12:31 | 19th April 2019

News: UK

Fri 21 May, 2010
By Sam Bristowe

Using ‘gay’ as a synonym for ‘lame’ really bothers me, as it shows how engrained homophobic mindsets can be, even if the person is generally tolerant and accepting

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Its a gay old life at Oxford University

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More than one in five men at Oxford University have had gay sex, according to a recent survey conducted by the newspaper that’s been produced by students at Oxford since 1920.

The survey of more than 400 Oxford University students – conducted by Cherwell – asked: “Ever had homosexual fantasies? How far have you gone with a member of the same sex? Is heterosexuality really the ‘norm’?

The truth ‘comes out’ in an anonymous survey on sexual orientation, even if you won’t.”

The survey’s findings say:

– 57.2 percent of the respondents said that they had had homosexual fantasies;

– 54.2 percent of men also said that they had fantasised about gay sex, with a slightly higher proportion of women claiming to have had such fantasies;

– a tenth of students said they were fully homosexual and only 35.7 percent of students claimed to be completely heterosexual;

– 28.6 percent of those who identified themselves homosexuals said that they realised they were homosexual before age ten;

– 34.5 percent of those who believe that homosexuality is unnatural admitted to having homosexual fantasies;

– 43.1 percent said they were not completely heterosexual;

– 93.6 percent of students believed homosexuality should be taught about in schools, with more than half advocating that you should learn about it during infant school or junior school; and

– 67.0 percent believed that a homosexual couple should be able to adopt as easily as a heterosexual couple.

The report says that, although there was no significant difference between males and females who said they had had homosexual fantasies, men were less likely than women to conclude they were bisexual when asked to describe their sexual orientation on a scale of 1 to 7 ¬– 1 equalling homosexual, 7 equalling heterosexual.

When asked, slightly more women than men said that they had kissed someone of the same gender. However, twice as many men (31.2 percent) said they had performed or received oral sex with another man than women said they had with other women.

Also, 22.8 percent of men admitted to having had intercourse with another man, compared with 15.2 per cent of women who said they had had intercourse with another woman.

The percentage of women who said they’d watched heterosexual porn was 65.1; 49.5 percent of men had watched gay porn, followed closely by the 40.4 percent of women who ticked the box for watching lesbian porn.

Unable to come out

The report claims: “Homosexual tendencies are common in Oxford. Yet students still seem to feel unable to ‘come out’ – only 50.0 per cent of homosexual and bisexual individuals said they had come out to both family members and friends [and] 13.1% said they had not told anyone.”

Most of the respondents who answered that they had come out said that they had received a positive response from their friends.

However, many admitted that they hadn’t come out because they feared their family’s reaction, and a significant number who had done so revealed that their parents had not taken the news well.

One student said that his parents had initially told him that they “wouldn’t have been more upset if I had been diagnosed with a terminal illness”.

Another student, a female, said: “My family are orthodox Roman Catholics; they therefore see homosexuality as unquestionably wrong.”

The report concludes that the majority of people are to some extent attracted to both sexes – 62 percent of female respondents and 46.9 percent of male.


As for identifying as bisexual, the report says that respondents often said they wouldn’t come out because they felt that bisexuality was not understood or taken seriously.

“One male student said that, when he told his parents he was bisexual, [they] ‘denied bisexuality existed and said I was just “confused” and “wrong” ’.”

Interestingly, the survey shows that a greater proportion of gay people than straight people admit to using derogatory terms for homosexuals or bisexuals. However, a majority of respondents considered “faggot” to be the most offensive word, while the word “gay”, when used to mean “rubbish”, was disliked nearly just as much as the derogatory terms “fudge packer” or “dyke”.

“Using ‘gay’ as a synonym for ‘lame’ really bothers me, as it shows how engrained homophobic mindsets can be, even if the person is generally tolerant and accepting,” one student wrote.

Finally, the report says, that “the vast majority of Oxford students claimed that they wouldn’t be bothered if a member of their family was homosexual or bisexual, or if a homosexual couple kissed in front of a child under the age of eight.


First published in 1920, Cherwell is an independent newspaper published by and for students of Oxford University. It has had an online edition since 1996.

Named after the local River Cherwell, the paper– which is published by Oxford Student Publications Ltd (OSPL) – is one of the oldest student publications in the UK. The newspaper is editorially independent. It has a commercial business team, receives no university funding and is independent of the student union.

Cherwell was conceived by two Balliol College students, Cecil Binney and George Edinger. During the British General Strike of 1926, it was one of only three newspapers to continue to be printed, the others being the short-lived government-produced British Gazette and the Trade Union Congress-produced British Worker.

A major scoop for the newspaper was the engagement, in 1981, of Charles, Prince of Wales, to Lady Diana Spencer (later, Diana, Princess of Wales), which was announced in a Cherwell world exclusive. The paper also broke the news that the daughter of President Bill Clinton, Chelsea, planned to study for a master’s degree at Oxford.

Notable Cherwell contributors have included the British politicians Michael Heseltine and Peter (now Lord) Mandelson, writers Evelyn Waugh and Graham Greene, poets Sir John Betjeman and W. H. Auden, film director and movie critic Alex Cox, and journalists Sarah Hargreaves and Emma Brockes.

Source: Digital Journal


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