Can Childhood Sexual Abuse Cause Homosexuality?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
Richard B. Gartner, PhD, Training and Supervising Analyst, Faculty and Founding Director of the Sexual Abuse Program at the William Alanson White Institute, wrote in his Jan. 30, 2011 article "Talking about Sexually Abused Boys, and the Men They Become," available at the Psychology Today website:

"Finally, when the abuser is male (and even sometimes when she is female), many boys - whether straight or gay - develop fears and concerns about sexual orientation. Conventional wisdom says sexual abuse turns boys gay, although there's no persuasive evidence that premature sexual activity fundamentally changes sexual orientation. Nevertheless, a heterosexual boy is likely to doubt himself, wondering why he was chosen by a man for sex. A homosexual boy may feel rushed into considering himself gay, or may hate his homosexuality because he believes it was caused by his abuse."

Jan. 30, 2011 - Richard B. Gartner, PhD 

Helen W. Wilson, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, and Cathy Spatz Widom, PhD, Professor of Criminal Justice and Psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice at The City University of New York (CUNY), wrote the following information in their Jan. 7, 2009 article published by Archives of Sexual Behavior, "Does Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, or Neglect in Childhood Increase the Likelihood of Same-sex Sexual Relationships and Cohabitation? A Prospective 30-year Follow-up":

"Findings from this investigation provide tentative support for a relationship between childhood sexual abuse and same sex sexual relationships, but this relationship appeared only for men. That is, men with histories of childhood sexual abuse were more likely than men in a control group to report same sex sexual partnerships... [T]his evidence of a link between court-substantiated cases of childhood sexual abuse and same-sex partnerships reported by adult men 30 years later is a notable finding that adds to the literature on this topic...

However, the data available in this study did not provide information about when same-sex sexual attractions first emerged and whether this predated or followed the sexual abuse. We also do not know what characteristics associated with the abuse (e.g., frequency, intensity, duration) might account for the relationship with adult sexual partnerships. It is also important to note that very few participants reported exclusively same-sex sexual relationships. Thus, it is possible that childhood sexual abuse increased the likelihood that men would experiment with both same - and opposite - sex partners...

While this prospective evidence linking childhood sexual abuse to same-sex sexual partnerships in men suggests an increased likelihood, these findings do not suggest that same-sex sexual orientation is caused by child abuse."

Jan. 7, 2009 - Cathy Spatz Widom, PhD 
Helen W. Wilson, PhD 

David W. Purcell, JD, PhD, Deputy Director for Behavioral and Social Science, Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, et al. state in their article "Childhood Sexual Abuse Experienced by Gay and Bisexual Men: Understanding the Disparities and Interventions to Help Eliminate Them," published in the 2008 book Unequal Opportunity: Health Disparities Affecting Gay and Bisexual Men in the United States:

"In sum, regardless of the rigor of the sample selection, when comparing MSM [men who have sex with men] samples to general male population samples, and when comparing MSM and heterosexual men within one sample, MSM consistently report more CSA [childhood sexual abuse] overall and more CSA with males than heterosexual men do; and no differences are observed for reported abuse by females... These studies bolster our conclusion that a disparity exists between gay/bisexual men and heterosexual men when it comes to CSA by males. While it is possible that these differences may be an artifact of reporting biases (e.g., heterosexual men being less willing to report being victimized by a man or to report that early heterosexual contact is abuse as opposed to initiation), it seems unlikely that reporting bias would account for a difference of this consistency and magnitude across a wide range of samples."

2008 - David W. Purcell, JD, PhD 

PRO (yes)

People Can Change, a nonprofit with the mission to help men transition away from unwanted homosexuality, wrote in its June 2004 article "Perceptions among Men with Unwanted Same-Sex Attractions (SSA) of the Factors Contributing to the Development of Their Homosexual Feelings," available at its website:

"48% of respondents [of members of People Can Change online support groups, which have a combined membership of 600 men] said that, as children or youth, they had been sexually abused by an older or more powerful person. Usually it was by a male (83 out of 205 respondents, or 40%), and in those cases, 96% considered the abuse to be a contributing factor to their developing SSA feelings, and 43% said the abuse was one of the three most significant factors."

June 2004 - People Can Change 

Timothy J. Dailey, PhD, Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Marriage and Family Studies of the Family Research Council, in his article "Homosexuality and Child Sexual Abuse," posted to the Orthodoxy Today website (accessed Apr. 12, 2013), stated:

"[M]en who sexually molest boys all too often lead their victims into homosexuality and pedophilia. The evidence indicates that a high percentage of homosexuals and pedophiles were themselves sexually abused as children...

The circle of abuse is the tragic legacy of the attempts by homosexuals to legitimize having sex with boys. For too many boys it is already too late to protect them from those who took advantage of their need for love and attention. All too many later perpetrate the abuse by themselves engaging in the sexual abuse of boys. Only by exposing the lies, insincere denials, and deceptions--including those wrapped in scholastic garb - of those who prey sexually on children, can we hope to build a wall of protection around the helpless children among us."

Apr. 12, 2013 - Timothy J. Dailey, PhD 

Heterosexuals Organized for a Moral Environment (HOME), a pro-heterosexual activist group, wrote the following information, titled "Sexual Abuse: A Major Cause of Homosexuality," available on their website (accessed Apr. 12, 2013):

"It is a well-documented fact that many many homosexuals were sexually abused when young... there are many more cases of sexual abuse than there are cases of homosexuality... we can see that sexual abuse can theoretically account for every case of homosexuality...

When someone says they are homosexual, our first response should be to try and find out if he/she was sexually abused and, if so, to then punish the abuser. Our next response should be to provide therapy to homosexuals to help them cope with their problems. Those who push the born-homosexual line are effectively ignoring the sexual abuse of children. What kind of 'people' want to let pedophiles get away with sexually abusing little kids? Those who oppose using therapy to change homosexuals into heterosexuals are, in effect, trying to keep homosexuals locked into homosexuality. Those who oppose such therapy do not want homosexuals to have a choice, a way out of homosexuality. That's un-American, inhumane, intolerant, and meanly oppressive...

One last note: Homosexuals do not want you to know that many of them were sexually abused when young, because many people who were so abused go on to molest others. And homosexuals do not want you to know that they are more likely to molest children than heterosexuals are."

Apr. 12, 2013 - Heterosexuals Organized for a Moral Environment (HOME) 

Steve Baldwin, Executive Director of the Council for National Policy, wrote the following opinion in his Apr. 12, 2002 article titled "Child Molestation and the Homosexual Movement," published by Regent University Law Review:

"The homosexual community knows that the capture of all major youth groups is absolutely necessary to the expansion of its movement. They know what most social scientists and sex researchers know but refuse to talk about: homosexually-molested children are likely to become homosexual. After all, one of the most common characteristics of homosexual molesters is the fact that they were molested themselves during boyhood."

Apr. 12, 2002 - Steve Baldwin 

New Direction Ministries, a Canadian based Christian organization, stated on their Free To Be Me website (accessed Mar. 3, 2009), in the article, "A Developmental View of Homosexuality," that:

"Whether sexual, physical or emotional, abuse has a profound impact on an individual, damaging his or her sense of personhood, worth, and masculinity or femininity.

Depending on the specific situation and how the person responds to it, abuse can contribute to the development of homosexuality.

Sometimes a person will think they are homosexual because the abuser was of the same sex. Or, a person may later be involved with others of the same sex in an attempt to regain their masculinity or femininity that was destroyed by the abuse.

Other abuse factors include exposure to adult sexuality, the fusion of sexuality and intimacy, the search for resolution of historical trauma, etc."

[Editor's Note: In 2007, New Direction Ministries ended its membership with the ex-gay ministry Exodus International. The above statement about sexual abuse can no longer be found on its Free To Be Me website.]

Mar. 3, 2009 - New Direction Ministries 

CON (no)

Logan Lynn, recording artist and LGBT activist, wrote in his Feb. 28, 2012 article "The Dangers of Being a Girly Boy," available at the Huffington Post website:

"I can't tell you how many times in my life I have heard the argument that people turn gay as a result of being sexually abused as children. As a survivor of extensive early-childhood sexual abuse myself, I have always found this to be the most disturbing of all attempts by others to pathologize and discredit my adult sexuality. This theory basically states that the man who raped me when I was a child has now somehow programmed my sexuality for the rest of my life, that the violence I repeatedly endured as a young boy is now the filter for all the love I have received since, or will ever receive. This is just simply not the case...

Instead of assuming I am gay because I was abused, doesn't it seem at least three times more likely that I was abused because I was gay?"

Feb. 28, 2012 - Logan Lynn 

The American Psychiatric Association stated in its May 2000 website fact sheet "Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Issues":

"[N]o specific psychosocial or family dynamic cause for homosexuality has been identified, including histories of childhood sexual abuse.

Sexual abuse does not appear to be more prevalent in children who grow up to identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, than in children who identify as heterosexual."

May 2000 - American Psychiatric Association 

The National Organization on Male Sexual Victimization (NOMSV) stated on its website (accessed Apr. 12, 2013), that:

"While there are different theories about how the sexual orientation develops, experts in the human sexuality field do not believe that premature sexual experiences play a significant role in late adolescent or adult sexual orientation.

It is unlikely that someone can make another person a homosexual or heterosexual. Sexual orientation is a complex issue and there is no single answer or theory that explains why someone identifies himself as homosexual, heterosexual or bi-sexual. Whether perpetrated by older males or females, boys' or girls' premature sexual experiences are damaging in many ways, including confusion about one's sexual identity and orientation.

Many boys who have been abused by males erroneously believe that something about them sexually attracts males, and that this may mean they are homosexual or effeminate. Again, not true. Pedophiles who are attracted to boys will admit that the lack of body hair and adult sexual features turns them on. The pedophile's inability to develop and maintain a healthy adult sexual relationship is the problem - not the physical features of a sexually immature boy."

Apr. 12, 2013 - National Organization on Male Sexual Victimization (NOMSV) 

Kali Munro, M.Ed., an online psychotherapist, wrote the following statements in her 2002 article titled "Am I Gay Because of the Abuse?," and posted on her website:

"Sexual abuse can interfere with sexual enjoyment; contribute to a survivor engaging in sexual behaviours that arise from the abuse; and interfere with survivors' ability to know what they want. But, sexual abuse can't create a survivor's deepest passion and desires...

We are all socially conditioned through culture, education, family, media, etc. Sexual abuse is another form of conditioning. As a result, sexual abuse survivors can be drawn to or be repulsed by things that have nothing to do with their authentic selves, and have more to do with their abuse... Homophobia plays a big role in creating the link between gay sexuality and sexual abuse. The myth that lesbians and gay men are sexual predators is still very much alive. In a society that links lesbian and gay sexuality with sexual predators, and where there is little or no information for youth about lesbian and gay sexuality, many lesbian and gay survivors assume that sexual abuse by someone of the same sex is what being gay is...

The truth is that sexual abuse and sexuality are a million miles apart; they truly have nothing in common. Something as wonderful and beautiful as our sexuality could never have arisen out of something as ugly and painful as sexual abuse."

2002 - Kali Munro, M.Ed. 

Bridget McBride (aka Sei), writer for the LezGetReal website, wrote the following statements in the article titled "Being Molested Did Not Make Me Lesbian (Or Transsexual)" (accessed Mar. 5, 2009):

"At the age of eleven, I was molested... Being molested did not make me either transsexual or lesbian. In fact, looking back for both me and my parents, it is easy to see how I was destined to grow up to be a woman. Growing up, I loved my dolls, and I loved to play house. I latched on to the female characters in my often male dominated childhood. I adored Princess Leia and often wished that they made female Transformer toys. Watching Robotech, I was always more interested in the female characters. I hated it when my sister got to wear makeup and I didn't. I was growing up female in a male body... As for being lesbian, my earliest crush was on a girl in fourth grade. I adored Anne Wilson of Heart and had a huge poster of her and her sister, Nancy, up on my wall above my bed. I was interested in women, and I knew it. And that was before I was molested.

It is unfortunate that many people believe that being molested or raped leads to being homosexual or transsexual. The reality is that most gays, lesbians, and transsexuals have never been molested, raped or abused. Those of us who have are not this way because of what happened to us.

This notion is a means to dismiss the real reasons behind being gay, lesbian or trans. In fact, it is rather insulting. The scientific evidence that is out there shows that homosexuality and transsexuality have biological causes."

Mar. 5, 2009 - Bridget McBride (aka Sei)