Homosexuality is not just a contemporary ideology or behaviour of people. It has been present even during the ancient Grecian times, and the early African and Native American tribes. In some Native American tribes, a man dressed as a woman was treated with great respect because they were considered to be spiritually gifted (Bidstrup, 2001). In some African tribes, masturbation and other homosexual behaviours between young boys were even tolerated (Bidstrup, 2001). They saw these actions as innocent and nothing but child-play. In the ancient Greek and Roman civilization, same sex relationships were accepted.
It was not unusual to see men kissing other men in public. This tolerance was somehow changed upon the intrusion of the English. They introduced the idea that same sex relationships and behaviours were immoral. Thus, some of these people repressed these behaviours until it became taboo even today. Homosexuality is different from sexual orientation. It is a specific type of the sexual orientation of an individual. Sexual orientation is the degree to which an individual is attracted to persons of the other sex and/or to the persons of the same sex (Smith, et al, 2003).
Homosexuality, on the other hand, is the attraction of an individual to the same sex and heterosexuality is the attraction to the opposite sex. The origin of homosexuality has been debated for a long time now. There were psychologists and scientists who support the idea that sexual orientation is innate. On the other hand, some say that environmental factors play a great deal of importance in determining an individual’s sexual orientation and not innate ones. But which one is true? Let me first discuss the history of homosexuality in order to have a better understanding on it.
Why is it sacred and ordinary in the past? Do these histories prove the existence of innate and environmental factors in influencing an individual’s sexual orientation? Homosexuality in Prehistoric Africa According to some early text during the Inquisition period, African tribes accepted homosexuality in their culture. Even one of these tribes, the Hausa people, had terms to describe homosexuals: ‘Yan dauda which describes a transvestite and ‘dan dauda which can be translated as homosexual ‘wife’ (Bidstrup, 2001). In this tribe, they engaged in male prostitution.
These male prostitutes did not have ‘pimps’ but they engaged in prostitution if an opportunity arises. There were other tribes in Africa where boys engaging in homosexual activities were considered to be innocent. They considered themselves virgins at marriage despite having experience in homosexual activities. There were also tribes where they expect men to engage in sexual activities with other men like the Bantu-speaking people of Africa. Homosexuality among Native Americans There were a significant number of men wearing women clothes in Native American tribes.
These men were called Two-Spirits because they embody the two sexes— the male and the female. They were respected because Native Americans believed that these men were special gifts by the God. They believed that these men have insights regarding spiritual matters. They were considered to be prophets who were able to understand the realm of both man and woman (Bidstrup, 2001). Homosexuality in Ancient Greece and Rome It was known that the Roman Empire did not tolerate homosexuality in the society. But this belief is wrong. Like the ancient Greeks, Romans also accepted men having relationships with men.
It was believed that the Roman Empire declined when the tolerance on homosexuality increased. On the contrary, when it was ruled by the Senate, it was discovered that Romans had a high tolerance on homosexuality (Bidstrup, 2001). In Ancient Greece, they believed that masculinity and feminity was not two separate essences. They believed that the sex of an individual was actually the combination of both masculinity and feminity. Therefore, homosexuality was not an issue for Greeks. They do not find men kissing other men in public an unusual scene.
They accept men getting married with another man and having sexual intercourse with them. Thus, we can find a large number of literature and art regarding homosexuality in these civilizations. This brief history on the presence of homosexuality among individuals proves that homosexuality is not just a mere trend brought by contemporary ideals. It has been part of our society since the dawn of man. Also, these histories show that homosexuality may be in-born and may also be influenced due to environmental factors. Despite the primitive nature of prehistoric Africans, some men were able to find themselves attracted to other men.
It is possible that innate factors played in this instinctive behaviour of being attracted to the same sex. Another illustration is apparent influence of environmental factors. The Greeks’ wide acceptance of man-to-man relationships and their beliefs on gender and sexuality influenced men’s sexual orientation. Innate Factors in Sexual Orientation Psychologists say that childhood gender nonconformity is a phenomenon that shows the innateness of sexual orientation. Childhood gender nonconformity is when an individual enjoys activities typical of the other sex and most of their friends are the other sex.
It was also found that adults who experienced gender nonconformity report that they had not been masculine (for men) or feminine (for women) when they were children (Smith, et al, 2003). Another evidence is the presence of a gene present in homosexuals. It was observed that gay brothers often tend to share the same X-chromosome Xq28 (Deem, 2009). This finding suggests that this gene may affect male’s sexual orientation. Environmental Factors on Sexual Orientation One evidence of environmental factors acting as determinants of sexual orientation is the nurture aspect in child development.
It is said that parents play a role in the gender identity and sexual orientation development of a child. But this theory is not strongly supported by scientific studies. Another evidence is the exotic-becomes-erotic theory of Daryll Bem of Cornell University. In this theory, he believes that sexual orientation is socially determined. Thus, environment plays a role in sexual orientation development. But we should also take into account that EBE theory addresses the innateness of sexual orientation. EBE theory suggests that genes and hormones cause differences in a child’s temperament.
The difference would determine if the child will be engrossed in activities typical to his/her own sex or to the other sex. When the child spends more time with the opposite sex, they feel similar with the opposite sex and become alienated with the same sex. This exotic feeling then becomes an erotic feeling when the child grows. Although the evidence for environmental factors is weak, Bem’s EBE theory supports the existence of both factors. Homosexuality isn’t just inborn in an individual, environmental factors also play a role. It is the interplay of these two factors that differences in sexual orientation are possible.
References Beem, R. (2009). Genetics and homosexuality: Are people born gay? The biological basis for sexual orientation. Godandscience. org. Retrieved March 30, 2009, from http://www. godandscience. org/evolution/genetics_of_homosexuality. html Beem’s essay focused on the innateness of sexual orientation. It discussed related brain and twin studies and other scientific studies that support the innateness of sexual orientation. Bidstrup, S. (2001).
Saint Aelred the queer: The surprising history of homosexuality and homophobia. Bidstrup. com. Retrieved at March 30, 2009, from http://www. bidstrup.com/phobiahistory. htm Bidstrup discussed the history of homosexuality and homophobia in this essay. He talked about the ancient tribes and civilizations that tolerated homosexuality and why it has become oppressed in these groups. Smith, E. E. ; Nolen-Hoeksema, S. ; Fredrickson, B. and Loftus, G. R. (2003). Atkinson & Hilgard’s Introduction to Psychology. (14th ed. ). Australia: Thomson & Wadsworth. Smith’s textbook covers general psychology lectures like emotions, learning, and motivation. It provides specific and up-to-date examples and applications of terms, theories, and definitions.