SOC101 NOTES- Sexual Orientation
Sex: not something just innate as it is something we learn about as we grow from various agents of
socialization. It has a strong cultural context and sex is fundamentally a social enterprise.
Disproportionate harm: exceeds harm inflicted on individuals; has as its goal to intimidate and injure
entire community (Hate crimes attack core feature of victim’s identity, negatively impact entire
communities, and hate crimes tend to have more severe injuries and damage than crimes without hate).
Sexual orientation: identification of individuals as heterosexual, bisexual or homosexual based on their
emotional and sexual attractions, relationships, self-identity and lifestyle.
Contributors to one’s sexual orientation: sexual behaviour, sexual fantasies, emotional
attachments, and sexual self-concepts.
Transgender: people who do not fit into either male or female category or whose behaviour is not
congruent with expectation for their sex in society.
Transexuals: individuals who have undergone hormone treatment and sex reassignment surgery.
GLBT: term used to refer collectively to gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgenders.
The word “gay” emerged in 1940s and 1950s to refer to both men and women homosexuals.
Gay women claimed “lesbian” during 1960s and 1970s.
Bisexual and transgender were added in the late 1990s replaced by LGBT in mid 2000s.
Kinsey: found that 37% men and 13% women had at least one homosexual experience since
adolescence but few reported exclusive homosexual behaviour. Individual’s sexuality may have both
heterosexual and homosexual elements and continuum based on behaviour (from exclusively
heterosexual and homosexual). Changes in norms increases rates in GLBT surveys.
Klein: sexual orientation grid (sexual attraction, behaviour, fantasises, emotional preference, social
preference, self-identification and heterosexual/homosexual lifestyle) also looking at past, present and
De Cecco and Parker: believe that interaction of biological and environmental forces affects the
development of one’s sexual orientation. Sexuality may have biological component—“nature vs. nurture”
debate on sexuality; though research shows that both forces affect sexual orientation, debate over
which is dominant continues.
Doell: people all probably develop from infancy the capacity to have heterosexual, homosexual or
Pillard and Bailey: genes account for at least half of the variance in sexual orientation.
Reparative therapy: “conversion therapy” aimed at changing homosexuals’ sexual attraction.
Reports of successful reparative therapy reveal that: many claims come from organizations with
ideological perspective on sexual orientation rather than unbiased researchers, treatments and
their outcomes are poorly documented, and the length of time that clients are followed after
treatment is too short to evaluate their success or failure. Coming out: process of establishing a personal self-identity and communicating it with others. It
involves various stages: identity confusion, comparison, tolerance, acceptance, pride and synthesis.
Structural-functionalist: emphasizes the importance of monogamous heterosexual relationships for
reproduction, nurturance, and socialization of children (GLBT is threatening to traditionalists because
they require new understandings of family, childrearing and gender roles). Interconnectedness of
society fosters an understanding that urbanization has contributed to formation of strong social
networks of gay and bisexuals.
Same-sex relations and rights have been influenced by 3 cultural changes: rise of individualism
that values personal satisfaction, increasing gender equality, and emergence of global society in
which nations are influenced by international pressures.
Conflict: antagonisms between “straight” and GLBT communities represent division in society between
those with power and those without power (when one group has control of society’s institutions and
resources, as in the case of heterosexuals, it has the authority to dominate other groups). Frames gay
rights movement and opposition to it as a struggle over power, prestige and economic