The study of sexual orientation and homosexuality is not new. For centuries, researchers in biology, psychology, and sociology have been trying to detect the roots of homosexuality and changes in sexual orientation among humans. Changes in the public perceptions of homosexuality have always guided the pace and direction of professional research. Despite the growing volume of scientific literature, no single answer to the questions surrounding homosexuality and bisexuality was ever found. The current state of research provides abundant information regarding the biological, genetic, and environmental roots of sexual orientation, but none of the existing accounts of homosexuality and bisexuality is compelling and full. To a large extent, the field of human sexuality and sexual orientation remains unexplored. Based on the existing scientific findings, it would be correct to say that changes in human sexual orientation have complex biological, genetic, and environmental roots.
Sexual orientation has been one of the central subjects of professional discussions for decades. Reasons why sexual orientation remains an important object of empirical research are many. Basically, “a person’s sexual orientation (the erotic and affectional inclination towards the same, opposite, or both sexes) is a fundamental aspect of sexuality and identity” (Bogaert 102). Therefore, understanding human biology and sexology is impossible without looking deeper into the nature of sexual orientation and the causes of homosexuality and bisexuality. The analysis of homosexuality and bisexuality allows researchers producing more relevant accounts of the way humans differ in their gender behaviors and reactions (Bogaert 102). Eventually, given the social and cultural ramifications of human sexuality, better knowledge of homosexuality and sexual orientation can help to dispel the most common sexual myths (Bogaert 102). Unfortunately, even in the presence of advanced empirical methods, contemporary researchers have no explicit explanation to the nature and causes of homosexuality in humans.
Homosexuality does have genetic roots. Despite certain limitations, several studies confirmed the presence of the genetic predisposition to homosexuality in humans. Since the middle of the 20th century, researchers tried to challenge the established psychological theories of homosexuality and sexual orientation (Murphy 11). It appears that dizygotic twins are less likely to be both homosexual than monozygotic ones (Murphy 12). The methodological limitations of these studies cannot be disregarded and, apparently, future researchers will have to confirm or rule out the earlier empirical conclusions. The most controversial is the assumption that some homosexual men have genes that predetermine their sexual orientation, while no such genes were identified in lesbians (James 555). Again, that the researchers were not able to identify a “lesbian” gene does not mean that such gene does not exist. The present knowledge of homosexual genetics creates the basis for advancing future empirical studies in this field. What is evident is that it is too early to say that genetics alone is responsible for changes in sexual orientation. Homosexuality and bisexuality also have other biological and environmental roots.
Homosexuality and bisexuality do have biological roots which, nevertheless, do not imply that changes in human sexual orientation are purely biological. Biological information about sexual orientation and sexuality has the potential to change individual perceptions of homosexuals (Oldham & Kasser 124). Still, at present, the vast amount of biological information about homosexuality is mostly disorganized and unsystematic. To begin with, the number of studies linking homosexuality and bisexuality to changes in the hormonal levels continues to increase. Prenatal steroid hormones are claimed to be one of the major drivers of homosexuality and bisexuality in humans (James 555). High testosterone levels may greatly contribute to male bisexuality (James 555). Simultaneously, it is still unclear whether steroid hormones act prenatally or postnatally and how exactly high testosterone levels turn males into bisexuals (James 555). For instance, testosterone may impact certain areas of the human brain prenatally or lead to the development of bisexuality after birth, due to the same high testosterone levels. Bisexuals and homosexuals have been found to share numerous endocrinological and morphological features, which support the biological theories of sexual orientation in humans (James 556). Actually, all researchers who had ever attempted to find the biological correlates of homosexuality eventually found them (Alexander 249). Even so, the structural dimorphism discussed by Alexander (249), the patterns of physical development in heterosexuals and homosexuals analyzed by Bogaert (110), and even the relationship between sexual orientation and the fraternal birth order according to Bogaert (101), are all related to the changes in the levels of hormones. At the same time, hormones and genes alone cannot guarantee that children are destined to become homosexual or bisexual when adults.
Biology and environment constantly interact, and it is learning and other psychosocial factors that turn hormones and genes into the major drivers of homosexuality and bisexuality in humans. Changes in the prenatal levels of various hormones, particularly steroid ones, only predispose but do not guarantee the development of homosexual/bisexual behaviors in humans. Researchers agree that the levels of hormones would hardly be a decisive factor of homosexuality, if not for the environmental and behavioral aspects of sexual orientation in humans. For instance, in relation to postnatal steroid hormones, their levels could simply facilitate individual sensation-seeking behaviors leading to homosexuality and bisexual decisions (James 555). In a similar fashion, high levels of postnatal testosterone in males could simply predispose the development of bisexuality through sensation-seeking (James 555). In female lesbians and male homosexuals, the development of sexual orientation may be causally related to role modeling and learning (James 555). The division of homosexuals into active and passive also confirms the relevance of the environmental mechanisms in human sexuality: active homosexuality is believed to be related to hormonal changes, whereas passive homosexuals are created by various psychosocial factors (James 555). Obviously, in the discussion of homosexuality and bisexuality, social influences cannot be totally ruled out (Alexander 250). Future researchers will need to check and validate the most popular sexual orientation hypotheses affecting today’s science. Empirical research should become the primary instrument of fight against the most unbelievable human myths surrounding homosexuality and sexual orientation in humans.
Sexuality remains one of the most interesting subjects of empirical research. Homosexuality, bisexuality, and sexual orientation are surrounded by numerous myths and generate complex theories and assumptions. The current state of literature suggests that changes in human sexual orientation have complex biological, genetic, and environmental roots. Some researchers were able to identify a gene responsible for male homosexuality. Changes in individuals’ hormonal status is claimed to be directly or indirectly related to homosexuality and bisexuality: steroid hormones and testosterone levels can predetermine changes in human sexual orientation. However, all these biological changes have little value without numerous environmental and sociopsychological factors. The presence of passive and active homosexuals confirms the importance of environmental influences in the development of homosexuality and bisexuality. Consequently, changes in sexual orientation should be regarded as a complex product of numerous biological and environmental influences. Still, recent studies have numerous methodological limitations. Therefore, future researchers will need to validate or rule out the most common assumptions about human sexuality, while also considering and avoiding the most common methodological pitfalls. This is how they will help to dispel the most common myths surrounding human sexuality, orientation, homosexuality, and bisexuality and improve public perceptions of homosexual and bisexual individuals.