The Advocate sex poll: the 1,800+ gays, lesbians, and bisexuals who took our online sex survey revealed both their passions and their weaknesses - The Sex Issue.

The Advocate sex poll: the 1,800+ gays, lesbians, and bisexuals who took our online sex survey revealed both their passions and their weaknesses - The Sex Issue.What sexual habits, history, and hesitancies will the average gay, lesbian, or bisexual admit to? The Advocate went to its Web site,, to find out. While the results of this voluntary online survey are hardly scientific, they do present a revealing snapshot of the sexual ethics and ideals of many of the magazine's readers--at least those who were willing to kiss and tell.

Poll portraits

The poll attracted 1,829 participants: 78.6% men, 20.5% women, and fewer than 1% transsexual or intersexed. More than 90% were under age 50, with 28% under 25, 31% ages 26 to 34, and 33% ages 35 to 49. Almost 70% said they live in a major gay ghetto or other metropolis, with about 28% in "Smallville" and 3% "down on the farm."

Women ate more than three times more likely to identify as bisexual and almost 50% more likely to be in a relationship. Among the men, 95% identify as gay, 4% as bisexual, and 1% as straight, while 81% of women identify as lesbian, 14% as bisexual, and 3% as straight. None of the 12 transsexuals identify as straight: Two chose gay male, two lesbian, seven bisexual, and one didn't answer the question. (Because of the small number of transsexual and intersexed participants, their answers to other individual questions did not offer meaningful results.)

Almost half of respondents said they are in a long-term relationship with one other person, but while that included 46% of the men, among women 63% are coupled. About 10% of both sexes are currently dating, with 42% of the men and 27% of women identifying as simply "single." Just under 1% of all survey takers reported being in a polyamorous relationship--with two or more committed partners.

Number of sex partners in the past 12 months

Male respondents

0 10%
21+ 5%
6-20 17%
2-5 29%
1 39%

Female respondents

0 14%
21+ less than 1%
6-20 1%
2-5 29%
1 67%

Almost 23% of men and fewer than 2% of women reported having 6 or more
sex partners in the past year.

Note: Table made from pie chart.

Sex in public

Never 34%
Frequently 4%
Occasionally 23%
Rarely 39%

Best part of sex

Foreplay 33%
Getting there 26%
Finishing 4%
Kissing 20%
Cuddling 17%

All respondents

Note: Table made from pie chart.

RELATED ARTICLE: Sexual history.

Men tend to lose their same-sex virginity earlier than women. Almost half of the Advocate readers--about 46%--reported a first same-sex experience before age 18, but that total included 49% of all the men and just 34% of the women.

Men are more than 10 times more likely than women to have had six of more sexual partners in the past year. While more than 55% of respondents--nearly half of the men and 81% of the women---reported just one sexual partner or none within the past 12 months, on the other end of the spectrum, men dominated: Almost 23% of men and fewer than 2% of women had had six or more sexual partners.

The length of relationships is roughly equal between the sexes. Among those in relationships, 18% of men and 13% of women reported partnerships of 10 years or more, while 22% of men in relationships and 20% of women have been with their partners a year of less. Forty percent of male and 46% of female couples have relationships between one and five years, while the remaining 20% of those in relationships have been together five to 10 years.


Monogamy is alive and well but means different things to different people. Almost three quarters of those in a relationship said they are true to a single sexual partner. But while that included 91% of women in relationships, it represented a significantly smaller two thirds of male couples. Proportionally, three times as many male twosomes as female reported monogamy "with agreed exceptions" (18% versus 6%). That left 14% of the men in relationships as either "cheating" or "not monogamous by mutual agreement," compared with just over 3% of the partnered women.

It's still cheating if you don't go all the way, but it's not sex if there's no nudity involved. More than 51% of respondents said that making out while fully dressed constitutes "cheating" on your partner, with another 26% holding to an even higher standard: Verbal play, such as flirting or phone sex, counts as cheating, according to 43% of women and 21% of men. A sizeable 15% overall drew the line at partial or full nudity; 6% said it doesn't count as infidelity unless there is actual "penetration" involved. That left a forgiving 3% who said it isn't cheating if it only happened once--no matter what happened that time.

Perhaps learning from our most recent former president, respondents--both men and women--were more lenient in their definitions of "the minimum contact with another person that constitutes `sex.'" More than half--52%--said that sex requires some nudity, while an even stricter 24% said sex requires "penetration." Making out while dressed counts as sex for 13%, while 10% said flirting or having Internet or phone sex should be called sex.

RELATED ARTICLE: Cruisers, escorts, and porn stars.

It's the men who ate cruising the Internet. While 63% of respondents said they've never found a sex partner online (88% of women, 56% of men), a quarter of men said they occasionally or frequently find sex partners over the Internet, compared with just 4% of women.

Women aren't for sale, but some men are. Just 1% of women said they've ever been paid for sex, compared with 15% of men--even if 75% of the men who've collected cash said it happened only rarely. When the definition of being paid was tied to pornography, 98% of women still said "never," while the fraction of men with sex income fell to 10%. It seems men are 50% more likely to take money for sex if no recording devices are involved.


A significant fraction of both sexes take sexual risks. About 38% of both women and men said they rarely or occasionally mix drugs and alcohol with sex, and about 57% of each group said they never do.

Also similar were responses to a question about public sex. Only about one third of men and women said they have "never" had sex in a public place, and the percentages of each sex who have taken that risk were close to the same: Just over 39% of men and women chose "rarely," a few more than 20% chose "occasionally," and 2% of women and 5% of men said "frequently."

Men practice safer sex more frequently, but both sexes have their slackers. While more than 70% of respondents said they "always" or "usually" practice safer sex (75% of men; 55% of women), a remarkable 26% of women chose "never," compared with just 8% of men--perhaps a reflection of many gay women's belief that they are at lower risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. These women's experience may bear out that belief: 96% of women said they are HIV-negative and not one is HIV-positive, compared with 89% of men who are negative and 5% positive. A small percentage of each sex didn't know their HIV status of declined to share it.

RELATED ARTICLE: Sexual Adventurism.

For women, three's a crowd. While a quarter of women said they've had a sexual threesome at least once--and 6% admitted to even larger combinations--they couldn't hold a candle to the men, 33% of whom have said "yes" to a three-way and 28% of whom have been in other combinations of two or more sexual partners. Still, that left 40% of men and 70% of women having never had sex with more than one person at a time.

Boys and their toys can't compare to girls and theirs. While 40% of men and 22% of women said they never use sex toys, 60% of women reported using toys occasionally or frequently, compared with 31% of men. Another 28% of men and 17% of women chose "rarely." The sex divide was less extreme for watching porn while having sex: 57% of women and 44% of men never do so, while 21% of women and 28% of men said they include porn in their lovemaking occasionally or frequently. The remaining 22% of women and 28% of men picked "rarely."

Men are six times as likely as women to visit bathhouses, sex clubs, sex parties, or back rooms. Almost 90% of women said they have never been to any of those venues, compared with 57% of men. Just 7% of women and 18% of men dip their toes in "rarely," while a quarter of guys and 4% of women said they have sex in such locales occasionally or frequently.

RELATED ARTICLE: Sexual satisfaction.

Heterosexual conversions are unlikely. A whopping 88% of men and 79% of women said they are determined to stick to same-sex liaisons henceforth--although 39% of all the women and 26% of the men have had opposite-sex experiences in the past. A fifth of women and 12% of men said they either are continuing to have sex with people of both sexes or are open to the idea.