From a number of studies, most prominently those from the Kinsey Sex Research Institute at Indiana University in 1948 and 1992, it is estimated that between 8 and 10% of American males are exclusively gay, and that between 6 and 8% of American females are exclusively lesbian.
Homosexuality: Are We Not All Created by God?
By Ray Doktor, Psy. D.
What is the formal definition of homosexuality? A homosexual person is an individual whose primary erotic, psychological, emotional, and social orientation is toward members of the same sex, even though those interests may not be overtly expressed. Because of societal attitudes toward homosexuality, there are many people who do not engage in any physical or intimate homosexual relationships. Some of these people are married to a person of the opposite sex. Our predominantly Judeo-Christian society has coerced many into living double lives, wearing masks, and hiding in the closet. This life of secrecy happens everywhere including churches, government, work, and school.
From a number of studies, most prominently those from the Kinsey Sex Research Institute at Indiana University in 1948 and 1992, it is estimated that between 8 and 10% of American males are exclusively gay, and that between 6 and 8% of American females are exclusively lesbian. The vast majority of Americans of both sexes have had sexual experiences with both sexes, with only about 8 to 10% being exclusively heterosexual. It is not uncommon for a person who is possibly homosexual to experiment with persons of the opposite sex. They may see themselves as being bisexual or experimental. According to one definition, a bisexual person is one who can enjoy and engage in sexual activity with members of both sexes or recognizes a desire to do so. Bisexuality is a real orientation. On the contrary, a person who is still exploring their sexual orientation might have sex with a partner of the opposite sex to help deny homosexual feelings and avoid the full stigma of a homosexual identity. Bisexual behavior can be a transitory - a temporary involvement by people who are actually heterosexual or homosexual.
It has been reported that many homosexuals knew they were attracted to the same sex by the time they were in grade school, but did not know their sexual orientation until they were in their twenties. When we are young, we usually do not have the capacity to conceptualize and understand our own sexual orientation, let alone sexuality. I've had several homosexual clients argue that they knew they were different from others and that it was an unconscious, natural feeling to be attracted to the same sex. One client said "It is no different than liking or disliking anything, from food, sports or people - when you are child, you either like something or not - you do not try to psychoanalyze it - you either say "yes" or "no" without rationale. If being gay were simple choice, why would I or anyone else choose a life where we are discriminated against? If I were heterosexual, my life would be easier. I didn't choose to be gay, I was born gay!" Even though times are changing and geographical areas are different, most American homes ostracize homosexual behavior. Why would an individual choose to be something his or her parents and society loathe?
There are a variety of theories that have attempted to explain the origins of sexual orientation, but there is no definitive answer. There is the "Default Theory", in which some people believe that unhappy heterosexual experiences cause a person to become homosexual. The "Seduction Myth" is a belief that young women or men become homosexual because older homosexuals have seduced them. Freud believed that if a child had a poor relationship with a parent of the same sex, he or she became closer to the parent of the opposite sex and ended up emulating the same behavior including sexual orientation. All these theories seemed to fall short. However, another line of research has investigated prenatal hormone levels to determine whether a correlation between genetic factors and homosexuality exists. The evidence for biological causation of homosexuality raises important issues. If homosexuality were found to biologically based; those who assume that homosexuality is unnatural or immoral might have to question God and why are these people made different. More importantly, if God made them, and all of what God makes is pure, we have a contradiction.
In the early-to-mid-1900s, there was a shift in societal attitudes toward homosexuality. The belief that homosexual people were sinners was replaced by the belief that homosexuals were sick. The medical and psychological professions have used drastic treatments attempting to cure the illness of homosexuality including castration and lobotomies. Psychotherapy, drugs, hormones, hypnosis, shock treatments, and conversion therapy have been used to cure homosexuality as well. Brigham Young University practiced conversion therapy involving psychological and/or pastoral intervention to promote change in the sexual orientation of homosexual men and women. A client mentioned that while attending Brigham Young University in the 1960s, he had a gay roommate who was given pills while being exposed to gay erotic photos. The pills would make him sick and vomit. Then he was shown photos of nude females and was given something to comfort him. In 1973, after great internal conflict, the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its diagnostic categories of mental disorders.
With all the research that is being done to understand and justify homosexuality along with religions, gender roles, and other taboos, it is irrelatively easy to fathom how these inescapable stress factors may detrimentally impact homosexuals. Homosexuality has mixed acceptance regardless of where one is geographically located. Still in our contemporary society, homosexuality is shunned because many people believe it is unmoral and unnatural. It is a courageous feat for one to come out with these pressures. However, many will live out their lives in denial because it is easier to act heterosexual - or is it? To deny, converge or conform against one's innate biology has psychological repercussions. Chronic stress and denial of the "self" segues into depression, anxiety, and sometimes personality disorders.
The way one's sexual orientation is accommodated into one's sense of self is one of the main developmental tasks of growing adolescents. Social stigma often confounds this task if one's sexual orientation is not heterosexual. Other researchers report disabled, racial minority, and even obese adolescents suffer emotionally from societal bias, but young people who are identified as bisexual or homosexual are at an even higher risk for psychological, social, and even physical harm. The outcome for these rejected young people often includes substance abuse, sexual abuse, serious emotional difficulties, paranoia caused by internalized homophobia, trouble in school (e.g., verbal and physical assaults by peers or even teachers), conflict with legal authorities, and suicide.
Many in society are unaware that 25 to 40% of America's homeless adolescents self-identify as gay or lesbian. These young people prefer the potential hazards of the streets to the ramifications of their parents, church or community. Substance abuse is three times greater among homosexual than heterosexual youth because it might be their only way to cope with the pain of their perceived deficiency or shortcomings. It is suggested that the internalization of this homophobia leads to a higher incidence of self-hate and self-destructive behaviors.
In accordance with the consistently higher rates of uncertainty and self-destructive behavior among gay youth is their proportion of suicidal ideation and suicide. Suicide attempts by bisexual/homosexual males have been reported at 28.1% while those by heterosexuals are only 4.2%, representing a sevenfold increase among gay males. A study conducted in Minnesota public schools concluded that sexual orientation is not the cause for the greater gay/lesbian rates of suicide. Rather, it has been characterized that homosexual/bisexual youth suffer from a higher degree of variables that contribute to suicidal ideation, including depression, substance abuse, and family dysfunction. The result is 31% of all adolescents who take their own lives are gay or lesbian, threefold the occurrence for heterosexual youth. For these youths, "being dead is better than being gay." School systems need to consider promoting the "understanding of gay lifestyles" to protect and enhance the self-esteem of gay youth.
Religion, traditional gender-role stereotypes, and homosexual feelings in oneself, seem to be the prevailing force that precipitates homophobia. Irrational fear of homosexuals is what creates antihomosexual attitudes. Homosexuals have been victims of hate crimes for various reasons. First, at the most fundamental level, humankind's history reveals a poor record of accepting differences between people. The lack of tolerance toward racial, religious, sexual orientation, or ethnic difference has fueled vicious, "inhuman" events such ethnic cleansing, the Holocaust, and the Inquisition. Usually persons who try to hold the more traditional gender-role stereotypes perpetuate homosexual hate crimes. Men typically have more negative attitudes toward homosexuality than women. These men felt that homosexuals were threatening their preservation of their gender-role expectations, especially of masculinity, therby evoking violence to be used as an arsenal against their fears. Psychologists and researchers have found that men with strong negative attitudes toward gay men do have erotic feelings toward other men but deny both awareness and knowledge of their arousal. There is an excellent depiction of this behavior in the1999 movie "American Beauty."
Whether or not one is homosexual is not the problem. The true question is whether or not can one tolerate another's difference. The lack of sex education has become an epidemic and the root cause of many violent acts, discrimination, and mental and physical disorders due to our dominant Judeo-Christian society. Our nation has been paved with fear due to the illiteracy of most Bible readers and their ignorance toward nature and natural sexuality. Freud believed that sexual repression was the underlying problem during his life in the Victorian era. This repression is very much still alive today in the New Millennium. If homosexuality is a sin or sickness, as many Christians will argue, how come Jesus preaches that love cures all?
About Ray Doktor, Psy. D.
Ray Doktor, Psy. D. is a clinical hypnotherapist, past-life therapist, spiritual counselor, and life coach based in Los Angeles and Santa Monica. He can be contacted at his website http://www.wholeminds.com