By Karen Booth
Is homosexuality unchangeable? Are gays and lesbians exclusively attracted to their own genders? Does a person who experiences same-sex attraction always proceed developmentally to the acceptance of a homosexual orientation or the adoption of an LGB or “queer” identity?
These are the kinds of questions that have intrigued sex researcher Dr. Lisa Diamond, who teaches psychology and gender studies at the University of Utah. A self-identified lesbian and vocal supporter of same-sex marriage, she is considered by many in her field to be one of the nation’s foremost experts on female homosexuality. Her research since the mid-90s has primarily focused on the “fluidity” of women’s sexual behavior, attractions (orientation) and identity labeling; and when she published her findings in 2009 the shock waves were felt almost immediately throughout the LGBT community.
For example, the online introduction to one of her interviews on a local radio station put it this way: “The queer community has been obsessed with cultivating the idea that we all have fixed sexual identities. We’ve crafted terrific narratives and political platforms based on the notions that all gays are ‘born that way’. But what if sexuality is more complex? What if biology actually intersects with environment, time, culture and context? Could we possibly be more fluid than we’ve supposed?”