Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Is Homosexuality Contagious?

***This was written by my Aunt, Judy Angelo, on April 7th, 1999, for a class she was taking in college. She sent a copy of the paper to my mother, because she wrote about me and my mom in this paper. I believe this is wonderfully written, and my mom, before she passed, had said so as well. 

I contacted my Aunt and received permission to reprint the paper here for ya'll to see. She added: "It doesn't mean that I condone it just that it isn't something you catch from someone.  We are suppose to Love the sinner but hate the sin and since we are all sinners no one is better than anyone else."***


Is Homosexuality Contagious?

Will a child who is raised by a homosexual parent grow up to be gay? Not according to researchers. "More than thirty-five studies in the past fifteen years have shown that children of gay parents are no more likely to become gay and are just as well adjusted as other children" (Miller 43). Noted researchers, Alan Bell and Martin Weinberg, the Bell research team, "dispelled the myth that homosexuality can be caught from someone. They found that not only did most subjects (both male and female) report that their first homosexual encounter involved someone of their own age, they were less likely than heterosexual subjects to have had initial sexual encounters with a stranger or an adult" (Ettinger et al. 305). I have a nephew that is gay, a very good friend whose daughter is gay, and I worked with a gay man for several years, and none of these homosexuals have a gay or lesbian parent. If all homosexuals had to come from a homosexual parent then soon everyone would be homosexual and our species would become extinct.
What effect could there be on an adolescent raised in a homosexual household? The effect on the adolescent would depend on several factors such as when the child learned of the sexual orientation of the parent, how the child learned about it, and how others in the family reacted to it. A child learns family values from the parent and if the child is taught to accept that different people have different lifestyles and though their family life may be different it's right for them, then the child will probably accept the parents lifestyle and even learn tolerance toward other people that are different. One subject named Rebecca Jo tells of her life with her gay father. Rebecca's father and mother were never married because her mother was a lesbian. Rebecca lived with her father and his lover Mohammed. She states that "I have always lived with my dad and I have no regrets about my childhood. The funniest part about growing up in an all-male household is that all of us had to learn 'girl things' together. Did I think they were too strict and overprotective? Probably, but I had two parents who wanted me to be happy, and they both looked forward to being grandfathers some day. And I knew that some day I would be a wonderful wife and mother"(Miller 45-46). If a child finds out accidentally, or when they are older there could be emotional problems. In the case study of Marshall, a young man who didn't find out about his father's homosexuality until he was out of college, you can understand his anger and hurt. From a young age Marshall wanted to be just like his father and play in a band. When his classmates would call his father a "fag" or "fairy" Marshall would fight them to defend his father. Marshall's mother was worried about Marshall getting hurt in a fight but "no one was going to call his father gay and get away with it"(Miller 75). Marshall received a degree in music and started to travel and play with his father's band. One evening when Marshall and his father were alone his father said "Son, you know all these years your friends called me gay? Well, I have been gay all my life. Your mother knew but made me promise not to tell. Now that you're a man, I thought you should know. Marshall sprang out of his chair and shouted. You son of a bitch! All those years I defended you. I had the crap kicked out of me more times than I can count. You lied to me, and I bet you lied to my mother so no one would ever really know you were a fag. I don't ever want to see you again"(Miller 76). I can understand Marshall's outburst but he probably would have felt bad if he had found out his father had cheated on his mother with other women, or if he secretly abused her. Marshall felt betrayed because he had defended his father for so many years and even suffered beatings because of it. If his father had confessed sooner Marshall would not have had to defend him.
Is homosexuality inherent, genetic or learned? The answer to this question varies depending on who you ask. A number of theories have evolved but none fully explain the issue. Most of the biological explanations of sexual orientation suspect an imbalance of hormones that causes homosexuality. Testosterone is present in both girls and boys but during puberty it doubles in girls while in boys the testosterone levels increase as much as thirty times during the same time span (Miller 26). Another study suggests that the reduction of the male hormone androgen may lead to male homosexuality. One researcher tested this assumption by giving extra androgen to some homosexual volunteers. All it did was to increase their desire for men (Miller 27). Many researchers think biological factors may play a critical role in sexual orientation, but scientists have not yet been able to prove it.
The learning theory emphasizes the importance of learning in the development of sexual orientation and believe that homosexuality is the result of negative heterosexual experiences. According to these behavioral theorists, homosexuality is learned either by rewards stimulating the behavioral (homosexual) pattern or punishment associated with the opposite (heterosexual) behavioral pattern (Miller 28).
The psychodynamic theory proposes that the relationship between parents and children may have an effect on sexual orientation. These theorist believe that we are all pansexual (arousable by both sexes) and that during the course of a lifetime we all go through stages both homoerotic and heterotic. Conflicts or fixations at key stages of development can result in a homosexual orientation, whereas conflicts or fixations at other stages can result in a heterosexual orientation (Miller 29).
I tend to believe that homosexuality is a combination of these theories. Both my sister, whose son is gay, and my friend, whose daughter is gay, believes their child was born homosexual. They both say they knew when the child was very young that they were different. One the other hand both were in abusive marriages when the child was born. In both marriages the husband was the dominant or controlling person. I think a person may be born with a genetic predisposition to homosexuality perhaps caused by a prenatal hormone imbalance, but I don't feel we can discount the importance of the role between parent and child. When one parent is abusive the other might be over-protective causing an unrealistic view of the normal male/female role. I think there is still a great amount of research to be done, and at this point homosexuality could be genetic, it could stem from the parent/child relationship, but more likely is a combination of the two.