Same-sex attraction is not the same as homosexuality. A person can experience different types of attraction toward another person, whether of the same or opposite sex. Not every form of attraction is necessarily sexual or erotic in nature. Accordingly, experiencing same-sex attraction does not mean that a person is homosexual.
- Same-sex attraction can take several forms – it may not be sexual, such as in an adolescent crush; and may be involuntary – it appears to be something that “cannot be helped”. Innocent same-sex attractions can spring from a normal need for appropriate affection, affirmation from and relationship with someone of the same sex whom one admires. On the other hand, same-sex attraction can also take on a sexual nature.
- Same-sex sexual attractions are not immutable – they can be controlled and/ or changed. This is similar to how a married person can be “unwittingly” attracted to someone other than his/ her own spouse, but may not necessarily start an affair. Engaging in same-sex sexual behaviours or the homosexual lifestyle is clearly voluntary and based on a choice made by the individual. Heterosexuals have thus been known to “turn” homosexual or bisexual (sexually attracted to both male and female) by choosing to act on the same-sex sexual attractions they experience.
- Sexual orientation refers to a person’s tendency to be consistently attracted to persons of the same or opposite sex in an erotic way. A lesser or unconfirmed orientation is sometimes referred to as a sexual inclination.
- Sexual behaviour refers to the actions that a person undertakes in order to satisfy his or her sexual attractions or sexual orientation.
- Sexual life(style) results when a person embraces his or her sexual behaviour and sexual relationships as a norm, e.g., a promiscuous sexual lifestyle.
Homosexual behaviour takes what could have been a harmless same-sex attraction further into an orientation and lifestyle that ultimately define who the person is.
While there are clearly exceptions to the case, research has shown that children who have experienced rejection, abuse or inadequate gender-affirming relationships are at greater risk of becoming confused about their feelings for someone of the same sex. In a study of 942 adults, almost half of the homosexual men (compared to only 7% of heterosexual men) reported molestation by a member of the same sex. In the same study, 22 times more homosexual women than heterosexual women reported molestation by a member of the same sex.1
Indiscriminate and excessive teasing – or even bullying – may push young people to misunderstand their gender identity. This may cause confusion over their sexual identity and orientation especially when innocent same-sex attractions become sexualised during puberty. This may lead them to experiment with homosexual behaviour and eventually embrace the homosexual lifestyle. Healthy intervention is needed to prevent young persons from misunderstanding their need for natural affections as homosexual inclinations to be acted upon.