The Science of Sexuality: What you never learned in school.
Kris Wise MSW, LCSW
Growing up I knew not one “out” LGBTQ+ adult or same sex couple. Looking back, I can see them living quietly, hiding parts of their life from people who loved them. They were beautiful, broke gender stereotypes, and were brilliant sparks of light. The predominant culture in the United States is that of heteronormativity and this reflects northeast Indiana. Meaning that heterosexuals make up the majority of the population and social norms, laws, and systems have been created and are predominantly viewed through this lens. Reflecting back, I see their light, how they managed their lives, and how much pain they carried. When you change your lens you can see them, and as a therapist serving the LGBTQ+ community I know it is important for young people to see adult versions reflective of their sexuality and gender identity.
Sexuality is part of being human. Sexual orientation refers to the emotional, romantic, and sexual attraction towards women, men, or all sexes. Orientation exists along a continuum. The Kinsey Scale is widely used in research and in sexuality education. This scale allows for identification of sexual behavior, sexual fantasy and self-identity to collectively make up a person’s sexual orientation.
Science has excelled and bringing new knowledge of the brain and human biology. New knowledge offers the opportunity for understanding how unique each one of us are. Studies in neuroscience and human genetics reveals human sexualities are a product of our genes, sex hormones and brain systems. Evidence clearly explains it is nature not nurture. Determined similar to other personal traits and is not a choice.
What does it all mean?
Don’t allow others to limit who you are by labels or definitions. The terminology we use in our community is a way to convey aspects about ourselves. Unfortunately, every tool can be a weapon, so be kind and open to those who may misunderstand. Define yourself and use wording you are comfortable with to communicate your uniqueness. Be patient as it took time to convince people the earth isn’t flat, and I suppose it will take time to convince them of this science. Yes, it appears as though there are more LGBTQ+ individuals in our world, but as our families and communities become safer places to live openly, discuss, and publically identify or ‘come out’, there is undoubtedly an increase in those living their authentic lives visibly.
How does this impact us?
Celebrate your uniqueness as no one is just like you. Health education should include human sexuality. Gay affirmative psychotherapy (talk therapy) should be utilized for LGBTQ+ people working towards authenticity, self-acceptance, and empowerment. This means love is love and wherever it is found it should be celebrated. We cannot allow politics to separate how we live and love. Hate, persecution, and intolerance drive valleys of distance between our souls. The farther apart we are the harder it is to see our similarities. Be you and be you perfectly.
What is next?
The LGBTQ+ youth of today are faced with the same inaccurate messages of ‘its jut a phase’, and other emotionally damaging responses. Depending on where you live there are differing life experiences. Some youth are embraced and empowered, while others face bullying at school and abuse at home.
We must not forget the progress that has occurred since Marsha P. Johnson had enough. There is marriage equality, states with legal protections, and more safe spaces than Harvey Milk could have imagined. As a therapist and as a person I know the importance of recognizing progress. We must continue to care for and cherish every aspect of the community in order to gain further understanding of our lives, experiences, and differences. The next generation should not have to wait for their lives to get better. There is a child waiting to hear your words of kindness, as their life depends on it. Love yourself so that you can love others.
Thank you for being you, and being you perfectly.