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“Which, in your personal judgment, is worse, if you could only choose ONE? — (a) A homosexual (b) A doctor who refuses to make a house call to someone seriously ill?”

Old polls are the greatest.

From the Harris 1969 Changing Morality Survey:

How many people knew a gay person?

The gay penumbra was pretty small back then. Only something like 12% of the population said they knew a gay person. Or maybe 12% is a lot; I’m not quite sure how to think about this one.

How close were these gay contacts?

Wow. Only 2% of all the respondents.

But now for the best one:

A doctor who refuses to make a house call, huh? Who ever heard of that??


  1. Zhou Fang says:

    Taking the median number of people known as 472, and assuming independence (which is deeply silly, yes, I know), that estimates the prevalence of known homosexuals as 0.03%.

  2. Guy says:

    I wonder which would shock young people more today: that a major polling organization would only presume that respondents saw homosexuality as a bad thing, or that doctors once came to your home if you were sick?

  3. jonathan says:

    So doctors who refuse to make house calls by 1969 are worse, but being gay still shows strongly bad. House calls were mostly gone by that time, so the question is phrased as ‘seriously ill’, meaning a doctor who refuses a house call in the rare case when one is necessary. Does that mean some of the gay selectors thought the sick person should or could go to the hospital? ER use had become much more normal; the government paying bills through Medicare and Medicaid had already had an effect on how care was delivered. So some of the ones who selected gay as bad, might be excusing doctors in order to justify their choice. Others who disliked gays a lot might have in their minds sick children or those who cant drive or who are alone; 1969 was way before mobile phones, back when one car was typical in a family, and 911 service was brand new and had not been adopted nationally.

  4. Mikhail Shubin says:

    But how can you believe these results?!

    The better way to do the same study would be to show respondents gay erotica and pictures of doctors sitting silently near telephones. And then measure their brain waves or penis movement or something scientific.

  5. Robert says:

    Seems like the public attitude to LGBT+ wasn’t the only thing that was off back in 1969: spelling wasn’t all it could be, either, judging by those captions. Would be good to see the original – can anyone access the Time archive ?

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