Nature vs. Nurture

Homosexuality: What’s Choice Got to Do With it?

February 06, 2012

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Homosexuality: What’s Choice Got to Do With it?

The Pink Mafia’s tirelessly active activists recently upbraided former Sex and the City actress Cynthia Nixon for insisting that her switch from a heterosexual lifestyle to a lesbian one was a matter of personal choice.

Previously, Nixon had spent 15 years with a man. She even popped out two of his bambinos. But she recently got engaged to her longtime lesbian partner. In an interview published in late January, she told The New York Times:

I understand that for many people it’s not, but for me it’s a choice, and you don’t get to define my gayness for me….I am very annoyed about this issue. Why can’t it be a choice? Why is that any less legitimate? It seems we’re just ceding this point to bigots who are demanding it, and I don’t think that they should define the terms of the debate.

Nixon sounded adamant—defiant, even. But apparently the “gay community” wouldn’t relent and some diesel-dyke enforcer dragged her into a conference room deep inside the Worldwide Gay Corporate Headquarters to give her a stern tongue-lashing (figuratively, of course) about how she was messing with the primal forces of nature. Only days after the Times interview was published, Nixon issued a statement through gay magazine The Advocate apologizing for the folly of her ways:

While I don’t often use the word, the technically precise term for my orientation is bisexual. I believe bisexuality is not a choice, it is a fact.

We are told—over and over, from every angle and aimed at every hole in our bodies—that homosexuality is genetic and that gay people are “born that way.” We read that “Scientists have found mountains of evidence to support the theory…that homosexuality is innate.” In between random bouts of screaming, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean insisted that “The overwhelming evidence is that there is a very significant, substantial genetic component to it.”

“One thing’s for sure—whether or not they were born gay, no modern gay person was born with that annoyingly militant gay political identity.”

We are told to focus strictly on genetics and are sternly warned that we will be called unsavory names if we so much as suggest that environment may play a role in shaping this amorphous lump of imaginary space-jizz that’s known as a person’s “sexuality.” We are scolded that such environmental explanations have been “discredited,” a word that usually means, “This topic is closed for discussion.”

Sven Bocklandt, whose work at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine includes examining studies about fruit flies’ sex lives, scoffs at the very notion that “gayness” could be a matter of choice, and since he works with fruit flies at the David Geffen School of Medicine, we can rule out the possibility of confirmation bias.

The truth is that there is no such thing as a modern scientific consensus on homosexuality. There are even indications that top scientists are starting to back off from the idea that “homosexuality”—which no one has scientifically defined, maybe because it’s impossible—is entirely or even primarily genetic. Whereas the American Psychological Association stated this in 1998…

There is considerable recent evidence to suggest that biology, including genetic or inborn hormonal factors, play [sic] a significant role in a person’s sexuality.

…they recently backtracked and wrote this…

Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors.

Over the years, the common term to denote one’s “sexuality” has switched from “sexual preference” to “sexual orientation,” which implies something far more predetermined and immutable. Homosexuality used to be considered more of a behavior; now it’s an identity.

But how is that identity defined, especially when it’s sharing a bunk bed with a word such as “science”? Does a single same-sex experience “make” you gay? One wanton night of pubescent carnality at summer camp means you’ve forever crossed the Rainbow Bridge and are stranded on Gay Island? A smattering of drunken “experimenting” with sorority sisters is irrefutable legal evidence of deoxyribonucleic lesbianism?

Somehow we’ve reached the point where the common consensus is that you don’t ACT gay or straight. Rather, you ARE—deep inside your soul’s slimy membrane—either “gay” or “straight.” Even the formerly popular notion of “bisexuality” is being discouraged. Everyone is being told to pick a team and stay with it. In contrast, Alfred Kinsey’s old seven-point spectrum of sexuality—ranging from extremely hetero to extremely gay, with five subway stops in between—seems more realistic and “liberal-minded” than the current rigid demarcation lines.


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