The Psychology of Sexual Orientation, Behavior, and Identity: A Handbook

By Louis Diamant; Richard D. McAnulty | Go to book overview

be mediocre in ability but excel as a result of certain experiences. The exposures, schooling, and experiences that are needed to release or mold the sexual orientation predisposition are yet to be documented. It is my guess, however, that the features needed to release these constitutional biases are quite plastic and the individual flexible in responding to opportunities. Free choice is also needed. The absent or weak father situation, when it seems associated with homosexuality, may be due to the child's being able to express himself or herself without excessive parental repression ( Diamond 1979). (A model for how one's biological bias and predisposition might interact with the environment, via symbolism or learning or scripting, is offered in Diamond 1979.)

It must also be recognized that many individuals repeatedly manifest ambisexual and homosexual activities even when opportunities seem absent or against social dictates to the extent they put their social life, if not their actual physical life, in jeopardy. These behaviors, as with heterosexual ones, are often expressed as compulsive and self-generated and arising from within.

For some persons, the idea that sexual orientation is biologically biased toward heterosexuality or homosexuality and predisposed is threatening. They would like to think the choice is open and always fresh. This is more often a political stance than a scientific one. Others have expressed concern that if the developmental biological forces for sexual orientation are revealed, some nefarious agency might use the knowledge to force conformity to a dictated ideal or otherwise modify a potential homosexual outcome ( DeCecco 1987; Gagnon 1987; Schmidt 1984; Sigusch et al. 1982; see also Dörner 1983). Believing it is social construction that leads to homosexual behavior is probably more destructive since even despots know it is easier to modify the social arena than the biological. And it has been shown by Ernulf, Innala, and Whitam ( 1989) that more people are tolerant of homosexual behavior if they think it is biological (see also Rosenberg, 1994). Regardless of such claims, I believe knowledge of the actual forces behind sexual orientation, whether they be biological or social, more than ignorance of these factors is increasingly likely to solve problems of social discord and foster a mutual respect for diversity.


NOTES
1.
I first proposed and defended the interaction approach for humans in the 1960s. At this time it was generally believed that orientation and identity were solely products of the environment and upbringing ( Diamond 1965, 1968, 1995b). Since then I have presented this view many times from different perspectives; see the References for details.
2.
While this chapter assumes that most people accept that contemporary research holds that the expression of sexual orientation results from an interaction of biological and social forces, many persons still prefer to believe sexual orientation and partner preference are determined primarily or dominantly by social forces alone. See other chapters in this book for details.

-67-

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