Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Homosexuals (scientifically answered)!

This is great scientific based information about homosexuality.  It discusses its historical origins, historical beliefs and attempted therapies to change gender preference, its frequency of occurance, and also the latest theories about what causes someone to prefer same sex partners.  One interesting side note is that therapy to change sexual preference is now considered to be unethical by the Amerian Psychological Association.

The information contained in this article is based on real scientifc research and is not based off from some magazine article or other bogus source and is presented in a scientific and non biased manor.   

This infromation was taken from an online article and was written by Dr. Katrina Cooper, PhD., University of Pittsburgh.

Historical Belief Systems
 The major religions in our society today all view homosexual activity as immoral. Homosexual behavior is not procreative and does not occur in marriage, both preconditions for accepted sexual activity in Christian, Jewish, and Muslim beliefs.
Although conservative religious groups see homosexual activity as immoral, there is one belief system that did encourage this behavior. In the 1960s, the Human Potential Movement  advocated for a wide variety of sexual activity. Sexual experimentation was valued. During this era, those involved in the Human Potential Movement believed that people who had never tried homosexual activity were inhibited. This was influenced by the work of Kinsey arguing that everyone is basically bisexual.
Recent empirical studies of attitudes show that attitudes have changed over the 20th century. Surveys of adults show more acceptance of homosexuality through the 1980s and 1990s than in earlier decades. But, recently with concerns about HIV and AIDS, there appear to be more hate crimes and other evidence of increased prejudice against homosexuals. Even at our most tolerant, society still does not award homosexuals equal legal rights with other groups. Recently, there has been a strong negative reaction against the idea that homosexuals could legally marry.
There are gender differences in attitudes about homosexuality. A meta-analysis of studies through September 1993 indicates that men were less accepting than women of homosexuals and homosexual behavior, especially for male gays (Kite &Whitley, 1996).
Over the years, many types of therapies have been developed to "cure" homosexuality. Most of these therapies are notoriously unsuccessful. Even the behavior therapies are not always successful in changing behavior permanently. However, one problem with assessing the effects of these therapeutic programs is that the people being treated are not always there voluntarily. They may be pressured into trying to be "cured" by family or friends or they may be forced to go by law enforcement agents. In neither case is there a strong motivation on the part of the client. When clients are motivated, the therapy, regardless of the type, is more successful. But, it may be that the people who are so motivated are less strong in their preferences to begin with. All in all, this whole issue of therapy to change sexual preference is still quite controversial.

Therapy To Change Sexual Orientation
Over the years, many types of therapies have been developed to "cure" homosexuality. Most of these therapies are notoriously unsuccessful. Even the behavior therapies are not always successful in changing behavior permanently. However, one problem with assessing the effects of these therapeutic programs is that the people being treated are not always there voluntarily. They may be pressured into trying to be "cured" by family or friends or they may be forced to go by law enforcement agents. In neither case is there a strong motivation on the part of the client. When clients are motivated, the therapy, regardless of the type, is more successful. But, it may be that the people who are so motivated are less strong in their preferences to begin with. All in all, this whole issue of therapy to change sexual preference is still quite controversial.
This type of therapy is not successful with either sex. The documented effects, if any, are to lower all sexual interests. Professional organizations, such as the American Psychological Association, now consider it unethical to offer this type of therapy.
As we have seen, some people view homosexuals as inherently immoral, evil people. Others see them as sick or neurotic, needing to be cured. Some people tolerate homosexuals. Few are supportive outside of the gay community. Thus, it is not surprising that homosexuals are often afraid of telling others about their sexual preferences.

Research on Homosexual Behavior
A good deal of research has been done attempting to show how homosexuals are different from heterosexuals. However, there are many methodological issues in this research. This includes issues such as what should we measure and where do we find a sample? Most data on homosexuals comes from volunteers from large gay communities. Another issue is generalizability. Those who volunteer are typically willing to be identified as homosexual and may not be representative of homosexuals who are not "out."
Data on frequency of homosexual activity is very difficult to get. Both Kinsey's and Hunt's data were highly biased in regards to homosexuals. More recent surveys provide better data.
Survey Findings Relating to Homosexual Behavior
Homosexual orgasm
Klassen et al.
Homosexual relations
Homosexual orgasm
Same sex activity enjoyable
Opposite sex activity enjoyable
Label self homosexual
Homosexual experience since puberty
Had homosexual partner in last 12 months
Had both sex partners in last 12 months
Label self as homosexual
Had homosexual desires

Homosexual Adults' Self-Reports of Childhood and Adult Behavior
Some studies rely on the memories of adults to describe their childhood behavior. Findings of such studies indicate that homosexuals, as compared to heterosexuals, display:
1. Higher levels of cross sex behavior and interests.
2. Problems relating to same sex parent, especially for boys.
3. Preteen sex play with same sex, especially for boys. [Many children report sex play with both sexes. The majority of this sex play is heterosexual activity, especially for girls].
4. Early homosexual arousal.
Other research examines early sexual activities of self-identified adult homosexuals in the teen years and early adulthood. These adults report:
1. They try out heterosexuality. Most date the other sex at least once. This is especially true for girls.
2. When engaging in heterosexual intercourse, homosexual males and females are often not orgasmic: about 50% of males and 10% of females had heterosexual orgasm. [Comparable figures are 90+% for males and much lower for females in first heterosexual intercourse.].
Differences in homosexual women and men tend to parallel gender differences in heterosexuals.
1. Men are more active sexually. They have more partners and are less monogamous.
2. Men are more concerned with attractiveness of partner than women.
3. Men initiate sex more. Often, they start homosexual activity earlier. Lesbian couples sometimes complain about lack of sex in relationships.
Summarizing some of the research described, the typical male homosexual tends to have short‑term sexual relationships. He may or may not be married; many married men still have homosexual relationships, sometimes with strangers. He is not a child molester and he probably first got involved in homosexual activities with boys of his own age. In fact, many boys engage in homosexual activities as preadolescents, although they may not label them as such and they do not necessarily think of themselves as homosexual because they had this experience. Other data suggest that male homosexuals often engaged in some type of "sissy" behavior as children. It is also typical for homosexuals of both sexes to realize that they are homosexual at a young age. Often their first strong feelings are for someone of the same sex rather than the other sex as is more typical for heterosexuals. As they get older, male homosexuals do become involved in long-term affairs with one other man. In one sample of homosexuals over half had relationships of a year or more, but even in these long-term relationships, they typically had occasional contacts with someone other than their regular lover.
The patterns for female homosexuals are somewhat different. The typical lesbian is not married; only a small percentage of married women are primarily homosexual in their sexual preference. Although she has had short term, transient sexual relationships, she is much more likely than her male counterpart to have relationships of a year or more and to be involved exclusively with her partner during this time rather than having side relationships. In the study mentioned earlier where slightly over half the men had affairs of a year or more, the comparable percentage for female homosexuals were 93% having long term affairs. In many ways, this difference corresponds with the general sex differences in sexual experiences for men and women in our society. Men tend to have more casual sexual relationships than women and even during marriage, men are more likely to have extramarital affairs. The male homosexuals fall at the extreme end of the male pattern and the females fall at the opposite extreme end of the overall female pattern.
Girls are less likely than boys to have preadolescent homosexual experiences, again paralleling the findings that girls in general have fewer sexual experiences than boys in our society. Like male homosexuals, they have engaged in "tomboy‑like" behaviors in childhood and they have become aware of their attraction to women as soon as they began having sexual feelings. Lesbians are less likely than male homosexuals to have even been sexually attracted to someone of the opposite sex. Only about half of the lesbians in one study reported having had such an attraction; for the others, all of their romantic interests centered on women. However, most lesbians have tried having sex with a man at some point in their lives and often their first sexual experience is with a man. They typically do not enjoy these heterosexual encounters, though.

Theories Of Sexual Orientation
As we have seen with a number of other issues, there are a number of theories about how we develop our sexual orientation, none of which explains all the data alone.
As with many of the sex-differentiated behaviors we have discussed so far in the course, there are also biological theories about the origins of homosexuality. Probably the most widely held theory among researchers today is that homosexuality and heterosexuality are at least partially genetically based. Certain genes appear to be related to sexual orientation. Some of the evidence in support of this theory comes from studies of identical twins. Although the specific studies mentioned in the text can be criticized since they fail to control for environmental factors, other studies comparing siblings with identical twins do eliminate some of this confounding. In these studies, it has been found that twins are more highly correlated in their sexual preferences than non-identical siblings of the same sex. This theory was also questioned because a homosexual gene would die out if those who have it did not reproduce. Can you think of a counterargument for this line of reasoning? One point that could be made is that historically, most homosexuals did marry and reproduce in spite of their sexual preferences. Even today, many males with a homosexual preference are married and have sex with their wives; they express their preferred sexual feelings in temporary liaisons with strangers or acquaintances. Also, a lot of lesbians marry men, have children, and only later realize that they are mostly attracted to women. However, if this genetic theory is true, as homosexuals feel more accepted and more able to live openly as gays and lesbians, they will probably have fewer heterosexual experiences and the homosexual gene might begin to die out. It is ironic that those who fear homosexuality and cause homosexuals to "stay in the closet" are the ones who are doing the most to perpetuate homosexuality if this theory is true.
Other biological explanations center upon hormone imbalances. It is assumed within this theory that the typical hormone ratio leads to heterosexuality, while low testosterone leads to homosexuality in males and high testosterone leads to homosexuality in females. Studies looking for such imbalances in adults have generally failed to be supportive of this theory. Furthermore, there is almost no research on females.
One reason that researchers may have had this idea about the hormones is that hormone imbalances do lead to cross‑sex sexual behavior in other animals. However, as we have seen, the animal data does not generalize well to humans. Also, studies mentioned in earlier units found no change in sexual orientation when hormone levels were changed in adults. Castrated men do not become homosexual, they simply lose some of their sex drive; it is not refocused. Similarly, women given testosterone do not change their sexual orientation.
Another biological possibility for sexual orientation is suggested by research on birth order. Homosexual men tend to have a greater number of older brothers on average than heterosexual men. This has prompted researchers to suggest that perhaps there is some sort of immune system reaction in the mother that influences the individual's brain development, leading to a homosexual orientation.
There are some reasons for believing that there is a biological basis of sexual preference, even if none of the biological theories yet proposed is adequate. A major fact in favor of a biological theory is the data on the relatively constant frequency in the population for homosexuality. Since Kinsey, there has been little change in the percentage of people who label themselves as homosexual (being exclusively or primarily homosexual in their attractions) in spite of the numerous changes in sexual behaviors of other types. These percentages also appear to be highly similar to those in other cultures and at other periods in history. People's behaviors may vary, with some cultures encouraging homosexual expression and others discouraging it, but the basic frequencies of people with homosexual and heterosexual orientations do not seem to vary that much.
The learning theory approach provides another explanation for sexual orientation. Poor experiences with the other sex might lead one to turn to one's own sex for sexual interactions. Positive sexual experiences with the same sex might have the same effect. Indirect reinforcement from parents or peers could also serve to channel one's sexual interests in one direction or another. Such a theory assumes that sexual preferences can be unlearned since they are learned to begin with. However, remember that data cited earlier in this chapter indicates that it is extremely difficult to change an adult's sexual preference. Also, homosexuals tend to feel homosexual attraction before having any real experiences that could be reinforcing or punishing. And, the early sexual experiences of many heterosexuals are often unpleasant or neutral, rather than being reinforcing, but these people do not turn to a sexual partner of the same sex. Instead, they try again and as they gain experience they find that heterosexual sex becomes more and more reinforcing. Similar processes probably occur with homosexuals, except that they are more likely to try a member of the other sex as a sex partner at some point in their lives.
The text also mentions various sociological theories for the origin of homosexuality. One that is not described in detail in the book is a labeling process, analogous to the cognitive theories we have discussed in the context of how we learn about sex. According to this labeling theory, a person is first labeled by others as homosexual and then starts behaving according to the label. This theory probably best explains how a person comes to view oneself as a homosexual rather than explaining where the orientation comes from to begin with. It is hard to imagine a person being constantly called a homosexual by other people unless there was something in his or her behavior already which would make other people have this idea. The homosexual role is a relatively well-defined role in our society, and once people label themselves as homosexual, it probably follows that this role will become a salient one for them, and they may become even more "gay" than they were before assuming the label as appropriate for themselves.
Theories of homosexuality try to examine it as a deviant behavior, tracing it to some hormonal or developmental disruption, anomaly or mis-learning. Often such theories associate homosexuality with sex‑inappropriate gender role behaviors (e.g., boys who like to play with dolls, are emotionally expressive, or identify with their mothers become homosexuals). Sociological labeling theory and its social psychological offshoots attempt to disentangle the various aspects of sex and gender and remind us that the experience of engaging in sexual (or gender role) behavior which is considered sex‑inappropriate has different psychological consequences than engaging in behavior which is not considered deviant. This is because we are social beings who internalize the standards of the larger society.
Engaging in a homosexual act (or sex‑inappropriate gender role behavior) often causes guilt and self‑questioning: the person is motivated to make sense of this behavior simply because it is deviant in a way he/she would not be if the behavior were considered "normal". Looking back over his/her past behavior (e.g., preference for same‑sex friends, sex‑inappropriate interests, troubled childhood relationships) may lead such a self‑questioning person to label himself/herself as homosexual. If the homosexual (or sex‑inappropriate) behavior becomes public knowledge, parents, doctors, judges, or other authority figures will use the same kind of evidence to "construct" a homosexual identity from a set of apparently deviant or unusual events. Sociological labeling theory suggests that these "deviant" childhood experiences, gender role behaviors, etc. are not the actual causes of homosexuality: plenty of tomboys with a preference for girlfriends and sensitive, non-athletic boys who were close to their mothers become heterosexuals. But they "make sense of" a behavior (homosexuality) which is considered deviant and therefore figure in personal and societal after‑the‑fact constructions of reality. Sociological labeling theory argues that many of the other theories of homosexuality can be better thought of as attempts to construct an explanation of homosexuality designed to justify its societal classification as deviant (by associating it with things considered "bad," "immoral," "sick" or "imbalanced"). As such, these theories are informative about societal values but not about the actual origins of homosexuality.

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