2 min read

Over many years, it has become apparent that some jobs just seemed to have a larger proportion of gay workers, but it was never more than an observation.

Following studies done in the U.S., there may now be some truth to the ‘gay jobs’ stereotype.

Researchers from the University of Toronto, Boston University and Harvard University found that gay workers might be drawn to a different set of occupations than heterosexual workers and perhaps bring with them a distinct set of skills to these occupations.


Michel Anteby, Carly Knight and András Tilcsik suggest in their report that “Gay and lesbian workers probably developed some of these skills as a result of social adaptation to discrimination.”

The researchers used two large studies of workers across America. The 2008-2010 American Community Survey (ACS), which provides a nationally representative sample of nearly five million people in the United States and the fourth wave of the U.S. National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, collected in 2008-2009.

What they were looking for is whether “gay and lesbian workers will tend to concentrate in occupations that provide a high degree of task independence or require a high level of social perceptiveness, or both.”

Their report suggested, “Task independence at work makes it easier to conceal one’s sexual orientation and reduces the negative repercussions of “coming out.” So we predicted that gay men and lesbians would be more likely to work in occupations with higher task independence (e.g., massage therapists and fire safety inspectors) than in ones with lower task independence (e.g., construction workers and fire fighters).”


In female-dominated occupations, flight attendants, hairdressers and nurses had the highest proportion of gay men among male workers.

In male-dominated occupations, actors, news reporters and artists had the highest proportion of gay men.

Even though the report suggests many of these roles are a result of social adaptation, the researchers suggest this could be changing.

“As societies become more tolerant of same-sex relationships, however, the need to conceal one’s sexual orientation in everyday social interactions might fade over time. As a result, gay men and lesbians may loose their skill for social perceptiveness, which may make them less distinct in the labor market.”

Chart of the top 5 jobs for gays and lesbians
Chart of the top 5 jobs for gays and lesbians

Last Updated on Jan 19, 2016

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