A recent Brookings Institute report indicates that, in 2007, one out of every four men aged 25, in the United States, lived at home with their parents. That number is astonishing (and doubled from 1980, when the figure was 1 out of every 8) given that these numbers were crunched in 2007 (read: the recession hadn’t even started yet) and speaks to a population that has, in American culture, had more expectation to strike out and make it on their own as they passed into adulthood. For men to be living with parents, coexistence is no doubt a harrowing experience.

Now imagine how being 25, gay, and at home can put a crimp into your social scenario.

If the above figure is correct, and there’s reason to believe it is, that means, by statistical extrapolation, that a significant number of 25 year old gay men are still enjoying the benefits of Mom and Dad. Because we don’t have a hard number of how many men are gay in our society, it’d be difficult to come up with an acceptable figure. If we go with the conservative 6% figure, that would probably suggest that about 15% of 25 year-old gay men are living at home (once one considers co-factors that would inhibit gays from living at home as adults).

Sociologists like me remark in amazement about the development of the gay ‘coming out’ process, and how subsequent generations are going through periods of self discovery at much younger ages than their predecessors. Although there are no real hard numbers, anecdotal evidence easily supports the notion that the median coming out age for most out gay Gen Yers is younger than their Xer counterparts (who were, themselves, younger than Baby Boomers when they came out). As such, a bevy of boys coming out of the closet at, say, 15 isn’t as shocking or rare as it once was. Thus, you have, psychologically speaking, a population that has a better chance of being comfortable “in their skin” by the time they make it to their mid 20’s. Strong, well adjusted, and determined.

Well, yes, but they are still a part of Generation Y, a generation that is intent on taking its time to get to what insurance companies call “life events” (e.g. buying a house, getting married, having kids). The average female will now be in her late 20’s before marriage, and possibly early 30’s before children enter into the equation. That means, as a generation, the Yers are more likely to sit and ponder opportunities, and enjoy the creature comforts of home, compared to Gen X and the Baby Boomers (who were, statistically speaking, beating the door down to get out of the house).

Yet “being gay at your parents' home” presents some challenges in the new millennium that preceding generations didn’t have to overcome. For example, it goes without saying that the center of gay society for the Boomers and most of Gen X was the bar or club, because traditionally, that was the meeting place. However, it is easy to find evidence to support the idea that the center of gay society for Generation Y is the internet, as many social interactions that previously occurred only (or mostly) at the bar now are web-based. Trolling Manhunt on a random Friday night in your apartment is one thing; making sure the volume is turned down and your door is locked so Mom doesn’t walk in with those freshly baked cookies is another matter entirely.

In short, there’s a measure of negotiation that must occur if one wishes to be active in the gay community (however you define active) and an adult child living at home. There’d seem to be more bias regarding dating possibilities (a 25 year old straight guy living at home is, to some straight women, amusing; a 25 year old gay guy living at home is, to some gay men, a pariah), encounters (not like you’re going back to “your place”), and privacy (“what’s this thing that looks like a flashlight?”) that heterosexuals either bypass or minimize (thanks to our old friend, heteronormativity).

While the numbers of mid-twenty something men at home are shocking, consider that (a) Canada has worse numbers; it’s been speculated that 38% of their 20 something male population live at home and (b) these numbers are from 2007; the recession probably accounts for a (conservative) 3-5% increase in these numbers, since we have evidence of adult children moving back in with their parents due to financial distress.

As such, adult gay men living at home might represent a nominal, rocky, or awkward scenario, but as time progresses, it may be something we see more commonly.

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