Paternal Absence As The Strongest Factor Of

Male Homosexuality Essay, Research Paper

Absence of a Father Figure as the Strongest Factor in Male Homosexuality

The condition “homosexuality” commonly evokes a negative impression from most people, especially in conventional societies as the Philippines. For many years most psychiatrists presupposed that homosexuality was a form of mental illness, until 1973 when the American Psychiatric Association (APA) decided to define such condition as a normal behavior. Homosexuals, as described by APA, are “individuals whose sexual interests are directed toward people of the same sex and who are either bothered by, in conflict with, or wish to change, their sexual orientations.”

As aforementioned, traditional societies consider homosexual relationships illicit and immoral. However, what these societies have not taken into account is that there is a deeper reason than merely having carnal desires toward the people of the same sex underlying the causation of homosexuality among men: a cause rooted in the family.

Homosexual orientation depends on the difficulties in the parent-child relationship, especially in the early, formative years of life. When the child suffers from an unmet attachment-need to the parent of the same-sex, the child seeks affection from a member of the same-sex. In the case of the son, the deficit in the relationship with the father is the one being compensated. This theory is what Dr. Elizabeth Moberly holds, John F. Harvey noted.

To further understand how do difficulties in the relationship with the father causes male homosexuality, it is important to know what is the role of the father in the overall sex role development of the son and why does the son resort to a homosexual relationship to be able to adapt in the absence of the father, physical or psychological.

The father is the main masculine model in the family. “…the father is the head. He is the strong masculine figure to which the boys inevitably identify with,” Pura Medina Flores noted, quoting Estefania Lim. He is the parent who provides a different element in the overall development of the son. During the son’s infant years, he is much attached with his mother. Beginning at about the age of three, the son starts to search for a masculine model on which to build his sense of self. He slowly withdraws himself from his mother and femininity. At some point, he might feel he is encountering a dilemma of losing his mother over identifying himself with his father. The father help lessen such struggle by gently drawing away the son from an overdependence on his mother and into interaction with the world at large.

As the son grows into a young adult, the presence or absence of the father will either solidify or confuse his sense of identity, most especially his sexuality. If this is the case, depriving the son of the availability of the father will leave him in a vulnerable position of not having a confident and rich model of manhood, not having a clear and understandable model exemplifying culturally accepted male traits.

Many would argue that paternal absence would not necessarily lead to the homosexuality of the son because brothers, male relatives, and peers can also be quite influential in the sex role development of the boy. However, it should be understood that what the boy absorbs primarily from them is psychosexuality, the awareness of being male and masculine, which is often forged by the boy through the messages he perceives from their behavior and attitude. It should be noted that gender identification, which is much deeper than the imitated psychosexuality, is a crucial part of the sex role developmental process. This process requires the nurturance of the father. The physical, as well as the psychological absence of the father would impair this phase of identification, an impairment that could possibly lead to the distortion of the son’s sense of sexual orientation.

Others may also dispute that detachment from the father may only lead to the effeminacy of the son, and effeminacy need not lead to homosexuality. Harvey noted Richard Green who cites several retrospective studies linking boyhood cross-gender behavior, characteristic of effeminate, with late adolescent and adult homosexual orientation. Studies have shown that a large percentage of the boys who exhibited a “gender non-conformity” turned out to be homosexuals when they grow up. From this, it can be inferred that most, if not all, homosexual men exhibited a cross-gender behavior during their younger years in life.

Why would the son seek homosexual relationship when he experienced such difficulties in his relationship with his father? As defined by Moberly, Harvey noted, homosexual relationships are based on the drive to fulfill the unmet attachment-need of the son with his father. “What the male homosexual seeks is what he should have received from his relationship with his father,” Moberly stresses. Having referred to Bieber’s major study of homosexual males, Moberly noted that where the man’s father has been detached or hostile to the son, the homosexual partner was “invariably identified with the father who had been hated and feared.” This only confirms that a male homosexual chooses a partner who is characteristic of his father. From this, it can be noted that there is an attempt to complete the process of identification with a masculine figure.

This shows that, having her theory based on a major study, Moberly’s assertion that homosexuality is the son’s form of adaptation in the absence of the father is substantial.

Having had discussed the father’s part in the sex role development and the son’s homosexuality as his form of adaptation in the father’s absence, that paternal absence is the strongest factor in the causation of male homosexuality, especially in the Philippine society, should be established.

Ana Maria Badua conducted an investigation in Baguio to be able to find out what social variables cause male homosexuality. The results of her study lead her to claim that “the strongest deterrent against homosexuality are cumulative and strong masculine influences on the boy at an early age.” Taking into account that the father is the main masculine influence on the boy that the latter imitates and identifies himself with, it can be deduced that father absence, physical or more commonly, psychological, is the strongest factor that may cause male homosexuality. Although others may oppose that the father is not the only major masculine influence on the boy, as have earlier been mentioned, gender identification, which requires same-sex parent attachment and nurturance, is very crucial in the sex role development of the son and a deficit on which would gravely affect the son’s sexual orientation and identity.

A study directed by Milagros Du-Lagrosa also provides explanation on this matter. Her findings show a considerable difference between the masculinity adjustment of teenage boys in father-absent homes and in father-present homes. The test she employed, which measured the sex role preference of the respondents of both groups, showed results that the boys are feminine. The non-difference is because the psychological aspect of paternal absence has not been considered. However, looking at the psychological aspect of the fathers, father-present boys have a considerable edge in their masculinity development. A good explanation for this is that father’s physical presence indicates paternal nurturance and availability to serve as the son’s model of manhood. However, a father who is physically present but is handicapped in his psychological functioning would make the boy suffer from the lack of a masculine figure to identify himself with.

Lagrosa also explained that extensive research efforts identified three paternally related factors essential in the masculine development process of boys: paternal masculinity, paternal nurturance, and paternal limit setting. A warm relationship between the father and the son indicates paternal nurturance. Masculine behavior displayed by the father in the presence of the son directly enhances the boy’s masculine development through the son’s identification with the father. Paternal limit setting is the father’s disciplinary role in the development of the son. The more the father resorts to punishment, the lesser the opportunities for imitation and identification are provided.

Based on Lagrosa’s discussion, it shows that the father really plays a crucial role in the masculinity development of the son. It can be noted that the former’s absence would, more likely than not, result into a deviation in the culturally accepted masculine orientation of the latter, most probably into a condition referred to as homosexuality.

Now that the facts have been laid, what significance does proving such phenomenon manifests? What course of action does it compel?

If there are people who should be compelled to act on this matter, they are the family therapists and psychiatrists. Homosexuality deserves a therapeutic attention.

It has been established that homosexuals quest for same-sex love to be able to complete the unmet identification process they should have experienced in their relationship with their father. Just as what Moberly suggests, the therapists should be a member of the same sex. Since what needs to be fulfilled is the same-sex attachment need of the homosexual to the father, the therapist should be a male.

The therapist, also, should not suggest heterosexual contact or relationship as the solution of the problem. This can do nothing to fulfill same-sex deficits. As Moberly pointed out that “same-sex love is the solution to the unmet developmental need, and it is not the problem.”

Indeed, same-sex love is not the problem. Still, homosexual behavior inspires abhorrence in other people, most especially in traditional Christian societies. However, this seemingly normal, psychological aversion is actually homophobic. Homophobia has long diverted the people’s attention from what really is the root of this condition, which is the family. They focus distinctly on the deviation of these homosexuals but little do they work conscientiously on difficulties in their family relationships.

The findings mentioned above regarding the condition should motivate these people to give more attention on the family, especially on rebuilding relationships, if failure or deficit in maintaining them is unavoidable. Discrimination is not the answer neither do merely understanding the phenomenon; realization and action is. For what brings forth these homosexuals is the family itself and not just some innate sexual desire towards members of the same sex.


Badua, Ana Maria J., and Ricardo M. Zarco. “Social Determinants of Male Sexuality: A Search for Causes.” Philippine Sociological Review 33.3-4 (1985): 64-71.

Bryan, Mark. The Prodigal Father. United States: Three Rivers Press, 1997.

Flores, Pura Medina. Socio-Psychological Development of Filipino Children. Manila: Philippine Women’s University, 1969.

Harvey, John F. The Homosexual Person: New Thinking in Pastoral Care. San Francisco: Ignatius, 1989.

Harvey, John F. The Truth about Homosexuality. San Francisco: Ignatius, 1996.

Lagrosa, Milagros E. Du. “Some Family-Related Factors and Personality Variables Affecting the Adjustment of Father-Absent Adolescents.” Philippine Journal of Psychology 19 (1986): 72-76.

Osherson, Samuel. Finding Our Fathers. United States: Ballantine Books, 1989.

Thio, Alex. Deviant Behavior. United States: Harper Collins College Pub., 1989.

Van den Aardweg, Gerard J.M. The Battle for Normality. San Francisco: Ignatius, 1998.


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