Frequently Asked Questions
it mean to be Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual?"
To be lesbian or gay means that a person's primary sexual and
affectional orientation is toward people of the same gender. To
be bisexual means that a person's primary sexual and affectional
orientation is toward both people of the same gender and people
of the opposite gender. For most lesbians, gay men and bisexuals
sexual identity includes more than just sexual attraction and behavior.
Research points to the importance of additional dimensions, such
as emotional preferences, psychological attraction, falling in
love, and self-identification (Klein, 1990). There may be men who
have sex with men, or women who have sex with women who do not
identify as gay or lesbian. Being lesbian or gay is an identity
that is accompanied by a rich culture, with traditions, celebrations,
and a sense of community.
"Who is Lesbian,
Bisexual or Gay?"
Lesbians, gay men and bisexuals are represented in every socio-economic
class, education level, political affiliation, age group, religion,
race and ethnicity. They are our sisters, fathers, aunts, uncles,
and friends. Lesbians and gay men are doctors, carpenters, teachers,
ministers, factory workers, scientists, psychologists, police officers,
military personnel, etc. Although some people argue that lesbians
and gay men are not suitable for certain jobs, no research evidence
supports this claim.
Additionally, no physical attributes or behavior (such as dress
or mannerisms) can identify who is lesbian or gay, though stereotypes
of the effeminate male and masculine female are common. Whereas
some gay people may display stereotypical characteristics, the
vast majority do not. Lesbians and gay men are diverse as a group
and unique as individuals.
Gay or Lesbian instead of Homosexual?"
In every society, language is a reflection
of accepted and expected cultural values and beliefs. The term "homosexual" was devised
to describe "sick", "ill", or "deviant" people who had relationships
with the same gender. Today, there is a large body of research
that contradicts the assumption that lesbians and gay men are psychologically
disturbed due to their sexual orientation. In studies comparing
lesbians and gay men to heterosexuals, both groups consistently
score in the normal range on psychological tests. Given that research
did not support this assumption of deviance, in 1973 the American
Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of
psychiatric disorders. Considering that the term homosexual has
this negative historical definition, rejecting it and the deviance
implied has been essential for lesbians and gay men. The labels
lesbian, gay and bisexual are words that were created within and
for the group to name their experience more accurately.
a person to be Lesbian, Gay or Bisexual?"
No one knows what makes people lesbian or gay,
just as no one knows what makes people heterosexual. Two often
focus on environmental versus biological origins. Environmental
theories of homosexuality have focused on conflict-ridden experiences
causing an otherwise healthy person to "become" gay, such as having
a rejecting father, pathological family relationships, or other
negative incidents. Biological theories have focused on brain differences
between homosexuals and heterosexuals, homosexuality as inherited,
and the role of prenatal hormones (Bryne & Parsons, 1993).
Although much research has been conducted examining this question
no conclusive theory of etiology for sexual orientation exists
at this time. Implicit in most of the research is the assumption
that homosexuality is a divergence from normal psychological or
biological development. Many scientists dispute this assumption.
What is considered normal is defined by each society reflecting
cultural values and norms. Homosexuality has existed throughout
history, in every culture, across all economic and educational
levels, and is considered socially acceptable in many societies
Lesbians and Gays are there?"
We do not know exactly. Alfred Kinsey interviewed more than 10,000
people about their sexual behaviors across the United States in
the 1930s and 1940s. To the public's astonishment Kinsey's results
revealed that a substantial number of men (37%) said they had experienced
some overt homosexual experience to the point to orgasm between
adolescence and old age, and 10 percent were exclusively homosexual
(Kinsey, 1948). Research conducted later with women found that
2% to 6% were exclusively homosexual (Kinsey, 1953). This question
did not receive further study for at least two decades. In 1970
the Kinsey Institute published another study which maintained between
3.3% and 6.2% of people to be exclusively homosexual.
The focus on numbers submerges the critical issue that lesbians,
gay men and bisexuals are stigmatized. Would it be any more acceptable
to harass, persecute, or perpetrate violence upon gay people if
they comprised only 1% of the population? Certainly, all people
should live free of harassment and prejudice.
From "Creating Community"
UC Davis Chancellor's Committee on LGBT Issues