A famous and much discussed example of a very different cultural form of sexual relations, called sequential homosexuality, is found in a number of cultures in the Pacific islands. The Sambia tribe of Papua New Guinea has been described in depth by Gilbert Herdt (Herdt, 1981; Stoller & Herdt, 1985). Life in Sambia is difficult because food is scarce and war is common; warriors, hunters, and many children are needed to survive. Sambians believe that mother’s milk must be replaced by man’s milk (semen) for a boy to reach puberty, and so, at the age of 7, all Sambian boys move to a central hut where they must fellate the postpubescent Sambian boys and drink their semen. After a boy reaches puberty, he no longer fellates others but is himself sucked by the prepubescent boys until he reaches the age of marriage at about 18. Despite his long period of same – sex activity, he will live as a heterosexual for the rest of his life.
The Lesson of Cross-Cultural Studies of Homosexuality
With all these very different cultural forms of sexuality, trying to pigeonhole people or ways of life into our restrictive, Western “homosexuality-heterosexuality-bisexuality” model seems inadequate. This is a good time to think about your personal theory about homosexuality and to ask yourself: Can my theory account for the cross-cultural differences in sexual orientation that exist around the world today?