Age Cohort Differences in the Developmental Milestones of Gay Men
Published In: Journal of Homosexuality, v. 54, no. 4, 2008, p. 381-399
Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2007
As the social context in which gay men live changes due to greater visibility, greater acceptance, and easier access to gay subculture, gay males may self-identify and take part in gay social activities at earlier ages than in the past. This study examined whether developmental milestones associated with sexual orientation for gay men have changed over the past several decades. A large and diverse sample of 2,402 gay men who responded to a 1994 survey published in a national magazine provided retrospective information on the age at which they reached individual psychological, social, and sexual behavior developmental milestones. The authors found evidence that individual psychological and sexual behavior milestones (e.g., awareness of attraction to males, having an orgasm with other male) are slowly moving toward earlier chronological ages (by 1 year of age every 8-25 years, p?0.05), whereas social milestones (e.g., coming out) are moving more rapidly in a similar direction (by 1 year of age every 2-5 years, p?0.001). The authors perform an innovative sensitivity test to demonstrate the persistence of the finding after correcting for the bias attributable to underrepresentation of those who have not yet self-identified as gay in such samples.