Dustin Kight

Were You Born Gay, or Just Plain Stupid?

Filed By Dustin Kight | November 04, 2007 10:10 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Politics, The Movement, The Movement, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Albert Mohler, gay gene, gay identity, gay politics, radical right, self determination, Southern Baptist Convention

Eliminating prejudice and oppression is no easy feat. Like viruses, prejudice and oppression mutate and change. They adapt to the times. When you go at them from one direction, they move in another. When you cut off one of their heads, they grow two more.

I have long been plagued by the issue of "gay since birth." You know, the argument that people are born with their sexual orientations intact. According to "gay since birth," sexual orientation is more likely to develop as a genetically predetermined thing than cancer or diabetes, despite the fact that cancer and diabetes are body-centered phenomena, lacking social or cerebral aspects, such as love, longing, desire and depression.

"Gay since birth" is one of the worst approaches to ending prejudice and oppression against gays and lesbians that has ever developed. Which is not to say that I don't understand its origin and appeal. In our natural equals unchanging and therefore moral culture, "gay since birth" alleviates the guilt and affirms the equality of gays and lesbians, personally, while serving as a mighty sword against those who think of non-heterosexuality as a frivolous, vile and antisocial lifestyle choice.

Yet it is precisely because "gay since birth" seems to cure all ills that we should be wary of its use. Let me highlight a few of the reasons why I think "gay since birth" should be shelved for all time, and why we as a community need to realize that our anti-prejudice and oppression work needs to center on change and choice, not biology.

In addition to the fact that there is no definitive evidence that sexual orientation is genetically determined, a host of evidence shows that the nature-versus-nurture aspect of this argument will remain open for some time (probably for all time). There are a number of reasons for this:

First of all, scientific study is not the uniquely objective endeavor that most of us like to think it is. Science, like other fields of inquiry, and especially those that seek to understand the human experience, change with the times. We give science a break, because we believe its intentions to be good and its methods to be pure. But the same science that many gays and lesbians cling to these days to determine and defend their identities not too long ago diagnosed them as pathological and antisocial. And it took a long fight to end the practice of medically treating homosexuality as a cause of mental illness, as opposed to the social treatment of homosexuality, in itself, as the cause of acute depression, anxiety and the rest.

Secondly, the "gay since birth" argument sets up a true/false hierarchy, in which the "true" are gays and lesbians who accept that they've been gay since birth and the false are 100% heterosexual people. In the middle are

  • people who identify as gay/lesbian but don't believe they've been gay all their lives or don't know for sure;
  • people who refuse to believe they've been gay all their lives and/or acknowledge another "reason" for being gay/lesbian (lesbian feminism in recent decades, for instance);
  • and self-identified bisexuals.

All of which doesn't even begin to address how this hierarchy affects/complicates the LGB relationship with trans/gender queer people. For instance, if people are truly "born gay," how, then, can they be born in the "wrong body," as you might hear from a trans perspective. If we're investing in an argument where everything is plain and clear and set from go, what happens to LGBTQ people who don't agree with this analysis or adamantly refuse to fit under its umbrella?

Well, we know what often happens, especially in the case of self-identified bisexuals. Despite most gays and lesbians understanding that it's politically correct to acknowledge bisexuality as a unique and complete sexuality, many (probably most) still deride bisexuals behind closed doors as "gay on the way," or "gay until later," as in straight people who only dabble in gay for a time or in a specific place (e.g. while in college).

And so what does this hierarchical "gay since birth" argument do for us, really?

First and foremost, it's a get-in-line approach, which has rarely been helpful in social justice movements. Anytime you tell people in your community that they should subjugate their differences (of opinion, orientation, whatever) to the greater good, you set the whole movement back. You may not like to accommodate all differences. You may, in certain instances, refuse to. That's not likely to end anytime soon and, in certain instances, that's OK.

For instance, if a community member is murdered in hate, and you want to take to the streets while your friend wants to talk to city hall, you may disagree and take to the streets anyway. Multiple strategies and approaches on that level can be helpful and should be tolerated and encouraged. But when we're talking about the overarching narrative of a community and a movement, of an identity as a whole, there's little room for multiplicity, especially when that narrative is "gay since birth," and by its very logic excludes, derides, and undermines the validity of all those mentioned above.

But don't take my word for it.

The seeds of a conservative response to "gay since birth" that is much more sophisticated and problematic for our community than the denial we're used to (you know, how it's a lifestyle, not in-born) have already taken root. You cut off one head. You get two more. And in this instance, one head accepts as God's will the hormonal "heterosexualization" of embryos identified as likely-to-be-gay, while the other head pits the pro-choice community against the LGBTQ community, which are by no means mutually exclusive.

Check it out. The following comes from Albert Mohler, the current president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the "flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world."

Homosexual activists were among the first to call for (and fund) research into a biological cause of homosexuality. After all, they argued, the discovery of a biological cause would lead to the normalization of homosexuality simply because it would then be seen to be natural, and thus moral.

Why, Mohler, you don't say? It's interesting that you'd open this train of thought. I wonder where you're going with this...

This question stands at the intersection of so many competing interests. Feminists and political liberals have argued for decades now that a woman should have an unrestricted right to an abortion, for any cause or for no stated cause at all. How can they now complain if women decide to abort fetuses identified as homosexual? This question involves both abortion and gay rights -- the perfect moral storm of our times.

The perfect moral storm of our times, indeed. Because when radical, antisocial groups like Mohler and his ilk run out of ways to beat down different groups at the same time -- groups which are all the time recognizing their similarities and building coalitions -- they begin to divide and conquer, pitting groups against each other in more and more creative ways.

Mohler concludes his article with 10 points for Christians (how original) on this issue, all of which can be summarized in his last, most startling point:

10. Christians must be very careful not to claim that science can never prove a biological basis for sexual orientation. We can and must insist that no scientific finding can change the basic sinfulness of all homosexual behavior. The general trend of the research points to at least some biological factors behind sexual attraction, gender identity, and sexual orientation. This does not alter God's moral verdict on homosexual sin (or heterosexual sin, for that matter), but it does hold some promise that a deeper knowledge of homosexuality and its cause will allow for more effective ministries to those who struggle with this particular pattern of temptation. If such knowledge should ever be discovered, we should embrace it and use it for the greater good of humanity and for the greater glory of God.

Now here's the moment when I want to conclude this entry with a big, fat, hopefully self-explanatory Wow. But I've gone this far so I might as well finish my point and hopefully make it clear.

"Gay since birth" is by no means a fool-proof, be-all-end-all approach to our liberty and salvation if the president of a body as large and, despite how we may see it, "mainstream" as the Southern Baptist Convention has already crafted the twenty-first-century ten point plan against it.

Never mind the contradictions here -- that if it's wrong to "play God" by terminating pregnancies it's equally wrong to "play God" by altering the development of a unique human life. To tell you the truth, when I first read Mohler's article, I thought he would conclude with a much more positive message, that "gay since birth" should, in fact, deter like-minded Christians from oppressing gays, since we are all equally created in God's image (which is, by the way, his contradictory point #6).

But when there are larger issues at stake than mere logical authority, all parties are able to twist fact and information to their will. And radical right wingers like Mohler are particularly good at shedding "God's light" on all they see. (A thorough discussion of the many motivations that supersede "correct" interpretations of the Bible, as it pertains to sexuality, war, poverty, etc., would take more than a blog post and can be adequately hinted at by asking you to think long and hard about the makeup of the leadership of the Moral Majority...)

So what does this mean -- are we doomed to fail? Will the radical right succeed in hormonally eliminating any nonheterosexual fetuses from entering the world as such? Will they identify a genetic or otherwise biological predisposition toward heresy and eliminate those traits, if not those fetuses, as well?

Probably they will claim to have identified, in the next few decades, a strong genetic/biological determinant of sexual orientation, though I'll bet that the science will be wrong, or at least incomplete. People will continue, for various reasons, to identify as and experience nonheterosexuality. History, and the many various nonheterosexual formations it has to bear from all cultures and times, is the strongest indicator on that. And what's most likely to happen, should these hormonal modifications begin, is that people who continue to identify as nonheterosexual over time will be even further vilified as freaks and misfits, "illogically denying their salvation and cure." And a whole host of fetuses will be exposed to politically and socially motivated medical treatments, the impacts of which on their lives and bodies and on society at large can only at this point be dimly dreamed.

To avoid this scenario and to avoid this world, we need to wake up and assert the only argument that stands the test of time against oppression and social control. We need to assert that it doesn't matter why we're gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer or however else we identify and experience our lives. We need to assert that our sexualities and our gender identities can change, should we want them to, and that we lose no authenticity or power in the process. We need to focus on personal agency and the rights of people to determine their own destinies. We need to say that we should be respected and protected in society in spite of that which makes us seemingly different from one another. We need to ground ourselves in personal liberties, not reasons for persons that cannot change.

We must believe this, ourselves, in order for it to ring true. I'm not saying we should deny our guts when they tell us that we were "born to be" who we are, in the sense that certain forces, factors and experiences bring us to that place. If you feel fixity in your sexuality, embrace it, but stop short of asserting your own feelings of fixity on others, of denying others the validity you so wanted before you accepted that you, personally, had no other choice. Because you do have a choice. You have a choice to live your life the way you want it lived, and you have the right to assert that choice as worthwhile and good.

It may be easy for many of us who feel this fixity to accept "gay since birth" as our mantra and assume that others will either follow suit or benefit, in the end, equally. But we would be wrong. And I hope what I've laid out here will convince you that what I'm saying is true. And if you find me unconvincing, I hope that the cooly diabolical machinations of Albert Mohler and his cohorts will sway you instead.

No argument that shies away from the assertion of personal agency and personal truth will ever truly emancipate you or me. The sooner we realize and accept this, the sooner we set ourselves free.

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I cannot start to enumerate how many faulty assumptions the article makes about scientific consensus on the causes of sexual orientation, not to add the faulty assumptions made about the scientific approach.

Many people misinterpret the findings to expose one single cause of homosexuality. The scientific community, however, is currently inclined to think that homosexuality results in a mix of genetic interaction and their triggering by the environment. Taking medicinally preventive measures to avoid homosexual babies is NOT possible; there is no single litmus test for sexuality assuming that the current consensus is validated. Fear not, gay brothers and sisters, our population will not be eradicated if biological bases are linked to sexuality.

Second, it's not about people confusing being born gay with being born with a disability. Passing legislation to teach LGBT issues at school will be easier, educating heterosexuals about the APA's rather old findings that show that homosexuals are equally able to perform. We should not be held down because of people's potential misconceptions about us, otherwise blacks would be rather screwed in this society if the same case was posed for them. Just like blacks (minus the LGBT-blacks, not that they matter much to the community currently) were able to achieve legal equality, so will we with the argument that it's not a choice, rather a development.

However, I agree with the contributor's line of thought. Biology should not be the foundation of our self-justification. Even if we were able to choose to be homosexual or heterosexual, there should be NOTHING wrong with choosing to be the former. One should not be punished for choosing what type of adult to love, have sex with, or both. Religion is a choice-based category that is federally protected; I don't see why it should possess sole privilege of protection over other choice-based ways of living. The straights can start to tell us whom should we love once they get to pay our bills and take care of our responsibilities. Until then, they can take a cordial "go fuck yourself" from my "sinful" homosexual self. People need to understand that they can't force their convictions upon others.

I think this is such an important point to be made. It's utterly ridiculous to claim that everyone who is gay was born gay and will stay that way forever. I defy anyone to tell me that feelings I've had for men weren't valid. I defy anyone to tell me that I'm not choosing to be queer and only interested in women right now. It doesn't matter if someone is born queer or chooses to be so. Denying someone personal dignity and basic human rights because of their personal decisions is just as unacceptable as denying them based on their genetics. Religion, after all, is a personal choice, and we certainly don't find it acceptable to discriminate based on religion.

Well, there's some space between not-a-choice and genetic. They aren't parallel concepts. Some thing can be both a choice and genetic (hair color), neither a choice nor genetic (losing an arm in a car accident), as well as a genetic non-choice or a non-genetic choice.

I agree that using science may seem like using science is the easy way out here when it's generally not. It is affected by cultural forces, etc. We get that.

But in the context of a hyper-textual society that sees the natural as a dead landscape upon which an "individual" is an actor, it can be useful. I know that I've read studies that people who think that sexual orientation isn't a choice are more likely to support LGB rights (I'm not going to go look them up; a more enterprising commenter can do that). But it's still working within that context, which probably explains why everyone knows that race and sex aren't conscious choices, but there's still racism and sexism in the world.

We're also bad with protecting choices or not vilifying people for their choices, even if they're bad. That's often a justification for people getting brutalized in the criminal justice system - it was her choice! We warned her! She should have known better! Do whatever now!

Some people will experience sexual orientation as a choice, most won't, and while I don't experience it as a choice, I refuse to even look for a "cause" to sexual orientation. Because it doesn't matter - we have to attack the causes of oppression as a power structure. Ultimately, whether it's seen as a choice or not (what is choice? does that even exist?), we're going to be oppressed unless we find out what causes homophobia as a form of material oppression and attack it there.

This is a wonderful article--out in meat world, non-lesbians that I've known have been slow to embrace the link between GLBT rights and feminism. And, as a bi, I have always felt completely thrust out into the cold by the 'it's not a choice' arguments.

In the end it comes down to whether we have the right to live the lives we want, or whether someone else gets to decide it for us. About whether people should have an actual reason to decide whether others are evil or not.

The Facts are the Facts, whether we like them or not, whether they are useful in stopping discrimination or not.

Maybe it's because I'm a Scientist, and working in an area where if I screw up, people will die. That doesn't leave great scope for swallowing Post-Modernist narratives and Relative Truths.

In my own case, I found (and much against my conscious desire) that my sexual orientation changed. Losing the asexuality was good, but going from mildly lesbian to straight was not just disconcerting, but disorientating too. It's such a basic part of one's personality. Yes, I know I'm Intersexed, I know that the neural re-wiring from the hormonal storm long before treatment was probably responsible. I'm aware of the possible role of vassopressin and neural receptors, 6 months after hormonal balance changes from M to F. Attraction to guys must always have been a potential inside me, just neutralised (along with libido) by the wrong hormone mix.

But I was really rather more comfortable being lesbian, mild though my feelings were. It's the one area of my non-standard transition that I have difficulty dealing with. Why couldn't I at least have been Bi? But I'm not, and I have to accept that. I've had to do a lot of that recently.

You can't control feelings, merely actions. The human brain is plastic, and does change, but it happens slowly, except in cases of traumatic brain injury.

My point in this ramble is that it's Reality that's important, whether it's convenient or not. What that Reality is when it comes to Sexual Orientation, we're not sure right now. The smart money's on a biological cause at 1000:1, tendencies (rather than cast in concrete) decided by congenital factors, and which may possibly be made more likely by genetic factors.

Our closest genetic cousins, Bonibo Chimpanzees, use sex as casually as we use "Hello", and not always Hetero either.

And whether that is helpful or unhelpful, is immaterial. If we're sensible though, we should accept the facts as they become known, and shape our tactics according to the facts, not try to deny facts that aren't in accord with our tactics. We'll leave denial of reality to our opponents.

Steve Ralls Steve Ralls | November 5, 2007 8:18 AM

This posting is almost ludicrous and erroneous to the point of being outrageous. There are so many assumptions here that don't add up that it's almost impossible to know where to begin.

First, people like Mohler will never be on the side of LGBT civil liberties. Whether we're born that way, choose to be that way or buy into the idea of lesbian chic is irrelevant to people like him. There will never be an argument that convinces him - or his like - that LGBT people are just like everyone else.

Secondly, there is sound evidence that transgender individuals are genetically pre-disposed to that as well. I know many transgender people, but do not know a single one who simply woke up one day and said, "gee, I think I'd like to be the opposite gender now." Most, like most lesbian and gay people know about their orientation, have known for some time that their anatomical gender is not necessarily their true gender.

Thirdly, there isn't a shred of evidence that a "Gay by Choice" message (which I personally denounce as patently dangerous) has ever helped a civil rights movement . . . precisely because it's never been part of a civil rights movement. There wasn't an "African American by Choice" movement, or a "Female by Choice" movement. And a "Gay by Choice" movement would slow any progress now underway to a screeching halt.

There will always be people who hate us, and those people will never be swayed. But proclaiming that "Oh yeah, we could be straight if we wanted" as a strategy for winning rights (or engendering self-pride, which I also reject, as it would, for many, be denying something they intuitively know to be otherwise) is just plain short-sighted.

We may not be making progress quickly now, but with that line of argument, we'd make none at all.

I think his point, or at least part of it, was that for some people sexuality is a choice. I haven't conducted a poll, but based on my personal experiences I'd say that group is very, very small, but they still exist (see Sarah above).

there isn't a shred of evidence that a "Gay by Choice" message (which I personally denounce as patently dangerous) has ever helped a civil rights movement . . . precisely because it's never been part of a civil rights movement. There wasn't an "African American by Choice" movement, or a "Female by Choice" movement.

And how are those movements working out for them? The economic gap between black and white people is widening and women still make about 23% less than men do.

Not that we should really be basing our movement on others, since what we're doing takes place in its own context, etc.

I agree that people like Mohler aren't listening to arguments. It's about power. Who has it, how it defines knowledge, what they're willing to regulate or deregulate. Shouldn't we be trying, on some level, not with specific legislation but culturally, to rise above that whole tit-for-tat and change the nature of the game?

Because the argument coming from the Religious Right in response to "not a choice" is more along the lines of "You don't choose your attractions, but you can choose your actions." (I think that Mohler is really just an abberation in that movement.) Which is true to a certain extent, and does take into account "not a choice", but still protects the basic idea that the regulation of sexuality is a good idea.

Oh, yeah, and choice vs. not-a-choice isn't the same thing as genetic vs nongenetic! They aren't parallel concepts! Why won't anyone listen to the biology major in the corner?!

Wow, what an interesting post, followed by an interesting, and intelligent even if discordant, set of comments.

First, the post argues, more articulately than I ever have, what I have argued for decades --- we want to be careful about this "I don't have a choice" argument, because it is obvious that, say, both gay priests and straight priests exercise a choice to keep their dicks in their pants (well, some don't, but many do). Having a sexual orientation may not be a choice, but what we do with it usually and obviously involves choice.

Secondly, there is this crucial question: Are we pursuing True Reality here, or are we playing politics? Obviously, Zoe Brain is pursuing Truth and Steve Ralls is arguing politics. This does not necessarily make Steve a bad person, but I do believe that (1) intellectually, we must be careful to separate our Pursuit of Truth from The Political Games We Play; and (2) having found Truth (if we can), we must be very aware of its political implications in all their possible chicanery.

Thirdly, as a footnote, I don't think we can afford to go quite as far as Alex did (and I think he was not serious) and dissect this issue all the way down to the elemental nugget, "Does human choice exist?" which is the classic philosophical question about Free Will --- we have to start from the assumption that Free Will does exist, or else this entire discussion is merely industrial effluent coming out of human-looking machines that are keyboarding on other machines. I choose to believe in Free Will in the same way that Descartes decided that he exists because he thinks.

Finally, I pose this question: Unless you are a right-wing homophobe lurking on this blog, does anyone here feel like there is anything "wrong" with a person, let's say a man, who has never experienced a strong homosexual urging in his life experimenting with homosexual behavior nonetheless? For whatever reason, maybe just to piss off his ex-girlfriend? I don't think so. Therefore, there has to be some level at which the most dogmatic I-was-born-this-way gay activist agrees that a person of whatever natural orientation has a right to gay activity simply because he or she chooses to. So the libertarian argument has some sway with everyone, and I conversely believe that the gene theory argument also has some sway with every intelligent person --- so let us observe that we are dealing with a matter of emphasis here, not absolutely this or absolutely that.

Personally, I do know that one thing in my life is a choice: I choose at this point in my life to be out instead of in the closet. I know this is a choice because I have had to consciously struggle toward it for many decades. And from a civil rights standpoint, answering the question "What will get us our full rights in this society?" that is an "orientation" that I find just as important as whether one is gay or straight in the first place.

In like manner, I think insisting that "I have a right to be gay and live gay because I choose to" is the greater stance of personal power. The "I was born this way, please have pity on me because I can't help myself" weasel plea is not one I am willing to use as my primary negotiating tool with the world. It is the pleading of a child, and when someone says, "I am what I am and who I am and if you don't like it, tough shit" you are usually dealing with someone operating from the power of adulthood.

Actually, I wasn't being humorous. I haven't believed in free agency in a while, at least not in the way that it gets framed in post-Enlightenment discourse.

I'm saying that the argument that sexual choice should be defended is either a libertarian one (as you frame it) or one that comes from an understanding of "personal choice" as a phrase doesn't mean that a person is just choosing sexuality/an abortion/a country to live in the same way that she would choose rhubarb or fig jam (I usually say strawberry or grape jelly, but this is what living in France will do to you, lol), but that it means that that person is a product of specific cultural and economic forces that produce certain knowledges and actions and imposing what's good for someone else caught up in that dynamic on someone else doesn't produce happiness.

Because I think that that's what Steve doesn't want to have happen, and neither do I. The former conceptualization of choice is the default in the West, I know, and it's used to beat people over their heads. "He chose to break the law knowing the consequences. Now we can do whatever we want to him!" or "She chose to quit school, so if she can't go to the doctor, tough luck!" Choice is something ugly in our society, so I can see why we avoid it.

So I'm not really saying choice doesn't exist, but that choice as we often conceptualize it doesn't exist.

But I think you're right about the difference between seeking truth or working politically. But the distinction is often a hard one for people to see, as when the APA called us all crazy based on no scientific evidence, but with the scientific weight of their organization behind it, in favor of a political motive.

See? This is the comment people get when they imply that I'm libertarian in any way. :)

One of my favorite queer studies books is Marjorie Garber's Vive Versa: Bisexuality and the eroticism of everyday life. In it she points out that prior to the late 19th and early 20th centuries-- when Ellis, Freud, et. al. constructed the terms for and established the binaries (gay- bi-straight-??) in order to put sexuality under the microscope-- you were a person who may or may not engage in certain sexual behaviors; those behaviors did not define your essential being. They were simply thought of as behaviors that were or were not socially acceptable depoending on the culture and the time. Which relates to what Alex says:

Some people will experience sexual orientation as a choice, most won't, and while I don't experience it as a choice, I refuse to even look for a "cause" to sexual orientation. Because it doesn't matter - we have to attack the causes of oppression as a power structure. Ultimately, whether it's seen as a choice or not (what is choice? does that even exist?), we're going to be oppressed unless we find out what causes homophobia as a form of material oppression and attack it there.

It concerns me to when the queer community says things like:

We need to assert that our sexualities and our gender identities can change, should we want them to, and that we lose no authenticity or power in the process. We need to focus on personal agency and the rights of people to determine their own destinies.
and yet are so very critical of the "ex-gay" movement (type "ex-Gay" in the search field, click "Bilerico Project" and you get 684 posts, for example).

I'm just saying....

I think the best work we do as a movement is when we tell our own stories as truthfully as we can. Muriel Rukeyser once wrote that, "If a woman told the truth about her life, the world would split open." I think that's true of anyone-- not just women and not just the oppressed or marginalized.

For myself, I experience my sexuality as primarily fixed, but nuanced and it has changed ovewr time but only slightly. My first sexual experience was with an older boy--I was 12, he was 18. He identified as straight (he had a girlfriend-- I used to take her his notes telling her where to meet him) who he later had a child with. He considered our shenanigans as a sort of mentoring (very Greek, in fact): "We're doing it this way but when you're with a girl...." I, in fact, considered myself a virgin for many years because I thought my first experience "didn't count." In early adolescence I had crushes on girls. The summer I was 15, however, I fell head over heels for my best friend who--alas-- was straight (insert Sean Cody video here). Since then my only sexual/romantic partnerings have been with men. I remember when I first "came out" to my cousin when I was 21 and he came out to me: the interewsting thing was that, though he identifdied as gfay he had many relationships with women and in fact had just ended a relationship with a woman he described as a "lesbian" with whom he had a child.

I don't know exactly what this says about "choice;" but I think part of the problem with a discussion like this (aside from the socio-political concerns Alex raised) is that we are applying broad generalities to an issue that is, in fact, highly individualistic.

Well, I think it should be a good rule of thumb that when your 10:00pm post gets 9 comments by 10:00am the following day you should acknolwedge those comments and write something in turn.

I obviously hoped that the structure and content of this post would stir up debate -- that it would not get lost in the wonderful sea of ideas we call the blogosphere -- because I believe very strongly in the points I've made, whether someone agrees with my political analysis or my skeptical view of science or not.

So, for a heartfelt post I appreciate your heartfelt responses and your ongoing debate with each other.

Unless you are a right-wing homophobe lurking on this blog, does anyone here feel like there is anything "wrong" with a person, let's say a man, who has never experienced a strong homosexual urging in his life experimenting with homosexual behavior nonetheless? For whatever reason, maybe just to piss off his ex-girlfriend?

As a Right-Wing Homophobe... ok, maybe ex-Homophobe. When I was a young child in the UK, the sociatal mores I grew up with equated being Gay with being in NAMBLA. Right now, I've spent far too much time with GLBs, some GLB and also T, some the normal variety, to sustain even the most entrenched sociatally induced bigotry. At a recent test in the ALLY program, I scored +3 in a -5 to +5 test, where Homophobia started at -1. But I consider anything less than +4 Homophobic, as it indicates some degree of irrational prejudice lurking in the psyche. It meant total tolerance rather than acceptance. I think I'd score +4 now, I see being GLB as being as normal as having red hair. But as a recovering homophobe, I consider myself in remission, rather than cured of that loathsome condition. BTW +5 indicates Homophilia, the belief that same-sex relationships are morally superior to different-sex ones.

It has its good points: I can understand how some GLB people are supportive of T rights, just not very comfy thinking about that TS stuff. Considering how I felt for most of my life about GLBs, how could I possibly blame them? And the discomforting realisation that actually I've been lesbian for most of my life, and wish I still was, I consider to be merely perfect justice for my sins. Hilarious too.

Getting back to the question, I can see two things wrong. The first is that given the homophobic nature of society, such an action could well lead to terrible consequences for someone straight, should they be found out. That's a practical issue, not a moral one. The moral one applies if the action is designed to "get back" at someone and deliberately hurt them. Or to make promises that they can't keep to a gay partner who might actually be deeply emotionally involved with them.

But in a society that is sane, and where there's no possibility of hurting someone, why not? How could it be "wrong"?

Would I mind if my son turned out to be Gay? Yes, because Homphobia is extant in Australia, it's a hard road to hoe, and I'd really rather he not be condemned to fight that particular struggle. And yes again, because I selfishly want Grandchildren and gay (as opposed to lesbian) couples here have problems accessing the services of fertility clinics.

But he's my child, and I'd far rather he have a close, loving relationship with a man rather than a bitter one with a woman, or even a string of one-night stands with either. I'm old-fashioned, I guess. The most important thing is that he be loved, and the details after that don't matter.

A lot of Right-Wingers feel the same way. We can use that to our advantage, by emphasising the old-fashioned virtues of marriage, same-sex or no.

Then when Dinosaurs like me have died off, maybe something a bit more liberal still, a bit more like Bonibos. I don't know. I do know that it's a practical issue, avoiding hurt, jealousy and feelings of betrayal rather than some superstitious and irrational set of taboos.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | November 5, 2007 1:44 PM

For instance, if people are truly "born gay," how, then, can they be born in the "wrong body," as you might hear from a trans perspective.


Trans-101: sexual orientation and gender identity are quite separate. Your statement is a total non-sequitur.

Also, I don't think the existence of bisexuals does anything to prove or disprove the theory that sexual orientation is genetically determined.

Alex re Comment #9: Rhubarb is rather phallic, like a celery stalk, and figs are symbols for the female genitalia --- anyone who has read D.H. Lawrence knows that! Both are far more interesting than ho-hum American fruits such as strawberries or grapes --- and, following this logic just a bit further, I'm queer as a three-dollar bill and thus I love rhubarb, especially when cooked into a sauce that can be spread over a thick, warm slice of homemade wheat bread and eaten like an open-faced sandwich (a sprinkle of sugar usually helps, and a splash of heavy cream will make this dish divine!) but Fig Newtons ... well, if there's nothing better in the house to snack on, then they're OK, but generally I can take them or leave'em.

Now, if my being able to write a food review like that doesn't prove that my being gay is genetic ... then I don't know what could!

Bon appetite!

just to clarify, when i said i'm choosing to be queer it's not like i woke up one morning and said "gee i think i'll try being gay now." It's more like i know that sexual preference is a fluid continuum and i'm sure i'll move around on it more during my life but at this point i'm choosing to be primarily interested in dating women.

but it's not like i'm going to say "no i can't love you because you're a MAN" if i fell in love with a man. for the most part i feel like my sexual preference is pretty irrelevant to who i fall in love with. I mean, you don't choose who you fall in love with, at least i never have. My *identification* as queer is very important, but nailing down exactly what my sexual preference is at any point in time is not. I think this who idea of queerness being a choice completely ignores the idea that sexuality is fluid, not stagnant, and a continuum, not black and white.

my favorite quote from my friend on our mutual perspective on the gay-as-choice debate: "do you CHOOSE to have a blue toothbrush? i don't know, it IS a choice and it ISN'T a choice. it's hard to describe." Point being, that on a personal level, it's a silly question to ask someone. It's just not very relevant. Did I choose to fall in love with my (now ex-)girlfriend? no. But do i choose to only date women right now? yes. But am I ruling out the possibility of exclusively dating men someday? no.

Marla R. Stevens Marla R. Stevens | November 6, 2007 1:48 AM

Sexual orientation seems too complex and too entangled in too many aspects of a person's being to have a simple unicausal genus.

That said, I care far less about what causes homosexuality than why someone cares and if they care in a broad fashion about all sexual orientation or just that at the less popular end of the scale.

I'd rather spend my time rejoicing about my good fortune at being a lesbian -- about how marvelous it is, what a gift and a blessing whatever its source, and at all the wonders it bestows in my life.

Living knowing to the core of my being that my sexual orientation is utterly fabulous and manna-esque speaks more deeply than any polemic -- and it's infectiously refutive of any of the brain warped hogwash the bad guys attempt to stick us with.

Ferret out and banish the shame so that you can revel in the wonder that is you!

To love, to laughter, to life!
-- Marla