Was I born gay?
I don’t know, were you? You’re the best one to answer that question.
But I’m constantly reading things that claim I chose to be gay.
And usually it’s homophobes advancing those types of arguments – by their logic they too have a choice in the matter.
So they could choose to be gay?
If their theory is correct, yes. But for some reason they ALL choose to be straight. Which leads one to suspect it’s not really a choice after all.
But some people choose to be gay or straight – like Anne Heche.
Maybe that’s just evidence that bisexuality exists. Or maybe Anne Heche is just a fame-seeking insane person.
Someone doesn’t like Anne Heche…
She hurt Ellen. No one hurts our Ellen.
We might not choose to be gay but maybe it’s how we were raised.
Otherwise known as the “nurture” argument. That’s effectively the “choice” argument wrapped up with some crackpot psychology.
So you’re saying we definitely ARE born gay?
I’m saying that gays and lesbians who are being honest with themselves all know they just ARE, they don’t choose it.
But don’t some studies prove otherwise?
Homophobes use a whole lot of “science” to argue that homosexuality isn’t natural. For example, here’s a piece that uses the work of researchers Neil and Briar Whitehead to “debunk” the “myth” that people are born gay. Neil Whitehead is a member of NARTH, the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality. One of NARTH’s mission statements claims “clients have the right to claim a gay identity, or to diminish their homosexuality and to develop their heterosexual potential.” So that Whitehead study comes with an assumption that homosexuality is bad. Homophobes don’t want us to be “born that way” because they need us to be “unnatural”, unnatural being “wrong”, wrong being “inferior”.
But socialization can affect our behaviour in other ways, so are we sure it can’t make us gay?
Socialization has been largely discredited as a cause. For example, male infants born without penises or who suffer penis trauma…
Wait, “penis trauma”?
Botched circumcisions. In the past doctors sent them home and told the parents to raise them as girls, with attendant hormone therapy. But the majority of them were attracted to women, meaning being raised heterosexual doesn’t necessarily make you one. If you can’t raise a heterosexual, the prevailing sexual orientation in society, how can you raise someone to be a minority orientation?
What is the current theory?
Modern studies tend to look at DNA, on trying to track down a chromosome that determines sexual orientation. Some claim to have found it – in a study of 409 pairs of gay brothers they say their results, especially in the context of previous studies, “support the existence of genes on pericentromeric chromosome 8 and chromosome Xq28 influencing development of male sexual orientation”.
Don’t look at me, I just copy and pasted that stuff.
If they find a gay gene won’t they be able to “correct” it?
That’s one reason that certain people oppose this kind of scientific study – it has the smell of eugenics all over it. But DNA is unlikely to be the complete answer. For example, women with naturally increased levels of male hormones are more likely to be lesbian. Part of it could also be “in your head”, literally. Gay male brains seem more similar to those of straight women, just as lesbian brains resemble heterosexual men.
So it’s complicated?
It is. But the real focus shouldn’t be on the WHY but rather the IS. You are gay. That’s okay. Now get on with it. Dr Qazi Rahman of the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, sums it all up very well: “So should the causes of sexuality influence how we view sexual minority identities? No. The causes of a trait should not influence how we see it.” We shouldn’t get too tied up with the why, but instead “let’s use [the science] to supplement, but not replace, a discussion about LGB rights and social policy”.
And he’s right. Getting fixated on the “why am I like this” is far less important than dealing with the “I am like this”.
You mean like how since I’m a gay guy I am imagining having sex with that fine piece of man?
In ASK HIMSICAL Kyle Kairouz tackles your questions, providing lighthearted, but accurate, answers. Got a question? Let Kyle know!