Monday, June 30, 2008

Genetics, Environment Shape Sexual Behavior

MONDAY, June 30 (HealthDay News) -- Genetics and random environmental factors each play a major role in determining both gay and heterosexual behavior, say British and Swedish researchers.

This study puts cold water on any concerns that we are looking for a single 'gay gene' or a single environmental variable which could be used to 'select out' homosexuality -- the factors which influence sexual orientation are complex. And we are not simply talking about homosexuality here -- heterosexual behavior is also influenced by a mixture of genetic and environmental factors," study co-author Dr. Qazi Rahman, a leading scientist on human sexual orientation, said in a prepared statement.

Environmental factors are specific to an individual and may include biological processes such as different hormone exposure in the womb, the researchers noted.
The researchers studied more than 3,800 same-gender twin pairs, ages 20 to 47, in Sweden. The twins were asked about the total numbers of opposite sex and same sex partners they had ever had.

"Overall, genetics accounted for around 35 percent of the differences between men in homosexual behavior and other individual-specific environmental factors (that is, not societal attitudes, family or parenting which are shared be twins) accounted for around 64 percent. In other words, men become gay or straight because of different developmental pathways, not just one pathway," Rahman said.

Among the female twins, genetics explained about 18 percent of the variation in sexual orientation, non-shared environmental factors 64 percent, and family environment 16 percent.
It's important to note that heredity and shared environment had roughly the same influence in women, while shared environment had virtually no impact on men's sexual behavior, the researchers said.

The study, which was published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, shows that while genetic factors are important, non-shared environmental factors are dominant in determining sexual orientation.

"This study is not without its limitations -- we used a behavioral measure of sexual orientation which might be okay to use for men (men's psychological orientation, sexual behavior, and sexual responses are highly related) but less so for women (who show a clearer separation between these elements of sexuality)," Rahman noted. "Despite this, our study provides the most unbiased estimates presented so far of genetic and non-genetic contributions to sexual orientation."

More information
The American Psychological Association has more about sexual orientation.

Warning! The new "Get Smart" movie is "disgusting".

I took my nephews (between the ages of 5 and 11) to see the new Get Smart movie. It was funny and very good especially if you enjoy slapstick comedy. They kept it much the same as the original television show and I thought they did a great job.

While watching the movie there is a scene in which Maxwell Smart (played by Steve Carell) kisses another male on the lips in slow motion. During this scene a man with three children (between the ages of 14 and 8) behind us contemptuously says out loud, “Disgusting!”

I was thrown back to 1978 watching the movie Midnight Express where two naked men in a shower scene kiss each other. I was a gay 15-years-old and was excited and aroused by the scene having never viewed anything like it before. The audience shouted anti-gay slurs screaming epithets like, “gross”, “fags” and then clapped when one of the men pushed the other away. The message sent to me at that time was, “never tell a soul about your homosexual interests or people will insult you”.

Back to the movie, Get Smart, 30 years later there is at least now only one man in the audience making a shaming and negative remark about two men kissing.

I sat there angry and hurt not knowing what to do. Had I not been there with my nephews I would have turned to him said something about this homophobic statement. But I didn’t.

When we got back into my car I told my nephews that the comment made by the man behind me hurt me and angered me. My 8-year-old nephew said, “Because you are gay?” and I answered, “Yes”. He then said something very wise, “But maybe to people who are not gay it is disgusting to see two men kissing”. I responded by saying, “Maybe so but people should not say that out loud you hurt people’s feelings. I kiss Mike like that and it is not disgusting to me”. He agreed.

I was glad I said something to my nephews so they do not think that what that man said in the movie was okay. What about this man’s children and the other children in the audience? Homophobic messages of hate and contempt go into the minds and psyches of children and perpetuate anti-gay beliefs.

What would you have done about this at a movie theatre?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Lady Sitters (HUMOR)

Now this is every straight guys dream when they just don't want to do what their wife wants them to! Very funny!

This was created from the Man Show

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Federal Law Presents Hurdles For Gay Marriages

(Joe Kort and his partner, Mike)

People misunderstand the legalization of gay marriages at the stat level and not at the federal level. An article was written at KPSP Local 2 news website does a great job explaining the differences.

As of right now same sex marriage marriage is not recognized under Federal law. Here is a look at some important differences that will affect gay couples:

Federal Income Tax laws make a sharp distinction between those involved in a traditional marriage and those in a same sex marriage. While married gay couples must file their state tax returns as married filing jointly or separately, they must file their federal income taxes as single or head of household. This can lead to more Federal taxes being paid by gay couples.

Immigration laws treat same sex couples differently as well. If an American citizen marries a foreign citizen of the same sex, the foreign citizen will not gain residency rights from the marriage, as would a spouse from a traditional marriage.

While surviving male/female spouses are entitled to a dead spouse's Social Security benefits, this is not the case with same sex couples. A deceased gay spouse's benefits could go to another relative, or could escheat to the state instead.

While a surviving straight spouse can roll over a deceased spouses individual retirement account into his or her own IRA, thereby preserving the tax benefits, a same sex spouse or domestic partner cannot. He or she must begin taking fully taxable distributions from the inherited IRA
One more difference between domestic partnerships and gay marriage. Domestic partners must live together when their partnership is established. This is not a requirement for same-sex married couples.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Inside Gay Unions on Tom Ashbrook's On Point

I was interviewed by Tom Ashbrook on gay and lesbian relationships on his show "On Point" on NPR.

Inside Gay Unions Aired: Wednesday, June 18, 2008 11-12PM ET

It may be beautiful, but everybody knows marriage isn't easy.

Who pays the bills?

Who works or stays home?

Who unloads the dishwasher?

So what about gay marriage?

Gay partnerships?

Yesterday, California was ringing with gay wedding bells, on its first full day of legal gay marriage. But gay marriage is not new anymore. Civil unions and long-term gay commitments have been around even longer. So how does it work, day to day, down in the weeds, when it's not "his and hers" but "his and his" or "hers and hers"?

This hour, On Point: Gay marriage, and how it actually works.

Listen here

Monday, June 9, 2008

The R. Kelly Trial

A case of discomfort
Man on video in R. Kelly trial: He did what?

By Rex W. Huppke
In the Chicago Tribune

June 8, 2008

The elephant in the room at the ongoing child pornography trial of R&B icon R. Kelly is the fact that the man shown in the amateur sex video—the prosecution's key piece of evidence—seems to take pleasure in urinating on his sex partner. Tearing away from the heinous possibility that the girl in the video may be underage, a question on the minds of many who have followed Kelly's case is: Who on earth would want to urinate on someone else, or be urinated on themselves? The question might not make for polite dinner conversation, or even a topic normally discussed in a family newspaper. But that has not stopped people from talking about it.

The act performed in the video has gained widespread notoriety in the realm of popular culture. An episode of "Sex and the City" once explored the practice. Comedian Dave Chappelle brought the issue into millions of homes in 2003 with a mock music video in which he dresses and croons likes R. Kelly, guzzling a gallon bottle of water, spraying dancers with a garden hose and singing a song titled "[I Wanna] Pee on You."

The intermingling of sex and urine—known by the euphemism "watersports"—has been around for centuries, but it still makes most people cringe.Lawyers in the Kelly case warned prospective jurors that they would have to witness "acts you've never seen before." Journalists reporting on the case have had to tiptoe gently around what is often viewed—some would argue incorrectly—as a deviant act.

Sex therapists say that while watersports are not a common practice, plenty of healthy, consenting adults engage in them for an array of reasons."There are indeed people who do it as an act of anger," said Gloria Brame, a Georgia-based licensed therapist and author of the book "Different Loving." "But there are a lot of people who think it's groovy. . . . It's a breaking of taboo."Taboo breakers, however, are rarely viewed fondly by mainstream society, and many assume people who engage in unusual sex acts suffer some form of mental disorder.

The American Psychiatric Association puts sexual fetishes under the category of paraphilia, a disorder that could involve all manner of acts that deviate from what is considered normal sexual activity. But for the disorder to be officially diagnosed in a person, the sexual act in question must result in "clinically significant" mental distress or social impairment.

Until 1973, the APA's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health listed homosexuality as a paraphilia. Clearly, psychiatry changes with the times."As American society gets more open about sexual practices, the APA is loath to put in a disorder category any act that's happening between two consenting adults," said William Narrow, associate director of the APA's research division.

"There has been some scientific debate as to whether these paraphilias should actually be classified as mental disorders or not."Margie Nichols, a New Jersey sex therapist and member of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists, puts it this way: "If it's consensual between two adults, who cares? It's unusual, that's all."Many in the sexual education field are pushing for the APA to further de-pathologize non-typical sexual acts like watersports and S&M, with the caveat that they are performed between consenting adults."People are going to stigmatize sexual behavior anyway, you don't need a diagnostic manual to do that," said Russell Stambaugh, a sex therapist in Ann Arbor, Mich. "This is not a public health menace. An act doesn't constitute a mental disorder."Which is not to say the behavior lacks a psychoanalytical component.

Many believe the enjoyment of more adventurous forms of sexual activity has roots in an individual's past.

"Tell me how you were loved as a child,
and I'll tell you how you make love as an adult,"
said Joe
a therapist and an adjunct professor of gay and lesbian studies at Wayne
State University.

Patients who engage in watersports, Kort said, have often traced their
desires back to issues surrounding potty training. Or perhaps moments when they
wet their pants and were humiliated."Some of these moments can become so painful
to deal with, the psyche blocks it, buries it down," Kort said. "But nothing
stays locked down. It will come out somewhere and you will re-enact it until you
heal it. It's sort of like trauma turns into triumph.

The event becomes eroticized."

Then there are those, experts say, who, despite our societal norms, simply find the act of urinating sexy."It's a very intimate sort of act," said Susan Wright of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, an advocacy group based in Baltimore. "It's a little naughty, a little exciting, a little titillating. I think it really is considered a very innocuous sort of activity."

Rex W. Huppke is a Tribune reporter.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Is Dr. Phil Becoming Dr. Laura?

Recently I discovered where television psychotherapist Dr. Phil stands on pornography. He believes that looking at porn is "never okay" and that it is "always cheating" on a partner.


Those are strong and harsh beliefs to make a blanket statement about all pornography and those who view it. It reminds me of syndicated talk show host Dr. Laura stands on so many topics around sexuality. She has a black and white thinking about things being either right or wrong. Oh if it were so easy and simple. But it is not! We therapists teach our clients--and especially our couples--never to say the words "always" and "never" because they are seldom true. While I agree that pornography can become an addiction and not be healthy for some people, it is for many others.

Here is what Dr. Phil writes on his website:

Internet pornography is a growing trend that has many people worried about their relationships.

Is it cheating? And is it a "normal guy thing"? Here's what Dr. Phil believes:

It is not OK behavior. It is a perverse and ridiculous intrusion into your relationship. It is an insult, it is disloyal and it is cheating. Consider how it makes your partner feel. If it makes your partner feel ugly, hurt, deceived, lied to or inadequate, then it needs to stop. If it is eroding your relationship, it's gone too far. Pornography isn't real, it's a fantasy. It's makeup, beauty lenses, hair extensions, camera angles, lighting and silicone! It's also somebody's daughter who has taken a really, really wrong turn. She's demeaning herself, debasing herself, humiliating herself and she's being exploited by people who are funded by you.

It is a sick, demented, twisted world. It's not healthy, it's not natural and it's not normal. Viewing Internet pornography or engaging in cybersex is a short step to taking cheating to the next level. You need to tell your partner that viewing pornography is absolutely, unequivocally unacceptable in your relationship.

Draw a line: Your partner needs to choose between the pornography or the relationship. Ask yourself or your partner:

Would you do it with your partner standing right there?

Are you turning outside of your relationship to meet a need that should be met within the relationship?

You can't change what you don't acknowledge, so find out if you or your partner have a problem.

Do you justify the behavior by saying, "It's harmless," "Everyone does it," or "It's just the Internet"?

Does it intrude on your relationship? Which is more important: pornography or your relationship?

I completely disagree with Dr. Phil's position.

Here are my responses to his questions:

Would you do it with your partner standing right there?

Some people would and, in fact, I have advised some couples (both gay, lesbian and straight) to do so. It can enhance intimacy in couples. Also there are many instances where individuals don't want their partners to see their porn. It is private and personal. Partners sometimes need to have this outlet. It has nothing to do with their significant others. It is not cheating and does not mean that the person viewing the porn is going to set out to make the scenerio happen. That said, there are many people who have significant shame about looking at pornography and the content of what they are looking at. I think this might be what Dr. Phil is addressing. Even so, every person needs to have their own separate sexual fantasies and desires that may not involve their significant other.

Are you turning outside of your relationship to meet a need that should be met within the relationship?

You can't change what you don't acknowledge, so find out if you or your partner have a problem.This can be about anything--not just pornography. With any behaviors that are excessive or are interfering with your relationship, you must ask yourself this question. I do think that partners benefit from talking about their sexual interests and not hiding the fact that they might enjoy pornography. It is the hiding and secrecy that is usually the problem, not the pornography in and of itself.

Do you justify the behavior by saying, "It's harmless," "Everyone does it," or "It's just the Internet"?

For many folks, it is harmless and it is just the internet. I have had clients over the years tell me that they enjoy certain fantasies that their partner will not--or cannot meet. For example, one straight male client of mine enjoyed extremely muscular women who entered muscle building contests. His wife, a petite woman, did not visually fit this image. So periodically he enjoyed looking at images of these muscular women online and it offered him an outlet for his interest without his going out of his marriage.

Does it intrude on your relationship?

This is a great question and should be asked to one's self by all. I have many clients for which the use of pornography does intrude on a relationship. But the reasons vary. Some partners are threatened by the use of pornography by a spouse. The question here is "why are they threatened?" It isn't always because their partner is abusing porn. It may very well be their own insecurities being raised by their partners viewing images that they cannot match. This is more of an issue that the non-pornography using partner has than the one viewing the sexual material. Couples need to communicate openly their feelings about pornography use within their marriage. The worst is to keep it a secret or to pretend it is not a problem if one or both have a problem with it. However to assume that the use of pornography alone is the only issue is narrow focused and as harmful as pretending it is never a problem at all.Which is more important: pornography or your relationship? For some, it is both. There is nothing wrong with that. For others it is one or the other which, of course presents a problem.

If you do have a problem with pornography I recommend an excellent new book, "The Porn Trap" By Wendy and Larry Maltz.