The individual whose homosexual activity becomes known is apt to find himself an outcast in much of our heterosexual society and he is forced into a nether world inhabited almost exclusively by homosexuals; it thus becomes increasingly unlikely that he will find his way back to a predominantly heterosexual life. In this way, we unwittingly support a system calculated to maximize the spread of homosexuality rather than reduce its incidence, at the same time linking the behavior with feelings of guilt and shame conducive to emotional conflict, anxiety and perhaps serious psychological disorientation.
Kinsey makes this further appeal to reason regarding our attitude on the subject: "Condemnations of homosexual as well as some other types of sexual activity are based on the argument that they do not serve the prime function of sex, which is interpreted to be procreation, and in that sense represent a perversion of what is taken to be 'normal' sexual behavior. It is contended that the general spread of homosexuality would threaten the existence of the human species, and that the integrity of the home and of the social organization could not be maintained if homosexual activity were not condemned by moral codes and public opinion and made punishable under the statute law. The argument ignores the fact that the existent mammalian species have managed to survive in spite of their widespread homosexual activity, and that sexual relations between males seem to be widespread in certain cultures (for instance, Moslem and Buddhist cultures) which are more seriously concerned with problems of overpopulation than they are with any threat of underpopulation. Interestingly enough, these are also cultures in which the institution of the family is very strong."
The general condemnation of homosexual relationships originated in Jewish history in about the Seventh century B.C., as a part of the extensive antisexualism that permeated Judaism after the Babylonian exile. Kinsey comments, "Both mouth-genital contacts and homosexual activities had previously been associated with the Jewish religious service, as they had been with the religious services of most of the other peoples of that part of Asia, and just as they have been in other cultures elsewhere in the world. In the wave of nationalism which was then developing among the Jewish people, there was an attempt to disidentify themselves with their neighbors by breaking with many of the customs which they had previously shared with them. Many of the Talmudic condemnations were based on the fact that such activities represented the way of the Canaanite, the way of Chaldean, the way of the pagan, and they were originally condemned as a form of idolatry rather than a sexual crime. Throughout the Middle Ages homosexuality was associated with heresy. The reform in the custom (the mores) soon, however, became a matter of morals, and finally a question for action under criminal law.
"Jewish sex codes were brought over into Christian codes by the early adherents of the Church, including St. Paul, who had been raised in the Jewish tradition on matters of sex. The Catholic sex code is an almost precise continuation of the more ancient Jewish code. For centuries in medieval Europe, the ecclesiastical law dominated on all questions of morals and subsequently became the basis for the English common law, the statute laws of England, and the laws of the various states of the United States. This accounts for the considerable conformity between the Talmudic and Catholic codes and the present-day statute law on sex, including the laws on homosexual activity."
We share a common Judaeo-Christian heritage with Europe, but American Puritanism has carried this country well beyond the antisexualism still to be found in the Old World. In much of the U.S., the legal penalties for sodomy are surpassed only by those for kidnapping, murder, and rape.
And yet, despite the severest sort of social and statutory prohibitions, Dr. Kinsey and his research associates of Indiana University found a remarkably high percentage of both American men and women who admitted to have had some homosexual contacts. On the opening page of the chapter titled "Homosexual Outlet," in Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, Kinsey states: "A considerable portion of the population, perhaps the major portion of the male population, has at least some homosexual experience between adolescence and old age. In addition, about 60 percent of the preadolescent boys engage in homosexual activities, and there is an additional group of adult males who avoid overt contacts but who are quite aware of their potentialities for reacting to other males."
The data in this study indicate that a minimum of 37 percent of the total male population have had overt homosexual experience to the point of orgasm after puberty and prior to the age of 45. Among the males, approximately 30 percent have been brought to climax at least once through mouth-genital contact with other males; and 14 percent have brought other males to climax in the same manner.
When the sampling is limited to those men who remain single until the age of 35, half (50 percent) have had overt homosexual contact resulting in orgasm since puberty; when educational level is taken into consideration for this same group of single males, 58 percent of those who went to high school but not beyond, 50 percent of grade-school level, and 47 percent of the college level have had homosexual experience to the point of orgasm after the onset of adolescence.
Specific statistics on anal intercourse in homosexual experiences are not available, although Kinsey does indicate that anal intercourse is reported by 17 percent of the preadolescent boy who had engaged in homosexual activity of any sort. In general Kinsey tends to minimize anal eroticism in homosexual relationships, just as he has in heterosexual ones, and it does appear that oral-genital techniques are far more common in both.
The erotic techniques initially utilized by females in homosexual relations may often include a little more than "simple lip kissing and generalized body contacts." Ultimately, however, with females of increased homosexual experience, a more intimate fondling of the partner, with manual manipulation of the breasts and genitalia becomes almost universal (95 to 98 percent); and more specific oral stimulation of the breasts (in 85 percent) and genitalia (in 78 percent) becomes a common technique.
The male and female differ markedly in the number of homosexual partners with whom they are typically involved: In Kinsey's sample of single women, a high proportion (51 percent) of those with any homosexual experience had had their relations with but a single partner, up to the time at which they contributed their histories to the study; another 20 percent had had relations with two partners; only 29 percent had had homosexual relations with three or more partners; and only 3 percent had had between ten and 20. In contrast, a high proportion of the males with homosexual experience had had relations with several different partners; 22 percent had had more than ten partners, including 8 percent with over 100. Kinsey originally believed that these differences in promiscuity were due primarily to environmental considerations, but by the time he was ready to publish his second volume his research had led him to the conclusion that the differences in male and female promiscuity—whether homosexual or heterosexual—are primarily the product of varying degrees of psychosexual responsiveness in the two sexes.
For any oldsters who may find these statistics shocking evidence of the immorality of the modern generation, it must be reported that—as with the data on similar heterosexual nonreproductive techniques—males and females born before 1900 (and in each decade since) evidence almost identical percentages for homosexual activity. Grandma and grandpa would have been shocked beyond words by any open discussion of the subject, but their actual sexual behavior was little different from our own today.
Quite obviously, Kinsey's statistics do not represent the number of "homosexuals" in society, as we usually understand and use the term, but the amount of "homosexual experience." The great majority of the men and women who have had such experiences are primarily heterosexual in their behavior and the most significant point to be understood from this data is that almost all us have, within ourselves, the capacity to respond to both heterosexual and homosexual stimuli.
On this point, Kinsey states, "It would encourage clearer thinking on these matters if persons were not characterized as heterosexual or homosexual, but as individuals who have had certain amounts of heterosexual experience and certain amounts of homosexual experience. Instead of using these terms as substantives which stand for persons, or even as adjectives to describe persons, they may be better used to describe the nature of the overt sexual relations, or of the stimuli to which an individual erotically responds."
This point is best illustrated by the following facts: While 37 percent of the total male population—or nearly two males out of every five—have at least some overt homosexual experience to the point of orgasm between adolescence and old age, only 25 percent of the male population have had more than incidental homosexual experience or reactions over at least a three-year period between the ages of 16 and 55; only 18 percent have at least as much homosexual as heterosexual experience in their histories for at least a three-year period between the same ages; 10 percent are more or less exclusively homosexual for at least a three-year period; 8 percent are exclusively homosexual for three years; and only 4 percent are exclusively homosexual throughout their lives.
But related to the subject presently under discussion, we remember that it is not being "homosexual" that is illegal in almost all of the 50 states, it is the single "homosexual experience"—of the sort engaged in, at one time or another, by nearly two out of every five adult males in society—that is a crime. In most states, it is a crime punishable by a lengthy prison sentence.
Our moral and legal condemnations of homosexual activity do not apply equally to both men and women, being uncommon severe in dealing with male homosexuality and generally ignoring like behavior in the female. This is consistent with our religious tradition, which was historically placed much emphasis on male homosexual activity and had little to say about female homosexuality. The ancient Hittite code condemned men for homosexual behavior, but only under certain specified circumstances, and made no mention of women; similarly, the references to homosexuality in the Bible and Talmud apply primarily to the male.
This seeming inconsistency is probably partially explained by the fact that women were considered socially less important in earlier cultures and their private activities were more or less ignored when not involving men; in addition, the special prohibition against male homosexual behavior is consistent with the Catholic emphasis on the wasting of the male seed as a sin. In medieval European history there are abundant records of death penalties imposed upon males for sexual contact with other males, but very few recorded cases of similar action against females.