal—with less frequency and willingness than in the past. Similarly, we found a masculinisation of female opinions and behaviour outside of stable relationships, for example, an increase in occasional partners, a net drop in the expectation that other women hold virgin status before marriage, and a doubling of the acceptance of casual sex. A few gender differences remain, especially concerning sexual double standards: young men and women are still subject to diverse rules guiding their sexual behaviour. Finally, acceptance of homosexuality has risen substantially—particularly among women.
... today there exist general understandings of what it means to be heterosexual, lesbian/gay, or bisexual, there are nonetheless multiple factors that affect how individuals identify and express their sexuality, whether they do so openly or privately (as with LGBQ people who are "closeted"). In both interview studies (Budnick 2016;Hoffman 2016, 2018;Silva 2017;Walker 2014) and surveys (Copen et al. 2016;Kuperberg and Walker 2018;Silva 2019;Silva and Whaley 2018), individuals report identifying as heterosexual despite also reporting same-sex attractions or behaviors. Sexual identification does not simply reflect attractions and sexual practices; instead, although identification may be related to both, it is best theorized as a distinct process. ...
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Sexual identification is shaped by social processes that vary across multiple axes of marginalization and social position—including gender, race/ethnicity, immigration status, and education. However, to date quantitative findings on sexual identity formation have been inconsistent and most existing studies do not use intersectional frameworks. Drawing on intersectional theory and using an innovative multilevel method for measuring intersectional effects, we address this gap in our understanding of sexual identification by examining how the likelihood to adopt an exclusively heterosexual sexual identity varies along the intersecting axes of gender, race/ethnicity, immigration status, and education. We analyze data from 15,340 U.S. young adults, 24–32 years-old, who answered Wave IV of the nationally representative Add Health survey. Among strata of women, there was considerable variability in propensity to exclusively heterosexual identify across racial/ethnic and immigrant status categorizations: White, Black, Native American, immigrant Asian/Pacific Islander, non-immigrant Asian/Pacific Islander, immigrant Latinx, and non-immigrant Latinx. Among strata of men, the propensity to heterosexual identify was considerably higher overall and there was less variability across racial/ethnic and immigrant status categorizations. Results suggest that across races/ethnicities and immigration statuses men seem to be similarly affected by heteronormative expectations, whereas more complicated processes involving race/ethnicity and immigration status shape women’s propensity to exclusively identify as heterosexual. For most intersectional strata, the propensity to exclusively heterosexual identify did not differ by education level. Practitioners and researchers should be aware of how race/ethnicity/immigrant status may shape sexual identification, but in gendered ways.
Article
Background Sexual minority women (i.e., women minoritized for their sexualities) are identified as high risk for mental health and substance use problems; however, there is no consensus on the criteria by which women are categorized as sexual minority. Though there is some evidence suggesting that certain subgroups of women are at higher risk than others based on sexual orientation, different categorization schemes for sexual orientation have yet to be compared within the same sample. Method Using data from the National Epidemiologic Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions–III (N = 19,528), we examined how multiple categorization schemes (i.e., identity, behavior, recency of sexual behavior) for categorizing women who have sex with women (WSW) yield different estimates of prevalence of mental health and substance use issues. We used chi-square and logistic regression to analyze the link between sexual orientation categorization schemes and health, categorizing by 1) self-identification only, 2) behavior only, and 3) the combination of self-identification and behavior (recent vs. past). Results We discovered high prevalence rates of health problems among heterosexual-identified WSW who reported no recent sexual activity with women (i.e., previously had sex with women but not within the past 12 months); this category of women comprised 35% of all WSW. Discussion Step by step, we found more detailed information about these women's experiences by moving to the complex categorization scheme (the combination of self-identification and behavior). Heterosexual-identified women who have had sex with women in their past (though not recently) presented as a large group with high prevalence rates of substance use and mental disorders. These women remain invisible to researchers who categorize sexual orientation only by sexual identity or by behavior and ignore the role of behavior change over time—imprecisely categorizing such women as heterosexual or as women who have sex with men. They thus are underserved by health research and represent a significant population for further study and intervention.
Article
Hooking up may be one pathway for sexual and gender minority (SGM) emerging adults to explore their sexual identity development while they navigate heteronormative milestones. Framed by Dillon et al.’s (2011) model of universal sexual identity development, we examined 24 interviews with SGM emerging adults to understand whether and how hooking up aided in the development of their sexual identities beyond their sexual orientation. Although some participants already reported stable sexual identities prior to hooking up, we identified that hooking up did lead others to develop their sexual preferences more fully, better understand their sexual identity, and strengthen their connections to the SGM community. These findings suggest that hooking up can facilitate positive sexual development among sexual and gender minority emerging adults.
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Background: Heterosexually identified men who have sex with men (H-MSM) are distinct from other heterosexual men and from gay, bisexual, and other sexual minority men. Specifically, H-MSM experience discordance between their sexual identity (i.e., heterosexual) and behaviours (i.e., sexual encounters with other men). This sexual identity-behaviour discordance can create barriers to obtaining healthcare and social support. Understanding and accepting H-MSM as they self-identify may be necessary to implement effective public health and psychosocial interventions. The aim of the present study is to provide an overview of research on H-MSM. Methods: A scoping review will be conducted to identify and describe the identity development, attraction, and behaviour of H-MSM. This scoping review will also identify and describe current trends related to the recruitment of H-MSM and recommended directions for future research. Searches will be conducted in Academic Search Complete, APA PsychInfo, CINAHL Plus with Full Text, Education Research Complete, Gender Studies Database, GenderWatch, Health Source: Nursing/Academic Edition, LGBTQ+ Source, MEDLINE, Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection, SocINDEX with Full Text, Sociological Collection, Social Work Abstracts, ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, Google, Web of Science, and ResearchGate. Primary research studies published in peer-reviewed journals will be included. Dissertations and theses that include primary research on H-MSM will also be included. Reference lists, experts in the field, preprint servers, and relevant conferences will also be consulted for extant and in-progress literature. Two reviewers will independently pilot the data extraction form and conduct the title and abstract screening, with consultation from a research librarian. Seven reviewers will then conduct the full-text article screening. Thematic content analysis will guide the review; through independent review and reviewer meetings, themes and subthemes will be identified and reported from the extracted literature. Discussion: This is the first known knowledge synthesis on H-MSM; it seeks to better understand sexual identity-behaviour discordance amongst cisgender men. We anticipate that a theoretical framework of H-MSM’s sexuality, internal processes, and behaviours will be constructed from this review. Alongside implications for further research with H-MSM, this review may be relevant to sexually transmitted infection public health, and to clinicians working in the field of male sexuality.
Article
This paper uses two surveys to examine sexual identity‐behavior discordance in Canada. The first is the Sex in Canada survey (SCS), which is a private survey of 2,303 Canadians. The second is the 2015–2016 Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), which is a large nationally representative government‐administered survey with 109,659 respondents. Results from the CCHS show that identity‐behavior discordance and overall rates of same‐sex contact are lower in Canada than in the US, UK, or Australia. An estimated .7 percent of males and 2.7 percent of females aged 15–64 who had had lifetime sex identified as heterosexual yet have had same‐sex contact, figures which equate to an estimated 65,700 males and 255,100 females. Few demographic factors were associated with discordance. Results from the SCS show that about two‐thirds of heterosexuals with identity‐behavior discordance were moderately supportive of LGBQ rights and one‐third were moderately homophobic. Future research will need to uncover why a lower proportion of Canadians report same‐sex partners and identity‐behavior discordance than their counterparts in the US, UK, or Australia. Cet article utilise deux enquêtes pour examiner la discordance entre l'identité sexuelle et le comportement au Canada. La première est l'enquête Sex in Canada (SCS), qui est une enquête privée menée auprès de 2 303 Canadiens. La seconde est l'Enquête sur la santé dans les collectivités canadiennes (ESCC) de 2015–2016, qui est une grande enquête représentative à l'échelle nationale administrée par le gouvernement auprès de 109 659 répondants. Les résultats de l'ESCC montrent que la discordance identité‐comportement et les taux globaux de contacts entre personnes de même sexe sont plus faibles au Canada qu'aux États‐Unis, au Royaume‐Uni ou en Australie. On estime que 0,7 % des hommes et 2,7 % des femmes âgés de 15 à 64 ans ayant eu des rapports sexuels au cours de leur vie se sont identifiés comme hétérosexuels, mais ont eu des contacts avec des personnes du même sexe, ce qui correspond à environ 65 700 hommes et 255 100 femmes. Peu de facteurs démographiques étaient associés à la discordance. Les résultats de l'enquête SCS montrent qu'environ deux tiers des hétérosexuels présentant une discordance entre identité et comportement étaient modérément favorables aux droits des LGBQ et qu'un tiers était modérément homophobe. Les recherches futures devront découvrir pourquoi une plus faible proportion de Canadiens déclarent avoir des partenaires de même sexe et être en désaccord avec leur identité et leur comportement que leurs homologues aux États‐Unis, au Royaume‐Uni ou en Australie.
Article
This study draws on semistructured interviews with 19 white, rural, straight-identified men who have sex with men to understand how they perceive their gender and sexuality. It is among the first to use straight men’s own narratives, and helps address the underrepresentation of rural masculinities research. Through complex interpretive processes, participants reworked non-normative sexual practices—those usually antithetical to rural masculinities—to construct normative masculinity. Most chose other masculine, white, and straight or secretly bisexual men as partners for secretive sex without romantic involvement. By choosing these partners and having this type of sex, the participants normalized and authenticated their sexual encounters as straight and normatively masculine. The participants engaged in bud-sex, a specific type of male–male sex that reinforced their rural masculinity and heterosexuality. The married men framed sex with men as less threatening to marriage than extramarital sex with women, helping to preserve a part of their lives that they described as central to their straightness. The results highlight the flexibility of heterosexuality; the centrality of heterosexuality to normative rural masculinity; how similar sexual practices carry different meanings across contexts and populations; and the social construction of masculinities and sexualities by age, race, gender, time period, and place.
Chapter
This chapter examines the cultural function and effects of homosexuality in the hazing rituals of the United States military. It analyzes these military hazing practices alongside the representation of homosexual hazing in the widely popular series of “reality” internet porn, HazeHim.com. Drawing on sociological and media accounts of high-profile military hazing events, it considers how male–male anal penetration is framed by the military as a practice of hetero-masculine resilience, one to be suffered with repulsion and endurance. While the spectacle of homophobic repulsion is often offered as evidence of the nonsexual nature of the hazing experience, a reading of gay hazing porn illuminates a more harmonious relationship between hetero-masculine repulsion and homosexual desire. In both examples, the hazing undertaken by the U.S. military and the hazing eroticized in gay porn, the whiteness of participants is central to the homosocial narrative, wherein average white boys—utterly normal and undoubtedly American—are offered the opportunity to inoculate themselves against sincere homosexuality and enemy perversion and to demonstrate their allegiance to a white brotherhood.
Article
Sexuality researchers have demonstrated how the progressive campuses of selective universities shape hookups, sexual fluidity, and same-gender sex among straight-identified women (“straight girls kissing”). However, this research cannot fully explain a puzzling demographic pattern: women with the lowest levels of educational attainment reported the highest lifetime prevalence of same-gender sex. To make sense of this puzzle, I draw on interviews with 35 women systematically recruited from a demographic survey. I find (1) early motherhood forecloses possibilities to develop or claim LGBTQ identities as women prioritize seemingly incompatible discourses of self-sacrifice and good motherhood; (2) sexual friendships and safety strategies provide opportunities to meaningfully explore same-gender sex and desire; and (3) participants reject “queer” and embrace “bisexual” in the opposite pattern observed among their more privileged peers. This study underscores the situated nature of sexuality knowledge by offering an intersectional analysis of how women beyond the college hookup scene and located outside spaces permeated with LGBTQ discourses enact sexual fluidity and make meaning of same-gender sex.
Article
We analyzed a sample of 12,065 hookup encounters among college students at 22 colleges and universities in the Online College Social Life Survey (OCSLS) to explore how partner meeting locales may influence college students’ risky behavior when hookup partners are met in those contexts. For other-sex encounters, meeting in bars or at parties, through common interest groups or history, and (for women) at dormitories was associated with binge drinking during encounters, while meeting online and (for women) in public was associated with reduced binge drinking during encounters. Unprotected sex during other-sex encounters was more common when partners were met in public and less common with partners met in dormitories. Binge drinking and marijuana use during or just prior to encounters was associated with an increased risk of unprotected sex and other substance use. Marijuana use and unprotected sex during encounters was more common when students knew their hookup partner better or had hooked up with the partner before, while binge drinking was associated with hooking up with less familiar partners. Associations of meeting contexts with behavior were explained by the locale’s association with institutional and personal trust, social scripts, and selection into certain contexts by students with a risk-taking personality.
Chapter
Western mental health professionals are required to work within a framework that accommodates the essentialist thinking of their clients, while recognizing the constructed nature of the issues on which their work is based / the author's theory of lesbian and gay identity formation, described in this chapter, lies within such a framework / known as social constructionist psychology . . . , this perspective seems most able to integrate these seemingly contradictory perspectives / the theory of homosexual identity formation can be a useful tool for understanding and helping individuals in Western cultures who confront the concept of gay, lesbian, or bisexual in a personal way stages in lesbian and gay identity formation [prestage 1, stage 1—identity confusion, stage 2—identity comparison, stage 3—identity tolerance, stage 4—identity acceptance, stage 5—identity pride, stage 6—identity synthesis] / implications for counseling and psychotherapy (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
We analyze the Online College Social Life Survey, a survey collected between 2005 and 2011 of students (N = 22,454) at 22 U.S. colleges and universities and estimate whether students hooked up, dated, formed long-term romantic relationships, or did not form relationships while in college and their desire for these relationship opportunities. Students have equal rates of hooking up and dating. Men are more likely than women to have dated and hooked up and less likely to have formed a long-term relationship, although they are more likely to wish there were more opportunities to form long-term relationships. An examination of intimate partnering by sexual orientation, race, religious attendance, and Greek culture reveals distinct pattern that can be explained by cultural norms.