Do you think people are born gay?

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Do you think people are born gay?

Unread postby Josiemonster » 1 February 2013, 22:19

Do you think people are born gay? Or do you think it's environmental factors?

Can someone 'turn' gay?
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Re: Do you think people are born gay?

Unread postby Lucas » 1 February 2013, 22:37

It is not definitively one or the other. Some people might feel they were born gay, others may have discovered through life experiences where their attractions lie.
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Re: Do you think people are born gay?

Unread postby Josiemonster » 1 February 2013, 22:43

Lucas wrote:It is not definitively one or the other. Some people might feel they were born gay, others may have discovered through life experiences where their attractions lie.


So you disagree with the fact that it's genetic?
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Re: Do you think people are born gay?

Unread postby René » 1 February 2013, 22:44

Firstly, it is important to realise that a lot of people are neither exclusively heterosexual nor exclusively homosexual but are something in between.

Secondly, I think research has shown quite clearly that there are both genetic factors and environmental factors involved. (Note, though, that things like hormonal influences in the womb are considered an environmental factor, so you could theoretically say that someone is "born gay" due to environmental factors in the womb.)

We know that monozygotic ("identical") twins often have the same sexual orientation (taking the term to mean whether someone is mainly heterosexual, mainly homosexual, or roughly equally heterosexual and homosexual), but not always, and that they are more likely to have the same sexual orientation than dizygotic (fraternal) twins.

If it was all genetics, MZ twins would always share the same sexual orientation.
If it was all environment, MZ twins would be as likely to share the same sexual orientation as DZ twins.

We know that the truth lies in between. Therefore both genetics and environment must play a role.

As for 'turning' gay, one needs to realise that while we do not choose our sexual orientation, we do choose how we identify ourselves, and our attractions are not necessarily clear from the start. It is possible for a bisexual person (using the term loosely) to be inclined towards heterosexual interactions due to societal pressure, and to later decide or discover that he's mainly interested in people of the same sex.

Sexual orientation is thought to be pretty much fixed throughout someone's life, but if someone says he's gay, that says a lot more about his intended future interactions than it does about his sexual orientation per se.
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Re: Do you think people are born gay?

Unread postby Josiemonster » 1 February 2013, 22:55

I'd better say now, I believe it can be either. I'm just curious to what everyone else thinks.

I was wondering if someone was gay from birth but wasn't educated about homosexuality and was always told about a man and woman falling in love, happy ever after (as I was), would they feel compelled to feel attraction to the opposite sex?

A friend of ours and his wife were having issues and he went to a councellor and suddenly realised he was gay. I wondered why that could be - and why he deluded himself for so long. He had three children with his wife.
It's my understanding that he was always homosexual (with the capacity for heterosexuality, as René said) but had suppressed it within himself.
It then begs the question; what made him suppress it? For him to have an epiphany after one session with a councillor seems a little far-fetched.

It's not about him and his experience particularly though. I was just wondering in general. From a personal experience, I never really entertained the thought of same-sex attraction, growing up. But as I started puberty, I sort of found that part of myself and recognised it as having been dormant before.
(I guess what they say about all-girls-private-schools is correct, eh? ;) )
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Re: Do you think people are born gay?

Unread postby René » 1 February 2013, 23:09

Maybe he never truly realised what it meant to feel sexually attracted to someone; perhaps he realised that he had never actually experienced sexual attraction to a woman and was just trying to fit in with society as best he could.

I can imagine having a strong bond of friendship with a woman, and I can imagine that if I'd never seen a man, I might think that that bond of friendship was what it was all about, and that making babies just came along with that for the purpose of propagating the species.

I can imagine that someone might be asexual for a long time, which may be due to a medical problem or developmental peculiarity, and then suddenly come to the realisation that he's starting to experience sexuality.

With more than 7 billion people on the planet, I'm sure these things happen regularly.
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Re: Do you think people are born gay?

Unread postby Josiemonster » 1 February 2013, 23:54

Either way, it's desperately sad.
And it's not the first family this has happened to in our circle of friends.

(crazy really. my family are such prudes! Maybe it's the universe telling them to lighten up ;) )
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Re: Do you think people are born gay?

Unread postby René » 2 February 2013, 00:07

Yeah, I've never heard of that happening among my parents' friends or in my very large family, and most of them are pretty easy-going despite being Christians, especially my parents. I think these things probably happen much less often in my country (the Netherlands) since we're all very very open about these things as a nation.

Anyway, I think I'll bump this up to Intellectual Discussion. :)
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Re: Do you think people are born gay?

Unread postby Josiemonster » 2 February 2013, 00:20

René wrote:Yeah, I've never heard of that happening among my parents' friends or in my very large family, and most of them are pretty easy-going despite being Christians, especially my parents. I think these things probably happen much less often in my country (the Netherlands) since we're all very very open about these things as a nation.

Anyway, I think I'll bump this up to Intellectual Discussion. :)


What makes it more sad is that half of my family disapproved hugely and the other half laughed and found it hilarious. Strange how people never behave how you'd expect!

England seems to be very 'don't ask don't tell' on the subject. The people I've been around in my school life have been awful about anything 'different' and whilst we all know that being gay is a normal and natural and sometimes fun thing,they don't. And it's not because it's a religious thing in most cases. (Again, some of my family are devout born-again Christians = very, very anti-gay)
It's just an observation. And it's probably just in the people that I've been brought up with. The majority of England is quite probably totally different and I wouldn't know.

(aww intellectual.)
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Re: Do you think people are born gay?

Unread postby Lucas » 2 February 2013, 01:58

Josiemonster wrote:So you disagree with the fact that it's genetic?


It depends on the individual. Pretty much what you and Rene have already said.

My younger brother's friend's parents split in a similar fashion as your friends. The father realized he was gay, or at least admitted he was gay and wanted to pursue it. The couple had two kids and the father is dating some dude and the mother is dating another guy too.
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Re: Do you think people are born gay?

Unread postby Josiemonster » 2 February 2013, 02:16

Lucas wrote:
Josiemonster wrote:So you disagree with the fact that it's genetic?


It depends on the individual. Pretty much what you and Rene have already said.

My younger brother's friend's parents split in a similar fashion as your friends. The father realized he was gay, or at least admitted he was gay and wanted to pursue it. The couple had two kids and the father is dating some dude and the mother is dating another guy too.


something someone said to me the other day: "If they 'turn gay' by environmental factors, they're obviously not a 'real' gay."

couldn't quite believe she'd said it but still......thoughts?
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Re: Do you think people are born gay?

Unread postby Lucas » 2 February 2013, 02:28

Josiemonster wrote:
Lucas wrote:
Josiemonster wrote:So you disagree with the fact that it's genetic?


It depends on the individual. Pretty much what you and Rene have already said.

My younger brother's friend's parents split in a similar fashion as your friends. The father realized he was gay, or at least admitted he was gay and wanted to pursue it. The couple had two kids and the father is dating some dude and the mother is dating another guy too.


something someone said to me the other day: "If they 'turn gay' by environmental factors, they're obviously not a 'real' gay."

couldn't quite believe she'd said it but still......thoughts?


hahaha she can have her opinion, but it seems pretty immature to conclude anyone who comes out later on in life after living as a heterosexual is not a real gay person. People often put up a front to fit in.
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Re: Do you think people are born gay?

Unread postby baileyscheesecake » 2 February 2013, 07:39

I don't think you can change your sexual orientation so whether you're gay by birth or not is kind of irrelevant. Ultimately, I think it's a mix of the two. I reckon there's some genetic predisposition, based on... okay, participant observation; I had a gay uncle and my sister is a lesbian, I also know one family with eight kids and six are gay. But I doubt it's just genetic, either. Even if homosexuality is genetic, the gay identity is socially constructed, which is why different gay men identify with the homosexual cultural identity to varying degrees (such as a gay man from a rural conservative area may become very camp because he identifies with the gay community more than his own community who judge/discriminate against him OR may be very straight-acting because his rural/conservative background has caused him to steer clear of drugs, casual sex and feminine behaviour, etc.)
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Re: Do you think people are born gay?

Unread postby Josiemonster » 2 February 2013, 11:12

baileyscheesecake wrote:I don't think you can change your sexual orientation so whether you're gay by birth or not is kind of irrelevant. Ultimately, I think it's a mix of the two. I reckon there's some genetic predisposition, based on... okay, participant observation; I had a gay uncle and my sister is a lesbian, I also know one family with eight kids and six are gay. But I doubt it's just genetic, either. Even if homosexuality is genetic, the gay identity is socially constructed, which is why different gay men identify with the homosexual cultural identity to varying degrees (such as a gay man from a rural conservative area may become very camp because he identifies with the gay community more than his own community who judge/discriminate against him OR may be very straight-acting because his rural/conservative background has caused him to steer clear of drugs, casual sex and feminine behaviour, etc.)


That's a very interesting point about your observation of genetic predisposition. But it does beg the question; why? Homosexuals can't reproduce. So what would be the natural purpose of a 'gay gene'?
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Re: Do you think people are born gay?

Unread postby Mephisto » 3 February 2013, 19:25

I like Brenden's biosciences explanations. I know a lot of GLBT people who have GLBT relatives; I have a gay uncle, for example, and I think it's at least in part genetic.

Now, as for reasons for the 'gay gene', it's important to realize that not all genes are of evolutionary benefit and evolution does not work toward a goal. I'd say mutations. I can see pansexual rabbits being hornier and more reproductive than prudish little hetero rabbits, for example. On the opposite side of that reasoning people have said that it could be for population control, but that goes contrary to the ideas of evolution we accept.

I think humans have to a certain extent broken free of the evolutionary track; while this is a huge other debate, it would explain why the seemingly counter(re)productive trait of homosexuality would be so common in humans. But then again, it's common in a bajillion animal species and I doubt black swans have the technology and tenacity to defeat their own evolutionary cycles, so :shrug:
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Re: Do you think people are born gay?

Unread postby Onur » 3 February 2013, 19:32

What about this one? There are some people who are born gay and some people who are made gay by environmental factors, etc.
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Re: Do you think people are born gay?

Unread postby Paragon » 4 February 2013, 05:40

Gay, being the state of predisposition towards same-sex attraction, is absolutely a matter of biology. Current science is flirting with the idea of epigenetics playing a role. Rene hinted at it above, and I think the article was actually posted in the forum sometime earlier in the year.

But basically, epigenetics is about factors outside of the genetic code that affect how genes are expressed. So in this instance, the potential for homosexuality exists in a larger population, perhaps even everyone. But factors within the womb and elsewhere determine whether or not that potential is expressed.

There's also another theory that may be connected. It turns out that the more sons there are in any given family generation, the more likely the next one will be gay. One possible reason is that gay zygotes carry certain feminine markers. As the mother gets more and more used to having sons, her womb gets better at defending genetics so vastly different from her own, and so specifically selecting for gay-potential babies. (according to this theory, female same-sex attraction is a different thing to males)

Long story short, it's genetic, but not really.

Now, that biological/neural state is connected with, but not the sole factor in a person's realization of their own identity. That is, that there is gay as a biological state (which isn't a solid yes or no marker anyway - it seems more like hair color; a variation of possibilities), and then there's gay as an identity.
So a person could have been gay or bisexual their entire life and have just never had the opportunity to figure it out, because up until that point they had assumed that they were heterosexual.

And that is not to say that we should discount such an identity as a false construct. On the contrary, I think we don't put as much value (and respect) as we should in what a person thinks he or she (or whatever) is. I'm just saying that we should see it more like a person discovering more of who they are, rather than being wrong about it.

Josiemonster wrote:That's a very interesting point about your observation of genetic predisposition. But it does beg the question; why? Homosexuals can't reproduce. So what would be the natural purpose of a 'gay gene'?

Meph up there already said it, but. There are examples in the animal kingdom, usually with socially-motivated species, for homosexuality to exist. It could be that gay partners make better hunters, or that disabling competition for wives enables greater cooperation. Some animals are slutty bisexuals who trade sex for resources. It could really be anything.

My personal take is that, because of the epigenetic factor, a gay individual's siblings may actually also be carrying the deactivated gay potential. The very fact that there's this gay brother within the family, invested in the group dynamic but not at all competing for control of the harem or the right to breed, means that there's an extra warrior class individual available - not only aiding the survival of the group, but also indirectly aiding the passing of his own genes through his siblings.
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Re: Do you think people are born gay?

Unread postby Josiemonster » 4 February 2013, 11:17

I have to say. Reading these posts (especially Apollo's) has just made my day. Absolutely brilliant.
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Re: Do you think people are born gay?

Unread postby Adam88 » 4 February 2013, 11:48

I think it's just a matter or preference. Some guys like blond girls, some guys like guys....
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Re: Do you think people are born gay?

Unread postby Josiemonster » 4 February 2013, 12:50

Adam88 wrote:I think it's just a matter or preference. Some guys like blond girls, some guys like guys....



That's a given. The question was why. Is it genetics or environmental.
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