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Is Homosexuality Hard-wired?

Is Homosexuality Hard-wired?

by Dale O'Leary

The easy answer is no. There is no incontrovertible evidence that sexual desire for persons of the same sex is genetically determined, if by genetically determined one means that there is a part of the human DNA code which determines "sexual orientation" and which can be either heterosexual or homosexual. Homosexuals are not born that way. God did not make them that way.

But, it is also true that homosexuality is not chosen. There is no evidence that the homosexuals wake up one morning as say to themselves: "I think I'll choose to feel sexual attraction for a person of the same-sex rather than the opposite sex." The general consensus in the psychiatric community before the advent of gay rights advocacy was that same-sex attraction was the result of a development disorder which began in early childhood and which manifested itself in adolescence as a sexual attraction to persons of the same sex. In this context, it is important to remember that while we speak of homosexuality as though it were a single thing, in fact it is more likely that it is a symptom of a number of different problems and given the complexity of the human person can have a multitude of causes.

Homosexuality is born in trauma. Something caused a developmental deficit.

It is also true that certain physical characteristics can put a child at risk. These physical characteristics do not cause the child to desire sexually persons of the same sex, but they create conditions under which the child may be treated differently than other children by parents or others and may therefore develop the symptom of same-sex attraction.

The homosexual community and the media seem intent on confusing the public as to the difference between characteristics of the person which are "genetically determined and those which are "influenced by inherited physical traits." For example, if a characteristic is genetically determined, then identical twins will be identical and fraternal twins will be no more likely to share the same trait than siblings. When Michael Bailey and Richard Pillard. studied homosexuals who were twins they found that among the monozygotic (identical) cotwins if one was homosexual, then 52% (29/56) of the other twins were homosexual. Among the dizygotic (fraternal) twins, in 22% (12/54) of the cases both were homosexual. Among the nontwin biological siblings, 9.2% were homosexual and 11% of the adoptive brothers were homosexual. [Note]

Bailey and Pillard concluded, "These data care consistent with heritable variation in prenatal brain development or in some aspect of physical appearance that, by way of differential parental treatment, leads to differences in sexual orientation." Clearly, the data do not substantiate "genetically determined," yet the press continues to promotes the idea of a "gay gene" and homosexual activists talk about "born that way." [Note]

Some therapists have suggested that particularly sensitive boys are more likely to become upset by parental discord and more likely to defensively detach from the father than placid children. Therapists have also found that extremely pretty boys are more likely to mistaken for little girls and if this misidentification is accepted by the mother, the boy may be feel that his mother "wants" him to be a girl, that there is something wrong with being a boy. In most cases, there are a number of factors working together which create a pattern that leads to same-sex attraction in adolescents. This also means that there is hope that interrupting this pattern can prevent the development of same-sex attraction Because gender identity develops between ages 1 and 5, particularly between 2 and 4, the adult homosexual who has never developed his masculine identity may rightly say, "I have always felt different. I was always a homosexual." Since opposite sex attractions develop as the result of the development of a confident correct self-identity as male or female, they are right in feeling that they never had a heterosexual identity, but this doesn't mean that they didn't have the potential.

Can all homosexuals develop their heterosexual identity? The problem is complicated by a number of factors. First, a substantial number of homosexual adults report sexual experiences during childhood which could be considered as incidents of extreme sexual abuse. A number report engaging in sexual activity with adults or older children over a long period of time before the age of 10. Many homosexuals report that these were "positive" experiences. Second, many report auto-erotic behavior often combined with pornography which could be considered obsessive. Thus the underlying developmental problem is complicated by sexual addiction/compulsion and identification with the aggressor. Third, the child may have been teased, isolated, ridiculed, or suffered other problems such as extreme shyness which interfered with normal same-sex relationships.

Recovery requires addressing all the aspects of the person's problem. They may need insight based therapy and a process of healing of deep wounds. The addictive and compulsive behaviors must be overcome and this can require faithful membership in a support group based on some form of the 12 step approach. The person may need to establish healthy non-sexual relationships with others of the same sex or mentoring relationships with same-sex adults. In addition, spiritual renewal appears to be almost indispensable.

Because development difficulties involved in homosexuality are complicated in many cases by addiction, recovery is difficult and time consuming. Every experience effects the brain, building up patterns of thinking, reacting, and remembering. Such patterns cannot simply be erased. Therapy cannot produce amnesia. Like any addict, in a moment of stress, the homosexual may remember that he has an easy way to relieve that stress and so temptation may continue to be present.

Reparative therapy does not focus on making the homosexual male desire women, but on building up his masculine identity. As this is accomplished, opposite sex attractions may appear quite spontaneously. Much more research is needed on the various kinds of therapy and recovery programs, but the studies that have been done confirm that recovery is possible at rates comparable to those reported for treatment of other psychological and addictive problems.

When homosexuals say they have tried to change and can't, it is very like alcoholics before AA was widely known feeling hopeless about the possibility of recovery. We can discover which programs work, but that doesn't mean that everyone can or will work the program.

Note: Claims of a "homosexual gene" have now been thoroughly debunked. 
See: No "homosexual gene" can be found, new study says.
The Boston Globe reported in February [1999] that the media-ballyhooed "gay gene" theory was already in trouble.  The Globe article featured the findings of Dr. Richard Pillard, a professor of psychiatry at Boston University's School of Medicine, whose twin studies showed "that sexuality is greatly influenced by environment, and that the role of genetics is, in the end, limited."  (Full story)
However, there is much more to it than that.  See also Dale O'Leary's review of Twin Studies. —WHS
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From Dale's Disk, hardwire.rtf, last updated 1999 10 17
Formatted in HTML 2000 10 23 —WHS
2000 10 23 (to add Note) —WHS