Some guidelines for this discussion:
1) Please restrict this discussion to homosexuality
2) Please avoid devolving this discussion to causal determinism

Let us begin.

Choice or genetics, does it matter?
1) What is your opinion on whether or not whether or not sexuality is a result of genetics or personal preference? Is it a mix of both in each individual? Are we a mixed population of individuals who choose and don't choose their sexuality?

2) What is your opinion on the origin of homosexuality specifically? Do you believe it is genetic or chosen? Would it matter if it was different from what you believed?

I ask because I was listening to a speech given by a gay teen in my county in response to the suicides of homosexuals across the country. There were the normal statements about tolerance and acceptance and humanity. Then there was one line that struck me the wrong way, "Do you think I would have chosen this if I could? Do you think I wanted to be discriminated against in this way?"

My first thought was, 'Does it really matter?'

As for my answers to my questions:
1) I'm of the opinion that it is mixed in both cases, a combination of nature and nurture that determines a person's sexuality and that the population is a mix of individuals whose sexuality is determined by varying degrees of nature and nurture.

2) That said, if it was ever concretely determined that homosexuality was completely genetically determined or completely a personal choice; my opinion would not change. Homosexuals should be just as respected and as free from discrimination as any other demographic.

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Thank you. Then my question to you would be: If it was a choice would you change your opinion of it? and why?
I can think of no reason why it should matter if homosexuality is choice or genetics. I think most if not all homosexuals have no choice in the matter. I also suspect a combination of genetic makeup and environment in the development of hosexuality in an individual. There may also be a component of randomness which can occur at the level of gene expression and of course in the environmental factors.
I've thought about this for eons. I can tell you 100% for certain that I don't have even the tiniest sexual or romantic interest in the opposite sex. It's just not there, it never was. My parents worried that I was "a queer" when I was still at the teddy bear stage, preschool. I've known many others for whom the same was true. On the other hand, as early as I can remember, I was always e,otionally interested in men. It's not just sex. It's emotional connection. If someone can tell me how someone chooses what attracts them, I would be interested to hear it. There are certainly people at all points in the spectrum, and some might even move on the spectrum from time to time. If bi, then desire can be for both sexus, and if purely hetero, only for the opposite sex. I don't think any of those states are chosen. I think that what research there is, agrees with that, but I can't quote it.

So then you can get into nature/nurture, and say genetic, epigenetic, congenital, behavioral, hormonal, or some sort of gemisch of all of the above. I have no idea. My guess is there is a combination, and desire comes out as the net result of all of the above. I bet you could influence sexuality in mice by manipulating hormonal status in utero, and by breeding techniques, and by other methods. Maybe not determine sexuality, but influence it.

So does it matter? Politically to some people it does. It's sort of saying "this is like a birth ("defect?"). We didn't choose it so it's not fair to be prejudiced against me". Whereas, if it is "chosen", then maybe some people think that "behavior" should be controlled and can be punished if not meeting the "norm".

But in reality, the only reason it matters is that some, in fact many, people have prejudices and judgements against LGBT people.

Does it matter? Ethically, I can't think of a single reason why it would be bad or wrong to choose being gay. Anything that consenting adults do with one another should be OK. There's responsibility, and health, and consequences, but that's not the same as saying that being gay, or having same-sex sex (not the same thing) is "wrong". Certainly my own relationships have brought me as much joy, and as much sorrow, as anyone could claim by being straight. For all I know, maybe both more joy and more sorrow. I would not choose to miss the joys. I could do without some of the sorrows.
Gotta love parents, though, in their fear of gay children. My parents were worried when I wasn't showing any interest in boys when I was in middle school, so they outright asked if I was attracted to women. >.X

Lucky for them, they won't have their homophobic biases tested by me, except in play flirting with friends.

I do wish I was attracted to women, though, as I seem to do better attracting them. D;
One more thought:

"Do you think I would have chosen this if I could? Do you think I wanted to be discriminated against in this way?"

This is a pretty standard argument. I've heard it many times. There is no logic in it. Ask a person from some other, discriminated against category if they could chose, would they remain in that category. Most likely, some would, some would not, and since they usually can't change, it's a moot point.

Please pardon my typos. Big clumsy fingers that hit multiple keys is also not a choice.
"1) What is your opinion on whether or not whether or not sexuality is a result of genetics or personal preference? Is it a mix of both in each individual? Are we a mixed population of individuals who choose and don't choose their sexuality?"

I'd say it's a mixture of both. Either way, we should not discriminate against anyone for their sexuality. The only person's sexuality you should care about is the person you are sleeping with. I suppose that the people that are so against homosexuality have never enjoyed sex or are deep down homosexuals themselves and their hatred is a sort of distancing act they do.

"2) What is your opinion on the origin of homosexuality specifically? Do you believe it is genetic or chosen? Would it matter if it was different from what you believed?"

Homosexuality is replicated in nature, and we are just animals like the rest of life on this planet. I would imagine it plays an evolutionary role, but I don't know enough about it to suggest what it would be. My opinion would not change whether it was choice or genetics. What consenting adults do in the privacy of their home is none of my concern, nor should it be of any concern to anyone else.
Studies of twins, bother fraternal and identical, separated and raised together, show that homosexuality is genetically linked. Identical twins are more likely to both be homosexual than fraternal twins, in both cases of raising.

However, not every set of identical twins are both gay/straight, which shows there is some external influence, too. I wouldn't call it choice, but would rather it be the influences of environment, whether it be negative like trauma, or positive such as having the right mentor to accept yourself.
1) What is your opinion on whether or not whether or not sexuality is a result of genetics or personal preference? Is it a mix of both in each individual? Are we a mixed population of individuals who choose and don't choose their sexuality?

I think it's a mix, some people are born that way and others just want to try new things. Even though we are animals, we are also the only species that is know to have sex for pleasure and not just procreation.


2) Would it matter if it was different from what you believed?

Personally no, people "choose" to be christians yet I still feel they still deserve the same rights as non christians. As someone else stated before, it only matters on paper in a political theater. If gays can prove without a doubt that it's DNA, they have an open and shut case for equal rights. Unfortunatly it's a double edged sword, because if the research shows it's completly a choice, they are completly screwed and it will end all political momentum they have.


I do however feel that gays should be respectful to the non gays by not flaunting or over emphisizing thier sexuality. You can "raise awareness" without shoving the images I'd rather not see down my throat or my kids throats. I also feel that respect should be show to homosexuals by us non homosexuals as well.
All human behavioral and mental traits are the result of a combination of genes and environment. At the same time, for any trait and its causes the population will differ from one another. For some people environment will be important; for others it will be irrelevant. And, some people will fall in between those extremes.

In my experience some people are just born gay. I have seen it myself. When children seem gay at a young age--before they even know what sex is much less what gay is--and then are, in fact, gay as adults, then it is clear that genetics was paramount in the development of their sexuality. I have known children like that.

On the other hand, I was the opposite. I knew I wanted the opposite sex before I even knew why I should. Being gay or even bi is simply not a "choice" I could make.

I think that is the reason that I have never felt hatred toward gay people. I never felt like my masculinity was threatened by them.

At the same time, it is absolutely clear that a fairly large number of otherwise straight people will engage in homosexual activities when isolated from members of the opposite sex long enough. So it is clear that many people can be affected by environment.

That's my opinion and I am sticking to it--until someone proves me wrong. Given my experiences that would take some doing.

Check these out:

http://goodatheistarguments.blogspot.com/2010/09/religion-and-homos...

http://goodatheistarguments.blogspot.com/2010/11/religion-and-homos...

http://goodatheistarguments.blogspot.com/2010/10/religionn-and-mora...

I always cringe when I hear someone say something like, "Do you think I would have chosen this if I could?" It smacks of "I'm a victim. I'm afflicted. Feel sorry for me." It implies that there is something inherently wrong with homosexuality, when the reality is that there is actually something wrong -- terribly wrong -- with the bigots who dehumanize LGBT people.

I get it, though. When I first came out of the closet, I thought that way, too. As I got older, though, I realized that choice is irrelevant with regard to the question of whether or not LGBT people must be afforded the same rights that everyone else enjoys. We must, period. That is the only just, morally-correct answer.

I can't remember where, but I heard/read this quote not too long ago: (paraphrasing) "It's funny how the people who claim that being gay is a choice are always the ones who don't actually make that choice."

Personally, I believe its not a choice. I've never been attracted to women -- not once, even slightly. There was a time in high school when I tried, very hard, to convince myself that I *was* attracted to women, but it was rather like writing with my left hand; I could sort-of do it, if I concentrated really, really hard, but the results were never as good as they were when I wrote with my right hand. Thankfully, I realized after not too long that the whole exercise was silly. Why write terribly with my left hand when I can write beautifully, effortlessly with my right?

I'll say this, though: after experiencing life freely as a gay man, If I could choose, I'd choose to be gay.

Wonderful response.

 

Daniel

Thanks. ;-)

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