Born Gay–Or Not: Born This Way?

Born gay? As in, does gayness exist at birth? That is, are we “born this way?”

Interestingly, where there has been a belief in the “born this way” notion, there has also been increased social and political acceptance.

But belief is one thing, facts are another. What is the truth?

Many gay/lesbian folks believe the birthyness of it all, but others don’t. No studies, however—and many have been conducted—have been able to conclusively establish to date that anyone gay is “born this way.”

Ditto for anyone straight.

The position of The American Psychological Association:

There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay or lesbian orientation. 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. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles; most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.

The following are excerpts from Lisa Grossman‘s interview (New Scientist) with Professor Lisa Diamond, an expert on the matter of sexual fluidity and orientation (see previous post):

I think all the evidence suggests that we’re born with an underlying capacity, and then that capacity interacts with a whole bunch of other influences…

…(T)win studies show that there’s a genetic contribution to same-sex attraction – but that is not the only thing going on. There are so many interacting causes for sexual orientation that two different individuals can be gay for a different combinations of reasons…

It is time to just take the whole idea of sexuality as immutable, the born this way notion, and just come to a consensus as scientists and as legal scholars that we need to put it to rest. It’s unscientific, it’s unnecessary and it’s unjust. It doesn’t matter how we got to be this way. As a scientist, I think it’s one of the most fascinating questions out there and one that I will continue to investigate. As a lesbian and a progressive, I think it’s totally irrelevant and just politics.

Bottom line: Acceptance should be more forthcoming no matter how you were born or how you identify yourself. But, then again, “Not Sure If We Were Born This Way or What Happened Along the Way” doesn’t make for a very catchy slogan (or song title), does it?

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