Jun 12

Born Gay–Or Not: Proven or Unproven? Does It Matter?

A new ad campaign in Australia, launched by PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), is the video equivalent of a cartoon I saw in Ms. Magazine eons ago about being born gay. Here it is:

The idea, of course, is that gayness exists at birth, i.e., gay people are “born this way.”

Back when I saw the cartoon (I’d have to guess it was 25-30 years ago, a very different era) my prevailing thought was along the lines of, “Yes! Wouldn’t it be great if coming out as lesbian were that easy, that well accepted, that early in life.” Like establishing a newborn child’s sex. Which, as it turns out, is another thing that isn’t actually always so easy.

I wasn’t specifically thinking “born that way.” One interesting correlation, though, to the contemporary “born this way” bandwagon: increased social and political acceptance. At the same time that Gallup tells us that a majority of people in the U.S. now support marriage equality, another new finding? “For the first time ever, 47% of Americans opted for homosexuality being a birth trait while 33% said environment and upbringing played at least some part. This 14% gap is the biggest difference Gallup has measured to date and is a marked change on 2011 figures, which saw the general public about evenly divided on this question.” (Info from Care 2 Make a Difference.)

But are we, in fact, “born this way”? Or are the poll numbers the result of subtle (or otherwise) brainwashing over recent years?

Some gay/lesbian folks believe the birthyness of it all, 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.

Check out a very interesting article called “No One is Born Gay (or Straight): Here Are 5 Reasons Why” on the website Social (In)Queery. Or just read the main bullet points below:

  1. Just because an argument is politically strategic, does not make it true.
  2. The science is wrong (Part 1) (studies are flawed)
  3. The science is wrong (Part II) (research is culturally biased)
  4. Just because you have had homosexual or heterosexual feelings for as long as you can remember, does not mean you were born a homosexual or heterosexual.
  5. Secretly, you already know that people’s sexual desires are shaped by their social and cultural context.

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?