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To Be or Not to Be: Is Homosexuality a Choice?

By:Hugh Rosen

The question of whether homosexuality is a choice has been debated for many decades. Yet only a few hundred years ago societies had no such concept as “homosexuality,” even though it was still practiced.

I have known people from other countries who have told me that in their place of origin homosexuality was not conceived of as a noun. It has only been over time that erotic encounters with someone of the same sex has become socially constructed as a categorized form of behavior.

Regardless of whether it is a choice or not, allow me to dispel two myths about gays. The first is that they are all alike. To the contrary, they are as diverse as any population in personality, lifestyle, values, religion, intelligence, interests, character, and so forth. In careers they run the gamut covering as wide a spectrum as heterosexual persons.

Gays can be found amongst such careers as medicine, real estate, psychology, Psychiatry, hairdressing, entertainment, social work, teaching, crime, science, law, politics, and sports. The second myth is that they come to earth from a distant planet, metaphorically speaking, and have infiltrated the heterosexual world. To the contrary, gays are born amongst us. They are our daughters and sons, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, even our grandmothers and grandfathers. They are our friends and colleagues with whom we associate daily.

Many who regard homosexuality as a choice have arrived at such a conclusion by merely making a gratuitous assumption, bereft of empirical data or logically compelling argument. Some turn to the authority of scripture to buttress their position, yet the Bible says little about the subject and that is open to interpretation.

The Bible itself is rife with contradictions and inconsistencies, and not always constitutive of what the just person would regard as moral today. Many different people over a long period of time have written the Bible. As with any form of literature it is a reflection of not only the author, but the culture of the times during which it was written. From an historical perspective, religion itself has not always brought to bear beneficial influences and has all too often been responsible for bloodshed.

Those who believe that homosexuality is a choice must confront the question of why anyone would choose to be gay in the face of the sharp disapprobation and social stigma that they encounter.

Gays exist worldwide and in some countries, when known to be so, they are subject to the punishment of imprisonment or death. Gays in the United States have been subject to our countries own draconian laws, recent progress notwithstanding. Further, gays who “come out” risk rejection by and alienation from their family and friends, as well as the possibility of losing their jobs and ruining their careers. Why, indeed, would anyone choose to deal with all of this if they were not making a moral choice to live with authenticity in the way that nature has endowed them? It is here that the word “choice” is applicable.

If gay people are born naturally heterosexual, but have chosen to live in opposition to this sexual orientation, it poses the dilemma that one can freely override one of the most basic of all biological instincts. Further, believing that gays can make such a choice if born heterosexual, then it follows that all current heterosexuals can choose to abandon that orientation and elect to be gay if they wish. This premise flows inescapably from the assertion that gays choose that way of being-in-the-world.

Do heterosexuals actually experience their own self that way? The fact is that advances in neuroscience increasingly reveals biological differences between the makeup of the brain of those who are attracted primarily to the opposite sex and those who experience a predominantly same-sex orientation.

Extending beyond the sphere of humans, a description of a book by Bruce Bagemihl, a research biologist, states, “Homosexuality in its myriad forms has been scientifically documented in more than 450 species of mammals, birds reptiles, insects, and other animals worldwide…. Sexual and gender expression in the animal world displays exuberant variety, including same-sex courtship, pair-bonding, sex, and co-parenting—even instances of lifelong homosexual bonding in species that do not have lifelong heterosexual bonding” (Biological Exuberance, 1999, N.Y., St. Martin’s Press).

Are these species sinful? Are they simply social contrarians? Have they made a free choice to be the way they are, or might they not be biologically determined to behave as they do?

Many homosexuals report that they have known of their sexual proclivities from as far back as they can remember. They report discovering themselves to be that way without making any “choices.” Others have struggled in anguish to overcome such tendencies to avoid social stigma or to combat sexual strivings that run counter to their religious beliefs, only to succumb in the end, allowing their true nature to take its course, or sometimes living a life of sexual deprivation in desperation, combined with deceit and deception of self and others.

Some even marry in the hope of reversing their most deeply felt same-sex strivings, while they and their unfortunate wives sadly let the years slip by sensing that something vital is missing. This is illustrated with sorrowful splendor in the film, “Brokeback Mountain.” Other homosexuals have spent endless years and large amounts of money in psychoanalysis or psychotherapy to become heterosexual, only to end in dismal failure. Why would these gays endure such torturous experiences if they were freely choosing to be homosexual?

In conclusion, the argument seems to be that if a biological predisposition can be established, then gays are not to blame for the way they were born and live. However, it shouldn’t matter. As others have said before me, it is not the business of the government or society to regulate the sexual activities of two consenting adults, whether biologically determined or freely chosen.

Article Source: http://www.redsofts.com/articles/

Hugh Rosen is the author of Silent Battlefields. Visit his Web site http://www.hughrosen.com to learn more about his novel of second generation Holocaust survivors.

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