Sexual orientation can be defined as an individual’s emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction to another person — women, men, or both the sexes. Sexual orientation also refers to an individual’s sense of identity based on these attractions. Sexual orientation is typically classified into three categories: heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual. People who are heterosexual have emotional, romantic, and sexual attraction towards people of the opposite sex. People who are bisexual have emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction towards members of the same sex.
Homosexuality can be defined as having an emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction towards members of the same sex. Homosexuals are also referred to as gay or lesbians. Men who are attracted to other men are known as gay men whereas women who are attracted towards other women are known as lesbians.
The core attractions that determine an individual’s adult sexual orientation evolve during middle childhood and early adolescence. The emotional, romantic and sexual attraction patterns evolve without any earlier sexual experience. People who are celibate might still know whether they are heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual. On the other hand, some people even while being aware of their sexual orientation take a long time to pursue their actual relationship.
Causes of Homosexuality
There is no exact reason for a person’s sexual orientation. Earlier, it was believed that homosexuality is a result of troubled family dynamics or problematic psychological development. However, recent studies have proven that these are pure assumptions based on social prejudices.
Is Homosexuality a Mental Disorder?
Homosexuality is not a mental disorder and all major professional mental health organizations have dismissed this belief. Numerous studies have proven that sexual orientation and psychopathology are not interrelated. Heterosexual and homosexual orientations are considered normal aspects of our sexuality. There is widespread prejudice against homosexuality in many societies and therefore they tend to portray bisexuals, gays, and lesbians as mentally disturbed people. However, decades of research, studies, and clinical experience have proven that these sexual orientations are absolutely normal forms of human expression.
Coming out is referred to different aspects of a homosexual or bisexual person’s experiences. It can refer to a feeling of self-awareness about one’s same sex attraction. It can also refer to a disclosure of a homosexual orientation to other people. There is a lot of hesitance associated with coming out owing to societal prejudices and discrimination against such people. Therefore, a number of people like to keep it a secret and are reluctant to come out. It is considered to be an important psychological step which is very important for a homosexual person’s emotional well-being and mental health.
Possibility of Changing One’s Sexual Orientation
There is a lot of concern about the possibility of changing an individual’s sexual orientation. All major mental health organizations across the world have claimed that no therapy for changing a person’s sexual orientation has been found to be safe or effective. The very fact that certain societies promote these change therapies further reinforces the prejudice against homosexuals and bisexuals and creates a negative environment for them. A helpful response from a therapist who is counseling people who are disturbed by their sexual orientation would be to give advice which will help them cope with the social prejudice and resolve their internal conflicts so as to enable them to lead a happy and satisfied life.
- “Emotional Distress Among LGBT Youth: The Influence of Perceived Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation,” by Joanna Almeida, et al. Published in August 2009, Volume 38, Issue 7 of the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, accessed on 24 April 2015. Retrieved from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10964-009-9397-9