Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Biological Perspective of Homosexuality

Homosexuality is a controversial topic that surfaces in several areas of society including religion and politics frequently in the United States. While many individuals develop an opinion for or against homosexuality based on their family and social culture, the question of whether or not a person can help being a homosexual is often debated upon.

As most people know, sexual orientation refers to an emotional, romantic, and sexual attraction between individuals of the same sex. These feelings are generally developed during middle childhood to the early adolescent (puberty) stage of a person’s life. Men who are attracted to men are deemed as “gay males,” where females attracted to other females are called “lesbians.” People said to be attracted to both sexes are referred to as “bi-sexual.” An individual is said to have “come out” when he or she indicates their sexual preference as that of the same sex to family and friends. While there is no said consensus on the causes of homosexuality, there have been scientific research studies that support the fact that homosexuality could be biologically determined.

When it comes to the biological argument over homosexuality, research experiments have been conducted dating back to 1930. Some of the more noted findings include Karen Hooker’s psychological tests in 1957. Through her testing and research, she was able to conclude that there is a zero correlation between determinism and sexuality, which then resulted in the APA removing sexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychological Disorders in 1973. In lighter terms, homosexuality was thus deemed as not a mental disorder.

Several researchers have studied the differences between the brain structure and function of homosexuals in comparison to heterosexuals. Both Allen and Swabb concluded in the 1990’s that the size and anatomical structure of the anterior commisure of the hypothalamus in the homosexual subjects’ brains were significantly smaller than the structure in the heterosexual subjects’ brains. The most noted researcher in the biological argument for homosexuality is Simon Levay. His research coincides with that of Allen’s and Swabb’s in that he also noted changes in the size and structure of the anterior hypothalamus in the AIDS victims that he studied. These conclusions make sense because the most sexually dimorphic area of the brain is located in the hypothalamus, therefore, a change in sexual behavior, maternal behavior, and emotions can be altered if the size and structure of a component of the hypothalamus is different than that of a heterosexual individual.

When looking at other mammals outside of homo-sapiens, the New York Aquarium in Coney Island recently suggested that two pairs of their penguins are gay. The penguins are said to be inseparable and known as the best couple (maternally) of all the penguins there. Silo and Roy, one of the gay penguin couples, are said to be raising an egg together, and doing a great job at it. While zookeepers had to pay close attention to the couples to detect whether or not they were indeed homosexual due to penguins not having external sexual organs, their observations have been proved to be correct. Over 450 animal species have been said to exhibit homosexual members of their population including bears, monkeys, and even fish. These observations suggest that homosexuality is indeed a biological matter.

While an agreed upon conclusion has not been made on whether homosexuality is determined upon nature or nurture, the biological evidence is clear. Whether or not individuals and cultures will accept the fact that biology may have a strong say in the preferences and feelings of homosexuals is solely dependent on future generations to come.

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  1. Kyle, I thought that this was a very good and interesting blog and topic to write about. I didn't know that their had been any studies done that actually did prove that homosexuality was biological. Obviously this is a controversial topic, but I'm just surprised that when I would hear about this, and "nature vs. nurture" is always brought up, I never heard anything about any of these studies, and that they had been done so long ago. Really good job!

  2. Thanks! As I researched, I found that some people believe the biological argument is not brought up because they of fear of the consequences. Potentially, if people think a part of the brain is messed up causing altered feelings and actions, they will try to fix it. This could result in tests that can be detrimental to the subjects. The idea of genocide because of the research is also feared.

  3. I remember this being debated about a lot while I was growing up. However, after my friend came out this last summer and told me he felt this way ever since he was five it is obvious that it is a biological matter

  4. Very interesting. I am saddened by the world's inhumanity. They aren't willling to accept others who are different. Because they are different they don't want to even consider that homosexuality is a medical condition. I have often thought that it might be.

  5. This is very interesting. I have heard that homosexuality can be linked to biology but I never knew that scientists actually found evidence for it in the brain structure. I learned a lot from this!

  6. Kyle, you did a great job on this blog. Very informative and I honestly never though of it as being biological and honestly never took the time to research it. This was a very interesting blog I've learned a lot!

  7. Yes, very good blog on this subject. I think it's wonderful that this is being proven by science instead of opinions being based on religion, family, or culture. I don't think it should matter whether this is caused by nature or nurture because either way it is fact.