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Frequently Asked Questions

What is homosexuality?
Homosexuality is the capacity to feel love and sexual satisfaction with someone of the same gender. Typically people think that is unnatural and not normal. This is not the case. Little research has been done to indicate what reason might be associated with being gay.

What causes homosexuality?
The actual facts that determine sexual orientation are not known. Most researchers believe that one’s basic sexual orientation is predisposed at birth or established at a very early age. While these primary affectional inclinations may not be recognized or acknowledged for many years, once established, they tend not to change substantially. Some believe that it might be genetic meaning that it is inherited. Others think it might have something to do with chemistry of the baby in the womb.

How many gay men and lesbians are there?
The Kinsey Institute research, conducted in the 1940’s and 1950’s, suggests that approximately, depending on location, that 10% of the population is lesbian or gay. Though some researchers believe this estimate to be too high or too low, it is safe to assume that lesbians and gay men constitute a significant minority group. Consequently, even though we may not be aware of their sexual orientation, must of us know someone who is lesbian or gay. The vast majority of lesbians and gay men remain “in the closet”; this is, they reveal their sexual orientation to only a few trusted friends.

When do gay men and lesbians first know?
There is no set age at which a person becomes aware that he or she is lesbian or gay. Some LGBT people become aware of their sexual orientation during adolescence. Because of the strong sexual societal pressure to be heterosexual, however, some people do not realize that a heterosexual lifestyle does not meet their needs or feelings until later in life, perhaps even after they have been married for years.

Can you tell if people are gay or lesbian by their appearance?
No. Lesbians and gay men are as varied in their dress, mannerisms, and styles as are heterosexuals. Despite this diversity, many stereotypes persist about the effeminate man or the masculine woman. Although some gay people adopt those styles, the overwhelming majority of lesbians and gay men do not conform to these stereotypes, and their sexual orientation is invisible to the general public. We only “see” those who conform to our stereotypes. People who dress in the clothing of the opposite sex are transvestites. The vast majority of transvestites are heterosexual, not lesbians or gay men.

Do lesbians and gay men hate the opposite sex?
No. Lesbians are lesbians because they form loving relationships with women, and gay men are gay men because they form loving relationships with men, and neither forms these relationships because they hate the other gender. Many lesbians have close male friends and many gay men have close women friends.

Do lesbians and gay men want to be the opposite sex?
No. Lesbians and gay men do not want to be the opposite sex. Within in the gay community, there are many who have challenged and discarded stereotypical sex roles but this does not mean that they want to be the other gender. Gayness involves celebration and affirmation of one’s gender, not a rejection of it.

Is homosexuality healthy?
Studies have shown that people’s sexual orientation has no bearing on their mental and emotional stability. In one landmark research project, mental health professionals were unable to distinguish between homosexuals and heterosexuals in terms of functionality, stability, and creativity. In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality form the official listing of psychiatric disorders.

Is homosexuality immoral?
Many religious traditions have taught and some continue to teach that homosexuality is immoral. These condemnations are based primarily on few isolated passages from the bible. Historical, biblical passages taken out of context have been used to justify such things as slavery, in inferior status of women, and the persecution of religious minorities. In recent years, many theologians and clergy have begun to look at sexual relationships in terms of the love, mutual support, commitment, and the responsibility of the partners rather than the gender of the individuals involved. Currently, there are many gay and lesbian religious groups and religious congregations that are open, accepting, and supportive of the gay community.

Is being gay “natural”?
Each culture defines what is “natural” or “normal” to fit its own context and these definitions differ. Historians tell us that homosexuality has existed since the earliest of human societies. Anthropologists report that lesbians and gay men have been part of every culture, that in many cultures bisexuality is the norm, and that in some societies homosexuality is very common. Lesbians and gay men are represented in every socioeconomic class, educational level, and race. It is often said that homosexual behavior is not natural because the purpose of sex should be reproduction. In addition to the fact that most heterosexual encounters are not intended to produce children, homosexual relationships, like heterosexual relationships, consist of more than just sexual encounters. A homosexual identity involves both an emotional commitment to people of the same gender and membership in a community.

Do gay men and lesbians have long-lasting relationships?
Yes, long-standing relationships are common. The difficulty when compared to heterosexual relationships, however, is that society and the family (for the most part) disapproves of homosexuality. This disapproval puts an extra strain on gay and lesbian relationships, which also have to cope with common stresses that affect all couples.

Should gay men and lesbians be barred from certain jobs?
Sexual orientation does not affect one’s job qualifications. Unfortunately, some people believe that gay men and lesbians should not be allowed to hold certain positions such as teacher, foster parent, soldier, counselor, religious leader, or police officer. They fear that gay men and lesbians are sexually irresponsible and less trustworthy than heterosexuals. (In fact it is well documented that the overwhelming majority of those who molest children are heterosexual men.) These beliefs, like those who used to discriminate against people on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, physical ability or gender, are based on prejudice arid ignorance rather than on accurate information.


Won’t gay parents make their kids gay?
Research has shown that children of lesbian or gay parents are no more or less likely to become gay or lesbian. Most gays and lesbians had heterosexual parents. Of course children growing up in non-traditional families may a face a certain amount of social prejudice, but such challenges can be empowering of children if they have love and support. Fewer and fewer children are growing up in two-parent, heterosexual, nuclear families. Lesbian and gay families are one of many diverse family types that exist.

Why do gay people need Gay Rights laws? Isn’t that asking for special privileges?
Gay rights laws do not give lesbians and gay men special privileges. On the contrary, gay civil rights laws are consistent with the traditional American belief that all people are entitled to such basic necessities as employment or housing without fear of discrimination. Currently there is no federal protection for lesbians and gay men who are discriminated against.

Do homosexuals spread AIDS?
No. AIDS is spread by the HIV virus. So for in the US there are certain groups who have been disproportionately affected by AIDS, but anyone who practices unsafe sex or shared needles while using drugs, is putting themselves at risk. There is another disease that has been equally virulent, the disease of AFRAIDS. Those affected by AFRAIDS are misinformed and blame AIDS on different groups – gay men, bisexual men, people of color, IV drug users, people from Haiti, etc. The gay community has been an inspiration to many because of the courageous and powerful way it has responded to this human tragedy.


LGBT Informational Resources


LGBT on Wikipedia
Polari: Gay Slang
Gay on Wikipedia
Lesbian on Wikipedia

Dictionary of Queer Slang and Culture
Homosexuality on Wikipedia
Family Pride: Myths & Facts
Penn State Altoona Gay Straight Alliance: Common  Misconceptions
PFLAG: Frequently Asked Questions
Women's Web: LGBT Topics

Born Different

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Association for Lesbian Gay Bisexual & Transgender Issues in Counseling of Alabama