There are a lot of gay men in the closet in certain parts of the U.S., and women are concerned that their husbands are among them, according to the new book Everybody Lies, which uses the Google Trends tool to peek under the hood of America's psyche.
"Google is a digital truth serum," author Seth Stephens-Davidowitz told Vox. After earning a Ph.D. in economics at Harvard University and spending five years combing through Google Trends, he's sure that "people tell Google things that they don't tell to possibly anybody else, things they might not tell to family members, friends, anonymous surveys, or doctors.”
Especially when it comes to sex, he said. People don't lie to their computers about what they're looking for sexually, even in regions where it is unsafe to voice their desires aloud.
"It’s clear that a lot of gay men remain in the closet," Stephens-Davidowitz said. "In places where it's hard to be gay, such as Mississippi, far fewer men say that they are gay than in places where it's easy to be gay, such as New York. But gay porn searches are about the same everywhere."
Measuring people's fantasies rather than actions, he believes that 5 percent of men are predominantly attracted to other men — and some are married to women. "The number one question that women have about their husbands is whether he is gay," he told Vox. "And these questions are much higher in the Deep South, where my research suggests there are indeed more gay men married to women." Stephens-Davidowitz continued, "Women are eight times more likely to ask Google if their husband is gay than if he is an alcoholic and 10 times more likely to ask Google if their husband is gay than if he is depressed." But he feels women are too obsessed with their husband's sexuality, as about 98 percent of husbands in opposite-sex marriages are indeed straight, and too few men concerned about their wives.
Men are not alone. The book says 20 percent of women watch lesbian porn — a larger percentage than those who identify as lesbian.
The book also asserts that many sexual "kinks" are more common among wealthier and more educated people than most of us assume. One in 100 searches for porn are a quest for elderly people, indicating that hundreds of thousands of younger men predominantly desire older women. Many upper-class, highly educated people search for porn involving animals or incestuous relationships.
"If you define being in the closet as picking partners based on what society wants rather than what you want, many people are in the closet," the author said, further noting that many men prefer heavy women yet try to date slimmer ones.
"Many people don’t try to date the people they’re most attracted to," Stephens-Davidowitz added. "They try to date the people they think would impress their friends."