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Worlds of Heterosexuals - Is Homosexuality a Choice?

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Is homosexuality a choice?

An individual's sexual orientation describes his social roles. Being a woman or being a man indicates personal borders. In other words, the gender role of an individual determines in which field that person can work, which tasks he/she can do, how he/she should speak etc. So, what about being a homosexual in a society that has strict social attitudes and expecting legal rights for themselves?

It is a common belief that homosexuality is not a kind of natural phenomena. That is, it is a personal choice to be gay or lesbian. As a continuation of this belief, attitudes towards homosexuality do not play a role that encourages homosexuals to describe themselves or to live as they are in the society. The first step needed to be taken is to describe what homosexuality is or what is it not.

Mitchell cites two theories in his 2002 article. First theory sees homosexuality as a psychopathological, not a natural biologic phenomenon. It is a result of deviation from healthy and fully mature living. Besides, these theorists claim that homosexuality is an illness which can be treated by the reestablishment of the normal heterosexual direction of the sexual drive. However, they state that this challenge can only be reached with the acceptance of the patient that homosexuality is just his problematic choice.

Other theorists describe homosexuality not a psychopathological phenomena, it is just a sudden expression of natural sexuality or one of the outcome of social conditioning. In addition, hormonal imprinting and genetic predisposition play role on individual's sexual behaviour. Dresher mentions Freudian point of view in his 2003 article as an example. That article states Freud's vision towards homosexuality by revealing his claim that it is not a psychoneurotic illness, it is a cause of infantile seductions. That is, if the "Oedipus Stage" of a child when he has a close relationship to his mother and the attitude of hostility towards father deviates or lasts too long, the child is more likely to be a homosexual.

Whatever the reason it is, homosexuality is not a phenomenon that is easily accepted by the society. Due to societies' common dilemmas about homosexuality, researches indicate that people in the society usually have aggressive and not tolerated view toward homosexuality and this causes conflictions and certain argumentations between people. Based on the argumentations about the origins of homosexuality, this paper will try to state if the homosexuality nature or nurture.

Determination of homosexual orientation have led a variety of theories been suggested and the issue of homosexuality has still remained as a question whether it is natural statement an individual born with or it is nurtural statement resulted by the influence of the individual's social environment. Looking at the historical development of homosexuality, it was firstly used as a term in 1869 by Hungarian physician K.M. Benkert (Angell and Conrad 2003). In that article, it was informed that Benkert was against the repressive Prussian laws arranged for homosexuals. He defended that homosexuality was not a phenomenon that should be separated from the society by punishing harshly, and found treatments for homosexuality ineffective and unjust. Having a different path from the usual laws, Benkert indicated that homosexuality was not a criminal offence; it is just a medical pathology.

To begin with, theorists describing homosexuality as a natural phenomenon, make a cause-effect relationship between being homosexual and the genetic predisposition of the individual. Not directly describing homosexuality as a mental disorder, they focus on the biological causes of that sexual orientation. Hamer and his colleagues, some of those theorists sharing same ideology about homosexuality, discovered a link between X chromosome and male sexual orientation. They reported a genetic marker on the Xq28 region of the X chromosome that would probably cause homosexuality (Conrad and Markens, 2001). Therefore, they named that genetic link as "Gay Gene". This gene has become an evidence for the heritability of sexual orientation. Shortly, Gay Gene hypothesis indicates that an individual suffering from homosexuality is likely to have more male homosexual relatives through maternal rather than through paternal line.

"Gay Gene" factor was not only biological explanation for homosexual orientation. Having explained the causes of homosexuality with biological factors a German physician-psychiatrist Richard Kraft Ebbing described it as a mental illness resulted from the congenital weakness in the nervous system and added that this weakness makes the direction of expressing sexual desires to the individual's own sex unchangeable. As an opposite view of this theory, Freud defended his theory for homosexuality as the desires that were abandoned or repressed from the early stage of child development (Angell and Conrad, 2004). Besides, when Freud characterized the term "homosexuality", he used "sexual variation" as a description for that phenomenon.

To indicate that there can be another biological cause of homosexuality, Blanchard and his colleagues (2006) mentioned a study conducted by Lindesay that indicates homosexual desires were resulted from the increased level of testosterone -not decreased- in uterus. Also, Burr (1997) demonstrated the importance of adequate testosterone hormone on male homosexuality. He stated that because testosterone hormone is necessary for sexual orientation of masculine brain to create masculine genitals, lack of that hormone does not mean anything for female individuals. He mentioned the discovery of Dick Swaab was about suprachiasmatic nucleus, a tiny region on the brain that responsible for controlling endogenous circadian rhythms, of a male homosexual individual is nearly twice larger than a heterosexual man in his study. Also, Conrad and Markens (2001) mentioned a study conducted by Simon Le Vay in 1991. That study focused on the structure of hypothalamus that was identified with the sexual drive in the brain. The study compared the structure of the that part of the brain of heterosexual men and homosexual men and found that part of homosexual individual's brain are two or three times smaller than heterosexuals.

All in all, these scientist, could not have an agreement on one true biological factor behind homosexuality. On the other hand, their discoveries could not be denied quickly. However, binding homosexual desires of a person to biological causes was not accepted by some theorists. They relied their thesis' on the natural, environmental, or socio-economic factors as the causes of homosexuality. For



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