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Book Review: Gay, Straight, and the Reason Why; The Science of Sexual Orientation by Simon LeVay

Drew Payne


Gay marriage has been making the headlines recently and there are a lot of arguments for and against it. At the heart of a lot of these arguments is whether homosexuality is “natural” or “unnatural”.

Simon LeVay is a neuroscientist and takes an evidence-based approach to his subject. He doesn’t just look at the theories behind human sexuality; he looks at the evidence for those theories, or lack of it. This is what lifts this book head and shoulders above previous books looking at the origins of human sexuality. LeVay doesn’t have one theory that he is pushing; instead he takes a critical look at all of them.

He concludes that our sexualities are a product of our genes, sex hormones and brain systems (nature not nurture), but it is how he reaches this conclusion that is fascinating. He analyses the data with a refreshing evidence-based approach.

This book is also written in clear and easy to read prose, not in an academic style, full of jargon and language that is difficult to understand. LeVay uses clear English; his explanations draw the reader in, not putting you off.

The subject matter might not be of interest to everyone, but this book can benefit all nurses. We’re called to give unbiased care to all; this book helps us see sexuality as a natural part of life.

(This review was originally written as a commission by the Nursing Standard magazine and published there in April 2013)

Find it here on Amazon





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