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Gay Men's Health

Men who identify themselves as Gay can suffer from all of the same STI's as Heterosexual or Straight men. All of the health information contained on this site applies to men of all ages, be they straight or gay.

Am I a Gay?

Many people have feelings towards other people of the same sex, and wonder whether this means that they are gay. For many people these feelings can be very intense and alienating. Some people who are attracted to other people of the same sex are gay and go on to have sexual relationships with people of the same sex. But other people who have gay feelings find that these change over time and they become attracted to people of the opposite sex.

Other people are attracted to both men and women, and have relationships with both. Some people are not attracted to anyone and wonder if this is a sign of homosexuality. Often it is only time that will resolve these feelings. If you think you might be gay and feel you need to talk to someone most countries have telephone helplines and organisations that can provide information and support for you.

When do people know that they are gay?

There is no simple answer or standard answer to this question, as it varies from person to person. Generally it can be said that being gay is not something a person suddenly begins to consider, and it may not be something they can initially put a name to. Research published in 1996 showed how the young gay men interviewed had described a set of feelings which they gradually realised made them 'different' in some way, and a set of feelings they thought maybe every teenage boy has.

Eventually all people who are gay realise that not only are they sexually attracted to members of the same sex, but that this attraction is not transitional. This realisation could come at any time during their lives.

Is homosexuality a phase young people go through?

For some people yes, and for others no. Some people do not have their first homosexual feelings or experience until they are well into adulthood. In a national survey in Britain carried out in the 1990s, nearly the same number of women reported their first homosexual experience had happened in their twenties as did in their thirties, forties or fifties. But, there is evidence that for some people homosexual experiences may well be part of a transitional or experimental phase in their youth. This is hardly surprising given that adolescence is a period of change in which many people find who they are and what they want for themselves in adult life. This kind of behaviour is perfectly normal.

Are you born gay? What causes people to be gay?

There is no simple answer to the question, 'Are some people born lesbian or gay?' There are some theories which stress biological differences between heterosexual and homosexual adults, suggesting that people are born with their sexuality already determined.

In 1993 the American researcher Dean Hamer published research that seemed to prove that homosexual orientation could be genetically transmitted to men on the x chromosome, which they get from their mothers. However when this study was duplicated it did not produce the same results. A follow-up study which Hamer collaborated on also failed to reinforce his earlier results. Most recently research published in April 1999 by George Rice and George Ebers of the Universty of Western Ontario has cast doubt on Hamer's theory. Rice and Ebers' research also tested the same region of the x chromosome in a larger sample of gay men, but failed to find the same 'marker' that Hamer's research had produced. Claims that the part of the brain known as the hypothalamus is influential in determining sexual orientation, have yet to be substantiated. At the moment it is generally thought that biological explanations of sexuality are insufficient to explain the diversity of human sexuality.

Psycho-social explanations offer a variety of factors that could contribute to the development of a person's homosexuality. For example, a female dominated upbringing in a gay man's past, with an absence of a male role model. Others stress adherence or deviance from conformity to gender roles, and individual psychological makeup. While none of these factors alone completely answers the question 'what causes homosexuality?', they rule out some things. For example, lesbian and gay young people are not 'failed' heterosexuals. Also, homosexual partners are generally of the same age proving wrong the assumptions that young people are 'turned gay' by older people.

What is clear is that people's behaviour is influenced by their family environment, their experiences and their sense of themselves. Beliefs about sex are initially shaped by family values. Later on these beliefs may be shaped by pleasant and unpleasant experiences of sex and also shape their choice of activities and partners. Throughout their life a person's sense of who and what they are has a strong impact on their sexual development and experience.

What should I do next?

When discussing human sexuality it is very difficult to neatly slot into little compartments all the complexities associated with individual sexuality and needs. Within the attraction of man to woman, man to man, or woman to woman, lies a whole spectrum of complex sexual and emotional affinities. Everyone is seeking closeness, ardor, warmth and love. All human relationships depend on the individuals within it, and not on restrictions imposed by society.

There are so many varying shades of grey within society and social mores that it often makes it difficult for an individual to express their sexual needs.

Some people may never be completely 'straight' or completely 'gay', especially during adolescence. It can take several years for an individual to identify as gay or lesbian. Few people can truly say that they belong exclusively to either extreme. Statistics list 1 in 10 as exclusively gay or lesbian, while others fall in the bisexual category. The sexual orientation which is best for a given individual is the one which she or he is most comfortable with. The sexual choices of others should be respected.

What is most important that you are happy, safe and respected for who you are, and the choices you make in your life. For more information and supprt you can contact the Brunswick offices, check out our useful links page or call the Leeds Lesbian, Gay & Bisexual Switchboard on 0113 245 3588 Mon-Sat 7pm-10pm for local contact groups in the West Yorkshire region.