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15 Q & A
HOMOSEXUALITY - 15 QUESTIONS

1. WHAT IS HOMOSEXUALITY?

Sexual attraction primarily to members of the same sex.

2. WHO IS A HOMOSEXUAL PERSON?

A person who has a sexual attraction primarily to members of the same sex is a homosexual person. A woman who is sexually attracted to primarily women is called a lesbian. A man who is sexually attracted to men is called a gay man.

3. DOES HAVING FEELINGS TOWARDS MEMBERS OF ONE'S OWN SEX MAKE ONE A HOMOSEXUAL PERSON?

No. Many boys and girls during early childhood and adolescence have same-sex sexual attractions or experiences but are not lesbian or gay. Many adults also have same-sex sexual attractions or experiences but do not consider themselves lesbians or gay men.

4. WHAT DETERMINES A PERSON'S SEXUAL ORIENTATION?

It is not known what causes homosexuality or heterosexuality. One theory is that sexual orientation is determined pre-natally. Another theory is that it is determined after birth by environmental factors. In any case, one's sexual orientation is said to be established by a very early age.

5. CAN ONE'S SEXUAL ORIENTATION BE CHANGED?

Since homosexuality is merely one of the variations of sexual behavior a better question might be "Should homosexual people change? If so, why?" Studies have indicated that attempts to change one's sexual orientation are usually unsuccessful and often lead to increased depression and suicide. Statistic show that the majority of homosexuals do not see any reason to change. Some, however, have found that accepting their sexual orientation has been difficult given the prejudice that lesbians and gay me have had to deal with. Social Scientists have begun examining the effect of the distress that arises from this kind of prejudice.

6. HOW MANY LESBIANS AND GAY MEN ARE THERE?

Although figures vary, studies have estimated that 10% of the population is lesbian or gay for a significant part of their lives. It is difficult to determine exact percentages as many of those who are fearful of prejudice hide their sexual orientation.

7. CAN LESBIANS AND GAY MEN BE EASILY IDENTIFIED?

While you may be able to identify some lesbians and gay men, most lesbians and gay men are, contrary to popular belief, indistinguishable from other people. There is no single lesbian or gay lifestyle. Lesbians and gay men lead diverse lives and work in all occupations in every part of the country and the world. Lesbians and gay men are singles and committed couples; intellectuals and jocks; rich, middle class, and poor; urban, suburban, and rural; black, Latino, Asian-Pacific, and white.

8. WHAT KIND OF JOBS DO HOMOSEXUAL PEOPLE HOLD?

Lesbians and gay men work in all occupations and are part of a variety of professions. Many lesbian and gay men take precautions not to reveal their sexual orientation as even their efficient and effective job performance is no protection from harassment and prejudice. Therefore, we may not see a great evidence of lesbians or gay men in so called traditional jobs, as they may not feel safe in being open. For example, lesbians and gay men are in the military although the armed services have an official stand discriminating against them. In a number of states it is not illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.

9. DO LESBIANS AND GAY MEN EXPERIENCE DISCRIMINATION?

Like many other minority groups who are perceived to be "different", lesbian and gay men experience misunderstanding and prejudice. Name calling, harassment, physical violence and discrimination in employment and housing are a few of the ways in which lesbian and gay men are mistreated.

10. IS HOMOSEXUALITY A MENTAL ILLNESS?

No. In 1973 the following resolution was passed by The American Psychiatric Association, Board of Trustees. "Homosexuality, per se implies no impairment in judgment, stability, reliability, or general social or vocational capabilities. Further, (we) urge all mental health professionals to take the lead in removing the stigma of mental illness associated with homosexual orientation."

In many societies, homosexuality is considered quite normal. This was the case in Ancient Greece and Rome (both during their rises and declines in power), in many Native American cultures (where lesbians and gay men are influential tribal and religious leaders), and many present-day societies such as The Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Thailand.

11. ARE HOMOSEXUAL PEOPLE CHILD MOLESTERS?

Pedophilia, sexual attraction to children, should never be confused with homosexuality. Many studies have documented that the overwhelming majority of child molesters are heterosexual men.

12. ARE HOMOSEXUAL PEOPLE PROMISCUOUS?

Not necessarily. Many lesbians and gay men are single and many are in long-term relationships. In a study by Masters and Johnson, the differences in sexual promiscuity were between men and women regardless of sexual orientation. Lesbians and heterosexual women were generally more inclined to be emotionally committed before becoming sexually intimate. Gay and heterosexual men, on the other hand, generally evidence less emotional involvement before becoming sexually intimate.

13. WILL CLOSE PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN ADOLESCENTS
AND ADULTS OF THE SAME SEX LEAD TO HOMOSEXUALITY?

No. This fear of intimate friendships, particularly between males, has had negative effects on the mental well-being and relationship of men with each other. Displays of affection between men are customary in many cultures of the world. It is also very common among men and women who are heterosexual to express love and affection for members of their same sex.

14. IS HOMOSEXUALITY AGAINST RELIGION?

Many of the world's religions do not condemn homosexuality at all. Within the Judeo-Christian tradition, theologians and biblical scholars continue to differ on the Bible's six passages that have been used to condemn homosexual behavior. They agree on one thing, however -- Jesus said absolutely nothing at all about homosexuality. Numerous passages in the Bible do, however condemn various heterosexual behaviors (divorce, premarital sex, masturbation, and birth control). As knowledge has expanded, religions have also often expanded their horizons. For example, in the seventeenth century, Galileo was imprisoned by the Catholic Church for suggesting that the earth was not the center of the universe. In the 19th century, Charles Darwin was condemned for teaching the "blasphemous" theory that humans evolved from animals. Before the Civil War, many churches defended slavery on the basis that it was condoned in the Bible.

Today, many religious organizations support full civil rights for lesbian and gay men, including the National Council of Churches of Christ, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the Unitarian Universalist Association, the Society of Friends (Quakers), and others. The Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches is a predominantly lesbian and gay denomination. In addition, the other denominations are reevaluating their views on homosexuality.

15. IS AIDS A HOMOSEXUAL DISEASE?

No. AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) is not a "homosexual-spread disease." Rather, it is a disease spread by unprotected, unsafe sexual behavior, homosexual and heterosexual. (Sharing needles can also spread the virus.) In Africa, unprotected heterosexual intercourse has been the prime mode of transmission. Lesbians are the least at risk of infection with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), the virus associated with AIDS, of any population group, heterosexual or homosexual.

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