That's the question asked by a serious survey of megadata (that stuff that our NSA gathers to look for terrorists, except this uses legally available information on groups rather than individual data collected surreptitiously). It turns out the magic number seems to be about 5%. Personally I think the number of closeted gays is severely underestimated due to the total lack of any gay-related activity to document. It is extremely difficult if not impossible to reveal a lie when a person is lying to himself. None the less, a few extracts: How the study was done:
Using surveys, social networks, pornographic searches and dating sites, I recently studied evidence on the number of gay men. The data used in this analysis is available in highly aggregated form only and can be downloaded from publicly accessible sites. While none of these data sources are ideal, they combine to tell a consistent story.That "magic number" result:
At least 5 percent of American men, I estimate, are predominantly attracted to men, and millions of gay men still live, to some degree, in the closet.Mother always knows, and so does your wife:
Additional evidence that suggests that many gay men in intolerant states are deeply in the closet comes from a surprising source: the Google searches of married women. It turns out that wives suspect their husbands of being gay rather frequently. In the United States, of all Google searches that begin "Is my husband...," the most common word to follow is "gay." "Gay" is 10 percent more common in such searches than the second-place word, "cheating." It is 8 times more common than "an alcoholic" and 10 times more common than "depressed."And the one anecdotal example says a lot:
SOMETIMES even I get tired of looking at aggregate data, so I asked a psychiatrist in Mississippi who specializes in helping closeted gay men if any of his patients might want to talk to me. One man contacted me. He told me he was a retired professor, in his 60s, married to the same woman for more than 40 years. About 10 years ago, overwhelmed with stress, he saw the therapist and finally acknowledged his sexuality. He has always known he was attracted to men, he says, but thought that that was normal and something that men hid. Shortly after beginning therapy, he had his first, and only, gay sexual encounter, with a student of his in his late 20s, an experience he describes as "wonderful." He and his wife do not have sex. He says that he would feel guilty ever ending his marriage or openly dating a man. He regrets virtually every one of his major life decisions. The retired professor and his wife will go another night without romantic love, without sex. Despite enormous progress, the persistence of intolerance will cause millions of other Americans to do the same.I suspect this man is in the majority of gay men in the USA rather than the minority, and our recent political tilt toward the right, despite the progress of gay rights laws, helps to explain it: the more common openly gay men become the deeper closeted gays must dig to stay closeted. Religious self-righteousness is a perfect foil, and we are perhaps the most overtly religious nation outside the Muslim world.