Shocker: Gay Love is the Same as Straight Love

A new study from Indiana researchers tells us what most even minded people will already have assumed to be true: that sex and romance in gay relationships are closely linked.

The research, published this month in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, is based on an Internet survey of almost 25,000 self-identifying gay and bisexual men from the United States and delves into a question that science actually has little concrete data on: whether sex and romantic love are linked among same-sex partners in the same way that it is for straight people.

The data was actually obtained by approaching men on gay-interest social and dating websites. Such websites have earned a reputation as “hook-up” sites, so we might have expected this to bias the results in favor of casual sex with less of a romantic component, but that’s not what happened.

The researchers discovered that an overwhelming number of gay and bisexual men — some 92.6% — reported that at the time of their last sexual encounter, they were in fact in love with their partner.

This isn’t surprising as the closely linked nature of sex and romantic feelings has been well documented among opposite sex partners, but this is among the first research papers to tackle whether the same is true among same-sex couples. So why does this even matter and why is it worth highlighting today?

The researchers do a good job of contextualizing this, with Debby Herbenick, co-director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington, quoted as saying:

“This study is important because of myths and misunderstandings that separate men from love, even though the capacity to love and to want to be loved in return is a human capacity and is not limited by gender or sexual orientation.”

Indeed, the very kinds of “myths and misunderstandings” that Herbenick touches upon are still being used in court documents to prop up gay marriage bans. A ready example comes from Utah where the state’s newly hired outside counsel filed its 120-page brief with the 10th District Court of Appeals this month in which it attempts to build a strawman that only opposite sex relationships can provide the best environment for child rearing. We know that, while not explicitly mentioned in the brief, all of these kinds of arguments are underpinned by the notion that gay men in particular don’t have romantic relationships but are only interested in sexual gratification.

The research also provides some insight into the role age plays in feelings of love among same-sex sexual partners. For instance, men who said they were in love with their sexual partner were most commonly between the ages of 30 to 39. Younger men were more likely to be unsure about whether they loved their partner or not. On the other end of the scale, older men were more likely to be sure. Of those men, those who did love their partner reported an enhanced sexual experience when compared to those who were not in love at the time of their sexual encounter.

Lastly, more than 90% of men in the study reported that their feelings of love (or not) were matched by their partner’s feelings. This was interesting for researchers in this study because the idea of matching someone else’s feelings — in effect, being clear about whether the encounter might serve a longer-term relationship or be just a one-off — is something that even among straight couples science hasn’t yet probed.

To be sure, this research isn’t particularly surprising, but as with previous research in this vein it is necessary to keep examining questions like these that on the surface may seem foregone conclusions precisely because it is only with the weight of real data that we can most effectively continue to shut down anti-gay rhetoric. You can argue opinions, but facts are facts.

So, while anti-gay forces like Utah’s administration busy themselves with things like the debunked Regnerus parenting study to try to support gay marriage bans and anti-gay laws, we can continue to turn to reputable research that time and again shows that love and sex between same-sex partners is, well, really very ordinary.

Photo credit: Thinkstock.


John Nester
John Nester4 years ago

Shocker? I would think any cognizant human would have figured this out, long ago.

Olivia D.
Olivia Dawson4 years ago

Good to know.

Robert Hamm
Robert Hamm4 years ago

There are more gay people evident becaude more and more are no longer afraid to admit it and have stopped hiding it. ts very simple really. Gay people have ALWAYS been here, we just had no idea because they were persecuted so badly they simply hid it as much as they could.

Geneder assignment in a human body is very complex………its all a matter of timing and chemisty while in the womb. Obviously mother nature isnt as concerned about it as WE are or there would be a tremdendous cost to humanity. And NO HAHAHAHAHAHA there arent more gay people becasue we have an overpopulated planet LOLOL Thats the funniest thing I ever heard. The real problem with humanity is out frontal lobe is our biggest friend and out worst curse. WE are terrigfied of anything different from ourselves. We hetros cant pissibly understnad how anyone could be attracted to someone of the same sex. Well DUH!!!! Our hormones the timing of thiose hormones running throuhg a fetus program us……. WE dodnt have a choice anymore than Gay people do. WE come out of the womb the way we come out.
Sometimes its a “perfect” product….sometimes it isn’t. Thats Mother natures Bell curve. AS long as we fit in the bell curve we get to live. Its that simple. Mother nature doesnt give a crap. Life is life!! WE would all be better off if we accepted Mother natures terms because we cant do a DAMNED thing about them. Leave other people alone and try to be h

Tim W.
Timothy W4 years ago

Catrina T.
You poor thing. Did you miss out on your education, or did you get it at a parochial school that only teaches what it wants you to believe.

A women being pregnant and listening to a show with gay people is hardly going to make the baby gay. Perhaps you might want to consider the fact that there is not a higher percentage of gay people now, but rather...since gay people are more likely to choose to come out now, than they would have years ago, there are simply just more out gay people. Out people who have chosen not to live miserable lonely lives anymore just because of hateful, fear driven, homophobes like yourself/

Robert Hamm
Robert Hamm4 years ago

welllll let me think for a minute. Someone who is a FAKE gay person

is NOT gay so that does that have to do with THIS topic???

Catrina Therrien
Catrina Therrien4 years ago

There are more gays and lesbians now because of it being all over the world...the tv...the raido...etc. When a woman is pregnant with their child..the things they think, watch and listen to all count towards how your child is going to turn out. So yah it is our own fault there are so many gay and lesbians now a days then ever before. We did it to ourselves by being retarts. Ontop of that all the fake lesbians out there just doing it to impress guys because guys like it kind of thing is just sick. Our world is going down down down and I really cant wait for it to burn up. And guess is all our own fault that we are in the situations that we are in right now. I have nothing against gay people or anything as I have a few gay friends myself and I love them they are great so don't take this post as I hate hate gays because that is far from the truth.

Martha Ferris
Martha Ferris4 years ago

It's time we focused on love and relationships and not so much what goes on sexually between two people. Thanks for heading in the right direction.

Lynn C.
Lynn C4 years ago


Charlene Rush
Charlene Rush4 years ago

We should stop picking on Elaine A. Her homophobia suggests she had a rather unhealthy and mentally tortuous childhood. We cannot change what has transpired in our early years, but, we can strive to educate ourselves to treat others in a kinder and gentler manner.

Hate damages the hater, not the one you are hating.

Joe M.
Joe Martinez4 years ago

Love is love it comes from the heart. It's that feeling that one experience when you love another human being. Note human being I did not differentiate on the sexes. Man can love another man as woman can love another woman too. It has nothing to do with sex, it is what the heart feels. Only ignorant minds that lack understand that make distinctions.