Homosexuality: Is It Genetic Or Is It A Choice?

Can A Person Really Be Born Gay?

My best friend of 35 years, was molested by her step-father when she was 9 years old, for many years. When she became a teenager, she had such detestation for men, she decided on an alternative lifestyle. Her friends, family, church members and those in the community, abandoned her. They couldn't understand why and how such a pretty girl would choose this lifestyle and all the ridicule that came with it. Could she have been simply born this way or was it her circumstances that influenced her decision?

According to the American Psychological Association,(APA, the national organization of professional psychologists) society has different perspectives on homosexuality. The traditional view holds that homosexuality is an abnormality, the orientation is a disorder, and the behavior is pathological. The opposing view is that homosexuality is a normal variant in the human condition, which is determined before birth, and homosexual behavior is natural for those so oriented.

Most scientists researching this question are seeing their research pointing to at least a biological, if not genetic origin of sexual orientation. This evidence is increasingly showing that sexual orientation, whether gay, straight, or bisexual, is probably set very early on--if not in the womb or at conception. In other words, sexual orientation is inborn.

Now, many people--particularly people who are opposed to homosexuality on especially religious grounds--reject this theory, saying that there are a lot of examples of people who were gay who have been "cured" and "made straight" through various kinds of "therapy," whether psychological or religious. However, it is important to remember that the American Psychological Association does not take up when or how sexual orientation is determined, but it does say that there is nothing inherently wrong or unhealthy with non-straight sexual orientations; the APA further considers therapy meant to "cure" homosexuality to be at most ineffective and at worst extremely harmful to the health of people who have same-sex attraction or are gay. This kind of therapy is part of what is called the "ex-gay" movement, but it is important to note that there have been scandals in recent years of supposedly "cured" gay people being caught in gay bars or engaging in gay relationships, and the largest ex-gay organization in Great Britain actually disbanded a few years ago because they realized they were having no success in curing people--slowly coming to the realization that sexual orientation cannot be changed.

Now, people who believe that sexual orientation can be changed are usually confusing homosexuality and heterosexuality with bisexuality; obviously someone who is bisexual can be sexually attracted to people of either sex, or conditioned or taught to seek out relationships or sexual experiences with only the opposite sex. However, truly heterosexual and truly homosexual people cannot truly change their sexual orientation; at best, they can become celibate (avoiding sex), which is not the same thing as changing one's inborn sexual orientation.

More and more research will be done in this area in the next decade, and it is likely that one or more biological or genetic sources of sexual orientation will be found. However, is it safe to say that sexual orientation is inborn or something that's chosen?



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