Science, Sexual Orientation, Historiography


In 1991 neuroscientist Simon LeVay published “A Difference in Hypothalamic Structure Between Heterosexual and Homosexual Men”, which reported the discovery of a ‘region’ in the anterior hypothalamus of the brain that determined sexual orientation in men. LeVay's study was an attempt to revolutionize the scientific study of sexual orientation, as previous decades of research had failed to isolate the biological determining factor of human sexual orientation. Blinded by his political motivation to aid the gay rights movement at the end of the twentieth century, LeVay's study - as well as the countless other scientific investigations of human sexuality - merely succeeded in naturalizing socially constructed categories through 'objective' scientific facts. A historical investigation of the socio-cultural influence that informed the scientific study of LeVay will help illuminate the gender ideals and binarized categories that influenced his attempt to prove there was a 'gay brain'.

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I would like to thank Dr. Pauline Phipps for all of her help with this paper, and her mentor-ship for the last year as I try to navigate the complex field of the History of Sexuality.

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