Essays

Sexual orientation

Sexual orientation has been and to some degree is still seen as a taboo topic. For many years it has been argued that sexual orientation is based on one’s gender and one’s sexual preference, should be based on one’s sex (i. e. females should be attracted to males and males to females). For generations, these narrow views were considered to be the norm. However, hidden within society was a lifestyle that once aired was seen as deviant. Homosexuality and many sexual orientations were seen as sexual deviancy that needed some type of treatment to cure.

Many people use the term sexual preference to describe someone’s sexual orientation, such as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, etc. Heterosexuals are individuals attracted to the opposite sex, homosexuals are individuals who are attracted to the same sex, while bisexuals are people who are attracted to both sexes. However this term is outdated because “sexual orientation is no longer considered to be one’s conscious individual preference or choice, but is instead thought to be formed by a complicated network of social, cultural biological, economic and political factors (http:// www. ews. org/pubs/fact/fact0006. html). ”

Sexual orientation is based on one’ erotic, romantic and affectional attractions. These attractions could occur with the same gender (sex), to the opposite gender (sex) or both. Society is obsessed with finding what determines one’ sexual orientation, if an individual is homosexual or bisexual. Surprising, society is not really fascinated why heterosexuals are ‘straight’. “Straight people do not ‘come out’ because our society assumes that people are straight unless they say that they are not (Planned Parenthood. 2000, p. 3).

This assumption is known as heterosexism, which is quite offensive and disrespectful towards the homosexual community. A large sector of the population fails to realize how difficult ‘coming out’ might be for homosexuals to their family and friends. Family and friends may react either negatively or positive towards the needs. Consequently many gay, lesbian and bisexual people hide their sexual orientation from family and friends. In the process, they may feel isolated, scared, guilt or depressed. By the early to mid twentieth century, sexual orientation became an apparent issue that had to be addressed.

There were some people that were breaking away to what was considered the norm. Males with males, females with females, males with both sexes, and female with both sexes were unheard of at the time, but it was being done. No one knew what to make of it and how it came to be, therefore, it had to be classified as an illness. “Why am I gay? “, or “Why am I a bisexual? ” are questions that no one really can answer. However, there are many theories that are associated with homosexuality.

Most theories are based on three approaches: “(1) nature, (2) nurture and (3) a combination of both nature and nurture (Internet. 2000, http://www. chebucto. . ca/Health/Sexorien/gay. html. The nature theory on homosexuality is that individuals are homosexual due to genetics that predetermines a person’s homosexual orientation, where as the nurture theory assumes that one sexual orientation is based on one’s environment and experiences. According to the article “Answers to your Questions about Sexual Orientation and Homosexuality (2000), although scientist are not sure how homosexuality came to be, they do believe that the sexual orientation of many is shaped at an early age, adolescence (p. 1). However, there are many experts that believe one’s sexual orientation is determined before birth.

Furthermore, scientists also believe that the development of an individual sexual orientation is based on “complex interactions of biological, psychological factors (Internet. 2000, http://www. apa. org/pubinfo/orient. html). ” In 1990’s, scientists began to do an in-depth study of genes hoping to find a homosexual gene. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) released the finding of the study, on July 14, 1993. The study found that there “is a correlation between a specific chromosomal region in human males and homosexuality (Internet. 1993, http://www. cs. cmu. edu/afs/cs. cmu. u/user/scotts/bulgarians/nih-ngltf. html). ” The research indicated that there is a possibility of a genetic basis for homosexuality. Scientists believe that a specific area of the X chromosome is linked to male homosexuality. According to the NIH findings (1993), the gene appears to be genetically inherited from the mother’s side that may influence one’s sexual orientation (p. 1). Chief of the Cancer Institute’s Section on Gene Structure and Regulation, Dean Hamer studied the family histories of 114 gay men. He “found more homosexual brothers, uncles and male cousins than expected in the general population.

Some families had three generations of homosexual relatives (Internet. 2000, http://www. cs. cmu. edu/user/scotts/bulgarians/nih-upi. html). ” Hamer concluded that these findings were hopeful since uncles and cousins were raised in the same household, but shared a genetic information, which suggested inheritance. Hamer continued his research and studied DNA from forty (40) pairs of homosexual brothers. According to Hamer (1993), thirty-three (33) of the brothers shared genetic markers on the X-chromosomes found in a region known as Xq28 (p. 2). This chromosome is one of two sex determining chromosomes.

Genes are arranged along 26 chromosomes, each consisting of tiny coils of DNA, deoxyribonucleic acid, which carries the instructions to manufacture a particular body substance. Furthermore, there was no such similar sharing in the same region among heterosexual men (Internet. 1993. http://www. cs. cmu. edu/afs/cs. cmu. edu/user/bulgarians/nih-upi. html). ” What do these findings tell us about homosexuality and sexual orientation? Nothing really. Earlier studies suggested that the inherited X chromosomes played some type of role in shaping one’s sexual orientation, however, no such conclusion can be reached due to lack of evidence.

The NIH study did not pinpoint an exact gene that may be responsible for an individual sexual orientation. Furthermore, as the NIH research points out (1993), the X-chromosomes were not found in all specimens and therefore it cannot account for all occurrences of homosexuality. Hamer conducted this research in hopes to make people understand that “being gay is not simply a choice or purely a decision. People have no control over the genes they inherit and there is no way to change them (Internet. 1993. http://www. cs. cmu. edu/afs/cs. cmu. edu/uesr/scotts/bulgarians/nih-upi. html). ”

Normally, sexual orientation emerges without any prior sexual experience and it is a factor that cannot be changed. As the article on “Answers to your Question about Sexual Orientation and Homosexuality” (2000) points out, many people have reported trying to change his/her sexual orientation without much avail (p. 1). Therefore, “psychologists do not consider sexual orientation for most people to be a choice that can be voluntarily changed (Internet. 2000. http://www. apa. org/pubinfo/orient. html). ” According to Zuriff (1997), many psychoanalysts thought homosexuality was caused by a failure to develop due to a childhood trauma (p. . Freud associated homosexual development with oedipal frustration.

He believed that homosexuality was caused by “an intense mother attraction coupled with a distant father figure. These boys then identify with their denied object of desire and assumed her role in future relationships with men who resemble themselves (Internet. 2000. http://www. priory. com/psch/disparat. html). ” “Prevailing psychiatric tradition considered homosexuality pathological regardless of the health, happiness or functionality of gay, lesbian, and bisexual, individuals (Internet. 00. http://www. priory. com/psych/disparat. html). ” Furthermore, it was concluded that this deviant behavior was associated with other pathologies. In 1952, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) listed homosexuality as a psychiatric disorder. Homosexuality was classified as a “sociopathic personality disturbance, meaning that the diagnosis could be made purely on the homosexuality alone, despite the absence of subjectively experienced distress (Zuriff. 1997, p. 2). ” Discrimination was running rampant against homosexuals.

They were arrested, abused and their places of business were shut down. This all changed with the raid of the Stone Wall Bar by the police where homosexuals decided to take a stand and fight back against the blatant prejudices. This brought about a rise of a militant gay liberation movement that demanded the normalization of homosexuality as a lifestyle. Gay activists attacked the APA for classifying homosexuality as a disease. They launched several protests at several professional conventions over next few years. The APA was forced to reconsider the biases of defining homosexuality as a mental disorder.

Consequently a compromise was reached, in which homosexuality was still included in the revision of DMS, renamed DMSII, but under a more descriptive term. “In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association classified homosexuality as sexual deviation along with other disorders such as fetishism and pedophilia (Zuriff. 1997, p. 2). Mental health professionals were classifying homosexuals as mentally ill because most of the research that was done involved lesbian and gay men in therapy. The research was biased because the research never included lesbian and gay men that were not in therapy.

However, as Zuriff points out (1997), when the non-patient homosexual population was studied, researchers found that many homosexuals were leading well adjusted, fulfilling lives (p. 4). It was then concluded that homosexuality was not linked with incidence of psychopathology. Consequently, Stoller (1973) indicates that in the past, based on the conclusion that homosexuals were considered to have a mental illness were denied civil rights in many areas of life (p. 1216). Furthermore, their rights were denied on the basis of demonstrating their competence, on their reliability and/or their mental stability (p. 16). ” Interestingly, New York, which is one of the most diverse cities, filled with a melting pot of people, is very biased against homosexuals. In the United States, there are only nine states that have some-type of legislation protecting lesbian and gay people against bigotry based on their sexual orientation. In addition, according to the article “Sexual Orientation and Identity (2000), seven states have even banned the practices of certain sexual practices between individuals of the same gender (p. 2). For decades, the human rights of homosexuals have been denied to them.

They have been denied because of their sexual orientation. However, every woman, man, and child has the human right to freedom of sexual orientation. “This includes the fundamental human right to freedom from discrimination based on sexual orientation or any other status, and other fundamental human rights dependent upon realization of the human right to freedom from discrimination (Internet. 1996. http://www. pdhre. org/rights/sexualorient. html). ” Consequently, in 1971, gay activists composed the Bill for Gay Civil Rights.

The bill was brought forth to legislation and rejected each time. Finally, on March 20, 1986, the bill (Intro 2) was passed, which found discrimination in housing; workplace and the public based on sexual orientation to be illegal. The bottom line is that all people have the right to live according to their sexual orientation and should be given equal rights and respect. Homosexuals have had the short end of stick for decades. They are basically blamed for many sexual ‘abnormalities’ that may occur in society.

They are allegedly considered child-molesters, although it has been noted that heterosexual men commit 95% of the child abuse reported. Furthermore, a Denver hospital reviewed the medical files of the child abuse cases from the period of July 1, 1997 to June 30, 1998. Out of 269 cases where molestation was dictated, only 2 cases were considered to be done by a gay or lesbian molester, which is less than 1% of the cases. According to the article “Fact Sheet: Sexual Orientation and Identity” (2000), homosexuals are seven times more likely to be victims of hate crimes than heterosexuals.

In addition, at least 75% of the crimes against lesbians and gay men are not reported to anyone (p. 2). In a 1991 study based on five regions (Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, New York City and San Francisco) indicated that there was a 31% increase over the previous year in anti-gay and anti-lesbian crimes, which was a total of 1,833 incidents. Heterosexual psychologist George Weinberg coined the term homophobia in the late 1960s as society was rethinking sexual orientation.

Weinberg used homophobia to label heterosexuals’ dread of being in close quarters with homosexuals as well as homosexuals self loathing (Internet. 2000, http://www. pscology. ucdavis. edu/rainbow/html/phobdefn. html). ” Without really understanding why, many people dislike and even hate homosexuals based on their sexual orientation. Many go out in search to physically, emotionally and mentally abuse those whom they suspect of being homosexual. http://www. psychology. ucdavis. edu. rainbow/html/phobdefn. html).

One out of four gay men have been assaulted based on the perception to be homosexual and at least 50% of the homosexual population have been assaulted at least once. Many people object to homosexuality because it is considered to be a break from the norm and a break from the Bible. However, the Bible never deals with one’s sexual orientation and in reality, the concept of sexual orientation is a recent development. The Bible teaches us about forgiveness, helping and loving others. Yet, many people feel that homosexuals should be condemned due to their sexual orientation.

According to an article on “Sexual Orientation” (1999), if Jesus is the guide to all Bible study for Christians, no basis exists in the life and teachings of Jesus to use the Bible as a weapon to attack and oppress homosexuals or anyone else (Internet. 2000. http://www. trulu ck. com/html/sexual_orientation. html)! ” There are many that have an irrational fear towards gay, lesbian and bisexual people known as homophobia. “As a result of this fear, homophobic people will often make fun of, discriminate against, and even hate gay, lesbian and bisexual people (Plan Parenthood. 00. P. 4). ” Homophobia can be caused by anything, such as myths, negative stereotypes, religious or cultural beliefs and values. This may lead to gay bashing, which is verbal, emotional, mental, and physical violence towards gay, lesbian and bisexual people. For years, people have been searching for a cure and many homosexuals have tried therapy in order to ‘alleviate’ themselves of their sexual orientation. Conversion therapy is a variety of methods ranging from Christian programs to psychoanalysis.

According to Zuriff (1997), the most successful form of this type of therapy is one that uses techniques of behavior therapy, which has been used effectively to treat depression and anxiety (p. 9). This type of therapy involves two components. The client must be first taught the behavior of a heterosexual. “This is accomplished by reducing any anxiety involving heterosexuals activities, learning heterosexual social skills, and increasing heterosexual arousal through conditioning (Zuriff. 1997, p. 9). ” In the process, aversion conditioning decreases the homosexual behavior and urges.

Homosexual stimuli, such as “Photos, are associated with unpleasant stimuli, such as mental images of repulsive homosexual contacts under stressful conditions or with electric shock (Zuriff. 1997, p. 10). ” As Zuriff points out (1997) success is clearly possible (p. 10). What some people fail to understand is that homosexuality is part of a person’s core identity. It is not something that could be learned or developed. It is just there. Many homosexuals seek therapy because some fear ‘coming out of the closet’ where as others have been told countless times that they are just confused.

They put themselves through this torturous, barbaric treatment in order to feel “normal’. What is exactly “normal” anyway? Furthermore, psychological and permanent self-identity issues can occur if one tries to change an individual’s sexual orientation. Conversion therapy is harmful and dangerous to an individual and should be banned because it may cause identity conflict. One’s sexual orientation is not a choice and it has much more to do with whom someone has sex with or with one’s lifestyles.

In addition, sexual orientation is not based on culture, one childhood, activities, friends and family. “Straight, gay, lesbian and bisexual people come from every kind of family background, from all religious and ethnic groups and from every community and country (Planned Parenthood. 2000. P. 2). ” Nor can one’s sexual orientation be changed by therapy, willpower or by having sex with the opposite gender. An individual can deny the feelings that she/he has and not act on them, but this does not change who they are, whether it is straight, gay, lesbian or bisexual.

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