Sexual orientation is defined during adolescence.
Heterosexual orientation, which is when you are attracted to a person of the
opposite sex, is the most common. What is more, this has a biological purpose:
the survival of our species through reproduction.
However, there are many people with homosexual orientation who are emotionally, physically and sexually attracted to people of the same sex as them. In fact, homosexuality is a variation of human behaviour which is characterised by the desire to love, want, construct and identify oneself with people of the same sex, and not exclusively with sexual acts.
Homosexuality was considered a disease and perversion for a long time but, from
the mid 1970s, it was no longer considered to be a psychiatric disease or health
problem. However, psychiatric diagnostic codes carried on dealing with a variant
of homosexuality until the beginning of the 1990s, a condition called ego-dystonic
homosexuality which is when a person has a sexual orientation or an attraction
that is at odds with his/her idealised self-image, causing anxiety and psychical
tension. In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental
Disorders (DSM-IV), homosexuality is no longer present at all and this is thanks
to the World Health Organisation who made it so in 1993. This then put an end to the criminalisation, blaming and medicalisation of this common
human behaviour, however, discriminatory and prejudicial attitudes of rejection, condemnation
and pathologisation towards homosexuality still exist.
It is obvious, therefore, that when important figures, like parents, teachers, doctors and religious figures, have attitudes like this towards homosexuality, people feel guilty and have low self-esteem when they discover they are homosexual, and they try to not feel like this out of fear of being rejected or they condemn themselves to being in heterosexual relationships and living a life that ‘agrees’ with social and cultures requirements, but which has serious psychological repercussions for them.
Homosexuality is a real thing which has as many sides to it as heterosexuality
has, including homosexual behaviour, orientation and identity.
Homosexual behaviour purely refers to physical activities and experiences.
Homosexual orientation is made up of the appearance of a predominance of feelings, erotic thoughts and fantasies about an individual of the same sex in the conscious sphere.
Homosexual identity consists of permanent self-recognition of feeling like and living as a homosexual.
There are many theories about the origins of homosexuality but none of them have
come to a clear or unequivocal conclusion. In the 1960s research into the homosexual
gene and the genetic determination of homosexuality were very vigorous, however
there were no results that confirmed the hypothesis. Biological factors were also
considered, especially hormonal factors, and research into the level of androgens
was also very active, especially testosterone, but no convincing results were
found in this case either.
Research into the family and psychological background associated with this type of sexual orientation has provided a lot of evidence though, however it is not completely comprehensive. In 1962, Bieber described the ‘classical triangular pattern’ as something which develops male homosexuality, which is made up of a hyper-protective and dominating mother and a weak and hostile father who is physically and psychologically distant from household matters. The son, on the other hand, is a person who prefers calm games, who is not interested in sport or physical activities and who is very close to the mother and has problematic relationships with his brothers and/or sisters.
The family has also been considered as an influential factor, however the situation is conflicting and, once again, involves a dominating mother and a father who is only able to play inferior and secondary roles in the family. Diversely from males, the behaviour of female homosexuals as children is described as that of a ‘tomboy’. In general though, it must be said that if sexual behaviour is determined more by one’s experiences and learning rather than biological factors, then maybe we need to refer to a multi-determining model. With this, we can see how sexual identity comes from biological factors, perceptions of self-image, the organisation of the relationship one has with one’s body and mind, family events and educational, family and social models, but not forgetting all of the experience that one accumulates in life, especially during school years.
No equivocal way of feeling or being a lesbian woman has ever been described (according to the Isle of Lesbos where the poetess Sappho resided and who praised love between women), however three variants have been described:
There are not necessarily any active or passive sexual roles and behaviour that
correspond to these distinctions though and sometimes one or both of the women
in a homosexual relationship can be bisexual. In fact, an American study on lesbian
sexual identity revealed that 90% of the 323 lesbians involved had had heterosexual
experiences and 43% of them after they had come out as gay.
Bisexuals are not accepted in many homosexual spheres because he/she is seen as unable to permanently orient themselves towards their real desires and tendencies, and bisexual females are seen as traitors and as potential ‘vehicle’ which could bring sexually transmitted diseases into the lesbian world (like AIDs).
Jealousy is very common in lesbian relationships. According to an American study, 74% of lesbian women said they were jealous, whilst only 35% of gay men said they were jealous.
Lesbians’ desire to be a mother is usually satisfied naturally, and, in fact, one third of lesbians in the USA are mothers and live with their children, whilst others have to turn to artificial insemination, adoption or custody. Androgynous lesbians in particular consider the importance of being a mother and they usually get inseminated, get pregnant, give birth and breast feed the child themselves, which are heterosexual acts, so that this act is not shared with anyone else.
Over the centuries, our culture has rigorously determined what is male and what is female, attributing more value to qualities that are traditionally male and determining sexual roles right form childhood. We must therefore remember that male homosexuals have had to learn to accept emotions and feelings which society do not normally consider to be masculine, thus finding themselves in a situation in which the feminine part of them is doubly opposed by the dominating culture.