Homosexuality has been considered as abnormal for centuries. Many religions regard homosexuality as sin, therefore homosexuals as sinful. Homosexuality was also, for many years, a diagnosable psychiatric condition. Different cultures considered homosexuals as social deviants and outcasts. Indeed, the overarching view is that homosexuality is a personal choice, and those who choose to become homosexuals are bending nature and therefore to an extent deserving of persecution. But as research on homosexuality progresses, scientists are gathering mounting evidence suggesting that homosexuality is natural and results from a variety of factors rather than personal choice. Published studies and research papers on this topic reveal interesting and sometimes surprising things. These findings and discoveries, in turn, are relieving people who identify as homosexual of the stigma and promoting understanding, acceptance, and equality of the community.
One of the foremost arguments against homosexuality is that it is against nature. According to this argument, a man is for a woman, and thus pairing with someone of the same sex is unnatural. However, a growing number of studies have shown that homosexuality does not only exist in nature but that it manifests in a large number of animals from various orders (Bailey, 2006). Homosexual behavior has been observed in monkeys, apes, sheep, birds, and host of other mammals. In fact, studies suggest that as many as 1,500 animal species engage same-sex coupling (Brandlin, 201). Such behavior involved both males and females, and homosexual relationships varied as to involve short-term mating to lifelong coupling. The existence of homosexual behavior, in turn, indicates that homosexuality is far from unnatural. If it exists in so many non-human species, then it is not surprising at all that humans themselves should exhibit the same behavior.
Apart from the existence of homosexuality in nature, another piece of evidence that points to homosexuality being natural is the role of genetics. Several studies show that there are unique genetic traits that are common. In one large study involving almost half a million subjects in the US, the UK, and Sweden, researchers found a number of genes that may be components of same-sex attraction and behavior (Ganna et al., 2019). This new study is the latest and perhaps the biggest piece of evidence that point to the role of genetics in homosexuality, as numerous significant studies have yielded similar findings in the past (Kaiser, 2019). Finally, certain studies have also linked homosexuality with birth order. In one seminal study, the researchers found that the more older brothers a man has from the same mother, the higher the chances of having a homosexual orientation (Blanchard et al., 1998). Succeeding studies investigating the same topic arrived at similar findings, such as in the case of a recent study which found that maternal immune response to a Y-linked protein increases with each new male gestation, thus establishing a biological underpinning of the process that increases the likelihood of homosexuality in men with older brothers (Bogaert et al., 2019). With so many findings pointing to the role of genetics and birth order, it only becomes more apparent that homosexuality is, first, not a personal choice and, second and more importantly, a natural occurrence.
Given the amount of evidence pointing to homosexuality as natural, it can be said that science certainly plays a role in shedding the stigma of homosexuality. What these studies show is that homosexuality is far from being a personal choice; rather, it results from factors that are beyond individual control. These studies also indicate that homosexuality is not abnormal; rather, they are normal features in nature. Most important of all, however, is how science can be the answer to promoting understanding, acceptance, and equality of the LGBT+ community.
Science consistently debunks misconceptions about homosexuality, and in the process helps show that homosexuality is not the aberration that many people have thought it to be. For instance, science contributed to proving that homosexuality is not a mental disorder. By doing so, it has made an immense contribution to the lives of people who identify as homosexual who once had to contend with the stigma of the diagnosis, not to mention the indignities that so-called treatments for homosexuality entailed. Such findings can also help ease the persecution of people who identify as members of the LGBT+ community. Many young people, for instance, have resorted to teen suicide as a result of depression and other mental health conditions brought about by bullying, isolation, and alienation, sometimes from their own families. Over time, these findings will further remove the stigma of homosexuality that exists even to this day. Many people, for instance, believe that conditions such as sexually transmitted diseases including HIV-AIDS are divine punishment for people leading the homosexual lifestyle. Such antiquated and harmful views will eventually disappear as science moves society closer to understanding the roots of same-sex sexual behavior.
In the end, there is plenty of scientific evidence which support the stance that homosexuality is natural and normal. Apart from naturally occurring in nature, homosexuality has been linked with certain genetic characteristics and birth order. These findings strongly indicate that homosexuality results from various factors rather than personal choices. While these factors basically provide objective data on the causes of homosexuality, it also has the effect of debunking misconceptions about it—misconceptions that have led to many injustices committed against the LGBT+ community. Much like the fight for feminism and equality, the fight for equal rights among the LGBT+ also involves the pursuit of truth and knowledge that advance the community’s case. Admittedly there is much to research about this topic, but science can over time pave the way towards fully addressing the prejudice against homosexuality and thereby improve the lives of those who identify as such.
Bailey, N.W. & Zuk, M. (2009). Same-sex sexual behavior and evolution. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 24(8), 439-446.
Blanchard, R., Zucker, K. J., Siegelman, M., Dickey, R., Klassen, P. (1998). The relation of birth order to sexual orientation in men and women. Journal of Biosocial Science, 30(4), 511-519. doi: 10.1017/s0021932098005112
Bogaert, A. F., Skorska, M. N., Wang, C., Gabrie, J., MacNeil, A. J., Hoffarth, M. R., Vanderlaan, D. P., Zucker, K. J., & Blanchard, R. (2018). Male homosexuality and maternal immune responsivity to the Y-linked protein NLGN4Y. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 115(2), 302-306. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1705895114
Brandlin, A. (2017). 10 animal species that show how being gay is natural. Deustche Welle. https://www.dw.com/en/10-animal-species-that-show-how-being-gay-is-natural/g-39934832
Ganna, A., Verweij, K. J. H., Nivard, M. G., Maier, R., & Wedow, R., Busch, A. S., Abdellaoui, A., Guo, Shengru, & Sathirapongsasuti, J. F. (2019). Large-scale GWAS reveals insights into the genetic architecture of same-sex sexual behavior. Science, 365(6456). doi: 10.1126/science.aat7693
Kaiser, J. (2019). Genetics may explain up to 25% of same-sex behavior, giant analysis reveals. Science Magazine. https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/08/genetics-may-explain-25-same-sex-behavior-giant-analysis-reveals