Culturally invariable properties of male homosexuality: Tentative conclusions from cross-cultural research

Abstract

While the behavior of homosexuals in some aspects is subject to cultural variability, this analysis explores the equally important question of cultural invariability. Based on several years of field work in homosexual communities in the United States, Guatemala, Brazil, and the Philippines, six tentative conclusions about cultural invariability are offered: (1) homosexual persons appear in all societies; (2) the percentage of homosexuals in all societies seems to be about the same and remains stable over time; (3) social norms do not impede or facilitate the emergence of homosexual orientation; (4) homosexual subcultures appear in all societies, given sufficient aggregates of people; (5) homosexuals in different societies tend to resemble each other with respect to certain behavioral interests and occupational choices; and (6) all societies produce similar continua from overtly masculine to overtly feminine homosexuals. Implications for this interpretation of homosexuality include the notion that homosexuality is not created by social structural arrangements but is rather a fundamental form of human sexuality acted out in different cultural settings.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Angelino, H., and Shedd, C. L. (1955). A note on berdache.Amer. Anthropol. 57: 121–126.Arizona Gay News, Vol. 6, Issue 39, Oct. 2, 1981.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Bell, A. P., and Weinberg, M. A. (1978).Homosexualities: A Study of Diversity among Men and Women. Simon & Schuster, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Bieber, J. (1962).Homosexuality. Basic Books, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Bob Damron's Address Book. (1979). Bob Damron Enterprises, San Francisco.

  5. Bullough, V. (1976).Sexual Variance in Society and History. John Wiley, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Carrier, J. (1976). Cultural factors affecting urban male homosexual behavior.Arch. Sex. Behav. 5: 103–124.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Carrier, J. (1977). Sex-role preference as an explanatory variable in homosexual behavior.Arch. Sex. Behav. 6: 53–65.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Carrier, J. (1980). Homosexual behavior in cross-cultural perspective. In Marmor, J. (ed.),Homosexual Behavior: A Modern Reappraisal. Basic Books, New York. pp. 100–122.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Clinard, M. B., and Meier, R. F. (1979).Sociology of Deviant Behavior. Holt, Rinehart & Winston, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Ellis, H. (1941).Studies in the Psychology of Sex: Volume I, Part Four, Sexual Inversion. Random House, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Ford, C. S., and Beach, F. A. (1951).Patterns of Sexual Behavior. Harper and Bros., New York.

    Google Scholar 

  12. “G”. (1980). The secret life of Moscow.Christopher Street June, pp. 15–22.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Gagnon, J., and Simon, W. (1973).Sexual Conduct. Aldine, Chicago.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Gebhard, P. H. (1972). Incidence of overt homosexuality. In Livingood, J. M. (ed.),Institute of Mental Health Task Force on Homosexuality National Institute of Mental Health, Rockville, Md.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Green, R. (1974).Sexual Identity Conflict in Children and Adults. Basic Books, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Green, R. (1976). One-hundred ten feminine and masculine boys: Behavioral contrasts and demographic similarities.Arch. Sex. Behav. 5: 425–446.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Green, R., and Money, J. (1966). Stage acting, role-taking and effeminate impersonation during boyhood.Arch. Gen. Psychiat. 15: 535–538.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Hart, D. V (1968). Homosexuality and transvestism in the Philippines: The Cebuan Filipino bayot and lakin-on.Behav. Sci. Notes 3: 211–248.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Hirschfeld, M. (1944).Sexual Anomalies and Perversions. Emerson Books, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Karlen, A. (1978). Homosexuality: Its scene and its students. In Henslin, J. H., and Sagarin, E. (eds.),The Sociology of Sex Schocken Books, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Karlen, W. (1971).Sexuality of Homosexuality: A New View. W. W. Norton, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Katz, J. (1976).Gay American History. Thomas Y. Crowell, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Kinsey, A. C., Pomeroy, W. B., and Martin, C. E. (1948).Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. W. B. Saunders, Philadelphia.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Leser, H. (1973). Sex research institutes. In Ellis, A., and Abarbanel, A. (eds.),The Encyclopedia of Sexual Behavior Jason Aronson, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Mehan, H., and Wood, H. (1975).The Reality of Ethnomethodology. John Wiley and Sons, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  26. Mejia de Rodas, I. (1976). Field notes, San Juan Chemlco, Guatemala.

  27. Murray, S. (1979).Newsletter of Anthropological Research Group on Homosexuality. 1(3): 3.

    Google Scholar 

  28. Phillip (1980). Behind the gay curtain.Campaign, Issue 52, April, p. 17.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Pomeroy, W. B. (1968). Homosexuality, transvestism, and transsexualism. In Vincent, C. E. (ed.),Human Sexuality in Medical Education and Practice. Charles C Thomas, Springfield, Ill., pp. 367–387.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Schneebaum, T. (1969).Keep the River on Your Right. Grove Press, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  31. Schur, E. (1965).Crimes without Victims. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N. J.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Schuvaloff, G. (1976). Gay life in Russia.Christopher Street September, pp. 14–21.

    Google Scholar 

  33. The Spartacus International Gay Guide. (1979). Spartacus Co., Amsterdam.

  34. Tripp, C. (1975).The Homosexual Matrix. McGraw-Hill, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  35. Warren, C. (1974).Identity and Community in the Gay World. John Wiley, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Whitam, F. (1980a). Childhood predictors of adult homosexuality.J. Sex Educ. Ther. 6: 11–16.

    Google Scholar 

  37. Whitam, F. (1980b). A cross-cultural assessment of childhood precursors and putative familial causes of male homosexuality. Unpublished paper presented at meeting of International Academy of Sex Research, Tucson, November, 1980.

  38. Whitam, F. (1980c). The pre-homosexual male child in three societies: The United States, Guatemala, Brazil.Arch. Sex. Behav. 9: 87–99.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Whitam, F. (1980d). Variant sexuality: Ellis, Freud, Hirschfeld, Kinsey. In Forleo, R., and Pasini, W. (eds.),Medical Sexology Elsevier/North Holland Biomedical Press, Amsterdam.

    Google Scholar 

  40. Whitam, F., and Dizon, M. J. (1979). Occupational choice and sexual orientation in crosscultural perspective.Int. Rev. Mod. Sociol. 9: 137–149.

    Google Scholar 

  41. Zucker, K. J., Bradley, S. J., Corter, C. M., Doering, R. W., and Finegan, J. (1979a). Cross-gender behavior in very young boys: A normative study. Paper presented at symposium on the Sexuality of the Child, Montreal, September, 1979.

  42. Zucker, K. J., Doering, R. W., Bradley, S. J., and Finegan, J. (1979b). Sex-typed play in gender-disturbed children and their siblings. Unpublished paper presented at American Psychological Association, New York, 1979.

  43. Zuger, B. (1966). Effeminate behavior present in boys from early childhood. I. The clinical syndrome and follow-up.J. Pediat. 69: 1098–1107.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Whitam, F.L. Culturally invariable properties of male homosexuality: Tentative conclusions from cross-cultural research. Arch Sex Behav 12, 207–226 (1983). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01542072

Download citation

Key words

  • homosexuality
  • cross-cultural
  • sexual orientation
  • cultural invariability