Men Are More Willing to Try a Same Sex Experience When Drunk, According to Science

Straight men do some surprising things after they’ve had a few drinks — including other men, apparently. 

Stereotypes have long existed about alcohol making women go gay in college, but science has found that drinking may have a significant impact on straight men's willingness to try a same-sex experience, too. 

A study published in April 2017 in “The Journal Of Social Psychology” found that heterosexuals in “bar scenes” — environments where alcohol is consumed amidst sexual stimuli — exhibited interesting signs of sexual willingness.

For women, increased alcohol consumption didn't raise sexual appetite but did increase sexual willingness to engage with both males and females, leading them to “engage in sexual behavior that is incongruent with their self-reported sexual identity.”

For men, they confirmed what is already known: men are more likely to crave casual sex after increased alcohol consumption. What’s interesting — and contrary to social norms — is that their consumption of alcohol led to an increasing willingness to engage with female and male partners.

This finding is a bit revolutionary and is the result of a curious hypothesis.

Breanne Helmers is a doctoral student of social psychology at Wayne State University who worked on the study. They were hoping to figure out what it would take for someone to have a different sexual experience than they were used to.

“We wanted to determine if we could experimentally manipulate the sex of a potential partner and figure out what would influence someone to engage in sexual acts with a partner whose sex does not align with their sexual orientation,” Helmers told ATTN:. “We wanted to attempt to figure out how much of an influence alcohol has on partner choice.”

This is where the bar scenario came into play, as it provokes “the most accurate in-the-moment responses of people who were drinking,” Helmers explained. “We also know that casual sex sometimes occurs after a night of drinking at a bar, so it seemed like a natural place to conduct our study.”

The study took 83 heterosexual adults who were recruited in an area adjacent to bars in a Midwestern town. First, participants briefly answered questions regarding their cognizance and demographic. Then, they were shown a "video vignette" (a la a Powerpoint document with audio) depicting either a man and woman drinking alone at a bar. Finally, the subject had to answer what they were willing to do with this person (buy them a drink, hang out, go home with them, have sex, etc.). Participants were also asked to share how many drinks they had consumed and the sexual demographics of their friends.

The study provides evidence that some are looking at more than a gender for sex—and this isn’t the first time it’s been observed.

Funnily enough, a study of alcohol's influence on fruit fly sex in 2008 found similar results. The study observed that male fruit flies under the influence of alcohol ignore pheromones that typically push them away from homosexual activity. This led to male flies courting male flies and male flies being less likely to reject courtship from the same sex.

Dr. Kyung-Ha Han, Director of Neuromodulation Disorders at the Border Biomedical Research Center at the University Of Texas, El Paso, worked on the fruit fly research and isn’t surprised to hear similar things happen in humans. “I think people tend to become less discriminative when they drink,"  Dr. Han told with ATTN:.

Science concluding intoxication enables same-sex impulses seems to align with rising queerness in society.

Research keeps piling up to show that young people are less likely to identify as “completely heterosexual.” Moreover, bisexual persons — people who are attracted to more than one gender — are the largest population within the LGBT community. LGBT representations are also increasing in both television and film.

Through there's still work to be done, Helmers sees the normalization of LGBT persons as contributing to increased willingness to sexually experiment. “It seems that these types of behaviors are portrayed more often in the media,” Helmers says. “And this might lead people to be more open to thinking about what might interest them.”

Important reminder: just because alcohol might make straight men more willing to experiment, that doesn't mean it turns them gay.

“Alcohol does not cause people to become gay,” Helmers said.

Obviously having a few drinks and being down to flirt with a same sex someone is completely different than exclusively incorporating this same sex attraction into your identity. Yes, alcohol aided sexual experimentation might queer one's sexuality but — as the study shows — it also illustrates a newfound sexual openness that we're likely to see more of.