Problems with the Kinsey Scale
These days, the Kinsey Scale is under fire for being accurate only in a broadly illusionary sense. It's certainly interesting how people interpret the scale differently. Is somebody who is a 5 on the scale homosexual or bisexual? What about a person who ranks a 1? Are they bisexual or heterosexual? Interestingly, many people harbour double standards for gay-leaning versus straight-leaning persons. Arguably, this fact may say more about a society's double standards than it does about gay or straight people.
Bisexuality is sometimes misunderstood as being a perfect 3 on the Kinsey scale, but very few people could then rightly be called bisexual. Clearly, keeping up perfect gender symmetry over a lifetime would be taxing and would furthermore require an accountant's accuracy. There are even people who define most of humanity as bisexual, leaving only the perfect 6s and perfect 0s as straight or gay. Again, this isn't particularly fair since it is entirely common to experiment in one's youth until one's orientation is entirely understood. And anyway, there should be at least a little wiggle room for everyone to try unusual experiences a time or two in their life.
Another problem with Kinsey's use of his own scale was that his studies used past sexual behaviour as the only criteria. A virgin would have no rating at all according to Kinsey because they have had no sexual experiences. Also, a person with only one sexual experience would be automatically placed in the 0 or 6 column. If that person then goes on to primarily have relations with the gender opposite their first encounter, the initial designation would seem to be a misreading in retrospect.
Also, Kinsey's assumption was that all sexual experiences are undertaken for pleasure and therefore have a direct bearing on sexual orientation. In reality, we know that sexual experiences are undertaken for other reasons. For instance, a lesbian might have an opposite-gender experience in order to procreate. A prostitute might have sex with someone for money whom they would not ordinarily pair up with. People are also sometimes coerced into sex while inebriated or under the influence of drugs that they might refuse while sober. The most distressing violation of Kinsey's assumption are cases of rape and paedophilia. Clearly, Kinsey's methods are only valuable over the course of a lifetime, with a few practical modifications, or with a reasonably large sample of people.
The alternative usually suggested is to include other factors besides past sexual behaviour. These might include sexual fantasies, feelings of romantic love, past relationships and/or dating experiences, and even one's self-identification on the sexual orientation front. The problem is that researchers tend to disagree on which factors should be included and which should not. Some suggested factors require subjective interpretation, which opens the study to personal bias. Furthermore, the factors selected have a huge sway on the researchers' results.
Kinsey's studies found that about 10% of people (13% of men and 7% of women) in his American studies were homosexual. This was a big change in understanding, since most psychologists and researchers before Kinsey's time assumed that much less than 1% of humans had ever engaged in homosexual experiences. Same-gender sexual experiences had been taboo in Western society since the Middle Ages, and the relatively recent Victorian era rendered almost all sexual topics taboo. While psychologists occasionally spoke to clients who admitted to same-gender acts within the privacy of the doctor-patient relationship, other people tended to avoid such discussions for fear of social condemnation. After Kinsey's studies caused widespread discussion on many previously taboo subjects, it became clear that many socially and mentally healthy people have also had same-gender sex experiences.
However, due to the logicistical problems outlined above, other estimations on the percentage of homosexual people have ranged everywhere from 2% to 30% in seemingly valid studies. Meanwhile, estimations of bisexuality are even more variable to the point where the studies can only be cynically diagnosed as completely unreliable. Further complicating things, studies conducted in the same manner with the same variables have shown shifting results as American society has become more accepting of same-sex relationships. It is safe to say that nobody knows for sure what percentage of people or gay, bisexual, or straight.