There are a number of sensible questions one can ask about the subject of homosexuality, and some that are not sensible. A fundamental, sensible question is “Why are some people homosexual and others heterosexual?” Some other questions that grow out of this first question: (I deal with these issues in more detail in “Come One, Come All.”)
- How come some people knew as far back as they can remember that they were gay? And at the same time, others figure it out when they are teenagers and a few only after they have been married?
I saw a woman when I was in the army who was 45 years old, married and had two kids. She never had a homosexual thought, she told me, until she fell in love with another woman, who was also married. They ran off together, leaving their kids behind.
- Many men and women are married, but can be thought of as basically homosexual. Their sexual fantasies are homosexual, and they may from time to time engage in homosexual acts. Some of them don’t. But how come there are others who are so exquisitely balanced between heterosexual and homosexual urges that even they do not know if they are basically gay or straight?
I knew one man who fell in love with a woman, married and lived with her for eight or nine years, then fell in love with a man whom he lived with for about five years, and then fell in love with another woman.
- How come someone who always thought of herself as heterosexual can meet and fall in love with another woman and, after a number of years of being together, marry her?
I know of two such cases.
- Is it possible for someone who has been exclusively homosexual to begin to live with someone of the opposite sex? This is a controversial subject. This outcome, when it happens, is not an example of a “cured” case of homosexuality. Some people, despite their basic sexual inclinations, can, indeed, force themselves to live in a marriage. Others cannot.
I know of two men who loved each other and lived together a number of years. One man decided he wanted to have a family. He married, and the man with whom he had lived, who had previously never had sexual intercourse with a woman, married that woman’s sister. I spoke to both women. They understood the situation. Both families lived afterwards, apparently happily, near to each other. Both families produced children. The two men no longer had sexual relations with each other.
- There is a report in the medical literature of identical twins growing up in the same household who are discordant for sexual orientation; that is, one was strictly heterosexual and the other strictly gay? Does that rule out the possibility of genetic causes? The report noted that the gay man thought his father was passive and uninvolved; (this was part of the family constellation that psychoanalysis at one time thought explained the appearance of homosexuality in a son) the other heterosexual son had no such thoughts about his father.
- Some women who have adrenal tumors give birth to girls who have been bathed in the male hormone prior to their birth. The girls tend to have features of masculinization; but do not seem to be prone to homosexuality. Does that mean that hormones do not influence the development of homosexuality?
These are just some of the questions that occur to me and to other psychiatrists. Whoever can figure out the answers can then start figuring out why some people, transsexuals, feel they were born into the wrong body altogether and the wrong sex.
An annoying question that is asked about homosexuality is whether or not someone is born “that way” or chooses to live that way. The implication is that homosexuality is bad, but can be forgiven, perhaps, if the individual has no choice. There are, of course, people who do regard homosexuality as bad, as immoral because it violates tenets of their religion. I understand that. On the other hand, a growing number of people in this country are accepting of gays and lesbians. I feel I should say what I think, even though I risk the readers of this blog telling me, as some of them have before, that I am going straight to hell.
I think sexual behavior is like all human behavior: it can be said to be evil or wrong if hurts someone else, or has the potential of hurting someone else. If it does not serve to injure someone else, it is either morally neutral or, as it certainly can be, a good thing. I think this rule applies to people of the same sex loving each other, as it does just as well to people loving someone of the opposite sex.(c)
Fredric Neuman 2012 Follow Dr. Neuman's blog at fredricneumanmd.com/blog