Some couples do not fit into traditional models of marriage and family. A person who is attracted to members of the opposite sex is heterosexual
, or “straight.” A person who is attracted to members of the same sex is homosexual
, or “gay” (male) or “lesbian” (female). And a person who is attracted to members of both sexes is bisexual
, or “bi.”
Although the United States does not legally recognize same‐sex marriages or unions, homosexuals and bisexuals (like heterosexuals) enjoy a variety of relationships. They live together, alone, with family or friends, or have housemates. They also come from all walks of life, socioeconomic levels, and backgrounds. Making generalizations about homosexual or bisexual relationships—romantic, social, working, or otherwise—is difficult, as is making generalizations about heterosexual relationships.
Nonetheless, in the 1970s, researchers A. P. Bell and M. S. Weinberg studied nearly 1,000 gays and lesbians and found that about 75 percent fell into one of the following relationship categories:
- Asexual homosexuals are single, have few or no sex partners, and would probably be considered sexually withdrawn.
- Dysfunctional homosexuals are single, have many sex partners, but also have sexual problems and/or regrets about being homosexual.
- Functional homosexuals are single, have many sex partners, and have few or no sexual problems or regrets about being homosexual.
- Open‐coupled relationships involve one‐on‐one relationships, but both partners have a number of sex partners.
- Close‐coupled relationships resemble monogamous heterosexual marriages.As the above categories show, homosexual relationships are diverse.
Sociologists estimate that between 40 and 60 percent of homosexuals maintain committed relationships. Gay and lesbian couples may stay together for as many years as heterosexual couples. Also like heterosexuals, they may or may not find satisfaction in such relationships.
Many homosexual couples decide to raise children. Researchers suggest that children brought up in homosexual homes do not differ from children brought up in heterosexual homes in terms of intelligence, gender role, gender identity, or general life adjustment. Researchers also suggest that children from homosexual homes are no more likely to become homosexuals themselves than are children from heterosexual homes.