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%)
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"?
What consenting adults do in private is one thing. Bestiality and Pedophilia are abuses of powerless beings. Do you let murderers off the hook because they can't help themselves?
I was reading an anthropology paper a while back about certain tribes in which it was custom for boys which entered adulthood to perform fellatio on the elders of the tribe. This was considered as completely normal and without any social stigma attached, merely a rite of passage. There was no sign that the young boys had any adverse psychological damage from the experience since Western morality had not permeated their society.
(Now to find the bloody thing...)
Like I said, the pedophiles and the morality of our culture are essentially co-conspirators when it comes to damaging the abused child.
You're simply restating our culture's canned attitude. If you had grown up on some south sea island or in an African or Native American tribe (in their natural, pre-Westernized state), you'd have a different script to recite. Cultural relativity.
Those customs do prove the power of cultural pressure on sexual behavior, but since those customs are so exceptional, I think it's safe to say that it's the culture that's bending the baseline, biological behavior.
I believe it to be a mix or combination of both. I believe beings are born with subtle changes in their biology and can be activated by triggers. However, I do not believe all homosexuality is from the same cause. Some more psychological, maybe some more bio-chemical related. Regardless, my friend proposed a good theory that has stuck in my mind ever since. His postulate was what if Homosexuality is a limiting factor that develops as we reach a carrying compacity? Maybe some deep subconscious trigger is pulled during this time or maybe an activation of some DNA. I honestly have no idea, nor do I have proof of homosexuality being in lesser ratios in the previous centuries in our history. Just something to squander about.
If it were psychological there would be alot less sucides, I don't think i'd choose to be constantly discreminated and threatend....
I, like many atheists don't think it's very likely that things exist that are not physical. Because of this, it seems likely that human cognition comes from a physical phenomena.
This way of thought(naturalism) doesn't give any room for the idea that biological and psychological things are different than one another.
If non-physical things do not exist and human cognition does come from our physical makeup, then psychological states are the same thing as, or dependent on biology.
When were able to point to a specific biological activity in something and conclusively correlate it to behavior, we tend put that behavior in a different catagory than before, as if it is something that people are unable to control. When really, every behavior is in that catagory, we just don't see it that way until we understand it scientifically.