In every culture in any given time period, some people have engaged in same-sex behaviors and some people have forged same-sex relationships. In the past 150 years, Western biomedical and psychological discourses have created the idea that sexual orientation is a defining trait of the individual, and that the people of the world can be divided by sexual orientation according to some biological characteristic. This newer “scientific” view of sexuality is supposedly in opposition to conservative religious views of same-sex sexuality. Fundamentalist views of sexual orientation have been used to justify exclusion, harassment, discrimination, and even violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.
This article proposes an integral approach to sexual identity development that broadens the discussion beyond science and religion or nature versus nurture. A four-quadrant exploration of the research on the origins of sexual identity reveals much more complexity and highlights potential points for social justice interventions as well as ideas to enhance personal spiritual transformation.
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About Michele Eliason
MICHELE (MICKEY) ELIASON, Ph.D., is on the faculty at San Francisco State University, where she teaches courses about sexuality and health and continues a lifelong study of LGBT development and health. Prior to this position, she co-founded and directed a Sexuality Studies Program at the University of Iowa, and taught in the College of Nursing. She has previously published articles that apply an integral approach to substance abuse treatment, cross-cultural ideas of spirituality, and drug craving.
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