Is being gay a choice, or is it biologically determined? This decade-long question has come to no absolute conclusion due to a number of concerns — many of which are so ridiculous I won’t bother getting into them. But let me say this, people are born gay and people are born straight; that much I am sure of. The only variable is if choice is a factor as well — maybe sexual preference can be altered. People have the right to engage in gay sex and relationships if they choose to do so.
If we define being gay as engaging in gay sex, (according to an article in the Huffington Post, the concept of ‘gay’ as an identity is a Western cultural concept – people who have sex with both men and women may call themselves gay, straight or bisexual, depending on the rules of their culture or subculture), then people stop being gay as soon as they stop engaging in this behaviour. But is that really the case? This is just one of many murky factors affecting a clear result.
First off, I don’t understand why any straight person feels they have any say in gay relationships, or gay anything for that matter; but then again, I don’t understand a lot of things, like why the film Seven Psychopaths was a critical success, or why we watch TV shows on rich housewives living in nearly every city in America.
In a streeter-style interview originally filmed in 2008, (it only recently became popular when Upworthy’s Rebecca Eisenberg posted the video to the site’s LGBTQQ section), residents in a small Colorado town were asked if being gay was a choice. Many believed one’s sexual preference was the result of their upbringing or development, which isn’t necessarily a bigoted opinion. But when the question was reversed—“when did you choose to be straight?”—The answers were less conclusive, but quite entertaining:
“Um, that’s a good call man. I didn’t choose to be. So, uh, born?”
“That’s a good point. I don’t think I did.”
“Um, I don’t know, Junior High? Puberty? I’m not sure.”
“[Laughs]. I never thought about it. I really didn’t. I am who I am.”
Truth is, the majority of people laughed through their response, like it was a ridiculous question. This is something I’m sure the gay community can appreciate having answered a similar question for decades.
The video’s genius, from photographer Travis Nuckolls and Buzzfeed’s Chris Baker, was that it confronted the issue using the rudimentary theme that putting yourself in others’ shoes can help you better understand their perspective. It worked.
The video has gone viral and is opening minds one click at a time. It won’t abolish the stigma altogether, but it can impact social acceptance and open closed minds just a crack to let the light in.
Some light shone in the video from the perspective of two mature women. One responded: “If [homosexuals] were going to choose a lifestyle, that’s not one they would have chosen, it’s too difficult.” While the other said, “I just wonder if animals choose their sexuality, you know? I don’t think they choose, so I don’t think humans choose.”
These interviews were conducted in a small town, where homosexuality may not be as common or accepted. Which leaves the interviews subject to a collection of biased opinions, so it’s time to get down to science — which, as you’ll see, comes to no absolute conclusion either. But, here are some of the less disputed points:
• 5-10 per cent of the world’s population experience same-sex sexual attraction
• Someone who is gay is more likely to have a biologically gay sibling than someone who is straight (journal, Science, 1993)
• From studying rats, it’s been confirmed that exposure to sex hormones in the womb during a critical period in brain development affects future sexual orientation
• PET and MRI studies performed in 2008 show two halves of the brain are more symmetrical in homosexual men and heterosexual women than in heterosexual men and homosexual women.
• Attempts to “cure” homosexuality include: labotomies, hormone therapy and conversion therapy, to name a few
As it rests now, there is no outright answer as to why people are born gay or born straight, they just are. If it doesn’t affect you — and I mean you directly — you shouldn’t care. If you do care, and you act on it, then you’re the bigger “problem,” not the ones you’re rooting against.
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