Gay Gothic from a Gay Wedding. Congrats to them. Photo by Akiste
Homosexual people are slowly and rightly gaining the rights and respect they deserve. I cheer every time they get marriage rights in Europe, Canada and the States because that means society is coming closer to supporting and cultivating those relationships, which in turn make society stronger. In Sri Lanka, however, homosexuality is still illegal, shamefully. Globally, though, people are beginning to understand that homosexuality is something people are, and that there’s nothing pathological about it. All the psychological and biological research is leading to these conclusions, that there is a genetic component to homosexuality, and that it is not a mental disorder. However, there is still a lot of disagreement, intolerance, and plain hatred. Therefore, this post is in response to a civil but misguided post by the self-proclaimed True Sri Lankan. It is a very brief discussion of the biological and psychological aspect, posted as a (as yet unpublished) comment there.
Biology of Homosexuality
I personally do not look down upon them, but I do not also believe that they were born as homosexuals which is what medical science says now without any proof. I believe that they have chosen to be homosexuals.
Homosexuality almost certainly has a significant biological component, as do most traits. In fruit flies orientation is as simple as one gene Institute of Molecular Biotech). Human traits are much more complex. One way of looking at it is twin studies (two people with the exact same genes). One often repeated result is a high correlation between identical twins and less among fraternal. Identical twins have the same genes and similar environment, while fraternal twins only have similar environments.
J. Michael Bailey and Richard Pillard also studied the gayness between MZ twins, DZ twins, and non-related adopted brothers. They examined how many of the sample population examined were gay and how many were straight. They found that 52% of MZ twins were both self-identified homosexuals, 22% of DZ twins were so, and only 5% of non-related adopted brothers were so (AllPsych)
Most scientists confer that there is a genetic component to homosexuality (honestly, there’s a genetic component to any trait, and the correlation for homosexuality is more than most). It seems to be maternally passed, on the X chromosome, as reported in the book Search for the Gay Gene.
What Mr. Hamer reported in 1993 was that in families having two gay brothers, 33 of the 40 pairs of brothers shared a piece of the X chromosome, significantly more than the 20 pairs of brothers who would have been expected to inherit the same chromosomal terrain by chance alone. Mr. Hamer also found that a gay man was much likelier to have gay male relatives on the maternal side of the family than on his father’s side, further evidence of something of interest on the X chromosome, which in men is always passed along from the mother. The molecular and genealogical evidence together suggested that a gene or genes embedded in the wilderness of the X chromosome somehow contribute to male sexual orientation.
Besides straight genetics, even the reception of the hypothalamus is different in gay men. There is definitely a significant ‘nature’ component to homosexuality.
a team of Swedish neuroscientists scanned people’s brains as they smelled a testosterone derivative found in men’s sweat and an estrogen-like compound found in women’s urine. In heterosexual men, a part of the hypothalamus (the seat of physical drives) responded to the female compound but not the male one; in heterosexual women and homosexual men, it was the other way around (Steven Pinker, via Times)
That is, it’s hard to make a ‘choice’ when you’re hypothalamus is wired funny. Regardless there is a significant agreement that homosexuality has a genetic component, and no serious scientist would say that there is ‘no’ correlation. The twin studies alone are highly replicable. There is also significant homosexual behavior in animals, especially our close cousins the Bonobo chimpanzees.
Psychology of Homosexuality
It is also believed that homosexuality rises out of a mental imbalance and when treated it can be corrected. Medical Science has not understood how the brain works fully so any treatment is still far away.
The official psychological diagnostic manual (DSM) hasn’t included homosexuality as a ‘mental disease’ since 1973, and for good reason. Homosexuality isn’t ‘treatable’ beyond rewiring the brain and society, nor is it especially desirable to do so.
Mental Illnesses are not things that make you different (otherwise brilliance and love of soap operas might be ‘disorders’). Disorders are generally pathological, they cause suffering and impair work and relationships. Numerous studies have shown that homosexuality is not pathological, they can actually be very happy and high functioning people with about the same chances as anybody.
Hooker concluded from her data that homosexuality is not a clinical entity and that homosexuality is not inherently associated with psychopathology.
Hooker’s findings have since been replicated by many other investigators using a variety of research methods. Freedman (1971), for example, used Hooker’s basic design to study lesbian and heterosexual women. Instead of projective tests, he administered objectively-scored personality tests to the women. His conclusions were similar to those of Hooker. (UC Davis
The American Psychological Association now has a detailed statement on the acceptance of homosexuality and why condemning it as a disorder was a shameful part of their past.
This is an extremely cursory discussion. I personally read Andrew Sullivan on a wide variety of subjects, and his coverage of gay issues and gay marriage is excellent. His book Virtually Normal is much more in-depth. Homosexuality is natural and normal, and science is proving that more and more. Belief is a bit slower to change.