pianoGeek

Homosexuality

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Hi

I'm completely new to this forum. I wasn't sure where to post this question, and whether to make an introduction here or somewhere else. :D

But whatever. You seem like benevolent people so here goes:

I'm 15 and an ex-Objectivist, as you can tell from my handle. I decided to stop being an Objectivist not because I find the philosophy distasteful (I think Objectivism is a great philosophy in many ways) but because I don't want to be an "-ist" at all. I find that I tend to live up to whatever label I give myself, whether it's rational or not. IOW, I feel mentally much freer and less duty-bound If I don't identify myself with any "ism."

I am also, and I found this out only recently, homosexual. I am puzzled as to why this is--is it biology, psychology, or something I decided during childhood? Should I make an attempt to change? If I did decided to "fix myself" and become heterosexual, what would that entail?

In general, the topic of homosexuality is very important to me. Any comments anyone on this forum have concerning it would be welcomed. Whatever you do, don't spend all your time tearing each other's arguments apart and none of it answering my question. I hate that. :)

Thanks.

P. S. I love these emoticons :)

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I am also, and I found this out only recently, homosexual. I am puzzled as to why this is--is it biology, psychology, or something I decided during childhood?

In my view there exists a lot of tantalizing evidence that there is a biological basis for (at least some) homosexuality. This has been discussed in detail in a number of previous threads. I suggest using the "Search" feature.

Should I make an attempt to change? If I did decided to "fix myself" and become heterosexual, what would that entail?

If indeed you are homosexual by nature then "fixing" yourself might lead to a lifetime of misery in an important area of your life. Note that most (but not all) homosexuals have at least a strong sense, if not a definite awareness, that they are somewhat different even at a young age. If instead of biology there are psychological reasons that led you towards homosexuality, then the help of a good therapist could be really important. There are a number of Objectivist therapists who have been discussed on THE FORUM, including Michael Hurd and Ellen Kenner. Jonathan Rosman is also our resident expert on psychology and psychiatry, and he has a subforum in our "Ask the Experts" category.

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Hmmmm, I'm not sure about homosexuality as it applies to humans, but I know animals can act in a homosexual way. My experience is limited to horses tho.

I have seen a few things that factor in on it. The most obvious was that the horse was castrated too young. This is pretty easy to tell because the lack of hormones cause a different growth pattern and the horse's voice is very high-pitched. I've also seen where the horse was kept with nothing but mares after gelded and just imitated their behavior. This is inconsistent at best tho. Most colts that are gelded too young never have any sex drive at all, they are sexless in every way.

Some horses, like the Arab gelding I'm training to sell, are very gay. The horse can discriminate on which horse he wants and then 'flirt' with him, different to how a mare does. In general tho, it's fairly uncommon to find a gay horse.

I have no experience with cows, but I have heard that if there are too many steers (male cows) in a paddock and no female cows, that they'll try to mate with each other. I'm not sure how true that is.

Natalie

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ex-O'ist, a mounting body of scientific evidence seems to indicate that homosexuality is biological in basis. Over the years I've had a number of homosexual friends and aquaintences. I have yet to meet a homosexual who claimed to have 'chosen' homosexuality as a "lifestyle choice". In fact, the ones I've discussed the issue with seem to have felt there was something different, not quite like the rest, about them from childhood, even if they didn't figure it out until later in life.

From what I have read and observed, homosexuality doesn't seem to be a 'choice' for most individuals. Therefore, I don't think it can be moral or immoral -- it just is.

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Whether someone is born with a pre-disposition to a sex does not mean they will choose that automatically. I, along with almost every human, was born with the genetic pre-disposition to gain fat very easily. But, it is my ethical choice to choose to be thin. In other words, I control the outcome, even if I have a pre-disposition.

I am not saying that homosexuality is moral or immoral, that must be choosen by the individual person according to their values. What I am saying is that whether a person is pre-disposed to be homosexual or not, or fat or not, that person is still left with the moral choice to make that decission according to their values.

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I am not saying that homosexuality is moral or immoral, that must be choosen by the individual person according to their values. What I am saying is that whether a person is pre-disposed to be homosexual or not, or fat or not, that person is still left with the moral choice to make that decission according to their values.

By that last clause, do you mean that despite my "predisposition," whatever its cause, it is my choice whether to be in a gay relationship or not? I'm not totally clear on what you mean.

To tell the truth, all I would tend to look for in a relationship is a person a- whose character I highly value and who values mine back and b- who physically attracts me. In other words, I can't see what would make a gay relationship *wrong* unless there is something inherent in the nature of men and women that makes it descructive to life.

Also, I'm not absolutely convinced the cause is biological in my case. I remember feeling "different" and at odds with other boys all my life--whether this is the cause or an effect of my orientation is what I'm not clear on.

Anyway, thanks for the comments.

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Also, I'm not absolutely convinced the cause is biological in my case. I remember feeling "different" and at odds with other boys all my life--whether this is the cause or an effect of my orientation is what I'm not clear on.

Have you had much of an opportunity to speak with homosexuals about their own personal sense of and experience in growing up? Sometimes it is helpful for your own self-understanding to see yourself reflected (or not) in others. I think it is fairly safe to say that generally Objectivists are most likely more self-aware than the average population. Perhaps some Objectivist homosexuals might be willing to discuss things with you privately if you indicated you were interested in doing so. Just a suggestion meant to be helpful.

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Whether someone is born with a pre-disposition to a sex does not mean they will choose that automatically. I, along with almost every human, was born with the genetic pre-disposition to gain fat very easily. But, it is my ethical choice to choose to be thin. In other words, I control the outcome, even if I have a pre-disposition.

I am not saying that homosexuality is moral or immoral, that must be choosen by the individual person according to their values. What I am saying is that whether a person is pre-disposed to be homosexual or not, or fat or not, that person is still left with the moral choice to make that decission according to their values.

I think there's a limit to this analogy, and that there's at least something positively hard-wired in us in terms of sexuality. For example, we (humans) don't feel sexually attracted to a chair, even if it "reflects our values" or makes us admire human ingenuity, or some such. There is clearly something that makes us feel attracted to one very specific type of creature -- a human female, for no other reason than she's a human female and her forms are attractive to our eyes. That part, I think, is entirely independent of our values, and is in-born; we may choose which female we will be with depending on our values and hers, but can't choose between her and a lamplight.

Those who are born simply differently, will therefore have a different physiological reaction (again, entirely independently of their value-set). That's why discussing choices in homosexuality is very difficult, because for some it's a biological necessity, and therefore completely natural for that person, and for some it's a choice due to psychological issues, in which case it probably requires a therapist or a great deal of introspection.

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Perhaps some Objectivist homosexuals might be willing to discuss things with you privately if you indicated you were interested in doing so. Just a suggestion meant to be helpful.

Where might I go to indicate that, seeing as I don't know any homosexual Objectivists personally?

I like the suggestion, it's just that... er, I'm very shy.... I wouldn't know how to go about an interaction like that.

:)

******

I like what Free_Capitalist said; I agree that some general part of it must be hardwired and the rest up to the individual's values or experiences. This is something that confuses me about Objectivism: in the Objectivist view, where is the dotted line between the nature of Man and the particular nature of an individual?

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Where might I go to indicate that, seeing as I don't know any homosexual Objectivists personally?

I can make two suggestions. First, I have two gay friends (a couple), who are also Objectivists. One of them might be interested in talking to you, if you are interested.

Second, you might contact The Rattigan Society, online, a society for gay and lesbian Objectivists. I cannot endorse them, for the simple reason that I don't know enough about them. But what I have heard in the last couple of years is encouraging.

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Perhaps some Objectivist homosexuals might be willing to discuss things with you privately if you indicated you were interested in doing so. Just a suggestion meant to be helpful.

Where might I go to indicate that, seeing as I don't know any homosexual Objectivists personally?

I like the suggestion, it's just that... er, I'm very shy.... I wouldn't know how to go about an interaction like that.

:)

I meant that you might indicate that right here for anyone reading this thread. If you do so, any members interested can contact you privately through a PM or email, both of which can be done through your member page. (I really don't want to promote anything here, but rather just indicate a way for you to possibly talk to some member here who might be helpful.)

I like what Free_Capitalist said; I agree that some general part of it must be hardwired and the rest up to the individual's values or experiences. This is something that confuses me about Objectivism: in the Objectivist view, where is the dotted line between the nature of Man and the particular nature of an individual?

Objectivism is a philosophy and thereby deals with the general nature of man. The particulars are more a matter of psychology, which is a specialized science.

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I think there's a limit to this analogy, and that there's at least something positively hard-wired in us in terms of sexuality. For example, we (humans) don't feel sexually attracted to a chair, even if it "reflects our values" or makes us admire human ingenuity, or some such. There is clearly something that makes us feel attracted to one very specific type of creature -- a human female, for no other reason than she's a human female and her forms are attractive to our eyes. That part, I think, is entirely independent of our values, and is in-born; we may choose which female we will be with depending on our values and hers, but can't choose between her and a lamplight.

Those who are born simply differently, will therefore have a different physiological reaction (again, entirely independently of their value-set). That's why discussing choices in homosexuality is very difficult, because for some it's a biological necessity, and therefore completely natural for that person, and for some it's a choice due to psychological issues, in which case it probably requires a therapist or a great deal of introspection.

FC,

I agree that there is a limit to my analogy, that is why I put it in the context that I did. But, it seems that you missed my main point, that being that each person chooses their own values. Even if a person were "hard-wired" toward a certain sex, it would be in response to their own values that led them toward a conclusion.

Another example might be appropriate. If you have ever been pushed to the edge of anger which was about to lead you into a confrontation/fight than you have felt the homones that are released to gear us up for the fight or flight syndrome. This is a physical reaction that almost every human feels. But, what makes your choice for your actions? I would say that you do, through your value choices.

Another possible example is that I feel hunger I feel pain, I feel tired, all of these feelings are "hard-wired" into me to possibly cause me to react in a certain way. But, it is me or you that have the final decission in what our choice will be according to our values. When I feel hunger it is most likely because I have released a hormone to the brain which stimulates me to go and eat. But, unless I am conscious of my actions this could be against my values. If I just ate an hour ago and I do not need food intake at this moment it will contradict my goal/value of staying lean. Although I am "hard-wired" to eat everytime this hormone is released to my brain does not mean that I should do what I feel, as this sensation could be wrong. Almost everytime we smell food, or get stressed or go beyond 5 hours we as humans release a hormone to the brain telling us to go find food, and eat until we are full. Do I do exactly what I am "hard-wired" to do? No. I react according to my values and recongnize that those actions, although "hard-wired" would be against my value choices.

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FC,

I agree that there is a limit to my analogy, that is why I put it in the context that I did. But, it seems that you missed my main point, that being that each person chooses their own values. Even if a person were "hard-wired" toward a certain sex, it would be in response to their own values that led them toward a conclusion.

Another example might be appropriate. If you have ever been pushed to the edge of anger which was about to lead you into a confrontation/fight than you have felt the homones that are released to gear us up for the fight or flight syndrome. This is a physical reaction that almost every human feels. But, what makes your choice for your actions? I would say that you do, through your value choices.

Another possible example is that I feel hunger I feel pain, I feel tired, all of these feelings are "hard-wired" into me to possibly cause me to react in a certain way. But, it is me or you that have the final decission in what our choice will be according to our values. When I feel hunger it is most likely because I have released a hormone to the brain which stimulates me to go and eat. But, unless I am conscious of my actions this could be against my values. If I just ate an hour ago and I do not need food intake at this moment it will contradict my goal/value of staying lean. Although I am "hard-wired" to eat everytime this hormone is released to my brain does not mean that I should do what I feel, as this sensation could be wrong. Almost everytime we smell food, or get stressed or go beyond 5 hours we as humans release a hormone to the brain telling us to go find food, and eat until we are full. Do I do exactly what I am "hard-wired" to do? No. I react according to my values and recongnize that those actions, although "hard-wired" would be against my value choices.

Okay.... fair enough.

But you've given examples only of instances where following these "hard-wired" reactions would be against our value choices. This is often true for food, but is it true for sexuality?

I think many of our value choices are always based partially on our hard-wired reactions. For instance, pleasure has a "hard-wired" component. Somebody's preference for either chocolate or vanilla ice cream isn't based off of their value system... it just *is* whatever it is. If the same is true of homosexuality (that it *is* what it is, it is unaffected by choices) wouldn't it be natural to follow this urge?

In the case of some of the instincts you mentioned, this wouldn't be the case, sure. For instance, you shouldn't hit a policeman even if you feel frustrated that he gave you a ticket. This would be destructive to your life. But... unless anybody can prove that it's destructive, homosexuality is perfectly natural if it is how you are "hard-wired" to respond. I don't have to prove the negative that "homosexuality isn't harmful." The urge is "innocent until proven guiilty."

I think this is beginning to come together in my head... not sure. :)

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Almost everytime we smell food, or get stressed or go beyond 5 hours we as humans release a hormone to the brain telling us to go find food, and eat until we are full. Do I do exactly what I am "hard-wired" to do? No. I react according to my values and recongnize that those actions, although "hard-wired" would be against my value choices.

I'm not sure I really understand in what way you intend this as analogous to homosexuality. If the basis of homosexuality is indeed biological, then the more proper analogy regarding food would be that it is part our nature to eat food, just as it is part of a homosexual's nature to have sex with a person of his own gender. What particular food we choose to eat and when we choose to eat it would be tied to our values, just as what particular man a homosexual would choose to have sex with would likewise be tied to his values. Our nature in regard to the need for food, and the nature of the homosexual in regard to the gender of attraction, would be the given. If the basis of homosexuality is biological, do you disagree with this analogy?

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...If the basis of homosexuality is biological, do you disagree with this analogy?

Yes, I agree with your analogy.

I also hope that I am not misunderstood, I am not against homosexuality whether it is biological or not. But, at this point I have not seen enough convincing evidence to fully agree at this point with the biological premise in comparison to what I have observed in human behavior and other research. My main point in giving those analogies was to try and show that homosexuality can be moral if it is in relationship to the individuals values.

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My main point in giving those analogies was to try and show that homosexuality can be moral if it is in relationship to the individuals values.

I would like to correct this statement by adding that even if homosexuality is not a biological trait, homosexuality can be moral if it is in relationship to one's values.

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Some further items to think over.

If there is a biologically "hard-wired" trait for homosexuality why have they not found one for heterosexuality? How come I do not have any sexual feelings toward male or female that are not attached to values? What I mean by this is that I do not feel sexual or any other excitement toward a male or female alone. For me to get sexually excited a woman must have the values that I am seeking.

I have male friends that I value and feel excitement for when I know they are coming to visit. But, this does not mean that I am a homosexual by my biology. Even if someday researchers proved that without a doubt that I held the biological trait for homosexuality I still would choose to be a heterosexual because I value having a sexual relationship with a woman.

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If there is a biologically "hard-wired" trait for homosexuality why have they not found one for heterosexuality?

Heterosexuality in the human male and female is associated with normal brain structure and standard neurophysiological and biochemical processes. It is precisely in differing brain structure and/or in differing neurophysiological and biochemical processes that the biological basis for homosexuality is being sought.

How come I do not have any sexual feelings toward male or female that are not attached to values? What I mean by this is that I do not feel sexual or any other excitement toward a male or female alone. For me to get sexually excited a woman must have the values that I am seeking.

And do you get equally sexually attracted to a male who has the exact same values you are seeking?

I have male friends that I value and feel excitement for when I know they are coming to visit. But, this does not mean that I am a homosexual by my biology.

You're equivocating on "excitement." I suspect that the excitement you feel towards your wife when you are anticipating sex is different in kind than the excitement you feel towards your male friend when you are anticipating his visit.

Even if someday researchers proved that without a doubt that I held the biological trait for homosexuality I still would choose to be a heterosexual because I value having a sexual relationship with a woman.

This gives new meaning to the mind-body dichotomy. :)

Human beings have a nature, both physical and mental, and it is generally beneficial to identify that nature and act in accordance with it and the rest of reality. Reason and logic are of value because of the nature of consciousness and the nature of reality; granted that nature they are the only proper mental means to make true identifications of reality and to discover proper and beneficial courses of action. To the degree that we act against our nature, or against the nature of reality, to that degree we undercut the potential in life that we could otherwise achieve. Similarly, if we do have a biological nature in terms of sexual orientation (meaning in terms of which gender we find sexually attractive, not the particular person we value), then likewise to the degree that we act against that nature to that degree we would be undercutting our potential.

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Some ideas, (I have given this topic a lot of thought, one of my personal friends is gay, and so here's what I think)

If homosexuality is unnatural, (against the physical nature of man) then it's immoral.

In my experience with homosexuals, they tend to have a inherant, natural preference for the same sex. This making it natural for them to be gay.

Infact, it seems to be that if a homosexual is in a heterosexual relationship (a relationship contrary to their physical nature) then they are infact immoral.

I also think that straight men have this general distaste for homosexuality, I don't know for sure what the reason is (I have my suspicions), but it's generally not acceptable among other men. To the men who say they would be straight no matter what, even if your brain says you were gay, I say you're being unrealistic. Reasons:

1. You would feel about men the way you feel about women. (aka you wouldn't be attracted physically or sexually to women.)

2. You would potentially think that having sex with a woman was distasteful. (much like you think of having sex with a man now.)

It is the same nature that makes you a straight man, that makes someone else a gay man. If you take your sexual attraction towards women away, then you certainly wouldn't want to have sex with women.

When I was a girl I had this female friend I was very close with, she grew up to be a lesbian, and when she came out I thought about what it meant for me, am I a lesbian, am I attracted to said friend (I was very close with her), it turns out that after some careful consideration I had no sexual attraction to her, and I just couldn't imagine myself in a relationship (sexual or otherwise) with anyone but a man. Basically, I love men. I think that a gay person probably goes through a similar question period, where they have to figure out who they're attracted to, but I'm certainly not any more homosexual than a homosexual is heterosexual. Theres a difference, homosexuality exists in all kinds of animals, and humans are not excluded, even if we do have choice. Why would a rational individual make a choice contrary to their nature unless they they thought what they were doing was immoral? How can something that's a part of their good nature as man be immoral? Isn't the whole point of objectivism to be a philosophy for living life on earth?

About the food analogy. You can choose not to overeat, you can't choose not to eat at all. (well you can, but it will result in your death.) Can you choose not to have sex, yes. Can you choose to have sex with someone you're not attracted to, yes. Is it immoral to have sex with someone you're not attracted to, I say yes. It's no different than if Dagny Taggart was sleeping with Elsworth Toohey...(different books, but still very very wrong.)

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Heterosexuality in the human male and female is associated with normal brain structure and standard neurophysiological and biochemical processes. It is precisely in differing brain structure and/or in differing neurophysiological and biochemical processes that the biological basis for homosexuality is being sought.

This is the part in question for me. When we have a release of neurophysiological and biochemical processes it is because of a stimulate that we are percieving or reacting to. When it comes to sexuality it is because of the vlaues that we have chosen in another, male or female that gets one physically excited. What if (and this is an if), it is learned through values accepted over a lifetime?

The brain has been shown to have a large amount of plasticity to it. What if according to our values, ones that we either accept or are brought up to accept change our neurophysiological and biochemical proessing? Here is an area where a person could physically change the processing of their own brain. It has been shown long ago that a person that keeps learning can physically alter their brain. (Some of you might laugh at this. But, I read a study long ago about the human brain and its capacity to alter itself when a person is continously learning and remaining conscious. I am sorry but I do not remeber the studies date or name.)

What I am getting at in different terms is, what if researchers are looking in the wrong area, the gene at birth. What if they should be looking at birth and then a much later date when the person knows what and why they value a certain type of sexuality.

I have come to this idea after the last couple of days of thinking about this subject. One of the reasons for my thinking this is that a lot of homosexual males that I have met have a lot in common in their upbringing. With this in mind along with the fact that I am not a neuro-scientist I look forward to further discussion.

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The brain has been shown to have a large amount of plasticity to it.
But not enough plasticity that with enough time, we'll be attracted to a lamppost, or slippers? I grant that brain is very adaptable, but I'm trying to isolate the hard-wired part here.

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Heterosexuality in the human male and female is associated with normal brain structure and standard neurophysiological and biochemical processes. It is precisely in differing brain structure and/or in differing neurophysiological and biochemical processes that the biological basis for homosexuality is being sought.

This is the part in question for me. When we have a release of neurophysiological and biochemical processes it is because of a stimulate that we are percieving or reacting to. When it comes to sexuality it is because of the vlaues that we have chosen in another, male or female that gets one physically excited.

It is our values that give meaning to the physical response, but a male can become inadvertently erect throough pure physical or chemical stimulation.

What if (and this is an if), it is learned through values accepted over a lifetime?

The brain has been shown to have a large amount of plasticity to it. What if according to our values, ones that we either accept or are brought up to accept change our neurophysiological and biochemical proessing? Here is an area where a person could physically change the processing of their own brain. It has been shown long ago that a person that keeps learning can physically alter their brain. (Some of you might laugh at this. But, I read a study long ago about the human brain and its capacity to alter itself when a person is continously learning and remaining conscious. I am sorry but I do not remeber the studies date or name.)

That idea is nothing to laugh at. I have written about such studies in the past, on HBL and other forums. We cannot currently rule out such a possibility (at least within certain narrow constraints), but the evidence for this as an explanation of homosexuality is much more speculative and far less substantive than the evidence against. Also, perhaps this is a good time for me to emphasize what I have said repeatedly before, namely that the evidence in support of a biological basis for homosexuality, while being fascinating and accumulating over time, is not, in my view, yet conclusive.

What I am getting at in different terms is, what if researchers are looking in the wrong area, the gene at birth. What if they should be looking at birth and then a much later date when the person knows what and why they value a certain type of sexuality.

The problem is much more complicated than this, but researchers in several different but connected fields continue to make identifications that are relevant to the nature of homosexuality. For whatever it is worth, if you want a prognostication, I would give two-to-one odds that at least one causal mechanism for the biological basis of homosexuality will be definitively identified within the next decade.

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One fact that I find interesting is that about 10% of people are left-handed and research indicates that, it many cases, left-handedness is associated, much more than right-handedness, with minimal brain damage caused by prenatal complications, difficult births, and other early trauma.

It is estimated that about 10% of the population is homosexual, but I have also read that the percentage of homosexuals who are left-handed is 30%!

As to whether homosexuality is a moral issue, I have found that the personal characteristics I value most -- honesty, purposefulness, intelligence, etc. -- tend to correlate with sexual preference pretty much as well as they correlate with eye color or left or right-handedness. That is, not at all.

As a result, the only time a person's sexual prefence is ever a consideration is when I'm matchmaking.

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I have come to this idea after the last couple of days of thinking about this subject. One of the reasons for my thinking this is that a lot of homosexual males that I have met have a lot in common in their upbringing. With this in mind along with the fact that I am not a neuro-scientist I look forward to further discussion.

Just in case you have not heard this kind of explanation for any similarities you think you've noticed in upbringing among the homosexuals you know, I have heard an explanation for that kind of thing by a homosexual man, which went something like this: "The behavior of the parents toward their son, e.g. an over-protective mother and/or distant father, is the result of the parents' sense that their son is homosexual."

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