Bringing science and sex ed to Valentine’s Day


By Jani Actman
Valentine’s Day might be all about love but, on Thursday night, it was all about sex.

As part of the AAAS conference held in Chicago this weekend, Northwestern University psychologist J. Michael Bailey spoke to a crowd at the Lincoln Park bar Schuba’s about sexual orientation – making the case that homosexuality is inborn, rather than a matter of choice.

“Choice comes from a history of naïve science,” he said.

In fact, Bailey said that sexual preference also is more closely linked to a person’s biology than genetics or social environment. One example, according to Bailey, is that boys with multiple biological older brothers are more likely to be gay.

When analyzing causes of sexual orientation, “social environment tends to be overrated, and biological environment underrated,” he said.

But what exactly is sexual orientation?

For men, the definition is clear cut.

“In men, sexual orientation is based on sexual arousal,” he said.

Bailey’s conducted research showing that heterosexual men tend to become aroused by women, and that gay men are generally aroused by men.

For women, though, the answer is unclear. Women’s arousal patterns tend to be random, he said.

“You all are just different,” he joked.  “And we don’t understand you yet.”