A brief, two minute explanation of
some people are homosexual:
Defining some terms:
First, we need to define some terms. Most human sexuality researchers agree that a person's sexuality is defined by their sexual orientation, not their sexual behavior.
We believe that the following estimates are reasonably accurate:
- About 90% of adults are"heterosexual:" they are sexually attracted only to members of the opposite sex.
- About 5% of adults are "homosexual:" they are sexually attracted only to members of the same sex.
- About 5% of adults are "bisexual:" they are sexually attracted to members of both sexes, but not usually to the same degree. They are the only group who may accurately be described as having a "sexual preference."
Beliefs about the causes of homosexuality:
Sigmund Freud was the founder of psychoanalysis. He believed that children raised by a dominating mother and emotionally distant father often had male children who became homosexuals later in life. However, most human sexuality researchers now believe that he was wrong. Instead, homosexual orientation is a trait, like left-handedness. A homosexual is born, not made. Researchers determined in the mid 20th century that homosexuality had some type of genetic cause. They searched for decades to find "the homosexual gene" or genes in people's DNA, without much success. Finally, in the early 20th century, they found the answer in epigenetics.
Epigentics relate to the study of a layer of chemicals on the DNA, not a gene or genes in the DNA.
This finding solved a long-term mystery: why did identical twins -- twins with the same DNA structure -- often have different sexual orientations develop as adults.
The epigenetic layer on one's DNA is established before birth and remains unchanged throughout life. Researchers have recently developed an epigenetic test involving the analysis of saliva samples from a group of male identical twin adults of different sexual orientations. They were was able to detect which twins had a homosexual orientation with an accuracy of 83%.
Further research will almost certainly increase the accuracy of this test in the future.
This finding cleared up a number of questions. Some are:
- Why a homosexual orientation is discovered -- typically during one's teens -- and is not chosen.
- Why a homosexual orientation is fixed during life and not changeable through therapy and counseling.
- Why identical twins, sharing identical DNA, discover that they have different sexual orientations.
- Why homosexuals can often be detected in childhood by comparing the lengths of their fingers and other tests, even though their orientation is often not obvious until they are in their teens.
However, many religious conservatives, and others, sincerely hold very different beliefs: that homosexuality is defined not by one's orientation but by ones behavior. Many believe that homosexuality is influenced by a person's upbringing, or caused by sexual abuse at an early age. They further believe that it is chosen later in life, and that it can be reversed in adulthood through counseling, reparative therapy, and prayer.
Scary possibilities in the future:
It may be possible to develop a test that will determine the eventual sexual orientation of an embryo or fetus before birth. That could conceivably present pregnant women with the option of choosing to have an abortion rather than give birth to a newborn who will eventually be homosexual. Since religious conservatives are often very strongly opposed to abortion, and also strongly opposed to having a homosexual child, this would place many in an intolerable situation of having to choose between two unacceptable alternatives.
Originally written: 2017-JAN-05
Posted on: 2017-JAN-05
Author: B.A. Robinson