Study Confirms You Can’t Catch The Gay

A new study of thousands of young people in the US and UK has concluded that, in short, you can’t catch the gay. That is, having friends and family who are gay does not make a person any more likely to report same-sex attractions, even when other related correlations can be identified.

The researchers focused on 14,738 of the 90,000+ students that completed a series of three in-depth home interviews — the first being conducted at around 16 years of age, the second a year later, and the third five years after the second. As part of the interviews, students were asked to name, identify, and elucidate the relationships with their closest five male and five female friends, many of whom were also involved in the longitudinal study. They were also asked specific questions to gauge sexual activity, relationship desire, and same-sex attraction.

Using the data from the first and second interviews, the researchers employed a statistical method to see whether subjects’ reported level of same-sex attraction was at all related to that of their friends. Data from the first interview was used to control for predilection to future same-sex attraction, sexual activity, and the desire to seek out relationships. It was also used to control for homophily — the idea that people tend to choose friends who behave similarly.

The analysis returned the increase in odds of reporting a certain behavior associated with each friend or sibling who engages in the same behavior. Subjects were far more likely to engage in sexual intercourse (1.79x) if their friends were also engaged in sexual activities. The same was true for seeking out romantic relationships (2.69x). However, they weren’t more likely to report same-sex attraction (0.96x).

“Although we found evidence that both sexual activity and desire to have a romantic relationship may spread from person to person, attraction to same sex partners did not spread,” the researchers say.

Yes, it’s based on self-reporting, but the fact that the results remained consistent even among those who accept homosexuality (and therefore have little incentive to deny their own same-sex attractions if they had them) and five years later suggests this is of minimal concern. So relax, bigots; your kids aren’t going to catch the gay if they have gay friends.

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  • Erp

    Ah but they might catch accepting their gay friends and learning not to hate ‘the sin’.

  • exdrone

    The study is invalid because they didn’t specifically study fundamentalist christian children, who are apparently extremely susceptible to changing their beliefs from the mere mention of evolution, pre-marital sex and homosexuality. Don’t you see, it’s white clothes that show the stains.

  • dingojack

    … and in other news, water discovered to be wet. Film at 11.


  • busterggi

    There goes my last chance to have any fashion sense.

  • steve84

    Good thing they cleared that up.

  • jnorris

    But Evangelical Christians, Tea Baggers, and Republicans (but I’m being redundant) can still catch cooties.

  • martinc

    I don’t think most fundies consider their children likely to catch ‘gayness’, because they don’t ever really perceive their children as potentially gay. What they think having gay friends might do is make homophobia unacceptable, because it will open their children’s eyes to just how irrational homophobia is. Maintaining irrational hatreds in a community requires constant work at shoring up the ‘wall of hate’: any breach that allows truth to seep through might see the whole edifice crumble down.

    While I suspect there might be no correlation between having gay friends and being gay, given that this ‘wall of hate’ exists in many communities there might well be a correlation between having gay friends and being OPENLY gay. The fundies may be quite correct that if they strongly shun, exclude, humiliate, belittle and threaten violence toward homosexuals, a child of theirs who is homosexual might well decide to hide their sexuality rather than face the ‘wall of hate’ prevalent in their community. That’s deeply sad, but it achieves the fundie parents’ selfish objectives.

  • Alverant


    What you said made sense. We know that many homosexuals stay in the closet because of what they heard from their parents and pastors, that all homosexuals are perverts or going to hell or evil or whatever. If they have gay friends, they may realize that what they are told isn’t true and come out themselves. That can give the appearance that ‘gayness’ was caught when it was the idea “it was OK to be gay” that was caught. In other words, people realize that not hiding who they are is a viable option. I believe a lot of fundies think that a gay man who acts straight isn’t really gay.

    Another theory is that to fundies, God made everyone and sexuality is always a matter of choice. If a kid is homosexual then the parents did something wrong. How many parents want to admit they screwed up raising their kid? So if their child is gay, it’s not THEIR fault but they need someone to blame. So the gay friends are responsible. If their kid didn’t have gay friends then they wouldn’t be gay. It’s easier to place blame than to accept that forces outside your control threw you a curve. It’s not about the children, it’s about the parents.

  • hatchetfish when it’s not at home

    a lot of fundies think that a gay man who acts straight isn’t really gay.

    Another theory is that to fundies, God made everyone and sexuality is always a matter of choice

    I’ve always suspected many fundies view homosexuality as a simple choice of actions: not a way someone is, but specific things they do. They don’t view it as a part of identity, just a string of actions, like choosing to steal your kid brother’s cookies or dabble in satanism. It’s not a part of you, it’s a pattern of sins and you should knock it off.

    Not to defend them or give credence to the ‘hate the sin’ malarkey, just to illuminate the worldview a bit. It makes some of their crazier statements less totally out-of-nowhere batshit illogical. It’s an invalid world view, but some of what they say is vaguely consistent under those completely bullshit assumptions.

    What this also fits is that the ‘lapses in morality’ theory is applied to ex-gays and closet cases who try to fit the fundie mould, and that they were all tempted by the evil uppity enrupentent recruiting gays. Thus in fundie-think, no one is gay, there are just evil perverts and those who are tempted.

    Uck. Brain bleach time.

  • hatchetfish when it’s not at home


    I sort of want to take submissions for what enrupentent means…

  • laurentweppe

    Yeah, but the bigots’ gay kids may decide the “mbrace the lifestyle” instead of doing the very christian deed of marrying then regularly cuckolding someone they don’t like.

  • blf

    I told y’all Teh Gay Spray™ used in the aeroplane chemtails is far too dilute. But would you listen? NO!

    But all is not lost. With a slight tweak to the formula, automobile and lorry exhaust will work just as well (albeit rural areas remain a problem, which is perhaps all to the good as an unsatisfied sheep is nasty). More gas and smog for more gay and snog!

  • pianoman, Heathen & Torontophile

    i’m sure the fundies will dismiss this study as some sort of Satan-inspired deceit.

    That guy gets blamed for everything!

  • Nentuaby

    You know, that result actually surprises me. (This as a member of the queer community.) That’s because it is based on self reporting. I would have expected that people who associate with open queers would be more likely to *self report* as queer themselves, simply because they would be less motivated to be closeted or Narnian.