from What do clinical studies say?
By James Phelan, Ph.D.
The following is reprinted by permission from "Cultural War" blog by James Phelan, Ph.D.
December 29, 2007 - John R. Hughes, of the University of Illinois Medical Center reviewed the most recent 1000 Medline searched articles on male homosexuality and lesbianism, up until the time of publication of his article in the 2006 Winter issue of Sexuality and Disability http://www.springer.com/west/home/psychology?SGWID=4-10126-70-35748469-0.
After reviewing the studies on biology and social factors, Hughes concluded:
Thus, some individuals develop homosexuality presumably from earlier sexual abuse. As in nearly all diseases/disorders, both physical (genetic) and psychological (environmental) factors may play a role in varying amounts in particular individuals. One gay male may have definite feminine characteristics that would play a role in his sexual orientation, while another gay male with prominent masculine secondary sex characteristics may have in his history environmental factors to account for his homosexuality. (p. 197)
After looking at the recent reports which indicated sexual orientation prevalence, Hughes stated: "In summary, the prevalence of homosexuality is 3-5%, likely 2-4% for lesbians, and 3% for bisexuality, although exceptions can be found in particular groups or countries" (p. 197).
Hughes found that the cases of HIV+ in the 1980s that were homosexual were usually around 75%. As of 2005, he noted that "the value in number of HIV+ patients who were gay were reported as 61% although the prevalence depend[ed] on the country involved with the sampling" (p. 198).
Syphilis and other venereal diseases
Hughes found that for gay men, beyond HIV, syphilis, genito-urinary infections and anal carcinomas were significant. Bacterial vaginosis, cerebral vascular disease, polycystic ovaries, and androgehypernism were higher in lesbians than heterosexual women.
Characteristics as a subgroup
Drug and alcohol
As a subgroup, 50% of gays admit to illicit drug use. Lesbians spent more time in bars and drank more alcohol than heterosexual females.
Unprotected anal sex
The hallmark finding was that 50-60% of male homosexuals have engaged in unprotected anal sex and 21% report never using a condom.
Consistency in studies show casual partnering increasing, not decreasing (which might be expected considering there is an increase in society acceptance of homosexuals), as evidenced in reports about weekend resorts, public sex environments, bath houses, e-dating, and circuit parties.
Suicidation, molestation, and violence were other factors found to be disproportionately higher in the homosexual subgroup.
Fluidity or "Change in sexual orientation over time"
Hughes noted, which I found particularly interesting, that pediatric reports indicated that there appears to be some degree of conditioning and choice in sexual orientation, that it is not necessarily a fixed state. Hughes found that in some instances males appeared to have been homosexual from early childhood onward and in most instances, changes likely would not occur. However, in other cases there appeared to have been some degree of conditioning and choice in sexual orientation. This type of change over time had been carefully studied in 762 self-identified heterosexual, bisexual and gay men and women.
Scores were derived in three dimensions (fantasy, romantic attraction and actual sexual behavior). Cumulative scores were determined over consecutive 5-year time periods. There were significant sex differences in reported changes in orientation over time for both gays and heterosexuals, with women reporting greater changes in orientation over time than did men. Specifically, lesbians were far more likely than gay men to report having previously identified themselves as something other than homosexual (65% of lesbians, 39% of gay men). A one-point shift on any dimension over their lives was reported in 48% of gay men and 20% of lesbian women. "Thus," he concluded, "it is a myth, according to these data, that once one discovers that they are gay, they always have been and will be gay."
Hughes did spend some time discussing a controversial study, titled, "Homosexual sex as harmful as drug abuse, prostitution or smoking" by Dr Paul Cameron, which has been criticized by pro-gay groups. The work of Cameron is largely dismissed.
Hughes mentioned in his conclusion that he anticipated opposition to his report, which I agree is understandable given the political environment we live in. He said his findings were objective and that he hoped readers would not "shoot the messenger." Obviously, he is aware of the defensiveness of gay activists!
Hughes, John R. (2006). A general review of recent reports on homosexuality and lesbianism. Sexuality and Disability, 24, 195-205.