CALL FOR WRITERS: Born this way? The role of the nature vs nurture debate in sexual identity formation and acceptance
The question of what ‘causes’ homosexuality (understood here as any sexual orientation that differentiates from heterosexuality i.e. attraction to opposite sex) has been preoccupying widely ranging scientific fields and scientists: from medicine and neuroscience to cultural and behavioral studies. Is sexual orientation a simple variable that is determined before birth, or is it influenced by environmental and surrounding factors over the course of someone’s life? In other words: do individuals who identify as LGBT choose to do so or were they born this way?
Many scientists have attempted to find answers to these questions, thereby positioning themselves in the nature vs. nurture debate regarding homosexuality. While doing so, many predominantly biological and social theories and explanations were born (some more viable than others) ranging from hormones in the uterus and mothers’ smoking habits during pregnancy to abuse and culturally determined gender stereotypes.
A factor related to this debate that has been taken into account to a much lesser extent, is the role that it plays within the process of sexual identity formation and acceptance. While struggling with their emerging sexual identity, many people ask the question: why is it that I am different from the majority? It is commonly understood amongst social scientists that a process of acceptation preludes a healthy sexual identity. Although this process can differ to a greater extent between individuals regarding, for example, duration and level of hardship, most individuals that struggle with their sexual orientation go through certain phases before coming to terms with it. So how does the question of ‘why’ fit into this process? What do people who identify as LGBT themselves think of this debate and what do they regard as the origins of their sexual orientation?
For this series, then, instead of focusing on the scientific debate regarding this topic, Gender Across Borders would like to give individuals who have touched upon this topic in their personal lives (either from personal or ‘bystander’ perspective) the opportunity to express their opinion. We’d like to know how you position yourself in this debate, if and how this debate has influenced the process of accepting your sexual orientation, the role that surrounding cultural belief systems have played, etc. But also: if you’d had the choice, would you opt to be homosexual or heterosexual? And how has the nature vs. nurture debate regarding homosexuality influenced the rest of your life, for example in medical, political, or religious terms? Feel free to incorporate the scientific field in your contribution as well, as long as it is related to personal experience. For example: how have you incorporated certain theories pertaining to the ‘cause’ of homosexuality in your personal point of view?
Feel free to express yourself through personal narratives, profiles, book reviews, journalistic articles, analytical pieces, critical essays and last but not least editorials. Photo essays, art/posters, short films, digital animation and sound files will also be accepted.
To apply, please submit your piece (300 – 1000 words in length, if written, 2-4 minutes if digital) along with a résumé/CV or short summary of interests and experience to Charlotte at firstname.lastname@example.org before 20 April 2012. Articles should include relevant links (no footnotes) that provide additional information and an image to run with the entry. No prior experience with blogging or professional writing is necessary, however please familiarize yourself with the Gender Across Border’s website (please note that this is a volunteer-based site so you cannot be compensated for your submission). Anyone with an interest in feminism, human rights, gender, and development is welcome to contribute. Please note that Gender Across Borders is volunteer run and therefore we will be unable to compensate contributors at this time.
The deadline to contribute is April 23 2012. Contributors must be available via email between 23-26 April to participate in the editing and uploading process. The series will run 27 April on Gender Across Borders.