Sexual Orientation

Or should that be ‘sectual orientation’? Someone used this term when asking me about my religious persuasion, but I think it applies in this case as well. After researching this topic for some time, and having been exposed to many people that identify as ‘Gay’, my original views remain consistent. Homosexuality is a choice, and not determined by genes. This is supported by extensive research and very well presented in a concise argument on this blog. Furthermore, as I’ve always stated, if it is natural, the simple acid test to prove this would be procreation. But that’s a debate for another day.

Given the tedious debates about this subject, I felt inclined to put my penny in the plate as well (no doubt to add to the tediousness of it all). Before I share more of my personal views, here’s a few quotes from the site referenced above:

American Psychological Association

“[M]any scientists share the view that sexual orientation is shaped for most people at an early age through complex interactions of biological, psychological and social factors.”

The American Psychological Association’s pamphlet, “Answers to Your Questions About Sexual Orientation and Homosexuality.”

“Gay Brain” Researcher Simon LeVay

“At this point, the most widely held opinion [on causation of homosexuality] is that multiple factors play a role.”

LeVay, Simon (1996). Queer Science, MIT Press.

Dennis McFadden, University of Texas neuroscientist

“Any human behavior is going to be the result of complex intermingling of genetics and environment. It would be astonishing if it were not true for homosexuality.”

“Scientists Challenge Notion that Homosexuality’s a Matter of Choice,” The Charlotte Observer, August 9, 1998.

Sociologist Steven Goldberg

“I know of no one in the field who argues that homosexuality can be explained without reference to environmental factors.”

Goldberg, Steven (1994). When Wish Replaces Thought: Why So Much of What You Believe is False. Buffalo, New York: Prometheus Books.

The following is a comment from Dean Hamer, whose research in 1993 started the whole thing about the gay gene

“Gay gene” researcher Dean Hamer was asked by Scientific American if homosexuality was rooted solely in biology. He replied:

“Absolutely not. From twin studies, we already know that half or more of the variability in sexual orientation is not inherited. Our studies try to pinpoint the genetic factors…not negate the psychosocial factors.”

“New Evidence of a ‘Gay Gene’,” by Anastasia Toufexis, Time, November 13, 1995, vol. 146, Issue 20, p. 95.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. It’s obvious that social factors play a massive role in determining the sexual orientation of individuals. I often liken it with natural inclinations that people may have regarding acts or behaviours that are not associated with sexuality. The more acceptable an act becomes to society, the greater the prevalence of such an act.

Therefore, the level of tolerance of an act is often the determining factor in its prevalence. Taking such analogies to the extreme is usually a good way to demonstrate a point, so here goes. At some point in our lives, every one of us has/had the urge to beat the crap out of someone, and maybe even want to kill them. This urge to act out violently exists in everyone. Whether a saint or a sinner, the urge is there. What prevents us from acting out is either one or all of the following factors. We either restrain ourselves because of the moral code that we subscribe to, our sense of fear for the punishment that may be received from a religious perspective, or the repercussions from a society that will not tolerate such behaviour.

Should violent aggression become more acceptable, more people would act out on these urges to beat someone up, and society will become more accepting of the escalated level of violence. The same argument I’ve always maintained about mental ‘disorders’ versus chemical balance is what I maintain about homosexuality. i.e. the chemical imbalance that supposedly proves a person’s predisposed state to the condition is in fact a symptom of the thought processes and not the other way around.

To avoid labouring the point and possibly delving into territory that I’m barely qualified to read let alone comment on, I would summarise it as follows. We all have urges to act out in ways that contradict societal norms, or even natural orders. Whether this is a result of a natural inclination to want to rebel against rigid structures that often stifle individuality or creativity, or whether it’s a result of other more complex factors, research to date proves that genetic predisposition is almost negligible in the vast majority of cases. We need to accept that people are not born gay, the same way that people are not born depressed. Environmental factors in our upbringing is what determines the dominance of these behavioural tendencies and not some mysterious gene that we have no power to act against.

The power of the mind is often conveniently under estimated if acknowledging it rids us of our argument to justify our condition. I won’t suggest to know the answer to how society should deal with homosexuality. However, I think it’s disingenuous for people that choose to be gay to blame some hidden unproven force for their choice of sexual orientation, when in fact it really is a lifestyle decision that they’ve made. If every person succumbed to the fear and insecurity associated with interacting with the opposite sex, the human race would have been extinct many centuries ago.

I want to know what you think

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