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Frequently Asked Questions


Ñ      What causes homosexuality?

No one knows for sure what determines a person’s sexual orientation.  There is no known cause for homosexuality, just as there is no known cause for heterosexuality. The most recent research indicates that sexual orientation is in place very early in life and, possibly, even before birth, indicating that there may be a genetic and/or hormonal component.  Cognitive and environmental factors likely also play a role. 

Ñ      Are people born gay or lesbian, or is it a choice?

Most persons who are gay, lesbian, or bisexual view their sexuality as a natural part of themselves, just as heterosexuals do.  They view it not as choosing to be gay, lesbian, or bisexual but as choosing to acknowledge and accept their own feelings and behaviors. It is not a preference, which implies a choice, but an orientation.

Ñ      At what age do most people become gay, lesbian, or bisexual?

What this question is really asking is: “At what age do most people recognize that they are gay, lesbian, or bisexual?”  People “come out,” meaning that they self-identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, at all ages.  Some people know about their sexual orientation at a very early age.  As part of the normal developmental process, most people awaken to their sexuality in early adolescence.  For others, it may not be until later in life that one comes to terms with his or her sexual orientation.

Ñ      What is the gay lifestyle?

There is no definable “gay lifestyle,” just as there is no standard heterosexual lifestyle.  There is as much diversity of lifestyle among people who are gay, lesbian, or bisexual as there is among heterosexuals.  The term “gay lifestyle” is misleading because it implies that all persons who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual live their lives in the same manner, sharing identical values, beliefs, and behaviors. 

Ñ      Why do homosexuals flaunt their sexuality?

Often people who are gay, lesbian, or bisexual are accused of “flaunting” their sexuality just for talking openly about their sexual orientation. In actuality, many heterosexuals do not realize the degree to which they make their heterosexuality known all of the time.   People who are gay, lesbian, and bisexual want the freedom to talk about their daily lives openly without fear of prejudiced and discriminatory reactions just as heterosexuals do.

Ñ      Is homosexuality unnatural?

From a scientific point of view, homosexuality is natural, meaning that it occurs in nature.  Research suggests that homosexuality exists throughout the animal world.  There has been evidence of homosexuality in all human cultures throughout history.

Ñ      Are homosexuals promiscuous?

Persons who are gay, lesbian, or bisexual have the same range of sexual activity (from none to a lot) as heterosexuals. The perception of homosexuals as promiscuous is partially perpetuated by media bias; often, we get more information about the sexuality of persons who are gay, lesbian, or bisexual and little information about the diversity and depth of their relationships.

Ñ      Is homosexuality a mental illness?

Neither the American Psychological Association nor the American Psychiatric Association considers homosexuality a mental illness.  Studies have found no difference between homosexuals and heterosexuals on a variety of criteria, including self-esteem, family relations, and general life satisfaction. 

Ñ      Can homosexuals be cured?

Since homosexuality is not an illness, there is no need to “cure” it.  Most psychiatric and psychological attempts to “cure” homosexuality have failed to change the client’s sexual orientation; at most, they cause clients to harmfully repress their sexual thoughts and feelings and inhibit expression of sexual behavior, which can be more detrimental.

Ñ      Do homosexuals molest children?

Persons who are gay, lesbian, or bisexual are no more or less likely to molest children than are heterosexuals.  A study by the U.S. Department of Public Health showed that over ninety percent of child molestation is committed by heterosexual men against females.  Media bias perpetuates the idea that males committing crimes against boys are “homosexual” crimes. Such a practice confuses the issues of sexual abuse and pedophilia with sexual orientation.

Ñ      How do gay and lesbian couples manage gender roles?

The very nature of relationships with two same-sex partners requires breaking down stereotypical gender roles such as housework is women’s work, and yard work is a man’s job. Many couples, both homosexual and heterosexual, are establishing relationships based on equality and shared responsibilities.

Ñ      Can homosexuals have children?

Many gays and lesbians have been or are married, often in an attempt to conform to societal expectations of heterosexuality; these and other LGB individuals may have children.  In addition, many gay and lesbian couples are arranging to become parents through adoption or artificial insemination.  However, in some states, their parental rights are not always secure.

Ñ      Can homosexuals be good parents?

There is no evidence that heterosexuals make better parents than homosexuals. It also holds true that the sexual orientation of the parent is not the determining factor in the sexual orientation of the child. Research has shown that children with gay or lesbian parents are just as well-adjusted and emotionally and psychologically healthy as children with heterosexual parents.

Ñ      Are transsexuals and transgendered people also gay or lesbian?

Not necessarily. Remember that gender identity is separate and distinct from sexual orientation. Whether a person identifies as a man or woman does not dictate whether he or she is sexually attracted to the same, opposite, or both sexes.


Ñ      Does bisexuality really exist?  Aren’t people really either heterosexual or homosexual?

Bisexuality is the potential to feel emotionally and/or sexually attracted to men and women.  In reality, sexual orientation exists on a continuum ranging from completely homosexual to completely heterosexual.  Most individuals fall somewhere in between.

Ñ      Is bisexuality just a phase?

Some people may go through a transitional period of identifying as bisexual as part of their process of coming out as gay or lesbian.  But for many others, bisexuality is a stable, long-term orientation

Ñ      Are some bisexuals confused about their sexuality?

It is natural for people who are bisexual, just as for people who are gay or lesbian, to go through a period of confusion during the coming out process as they recognize and accept their sexual orientation. 

Ñ      Are bisexuals equally attracted to both sexes?

Most people who are bisexual tend to have a stronger attraction toward one sex or the other while recognizing their attraction to both sexes. Some bisexuals do feel equally attracted to both sexes.

Ñ      Are bisexuals promiscuous?

People who are bisexual show a range of sexual behaviors, just as do heterosexuals and people who are gay or lesbian. Bisexuals are as capable as anyone of making a long-term monogamous commitment to a partner they love.

Ñ      Do bisexuals spread AIDS?

AIDS occurs in people of all sexual orientations.  Anyone who has unprotected sex, regardless of his or her sexual orientation, can contract or spread AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases.  It is what a person does (sexual behavior), not who they are (sexual identity) that puts a person at risk for contracting AIDS. 

Ñ      Are bisexuals discriminated against?

Society in general lumps bisexuals into a single category with gay men and lesbians.  Therefore, people who are bisexual may encounter the same kinds of harassment and discrimination as people who are gay or lesbian.  




Adapted from the Northern Illinois Campus Safe Space Ally Handbook.