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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Biological Basis for Homosexual Attractions


            Want proof that being gay is not a choice? Look no further you’re your hypothalamus, more specifically, the cell group in the medial preoptic area named INAH3. According to research published by Simon LeVay back in 1995, this cell group is three times bigger in heterosexual men than in homosexual men and heterosexual women. LeVay examined autopsy specimens from 19 homosexual men, all of whom died of AIDS, and 16 heterosexual men, six of whom had also died of AIDS. LeVay concluded that, at the very least, there are visible and measureable differences between the brain structures of heterosexuals and homosexuals.
            What causes the enlargemen of the INAH3? Androgens, the steroidal hormones found in the testicles of males, testosterone being the primary and best-known. These hormones surge and change our bodies at three critical points in our development: in the womb, after birth, and again during the onset of puberty. These hormonal washes are what change our brain structures and determine whether we are male or female, whether we are masculine or feminine, and whether we like boys or girls or both.  LeVay demonstrated the effect of these hormones by exposing, or not exposing, the brains of newly born rats (males and females) to androgens and then observing their behavior as adults (i.e., mounting, lordosis, etc.). The more we study our body’s development, brain chemistry, and neurological structures with regard to sexual behaviors, the more we are discovering how our sexual orientation is shaped early on, and for the most part, without regard to environmental influences.
            The implications of these findings deserves more modern research. For one, there were no sexual histories done for the specimens so verifying the his/her sexual behavior was not possible. Alfred Kinsey’s studies on human sexual behavior back in the 1950’s would not have been so insightful if it was not for the thousands and thousands of histories him and his researchers took themselves. This is, in my opinion, the best way to accurately classify each person by his/her sexual orientation. LeVay’s research also only looked at one very specific group of cells in the hypothalamus. Expanding research to the other parts of the hypothalamus will undoubtedly yield some interesting findings. Some people note that the AIDS may have acted as a confounding variable, but my gut tells me that this region of the brain was the same before and after contracting AIDS. Still, this aspect deserves more accurate research and to bring these truths to light; that we are, indeed, born this way.

(For the primary source used, google “Is Homosexuality Biologically Influenced” and click on the top most pdf… enjoy)

4 comments:

  1. I dont know why some are set on thinking homosexuality is purely biological--as if it is a disease to be treated!!!

    If the LeVay study is accurate, and those regions of the brain are smaller, can a 'cure' be found to restore the region to its 'proper' state? It would suggest so. What about the phenomenon of bisexuality? Does it exist?

    I think this thinking is flawed, and it is counter to other types of studies, that show our sexual attractions towards others are purley asthetic and have nothing to do with biology. Cultures view different sized women with varying tastes; someone might find a women over a certain size unattractive in western culture, but in other world regions, women are considered desirable at larger sizes. Even our sense of beauty and attraction has changed over the course of Western History.

    Attraction, just like 'beauty' is subjective. Our sense of self, and sense of 'taste' are a matter of social construction as well as biology.

    It is with this premise we must re-examine the 'born this way' movement that people seem to be stewing about.

    This may be more nature, via the way of nurture, were base needs are provided on a biological level but are cultivated and nurtured.

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  2. Then how do you explain the prevalence of homosexuality in cultures that breed homophobia? Rates of homosexuality seem to have little to do with culture, because sexuality is more deeply rooted in our being than culture. Look at the animal kingdom where culture barely exists. They still have consistent rates of homosexuality for any given species (highest among peguins and other bird species, which I find interesting). There is beauty, which is of course in the eye of the beholder and definitely influenced by culture, but then there is sexual attractions and those are much more inherent and programmed into us from birth.

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  3. I think it is complete ignorance to beleive that our sexual attraction is merely defined by our external genetalia. We are all inherently female at the point of conception. In order to be male something must be added six different times during development. If one of those times nothing happens (or does in the case of a female) then the gonads don't fall to become testes, or the penis doesn't fully develop ect. Now these defects you can see when the baby is born and fix them. However, what about the brain, does the baby have a male brain?? Does he prefer dolls or want to be a princess for Halloween?? Just because you can't see the defect doesn't mean it is not there. And, yes it is a defect. Humans are meant to reproduce through sexual activity. Personally, I am a white heterosexual female and never once did I "think" about what I was going to be attracted to. I just naturally gravitated toward white tall medium-built men with brown/black hair. I am very liberal so going "outside the box" would not be taboo for me. However, I know what I like and it is white men. And nobody could tell me differently. Nor could they make me like females!!!! So, how can you make someone truly be attracted to something they aren't??

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  4. what about bisexuals?

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