In Large Type

brilliant ideas in a big font… often gay interest or political topics.

Is being gay a choice?

Posted by bert5 on 29 March 2015

Short answer: no. Long answer: depends on what you mean by ‘being gay’ and ‘choice’.

Many people experience sexual orientation as fixed. Meaning, for as long as they remember they were always sexually attracted either one sex or the other. I count myself in that group. Among these people, those having fixed same-sex attraction, I would assert that being gay is not a choice in a similar (maybe not exactly same) way that someone can say they are attracted to: danger, public speaking, durian, and heights. There are not perfect analogies, but there are things that one likes that are basically immutable. What made you that way? Who knows? (I suspect genetics and biology.)

Sure, in the end, the brain can hide these desires or lack of them. If you dislike public speaking, you can force yourself to make a speech and hide your stage fright, but it may come at a severe cost to yourself in terms of your sanity and your health. As I mentioned it is not quite a perfect analogy, but some may call this hiding of desires or lack of desire a kind of ‘choice’. I.e. you can chose to act on your dislike of public speaking or not. But I argue this is not really a voluntary choice that people mean when they ask the question: “is being gay a choice?”.

What about bisexuals? Aren’t they constantly expressing a voluntary choice? Actually I think if we follow the above framework, the answer is no. Bisexuals are attracted for certain people for the attributes that are not tied to appearance as male or female. At least, it is not of paramount importance to them (or the attraction of the two sexes are equally powerful and thus neutralized). Nevertheless, I believe they experience this sexual attraction without significant voluntary control. I.e. being bisexual is not a choice.

But are we missing an important point? Why does the element of voluntary choice come into play into discussions of whether it is fair to denigrate gays, bisexuals and lesbians? If it was entirely voluntary and I ‘decided’ to like/be attracted/have sex with men, why shouldn’t that be allowed? Why should I be discriminated against for that?

One Response to “Is being gay a choice?”

  1. […] I had a thought that being gay might need a positive marketing message.  It’s not like I’m going to convince anyone to turn gay.  I don’t believe you can choose your sexuality [See blog post: “Is being gay a choice?“]. […]

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