Homosexuality and Bisexuality
Men who are sexually attracted to other men are called homosexual. Women who are sexually attracted to other women are called lesbians. The term “gay” is often used to describe homosexual men and women. Bisexuality is sexual attraction to both men and women.
No one is sure what causes homosexuality, or what causes heterosexuality, for that matter. No particular hormonal, biological, or psychological inﬂuences have been identiﬁed with certainty as substantially contributing to a person’s sexual orientation. Most scientists believe that a person’s sexual orientation is established in childhood, through genetic or environ- mental inﬂuences or a combination of both. It is not a choice. Therefore, the term “sexual preference” is inaccurate.
You can beneﬁt from forming and maintaining a close, stable, long-term relationship.Nurturing your relationship with your partner can make you happy— and it also can keep you healthy.
Scientiﬁc research indicates that parents have very Scientiﬁc research indicates that parents have very little inﬂuence on their children’s sexual orientation.
Evidence also shows that children who are raised by homosexual parents are no more likely to grow up to be homosexual than are children raised by heterosex- uals. Like heterosexuals, most gay people realize their sexual orientation during adolescence. Some, however, realize it much later, even after leading a married life.
An estimated 3 to 10 percent of American men have been involved exclusively in homosexual relationships throughout their lives. A much higher percentage of people have reported experimenting in same-sex activities during adoles- cence, although they identify themselves as adult heterosexuals. Although a sig- niﬁcant number of people have bisexual feelings, a small percentage actually act on those feelings. Most homosexuals adjust well to their sexual identity, even though they often must overcome disapproval and prejudice. This adjustment can be stressful and may lead to emotional and physical health problems. Homo- sexual teenagers in particular may feel confused and isolated from friends and family, and they may fear rejection.
For some homosexuals and heterosexuals, frequent sexual activity with dif- ferent partners is a common practice throughout life. People with multiple sex partners run the risk of developing a variety of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs; see page 180).