What makes a man “gay”?

Often, a boy who is unable to form a meaningful connection and bond with his father (or older, trusted male equivalent) may be left confused and conflicted about his own gender identity. He may view his father as cold and distant, and detach himself from males because of the hurt or rejection experienced in his search for a masculine role model. When the boy reaches the next stage of his identity development, he may sub-consciously seek to establish that connection and bond with another man.

Other factors that make up each homosexual man’s unique struggle may include:

  • Sexual violation, such as incest, molestation or rape
  • Sexual experimentation with men/boys
  • Exposure to pornography
  • Media influences
  • Personality and temperament
  • Negative body image
  • Teasing, peer labelling, harassment/bullying or alienation
  • Fear of or inability to relate to the opposite sex
  • Dysfunctional family relationships
  • Negative spiritual influences

Homosexuality is complex and a combination of factors is at work; it is too simplistic to attribute undue significance to any single aspect as the cause.1

“Gay” as a term has been used both derisively and in a celebratory manner. In comparison with the more clinical-sounding word “homosexual”, it is emotionally as well as politically-charged and may thus not be useful in aiding our understanding of the issue.

Endnotes
1. Mike Haley, 101 Frequently Asked Questions About Homosexuality(Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2004)

Aren’t homosexuals born that way?

The widespread popular belief of a biological or genetic origin to homosexuality can be traced to three highly publicized studies:

  • Simon LeVay and the INAH-3 (1991): post-mortem examinations of the brains of cadavers.
  • (J. Michael) Bailey and (Richard C.) Pillard Twin Studies (1991): study comparing identical and fraternal twins, and adoptive brothers.
  • Dean Hamer and the X Chromosome (1993): study found a specific “chromosomal region” containing “a gene that contributes to homosexual orientation in males”.

Perhaps what is less widely known is that each of these studies suffered from serious methodological weaknesses, such as small sample sizes, non-random samples and even possible misclassification of their subjects, which bring the validity of their conclusions into question. Other scientists have also been unable to replicate the same dramatic findings of these studies.1, 2

Michael Bailey conducted a subsequent study3 on a larger sample size of 27 Australian male identical twin pairs, where at least one of the twin brothers was homosexual. Since identical/monozygotic twins have identical genes, we should expect that whenever one twin is homosexual, the other twin would be as well (100% concordance rate). Instead, “in only three of the pairs were the second twin brother gay as well” (11% concordance rate).

Researchers Peter Bearman and Hannah Brückner, from Columbia and Yale Universities respectively, studied data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, and found even lower concordance rates for homosexuality in identical twins (6.7% for male; 5.3% for female), neatly refuting several of the biological theories for the origin of homosexuality. On the contrary, social experiences in childhood are found to be a far more significant contributor.4

 

Endnotes
1. Family Research Council, The Top Ten Myths About Homosexuality (Washington)
2. Mike Haley, 101 Frequently Asked Questions About Homosexuality(Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2004)
3. J. Michael Bailey, Michael P. Dunne & Nicholas G. Martin, Genetic and Environmental Influences on Sexual Orientation and Its Correlates in an Australian Twin Sample (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2000, Vol 78(3), pp 524-536)
4. Peter S. Bearman & Hannah Brückner, Opposite-Sex Twins and Adolescent Same-Sex Attraction (American Journal of Sociology, 2002, Vol 107(5), pp 1179-1205)

What causes homosexuality?

Until now, there has been no conclusive scientific proof of a genetic cause for homosexuality. On the contrary, there is extensive research and growing evidence indicating that many developmental issues and environmental factors in a family or an individual’s experience can strongly influence one’s sexual orientation.

Human sexuality is so complex that no one-size-fits-all explanation can account for all sexual behaviours and attractions. That said, counsellors have noticed a pattern of family relationships that frequently appears in a homosexual’s family of origin: a domineering/over-bearing mother and a passive/absent father.

Another psychological factor is early sexual experience. Many homosexual people cite backgrounds of being sexually molested or having had sexual experiences early in their childhood1. These experiences range from sexual abuse (from another homosexual or family member) to an early childhood sexual experience that could be described as pleasurable. In an attempt to rationalize the feelings that surface from the same-sex experience, the child often begins to sub-consciously believe that he or she may be homosexual, act on those feelings and pursue similar sexual experimentation.

Other contributing factors include school environment, peer pressure and even prevailing media and societal norms. The cues children receive from their home environment, their relationship with one or both parents, and their peers, impact how they see themselves and their emerging sexuality2.

In general,experiences that affirm the child’s sense of self and worth lead to a healthy heterosexual identity. Yet even a child raised in the best home environment could turn out on the contrary because human beings have the free will to choose3.

 

Endnotes
1. Kerby Anderson, A Biblical Point of View on Homosexuality (Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008)
2. Alan Chambers, God’s Grace and the Homosexual Next Door: Reaching the Heart of the Gay Men and Women in Your World (Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2006)
3. Kerby Anderson, A Biblical Point of View on Homosexuality (Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008)

Born this way?

There are transsexual women and transgender women and suddenly it becomes poisonous… because there are some people in this world that believe being gay is a choice. It’s not a choice; we’re born this way.

Lady Gaga 1

 

No properly qualified geneticist today will ever say or agree with the statement, “I am born Gay, and I cannot change”.  Indeed, no form of human behaviour is ever solely inherited.  Genes produce proteins, and not behaviour.  Behaviour is much more complex than a single protein…environmental factors account for 74% of male homosexuality. Environmental factors are clearly much more important than genetic factors.

Dr John S H Tay
Author of BORN GAY? Examining the Scientific Evidence for Homosexuality

Endnotes
1. Lady Gaga Says Homosexuality Isn’t A Choice (19 March 2010) http://www.contactmusic.com/news/lady-gaga-says-homosexuality-isnt-a-choice_1136053