Homosexuality in America

What is Homosexual?

So what does homosexual mean?  Homosexuality is defined as a sexual attraction between two people of the same sex.  So, a homosexual is a man who is attracted to other men, or a woman who is attracted to other women.  Men and women who are homosexual often identify as being gay, though women may also be referred to as lesbian.  There are also those who experience sexual attraction to both genders; these people identify as bisexual. Studies show that 3.5% of Americans (about 11.7 million people) identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual.

Is Homosexuality Genetic?

One of the most common, and most controversial, questions out there is, is homosexuality genetic or a choice?  Unfortunately, there is no one answer for whether homosexuality is related to genetics or not. There are some who believe that there is a gene or genes that make someone gay, meaning it is just the way they were born.  However, there are others who insist that being homosexual is a personal choice, with no relation to genetics. Some people say that the environment someone grows up in can lead them to have a homosexual orientation later in life.

While there is not yet a definitive answer, research is currently being done on homosexualism.  Scientists are looking further into the topic to see if they can identify exactly why someone is homosexual.  They are attempting to figure out if being gay is related to environment or genetics, and if it is related to genetics, they are working on isolating what genes are associated with it.

Why Are People Homosexual?

As mentioned above, no one is exactly sure what causes someone to identify as homosexual.  Nor if there are different things that cause homosexuality in males than in females. However, there are some theories as to what could cause homosexuality in people.  Below are some of the most common theories on the causes of homosexuality:

  • Genetics – While there is not yet a definitive answer, genetics has been one of the most common theories towards the origins homosexuality.  Studies are currently being done to see if scientists can confirm and identify a genetic disposition to being gay.
  • Social – There are those that believe social influences could have a major impact on sexuality.  Interactions during childhood, peer pressure and social values have all been thought to have some type of influence.
  • Environmental – Some people believe that environmental factors could be related to homosexuality.  While none have been definitively identified, things such as hormones, stress, chemical exposure, diet, or exercise could have an effect.
  • Mental – Another theory is that being gay could have something to do with the brain.  Some studies have shown differences between how the brain is wired in a heterosexual person versus a homosexual person.

Is Homosexuality a Mental Illness?

There has been a lot of arguments in the past on whether or not homosexuality is a mental illness or not.  It was, at one point, considered to be a mental illness, and there are still some that consider it one to this day.  It was even in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders at one point, which is acknowledged by a majority of the world as a leading authority in the diagnosis of mental illness.  However, it was removed from the DSM in 1973, due to both empirical data and social and political change.

Today, homosexuality is, generally speaking, not considered by mental health professionals to be a mental illness.  That isn’t to say individuals who identify as homosexual cannot suffer from mental illness; rather, being gay in itself is not considered a type of psychopathy.  Homosexuality is not considered to be a disease or disorder.

Signs of Homosexuality

So, now that you know more about homosexuality, how do you know if you or someone you know is gay?  Well, first things first, we should probably separate stereotype from fact. Someone who acts outside of their gender role is not automatically gay.  Men who have more feminine voices do not have to be gay. The same goes for women who dress in more masculine clothes.

With that being said, what are some signs that a person is gay?  Signs of homosexuality in men and women are very similar. These include:

  • Strong emotional feelings/bonds to those of the same sex
  • Sexual/Physical attraction to someone that is the same sex
  • Considering having a relationship with a person who is the same sex
  • Having past same-sex experiences
  • A lack of sexual/physical attraction to people of the opposite sex

These signs work well in identifying sexual orientation in adults, and to an extent, teenagers.  However, what about the early signs of homosexuality in boys and girls? Could playing with trucks versus playing with dolls be the first signs of homosexuality?  Well, like the other theories, nothing is definitive. There are some studies that have found children who do not participate in “gender-conforming” play are more likely to identify as gay later on in life.  That is, boys who play with dolls rather than trucks and girls who play with trucks rather than dolls. However, parental gender bias could have impacted how the results were reported, and there are many who dispute this.  There are many people that believe how children play is not a sign of what is called prehomosexuality. That being said, there are also many that do believe in it.

The bottom line is that sexual orientation can be difficult to define as a teenager or adult, and there are no obvious, definitive, or proven signs that show prehomosexuality in children.  It is agreed upon by most that the only way to know for sure is an internal exploration of your orientation and feelings.

Summary

A homosexual is someone who feels attraction to a person that is the same sex.  Why people are homosexual is unknown at this point in time, though there are several theories.  One of the most common, and most discussed, theories is that being gay is related to genes. There are many who think that homosexuality is something someone is born with, not something they choose.  Other theories include social, environmental and mental factors. That being said, most professionals do not consider homosexuality to be a mental disease.

Generally speaking, the easiest way for someone to identify their sexual identity is to look into their own sexuality.  If you have been in multiple relationships with the opposite sex and they all lack that “spark”, then it might be prudent to ask yourself if you might be gay.  Especially if you do find yourself feeling a sexual or physical attraction to those of the same sex. There are plenty of support organizations out there for the LGBTQ community.  They are available to help if you or someone you know is struggling with sexual identity.

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