Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Are Gays Really Born This Way, Or Are They Naughty By Nurture?

Posted By on Thu, Jul 10, 2014 at 2:02 PM


When well-organized homophobes make political noise about how homosexuality is a choice and a lifestyle that can be changed through many trips to church, the LGBT community will respond in one way: We were born this way.

The born-this-way argument might not be scientifically conclusive, yet it certainly ties homosexuals to previous Civil Rights struggles among minority groups, namely African-Americans and women.

However, as New York Magazine recently noted, that assertion completely papers over long-running debates about nature vs. nurture. As new science emerges about the complexity of human sexuality, "born this way" increasingly seems to fall somewhere between incomplete and incorrect.

Perhaps gays aren't "born this way," but rather we're all just Naughty by Nurture.

Although it's become a quasi doctrinal belief among liberals in the U.S., "born this way" might just be the easiest explanation to grip while researchers use science to unveil the mystery as to why approximately 1 in 25 people are gay (that figure includes all races and ethnic groups).

LGBT activists and organizations can't always referee the non-stop debates between neuroscientists and psychoanalysts, nor can they answer with certainty the academically inflected questions about the nature of binaries themselves. (Are genetics really separate from a person's environment? Is homosexual sex always the same as a gay identity?)

It's fascinating stuff to ponder, but hardly relevant when you're trying to convince the Tennessee state legislature not to overturn Nashville's anti-discrimination law. While the the nature vs. nurture question might not be answered anytime soon, it still needs to be resolved from a political standpoint.

It doesn't matter what a person believes about what made him or her gay, the fact is that the leaders of the Gay Rights Movement have decided to "solve" the nature vs. nurture dilemma in the most politically palatable way -- and that is to claim they were born this way.

Without the ability to prove it, one might argue that perhaps LGBT people are being dishonest when they claim they were born this way. But you can't say that it's not working well for them, and straight America.

Straight America might be less accepting of same-sex everything (sex, love, families) if it had to face any other truth about it -- if it had to take responsibility for contributing to the gay lifestyle with its own nurturing hand.

Let's face it: Nature makes a more compelling political case than nurture. Although the logic of "born this way" is not without a dark(er) side. Look at Texas Gov. Rick Perry's comparison of homosexuality and alcoholism. If that hadn't been spewed by a known homophobe, it might almost be construed as a well-intentioned mistake from someone who stopped hating the gays once they learned to pity them instead. (They're born that way; they can't help it.)

The nature vs. nurture debate is far from over, and new science is always emerging. There have been studies claiming to show differences between "gay brains" and straight brains, which while satisfying some, this new data might sound like updates of 19th-century phrenology to others. Homosexuality may not be a choice, but the way its origin is represented to the general public is -- and that choice has been made.

Pete Kane is a total gaylord who is trying to get to every national park before age 40

  • Pin It

About The Author

Pete Kane

Pete Kane

Pete Kane is a total gaylord who is trying to get to every national park before age 40


Comments are closed.

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"