Sexual Orientation

A term referring to a person’s various aspects of sexual attraction to men, women, or both sexes. It can also be referred to a person’s sense of identity based on those attractions,fantasies, related behaviors, and of others who share similar attractions.

It is easily distinguished from other components of sexuality including,

  • Biological sex
  • Gender identity
  • Social gender role

Usually, Sexual orientation is divided into 3 categories:

  • Heterosexual: attracted to individuals of the opposite sex
  • Bisexual: attracted to members of either sex
  • Homosexual: attracted to individuals of one’s own sex

Sexual orientation involves a person’s feelings and sense of identity; it may or may not be evident in the person’s appearance or behavior. Although people may have attractions to people of the same or opposite sex, they may not act on these feelings. For example, a bisexual may choose to have a relationship with only one gender and, elect not to act on the attraction to the other gender.

There are numerous theories about the origins of a person’s sexual orientation. Most scientists agree that sexual orientation is most likely due to the result of combination  of environmental, cognitive (emotional)  and biological factors. In most people, sexual orientation is shaped at an early age. There is also considerable recent evidence to suggest that biology, including genetic or inborn hormonal factors, play a significant role in a person’s sexuality.

Theories of psychological causation like poor relationships with parents in early childhood,have not been supported by scientific evidence.However, homosexuality and bisexuality are perhaps not influenced how a child was brought up by their parents, or by having a sexual experience with someone of the same sex when the person was young.

Studies show that,in the general population approximately 3 percent of men & 1 percent of women are homosexual in sexual orientatation.
Being homosexual or bisexual does not mean the person is mentally ill or abnormal in some way, although there may be social problems that result from prejudicial attitudes or misinformation.

For many people, their sexual orientation becomes evident to them during middle childhood and adolescence, and in many cases without any sexual experience. For example, homosexuals become aware that their sexual thoughts and activities focus on people of the same sex.

Some people know that they are lesbian, gay, or bisexual for a long time before they actually pursue relationships with other people. Some people engage in sexual activity (with same-sex and/or other sex partners) before assigning a clear label to their sexual orientation.

Prejudice and discrimination make it difficult for many people to come to terms with their sexual orientation identities, so claiming a lesbian, gay, or bisexual identity may be a slow process.

It is possible, however, to have fantasies or to be curious about people of the same sex without being homosexual or bisexual, or choosing to act on these impulses/attractions.

Most experts agree that sexual orientation is not a choice and, therefore, cannot be changed. For most people, sexual orientation emerges in early adolescence without any prior sexual experience. .Some people who are homosexual or bisexual may hide their sexual orientation and/or live as heterosexuals to avoid the prejudice and discrimination that exists against people who are homosexual and bisexual or to avoid their own moral values when their sexual orientation differs with their personal beliefs.

It is unwise to try to change one’s sexual behavior but accept that person as they are. Otherwise they will go into psychological turmoil. It must be stressed that having a sexual orientation different to what we believe as normal is not an illness.

Yes. There are a number of different support systems available to those struggling with sexual orientation. These support systems can help them develop strategies for dealing with the prejudice associated with homosexuality and the damaging effects of bias and stereotypes. The support group that is available for lesbians is “Equal Grounds” and for gay persons is “Companions on a Journey”.  Also you can visit The Family Planning Association Sri Lanka, if you need support to handle any issue that troubles you after recognizing yourself as homosexual.

Lesbian, gay, and bisexual people encounter extensive prejudice, discrimination, harassment and violence because of their sexual orientation.

Lesbian, gay, and bisexual people who want to help reduce prejudice and discrimination can be open about their sexual orientation, even as they take necessary precautions to be as safe as possible.

They can make use of the lesbian, gay, and bisexual community—as well as supportive heterosexual people—for support.

Heterosexual people who wish to help reduce prejudice and discrimination can examine their own response to antigay stereotypes and prejudice. They can make a point of coming to know lesbian, gay, and bisexual people, and they can work with lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals and communities to combat prejudice and discrimination. Heterosexual individuals are often in a good position to ask other heterosexual people to consider the prejudicial or discriminatory nature of their beliefs and actions. Heterosexual allies can encourage nondiscrimination policies that include sexual orientation. They can work to make coming out safe.

One of the most powerful influences on heterosexuals’ acceptance of gay people is having personal contact with an openly gay person. Anti gay attitudes are far less common among members of the population who have a close friend or family member who is lesbian or gay, especially if the gay person has directly come out to the heterosexual person.

No, lesbian, gay, and bisexual orientations are not disorders. Both heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality. Both have been documented in many different cultures and historical eras. These orientations represent normal forms of human experience. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual relationships are normal forms of human bonding.

The phrase “coming out” is used to refer to several aspects of lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons’ experiences: self-awareness of same-sex attractions; the telling of one or a few people about these attractions; widespread disclosure of same-sex attractions; and identification with the lesbian, gay, and bisexual community.

Many people hesitate to come out because of the risks of meeting prejudice and discrimination. Some choose to keep their identity a secret; some choose to come out in limited circumstances; some decide to come out in very public ways.
Coming out is often an important psychological step for lesbian, gay, and bisexual people.This integration often involves disclosing one’s identity to others; it may also entail participating in the gay community. Being able to discuss one’s sexual orientation with others also increases the availability of social support, which is crucial to mental health and psychological well-being. Like heterosexuals, lesbians, gay men, and bisexual people benefit from being able to share their lives with and receive support from family, friends, and acquaintances. Thus, it is not surprising that lesbians and gay men who feel they must conceal their sexual orientation report more frequent mental health concerns than do lesbians and gay men who are more open; they may even have more physical health problems.

Often lesbian, gay and bisexual people feel afraid, different, and alone when they first realize that their sexual orientation is different from the community norm. This is particularly true for people becoming aware of their gay, lesbian, or bisexual orientation in childhood or adolescence.

They may also fear being rejected by family, friends, co-workers, and religious institutions. Some gay people have to worry about losing their jobs or being harassed at school if their sexual orientation became well known.

What is the nature of same-sex relationships?

Many lesbians and gay men want and have committed and stabilized relationships. Studies have found same-sex and heterosexual couples to be equivalent to each other on measures of relationship satisfaction and commitment. Despite social hostility toward same-sex relationships, research shows that many lesbians and gay men form durable relationships.

It is also reasonable to suggest that the stability of same-sex couples might be enhanced if partners from same-sex couples enjoyed the same levels of support and recognition for their relationships as heterosexual couples do.

Some lesbians and gay men are parents; It is seen in the developed countries,but the concept is still novel to Asian countries. Yes. Studies comparing groups of children raised by homosexual and by heterosexual parents find no developmental differences between the two groups of children in four critical areas: their intelligence, psychological adjustment, social adjustment, and popularity with friends. It is also important to realize that a parent’s sexual orientation does not indicate on their children’s sexual beliefs.

This is just another myth about homosexuality. There is no evidence to suggest that gay men have more of a tendency than heterosexual men to sexually molest children.

Educating all people about sexual orientation and homosexuality is likely to diminish anti-gay prejudice. Accurate information about homosexuality is especially important to young people who are first discovering and seeking to understand their sexuality, whether homosexual, bisexual, or heterosexual.
Correct scientific information about homosexuality does not make someone gay or straight.

No. This is a common myth. In reality, the risk of exposure to HIV is related to a person’s behavior, not their sexual orientation. What’s important to remember about HIV/AIDS is that contracting the disease can be prevented by using safe sex practices (use a condom all the time, stick to one faithful partner) and by not sharing needles and not using drugs.