The long term emotional, romantic, and sexual attraction to one's sexual partners, to fulfill their sexual desires, needs.
A complex term, that basically involves having an enduring, or long term, involvement on an emotional, romantic and(or) sexual relationship based on the gender of the other.
As defined by the American Psychological Association, the term is about the person's own concept of who they identify with, both in thought, behavior, and association.
One's orientation is generally categorized into three groups, heterosexual which refers to one's attraction to the opposite gender, homosexual where one is attracted to the same gender, and bisexual referring to no specific gender association or preference.
Freud and other reputable psychoanalysts have contended that Sexual Orientation is based on several factors, and that early childhood experiences contribute greatly to one''s orientation.
Kinsey on the other hand, claimed in his report that it was less environmental, than medical. He also developed a scale, claiming that men weren''t either goats or sheep, but a wider range.
Historian Michael Foucault argued that Homosexuality, as an identity, did not exist in the 18th century. He further claimed that such sexual acts were noted only as Sodomy, a criminal act of the time.
He further argued that it wasn''t until the 19th century when homosexuality became a term, that was borne out of science of the time, attempting to define different sexual actions, rather than as being a pre existing condition or category.
Some Historians and Researches argue that the emotional and physical traits associated with the sexual orientation definition for homosexual is inaccurate; They claim that in many cultures, those traits used to define homosexual orientation are also present in other cultures, but that it does not include a sexual bonding or desire for one.
Most accepted definitions of orientation are based on two distinct components. One is the psychological part, in which one has deep fantasies, desires, longings, for the type of relationships within the three accepted categories. Heterosexual, Bisexual, and Homosexual.
The second component refers to the actual behavior of the individual. That being whom do they seek out, as sexual partners. If the opposite gender, Heterosexual. If they seek and engage with a partner of the same gender, exclusively, then Homosexual. If they choose both same gender, and opposite, then Bisexual.
Should be noted, that sexual identity is similar, but there is a distinctive difference.
One's sexual identity maybe where the person will identify and act in accordance with one group, such as heterosexual, yet have the fantasies and desire for a relationship with the same gender. That they don't act on those desires, would give them a sexual identity as heterosexual, yet their true sexual orientation would be considered homosexual.
Sexual Orientation is more about one's fantasies, and desires, that exist beyond a momentary inclination. Hence the use of 'enduring' in its basic scientific definition.
In many instances, one may suppress their mental desires, and appear to associate and act with characteristics of a group for which their actual orientation is not part of.
Such as one who prefers the same gender, while associating and acting as one who prefers the opposite gender.
It is a conscious choice, to not follow their real desires, and has been termed as being 'closeted' which the Gay Community has adopted for meaning that one is hiding their true sexual desires, orientation.
Practice (Associated Acts): Research has identified several biological factors that contribute to one's orientation. These factors are genes, prenatal hormones, and brain structure.
It has not yielded any single controlling cause, as of yet or to what degree any actually plays. Research is still ongoing in this area.
Noted neuroscientist Simon LeVay has argued that it is impossible for homosexuality to be a matter devoid of choice. His claim being that genes mutate, that some are not fully formed, so that therefore to be acted on, the individual has to make a choice to do so.
On the other side of the issue is Dr. Angela Pattatucci, a clinical biologist, who contents that one has no choice as to what genes are present or not, so that lifestyle cannot influence one's orientation.
Noteworthy: Sexual Preference is used by many outside the scientific community to refer to a person's sexuality, or orientation, due their belief that it is not a natural occurrence, but is based on one's choice.
Some noted scholars in the associated fields, claim that common categories such as Homosexuality are not universal, and that they are labels not commonly found across the globe.
They argue that in some cultures, the definitions used may not apply as the sexual component or behavior component is not applicable, or accepted.
The idea that two men who kiss, in North American culture would tend to categorize them as being Homosexual, yet in other cultures it is common practice for simply showing affection, without any enduring desire or longing to engage in a more 'sexual' relationship.
Recent studies have concluded that a mother who has given birth to many male children, the likelihood of some being homosexual is greatly increased.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has concluded, for now, that sexual orientation is a combination of several factors, not just limited to genes.
In their stated view, sexual orientation is based on a combination of several factors such as hormonal, genetic, and environment. To what degree each contributes is up for debate.