Does Prison Turn You Gay? More Likely Bi

320px-Gay_Couple_from_back_hand_holding_on_CSD_2006_Berlin_-_Make_Love_Not_WarA Republican candidate for president, Ben Carson, made news this week for saying that prison turns people gay. He said that sexual orientation was a choice “because a lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight — and when they come out, they’re gay. So, did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question.”

And so, checked out the actual studies of such a claim, and it turns out there’s a very comprehensive study about “Orientation Perspectives of Incarcerated Bisexual and Gay Men: The County Jail Protection.” Here are some of the findings:

Gay men were more likely to pressure bisexual and/or heterosexual offenders for sex while in protective custody.

Bisexual offenders who preferred women to men more often sought protection from another inmate, reported more pressure from others to have sex, and felt less safe in jail than gay or bisexual men who preferred men over women.

Sexual patterns tended to be indistinct for bisexuals, a factor that contributed to lower institutional adjustment and less satisfaction with regard to their sexual identity.

The lack of access to the opposite sex obviously does pose for “situational gay or bisexual” activity, and research from the  University of Tennessee at Chattanooga professor Christopher Hensley showed that of 142 prisoners at a maximum-security facility in the South, 24 of them changed sexual orientation while incarcerated.

Of those who changed their orientation, 75 percent changed from straight to bisexual, 12.5 percent changed from bisexual to straight, and 4.2 percent changed from bisexual to gay, gay to straight, and gay to bisexual, respectively.

So, according to this small sampling in a study of prisoners. If you’re in prison, and you sexual identity is changed, you’re more likely to come out bisexual!

Mike Szymanski
Mike Szymanski has written about bisexual issues since 1989 and has one of the longest-running regular bisexual columns as the National Bisexuality Examiner. He came out as bisexual in a cover story of Genre magazine, which resulted in more than 50 television appearances, including Ricki Lake, Phil Donahue Show and 20/20. Szymanski won the Lambda Literary Award in 2007 for co-authoring an informative humor book “The Bisexual’s Guide to the Universe: Quips, Tips and Lists for Those Who Go Both Ways.” Write him at [email protected]