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%)



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LOL - your answer sounds hauntingly familiar to mine.


Great minds think alike and all that... ;)

Haha I hadn't even read that when I posted. That's amazing that you came up with that yourself. I, on the other hand, learned it from someone I figured was qualified enough to know what they were talking about. So you must be on to something!

Oh yes, I definitely agree. We have a very limited amount of knowledge on the subject, and I also think its possible that various factors can influence it. 

In regards to what he said about it not being proven that anything but environmental factors affect the spectrum, I should clarify that. He said that in response to my initial assumption that biology purely plays a part based on other animal behavior. I think he was just pointing out that there's not enough to build a biological argument at the moment. 

I think it's a shame that there aren't many resources dedicated to researching it. I know a number of people feel that its unimportant to research or its personal business, but like any research, there is always a benefit to understanding how we and the universe work, whether it be understanding the human brain better, our history as a species, or even just acquiring enough information to help reduce the prejudice surrounding this topic. 

Biological, hands down, no question. If it were psychological, then dolphins, rams, and many other mammals would have to learn it. When their is a good idea even as to HOW they learn it, be my guest and tell me.



I am not aware that homosexuals have a higher chance of raising homosexual kids, and I question your sources.

"Biological, hands down, no question."

Which raises the question, why can it absolutely not, in any way what so ever, be psychological in your opinion? Also, if sexuality is a spectrum, then how does genes, which work mostly in a binary fashion, code for it?

"I am not aware that homosexuals have a higher chance of raising homosexual kids, and I question your sources."

It was used by the anti-gay rights movement around 10 years ago. It should not be an argument what so ever, as even it it is true, it would only be applicable if homosexuality was considered objectionable as a starting point. However, it does a good job of ferret out those who don't care and those who care about the argument.

I was not quite clear I guess.

I mean, if it is biological/genetic/innate/whathaveyou (as in not at all considered nurture), then how would you explain a "sliding scale" on the individual basis? It's fine for a population, but (i.e.) what about those individuals who begin as homo- or heterosexual and then become bisexual? If you are born a certain sexuality (the 100% nature argument), it would imply an impossibility of real change for the individual,vjust like it would be impossible to change from brown to blue eyes.

The 100% argument tend to be more difficult when analyzing individuals, especially if you start adding the complexities of anthropology and sociology into the mix. In certain cultures (i.e. classic Greeks), both homophilia and pedophilia was considered normal. The stigma was added later when certain levantine belief systems altered our collective psychologies.

(To this day I'm still somewhat skeptical whenever I receive an invitation to a symposium..)

i agree with the biological side of things..to a degree. What about those people that "become" gay after a certain age? now i don't know if this can happen but i feel with the amount of gays there are it is bound to happen. So to my point, can't the brain change it's own hormone out put? When i took psychology there where instances of this happening (hormone levels changing). So in theory can't you grow up a normal male or female and something happens to you and over a period of time your hormone levels gradually change? all i'm trying to say is i think that it's not always necessarily from birth but things in our environment that shape us.

I tend to think there's a hereditary aspect. However, I hesitate to call a male goat who humps another male goat a gay goat. To take it to an absurd level, how about two male lobsters getting it on? "Homosexual" comes with connotations. Goat living a gay "lifestyle"? Sounds a little absurd. Actually, "gay lifestyle" sounds as absurd to me as "heterosexual lifestyle" even for humans. It's as though your sexuality is your lifestyle, which is ridiculous. I also think it means different things to different people. To some it may mean a way of living involving lots of attention to art and style. To others, it may mean having lots of promiscuous or even anonymous sex. To others it may just mean a couple of guys committing to each other. I think it's a term that shouldn't be used due to its ambiguity.

Or to a German, Hummersexuals.

I believe homosexuality is biological, but I have known heterosexual people who were severely abused, physically and sexually abused, who pursued homosexual relationships after they were able to get out of their terrible situations. In most cases, these have been women. I do not have scientific data on it, but I work in drug/alcohol treatment and have seen some of these clients who have lived many years of abuse and who later turned to the opposite sex for solace (again, this is generally with females.) Women tend to be more nurturing and understanding, so many women who have suffered the abuse of men sometimes seek out a woman, looking for someone who can treat them with tenderness. Does this also mean they had some homosexual tendencies prior to the abuse and just were finally "pushed" to the other side? Who knows. Maybe, maybe not. No matter how you look at it, and no matter what we ultimately learn about homosexuality and its many diverse components, homosexual men and women are people, period. Anyone who hates the thought of same-sex sexual relationships really ought to look at the sexual habits of heterosexuals sometime. Oh, and btw, in our "wonderful" so-called Christian nation, why is it that the porn industry makes profits in the BILLIONS of dollars? Kind of hard to explain that one. Sexuality is the business of ONLY those who are intimate with one another. That's really what we need to teach our up and coming generations. Homosexuality or heterosexuality does not make the person...what a person does with their life, how they treat others, is what makes them who they are. Just as we are atheists, it is only a small part of who we are. We all have varying opinions on a host of other subjects, just as gays do. Being gay is only a small part of who someone is, and by far is the least important.

Sexual behavior has evolved in animals over several millions of years. Why are we not even talking about having desire/preference for sex with other species, aka bestiality? I think we don't even consider bestiality as a topic here because it seems so ridiculously absurd to each of us at a deeply emotional level. (I don't even remember talking about bestiality in my formative, teen years, or talking much about it since then.)

So, considering that the vast majority of us share the same disgust of bestiality, it seems absurd to argue that there is no biological basis at large for human sexual preferences and behavior. The question to me isn't so much whether or not sexual behavior is biologically preset in each of us to a large extent; sexual behavior and preference in the larger, species context must be biologically based.

I might reword the question into two questions, something like "how much variation in biologically-based behavior exists naturally in our species", and "how much does our sexual behavior/preference vary because of our unique ability to intellectually/intentionally diverge from what's biologically built into us". (These questions are also probably relevant to other social species, like bonobos, dolphins, etc.)

As an aside, I think it's taken us humans a long time to address these emotional questions at an intellectual level because they are so deeply, emotionally based to start with. It hasn't been easy to thoughtfully analyze feelings and behavior that originate in our animal brains. Hasn't the vast majority of scripture been written by passionate, heterosexual males, unable to emotionally accept or condone alternative sexual behavior? They don't feel that way because of God, since God doesn't exist. And I say they don't feel that way because of religion, but religion prescribes and proscribes behavior because religion was invented by those men.

Sure, it's easy to see that alternative human sexual behavior has been socially suppressed over the past thousands of years, but that doesn't eliminate biology as the most significant determinant. As at least one other contributor has mentioned here--there is variation in phenotypes even among duplicate genotypes. In other words, genes strongly influence behavior, but environment (and even random, molecular genetic events during development and growth) will also increase phenotypic variation. 


You're raising some interesting—and possibly disturbing—questions here.

If gayness is biological, what about fetishism, or even bestiality and pedophilia? I can't think of any culture which has incorporated bestiality, but certainly some cultures have practices which, to our 20th century western minds, are pedophilic in nature. I'm not even talking about the Greek practice of men having sex with boys. I'm talking about something even more institutional than that. In many non-Western societies, as boys and girls come of age, they are introduced to and trained in sex by aunts, uncles, or village elders.

Perhaps it is our own society which is repressive in this regard. Children are damaged by pedophilic contact with adults in our culture, but only half the damage is done by the pedophiles. The rest of the damage is done by the social stigma attached to pedophilic relationships which has the victims feeling guilty. We tell them not to feel guilty, but we reinforce the wrongness of the situation by saying "It wasn't your FAULT."

The dirty little secret of child sexual abuse is that the victims, ignorant at the time of the abuse of the social disapprobation attached to these relationships, often do find some pleasure in them for two reasons: our sexual body parts are designed by nature to give pleasure and, of course, children thrive on attention. Later on, when the abuse is uncovered, they feel guilty for the pleasure they felt. This doesn't describe all child sexual abuse, of course. Much of it is far more oppressive than that.

As for bestiality, as you point out, we (most of us) have a deep aversion to the entire idea. This aversion may be biological in those of us who feel the aversion. However, for those who seem drawn to sex with horses, dogs, or whatever, can we be totally sure that there is no genetic component there? After all, some of us can roll our tongues and some of us can't. In both cases, although they are opposites, it's genetic.

Why can't just about everything regarding sex be genetic and thereby "natural"?


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