Kaestle, Christine E. (2019). Sexual orientation trajectories based on sexual attractions, partners, and identity: A longitudinal investigation from adolescence through young adulthood using a U.S. representative sample. The Journal of Sex Research.
Defining sexual minority status longitudinally over critical developmental periods is essential for understanding the roots of health disparities. Theory supports multidimensional continuums, but current research often examines single measures of sexual activity, sexual attractions, or self-labeled identity separately. Here, a new typology of longitudinal latent classes describes dynamic multidimensional processes continuing from late adolescence (ages 16 to 18) through the late 20s. Using Add Health data (N = 6,864), longitudinal latent class analysis (LLCA), a person-centered approach, showed significant differences between the orientation experiences of males and females (invariance tests led to stratification by sex). The male LLCA model predicted four classes: straight males (87.4%), minimal sexual expression males (6.5%), mostly straight and bi males (3.8%), and emerging gay males (2.4%). The female LLCA model predicted five classes: straight females (73.8%), minimal sexual expression females (7%), mostly straight discontinuous females (10.2%), emerging bi females (7.5%), and emerging lesbian females (1.5%). Some classes represent generally consistent indicators across dimensions over time, while other classes describe more emerging or discontinuous trajectories. Substantial changes were common not only from late adolescence to the early 20s but also from the early 20s to the late 20s, indicating that sexual orientation development continues throughout emerging adulthood.
The Journal of Sex Research
Kaestle, Christine E.
April 28, 2019