Did You Choose To Be Straight?
When did you choose to be straight?
That’s a question gays and lesbians pose when they’re asked, “When did you choose to be gay? Or lesbian?”
Is sexual orientation chosen?
Have a look at some research.
Looking at brain response, male perspiration emits chemicals associated with sexual reproduction. These chemicals trigger a response in the hypothalamus of gay men and straight women. No similar response for straight men who sniff male sweat.
Other researchers had men and women, straight and gay, sniff two orderless substances that are closely related to testosterone and estrogen. According to the Chicago Tribune,
A compound known as EST, derived from the female sex hormone estrogen, increased blood flow in part of the hypothalamus in heterosexual men but not in heterosexual women. Conversely, a testosterone-related substance known as AND lit up the brains of women and gay men, but not heterosexual men.
Interestingly, the more older brothers a boy has, the more likely he is to be gay. Not sure why. Women have a different hormone distribution than males, so when a woman holds male chemistry inside her womb for an extended time might her womb chemistry change?
Master sex gene
And then there are fruit flies, whose sexual orientation is controlled by a regulator of synapse strength (don’t ask). Researchers were able to use either drugs or genetic manipulation to turn their homosexual behavior on and off, suggesting a master sex gene. So who knows, humans may have a master sex gene, too.
Identical twin studies
Turning to twin studies, the identical twin brother of a gay man has about a 50% chance of being gay, too. Among fraternal twins that number drops to around 20%. Comparatively, about 5% of the general population is gay.
This suggests a strong genetic component.
Swedish researchers recruited subjects from the entire Swedish Twin Registry (the world’s largest), as explained here:
All 43,808 twins born in Sweden between 1959 and 1985 were invited to participate in a Web-based survey that comprised a wide range of questions about personal behaviors and experiences. The team ended up with a sample of 3826 twin pairs, of which 2320 were identical and 1506 fraternal.
About 5% of men and 8% of women reported sexual activity with a member of the same sex at least once during their lifetimes. The results:
In men, genetic effects appeared to explain 34% to 39% of the differences between the two twin groups, whereas in women, genetics accounted for only about 18% to 19% of the difference.
So genetics have an effect. But why don’t all identical twins have the same sexual orientation?
Environmental factors, whether social or physical may play a role. And you have to wonder whether sexual activity “at least once” constitutes being gay or lesbian, so I wish they had also considered people who identify as gay and lesbian. I will discuss this question more later.
Boys reassigned as girls
Meanwhile, some boys have undergone sex reassignment surgery as infants, due to ambiguous or malfunctioning genitals. (Surgery performed thru no choice of their own, mind you). When they grew up they were virtually all attracted to women.
Christian men don’t change despite trying
Finally, think about gay Christian men who try desperately to change their orientation, hoping to move into the good graces of God and out of the bad graces of tormenting peers.
Despite undergoing torturous ordeals, their sexual preference does not appear to change. I have heard from two men who went through this conversion therapy and later went on to sell the techniques to other hopeful gay men, saying that it had worked on them. Both of these men later reneged, saying the therapy had NOT really worked.
And some struggling gay Christians commit suicide.
Doesn’t sound like a choice
That doesn’t sound like a choice.
Looking at the data it seems that there is a biological basis for sexual orientation, though any one factor is not necessarily determinative, and culture or social interaction may even play a role. More later.
(This is the first of a 3-part series on sexual orientation.)
Posted on November 13, 2015, in feminism, LGBT+, psychology, sex and sexuality and tagged did you choose to be straight, feminism, LGBT+, psychology, sex, sexual orientation, sexuality. Bookmark the permalink. 47 Comments.