If you do a bit of online searching about whether homosexuals choose to be gay, you will find quite a few people who are certain that they do. Not one of such respondents is himself gay. And not one of their answers is based on reality, science, or logical reasoning. Most are simply assertions of inherited opinion, often bolstered by religious dogma. Some claim an affirmative answer because science hasn’t found a “gay gene”, therefore it must be a choice. But nothing says the presence of gay people requires a gay gene. Of identical twins, who share a genome, one may be gay, the other not. Also, the parents of gay people are straight, so where would a “gay gene” come from?
If you want to find the answer about whether it’s possible to choose sexuality, this is how you do it:
Select a large number of adults who identify themselves as unquestionably heterosexual. Ask each of them, “Could you decide right now to be homosexual? Y/N” Not one will answer yes.
You can’t ask this question of people whose sexuality is fluid or questionable. You have to ask adults who identify as solidly straight. One reason for this requirement is that such people are the ones who assert that gays choose to be gay.
The more important reason is that if any sexuality can actually be chosen, the choice must be possible for all people. If gays chose to be gay, it must mean that all who call themselves unquestionably straight could have chosen to be gay, but instead chose to be straight. If straights could never have chosen to be gay, then gays could not have originally been straight, but then chose to be gay. The only possibility is that they were already gay, and their sexuality was not chosen.
Literally no straight people claim to have rejected the choice of homosexuality and decided instead on heterosexuality. If they chose to be straight, they must have been able at some point to choose to be gay, an argument rejected by all who identify as solidly straight. Answers to the above question will make it clear that not one of them ever made a choice about their heterosexuality. The logical conclusion must be that if a choice wasn’t available to them, neither could it be available to gays. If the choice isn’t open to everyone to chose their own sexuality it must mean that nobody can chose to be gay or straight.
To the best of my knowledge nobody has asked the question this way, let alone in a rigorously scientific study, but I predict that not a single one of those who call themselves solidly straight will say that they themselves could choose to be gay, either at present or at any time in the past. I myself am in that category. I have a relatively large number of friends who are gay, but I am, and have always been, decidedly heterosexual. There’s not a chance in the world that I could decide to be gay. Being straight is just who I am.
And that’s the same reason people are gay. It’s just who they are. Ask any one of them.
Now, that does not say they were always aware of their orientation from a tender age. Some are, while their age is still in single digits even. But others may well live into adult years accepting society’s expectation that they must be straight. They may marry, and even have children, realizing only in middle years that in reality they were always attracted to the same sex. We read about such people all the time. But when you ask them, they will tell you in no uncertain terms that they did not choose the sexual orientation that only became apparent later in their lives. Who would purposely chose such a course so fraught with problems?
Sexuality will always be rather mysterious, and there are many differing expressions of it at the margins. Consider, for example, the current surge in people who want to transition to the other sex with surgery, or the debate about whether there really is true bisexuality. Yet the apparently complete lack of people who choose their sexuality (sex-change surgery is not the same thing) is clear.
In a way the above discussion is irrelevant. Despite the denial of a lot of people, often put forth with faulty argument, every gay person I ever heard about says unequivocally that they did not choose to be homosexual. And heterosexuals state unequivocally they did not choose to be straight; in fact, the possibility of a choice never occurs to them, although they never waver from their belief that others simply chose to be gay. Why on Earth would anyone make such a decision anyway, one that is guaranteed to bring all sorts of difficulties and complications into one’s life?
Why is this important?
The answer to the question of chosen sexuality is not just important, it’s a matter of life and death. Homosexuality is punishable by death in many parts of the world even today. All the major religions reject homosexuality as against the dictates of God, an abomination, and holy books universally prescribe the death penalty. This is the reason the question must at last be answered unequivocally. I believe that an unequivocal answer is possible, albeit difficult.
Incidentally, it’s not possible to wipe out homosexuality. If every one of the 250M gay people were killed, it would only be a matter of time before the gay population was completely restored, because the entire 5% gay population comes from the straight population.
The major religions bear the greatest moral responsibility for the suffering and death of homosexuals by not answering the question of choice. Therefore, they have a moral imperative to seek an answer.
It seems unlikely that Islamic scientists (if that’s not an oxymoron today) will address the issue. I don’t know about Jewish authorities. I believe that Christians must be the ones to study it, Catholics in particular, for two reasons. First, the Catholic religious dogma demonizes homosexuals, somehow forgetting that they are still human and forgivable, with all the faults and frailties of others. The second reason is that the current pope, Francis, has shown himself to be the most open-minded and reasonable pope in at least a century. He will not be a pushover to change, but could be swayed by solid scientific evidence—which we don’t yet have.
If the Catholic church could be persuaded by solid evidence to alter its official stance, it could eventually lead to a universal liberalization that would remove all the oppression and terror that have been the fate of so many gay people for thousands of years. Few things are as important.