Did you know there is a whole group of brilliant sexual health researchers, scientists, sexoligsts, and sexual health professionals who have dedicated their lives not only to changing our cultural understanding of sexuality, but also showing how our ideas about sex can shift through scientific research?
We’re talking everything from the study of genes and how they intersect with sexual orientation to the actual data documenting the fluidity with which sexual orientation exists in human beings.
When you live in a world that is still frantically struggling with the ideas of sexuality, sexual orientation, and identity, it’s critical that we highlight those brave enough to step into the public sphere, do the precarious work that may face criticism (and even threats from outsiders), in order to help alter the way we think about sexuality.
Ahead are some of the ways that today’s newest and brightest sex researchers are helping to shift the way we think about sexual orientation. These are the people who will lay the groundwork for how society functions.
Special thanks to Playboy’s Debra W. Soh for her original roundup of this research. Here is what we now know about human sexuality, and what will hopefully become mainstream thinking very soon.
Sexual orientation is linked to genes
Your sexual orientation has less to do with “God’s plan” and more to do with your genetic makeup and the hormones you’re exposed to in utero.
This is thanks to, Matthew Bramble, a staff scientist at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., who is doing research on how hormones such as estrogen and testosterone affect brain development. His original research looked at how testosterone "alters the programming of neural stem cells responsible for brain development.”
His findings and research aim to prove that sexual orientation can be affected by the way stem cells in the brain are reprogrammed by exposure to specific hormones. This is super significant research because it definitely proves (or will prove) that sexual orientation is not a choice, something many ignorant people have touted as part of an anti-LGBTQ+ agenda since, like, forever. Baby, you were born this way.
Sexual orientation is complex
Hold the phone on all you previously thought about sexual orientation. Well, don’t throw it out with the trash, just be ready to expand your mind big time.
When we typically think of sexual orientation, we’re usually referring to the kind of people a person is attracted to, whether it be to women, men, both, all people etc.
Kevin Hsu, an up-and-coming brilliant researcher in the field, is focusing his work on expanding these definitions through science. It’s more than the people you’re into, but what you’re into as well. The definition of sexual orientation is widening “to include the way we think about paraphilias (unusual sexual interests) and the age ranges we find ourselves most attracted to,” Hsu writes.
What does this mean? Researchers are looking at the way people are attracted to certain things, activities, and human attributes not just people in general boxes. The BDSM and fetish communities have long understood that a person’s sexual identity can include an attraction to leather or an arousal to human feet, but science is now catching up to reflect this.
In short: Sexuality is extremely complicated and the ways in which we are sexually attracted or aroused have variance. The more we learn, the more sexuality astounds us.
Culture has a huge impact on how we present ourselves sexually
This may not come as a huge shock, but society and cultural dynamics play a big role in how we present ourselves sexually and as overall human beings. Whatever a culture or society deems fitting for a large group or the expectations it has for certain niche groups, the vast majority of people will behave within those confines.
Upcoming Canadian sex researchers, Lanna Petterson and Scott Semenyna are the two to look out for when it comes to this type of research. They’ve found through their wide studies of other cultures that when it comes to sexual orientation, society has an even greater impact than you might think.
“In Western cultures, the majority of same-sex attracted males present as gay men, but in many non-Western cultures, like those found in Samoa and Mexico, they present as a third-gender, called the fa’afafine and muxes, respectively,” they write.
A third gender created within a societal framework will create a group of people who behave within this new labels. They may be attracted to one sex, but identify and behave entirely differently.
Why is this important? Because it’s critical to understand the impact society has on sexual identity. Society cannot make you gay, straight, bi, pan or anything else, but it can absolutely infiltrate your behavior, the way you dress, and even the way you speak. Keep this stuff in mind and get woke to the issues.