The study, conducted over a four-year period at Johns Hopkins University and funded by the National Institutes of Health, seeks to understand the degree of satisfaction during the first sexual experience of homosexual men.
"The goal of this project is to understand the meaning and function of first same-sex sexual experience and to prospectively be able to assess its impact on subsequent sexual experiences, young adult sexual health and health protective behaviors," a grant for the study reads.
So far, the project has cost $410,265, and it will continue to be funded through May of 2016. Which means the US government is dropping a cool half-million to understand a fundamental question: Does enjoying gay sex make men gay?
Specifically, the study focuses on the sex lives of African-American men, and includes "in-depth" interviews with 45 individuals.
"Little is known about the meaning and function of first same-sex experience in [African American] AA adolescent men and whether satisfaction with first penetrative same-sex experience impacts sexual trajectories," the grant reads.
If the $400,000 price tag seems a little steep for a study about the basics of human sexuality, it’s certainly not the first time the US government has shelled out millions on unlikely investments.
For your consideration, a brief history.
The Popular Romance Project — $914,000
Beginning in 2010, the Popular Romance Project was awarded nearly $1 million dollars over a three year period.
Its mission: to "explore the fascinating, often contradictory origins and influences of popular romance as told in novels, films, comics, advice books, songs, and internet fan fiction…"
The study focused, in part, on the Twilight novels, and was devoted to "taking love and its stories seriously, wherever they may be found…"
The Moosical Musical — $10,000
In 2013, the National Endowment of the Arts funded a touring Christmas show known as "Mooseltoe: A New Moosical."
Part of that money went to purchasing "costumes from the costume designer of Broadway’s 'The Lion King'." Which is hard to believe, given the fact that while "The Lion King" costumes looked impeccable, the star of "Mooseltoe" looks like he’s been dressed in an old high school mascot uniform.
Treadmill Lions — $856,000
The National Science Foundation has spent nearly $1 million training lions to walk on treadmills, and then watching them.
With that amount of money, you might think the government had something revolutionary in mind. To solve the next energy crisis, an army of specially trained felines could power the generators of the world, perhaps.
But no, scientists were just seeing how much energy they had. Their conclusion? Lions "do not have the aerobic capacity for sustained high-energy activity."
Looks like you don’t have to worry about Simba hogging all the mats in your next yoga class.
These funding flops, as well as dozens of others, were compiled by Republican Senator Tom Coburn in 2014. Addressing nearly every federal agency, the report found nearly $24 billion in "silly, unnecessary, and low priority projects."
But at least we have the Moosical Musical, right?