What is homosexuality?

The term “homosexual” is used to describe a person who in adult life has an enduring, definite and preferential erotic/sexual attraction to members of the same sex and who usually engages in overt sexual relations with them.1 The term “gay” is typically used to describe homosexual men and “lesbian” to describe homosexual women.

  • Biological Sex in human beings is genetically determined from the moment of conception as being male (boy) or female (girl). Approximately 0.02% of the population is at risk of being born with external genitalia that differ from the standard male and female appearance and an intersex condition occurs in about 0.05% of births2, 3 (which does not automatically result in the individual experiencing same sex attraction), but even in intersex individuals, their sex is determined and assigned within a few weeks after birth and following medical examination.
  • Gender identity answers the question: “Am I male or female?”, and is related to social and cultural beliefs about masculinity and femininity. Our gender identity is developed through the growing years of childhood until young adulthood.  When gender identity is not successfully developed, confusion over sexual identity may arise.
  • Sexual identity answers the question: “Am I heterosexual (sexually attracted to the opposite sex) or homosexual (sexually attracted to the same sex)?” Some people consider themselves bisexual (sexually attracted to members of both sexes). Sexual identity is related to, but not the same as, gender identity.

Contrary to popular understanding, homosexuality is not so much driven by sexual needs as it is driven by a (conscious or unconscious) desire to be loved and to love another person, especially of the same-sex.4, 5

Endnotes
1. Lawrence Hatterer, Changing Homosexuality in the Male: Treatment for Men Troubled by Homosexuality (New York McGraw-Hill, 1970)
2. Garry L. Warne (MBBS, FRACP), Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome. (Victoria, Australia: Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Royal Children’s Hospital, 1997)
3. Emily NussbaumA Question of Gender. (Discover, January 2000, pp 92-99)
4. Jason Park, Overcoming Male Homosexual Problems (Century Publishing, 1998)
5. Anne Paulk, Restoring Sexual Identity: Hope for Women Who Struggle with Same-Sex Attraction (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2003)