May 28, 2009

Born That Way?

I sometimes hear people express a belief that homosexuality is a lifestyle choice. Other people argue that folks are born gay.

I honestly don't know how much of your sexual preferences you are born with. I don't think anyone knows for sure. I strongly suspect that it depends a lot on predispositions that you're born with, and that factors in your environment may have some influence on how your "self" unfolds. Essentially I think you are born with it, but I feel that's an unnecessary oversimplification.

What I'm more interested in at the moment is whether it even matters at all.

Considering that nobody really knows how we arrive at our sexual preferences, it seems like it could be a fairly random dividing line for people, especially if natural consequences of that belief affect how we regard others. But are there important natural consequences of that belief? (I am ignoring the scientific research consequences, which may be interesting to ponder but not necessarily directly applicable to interpersonal relationships.)

We can all agree (we can all bear witness, from experience) that feelings of a sexual nature and even more complex feelings of romantic love are extremely strong emotions. They exist and we have to deal with them, not only as individuals, but as a society. Dealing with them is a challenge, but also a strength in our society. Our emotions help us form strong ties that are the foundation of a social structure.

It seems to me, then, that we needn't question the origin of these feelings. We can deny they exist, I suppose, but then how do you explain apparently committed gay couples? That's a silly line of reasoning. So, I ask for your opinion: does it really matter to you whether people are born gay or whether it happens after birth? If so, why?

Posted by James at May 28, 2009 3:52 PM
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Posted by: James at May 28, 2009 4:45 PM

Hmm. Looks like my blog had ipbanned everyone for some reason. I don't know what was up with that. Fixed.

Posted by: James at May 28, 2009 4:46 PM

It doesn't matter to me at all. Out of pure curiosity, I wouldn't mind knowing the answer. On the other hand, I know that there are gays who worry that if the "answer" is found, someone will insist on "curing" them if it's found to be inborn; "screening and preventing" it in children if it's found to be epigenetic; and punishing it if it's found to be wholly voluntary.

The fear of being treated/screened/punished is legitimate, since there are already people who claim to be able to "cure" gayness and think homosexuality can be induced by watching too much Ellen.

I remember reading something a few years back about people who were trying to figure out how to get certain animals to be more enthusiastic about sexual reproduction and less gay. I think that's what made me aware of this concern in the first place. (Maybe the animals were in captivity, I don't remember...)

I don't feel that sexual orientation is a societal problem at all, except in that it annoys a certain group people who are easy to annoy anyway (the real societal problem, IMO). The origin of homosexuality is maybe not the most important thing that needs to be researched or even discussed right now.

Meanwhile, I've accepted that different people have varying degrees of genetic/social predisposition to reject anyone who's "different" from themselves. Maybe instead of researching the origin of sexual preference, we should find out why it's so important for some people to limit the civil rights of others. Then we can cure/prevent/punish this tendency, LOL.

Posted by: Julie at May 28, 2009 7:20 PM

LOL, Julie. I have a feeling folks would not like their bizarre opinions turned on them like that.

Posted by: James at May 28, 2009 8:33 PM

I call them "intellectual white trash," although color is just included for reference to the similar term. People who need to be better than other people in order to feel good about themselves. I think it needs to be a choice for them, so they can show how much better they are by having made the "good" choice.

I like Julie's idea of wiping out the genetic predisposition to reject anyone who's different. Unfortunately, I don't think our genes would go for that. Since they're the unit of selection, they "know" that people similar to ourselves are more likely to have the same genes, and they want to favor similarity so they end up in the gene pool again, one way or the other. Now I wonder if that tendency is stronger in people with a particular combination of genetics, one that could only survive by being fiercely loyal b/c of deficits in other areas, such as intelligence. I'm going with that.

Posted by: Maggie at May 29, 2009 9:40 AM

How about "anti-intellectual religious trash?" To distinguish them from the folks who don't impose their religion on others, and from those who are not anti-intellectual.

Posted by: James at May 29, 2009 9:45 AM

What I tried to post yesterday:

It doesn't matter at all to me personally, but it matters when I speak to people who believe homosexuality is immoral. These folk tend to believe that one "chooses" to sin via homosexual activity, much like one chooses to sin when they steal or kill or lie. Positing that God made gay people homosexual (and "God don't make junk,") it encourages them to think about what God wants gay people to do - deny how God made them because of some human (and thus perhaps flawed) interpretation of a centuries-old document, or accept that Jesus said "love one another" and that gender is, ultimately, irrelevant? But as long as the person I'm talking to believes homosexuality is a choice, like choosing to sing karaoke or choosing to watch NASCAR, there's no discussion.

Posted by: mjfrombuffalo at May 29, 2009 5:32 PM

If someone tells you that it's a choice like choosing to watch NASCAR, do they realize it's not very convincing unless they admit to having made that sort of conscious, reversible choice in their own life?

That's one thing I've never gotten about folks who are convinced that it's that sort of choice.

Posted by: James at May 30, 2009 10:29 AM

Perhaps if someone tells you a choice, it's reasonable to assume they're a homosexual. After all, I know it's not a choice for me. But we know there certainly have been Christians who have made that "choice," poor tortured souls, to behave heterosexually when they are actually homosexual.

Posted by: Maggie at May 31, 2009 9:14 PM

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