Theories of homosexuality - Sample Essay
There are theories that attempt to explain the cause of homosexuality. These are typically divided into three types: biological, sociopsychological, and interactionist. Biological theories assume that a person’s homosexual traits are the result of some characteristic of the physical organism, such as the person’s ratio of male hormone (androgen) to female hormone (estrogen). A typical supposition is that the greater the proportion of estrogen in the male, the greater will be his homosexuality.
Such theories may include a belief in the genetic basis for the hormonal ratios, with the balance or imbalance of hormones due to gene patterns inherited from parents. However, a biological theory need not presume that genes are the underlying cause. Instead, a theorist can place responsibility for the hormonal ratio on physiological changes in the individual’s composition before or after birth, changes perhaps influenced by such things as climate, diet, illness, or injury. Some would say that there is some part of the brain that controls sexuality and is genetic in nature.
In contrast to biological theories are sociopsychological explanations which propose that it is not biological factors, but, rather, the quality of an individual’s relationships with other people during childhood and adolescence predetermines the person persons’ inclination either towards homosexuality, heterosexuality, bisexuality, or even asexuality (not interested at all in physical lovemaking). Therefore, in a sociopsychological perspective, homosexuality is a learned or acquired characteristic.
The determining social influence can be within the family (principally parent’s childraising practices), among peers (the sexual proclivities of influential companions), or an older adult, such as a girl’s governess or a boy’s uncle who introduces the child to sexual acts. Interactionist theories, on the other hand, take side on both biological and sociospychological factors in the idea that some combination of body chemistry and environmental influences accounts for the development of one’s sexual orientation and/or preference.
In one common version of interactionism, differences between people in body chemistry or genetic inheritance will make some people more prone than others to homosexual practice (Thomas, 2001). The persistence of homosexuality in the human gene pool is a problem for sociobiologists since exclusive homosexuals are not known for their reproductive success. Some sociobiologists, as an attempt to solve this problem, have argued that a gene for homosexuality is evolutionary adaptive.
Although an exclusively homosexual individual would not leave any offspring of her own, her homosexuality might still be adaptive in the sense of increasing the number of copies of her genes that get into subsequent generations. Sociobiologists have tried to spin out various stories of how this might work, form lesbians and gay men who help their siblings raise their children, to queers who devote their time to the arts and sciences (rather than to reproduction) and thereby make the world a better place for future generations (Corvino, 1997).
For several years, homosexual activists have fought for the right of the extension of marital benefits to same-sex couples (and in some cases, unmarried heterosexual couples) in corporations and in the law. This practice, called “domestic partnerships” is billed to extend tolerance and civil rights, but it would actually challenge the institutions of marriage and family. But the drive to confer actual marital status on same-sex relationships through the legalization of so-called gay marriage is still insistent.
Across America, cities, corporations and universities are being lobbied or intimidated into granting marital benefits on same-sex couples. Many major cities, including Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Hartford, New York, Rochester, Seattle, and the California cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, Oakland, Berkeley, Laguna Beach, Santa Cruz, and West Hollywood, have extended employee family benefits to same-sex partners (Corvino, 1997). Innate versus acquired homosexuality
From the first emergence of sexual inversion in psychiatric taxonomies of the late nineteenth century, the difference between congenital and acquired homosexuality had been identified, between homosexuality as a personality type and mere same-sex behavior, and between cross-genderization and same-sex sexual activity were central to understandings of the forms that homosexuality and lesbianism could bring to mind that for the early twentieth-century sexologists, Havelock Ellis and Richard von Krafft-Ebing, both of whom played an important role establishing and defining sexual inversion as a psychiatric condition, true inverts came through their congenital homosexuality; and their distinguishing feature was not the orientation of their desire, but their cross-genderization, that is, their evident constitution as a unique personality type – the third sex. True congenital inversion was distinguished with acquired situational inversion. Situational factors were thought to be capable of turning true heterosexuals into persons who, though not significantly cross-gendered, sexually desired others of the same sex.
Those situational factors included childhood masturbation, confinement to same-sex environments in prisons, convents, and boarding schools, participation in the women’s movement, and the seductive advances and intent influence of true inverts (Calhoun, 2000). One major difficulty with the distinction between innate and acquired homosexuality is that human sexual behavior is always situational or circumstantial to some extent. That is, it involves a particular person, and either a fantasized or real partner and it occurs a particular time and in a specific location and culture. Only if one believes in an innate human sexuality that is so biologically driven that it demands expression regardless of circumstances and available partners, does the distinction between an innate and an acquired homosexuality have meaning (John P. De Cecco, 1995).