Gay, mostly gay, or bisexual leaning gay? An exploratory study distinguishing gay sexual orientations among young men

Ritch Savin-Williams, Brian Cash, Mark McCormack, Gerulf Rieger

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This exploratory study assessed physiological, behavioral, and self-report measures of sexual and romantic indicators of sexual orientation identities among young men (mean age = 21.9 years) with predominant same-sex sexual and romantic interests: Those who described themselves as bisexual leaning gay (n = 11), mostly gay (n = 17), and gay (n = 47). Although they were not significantly distinguishable based on physiological (pupil dilation) responses to nude stimuli, on behavioral and self-report measures a descending linear trend toward the less preferred sex (female) was significant regarding sexual attraction, fantasy, genital contact, infatuation, romantic relationship, sex appeal, and gazing time to the porn stimuli. Results supported a continuum of sexuality with distinct subgroups only for the self-report measure of sexual attraction. The other behavioral and self-report measures followed the same trend but did not significantly differ between the bisexual leaning gay and mostly gay groups, likely the result of small sample size. Results suggest that romantic indicators are as good as sexual measures in assessing sexual orientation and that a succession of logically following groups from bisexual leaning gay, mostly gay, to gay. Whether these three groups are discrete or overlapping needs further research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265
Number of pages272
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior : The Official Publication of the International Academy of Sex Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • sexual orientation
  • romantic indicators
  • bisexual leaning gay
  • mostly gay
  • pupil dilation

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