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Buddhism in the News


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Gay Men and Straight Women Share Brain Detail.

LONDON, June 17, 2008 (Reuters) — Gay men and straight women share some characteristics in the area of the brain responsible for emotion, mood and anxiety, researchers said on Monday in a study highlighting the potential biological underpinning of sexuality. Brain scans also showed the same symmetry among lesbians and straight men, the researchers wrote in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Brain scans of 90 volunteers showed that the brains of heterosexual men and homosexual women were slightly asymmetric with the right hemisphere slightly larger than the left,
Ivanka Savic and Pers Lindstrom wrote. The brains of gay men and heterosexual women were not.

James: This comes as no surprise to me but it is very interesting none the less. Buddhism has been more progressive than many other religions in regards to sexual orientation for the most part. There isn't usually condemning of homosexuals by Buddhists but instead treating them as equals to heterosexuals, as it should be. This view is still radical today as most religions still see homosexuality as very taboo and "evil."

The precept about avoiding sexual misconduct focuses on avoiding causing harm and suffering but does not single out homosexuality, bisexuality or other sexual orientations for being "bad" or deviant. Everyone is advised how to handle sexuality in a compassionate and loving way regardless of sexual orientation.

In fact one of the most revered figures in Buddhism, Avalokiteshvara is often seen as androgynous. In the form of Avalokiteshvara this Bodhisattva is seen as a man but when referred to as Guan Yin (Kuan Yin/Kannon) he/she is seen as a woman. This makes total sense to me as Avalokiteshvara/Guan Yin is seen as the Bodhisattva of compassion and thus seems perfectly natural as that compassion is spread to all beings equally regardless of gender and sexual orientation.

Avalokiteshvara/Kuan Yin is literally the embodiment of non-duality in regards to sexuality.

This is not to say though that homosexuality/bisexuality/intersexuality is automatically seen as acceptable in predominately Buddhist countries. Social and cultural discrimination of homosexuals is found in these countries as they are in most places.

I'd be really interested in reading more about this and about more studies of this nature. The more science learns the more I find it has in common with Buddhism.

~Peace to all beings~

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Ginger said...

i'd be interested in seeing what similarities there are in bisexual people's brains and heterosexuals'.

They call him James Ure said...


I would too. I think that bisexuality is more common than maybe thought by many.

Ginger said...

i would like to see it because, while homosexuality is often discriminated against by heterosexuals, bisexuality is often looked down upon by homosexuals as well as heteros.

for some reason, people think you have to "choose a side" and believe that bisexuals are merely in denial.

so if brain similarities could be compared then perhaps some people who don't understand the lack of a gender preference would at least come to a place where they wouldn't dismiss it so easily.

They call him James Ure said...


Yeah the "choose a side" doesn't make sense to me either being a Buddhist practitioner and believer in non-duality.

We over label people and thinks in this world.

G said...

Hi James et al.
I recall research done with two groups of heterosexual men; the first homophobic & the second open-minded to gay people. The researchers connected the genitals of the research subjects to a device that detected even minute indicators of sexual arousal, and then showed them pornography involving homosexual sex between men. Compared with the open-minded group, the group of homophobes had a marked increase in the numbers of them showing signs of sexual arousal, even though they were apparently unaware of such arousal themselves on the conscious level!

This research shows that homophobic men may actually be supressing thier own sexuality and then projecting their (subconscious) dislike of their own sexuality on others, even to the point of becoming aggressive. It's interesting research, whatever it points to, anyhow.

Be well in the Dharma,
whatever your sexuality,
G at 'Buddha Space'.

Riverwolf said...

The research doesn't surprise me and sort of makes sense. Not to sound too arrogant, but I've always felt more comfortable around women, as if I was more like them in some ways. So it would make sense if my gay brain resembled theirs. 'Course, I fear some right-winger is going to say this shows a "defect." I disagree. I've come to take a more Eastern view of things, to see myself as transcending male and female and showing a different way.

They call him James Ure said...


I'm not surprised. Excellent comment, I can't add more to it. Thank-you for adding that angle to the post.


You know, I feel more comfortable with women too. I don't have many male friends. I totally agree with you on transcending the traditional , western view on sexual labels.

It just seems more realistic in regards to my spiritual beliefs of non-duality. Why wouldn't sexuality be apart of that non-duality concept. Especially if everything is inter-connected as I believe.

Wendy said...

Yes, your post and the readers' comments are so true. I've often thought (and told anyone who would listen) that classification of sexuality should be thought of as a continuum and not two (or three) boxes to put people in.

They call him James Ure said...

Wendy: I feel the exact same way that it's a continuum. That's how I feel about spiritual beliefs and just about anything because I believe everything is interconnected.

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