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ORIGINS
 

When Did You Choose to be Straight?

Huffington Post: Is Sexual Orientation Innate?

Psychology Video: What Causes Sexual Orientation?

Wikipedia Report: Origins of Homosexuality

Info: Understanding Sex and Gender

About Gay Life: Nature vs Nurture
Sexual Orientation Video: Is It a Choice?

Time Magazine Article: Born Gay?
Would it Matter if We Weren't Born Gay?

 

Nature or Nurture?

 

What are the origins of homosexuality?  Is sexual orientation a choice?  Is it nature or nurture?  Is it genetic or environmental?  Are you born gay or made gay?

NATURE

What is the nature concept? In relation to homosexuality, the nature concept explores the possibility of a specific gene or combination of genes present at the time of birth that genetically predispose people to homosexuality. In other words, some people are born gay.

What if people are born gay? Gay advocates say proving there is a gay gene will provide "wider social acceptance and better protection against discrimination," as Neil Swidey writes in his article, "What Makes People Gay?" Proving that being gay is not a choice means that discrimination against gays becomes a matter of civil rights.

Opinions:

"You can't 'make' someone gay no more than you can 'make' someone straight. Of course environmental factors affect our sexuality. You just can't generalize these types of things. Ultimately what you end up doing is trying to figure out how to stop it-- like it's a disease or something--instead of trying to help people ACCEPT themselves for who they are and help nurture them into healthy relationships."
 

 

 

Psychology Today: Genetics of Gayness and Origins of Homosexuality

Live Science: Five Myths About Gay People Debunked

Psychology 101 Video: Sexual Orientation

Animated Video: Gender and Sexuality

Info: Sexual Orientation Defined

What Makes People Gay?

Gallup Poll: Americans' Views Split on Origins of Homosexuality

Come on Down to the Farm

 

NURTURE

What is the nurture concept? We're all influenced by our environment, but to what extent? The nurture concept of homosexuality argues that social, parental and environmental variables influence a person's homosexuality. A nurtured gay person is one that is "made" gay.

What if people are made gay? For some time, the notion of an overbearing mother or an absent father or even sexual abuse were thought to be catalyst of future gay people. If the root of homosexuality does not lie within DNA, then the nurture concept implies people have a choice whether to be gay or not be gay. Many ex-gay reparative therapy groups believe that homosexuality can be reversed or "repaired". Some religious organizations also believe that the concept of Adam and Eve (or one man, one woman), provides an absolute explanation that homosexuality is unnatural.

Opinions:

"Might any of these factors (in the life of someone male) contribute towards giving him a gay disposition, or at least make him more inclined to seek the love of men? An alcoholic parent, mother or father; A cold parent, mother or father; Having been in a boys boarding school since about 12 or 13 years old."

Resolution

Can the origin of same gender loving feelings be absolute? Does it lay within the complexities of the beginning of man or the development of society?

If homosexuality is indeed a product of a special genome (I dare not say a flawed one), then will that lead to predetermination by expecting parents at the time the baby's sex is revealed? I envision some parents being excited to hear the sexual makeup of their fetus while others seek to "repair" the gay gene. Lawmakers would be obligated to protect gay people, just as any other group of individuals with a predetermined genetic makeup. The religious implications would be widespread and increase the growing list of religious organizations that welcome gay members.

 

The concept of a homemade gay person cannot be ignored either. Is there a consistent pattern between a person's parental or environmental influences and their sexuality? Does the explanation of homosexuality lie within Paul Ewald's theory that homosexuality is a virus or the reparative therapy model that a traumatic life situation planted the seed of choice? Some debate that homosexuality is not deserving of natural rights since it has not been proven that being gay is indeed the same as any other born characteristic.

Or, is it possible that being gay is a combination of both nature and nurture? Imagine a person that is born gay, but their same gender feelings are either perpetuated or (not perpetuated) by their environment. If this were indeed the case, homosexuality would only be an issue of if or when one comes out of the closet.

Either scenario, researchers will continue to hunt for the origin of homosexuality. Many avenues have been explored, from isolating DNA to observing gay animals, but as of yet, no one absolute explanation of homosexuality has been found. And even if it were, would society accept it?

[Source: Ramon Johnson, Your Guide to Gay Life]

BBC Report: Evolutionary Puzzle of Homosexuality

Pew Research Center: Why Are People Gay?

LGBTQ Video: How You See Me

Sexual Orientation Video: Is It a Choice?

Info: Understanding Sex and Gender

About Gay Life: Nature vs Nurture

Time Magazine Article: Born Gay?
Would it Matter if We Weren't Born Gay?

 

Is Homosexuality Normal?

Homosexual behavior in animals is extremely well documented. While it occurs in virtually ever species capable of sexual reproduction, it is most prevalent among the most intelligent and highly-developed mammals such as marine mammals, primates, and of course humans.

Consider the case of the two male penguins, Roy & Silo, a same sex couple who copulated with each other, and then tried to hatch a rock until they were given a real fertile egg by zookeepers. Roy & Silo raised their new baby together, named Tango, who ultimately made the “choice” to become gay, just like her adopted gay parents.

Roy & Silo were together as a couple 6 years.  Silo later had a fling with a female penguin named Scrappy, but it didn’t work out and now Roy & Silo are both single. Silo’s experience is not so unlike Elton John’s brief marriage to Renate Blauel.  Sometimes it just takes a while to find out who we really are.

 

The list of animals exhibiting homosexual behavior includes animals (birds, mammals, insects, fish etc.) for which there is documented evidence of homosexual or transgender behavior of one or more of the following kinds: sex, courtship, affection, pair bonding, or parenting, as noted in researcher and author Bruce Bagemihl's 1999 book Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity.

Bagemihl devotes three chapters; Two Hundred Years at Looking at Homosexual Wildlife, Explaining (Away) Animal Homosexuality and Not For Breeding Only in his 1999 book Biological Exuberance to the "documentation of systematic prejudices" where he notes "the present ignorance of biology lies precisely in its single-minded attempt to find reproductive (or other) "explanations" for homosexuality, transgender, and non-procreative and alternative heterosexualities.

Petter Bockman, academic adviser for the Against Nature? exhibit states: "Many researchers have described homosexuality as something altogether different from sex. They must realize that animals can have sex with who they will, when they will and without consideration to a researcher's ethical principles." Homosexual behavior is widespread amongst social birds and mammals, particularly the sea mammals and the primates. Bockman says, "No species has been found in which homosexual behavior has not been shown to exist, with the exception of species that never have sex at all, such as sea urchins and aphids. Moreover, a part of the animal kingdom is hermaphroditic, truly bisexual. For them, homosexuality is not an issue."
 

When Did You Choose to be Straight?

LGBTQ Video: Understanding Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Huffington Post: Is Sexual Orientation Innate?

Info: Sexual Orientation Defined

Wikipedia Report: Origins of Homosexuality

Live Science: Five Myths About Gay People Debunked

What Makes People Gay?

Gallup Poll: Americans' Views Split on Origins of Homosexuality

Psychology 101 Video: Sexual Orientation

 

What Makes Someone Gay?

For some it can be a soul-wrenching question. For scientists, it's a chance to understand biology at its most basic level, and perhaps answer an even more profound question, are people born gay?

Ranchers say they’ve seen it for years, the sheep who just don’t seem interested in females. That’s a problem for ranchers, because that shyness results in fewer lambs, and less profit.

But when they asked animal researchers for help, the answer was a surprise. It turns out that some of the male sheep aren’t shy at all, they’re gay.

"We interpret it as a form of homosexuality," says Dr. Chuck Roselli of the Oregon Health & Science University.  Roselli and Fred Stormshak do cutting edge research on what you might call ‘gay science’ for the University of Oregon.

 

You may wonder how the scientists know that the rams are gay. “They are given a choice between two males and two females. We observe their behaviors, and we score them in terms of whether or not they'll mount other males or mount females," Roselli says.

The tests show that about 8 percent of rams are only attracted to other rams. We asked if that meant that there was a gene for homosexuality. "I don't think there's a gene for homosexuality or heterosexuality, but there are genes for attraction to men or attraction to women," says UCLA geneticist Sven Bocklandt.

Bocklandt says that those attraction genes are usually aimed at he opposite sex, but sometimes get switched to attraction for the same sex. "The basic attraction -- when someone walks down the street and you turn your head to him or her and say 'Wow!' -- That is very primitive and very simple, and that's what we're trying to understand," Bocklandt says.
 

World Science Festival Video: What is Sexual Orientation?

Psychology Video: What Causes Sexual Orientation?

Info: Understanding Sex and Gender

LGBTQ Video: Understanding Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Psychology 101 Video: Sexual Orientation

Animated Video: Gender and Sexuality

LGBTQ Video: How You See Me

Sexual Orientation Video: Is It a Choice?

 

UCLA has on of the few labs in the world researching sexual orientation full time. Last month, Bocklandt and Eric Vilain reported that some mothers of gay men show unusual traits in their X-chromosomes, another clue to where those genes may be hiding. "Sexual attraction is a trait that is so important for us. Wars are fought for love and it makes the world run,” Bocklandt says. “All the movies are about it. All the songs are about it. We have no idea how it works."

To help unravel the mystery, scientists are also studying identical twins. We met Brian, who is straight, and his brother Brady, who is gay.  "I remember when I was 13, 14, I went to see that 'Top Gun' movie,” recalls Brady. “I'm supposed to be looking at Kelly McGillis, but, I'm looking at Tom Cruise."

Their mother Donna says that by age three, Brian was very into sports. "I noticed that Brady stayed in the make-believe kitchen and put on the pink high heels," she says. "I felt like he was gay from the moment he was born."

Twins like Brian and Brady show that genes may be only half of the story. That’s because, according to a landmark study, when one twin is gay the other is only gay about half of the time. So if they’re identical, why is their sexual orientation different? Scientists think it has something to do with hormones in the womb. For example, when scientists give the male hormone testosterone to female finches still in the egg, they grow up acting like males.

In the case of identical twins, their bodies are like houses with matching floor plans. Each light represents a different gene, genes that can be switched on or off by hormones. But hormonal conditions in the womb aren't always the same for each twin. Which means some of their 30,000 genes may get turned on or off differently by altering their brains before they're born.

"There is no genetic, no convincing genetic component, to homosexuality," says Dr. Benjamin Kaufman, co-founder of the National Association for Research and Therapy for Homosexuality, or NARTH. Kaufman is a psychiatrists, and doesn’t buy the biological theories. In 1992, Kaufman co-founded NARTH. Most psychologists strongly disagree with NARTH’s philosophy that homosexuality can be overcome. “I consider it a developmental arrest," Dr. Kaufman says. "I have a saying, ‘behind every homosexual, every homosexual, is a heterosexual.’"

 



NARTH criticizes every scientific finding on gay biology, including a 1991 study by brain scientists Simon LeVay. LeVay compared the brains of gay and straight men, focusing on a tiny area in the hypothalamus called INAH-3. INAH-3 plays a role in sexual attraction and is usually smaller in women than men. LeVay found that INAH-3 is also smaller in gay men compared to straight men -- In other words, more similar to women.
 

“LeVay's studies were roundly, roundly trashed,” Kaufman says. “No one pays much attention to LeVay's studies except those people who want to hold it up as proof of biological homosexuality.”

 

Simon LeVay says his research was attacked because he’s a gay scientist, and because some people will never accept that homosexuality may be natural. "When my work was published in 1991 it was very controversial," LeVay says. "A lot of anti-gay sentiment is invested in the idea that being gay is nothing more than straight people saying to themselves: I think I'll try that gay thing this weekend…The science doesn't support that. The science says that it's not a choice.”

When Chuck Roselli cut into the brains of his sheep, he found similar results to LeVay’s. Not only do sheep have a brain structure like INAH-3, it’s also much smaller in gay rams than straight rams. "There's no environmental influences that we know of. And there's no choice involved here as far as we know of,” Roselli says. “These animals are just doing what their brains and their bodies are telling them what to do."

[Source: Dana King, CBS News]

 

How Do I Know If I Am Gay?

How do I know if I am gay? Unfortunately, there is no easy way to determine if you are gay. There are no scientific tests or stereotypes that determine your sexuality. You will find out through experience and feelings.

Most define being gay as having a strong bond or sexual attraction to another man. Others define it as a lifestyle which includes behaviors and social interactions.

You should ask yourself several questions about your sexuality and sexual preferences. Do you prefer sex with a man? Are you physically attracted to men? Do you feel an emotional bond with a man? Would you consider an intimate relationship with a man?

Try not to fall into the trap of stereotypes. Gay men are just as diverse as straight men. There are no mannerisms, music or clothing preferences that can define a person as gay.

Am I Normal? Of course you are! Being gay does not define who you are or make you any less of a person. At times it is not easy being gay, especially around those that are not supportive. Nonetheless, try to surround yourself by people who do support you and your lifestyle. You will soon see that gay and bisexual men interact with each other and the world as any other person would.

If I Have Gay Fantasies, Am I Gay? Some men experience homosexual encounters throughout their lives, but maintain their heterosexuality. There are many men who have had a sexual encounter with another man or are simply "curious." This does not necessarily mean they are gay. They are simply getting in touch with their sexuality. Many others experiment with both men and women to help them determine if they are gay, bisexual or straight.

[Source: Ramon Johnson, Your Guide to Gay Life]
 

When Did You Choose to be Straight?

World Science Festival Video: What is Sexual Orientation?

Psychology Video: What Causes Sexual Orientation?

Huffington Post: Is Sexual Orientation Innate?

Info: Sexual Orientation Defined

Wikipedia Report: Origins of Homosexuality
About Gay Life: Nature vs Nurture
Time Magazine Article: Born Gay?
Would it Matter if We Weren't Born Gay?

 

Was I Born Gay? Can I Stop Being Gay?

Many people have feelings towards other people of the same sex, and wonder whether this means that they are gay. For many people these feelings can be very intense and alienating. Some people who are attracted to other people of the same sex are gay and go on to have sexual relationships with people of the same sex. But other people who have gay feelings find that these change over time and they become attracted to people of the opposite sex.

Other people are attracted to both men and women, and have relationships with both. Some people are not attracted to anyone and wonder if this is a sign of homosexuality. Often it is only time that will resolve these feelings. If you think you might be gay and feel you need to talk to someone most countries have telephone helplines and organizations that can provide information and support for you.

When do people know that they are gay?

There is no simple answer or standard answer to this question, as it varies from person to person. Generally it can be said that being gay is not something a person suddenly begins to consider, and it may not be something they can initially put a name to. Research published in 1996 showed how the young gay men interviewed had described a set of feelings which they gradually realized made them 'different' in some way, and a set of feelings they thought maybe every teenage boy has.

"I thought, well, this is just the phase bit. Sooner or later I'm going to start finding women attractive. I never did. As I became more attracted to men, and I still wasn't getting attracted to women, I thought, shit, you're gay. And it was really quite a shock when it hit me." (Luke)

Eventually all people who are gay realize that not only are they sexually attracted to members of the same sex, but that this attraction is not transitional. This realization could come at any time during their lives.

 

Is homosexuality a phase young people go through?

For some people yes, and for others no. Some people do not have their first homosexual feelings or experience until they are well into adulthood. In a national survey in Britain carried out in the 1990s, nearly the same number of women reported their first homosexual experience had happened in their twenties as did in their thirties, forties or fifties. But, there is evidence that for some people homosexual experiences may well be part of a transitional or experimental phase in their youth. This is hardly surprising given that adolescence is a period of change in which many people find who they are and what they want for themselves in adult life. This kind of behavior is perfectly normal.


Are you born gay? What causes people to be gay?

"One of the things I can remember thinking a lot about is ... why am I like this? Is it someone's fault?" (Rob)

There is no simple answer to the question, 'Are some people born lesbian or gay?' There are some theories which stress biological differences between heterosexual and homosexual adults, suggesting that people are born with their sexuality already determined.

 

When Did You Choose to be Straight?

LGBTQ Video: Understanding Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Info: Understanding Sex and Gender

Huffington Post: Is Sexual Orientation Innate?

Wikipedia Report: Origins of Homosexuality

Animated Video: Gender and Sexuality

Live Science: Five Myths About Gay People Debunked

What Makes People Gay?

Gallup Poll: Americans' Views Split on Origins of Homosexuality

Psychology 101 Video: Sexual Orientation


In 1993 the American researcher Dean Hamer published research that seemed to prove that homosexual orientation could be genetically transmitted to men on the x chromosome, which they get from their mothers. However when this study was duplicated it did not produce the same results. A follow-up study which Hamer collaborated on also failed to reinforce his earlier results. Most recently research published in April 1999 by George Rice and George Ebers of the Universty of Western Ontario has cast doubt on Hamer's theory. Rice and Ebers' research also tested the same region of the x chromosome in a larger sample of gay men, but failed to find the same 'marker' that Hamer's research had produced. Claims that the part of the brain known as the hypothalamus is influential in determining sexual orientation, have yet to be substantiated. At the moment it is generally thought that biological explanations of sexuality are insufficient to explain the diversity of human sexuality.

 



"How can science tell you what I am? I mean I've had boyfriends, and was happy with them, had girlfriends and may have boyfriends again for all I know. If it's a gay gene what's going on? Is it just turning itself on and off in my head? It doesn't feel like biology it feels like love." (Jo)

Psycho-social explanations offer a variety of factors that could contribute to the development of a person's homosexuality. For example, a female dominated upbringing in a gay man's past, with an absence of a male role model. Others stress adherence or deviance from conformity to gender roles, and individual psychological makeup. While none of these factors alone completely answers the question 'what causes homosexuality?', they rule out some things. For example, lesbian and gay young people are not 'failed' heterosexuals. Also, homosexual partners are generally of the same age proving wrong the assumptions that young people are 'turned gay' by older people.

What is clear is that people's behavior is influenced by their family environment, their experiences and their sense of themselves. Beliefs about sex are initially shaped by family values. Later on these beliefs may be shaped by pleasant and unpleasant experiences of sex and also shape their choice of activities and partners. Throughout their life a person's sense of who and what they are has a strong impact on their sexual development and experience.

 

Can you stop being gay?

There is now growing general support for the belief that sexuality is pre-determined and may change over time, or remain fixed. However, many people are interested in whether sexuality can be altered solely by a person's desire to change. Organizations that help homosexuals attempt to change their sexuality can be generally divided between those that use psychological 'reparative' methods and those that use religious 'healing' methods.

Some people believe homosexuality is an illness and believe it can and should be cured. Many of these 'cures' revolve around psychological therapies (often called reparative therapy) which endeavor to re-orient a homosexual sexuality to heterosexual. Although there is little scientific data to evaluate, what is available seems to indicate that reparative therapy is ineffective. American Psychological Association (APA), the world's largest association of psychologists has stated that:

"Homosexuality is not a mental disorder and the APA opposes all portrayals of lesbian, gay and bisexual people as mentally ill and in need of treatment due to their sexual orientation."

Some strongly religious groups believe that homosexuality is sinful and is in direct breach of the bible and other religious texts. As with reparative therapy there has been little to no scientific evaluation of the healing and prayer techniques used. What evidence is available suggests that the success of these techniques is restricted to three areas:

--Convincing bisexuals to limit their sexual activities to members of the opposite sex.
--Convincing homosexuals to become celibate.
--Convincing gay men and lesbians to attempt to maintain heterosexual relationships, whilst retaining their homosexual orientation.

Tellingly, two founders of a ministry established to 'heal' homosexuals later described their program as 'ineffective ... not one person was healed'.
 

Recently the issue of changing homosexual orientation has been drawn into political debate in America. Although this is partly due to an issues shortage in American politics, the subject of 'curing' homosexuality has apparently captured the imagination of many Americans. Controversial full page newspaper adverts by Christian political organizations have appeared three days in a row. The adverts, which firmly promote the theory that homosexuality can be changed through force of will alone claim that 'thousands are leaving their homosexual identity for sexual celibacy, and even marriage'.

This appears to have been sparked from a speech by the Senate Majority leader in June 1998 that described homosexuals as people who are sick and can be cured, but only if they want to be.

[Source: Avert.Org]

 

 

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