Sexual Orientation and Demand for the Arts


  • *Direct correspondence to Gregory B. Lewis, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University, 14 Marietta Street, Unit 2, Atlanta, GA 30303-2813 〈〉. All data, including all coding materials, are available from the first-named author for purposes of replication. We are grateful to the Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research for providing the General Social Survey. We presented an earlier version of this article at 12th International Conference on Cultural Economics, June 14, 2002, in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.


Objective. We establish and try to explain a gay affinity for the arts.

Methods. Using logit analysis on the General Social Survey, we test whether demographics, creativity, gender nonconformity, and sexual repression can explain differences between lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals (LGBs) and others in attendance at art museums, classical music concerts, and dance performances.

Results. LGBs' higher education and probability of being childless city-dwellers explain one-third of the substantial attendance differences. However, LGBs do not demonstrate higher innate creativity through greater amateur production of art; gay men's affinity for the arts appears no stronger than lesbians', casting doubt on the gender nonconformity explanation; and LGB-straight attendance differences are as large among young as older respondents, despite supposed declines in the special functions of arts attendance since gay liberation.

Conclusions. LGBs are much more likely to attend the arts than demographically similar heterosexuals, but we find little support for three conventional explanations.