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Homosexuality Essay

I. Introduction

In every action that an individual does, it has a reason behind. There are many factors that shape our behaviors. These behaviors are formed and attained through our experiences in our childhood days or past experiences that had great impacts in our lives. These experiences may be positive or not, but surely will affect our future’s character and behavior. Those experiences may determine the kind of people we are. An example of this is homosexuality. Many people, especially those who practiced it, claim that homosexuality is a call of nature.

They even justify that as the time they open their eyes to this world where we are in, they already know that they are different; thus, claiming to be homosexuals by birth. But does this claim really make sense? As I strongly believe and through the studies I have conducted, only physical traits and unique characteristics are inherited by the offspring and not the “identity” because identity can be influenced and developed as an individual grow and mingle with different personalities. An individual cannot immediately identify his identity (or gender) when he is still an infant. He/She can only recognize that he is a boy or she is a girl when the people around him/her tell or show to him/her about his/her gender.

Now, when the people around an individual are all girls and doing their lifestyles as girls and he is the only boy, he can conclude to himself that he is one of them. Remember, children are great imitators; thus, what they can see around them are already all correct to their eyes.  If they frequently see homosexuals on television or around them, they are motivated to follow the footsteps of those people. Our identities are shaped and nurtured as time goes by; thus, nobody is born as homosexual but it is influenced by the environment. Decisions surrounding sexual behavior, whether they are arrived at rationally or haphazardly, are influenced by several factors in a person’s life. These factors include the perceived behavior in reference groups or the nature of the relationship within sex occurs. The act of first intercourse, for example, has meaning far beyond its pleasurable physical aspect. For many people, sex may be a form of escapism from pressures at home or at the office, from economic troubles, or from loneliness.

People tend to adopt standards and behavior that they think characterize their reference groups. Among college students, other students of the same sex are a powerful reference group. Indeed, peers influence on sexual behavior and standards increase during the college years (Mirande, 2001). The perceived sexual behavior of friends was examined in a study of college students at the University of Wisconsin. One of the strongest factors associated with sexual behavior of the participants was friends’ sexual experience. The incidence of premarital intercourse increased for each additional friend who was perceived as sexually experienced among both men and women (Schulz et. al, 1999).

In twentieth-century Western society, the majority of people regards homosexuality as perverse and disapproves of its expression in behavior. The Kinsey reports, the first large-scale surveys of sexual behavior in the United States, indicated that despite widespread condemnation, homosexual experience was relatively common. One of the most surprising findings in the two Kinsey volumes was that about 37% of males and about 20% of females had at least one homosexual experience at some time in the lives (Kinsey, Pomeroy, &Martin, 2000; Kinsey et al., 1999). Based on his surveys, Kinsey argued that the labels “homosexual” and “heterosexual” are misleading and obscure the variety in human sexual behavior. He proposed instead a heterosexual-homosexual rating scale, based on a continuum of sexual experience.

Studies of homosexuality often ignore this continuum, treating anyone with homosexual experience, however slight, as homosexual. In reality, individuals who are exclusively homosexual or exclusively heterosexual are likely to differ systematically from individuals who fall in the middle of the continuum. Those in the middle of the continuum are referred to as bisexual—that is, equally homosexual or heterosexual to refer to those individuals who are predominantly or exclusively attracted sexually to members of their own gender. The term heterosexual is used to refer to people who are predominantly or exclusively attracted to members of the opposite sex.

The intents of this paper are to: (1) understand what homosexuality really is and (2) discussed that homosexuality is nurture rather than nature.

II. Background

A. Homosexuality

Homosexuality is a sexual interest in or contact with members of the same sex. Female homosexuals are called lesbians, after the Greek island of Lesbos where in ancient times the poet Sappho wrote accounts of this type of relationship. Although homosexuality has been known and condoned in various cultures since ancient times, it is generally accepted by most contemporary societies (see “Homosexuality”. New Standard Encyclopedia, pp. 285-286).

In the United States, the legal status of homosexuals varies. Some cities and states have laws barring discrimination against homosexuals; others have laws declaring sexual acts between members of the same sex to be criminal offenses. Homosexuals are barred from the United States armed forces. The Gay Liberation, or Gay Rights, Movement, which arose in the mid-1960’s, works to gain legal and social acceptance for homosexuals (see “Homosexuality”. New Standard Encyclopedia, pp. 285-286).

Psychologists and other experts at one time believed that homosexuality was a mental illness. Studies released in the mid-1970 have indicated that there was no evidence to support this conclusion. Many experts believe, however, that the stress and condemnation society places on a homosexual can cause mental disturbances

Controversy surrounds the question as to why an individual is homosexual. Some investigators feel that physiological differences, such as variations in hormonal production, exist between homosexuals and other persons. Others believe that homosexuality results from such environmental factors as emotional conflicts in child-parent relationships during early childhood or in peer relationships during adolescence. Many, however, have concluded that the issue is too complicated to cite one particular cause (see “Homosexuality”. New Standard Encyclopedia, pp. 285-286).

Homosexuality is more common among males than females. Surveys and investigations regarding sexual behavior in the United States indicate that a substantial number of persons (both male and female) have had homosexual encounters at some time in the lives, usually in their youth. Only a small percentage of these persons, however, go on to adopt homosexuality as a consistent sexual pattern.

III. Discussion

Social Issues in Homosexuality

Many opinions about sexual behavior between members of the same sex are apparent, and a great many of them are negative. Most churches consider homosexuality a sin, many states consider it a crime, and until recently, many mental health professionals have considered it a sickness. The phrase “until recently” is an important one, for its shows that considerations about sexual practices, including homosexuality, change with time and culture. The psychiatric community no longer considers homosexuality a psychological disorder. In classical Greece, homosexual relationships were accepted, at least among the upper classes (Flaceliere, 2000). In ancient Rome, homosexuality apparently was openly accepted, as it is in some contemporary Melanesian cultures (Money, 2002).

Despite the greater visibility of homosexuals since the beginning of the gay liberation movement, most sexologists agree that the prevalence of homosexuality has no increased since the publication of the Kinsey reports (Chilman, 1999; Hunt, 2001). Estimates of the percentages of individuals who are predominantly or exclusively attracted to members of their own sex vary widely, from lows of 1% or 2% to highs of 20% or more. A reasonable estimate seems to be that over 5% of males and fewer females—perhaps half as many—are involved in long-term homosexual behavior. Many more people, however, have some sexual experience with people of the same gender in their lifetimes, as Kinsey’s data indicated about 40 years ago.

The wide range of speculations about the origins of homosexuality generally fit within two major perspectives. One perspective holds that homosexuality is a product of learning, either through the type of family situation an individual grew up in or through early experiences with sexual behavior. The other perspective holds that homosexuality is biologically determined.

B.     Homosexuality and Learning

Early attempts to understand the development of homosexuality often focused on the family and suggested that childhood experiences predisposed individuals to be either homosexual or heterosexual. A frequent stereotype was that homosexuals grew up in families with a weak or absent father and a strong, domineering mother. Scientific evidence does not support this family predisposition view of homosexuality. Researchers who conducted an intensive interview study with a large number of homosexual and heterosexual men and women concluded that the idea that male homosexuality, for example, derives from a boy’s relationship with his mother is “hardly worth mentioning” (Bell, Weinberg, & Hammersmith, 2001).

A few studies have been done to see if homosexual and heterosexual individuals differ in their early experiences; these studies are aimed at isolating factors that contribute to the adoption of one sexual orientation or another. In one study, 28 homosexual men and 22 heterosexual men were asked about sexual activity in four age periods: childhood, preadolescence, adolescence, and early adulthood. Homosexual men reported more sexual experiences with other males in childhood and preadolescence and early childhood. Data from this research show that at age level, a minority of homosexual men had sexual experience exclusively with members of their own gender (Manosevitz, 1999). During adolescence, close same-sex friendships are common and often very important to the psychological development of young people. Some of these friendships include sexual interaction. However, there is no clear evidence that such experimentation is linked to adult homosexuality. Some of these individuals may subsequently adopt homosexual life-styles, whereas others will adopt heterosexual life-styles.

C. Homosexuality and Biology

One biological explanation that attracted some followers several years ago was the notion that homosexuality is genetically based. This explanation became popular after a geneticist published reports that studies of sexual orientation in sets of identical twins revealed a perfect concordance rate. That is, if one twin was identified as homosexual, then the other was homosexual also. However, it is clear from observation alone that sexual orientation is not under complete genetic control. In addition, environmental factors such as fetal hormone levels might also account for similarities between twins (Brown, 1999). The genetic explanation of homosexuality is generally dismissed today.

Studies of hormone levels in homosexuals and heterosexuals provide the basis for another type of biological explanation. Some studies have found, for example, that homosexual men have lower levels of the male hormone testosterone than do heterosexual men, whereas homosexual women have higher levels of testosterone (Bell et al., 2001). The issues raised by this type of research are complex and controversial. The findings are not always consistent, and even if they were, an association between two factors, such as hormone levels and sexual orientation, does not demonstrate causality. Perhaps homosexual behavior accounts for the difference in hormone levels, rather than vice versa. A great deal of current speculation about the origins of a homosexual orientation centers on the role of prenatal sex hormones. Human sexual orientation undoubtedly is influenced by socialization, but prenatal hormone influences may alter individual susceptibility to sexual stimuli in the environment (Money, 2002).

Although it is not possible to rule out hormonal or genetic mechanisms in the development of homosexual orientations, there is no solid basis on which to accept such explanations either. As Masters and Johnson put it, “Until more is known about the origins of heterosexuality, it is difficult to believe that meaningful insights will be reached regarding the origins of homosexuality” (Master& Johnson, 1999).

Taken together, the studies to date provide some interesting clues about sexual orientation, but they do not completely clarify the issues. It would appear that the stereotyped family situation is only weakly associated with homosexuality, if at all. Early sexual experiences is more common among homosexuals, especially among males, but no one knows why this is the case (Elias & Gebhard, 2003).  There is probably not any single cause or route to either homosexuality or heterosexuality. Many homosexual adults, but not all, developed their sexual orientation before adolescence. However, researchers have demonstrated that some people can change their sexual life-styles during adulthood (Masters & Johnson, 1999). Some heterosexuals change their sexual orientation after adolescence, as do some homosexuals.

IV. Conclusion

No matter how homosexuals claim that they are born to be that way, the studies claim that it is nurtured rather than nature. It is a choice made by an individual. More recent theories to account for homosexuality have included those based on biological and sociological factors. Chromosomal studies attempting to isolate genetic factors, which might indicate a predisposition to a sexual orientation at birth, have been mostly inconclusive. Some social theories have suggested that homosexuals’ behavior may be an adaptive response to situations. For example, a prison but return to heterosexual behavior on release. Such approaches suggest the sometimes transient nature of homosexuality and point up the difficulty in identifying homosexuality as an exclusive, clear-cut phenomenon. While such theories can offer explanations about why homosexuality occurs in some situations, to date there are no conclusive general theories that can explain the causation of homosexuality.

Because of the controversial nature of homosexuality and the heavy social proscriptions against it, many individuals are reluctant to revel that they are gay. Estimates of the incidence of homosexuality have thus been misleading and inaccurate.

Attitudes toward homosexuality have begun to change in recent decades. Gays attribute this, in part, to their own increasing assertiveness about their rights and about pride in their orientation. While some attitudes change, however, prejudice against homosexuals still exists.


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