The actress Cynthia Nixon recently created a stir by coming out as a lesbian, in an eight-year relationship, having previously been married to a man. Celebrities coming out are no longer a big shock. What made this different was Nixon’s saying her lesbianism is a choice.
Bible thumpers and other gay bashers call homosexuality immoral, perverse, sinful, as though it’s something a person has control over. But most gays and their advocates have insisted this is not a choice, and they are born that way.
That view is far more consistent with observable facts. Efforts to “cure” gays never really succeed; people can suppress outward behavior, but not their minds. Further, there is some scientific evidence of brain and other physiological differences between gays and straights.
If this is biological rather than behavioral, how can it be explained evolutionarily? Obviously, gayness genes would have a hard time getting into the next generation. The answer is that it’s not genetic; it’s in embryonic development. Embryos actually start out physiologically “gender neutral,” and becoming male or female (including programming the brain with appropriate sexual instincts) is a very complex process guided by chemical signaling from hormones, etc., which have to kick in at very particular times. If it doesn’t go off flawlessly, various gender anomalies can result, hermaphroditism being an extreme example. A more common one, it seems, is same-sex attraction.
Thus, generally speaking, gays are born that way; it has nothing to do with parenting, so parents of gay children can relax. But in the realm of sexuality, there are never absolutes, and what is usually true is not invariably true.
Regarding Cynthia Nixon, there is evidence that sexual orientation is somewhat more flexible for females than males (yet another example of pervasive male-female biological difference. Men are not just like women except with penises). Thus gayness can more plausibly be a choice for a woman than for a man. This is corroborated by personal thought experiment. For me, anything sexual with another man would be, to use a technical term, yuck. But I can readily imagine two gals having a very nice time together.
Many people view homosexuality as not “normal” or natural, and different. Well, everybody is, after all, different from everybody else. As for normality and naturalness, it’s certainly natural as a part of nature, and out of any random hundred people, a certain percentage will be gay. Thus, it’s simply a normal variation – just as blue eyes are not unnatural, and out of every hundred people a certain percentage will have blue eyes.
But in the end, it doesn’t really matter whether homosexuality is a choice or biologically innate. Why shouldn’t people have a right to choose it? Whose business is it but theirs? The problem with the concept of “sin” is that it obscures why wrong behavior is wrong. Something is wrong not if it offends some imaginary being, but if it harms actual beings.
Homosexuality harms no one.* It doesn’t harm society – surely there will always be enough straight people to produce the next generation. And, indeed, gays can actually help in that. Gay marriage makes more homes for more children. It’s all very well to say a child deserves a father and a mother, but many children get only one. Surely two fathers or two mothers are better than a single parent. And for the many orphans whom gay couples adopt, that’s surely better than no parent at all.
* Child rape does, and should be punished, whether committed by gays or straights. But gays should not be punished because you imagine they might rape children. (And most child rapes are heterosexual.)