Essay, Research Paper
Homosexuality is most simply defined as the tendency to be
sexually attracted to members of one?s own sex. On a more personal
level it is ?a feeling and a state of mind– it?s where most of your
emotional, social and physical needs are met,? (Gwinn, 3).
Homosexuality is innate, it is perfectly natural, and it is okay.
Homosexuality has been present in some form in nearly every
culture presently known. In some societies, it was practiced only in
secret, in others it was condoned or even encouraged. Ancient Greeks
saw the sexual relationship between older and younger men to be ideal.
The Greek poet Sappho was the first to write of wanting to be with
another woman in 580 BC. Spartan warriors had male companions whose
relationship was similar to marriage. In some New Guinea cultures,
adolescent boys must engage in homosexual sex with older boys, but are
expected to lead strictly heterosexual relationships later in life (Hunt, 15).
One of the least accepting attitudes toward homosexuality is
found in the Western world where beliefs were determined largely by
Judeo-Christian moral codes, which treat homosexuality as immoral or
sinful. During the earlier part of this century, homosexual behavior was
kept a secret. Homosexual acts were ?considered an abomination
punishable by death, and Christian tradition has carried forward this
condemnatory attitude? (Konner, 333). During World War II, gays were
among the victims of the concentration camps. American intolerance is
unusual; most cultures throughout the world have been much more
Even on the more primitive level, homosexuality is natural. In
many mammals, ?homosexual? activity is a common part of social
interaction. Female Rhesus monkeys mount each other to establish a
dominant rank in their troop?s class system. Cows perform similar actions
in order to coordinate their menstrual cycles and calve at the same time
When a gay man is asked why he thinks he is gay, he responds by
saying that he was born that way. This seems to be a common answer
among the homosexual community. Most homo- and bisexuals believe
their sexual preference was not a choice. ?If I could be heterosexual
tomorrow, I would be. It?s much easier. I would never choose a path
where I?d be discriminated against,? said David Lydon, partner of an
openly gay reverend. Unfortunately, some religious homosexuals cannot
accept their sexuality and they may end up depressed and suffering from
mental turmoil (Brecher, J1). Some gays undergo conversion therapy in
an effort to change themselves. Most of the time, these therapies are not
successful and often their patients incur more damage than good.
Many homosexuals go through some sort of anti-gay
discrimination, violence or abuse in their lifetimes. Some individuals fear
?coming out? because of how they see others being treated. ?People who
were openly gay were shunned. They didn?t have any friends. . . I didn?t
want to be ostracized like that,? Tony (last name withheld) recollected
about his high school (Gerboth, B1). Gay men and women have been
threatened or beaten in cities across the country. Homosexual employees
have been fired and gay-oriented businesses have been vandalized
This reaction against homosexuals is called homophobia.
Many psychologists believe that people become homophobic as an
unconscious reaction to one?s own fear of being homosexual. The
homophobia is further encouraged by religious beliefs, most specifically
Christianity, which, historically speaking, has seen sex to be strictly for
procreation. Another strong supporting factor is the view that homosexual
relationships undermine social and family structure. It is widely believed
that the gay male ?may [be seen] as a threat to the masculine identity of
some heterosexual males? (Landau, 19). Homosexuals who do not
endeavor to enter a heterosexual marriage present an unwelcome
challenge for some components of society. Most healthy families are seen
as having a mother, a father and a few children. Homosexual
relationships pose a problem for lawmakers as well. For example, legal
marriage is available almost exclusively for heterosexual couples. Gay
couples do not enjoy benefits of legal marriage, even if they are
companions for their entire adult lives. This inability to form a union in
God?s or their countries eyes leads many heterosexuals to view
homosexual relationships to be filled with infidelity. Simply put, gays and
lesbians ?defy conventionality, and as a result they are victimized?
For many years, homosexuality was considered to be a mental
illness. Oftentimes they were encouraged to seek psychiatric help for
their ?disorder.? Individuals were helped to correct their so-called problem
behavior. During the last thirty years, however, research has proven
conclusively that homosexuality is not a pathological disorder. The most
important result of the research was the American Psychiatric Association?s
decision in 1973 to remove homosexuality from the list of mental
disorders in its diagnostic manual. Two years later, the American
Psychological Association passed a resolution that stated,
?Homosexuality, per se, implies no impairment in judgment, stability,
reliability, or general social or vocational capabilities? (Landau, 8). The
American Medical Association decided to ?support repeal of criminal laws
against acts by consenting adults? (Wisenberg, Growing Up Gay, G1).
Only limited research has been done on the possibility that
homosexuality is a choice. One such study by neuroscientist Simon LeVay
found that a region of the brain, INAH 3, is significantly smaller in gay
men than in heterosexual men. INAH 3 is a portion of the hypothalamus,
a cluster of brain cells that regulates body temperature, appetite, and
sexual urges, as well as other functions. This tiny section of the brain is
relatively the same size in homosexual men as it is in heterosexual
women, leading LeVay to conclude that it may control the sexual
preference of gay men. However, it has not yet been determined whether
the size of INAH 3 causes a man to be homosexual or vice versa (Mauch
and Zamichow, A1).
Another study by the National Cancer Institute linked male
homosexuality to a region of one chromosome. ?The scientific debate is
no longer about whether there are biological contributions to [sexual]
orientation, but whether they can be identified,? commented Dr. Angela
Pattatucci, a geneticist involved in the study. The Institute studied forty
pairs of gay brothers. Thirty three pairs had ?identical pieces of the end
tip of the X chromosome– the one inherited from the mother? (Brecher,
There are several theories that homosexuality is caused by a
hormonal imbalance before birth. Dr. Lee Ellis believes that ?stress during
pregnancy may alter the production of sex hormones in the mother,
changing the level of hormones reaching the brain of the fetus; if this
happens at a crucial time in development, sexual orientation can be
affected? (Painter, D4). Similarly, other research has shown that ?certain
hormonal influences on a developing fetus may predispose to brain
development of a feminine character.? The feminine brain may fix the
sexual orientation of the man toward other men (Morris, 327).
Other evidence, although not scientific, can be observed that
might show that homosexuals do not choose their sexual preference.
Homosexual men often have fewer masculine traits and interests than
heterosexual men. Lesbians, to some extent, are less feminine than
heterosexual women. Many homosexuals realized they are different at a
young age and most discover their preference by early adolescence.
The answer also lies in pure common sense; why would anyone
choose to be gay?
A deeper level of understanding can be reached if homosexuality
is proven to be innate. Homophobic violence may decrease and
acceptance among the heterosexual public may increase. It is important
for scientists to discover an explanation for homosexuality.
The debate over the innateness of homosexuality will continue until more
definitive research is found. In the meantime homosexuals will continue to
stand their ground and say what they have been saying all along; it isn?t a
choice. The real choice is whether or not one acts upon his homosexual
urges. On a final note, remember that sexuality is the last part of who a
Brecher, Elinor J. ?Why are some people gay?? Miami Herald, October 17, 1993, J1.
Deitel, Bob. ?Homophobia,? Courier-Journal, May 22, H1.
Gerboth, Betsy. ?Coping With Homosexuality,? Forum, July 31, 1988, B1.
Gorman, Christine. ?Are Gay Men Born That Way?? Time, September 9, 1991, 60-61.
Gwinn, Mary Ann. ??I Think I?m Gay,?? Seattle Times/Post-Intelligencer, November 25,
1984, F1, F9.
Hunt, Morton. Gay; What Teenagers Should Know About Homosexuality and the AIDS
Crisis. New York, NY: Farrar/Straus/Giroux, 1987.
Konner, Melvin. ?Homosexuality,? Encyclopedia Americana, 1994, 333-334.
Landau, Elaine. Different Drummer; Homosexuality in America. New York, NY: Julian
Messner Co., 1986.
Mauch, Thomas H. II and Nora Zamichow. ?Study Ties Part of Brain to Men?s Sexual
Orientation,? Los Angeles Times, August 30, 1991, A1.
Morris, Lois B. The Columbia University College of Physician and Surgeons Complete
Home Guide to Mental Health. New York, NY: Henry Holt, 1992.
Painter, Kim. ?A Biological Theory for Sexual Preference,? USA Today, March 1,
Wisenberg, Sandi. ?Growing Up Gay,? Miami Herald, October 16, 1983, G1, G6.