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Reasons of homosexuality - Part 1

Because of my biology background, I always search for the reasons of my homosexuality. Scientific research is advancing in this field, many reports have elucidated a multitude of reasons ranging from "gay gene" to "social conditioning". Check out a beautiful commentary by Marcia Malory in "Scientific American" which overviews the in vogue theories on homosexuality (link). The debate of "Nature" vs "Nurture" will go on as there are many stakeholders. Gay community is vociferously and desperately trying to strike a chord with the "Nature angle", while the religious and hetero-sexist community vouch for the  "Nurture" propaganda.

Read the full article. For those who are facing a dearth of time, I am giving a gist of the article.

  • A gay man is more likely than a straight man to have a (biological) gay brother; lesbians are more likely than straight women to have gay sisters. 
  • Families with two homosexual brothers were very likely to have certain genetic markers on a region of the X chromosome known as Xq28. Plausibility of a "gay gene". Genes can’t control behavior completely, though.
  • Environment, like genetics, plays an important role in how our behavior develop.Your culture affects your views on homosexuality. What you have learned about homosexuality as you were growing up will affect whether you consider engaging in homosexual acts to be desirable or disgusting. (Compare our situation in India where it is still considered as a taboo).
  • The structure of the brain might influence sexual preference (still debated).
  • By manipulating hormone levels when in womb, scientists could make rats engage in homosexual behavior later on.So your brain was influencing your sexual preference even before you were born.
  • This can explain why many gay people feel that they have always been gay.
  • The education you receive as a child strongly affects how your brain will develop as you grow.With the right experiences, your brain can change even after you have reached adulthood.(So can gay men change their orientation?)
  • So far, attempts to “cure” homosexuality by operating on the brain – homosexuals were once given lobotomies – have never worked. Attempts to eliminate homosexuality via hormone therapy haven’t been effective either (Kind attention - priests and religious leaders!!)
  • Gay men and straight men have the same levels of sex hormones; sex hormone levels are the same in gay women and straight women.(well, heterosexist consider gay men to be less musculine).
Perhaps one day we will be able to adjust sexual preference via surgery – focusing on the particular regions of the brain that are associated with sexual preference – or via neural implants or training. Even if gay people can never stop being attracted to members of the same sex, they can learn not to act on their desires. People already learn to stop smoking, to give up certain foods, and not cheat on their husbands or wives. If they could, should they change their brains (or have their brains changed) in order to make themselves straight?

(Credit: iStockphoto/Salon)
(Is our  author turning a heterosexist?)

No. Read her personal views. She further states,

"I believe that people have the right to engage in any behavior that they choose, as long as their actions do not harm others, and I believe that gay sex and gay relationships do not cause harm to anyone. Therefore, people who are gay by choice have the right to remain that way ".Just as gay people who are happy as they are should not be forced to change their sexual orientation, gay people who want to be straight should have the right to change if they can – and the correct word is “change” – not “cure”.

Yes, I endorse her view completely. Personally, I will never opt for a conversion to heterosexual orientation, if I had a chance to do that. But if somebody else who is gay wants to convert, let him do that. But the social conditioning that heterosexism is the natural way and homosexuality is a perversion cannot be advocated and justified.

Credit: Chris Harvey /
So is the kid in the above picture going to turn lesbian when she grows up as she is  being raised by gay parents and all the "environment" is set? Who knows? But what if she turns gay, she should be allowed to choose what ever she likes!

It is evident that both nature and nurture are important elements in defining every human being. So is our sexual orientation. But which one is the determinant is like the unanswerable question of egg and chick, which one came first!


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