Public Release: 

Gay adolescent? No, normal teenager, new book says

Cornell University

ITHACA, N.Y. -- The so-called "gay adolescent" soon will disappear, predicts a Cornell University expert on teenage sexuality in a new book. These adolescents will still have the same desires, fantasies and attractions, he writes, but they no longer will need or want to identify themselves as gay.

"The new gay teenager is in many respects the non-gay teenager," says Ritch Savin-Williams, professor and chair of human development in Cornell's College of Human Ecology in his new book, The New Gay Teenager (Harvard University Press, 2005). Savin-Williams is an expert on issues concerning gay, lesbian and bisexual youths and is a licensed clinical psychologist who works with gay youths and their families.

Savin-Williams argues that the majority of young people who engage in gay sex consider themselves heterosexual and that the majority of youths with same-sex attractions do not call themselves gay.

Such labels as "gay" no longer work when describing young people's sexuality, he says, because some teens have same-sex crushes but don't act on them or call them "gay love affairs." Some believe they are gay for a while and then not gay for a while. Still others might consider themselves gay only in certain situations.

"Most same-sex-attracted young people engage in sexual activities with both sexes. Some are homoerotic in some sexual domains and not in others. Similarly, one can be little or greatly same-sex attracted, in varying degrees and in varying ways," says Savin-Williams. In fact, he says, between 15 and 20 percent of adolescents have some degree of same-sex orientation, yet only 3 to 4 percent embrace a gay or bisexual identity or report same-sex activities. Most young people don't link their sexuality to their identity.


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