Disclaimer: I should say I am not a psychologist or biologist, though I have a few college level courses in the prior which probably color my view. In addition, I am not sexually a homosexual and have no personal experience with that aspect of it, though it piques my intellectual interest. Also, I am European (this is apparently a synonym to many).
Question: Do you tend to support a psychological or a biological explanation to why some people are homosexuals? Do you have a "pure" or a "mixed" view of the two, and why?
My opinion: I tend to support the psychological explanation of sexuality due to it being more parsimonious. Being "born" a homosexual doesn't immediately ring clear as a biological explanation requires a number of a priori assumptions of future state of the social environment as one grows up. Two people of the same sex cannot biologically reproduce and thus face extinction. Becoming a homosexual through the psychosocial environment is to me a simpler explanation as this would imply it being either a learned behavior, which may account for homosexual couples having a higher probability of raising a homosexual child, or as a response to other environmental factors such as sexual competition.
I'll stop explaining here and rather see where the discussion goes off to.
(Two notes to add: I don't think homosexuality should be treated even if it is "treatable". It is no more a condition than preferring beer over vodka. Also, I tend to support a twin explanation of both inherited and environmental causes, though with the latter overwhelmingly more explanatory, i.e. 90%)
It's obvious biological. Dick Swaab, a dutch brain researcher, discovered this. He saw that the 'sex' part of gay men's brain was different from heterosexual men. It develops in the womb.
It's also psychological, but in the same way it is for straight people.
Speaking as a gay male, who has also had a few college biology and psychology courses, I would argue that homosexuality is genetic based on my personal experiences; additionally, the scientific community has and continues to find evidence that supports a biological explanation. I won't bore you with research that is easily found with a quick Google search.
Instead, I'll give you my personal reasons (not as a scientist or psychologist) for my assertion that homosexuality is biological. I was raised in a Christian home, my parents were married throughout my childhood, and I am the oldest of two sons. My father was a police officer, and my mother a homemaker, and of course I was indoctrinated into the church by them. At an early age I began to feel like something was wrong (that's the indoctrination speaking) or different about me. I played with "boy toys" and enjoyed sports and other activities that are though of as common activities for a young boy.
Although I enjoyed those "boy things" at the same time, I continually struggled with something that I could not comprehend or even begin to put into words. I was about eight years old when I first realized that I experienced a "funny" feeling when I slept over at one of my friends home. This was the late '80's in West Virginia, so I had never even heard the word gay; all I knew was that I felt something that I had never felt before...
It wasn't long after that night that I was sitting in Sunday School with my parents and brother, when I read the topic of the sermon on the pamphlets handed out as we entered the church... homosexuality. This was the first time I had even seen the word, I asked my mother what the word was, her response was that it was a type of evil, and something that makes god cry (yeah I know, great thing to tell your gay son) that I would learn more about it during the sermon.
The preacher stepped up to the podium, just like he had done countless times before, but as he began speaking and describing what homosexuality was, I was completely terrified. I have never felt fear like I did that day... While I still could not fully understand the concept of being gay, I at least had a word for what I was... evil, bad, scary, hell-bound; but why? I didn't dare speak to anyone about my feelings, but I continued to experience feelings that I could not turn off or ignore, and only got worse as I began to enter puberty.
By the time I was 13, I was still sure that I was going to hell, and trying everything I could do to "fix" me. I prayed every night, sometimes for hours, asking god to take the devil out of me, I didn't want to go to hell, I didn't want to be different, I didn't want to be gay... but not matter how hard I prayed, cried, and pleaded with god, my prayers were never answered.
By the time I entered high school in 1992 I had began researching homosexuality, and was exposed to a diverse groups of people, who taught me new ways to analyze, think, reason, and understand. I was 17 before I finally accepted that I was gay, I didn't want to be this way, but it is who I am, and I refused to be ashamed of it. Luckily, about that time I found support groups that I wish I knew existed year ago. It was also about this same time that i took an interest in religion; I had attended the same church for years, but was never really interested. I developed a fascination with religion that continues to this day. I lost my faith, when after studying numerous religions, most of which predated Christianity, and I began to see how Christianity was a patchwork of much older religions, all of which made no sense if one actually cared to read the words on the pages and toss the ideas around in their head -- some people call this thinking. :)
While most of this is anecdotal and does not really answer your question, I hope that perhaps I can provide a different perspective. I apologize for the long post, but you hit two of my favorite topics.
And thank you for a very interesting story. :)
I am very glad I never felt the need to pray about my sexuality, I doubt it would help. In addition, I'm from a society where male affection for other males is not frowned upon and actually expected. In addition, children's television on the one channel I had when I was growing up had a medical doctor (later national children's ombudsman) explaining everything about bodies, functions, genitalia, sex, masturbation, etc.
A couple question though, if do not mind. You have probably also heard the stories of those who wake up one day and find out they are gay, do you think they have been so their whole life and suppressed it or made a subconscious choice? In addition, do you believe it could also go the other way, gay people waking up straight?
(And a last note, I was taught the Queen's English where gay is happy and fags are cigarettes. Good job in taking back the former word to it's original meaning.)
I think it's suppression. For several years, I had even forgotten about all the fervent praying, screaming, and crying to god I'd done trying to get him to fix me. That's an intensely painful thing to go through...and to totally block out, shows the power of the mind. I only remembered after months of reflection during the process of coming out to myself. If I could block that pain out and also convince myself all during high school that I had "cured" myself, allowing myself to only look at and dwell on like boys...well, I think it's entirely possible that someone who never came to the realization that they were queer but just suppressed all of their same sex attractions as they were happening could construct a persona built on denial after denial, walling off that part of themselves for decades.
They say sexual orientation is fluid. I don't know of anyone who has come out as straight. I know of people who come out as bisexual after claiming a homosexual identity. That's probably got to do with both self awareness and the politics of gender/sexual identity.
Actually very well thought out answers from what appears to be random people at the street. And the other one was absolutely hilarious. :)
As for when people "choose" their final sexual orientation, I'd hazard a guess at around the onset of puberty, 10-12 years or so, when the hormones start really kicking in.
"This fact in itself makes this a homophobic forum."
No, this makes it a liberal/progressive forum where difficult subjects can be raised and discussed with people sharing their knowledge and attaining new information.
If you are uncomfortable with the topic you might have a choice to answer or not, depending if we look at it from a biological or psychological standpoint. ;)
Democratic forum? It's the silliest thing I've ever heard!
The intended discussion is not whether or not homosexuality is right or wrong, but rather an attempt at gaining insight into why it occurs. If it was a homophobic forum we would be discussing how bad it is, and no one has made any such claim (yet).
By your "democratic" rules we should not address homosexuality because it's homophobic or Islam because it's racist.
I guess I should post a new question to ensure no sensibilities can get bruised: The weather here is lovely today, how is the weather where you are?