The History of Homosexuality and Its Psychology

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Homosexuality is defined as “A romantic attraction, sexual attraction or sexual behavior between members of the same sex or gender.” Within the past years the public have been asked to accept homosexuality and to also embrace it, yet new research that has been published by the International lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and intersex association (ILGA) which reminds us of LGBT relationships and how they are still illegal within 74 countries and even same sex contact is a criminal offence. In 13 countries, being homosexual or Bisexual is punishable by death.

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According to the LGBT demographics of the United States approximately 3.4 percent of American adults identify themselves as being LGBT though the number has increased to 4.1% in 2016. Within the adult community, there is also an increasing group of youth homosexuals to this day. Studies do try to find and define the percentage of teens who are homosexual but are often limited to do so. Teens who will eventually identify as either gay or lesbian do not always do so during their adolescent years. Teenage years are tough and filled with uncertainty, it's usually the years where you work out who you are and how you try to fit in within the world. You go through all different kind of phases such as embarrassment and excitement, whilst trying to make friends and fit in at the same time. Yes, it can be hard for everyone when they start school yet teens who identify as gay, find school life a lot harder. According to stonewall, an organization in England that speaks up for equality amongst the LGBT community, says that 92% of LGBT teens have been verbally abused because of their sexuality and 41% have been physically bullied. For many of the teens that go to these schools, they do not feel safe. Them not feeling safe tells them to create a barrier or a wall of lies to making teens feel like they have to hide who they are, to lie about what their preference is. It's clear that the problems that these teenagers face are incredibly deep rooted.

Throughout past years the diversity within sexual orientation whether that's being straight, gay, or bisexual has been a huge controversy across the world. Within 37 countries, being gay is considered illegal and some punishable by death. Many of the laws which were criminalizing homosexuality originated from the British colonial times. During the 19th century, religion and psychology were a big part of determining one's sexuality and was deeply researched into.

During this period of time It was considered to be a sin and a crime to be homosexual. Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing was a psychiatrist and an author of the foundational work Psychopathia Sexualis, claimed that homosexuality was a degenerative sickness. It was deemed to be a psychiatric disorder for mental illness, yet later studies put this suspicion to rest as they later determined it to be flawed. It was then declassified within 1973. One psychologist named Freud had a basic theory on human sexuality to which his opinion differed on the thoughts of being homosexual and more specifically bisexual. He claimed and believed that all humans were born naturally bisexual and that they did become either homosexual or heterosexual in their lives. He also believed that homosexuality was not pathology, that it should be not classified as an illness at all. Freud said that “Many highly respectable individuals of ancient and modern times have been homosexuals, several of the greatest men among them. (Plato, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, etc.) It is a great injustice to persecute homosexuality as a crime – and a cruelty, too.”

Most psychologists rejected Freud's view and opinion of homosexuality such as Sandor Rado. He thought that heterosexuality was more of a natural thing and that homosexuality was a cry for attention. By 1962, other psychologists argued that homosexuality was a result from pathological relationships within families from ages 4 to 5. For the first half of the twentieth century homosexuality was not considered any kind of illness towards psychiatry, psychology, and medicine. Researchers were unconvinced that all homosexuals were mentally ill. Allan Berube, a writer for the New York Times, reported in the 1990s, that studies conducted by military physicians claimed that during World War 2, stereotypes of homosexuals were weaker and could never be good soldiers for the army.

So throughout the history of homosexuality there have been many discriminations and conflicted thoughts towards this. A study that was conducted in 1967 by Gwen Broude and Sarah Greene compared attitudes and frequency of homosexuality within the cross cultural sample. Their discoveries found out that out of 42 communities homosexuality was accepted or ignored in 9 communities. In 5 communities they had no idea of homosexuality and 11 considered it unwanted yet did not have any punishments towards it. There were more and more theories that were going on through the years which were all different, yet most theories of homosexuality had a huge influence in psychiatry and within culture but were not used within vigorous testing. They were based on clinical observations of patients. Most who were known by them to be homosexual, which made the validity of these studies less true and reliable. They could have been influenced by personal attitudes or being bias to the experiments. Another problem with the studies of homosexuality was that they were testing on patients who were already in psychiatric care (or seeking help and treatment). So for Freud and Sandor Rado they were basing their theories on pure opinion and personal thoughts, there was no solid evidence for what they were saying so how did they know what was considered true?

Nature vs nurture

Nature vs Nurture focuses on the aspects of behavior and whether or not they are a product from genetics and inheritance. Nature referring to the influence of genetic inheritance and its biological factors and nurture referring to the influence of external factors such as exposure, experience and learning. This is a big topic that is used amongst psychologists when they conduct genetic or influential experiments because it can determine the behavior of a person or animal. It's more common to see in children whilst they grow up, because they have more of an influence on how their life can be changed. When a child grows up, it's usually easy to see that the child has a lot of similarities to their parents’ personalities. This is because a child's opinion is largely influenced by their parents and has an effect on how they will act. If parents teach their children to have good manners and to be kind to one another then they will most likely do so as the child is told, but if they don't then it’s likely that the child will have less respect for others, this then refers to the nurture part of the spectrum. In some situations, children can likely tend towards certain personalities and behaviors such as aggression or being shy. You can then see that this doesn't relate to either parent so it’s clear it’s more of a nature effect that played part of the role on the development. Within homosexuality, the debate on whether or not homosexuality has been influenced by either nature or nurture has been a huge discussion. Some individuals that have come forward to declare their opinion believe that homosexuality is a choice. Then others believe that it has been an event in their life where they think abuse or sexual assault determined them to be homosexual. These then contribute to the environmental factors about being homosexual.

On the biological factor, some individuals believe that it does come from family who were also homosexual and that it’s been passed down to them. They also believe that it's not a choice just like your hair color and eye color. According to `Think now’, In 1933, Dean Hamer made a discovery of a “gay gene”. He suggested that a region of the chromosome 8 may play a similar role. This study was not completely agreed with by other psychologists. In 2014, Michael Bailey conducted a big study on analysing DNA from around 409 pairs of gay brothers who agreed with Hamers findings. Hamer claimed that its not easy to find something out of an entire genome, he was wondering if it was just simply by chance. Yet nobody found a specific gene that would produce a predisposition against homosexuality until now. A team that was led by Alan Sanders at Northshore university in Illinois conducted a study where they looked at the DNA from 1077 gay men and 1231 straight men.

When they looked through the candidates genomes, they searched for a single letter variation that could possibly be in the DNA sequence and found the gene SLITRK6. This gene was found within the chromosome 13 around the brain which contained evidence of hypothalamus. This relates to the experiment that Simon leVay had discovered in 1991. He found that the hypothalamus of heterosexual men is nearly twice the size it is than within homosexual men. The findings were linked neuroanatomy and molecular genetics of sexual orientation that had been discovered. In TSHR, which is a second gene, is known to produce a receptor protein that stimulates thyroid with a hormone, which is an organ believed to be involved in orientation. Sanders said that this was commonly found in graves disease. Graves disease is caused by the thyroid to become overactive and enlarged. This doesn't necessarily mean that this defines a man as being gay because a heterosexual man could have this but still be straight. It just another piece of evidence that it could be a genetic factor more than anything, just whether or not you choose to be.

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