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Understanding Homosexuality And Heterosexuality Sociology Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sociology
Wordcount: 3676 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Homosexuality is one of the most contradictory social questions. It should be noted that homosexuality as a social event is noted from the Ancient times and since then the interest of the society and the science. But if in ancient times homosexual contacts were allowed and did not differ from the heterosexual (especially socially) than in the present day homosexuals meet severe social critics and got to struggle their rights. Hence the interest of science and the society of all the countries to homosexuals are still very high. It goes without saying that contemporary science investigates it in different fields, but many questions are still left without an answer. For a long time homosexuality was considered to be some kind of mental disorder, but the activists of gay and lesbian communities proved that this scientific conclusion does not make a sense.

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This question attracted huge social attention and caused quite controversial attitude from the different social layers. It should be noted that in the whole world the attitude to homosexuals and homosexual marriages and families is rather negative than positive. However, the issue of children in homosexual couples is even more hot debated. Every debates related to homosexual relation has the hidden or clear opposition between same-sex relation and heterosexual relation, which considered as “normal” with heterosexual majority. There have been numerous studies devoted to the problem of gay and lesbian families and how they differ from heterosexual.

The discussion is even more complicated because of the fact that contemporary society does not have clear definition of sexual norm, so there is no definite attitude to homosexuality. Some people consider gays and lesbians to be mentally ill, though there is no actual evidence to this fact.

The objective of this research is to review some latest publication discussing homosexual relations. Two issues should be mentioned here. First, the research is focused on homosexual relations because the authors of publications mainly emphasize the differences and similarities of homosexual relations with “normal”, or heterosexual. Thus, the publications are focused on the existing differences and pay less attention to similarities. Second, the term “relations” involve mainly family or family-type relations. It means the relations should be considered in three main aspects: romance, marriage, and children upbringing. Other aspects of relations are not so popular and attractive to researchers,

Same sex marriage against heterosexual marriage: Gaddy, Laycock, Taylor, Smith

This chapter analyses two major and two minor publications related to same sex marriage and its legalization. Despite it is not claimed directly, there is opposition of homosexual marriage to “normal” or heterosexual one. All publications under investigation pay much attention to the marriage as social institution. It is worth mentioning that Gaddy and Laycock prove that marriage is social institution, and from the social point of view there is no difference between homosexual and heterosexual marriages. All negative attitudes are related to religious beliefs. Smith also follows this idea. The minor publication of Taylor should be mentioned as this woman is Islamic activist and her position can illustrate the believer’s point of view: it is rather neutral.

Official legislation of the same-sex marriages issue in many countries meets harsh resistance and such emotional argumentations from the opponents’ sides. Gay and lesbian activists concentrated their main attention on legalization of same-sex marriages. But it is considered to be quite a contradictory question as between gays and lesbians themselves there is no full agreement: radical liberals, for example, insist that despite struggling against the broadening of marriage definition, it will be better to concentrate on destroying the institution traditionally considered to be heterosexual. Anyway marriage as a social institution is in the centre of discussion and it is not surprising at all. If sexual attraction is the primary (after survival) biological instinct, than having a family is the most important current social necessity of any person, it is essential part of his life. Love unites these two necessities on the level of feelings and emotions, and marriage formalizes and regulates them. This question is connected with politics, culture, religion and moral beliefs

Traditionally marriage in the contemporary society involves heterosexual relations. The same-sex marriages are quite a complicated question for those who are not homosexuals. However, contemporary researchers try to follow the unbiased view on this problem despite their own sexual orientation. Thus, Pamela Taylor, the columnist of Washington Post, co-founder of Muslims for Progressive Values, former director of the Islamic Writers Alliance and strong supporter of the woman imam movement, analyses the marriage as an unit of civil and religious traditions, and her colleague Susan Smith also analysis this issue. Another correspondent of Newsweek, Dr. Welton Gaddy calls nation to the discussion regarding same gender marriage and religious freedom. Two short articles Taylor and Smith as well as the research by Dr. Gaddy tell about religion and homosexual marriages. Even if is it not declared directly, the hidden comparison and antithesis exist in all these works. The collision of two strongly-rooted moral postulates happens. The first is the attitude to the marriage and family, which have always been encouraged by the society and the state; marriage always has social status higher than bachelor life and was completely positive from morality point of view. The second, the attitude to homosexuality, which is traditionally considered to be immoral, underwent mockeries and humiliation, was persecuted and/or in the better case was stigmatized. Marriage is the symbol of faith and responsibility; homosexuality was often connected with the meaning of free love and connivance to mean wishes. That could be probably called the main reason, why same-sex marriages for the majority are the combination of opposites: morality and immorality, faith and free love. That is one of the main reasons of such a violent opposition. The real attitude of the heterosexual; majority to the same-sex marriages is traditionally negative and it goes without saying that their attitude to the same-sex marriages is the result of dogmatic and stereotypes influence. But still there could be found people who understand that same-sex marriage do not bring any harm to the society. Thus, Dr. Gaddy writes: “Religious freedom protects every house of worship from government intrusion to impose a particular view of marriage or to demand a religious blessing for a special kind of marriage – like same-gender marriage.” (Gaddy, 2009)

The same stereotypes, dealing to so called ‘immorality’ of gays and lesbians and their attitude to free love, are underlying in the basis of argument that marriage and family are that type of tradition that goes back with its roots in the faraway past and spreading of homosexual marriages will be the violation of centuries’ tradition. It also discredit the meaning of the family itself, influences of the social attitude to the marriage institution and cause in the destabilization of marriage and social institution. Marriage really appeared many centuries ago and is the main social institution. But it’s so called “traditional nature” cause serious doubts. There are really not so many norms of contemporary marriage that have long lasting history. The definition of ‘traditional’ marriage has been changing through centuries. Yet, in the Bible times Jewish have had several wives and concubines and now some Islamic countries still permit polygamy. So called ‘sanctity’ of marriage institution is also disputable: for example Christian marriage ceremony blessing marriage, appeared much later that the institution of marriage was established. As for state approval – during many centuries in Europe old Kingdoms contracted marriages only within the noble estates; lower estates, which did not have personal property, did not actually have a right for signifying their relations. No one should also forget about the fact that for many centuries marriage was an object of trading and the instrument of repartition of the property. If we speak about marriage longevity, let’s remember nearest times. No so long ago marriage was considered to be the unity for the whole life as for long times the divorces were prohibited (and in some catholic countries they were permitted not so long ago). And now, in postindustrial countries every second marriage ends with a divorce. In some countries the divorce process could be started only by husband, but not by the wife. Nearly 50 years ago interracial marriages were prohibited, even non it sounds like nonsense. And 30 years ago one could hardly imagine the situation that woman could bring an action against her husband for assault. Marriage fastened male domination for quite a long time and in some Islamic countries woman is still some kind of property. All these are traditions existing for many years. Which one the opponents of same-sex marriages appeal to? Reality shows that due to a certain epoch marriage institutionalized sexual and family relations according to the given social structure, economics and culture.

Marriage as an institution undertake so many changes during its existence, that agreeing with them and insisting on the ‘traditions’, when it goes about gay and lesbian marriages is illogical and unfair. What prevents, despite certain stereotypes, to change it one more time, including in the definition homosexual couples, especially if society ready to give them the same rights and privileges? May be the fact that the question of same-sex marriages is discussed in all well-developed countries shows that existing marriage institute is out of time and does not correspond to the needs of the society? To answer this question why the same-sex marriages are so important it will be essential to answer the question why marriages are important, why people need them and what is contemporary marriage.

Analyzing the importance of marriage in contemporary society in should be mentioned the work by Douglas Laycock. He also analyzed the religious contradictions and same sex marriage. He writes that “religious and legal marriage are . . . distinct in conception as well as in origin” (Laycock, 1997). However, the most interesting in his book is the analysis of social side of marriage. He mentions that marriage institution exists from immemorial times not occasionally and it is not occasional that empowered structures, such as government and church, always tried to control it. Without any doubts marriage has positive and stabilization influence on the society. People are not enough firm, strong and civilized, for society to function without such instructions. The ability of refusing from this institution is trifling. Certainly one of the main aims of marriage is bringing up children and more wide meaning brining up future generations and ensuring continuity. But it is not the single reason for existing of marriage. Marriage regulates sexual relations and what is more important, when marrying a person; a human gets the closest relative and the companion for the major part of his life. The society is interested in marriage and not only because it makes the life of a human more stable, but also because of the fact that the spouse gives emotional and financial support in the case of illness or some problems. The society is actually released from responsibility on every person and puts it on the family. In this case official marriage is important for the society only, because it does not let people easily avoid this responsibility.

Thus, from the point of view of Dr. Laycock, there is no difference between heterosexual and homosexual; marriages to government, because both types of marriages can be easily regulated. However, he mentions that opposition to homosexual marriages legalization is related to religious, and this is the civil rights violence by the nature, because freedom of religion is one of the basic civil rights.

So it can be ended that significant contemporary publication regarding to same-sex legalization prove that there is no difference between heterosexual and homosexual marriages from the social point of view. The problems with same sex marriages legalization are related to religion, and religion should not be involved in social regulation of marriage. However, another important aspect is involved in this discussion: homosexual parenthood. The next chapter reviews this issue.

Homosexual parenthood

The problem of adoption and bringing out the child on homosexual couples is very serious as homosexuals are struggling not only for their rights and marriage ability, but also for permission of children’s adoption. The publication by Dr.Cameron should be reviewed here. It has always been a tradition that heterosexuals dominated the homosexuals. In the 18-19th centuries there were big families with many children. Now it is not acute. The humanity struggles for the human rights, for the rights of gays. For example, gay want to obtain the juridical right to adopt and bring up children.

The question of adoption by homosexual couples and how it could influence the child has been studied for more than 30 years by American scientist Dr. Paul Cameron. Dr. Cameron is as Chairman of the Family Research Institute, a Colorado Springs think-tank. As the result of his research he provided o work proving that homosexual couples can be brilliant parent, and the talent to child upbringing is not related to parent’s sex. However, the society is not ready for this experiment. Dr. Cameron noted that the review documented that gays’ children were also:

“1)      more apt to report sexual confusion;

2)      more apt to be socially disturbed;

3)      more apt to abuse substances;

4)      less apt to get married;

5)      more apt to have difficulty in attachment and loving relationships; and

6)      more apt to have emotional difficulties. (Cameron, 2009).

The practice shows that gay couples in particular infringed human rights and children’s rights too. The situation happened in summer this year, which drew attention of American society, which is the most tolerant, when it goes about attitude to homosexual families. It was reported by Christian News Wire and discussed on different forums devoted to protection children’s rights and human rights as well. The situation happened in gay family of Frank Lombard, where lived 5-year old adopted African-American child: “The Arrest Warrant documents that Lombard sodomized one of his two adopted African-American sons and made the boy give him oral sex on-line. He offered other gays the same opportunity. Although the boy was drugged, “it is likely he developed interest in gay sex through these activities,” said Dr. Paul Cameron, (Cameron, 2009). The child was forced to homosexual relationship by his father. The question is very serious and the aspects of health and morality of a singles child and of the whole society are raised. it is not the single situation in such families and it obviously constitutes a menace to the mental health of children adopted in such families. The state and the government should regulate and give more attention to such problems as it often happens in contemporary society.

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In fact not only Americans are involved in the happened situation and the struggle for so called “absolutely normal” homosexual families is lasting for many years. Gay and Lesbian leaders appeal to the fact that heterosexual families are not better than homosexual as the cases of human rights violation and inhuman treatment to children is quite a typical case in heterosexual families. That is why the question is raised: why shouldn’t children brought up with homosexual parents as there exists a chance to meet worse attitude in heterosexual family? The answer is essential – the majority of specialists find gay and lesbian families artificial and not essential. That may cause certain problems in psychological perception of child. To compare the position of Cr. Cameron with more radical view, it is necessary to cite the recent interview by Mario Conti to Sunday Herald. Mario Conti says that same-sex relationships are “far from society’s norm” and growing up with same-sex parents could make the normal pressures of growing up “far greater”. “Any child growing up with two mothers or two fathers will unwittingly enter a social and psychological minefield entirely of their guardians’ making,” he says” (Naysmith, 2002). Mario Conti is Archbishop of Glasgow and he criticized homosexual families for seeking rights for the children either from previous marriages or adopted. He calls it “selfish desires of adults” in interview to Sunday Herald, where was discussed the two cases relating homosexual families: “…two prominent cases relating to gay parents were settled in court: one in Edinburgh in which a sheriff granted parental rights to a lesbian couple in regards to children they had from previous relationships, and another in Glasgow where a biological father was granted rights against the wishes of the child’s lesbian mother”(Naysmith, 2002). Conti criticized homosexual wishes to become parents as he thinks that children are rather like toys for them. He insists on the fact that psychological component in childish behavior would be far from the norms of ethics and morality. The interview also cites Tim Hopkins, the spokesman for the Lesbian and Gay Equality Network, who is completely disagree to Conti and says that his attitude is mainly based on prejudice and are disappointing as for the leader: “I would like to hear Mario Conti speaking out about poor parents who beat and abuse their children, whether married or unmarried, heterosexual or homosexual. They are the problem in Scotland, not loving parents who should be supported to do a good job bringing up children” (Naysmith, 2002). Tim Hopkins understands that abuse situations are happening not only in heterosexual families.

Thus, it can be concludes that homosexual parents are considered as unstable family so the society protests against children upbringing. Probably the statistical data can prove that families of different sex are not more stable comparatively to families of different sex. However, the publications under investigation contain the arguments against the child adoption by same-sex couples.


Romantic relations in homosexual couples are described in science literature. However, this aspect involves many emotions, so the analysis of homosexuality in literature can provide more precise details about perception of homosexual romance in society. The novel under discussion is ‘The Line of Beauty’ by Allan Hollinghurs. His protagonist Nick Guest feels he is not a part of the described world of rich and famous British aristocracy. The time the author describes are the 80-s of the 20th century, the peak of sexual revolution and it is not actually surprising that person who differs from the others turn out to be non-traditional sexual orientation, Nick Guest is gay.

In 1983 young and shy young gay, Oxford graduated Nick Guest settles down at his friend’s house in London. Toby Fedden, university friend of Nick Guest, he is smart and rich young man. Very soon Nick Guest become “partially” as much as possible a part of Toby Fedden’s aristocratic family. “Nick is gay and, although the Feddens tolerantly welcomed him into their home, Nick still “stiffened in apprehension about what might be carelessly said-some indirect insult to swallow, a joke to be weakly smiled at. If the taboo of his understated homosexuality makes Nick something of an outsider among the conservative politicos of London, he is distanced still further by his class. Nick’s father is an antiques dealer, a profession rich with cultural capital, but working-class by any other measure” (Daniel Levisohn, 2010). Even the most intimate homosexual scenes being put in the conservative and puritanical background, does not seem shocking to the reader, they seem rather like innocent. Hence the author is aimed to make a stress on the fact that the high society treats any differences indifferently until it touches them personally. The theme of disloyalty is one of the most important in the novel.

Thus, the romantic love in homosexual relation is the same as in the heterosexual relation; however the social attitude to it makes the novel shocking.


Analysis of recent publications related to homosexuality reveals that the attitude to the issue changed within the recent decades. First of all, people began to think about the norms in sexual behavior. Second, they cannot come to the single opinion regarding homosexuality and its correspondence to socially approved sexual standards. Third, the prominent thinkers of our day prove from the social and economical point of view there are no differences between homosexual and heterosexual relations. Even the fiction describes homosexual romance similar to heterosexual romance. However, social traditions and biases prevent people in the search of optimal position in the issue of homosexuality.


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