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  1. Jessie Ford
  2. Monica Caudillo

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Description: We examine change across U.S. cohorts born between 1920 and 1998 in their probability of having had sex with same-sex partners last year and since age 18. We explore how trends differ by gender, race and class background. We use data from the 1988-2016 General Social Surveys. We find steady increases across birth cohorts in the proportion of men and women who have had both male and female sexual partners since age 18. A key finding is a race-gender intersection: black men and women of all races had similar increases— increases which were much steeper than those observed for white men. We suggest that women’s increase is rooted in a long-term asymmetry in gender change, in which nonconformity to gender norms in many arenas is more acceptable for women than men. As the increase for men is largest among black men—and this is the population most affected by the rise of mass incarceration—we suggest the latter may be a contributing factor.


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