Publication Year



Literature, gender, sexuality, homosexuality, behavior, sexual preference


Comparative Literature | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Gender and Sexuality | Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies | Social and Behavioral Sciences


The purpose of this paper is to review current theories of the development of gender preference and to evaluate those theories in light of evidence currently available in literature. I define gender preferences as one individual's erotic attraction to another individual. An individual may engage in sexual behavior with another even though that individual may not be of the preferred gender. Therefore, several possibilities exist. A person who engages in homosexual behavior may or may not be preferentially attracted to persons of the same sex. If a person is attracted to those of the same sex, then his/her sexual preference and behavior are homosexual. A person may be attracted to those of the opposite sex, then his/her sexual preference is heterosexual, although the behavior is homosexual. If a person is attracted to persons of both sexes, then his/her sexual preference is bisexual, while the behavior is homosexual. This can likewise be applied to heterosexuals. In our society, many homosexuals are encouraged to live as heterosexuals based on pressures exerted on them to conform. For others, homosexual acts occur based on situational factors, such as availability. An example of a situational factor is the high incidence of homosexual behavior in prisons.