What causes a child to grow up gay or straight? In this book, neuroscientist Simon LeVay summarizes a wealth of scientific evidence that points to one inescapable conclusion: Sexual orientation results primarily from an interaction between genes, sex hormones, and the cells of the developing body and brain.
LeVay helped create this field in 1991 with a much-publicized study in Science, where he reported on a difference in the brain structure between gay and straight men. Since then, an entire scientific discipline has sprung up around the quest for a biological explanation of sexual orientation. In this book, LeVay provides a clear explanation of where the science stands today, taking the reader on a whirlwind tour of laboratories that specialize in genetics, endocrinology, neuroscience, cognitive psychology, evolutionary psychology, and family demographics. He describes, for instance, how researchers have manipulated the sex hormone levels of animals during development, causing them to mate preferentially with animals of their own gender. LeVay also reports on the prevalence of homosexual behavior among wild animals, ranging from Graylag geese to the Bonobo chimpanzee.
Although many details remain unresolved, the general conclusion is quite clear: A person’s sexual orientation arises in large part from biological processes that are already underway before birth.
Homosexuality in its myriad forms has been scientifically documented in more than 450 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, insects, and other animals worldwide. Biological Exuberance is the first comprehensive account of the subject, bringing together accurate, accessible, and nonsensationalized information. Drawing upon a rich body of zoological research spanning more than two centuries, Bruce Bagemihl shows that animals engage in all types of nonreproductive sexual behavior. Sexual and gender expression in the animal world displays exuberant variety, including same-sex courtship, pair-bonding, sex, and co-parenting–even instances of lifelong homosexual bonding in species that do not have lifelong heterosexual bonding.
Part 1, “A Polysexual, Polygendered World,” begins with a survey of homosexuality, transgender, and nonreproductive heterosexuality in animals and then delves into the broader implications of these findings, including a valuable perspective on human diversity. Bagemihl also examines the hidden assumptions behind the way biologists look at natural systems and suggests a fresh perspective based on the synthesis of contemporary scientific insights with traditional knowledge from indigenous cultures.
Part 2, “A Wondrous Bestiary,” profiles more than 190 species in which scientific observers have noted homosexual or transgender behavior. Each profile is a verbal and visual “snapshot” of one or more closely related bird or mammal species, containing all the documentation required to support the author’s often controversial conclusions.
Lavishly illustrated and meticulously researched, filled with fascinating facts and astonishing descriptions of animal behavior, Biological Exuberance is a landmark book that will change forever how we look at nature.
The real story behind “ex-gay” ministries and reparative therapy!
Nationally known activist Wayne Besen spent four years examining the phenomenon of “ex-gay” ministries and reparative therapies—interviewing leaders, attending conferences, and visiting ministries undercover as he accumulated hundreds of hours of research. The result is Anything but Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth, a groundbreaking exposé of the controversial movement that’s revered by independent religious groups and reviled by gay and lesbian organizations. The book presents a historical perspective on the dispute, examining “ex-gay” groups such as Love In Action, Exodus International, Homosexuals Anonymous, and profiling a cast of characters that includes Pat Robertson, the Rev. Jerry Falwell, “ex-gay” poster boy John Paulk, National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality activist Richard Cohen, and psychiatrist Dr. Robert Spitzer.
An in-depth, well-researched, and historically significant account, Anything but Straight is full of startling facts and alarming surprises.