Saturday, February 05, 2011

Are gay people "born that way?"

I generally get on pretty well with people on the right wing - we might not agree on everything, but generally I can 'see where they're coming from' on most things; and on some topics, I've even had my opinion swayed by some pretty convincing arguments from conservatives (global warming and gun control being two such subjects.)

Nevertheless, there are some right-wing opinions that I simply can't get my head around; ones that are clearly based in cloud-cuckoo land. One such meme is the oft-heard accusation that homosexuality is a 'choice' and that gay people are choosing to live a 'lifestyle' that is in contradiction to 'nature's law.'

First, 'nature's law' includes over 1,500 species of animal exhibiting recorded homosexual or bisexual behavior, so it's hardly a contradiction to it. Secondly, I'm pretty sure conservatives touting this theory haven't actually bothered speaking to any homosexuals about it. As far as my understanding goes, gay people are born that way and they can no more 'choose' to be gay than I 'chose' to be straight.

A fascinating new blog that cropped up might shed some light onto the topic for confused conservatives. Called "Born This Way", it's a journal of memories from gays and lesbians, accompanied by pictures from their childhood that, with the benefit of hindsight, made it pretty clear they were going to grow up gay.

4-years-old is perhaps a little early to deliberately choose an 'aberrant and unnatural' lifestyle, as the conservatives might claim - yet Eamonn from "Born This Way" was apparently doing exactly that!

Looking back at my own childhood, I know that there was never a point in which I felt I could have 'chosen' not to be straight. I had my first crush on a girl when I was in pre-school (I'm friends with her on Facebook today - and she's grown into a stunner.) After my first unrequited crush in high school (I'm friends with her on Facebook too; and she's sweet, beautiful and apparently dating a ginger) I managed to 'fall in love' with just about every woman I met - until I finally started acting my age when I settled down with Mummy Militant.

People joked that I was remorselessly heterosexual; with an Austin Powers schtick before Mike Myers had even invented the character.

But then again, perhaps websites like "Born This Way" place too much emphasis on certain childhood character traits that suggested blossoming homosexuality. I hated sports when I was a kid, the majority of my friends have always been women and I have a sartorial flair that people today would call 'metrosexual' I grew up to be robustly straight, but if I hadn't, perhaps I'd have been listing those characteristics on "Born This Way" as no-brainers that I'd grow up gay.

Ultimately, I think everybody has their own story about when and how they realized they were straight or gay. The one thing I'm sure about, however, is that most people had as little 'choice' in the matter than they did their hair color or nationality.

They were just "born that way" - and that's the way we need to accept them.


Anonymous said...

Its a false argument in many ways from a person like me. I wasn't born gay or strait, but male. DESIGNED (look at the parts) to be with female. People are, and this is unequivocally proven) born angry and such.. doesn't make it morally right nor does it mean that we should accept it.

paul mitchell said...

Dude, that site is really gay.

Roland Hulme said...

Hi ATP - I see the logic of your design point, but it doesn't stand up to scrutiny. What about hermaphrodites, born with sex organs of both genders? What were they 'designed' for?

But I see what you mean - on the cosmic assembly line, men and women get churned out with non-standard design schematics all the time. As you said, people are 'born angry' - just like some dogs are just born 'bad uns.' The fact that they're born that way doesn't mean that their violent behavior is justified.

From a sexuality point of view, you could argue that maybe pedophiles are 'born that way' and that doesn't make their disgusting behavior 'justifiable' - so some conservatives have drawn a parallel between the two. The difference is, of course, that a child (or an animal, or a vacuum cleaner, or whatever somebody was 'born' to be attracted to) can't consent; so they can never ethically consummate their attraction.

Gay people have consensual relationships with other gay people; so I think it VERY different. As long as all parties are willing, I don't think we have a right to object to however they want to express their sexuality. Just like in the court case in California, it winds up with straight people having no moral or legal standing to prevent gay people have relationships with the gender they feel they were born to.

Roland Hulme said...

Paul - I spat up coffee reading that! ;-)

paul mitchell said...

Well, it IS.

Anonymous said...

You're muddying the debate. This post was about "born that way" or a "choice." Your comment was about government laws and such about their relationships.

Not related.

Regarding birth defects. There are no perfect, one size fits all answers. While not minimizing the situation I can use one of my children as an example. He is EXTREMELY ambidextrous. He had two functioning hands, but it hurt him in school as you really need to have a dominate hand to do some work. We had to force him to choose a hand to use... did we choose wrong? Dunno, but ultimately he had to choose a way to go.

Paul V. (Creator) said...

Hi MG,
Thanks for linking to my blog, and entering the discussion etc. I do want to point out, that my blog is in no way saying "This is definitive proof, this is science" or anything like that.

Nor, that every boy who did drag, hung out with girls, hated sports or butch, tomboy girl - is automatically going to be gay.

What I want people to get from the site - and each submission - is that for THAT person, their story is their truth about being a gay person.

And in the end, that homosexuality is as exactly innate as heterosexuality is. There's no "on/off switch" for what's inside all of us, that most of us can't even put into words -- "it" (our sexuality and attraction) just "is"...
xo Paul V. - Born This Way Blog

treena-ivy-carter said...

Yo, ATP!
"I can use one of my children as an example. He is EXTREMELY ambidextrous. He had two functioning hands, but it hurt him in school as you really need to have a dominate hand to do some work. We had to force him to choose a hand to use... did we choose wrong? Dunno, but ultimately he had to choose a way to go."

So say your kid was bisexual...would you make him choose one sex, and you chose wrong, doesn't that make you a terrible parent if you forced them to use one hand or in my analogy only one sex. Oh, and being ambidextrous really has nothing to do with this.


Anyway thumbs up!