Gay/Straight Survey Results: Boys DO Cry

STRAIGHT GUY: Thanks to everyone who took our survey on how much we cry. A relatively small sample, but the results are in... Everyone cries, but gay guys cry more than straight guys, and women cry more than men of any orientation. You can see the details in the survey below, but basically, only 33% of straight men cry more than 10 times a year, while 55% of gay men and 65% of women cry that often. Gay men also had the highest percentage of folks who cry more than 30 times a year, but that was a slimmest segment of every group.

This matches the results from a study of German ophthalmologists who found that men cry 6-17 times a year, while women cry 30-64 times.

I guess I was revealing a stereotype, but I mentioned to GG that I bet that gay guys fall somewhere in the middle, and cry more than straight guys do. He wasn't so sure, but we both thought a survey of GG/SG readers would be interesting.

Tell me if I'm an a-hole, but my assumption was that the genetic differences (yes, I believe in the "gay gene"... nature, NOT nurture) would make gays more emotional than straights. Not a universal judgment of every gay guy out there, but that, in general, gay guys would be more open and less repressed when revealing their emotions.

GAY GUY: Straight Guy, Maybe I am being defensive about my masculinity and that of my fellow gay guys, but I draw your attention to the stat that 15 percent of both gay and straight men responded that they cry "less than 10 times a year" in our highly unscientific survey. Same stat, different orientations. After that, yes, the numbers take different paths.

Am I sounding defensive? I don't want to be a big crybaby about this.

I wouldn't be surprised to learn that gay men get an extra teaspoon or two of some hormone that straight men don't get. I don't know that's it's a "female" hormone that makes us more like women, whatever that means. But bet there's some splice of DNA at work here.

On crying: Little gay boys get taught that boys don't cry just as much as little straight boys. Maybe even more, as the nervous parents, not wanting to be outed, just keep tightening the lid. When I came out in college and started to make gay friends -- and meet women who hung out with gay men -- I don't remember that any of them encouraged me me to cry, but there was probably some sense of kinship when it did happen. Encouraged to cry, no; allowed to talk endlessly about what I felt and thought, yes.

By the way, having nothing to do with being gay, I had a 5-minute crying jag in front of my friend in my dorm room the end of my freshman year. A long laugh at a joke weirdly jackknife into a silent sob. It was due the combination of the end of a hard year, finals stress, and being high as kite from smoking pot. My friends cleared the room quickly. I don't remember feeling better at the end of it, just exhausted. My friends did an excellent job of being guys and pretending it never happened, which I greatly appreciated.

If we do cry more, maybe it's because our lives can be harder. Gay kids learn to keep a lot packed in about their own truth and how people will take it in. It's isolating. Let's face it, unless you are one of these super courageous kids taking a same sex partner to the prom, pretty much count on spending that night at home with the remote.

Back to the survey: Cry more than 10 times a year? I can't imagine crying every month. I cry at times of extreme heart break or extreme frustration. Usually the latter.

Straight Guy, can I get some definition on "cry." Are we talking sorrowful sobs only, or are we including the red nose, welled-up eyes and maybe a tear roll when emotionally manipulated during a movie? If that counts as crying then I switch my vote from less than 10 times a year to 10 to 30 times a year.

Not too long ago, there was a commercial for coffee. This young serviceman gets home on a surprise bit of leave, duffle bag slung over his shoulder; he comes into his home with everyone still asleep, and brews a pot of coffee to wake everyone up. His mom comes down stairs... Oh, Lord, I can't even finish typing this post... my eyes are too full of tears....

STRAIGHT GUY: Thanks, GG. I'm going to break this part to you gently... The data doesn't quite break down the way you think. Though the numbers look the same, the percentages are based on the entire survey sample, not yet broken by orientation. The straight male sample was slightly smaller than the gay male. When you do break it down, you find that 66% of straight guys cry less than 10 times per year while only 44% of gay guys cry that rarely. (Next time, I'll embed each segment as a separate survey, or something.)

Thanks for your explanation, maybe there is some "nurture" behind these numbers, too. And yes, I'm thinking of the broadest interpretation, that crying is defined by any emotional response that causes tears, anything from sentimentality to abject terror.

I'm not immune to the sentimental stuff myself, and will admit that I cry from that angle much more often, now that I have kids. My youngest started kindergarten this fall. There was a happy bounce to her step as she began a new adventure. Back in the car, I wasn't holding up that well. And like you, I better sign off now...



Smileyfreak said...

Hey Guys! Thanks for posting the results of the survey :) Very interesting! :)

Straight in Upstate said...

OMG! GG smoked pot!!! I didn't see that coming!!

Orientation and prom night: dude, being straight didn't improve odds of not staying at home with the remote. The only advantage I had over you was: "X really wants to go to the prom, why don't you take her as a friend?" (When kids start matching up their shy gay friends so everyone has a date to the prom, that will be equality.)

Good call on the definition of crying: I have to switch my vote to at least 10 to 30 if not more. Hallmark commercials used to kill me (the little boy who gets a card from his teacher because he stays in at recess with a little boy who's "sick" and can't play...dammit!), certain country songs (and I don't necessarily like country), and children's sermons at church. The ending of sappy movies - Cars always gets me - and for a few years (I've worked through it) the ending of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer when all the misfit toys think they've been forgotten...again.

I dibs being Fred in the Box - see you on the island, GG.

Kathryn said...

For me, GG hit a nerve when he talked about the stress-factor. 7 years ago, I wouldn't have answered with a number so high. Now? Let's see: Three children, ALONE, rental house is going into foreclosure, looking for fulltime work, no medical insurance. Need I continue? I hold it together beautifully during the day (I'd like to believe)...but when my head hits that pillow, there's a 70% chance of rain, my friend. It's a sign of the times. I wonder if the number would have read differently 10 years ago?

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