Last summer, Simon LeVay of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego, California, reported on a comparative study of the brains of 19 homosexual men who had died of AIDS and 16 heterosexual men, some of whom had died of AIDS as well. He found that the hypothalamus, the part of the male brain which governs sexual urges, is smaller in the homosexuals; typically, it resembled a woman’s.
He cautioned that his study dealt only with a small sample, and that it did not answer the question “Are you born gay?” It did suggest, however, that the topic of human sexuality could be studied biologically, not just psychologically.
Other experts pointed out that measuring brain structures is notoriously difficult and controversial.
The areas LeVay scrutinized, said a Newsweek article, are even smaller than snowflakes; also, scores of studies have shown that neutrons change in response to experience. Does a small bundle of neurons in the hypothalamus cause homosexual orientation, or might homosexual activity cause that portion of the brain to shrink?
A second study – of twins – claims to show that identical twins (who are genetic clones) are more likely to be homosexual than fraternal twins or adoptive brothers. This suggested to the researcher that their orientation was owing to similarities in their brains and not attributable to their upbringing.
One of the authors of the study, Dr. J. Michael Bailey of Northwestern University, called this “the first real genetic study of sexual orientation in about 40 years.” He claims that it adds to evidence that sexual orientation does not result from a maladjustment or moral defect. Instead it is likely that sexual orientation in men is an innate type of condition, develops early, and is not socially influenced, he said.
In January of this year, Sandra Witelson of McMaster University in Hamilton and Cheryl McCormick, now of McGill University in Montreal, also claimed they had found evidence of biological basis for sexual orientation.
According to their study, cognitive or thinking skills of homosexual men differ from those of normal men and women. “They have a cognitive profile unique to themselves,” said Professor Witelson. She cautioned, however, that neither this study nor the others ruled out the possibility that homosexuality can also be learned.
The other view
An expert whose findings differed from all of the above died at the end of last August. For sixty years, Dr. Irving Bieber, a psychotherapist at New York Medical College, had conducted research in to the causes of homosexuality, and he had concluded that homosexuality was a form of illness which could be effectively treated.
Bieber was shunned by many of his colleagues for insisting that “a homosexual is a person whose heterosexual function is crippled, like the legs of a polio victim.” He maintained that a leading cause of homosexuality was a breakdown in family relationships and that “a constructive, supportive, warmly related father precludes the possibility of a homosexual son.”
In the same vein, psychotherapist James Fishman of San Francisco told the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association last September that homosexuals are often the products of severely dysfunctional families, many times with sexually promiscuous fathers. Meanwhile APA gay activists demand that the association prohibits therapy to cure homosexuals, calling it “an unethical practice.”
Another psychotherapist, Joseph Micolosi, has written a book entitled Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality: A New Clinical Approach, published by Jason Aronson Inc., a prominent psychology and psychology and psychiatry publishing house. Dr. Micolosi, too, argues that homosexuality is a psychological disorder for which early relationships with parents are chiefly responsible. “There’s a whole element in our culture that wants to diminish or negate gender differences,” he says, and boys become homosexuals because of lack of male bonding.
The origins of homosexuality were also discussed in an article entitled “What is Normal?” which appeared in the National Review for February 3. In it sociologist Steven Goldberg describes the development of homosexuality as a series of “go”/ “no go” steps, with a “go” required at every step:
“A person who lacks the physiological necessary condition (if there is such a condition), will not become a homosexual no matter what his subsequent environment. Another person, who meets the physiological necessary condition, will not become a homosexual if he encounters one series of environments, but will if he encounters another. This is now the implicit view of virtually all researchers who offer casual explanations of homosexuality.”
In other words, evidence like that provided by the researchers mentioned above does not prove the inevitability, and therefore normality, of a person’s homosexual condition.
A further complication is suggested by a special report on homosexuality issued by the Family Research Institute (FRI) in Washington. It points out, for example, that the late Leonard Bernstein, the famous conductor, was a practicing homosexual in his youth; then he stopped being one and was married. Later, when homosexuality moved out of the shadows, he divorced his wife and returned to homosexuality.
Bernstein’s case, the report shows, is far from unique; a survey revealed that 82 per cent of the currently lesbian and 66 per cent of the currently “gay” have been in love with someone of the opposite sex. Moreover, 85 per cent of lesbians and 54 per cent of “gays” had had sexual relations with someone of the opposite sex.
Their sexual orientation, in other words, was not something which merely had to be accepted; it was a matter of learning, taste, availability, and so on.
“What Bernstein did may have been contrary to social mores, but it is not beyond our understanding. He juggled sexual pleasure and respectability to maximize his interests,” the FRI’s report states.
If sexual orientation is supposed to be inevitable, and the result of biology, how does one explain this kind of behavior with its various twists and turns?
The Family Research Institute report concludes that the belief that people have to act upon their sexual desires is clearly erroneous. People restrain or change themselves; many do not live out their sexual fantasies or appetites. Once someone permits his sexual appetites to control him, he goes beyond preference and becomes addicted – and we can rightly term such addiction pathological.
There is no reason to pass laws and regulations which would weaken the normal family and give advantage to a compulsive, sexually addicted minority, as has been done already in several Canadian provinces and is now suggested that the Federal government do with the Human Rights Act of Canada.