Thursday, March 5, 2009

Ask the Experts

The authorities are rather divided on this issue, as is the community as a whole. While many take the opinion that homosexual behavior is clearly a product of one's genetic make-up, others are strongly of the belief that homosexuality is a learned and chosen practice. There are fewer who subscribe to the idea of genetic predisposition, with a reliance on environment for bringing out the homosexual tendencies that one is predisposed to.
Some experts who support my argument, if not directly, are:

Heino F. L. Meyer-Bahlbuug, a Columbia University professor of clinical psychology remarks "I don't think homosexuality can easily be conceptualized as just one thing--a phenomenon that is due to one particular developmental pathway...Like most behavior, homosexuality has multiple pathways."

Howard Moltz, professor of psychology at the University of Chicago, remarks that much research he has seen "suggest[s] that it [homosexuality] might be hard-wired."

Dr. Fred Berlin, psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, adds "The important point [of recent studies] in terms of the cause of homosexuality, or heterosexuality for that matter, is that it isn't due to choice."

Simon LeVay, a genetic researcher for the Salk Institute, says there is "an increasing body of data suggesting that sexual orientation has a biological basis." Also, "homosexual and heterosexual men differ in the central neuronal mechanisms that control sexual behavior."

Dr. William Gilmer, a Houston neurologist and former president of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association presses that "gay and straight brains are wired differently. Sexual orientation is no[t] a choice."

Jean Foulcault, a predominant social theorist remarks "homosexuality became because we made it so."

Francis Collins, head of the international Human Genome Project, supports the idea that "whatever genes are involved represent predispositions, not predeterminations," the bottom line of my thesis as a whole.

All of these professional opinions are very helpful in presenting my position, and they will help me form a strong and coherent argument.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Arguing Further

The other main argument that I plan to use to support the genetic predisposition for homosexuality is that of its prevalence in other animals. I plan to discuss how there are documented studies that show the sexual preference of some animals to be homosexual, based not on availability of opposite-gender mates, but on some drive that moves these animals to partner up with animals of the same gender. This, while being a strong argument in and of itself, will refute the argument of homosexuality as a personal lifestyle choice, as many of the studies animals lack the capacity to make such choices.
As a whole, the opposing argument is rather strong, but highly circumstantial. It deals mostly with the familial relationships gay individuals have as a child, and points to them as the cause of homosexuality. However, many of these ideas are easily cast aside as effects of, rather than causes of, homosexuality. For example, a common belief among the 'nurture' camp says that a distant father can attribute to a son's homosexuality. However, the inverse could just as easily be true: a son's homosexual tendencies drive a father away from him, making him more distant. These arguments, too, are usually based largely on memory, and are therefore highly inaccurate and imprecise.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Genes

Thinking about the origins of homosexuality, it is clear that is comes, at least partially, from one’s genetic make-up. Many studies have been done that show a higher instance of shared homosexuality between monozygotic twin males than in fraternal twins, and even more so than in non-twin brothers, suggesting a coloration between shared genetic make-up and shared homosexuality. Also, studies have shown that there are certain parts of a gay male’s brain that are different sizes from their straight male counterparts, often closely mimicking the size of straight females. These studies suggest that some sort of fundamental prenatal developmental difference exists between homosexuals and heterosexuals that causes their brains to develop differently, and therefore have different predispositions with regard to sexuality. Further strengthening this genetic, or 'nature' argument are the gathered statistics that show gay men are more likely to be left-handed, or exhibit other shared qualities. Another study, though never recreated, offered a proposed X-Chromosome correlation that was shared by an inordinately large percentage of gay brothers. All of these studies and statistics, then, point to the genetic predisposition for homosexuality.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Sides

There are two distinct sides to the argument over the environmental effect on homosexuality, with a few compromising theories between them. Those on the pro side take the argument that homosexuality, and, indeed, any sexual orientation is determined by environmental factors, such as early childhood upbringing, morality, and societal impressions. Many who take this side even go so far as to call homosexuality a choice, something an individual has complete control over. More commonly, though, advocates of the 'nurture' argument cite certain family scenarios as the cause of homosexuality. On the con side of the debate are those who believe that sexual orientation is something directly caused by a person's internal brain chemistry. Those who support this idea of 'nature' feel that people have as much choice with regard to their sexuality as they do for their eye color; people are born as they are, and no amount of free will can change it. As for my stance on the matter at hand, I find myself wanting to provide a compormise. While I hardly believe homosexuality is a choice, I by no means think a gene can dictate so strongly a person's sexual orientation. Putting these beliefs together, then, I plan to argue the idea that homosexuality, or perhaps more specifically, self-accepted homosexual behavior, arises from a genetic predisposition which manifests itself in response to certain environmental conditions. In short, I believe there is no one factor that can 'cause' homosexuality; rather, it is the combination of many factors that results in this sexual orientation.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Issue

In today's society, there has been a great debate over homosexuals' rights and their place in the world. Many regard homosexuality as a grave sin, brought on by a personal choice of lifestyle, and simply refuse to investigate the matter further. Those who are more accepting, as well as many homosexuals themselves, are often interested in the true nature of the matter, looking for a deeper explanation. Aside from the idea of personal choice, two main camps have formed around this issue. Those who subscribe to the 'nature theory' believe that homosexuality is something one is born with, is written in one's genetic code, and nothing that one encounters or does can change this orientation. Those who are proponents of the 'nurture theory' make the argument that, while one is not born homosexual, there are certain life experiences and familial situations which may cause this sexual preference to arise. I myself have always been intrigued by this deviation from 'the norm' in sexuality, and would like to be able to form a personal opinion on the matter, free of external bias. What I am hoping to find, then, is an explanation of the origin of homosexuality, and whether it can be attributed to genes, surroundings, or perhaps a combination of both.