The Psychology of Homosexuality

Lisa R. Parker

The theoretical explanations of homosexuality and why homosexuals are not queer.

OK so let’s face it. Gay is in. Our society is in a state of ‘sexuality flux’ like never before and more and more gays are coming out of the closet, getting married, making money, and living the big life and possibly more heterosexuals are realizing that they have a gay in them as well. Heterosexual marriages have been declining and possibly in a decade more homosexuals will have family life and heterosexuals will remain single. So, what is homosexuality?

First of all, all of us are naturally bisexual, we are not naturally hetero or homosexual, only our maleness and femaleness are balanced in a way that we finally project ourselves either as male or as female according to social perception, upbringing and other such factors. In some people there could be equal maleness and femaleness as far as personality, attitudes, likes, preferences and behavior are concerned and these individuals are unable to define their sexuality and could be openly bisexuals. Some others may feel more male traits of aggression, dominance, extra version in them and if such an individual is female, she is more likely to be gay/lesbian and would be attracted and attractive to females. Women who have more femaleness in them would be attracted to both men and male-like females. Women with stronger masculinity might be attracted and attractive to women or to female-like men and in some cases to other gay men.

Homosexuality involves our underlying bisexuality at play when we naturally feel more attracted to the same rather than the opposite sex. So a homosexual is actually a bisexual who feels more attracted to the same sex than the opposite sex and the heterosexual is a bisexual who feels more attracted to the opposite sex than to the same sex. Just like every homosexual has a heterosexual inside him or her, the heterosexual also fancies people of the same sex, it is a natural tendency to like people of the same sex.

Our social perceptions are strongly ingrained in us, and these social perceptions prevent us from entertaining our homosexual tendencies. In most cases these social perceptions are developed in childhood, within schools, family, society and societies or schools or families that encourage, promote or endorse homosexuality are more likely to have more homosexuals. Neither homosexuality, nor heterosexuality is our natural tendency, psychologically having both male and female traits in us in the anima and animus, we are attracted to both males and females and are thus naturally bisexual. Carl Jung has suggested that anima is the unconscious female nature of a man and animus is the unconscious male in the female. We are then trained or moulded according to society and become either homosexual or heterosexual according to societal perceptions.

Let us consider an example. Suppose, Jane is a natural bisexual and then she is brought up in a society which endorses and glorifies or simply supports homosexuality. If Jane is aggressive, dominant and feels that she has a strong man in her, she will naturally feel attracted to women or to soft feminine men. If however she sees herself as feminine with qualities of patience and compassion, she would feel more attracted to aggressive men or aggressive females if she is homosexual. If for some reason she retains her bisexuality, there will be attraction to both feminine men and masculine women.

It is natural to ask if bisexuality is our natural tendency, why are homosexuals considered queer? The plain answer is homosexuals are not queer or different, they have simply endorsed one end of bisexuality rather than the other. The outcry and fascination for homosexuality is baseless as homosexuality existed and exists at all levels of society, in all kinds of societies and of course within us. Even the strongest conservative priest could nurture significant homosexual feelings which he simply never reveals due to the need to conform to social perceptions.

Narcissistic Explanation

The psychological reason for expressed homosexuality could be narcissism and the need and tendency to love ourselves. When we love ourselves and come across a person of the same sex who looks a bit like us and probably talks or walks or thinks like us or is even remotely similar to us in certain ways, we would naturally feel attracted to this person. The attraction reaches a sexual dimension when we want to act on this liking and want to have sex with this person of the same sex. We love ourselves and are thus naturally attracted to people like us and that includes gender. We are first naturally attracted to people of the same gender. In most cases even for heterosexuals, the true first love is usually a close friend and person of the same sex. People who are narcissistic are more likely to be homosexuals.

Sexual Fixation theory

Individuals having deep unconscious desires regarding the parent of the same sex would also be more likely to be a homosexual. Thus a woman with possible childhood fixation at an oral stage (this is a Freudian term when individuals tend to use the mouth as a pleasure zone) would have fixated love for the mother’s breasts and body and would develop a natural love for women who look like the mother and might become homosexual. On the other hand a man who has grown up with a severe attachment towards the father and has been very physically close to the father in his childhood, could also show homosexual tendencies. Narcissism and fixated love for a parent are some of the theories that explain homosexuality.

Social Comfort as a Cause

Homosexuality is also triggered by the social environment and if experiences with women are more pleasurable than with men, a woman is more likely to embrace homosexuality.

In some cases society could indirectly trigger homosexuality. Consider a conservative society where sex is still taboo and a mature man and a woman seen together could be considered as ‘dating’. When individuals want to avoid such social categorizations, they may begin avoiding associating with people of the opposite sex and feel more comfortable with people of the same sex. In fact we all feel comfortable with people of the same sex when we want to share our fears, problems and happiness and many individuals prefer same sex friends who they can hang out with or share similar interests with. This could in certain cases lead to sexual experimentation and serious homosexual relationships leading to marriage or civil partnership.

Moral Dilemma as the basis of Homosexuality

Homosexuality is thus not queer and in fact it in a society where sex is seen as bad and could have religious implications of a ‘sin’, homosexuality comes with the added advantage of having sex without the guilt associated in the concept of sin. When some individuals perceive the vices of heterosexual sex such as prostitution, sexual assault, etc. they may naturally feel it safer to move towards homosexuality that may have fewer vices. Homosexuality is more common in the west as sex is seen as a sin and a degrading act and sex is usually represented as an act between a man and a woman so homosexuals try to avoid this image of sex and try to find a new way of looking at sex that is pure, socially acceptable and not ‘sin’.

The homosexual may have perceived the sexual act as a morally low act until modified to a more acceptable form (as through homosexual sex) and the heterosexual has perceived sex as a possibly degraded act but nevertheless necessary. If religions showed sex as an exalted sacred act between a man and a woman, social perceptions derived from religions would have been different but most religions have systematically degraded the sexual act (because religions have been created by men not God).

Experiential Generalization

If social perceptions are responsible for making us heterosexual, social perceptions are also responsible for making us homosexual. Homosexuals may have perceived the opposite sex according to certain stereotypical considerations due to social experiences. For example a woman might perceive all men as sexual predators if she had negative experiences with men and a man might perceive all women as players or untrustworthy if he had negative sexual and romantic experiences with the opposite sex. These negative experiences when generalized could lead to a preference for homosexuality.

The Narcissistic theory, sexual fixation, social comfort, moral dilemma and experiential generalization are all different explanations that have to be developed further to provide a comprehensive analysis for the psychology of homosexuality.

Copyright: Saberi Roy, 2011

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