Is homosexuality psychological or biological?

I’m an 18 year old homosexual boy. I have always been caught in the
moral dilemma as to whether my homosexuality is psychological.
Admittedly, I have never gelled in with people and have remained quite
reserved. I have not been able to understand whether my sexual
orientation is the result of my matriarchal upbringing. The crux of my
state of being comes down to this - I don’t know whether my reserved
nature and matriarchal upbringing led to my homosexuality or my
homosexuality led to my reserved nature; in other words, I am not able
to figure out whether its psychological or biological. As a result of
this, I have remained disconnected with life and lately, I have been
having the feeling that I’m loosing my vital instincts. I feel dumbed
down with a passive response to live (“I have not been able to live
it”) filled with ennui and even worthless sometimes.

You’ll get plenty more answers to this thread, but the short and clear answer is that there’s no short and clear answer. The best evidence is that there is at very least a strong biological component to being gay. I currently favor the theory that there’s not one single cause to an alternate sexual orientation- that different people may be homosexual or bisexual for different reasons, though I don’t think it’s ever really a choice and that brain chemistry plays a role in all cases. I don’t think you’ll ever totally suppress it if you have a normal sex drive and, of course, you shouldn’t try to anymore than a hetero should.

On the cause:effect dichotomy, for a century or more it was theorized that homosexuality was caused by the abdicating father:overbearing mother. This has many obvious flaws, one being that many people grow up in this style household and emerge heterosexual, and the fact that cause-effect could be reversed- that fathers tend to turn away from gay sons while mothers compensate, and of course the fact that many gays come from families that have neither abdicating fathers nor overbearing mothers.

There are tons of threads here on homosexuality and religion, homosexuality and society, scientific studies and homosexuality, etc… If there’s any particular facet you’re interested in let us know and we’ll dig up a link.

ETA: I didn’t intend the emoticon, but it works so I’ll let it stay.

I’m guessing it’s a combination of neither.

You’re saying you’re feeling ennui because of not being able to sort out the cause?

To the question itself of the cause, the first response was pretty excellent and I’d agree.

But to your emotional state, I’d say this: don’t let it matter that much.

It is, and should be, a very intriguing and interesting subject for exploration and with an open mind you can learn as much about yourself as possible but regardless – whichever is the cause – you can embrace life and live it without having to know all the answers.

Nobody ever comes to know all the answers about themselves, but in the meantime don’t let that ‘mystery’ stifle your spirit. Embrace your life because either way you’re going to be moving forward.

You are greater than your sexual orientation, which is just one aspect of you.

I’m not clear on what would actually be achieved by trying to determine the cause here (pretty much a fool’s errand anyway - if medical science is having a hard time working it out, then personal introspection with a bit of speculative help from strangers on a message board doesn’t seem likely to succeed)

Is someone telling you that you need to change?

Matriarchal upbringing? Are you trying to say you were raised by a single mom, and you think that’s what did it? Trust me, I know gay/lesbian people from all sorts of backgrounds, including a good friend who came from a very traditional, Catholic, “intact” family and came out as gay in college.

The fundies would have you believe that your motherly upbringing led to your homosexuality, but the only people who listen to fundies are other fundies. I am of the belief that it is biological, that it’s just the way your brain is wired. If it were environmental then it could be “cured,” but there hasn’t been a single gay that has been thoroughly dissuaded from his or her orientation. Even those so-called “reformed homosexuals” were just paying lip service to the notion, and the most prominent were eventually discredited when – surprise! – they were caught in a gay tryst. Even so, and as has been said, it really doesn’t matter unless you’re either looking for a way to “cure” yourself or you’re tying to come up with a good defense against anti-gay arguments. For the former, you don’t need to, even if you could. Be proud of who you are. Enjoy your life. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being gay, and there’s really nothing to be gained from an answer, or even a good theory, except the satisfaction of curiosity. For the latter, you don’t need to justify being gay to anyone. If they are anti-gay, they’re bigots, and that’s their problem. You should no more have to defend being gay than being black or being Muslim or listening to Barry Manilow. Besides, if they’re trying to convince you that you, as a gay man, are inherently wrong, then they’re just trolling, and no argument to the contrary will convince them otherwise. Forget about 'em. They’re not worth any further expenditure of oxygen.

This belongs to Great Debates, so I’ll kick it over there.

If people are going to look for an excuse to despise you or categorize your sexuality as pathological, (and you’re vulnerable to them doing so), they can attack you on either grounds.

If it’s psychological, then by God you’ve got a character flaw, you’ve been warped, you need fixin’, you should repent, and failure on your part to straighten up and fly right is more evidence of character flaw.

If on the other hand it’s biological, you’re a mutant, bad genes in the gene pool, you’re a freak, and the rest of society needs to be protected from defectives like you.

The conventional wisdom at the moment is that it is more empowering to consider it to be biological. Personally I think that’s mostly because the most formidable gay-bashers at the moment, the christian fundamentalists, consider it psychological, or, more bluntly, that it’s a matter of “choice”. But there’s no historical shortage of hatemongers finding sufficient excuse to mistreat people when their difference is believed to be biological instead.

Rather than be answerable to any of this, I recommend simply being a good person to other people, and to yourself, having fun, taking joy in life, and celebrating who you are in all of its diversity.

Great advice.
The only thing I can add is that homosexuality is not a choice, so live your life the way it was meant to be lived. Respect your fellow human beings and be a good person.

It’s been reported in recent years that boys with older brothers have a higher incidence of homosexuality. An article in *Nature * hypothesizes a mechanism. From this link:

Even then, maybe not. The ability to speak and think in English is nurture rather than nature, but I’m pretty sure I couldn’t be cured of it, at least not without suffering harm.

Huh? I don’t understand what this means. Wouldn’t it have to be one or the other? Is this a joke? Please explain.

Well, let’s think about this for a second. Essentially, you’re asking if it’s in your head or your body. So let’s just take off your head for a moment and … oh, wait, that doesn’t work, does it?

Your psychology is part of your biology. Oh, sure, it’s influenced by your experiences. So is your ankle - if you sprain it, it will always twinge. The experience of spraining it changes how it works forever.

The idea that there’s a mind/body divide or duality is seriously outmoded thinking. I’m not saying that in the sense of mind over matter (because that’s still a duality) or mentally healing your liver cancer (because that’s still a duality), I’m saying that your question is meaningless. Even if homosexuality is “psychological”, it’s also biological.

I generally don’t like this debate for the reasons **AHunter3 **lays out. It seems like it can only be useful if you’re trying to hate, and that’s just dumb. Even those who use the biological argument to “excuse” gayness are starting from a thought process that there’s something to excuse, right? If it’s “not their fault”, then we don’t have to stone them. Gah, yuck. Just sleep with who you like (consenting adults, please!) and don’t tell me who to sleep with, and we don’t have a problem here.

Do I like rum because it’s tasty to my tongue or because it was in my Daddy’s eggnog and I associate it with warmth and nurturing? Who cares, why is it anyone’s business?

Um, hasn’t this been shown to biologicial? Like, repeatedly?

An erection itself is controlled by the parasympathetic nervous system and a group of nerves at the base of the spine. In the men’s locker room, I doubt I’d get an erection if my life depended on it. I’m just not wired that way. If I were in the women’s locker room, I’d have to concentrate really really hard on being in the Men’s locker room to prevent one. And that could only last so long.

Since pretty much every homosexual I’ve known reports arousal from pubescence onward, I pretty much have come to the conclusion that it’s in the wiring. But there is a whole spectrum depending on the person. I know personally that two kids growing up had no choice in the matter. One kid was even getting teased in third grade. Everyone knew, and nobody was surprised when when it happened. When one of my former coworkers came out to his parents, his parents said something akin to “Honey, we’ve known that since you were in second grade” But I also think that some men are more toward the center, and simply come to the conclusion that they are more fulfilled with men (or women).

I can’t really speak towards the question of lesbianism. I just don’t know enough of the female sex drive. If I did, I think I’d be a very happy man.

Not really. The best evidence we have is the birth order mentioned in SaI’s post. But that’s still only one possible mechanism, and it’s still possible for the first son to be gay and the 4th to be straight.

Pretty much everything we do know about sexual orientation tells us it isn’t “simply” psychological, but we just can’t pin down the biological cause(s).

As for the OP, keep in mind that most teenagers feel like you do at some point whether they’re gay or straight. You are who you are, and the sooner you learn to live with that, the happier you’ll be. Like **AHunter **said, be a good person and don’t sweat the details. Plenty of people are shy, and it may or may not have anything to do with their sexual orientation. Reach out to other people with similar interest, and be the kind of person you want other people to be.

Good luck. You seem like you have a good head on your shoulders.

Um, no, it hasn’t. The hard scientific evidence is sketchy at best. That doesn’t mean it can’t be true, but it does mean that it hasn’t been proven beyond reasonable doubt.

And anyway, is there a clear distinction here between “biological” and “psychological” in the first place? Is there supposed to be some sort of analogy with computer hardware and software here? If it were a matter of imprinting rather than genetics or hormones, would it be a hardware issue or a software issue?

“Psychological” implies that it can be changed, I guess, but that’s about it.

Oh, come on. I had one of the bossiest moms in the world and I’m straight. Although I am wearing a pink shirt… hmmm…
No, I’m wearing blue jeans. Still straight.

You’re not gay because of your overbearing mother. You’re gay, in all likelihood, because of a wide variety of factors, most of which (I would guess) are out of anybody’s control. The problem is that you’re depressed about it, and apparently feeling judged. That’s what you need to deal with. The ‘whys’ of sexuality are pretty much trivia, interesting though they may be.