Homosexuality: nature or nurture?

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  • #10541

    Negel-M
    Participant

    Growing up in church, I was always taught that being gay was sinful. I want to know: is being gay truly a way that people are born, or is it a lifestyle that they choose?

    User Detail :  

    Name : Negel-M, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : Black/African American, Religion : Pentecostal, Age : 18, City : Flint, State : MI Country : United States, Education level : High School Diploma, Social class : Middle class, 
    #34183

    Arc23767
    Participant

    I don’t know anyone who would *choose* to be in a group that was reviled, denied rights, targeted for violence and otherwise ostracized. For what – sex? I don’t think that anyone would make that choice. I know that most people I’ve met who are gay have come to terms with the fact that this is how they are. Some have tried to *choose* to be straight, but I haven’t met many for whom that has worked. A good friend told me he figured out that he was gay before he even knew the word. He just knew that other guys were excited by girls and he wasn’t. He hadn’t been traumatized; he had as normal a childhood as you can have. He was 13, when most boys start looking at girls. He looked, but his reaction wasn’t the same as his friends’. His reaction to boys, on the other hand, was fairly strong. Granted, this man has more women friends than most straight men I know, but maybe that’s because he doesn’t see them as potential mates. I asked him once about the ‘choice’ debate and he sputtered ‘WHY would I have chosen a road this hard if there was an easier one available for me??’ I had no answer for that.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Arc23767, Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Age : 40, City : Bloomington, State : IL Country : United States, Education level : 4 Years of College, Social class : Lower middle class, 
    #43187

    Heather
    Member

    Dear Negel, There isn’t conclusive evidence that shows homosexuality is either inherited or purely environmental. Just like scientists haven’t found a gene that makes some men feel attracted to women, they haven’t found a gene that makes some men feel attracted to other men. Because homosexuality can’t be explained scientifically yet, many people have assumed that it is simply a choice. My feeling on this is that I would rather simply say ‘I don’t know’ and keep an open mind on the issue, than to assume the wrong answer before enough research has taken place. I can tell you that I’m in a relationship with a woman because I love her. Do I choose to love her? Everyday. Did I initially choose to feel attracted to her, and to desire a relationship with her? No. I just felt it.

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    Name : Heather, Gender : F, Race : White/Caucasian, Age : 23, City : St. Petersburg, State : FL Country : United States, Education level : 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 
    #18922

    My dear boy, if you had been raised in a world where it was customary to be attracted to the same sex, don’t you think that you may still possibly grow up to heterosexual? The complexities involved with sexual attraction and desire can not be thoroughly explained easily, and even something as mundane as preferring one food over another is impossible to provide a simple answer for. I don’t mean to attack your religious beliefs, but I think it is important to your question to bring up that The Bible says that we are born into sin, therefore from a religious standing it should be seen as an addition to our many flaws. God wanted man to be fruitful, so this may stem from a sin involved with willingly avoiding reproduction. As for myself, I do not see it as a sin whatsoever. As a child, we are just facinated with different people rather than attracted to them. I felt this way about females for as long as I can remember. In closing, I’d like to say that I believe estrogen and testosterone levels in the body to be considered as relevant culprits to promote homosexuality in everyone. It has been proven to influence many things about a person dealing with image, voice, and emotion. I hope this has provided some help.

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    Name : Renie Rivas, Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Bisexual, City : Los Angeles, State : CA Country : United States, 
    #19536

    David
    Member

    I feel I can answer this question, as I volunteer in the GLBT community. Most of the gay people I have met have brothers and sisters who are overwhelmingly heterosexual. If homosexuality were ‘Nurture’ then the brothers and sisters tend to be homosexual as well. There have been studies, including studies of twins separated at birth, which I found the most fascinating, as here were people raised by two separate families – in almost all cases, if one twin were homosexual, so was the other one. The percentage was lower for fraternal twins (one egg fertilized by two separate sperm) and higher for paternal twins (one egg, one sperm, ova splits into two separate ova, both share the same genetic material.)

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    Name : David, City : Tacoma, State : WA Country : United States, 
    #17125

    JerryS
    Member

    First ask yourself why would anyone make such an unpopular (and at times dangerous) choice, if it were truly voluntary? The sex drive is extremely powerful, and it’s all most people can do to simply maintain decent behavior – let alone turn their sex drive inside out. Although there’s no definitive evidence either way, there are a lot of indications that sexual orientation is linked to clearly biological traits that seem unrelated on the surface. This suggests that there is a biological (presumably genetic, possibly environmental) element. You should also reflect upon the fact that homosexual-like behavior is not rare among primates, it is often part of dominance/submission displays. That might not be the same thing, but evolution tends to repurpose physical and behavioral characteristics (which is why it is worth studying). It might be that this kind of dominance display was linked in some way to something else, so that when the one changed the other was changed as well. Hypothetically, the evolutionary changes that led our ancestors towards monogamy might have somehow changed same-sex sexual displays from an occasional thing into a more constant orientation. (That’s a wild speculation on my part.) Or it might be that true homosexuality occurs among other primates, but that those individuals are killed or abandoned as sometimes happens with other ‘different’ young ones.

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    Name : JerryS, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Jewish, Age : 52, City : New Britain, State : CT Country : United States, Education level : 4 Years of College, Social class : Upper middle class, 
    #31336

    A. Reed
    Member

    I can speak only for myself, but I never chose to be gay. At around age 12 I started being attracted to boys, when most other guys started finding girls cute. Though I went through many stages of reaction to these feelings, from confusion to shame to finally acceptance, they were never something that I chose or brought on myself, and I know of nothing in my environment which would have caused them.

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    Name : A. Reed, Gender : Male, Sexual Orientation : Gay, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Atheist, Age : 24, City : Salt Lake City, State : UT Country : United States, Occupation : Writer, Education level : 4 Years of College, Social class : Lower middle class, 
    #35326

    Lily
    Member

    The debate is still going on. Some studies show a biological/genetic basis for homosexuality, while many social scientists believe that environment (in early childhood) plays a part. There have been no clear-cut conclusions drawn as of yet. However, almost all scientists agree that homosexuality is NOT a chosen lifestyle. Most homosexuals know from a young age that they are attracted to the same gender. They are not in control of these feelings, just as heterosexuals cannot control the fact that they are attracted to the opposite sex.

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    Name : Lily, Gender : F, Religion : Jewish, City : Boston, State : MA Country : United States, Social class : Middle class, 
    #43311

    Joe
    Member

    Like many things, it’s not simple. First, science does seem to show some real signs that sexual orientation is at least, in part, built-in, and not a simple choice. For example, the structure of the brains of gay men has been shown to be, on average, different. There are other studies that confirm this by different means. The idea that homosexuality could be in part genetic seems hard to believe at first from an evolution point of view (they wouldn’t reproduce!) But it’s quite possible (there’s an analogy with sickle-cell anemia, but I’m not allowed a long enough response to talk about it.) There’s a 3rd option besdies ‘genetic’ and ‘choice’, too. It’s possible that environment in some unspecified way causes a person to tend towards homosexuality, without there being a direct genetic component, and with no conscious choice on the persons part. Choice becomes more complex when you talk to bisexuals like myself. I certainly did not make a ‘choice’ to become bisexual (a ‘choice of orienatation’), but the fact that I’ve had boyfriends and girlfriends instead of just girlfriends is a choice (a ‘choice of action’). Most gay folk I know don’t report having this flexibility in orientation, and, barring having no relationship whatsoever, therefore have no choice of action. Finally, while most gay and bi folks I know report that they never ‘chose’ to be anything, there are a small number of folks who report that they felt they actually ‘choose’.

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    Name : Joe, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Bisexual, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Atheist, Age : 42, City : San Jose, State : CA Country : United States, Occupation : Nature photographer, Education level : 4 Years of College, Social class : Upper class, 
    #47738

    Jon27110
    Participant

    Given the hatred there is in this world towards homosexuals, why would anybody willingly choose this lifestyle? I’m gay, I don’t always like it, but I can’t change it.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Jon27110, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Gay, Race : White/Caucasian, Age : 23, City : UK, State : NA Country : United Kingdom, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, 
    #22776

    Jessica H.
    Member

    I have done a lot of research into the matter, because I was greatly concerned with the fact that I am bisexual (I prefer females, though), and most Christian religion has no place for me. I did not *choose* to be gay or bisexual, but have been all my life. My uncle, who is gay, told me that he wasn’t really aware *what* was different in how he felt, and once he realized it he was afraid to tell anyone. Finally, during his engagement to a woman, he became able to accept himself, broke the engagement, and has proceeded on with life. It’s an inborn trait that not everyone recognizes, and a lot don’t accept, but is definitely not a choice.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Jessica H., Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Bisexual, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Christian, Age : 19, City : Miles City, State : MT Country : United States, Occupation : Student, Education level : High School Diploma, Social class : Lower middle class, 
    #46999

    mitchell vega
    Participant

    the scientific consensus right now seems to be that it is in most cases determined by birth, although there are gays who label themselves as bisexual; etc, and the person is not likely to know until after puberty. what causes it is more complicated. the two most common theories are that it is caused by an excess of the wrong sex hormone during fetal development, not enough to change the baby’s gender but enough to modify its brain a bit; and the other is that there is a ‘gay gene’ somewhere in the dna that determines what sex one is attracted to. there is interesting evidence supporting both theories, i suggest you make a google search or something as i don’t know any good sites off the top of my head.

    User Detail :  

    Name : mitchell vega, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Gay, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Unitarian, Age : 15, City : bellingham, State : WA Country : United States, Occupation : student, Education level : Less than High School Diploma, Social class : Middle class, 
    #27690

    Sam28548
    Participant

    I’ve talked to plenty of gays who say they had a vague sense of being gay, even if they didn’t have a word for it, long before puberty. These are healthy, functional people with no history of sexual abuse. Speaking for myself, I’m bisexual, and though I don’t recall being attracted to boys until well into high school, I never saw any reason why homosexuality was wrong. Another thing to keep in mind is that with so many people being raised as you were and being told that being gay is sinful, many such people still end up gay and have to deal with the internal conflict that results. So I’d say sexual orientation is mostly inborn, but whether you express or repress your feelings comes from how you’re raised.

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    Name : Sam28548, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Bisexual, Race : White/Caucasian, Age : 22, City : Minneapolis, State : MN Country : United States, Education level : High School Diploma, Social class : Middle class, 
    #32153

    Jess
    Member

    Scientifically, nobody really knows whether sexual orientation is determined by genetics or environment. Like any number of other traits, though, it’s commonly thought to be a combination of the two. My personal take is that sexuality is not so much a choice or consequence of biological determinism, but a matter of personal preference, which is a spectrum rather than an either/or trait. I am attracted to men and women, not because of any choice I have made, but because that’s what I like. Some people prefer blondes, some prefer men. And like any other preference, it can change over time.

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    Name : Jess, Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Bisexual, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Agnostic, Age : 19, City : Brisbane, State : NA Country : Australia, Occupation : Medical student, Education level : 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 
    #32419

    Holly
    Member

    An interesting research article was published in an issue of ‘Behavioral Neuroscience’ in the last quarter of 2003 (around October.) You can look it up at http://www.nytimes.com. The research showed that our blinking response to loud sounds (you squeeze your eyes at a startling sound) differs between men and women. Not only that, but homosexual women have the same blinking response as men. I don’t think they joined a secret lesbian club that taught them to blink that way. Food for thought…

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    Name : Holly, Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Agnostic, Age : 24, City : Durham, State : NC Country : United States, Occupation : student/woodworker, Education level : 2 Years of College, Social class : Lower class, 
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