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Comment: The gay community should stop attacking anyone who dares suggest sexuality is a choice

  • Pablo

    Nah, I won’t. I had nobody defend me when I was in school being bullied every day so I’m going to defend LGBT people who don’t have a voice.

  • Locus Solus

    I don’t think I chose to be bisexual, but for me I do have some choice about who I sleep with. I just happened to fall in love with a guy. People include bi when offhandedly saying “LGBT,” but go on to speak in dualistic terns of gay/straight with noting in between. It doesn’t make homophobia valid just because some people have a degree of choice when it comes to their partner.

    • Barry Scarfe

      As someone who is ‘bicurious’ or ‘bisexual’ I know I never made any kind of conscious, willing and active ‘choice’ to like looking at the covers/inside of magazines like Men’s Health and Men’s Fitness which often features well-muscled hunks and also to enjoy looking at other magazines like Zoo with their buxom blonds and brunettes. Some of us are just wired to be attracted to attractive members of BOTH genders.

      • SilverFireFox77

        Well said my friend. You can’t choose attraction.

  • Brian Martenis

    I think that so much of this conversation is very new. We just are figuring out how to handle it all … Digest it and process it. It’s a tremendous lot to expect … But all good and pointed in the right direction.

  • @Mike-uk2011

    Oh yes, chose to be gay. Gay people choose to be bullied too. To be ousted by their families, shunned by society, bullied at school and hunted and persecuted by the law, (especially in the days when it was chemical castration, or indeed, a capital offence) right down to committing suicide, because being gay is a choice. Such fun, everyone should try it.
    .

    • Cal

      What you say makes sense in the context of GLBT people but Goths make a choice to appear as they are and often suffer the same consequences. Many don’t see the difference.

      • Truth

        Very good point, Cal. It made me stop and think. I would say certain people feel ‘compelled’ to behave in a particular way. Is that genetics? Is it nurture? Personally, I’ve never understood the leather fetish so popular with some people. I do not in any way condemn it. It just does not interest me. So, is that ‘need’ genetic or just to satisfy a pleasure centre in the brain?

  • http://www.facebook.com/george.forth George Forth

    As long as high profile, influential bigots continue to use their theory that it’s a choice as reason to try to subjugate us and try to legislate us into the ground, it behoves us to refute that theory as hard as we can. Nevertheless the “choose to act on it” paragraph makes the whole article beneath contempt.

    • Rumbelow

      You bet I choose to act on it!… I’m not an idiot.

    • William(Bill) Hooper

      Thank YOU,George Forth! GRANTED:ALL SIDES Should CHOOSE to Comment/Behave with Moderation,Restraint/Civility/Dignity,but the Anger of those of us who are Viciously Attacked and Victimized,too often maked this Difficult.
      It isn’t Only the “high profile,influential bigots” who fling “CHOICE” at us,gleefully Damning us to Hell,though there is a Surfeit of those.In America,at least,the ‘NET OVERFLOWS with the Accusations of “Choice” by Extreme Right Wing Political and Religious(“Christofascist”) Paranoids addicted to Theories of Non-Existent Conspiracies(THE LIBERAL,AND OR ATHEIST AND,Especially the Gay “Agendas”)

  • Daniel Howard

    “She points out that nobody questions the biological basis of sex and race and yet sexism and racism continue to exist.” Actually race has no biological basis. It’s a social construct like gender. Ethnicity exists as a biological reality much like sex. The author should really teu watching ‘Race: the power of an illusion’.

    • Mikey

      Besides, sexism and racism have nothing to do with any “biological basis” for sex or race. Bigotry is bigotry, regardless of any biological imperative.

  • Guest

    All the gay people I know said their lives would have been easier if there had been a choice, and they could just choose to like the opposite sex that easily.

    As a child, I was made to try food at least once, to see whether I liked it or not. My father and I share a biological repugnance for turnip, so I had his sympathy when I refused to eat it, and when I was made to try eating marrow as a kid, I vomited, so my parents accepted that I could not eat it. Marrow to this day, I detest.

    My father was therefore of the analogous view that I should “try it with a woman” to see “if I liked it”. It’s a long story, but the end result was that I badly hurt a woman who loved me, yet for whom I could not return romantic or sexual affection. The feelings were just not there, whereas I knew I was attracted to males before I even knew what sex was. Trying out different foods is one thing, risking pregnancy and damaging another human being is something quite else. It’s a dreadful misuse of a person to “try them out” to see if it will change your sexuality.

    For me and for all the gay people known to me, life would have been so much more straighforward if one could just simply a switch to the popular option and choose to be a heterosexual, but this is how I am wired and I can’t change it. I’ll leave out the years of self hatred, near fatal suicide attempts, money wasted on psychiatry et al from this tale, but there is no way this was any kind of a choice for me. I was born this way.

    • Rumbelow

      For any person born with a homosexual orientation there is only one choice that makes sense, the other choice is a futile attempt to please other people, it is false and ultimately it cannot work.

      • Rehan

        Exactly!

        She received a vitriolic response from the gay community

        No, she didn’t – she received a vitriolic response from some individuals who are [possibly] gay. There was no “community” reaction.

        • Jesus_Mohammed

          Well, she received a strong and appropriate response from a considerable number of us and rightly so, and can not those of us who so responded not be said to have spoken on behalf of our brothers and sisters in the gay community?

          • Rehan

            Well, what about those in the “community” (ie anyone who’s gay?) who may not have felt as strongly about it?

            My dislike of the term stems from what I consider the grotesque popular misuse of the word ‘community’. I have even come across the egregious ‘the Asian community’ – what’s that, everyone whose origins to some extent lie between the Bosphorus and the Bering Sea? Similarly, I simply don’t believe there’s a gay community. Several, maybe.

          • Cal

            Rehan, don’t get me started!! We have been through this before. This is a community website and you are always on it. You may not feel there is an Asian community but if all Asians were being attacked regardless of ethnicity there would be a community feeling quick as a flash. I may have nothing culturally in common with the Gay men in Uganda or Russia. What makes me anxious for their safety if not a sense of community?

          • Rehan

            Cal, there might be grounds for referring to PN as a ‘community website’ (though it does make it sound rather dismal), but if you seriously believe that, say, Japanese people will have some sense of fellow-feeling if Turkish people are under attack simply because of common Asian-ness, you’re not living on this planet! Your sympathy for gay men in Uganda or Russia says much more about you that it does about any ‘community'; I’m sure I don’t have to draw your attention to the level of racism that can be found on this site, especially when Africa is under discussion – there seems to be remarkably little ‘community spirit’ at such times. The idea that there is one single gay community that thinks and speaks in a certain way is frighteningly akin to an enforced party line – and I think our own disagreement on the subject suggests there isn’t such a thing.

          • Cal

            You seem like an intelligent ad thoughtful person and so I know that you must be well aware of the flaws in your argument as you write. First of all, I have never seen ANY racism against GLBT Africans. ALL the negative comments on this site are reactions to the appalling prejudice we face from the African countries that are killing and jailing members of our “community”. The negative comments on brutal regimes and homophobic cultures clearly demonstrates community spirit. I myself have been guilty of referring to African leaders and their followers as savages. Some see this as racist when directed at blacks but not when directed at Russians or Ulster Unionists (some of the biggest savages of all).
            There is no party line. There are many differing opinions within the gay community but that doesn’t mean there is nothing to bind us. A community is not comprised of people with the same view. Such a group does not exist. It is about people who share a common experience.

          • Rehan

            Well Cal, we’ll just have to agree to disagree on this: I’ve heard phrases like “the XXXX community has expressed …” far too often to be comfortable with it – and, as I point out below, it’s only ever used of minorities and is, IMO, a sloppy way of generalising. Whether you like it or not, ‘She received a vitriolic response from the gay community’ very much does suggest a party line.

            As for racism, you you obviously don’t mean it’s OK so long as it’s not directed at LGBT Africans, but ‘Community spirit’ against ‘homophobic cultures’ is merely one tribe being pitted against another and, while I understand the impulse when confronted by some reports, that’s the sort of thing we should have developed beyond by now.

          • Cal

            Well, you seem to be saying that because some people attribute certain attitudes to the gay community with which you disagree, therefore you have decided that there is no Gay community. Of course there is. And it has the same wide spectrum that any community does.
            There are various definitions in the dictionary of community. One is “a group of people having a particular characteristic in common”.
            I eagerly await your stubborn rebuttal.

          • Rehan

            Ha – can’t argue with a dictionary, can I? So there can exist a brown-eyed community, a left-handed community, for that matter no doubt a male community, and a heterosexual one too – who’d have guessed?!

            However, in my experience the use of the word is mainly restricted to generalisations about minorities and is, therefore, best avoided – especially when referring to opinions which, as you yourself indicate, can’t possibly be held by everyone in that group.

          • Cal

            A stubborn rebuttal if ever I read one. Brown eyed persons are unlikely to have any shared experience to do with their eye colour. You are clutching at straws here.

          • Rehan

            And aren’t you, suddenly adding your own ‘shared experience’ to the dictionary definition you yourself submitted?

            I’m not sure why it upsets you so much that someone has a different opinion from yours – an example of ‘community spirit’ in action, perhaps.

          • Cal

            Not upset. Just disagreeing. As you said before, we must agree to disagree. There are contributors here who describe GLBT people in Russia and Uganda as “our brothers and sisters” even though we are clearly not related. Perhaps I understand your objection to the word community when misapplied but it is undeniable that many gay people (including myself) feel strongly that, despite geographical distances and cultural barriers, they are part of a community. In this context there is one.

          • Truth

            This is simply semantics. ‘Community’ is simply shorthand for ‘this is what a large number of people think’. Do you have a better collective noun to describe the predominant, majority view of a particular group of people …?

          • Rehan

            If one were to be more cautious, to say things like ‘the majority of gay people believe ..’, one would be forced to substantiate such claims. Instead, an easy, sloppy shorthand is to pigeonhole any minority and any glib generalisation with the word ‘community’ – it’s never used of a majority, you’ll note, no-one speaks of the Anglo-Saxon heterosexual male community. IMO it’s best avoided.

          • Jesus_Mohammed

            Are you a good team-player, Rehan? ;-)

          • Rehan

            Heh. So not – captain or nothing!

    • Duane Freeman

      Hmm so in other words you are trying to compare the two: you eating turnips to homosexuality. Well it is plain to see that maybe you need to do alittle homework on vomiting up the turnips because that is a sure sign of “BEING ALLERGIC TO THEM”! Which in other words pal is a defect and so all you did was stated in your comparison is homosexuality is also a DEFECT!

      • Jay4Joke

        Not every dislike that makes you vomit is an allergy.

    • SlightlyTwyst

      I understand this. right here. I personally made a choice to act heterosexual. I had all the right ‘crushes’ on the football players, even though it was the cheer squad I watched. I graduated, I married, I divorced, I married again, I bred.. a wonderful son.
      I did everything right, I did everything just like I was supposed to, to fix my problem, And I self harmed, and I attempted suicide because of crippling depression.
      I wanted so much to be ‘normal’ that I spent the first 13 years of my adult life trying and trying to squash myself into a mold that wouldn’t fit. It wasn’t until I left my second husband, and gave myself permission to simply be me, that My life stopped sucking.
      You can choose the way you act, but as far as feelings go, At least for me, and everyone I know in the lgbtqia community, it’s not a choice.

      • Pumpkin

        I’m so sorry to hear you had to go through so much to get to where you are. Thank you for saying exactly what I’ve been trying to say – “You can choose the way you act, but as far as feelings go […] it’s not a choice.”
        I don’t know you but I’m proud of you!

        • SlightlyTwyst

          You made me cry.
          I’m humbled by your comment

      • Truth

        So sad that society can so destroy someone simply for being who they are. “You can disguise the colour of your hair and eyes with dye and contact lenses. But you will always be the way you were born”.

        • Trans person

          “Yyou will always be the way you were born”

          Speak for yourself!

  • Magnus Hirschfeld

    From my own personal, introspective experience, and from my experience of the thousands of lesbian, gay and heterosexual people I’ve met over my lifetime, the evidence points overwhelmingly to one’s sexuality being a “given”. I didn’t at any time choose my gay sexual orientation, and I have never met a single gay, lesbian, bisexual or heterosexual person who told me they did. Quite the contrary.

    I don’t like Guinness. There is nothing wrong with it, and I know a lot of people love it. It is just not to my taste. There are plenty of alcoholic drinks I do like, but Guinness is not one of them. I could for some reason still choose to drink Guinness, in the same way that some naturally heterosexual people might choose to have gay sex or gay relationships for political reasons, e.g. as a protest against patriarchy and heteronormative values. But that would never make me into someone who has a natural preference for Guinness, any more than it would make the latter people gay or lesbian.

    One of the reasons why there is so much strong heterosexual support for the rights of gay and lesbian people in civilised countries like ours is because so many people understand that our sex lives and attempts to have intimate long-term relationships will never be fulfilled if our attempts to have sexual relationships with members of the same sex are obstructed, and that we will suffer if people are allowed to abuse us with impunity. There is also a general understanding of how difficult it can be for young people trying to come to terms with their sexuality, which of course is fiercely powerful during puberty, in an environment that prohibits and stigmatises homosexuality. If the belief that people choose their own sexuality – i.e. the objects of their sex drive – were anything other than profoundly counter-intuitive, such sympathy would vanish, along with the political solidarity LGBT people enjoy from the enlightened heterosexual population.

    Choosing to have sex with a member of the same sex does not make a person gay or lesbian, however they may wish to define themselves. The most important choice in this particular discussion is whether or not to look at the evidence with a modicum of basic common sense.

  • http://www.derekwilliams.net Derek Williams

    All the gay people I know said their lives would have been easier if there had been a choice, and they could just choose to like the opposite sex that easily.

    As a child, I was made to try food at least once, to see whether I liked it or not. My father and I share a biological repugnance for turnip, so I had his sympathy when I refused to eat it, and when I was made to try eating marrow as a kid, I vomited, so my parents accepted that I could not eat it. Marrow to this day, I detest.

    My father was therefore of the analogous view that I should “try it with a woman” to see “if I liked it”. It’s a long story, but the end result was that I badly hurt a woman who loved me, yet for whom I could not return romantic or sexual affection. The feelings were just not there, whereas I knew I was attracted to males before I even knew what sex was. Trying out different foods is one thing, risking pregnancy and damaging another human being is something quite else. It’s a dreadful misuse of a person to “try them out” to see if it will change your sexuality.

    For me and for all the gay people known to me, life would have been so much more straighforward if one could simply flick a switch to the popular option and choose to be a heterosexual, but this is how I am wired and I can’t change it. I’ll leave out the years of self hatred, near fatal suicide attempts, money wasted on psychiatry et al from this tale, but there is no way this was any kind of a choice for me. I was born this way.

    • Jones

      Thank you for that very insightful comment Derek, I’m glad you chose to stay as where would we be without your comments?

  • VP

    There are two issues here – a factual, scientific issue about the nature of human biology and a social, ethical issue about the consequences of arbitrary discrimination against minorities. These issues should in no way intersect – the ethics of discrimination do not depend on whether the chosen characteristic discriminated against is innate or voluntary. That simply doesn’t matter.

    But the truth does matter. The scientific evidence, the substantial accumulated weight of studies that demonstrate that sexuality is innate, the general consensus of biologists and psychologists and the almost complete lack of evidence for the contrary hypothesis does matter. It worries me when people frame the argument solely in terms of what is most effective for propaganda purposes – that’s not how we decide scientific questions!

    I do not believe that “the gay community” attacks those who say it is a choice out of some misguided belief that doing so will undermine attempts to campaign for integration. In the 1970s the gay community itself tended to prefer the “it’s a choice” argument, because that could be used to make straight people stop considering gay people as some kind of alien, mutant other and make them think about us as human beings just like them, It could be used to make them think “maybe i could choose to be gay… would I like it if people then discriminated against me?” Both positions can be made into cases for not discriminating.

    No, it seems to me that the hostility towards the people who push this line is the same hostility we have towards people who push religion in all its many noxious flavours – we don’t like people standing up in public and making blatantly unevidenced claims that they then expect the rest of us to respect and honour just because they made them. We don’t put up with climate change deniers or flat earthists or creationists spouting their tripe and expecting to be seen as legitimate voices of dissent, because we expect that a claim be supported by sufficient evidence to make it worth taking seriously. We feel, quite rightly, that those who ride roughtshod over this absolutely basic requirement of rational discourse are offending against the core principles of valid human understanding themselves.

    It is just not good enough to do what Bindel does – fly a flag of unevidenced dissent from the scientific consensus, and then witter on about the rhetorical and political manouvrings that can be woven around it. That’s not science, and it is only through science that we can settle this question. All else is obfuscation.

    • Magnus Hirschfeld

      A brilliant post. Bang on the money.

    • Bebe

      The scientific evidence, the substantial accumulated weight of studies that demonstrate that sexuality is innate, the general consensus of biologists and psychologists and the almost complete lack of evidence for the contrary hypothesis does matter.

      Could you please provide the evidence for this? The question is far less settled than you imply; although the mainstream academic paradigms in genetic and psychological research are in favour of the biological determinism you espouse, this has not translated into any kind of “smoking gun” evidence.

      • Raisinhead

        What would you consider smoking gun? A little switch with the word gay on it? The problem is such a smoking gun will not be found. In the same way that the smoking gun will never be found that ‘proves’ human-ness (for want of a better word).

        • Bebe

          “smoking gun” would be what VP describes as “the substantial accumulated weight of studies that demonstrate that sexuality is innate” – quite a claim! In your own comment, you undermine an apparent faith in science, saying “a smoking gun will not be found”, and equate sexuality with “human-ness” for this reason – you are quite right, but in doing so you have inadvertently hinted are the extent to which both sexuality and “human-ness” are predominantly influenced by society and culture.

          • raisinhead

            A smoking gun is normally a single incontrovertible fact or scenario, rather than an accumlulated weight. I was trying to convey to complexity of describing a biological organism that is a result of a particular set of genes and yet has the quality of being a complex human mind. Society and culture do not affect sexual attraction much, just as hunger and breathing and being conscious are only peripherally related to those things. Sexual identity and behaviour is a different matter.

          • Bebe

            Why did you ask what I meant by smoking gun if you didn’t really want to know? Again you hint at the complexity of the human mind, which is clearly far more than genes – and if not society and culture then what is it? Do you believe in souls popping out of the womb pre-formed? You make some spurious claims at the end of your comment here about society and culture not affecting sexual attraction much, and then equate sexual attraction with hunger and breathing – even the crudest biological determinists working in the sciences would not espouse such a ridiculous view.

          • EndlessRepetition

            Question: who are you to espouse any view? Please state by what authority you claim expertise on the subject. If you are not a gay individual with personal experiences to relay, nor a active, accredited researcher in the field of human sexuality, you’re talking out your a$$. Don’t think you’re fooling anyone.

          • Balance

            Bebe, you say society and culture do not affect sexual attraction much. I think they do. In previous centuries and today in the Middle East, plump women were considered sexy. Now in Britain they are not by most people. In previous centuries, most Greek and Roman men liked a bit of sex with boys. I don’t think that is true today.

            I think gayness is probably a very complex mix of genetic and social, far too complex for anyone to have worked it out!

            VPs otherwise excellent post was slightly ruined by taking the extreme position of assuming that science shows a clear genetic causation, when that is not the case.

          • Bebe

            I think you mean Raisinhead or VP were saying society and culture do not affect sexual attraction much. I was arguing in favour of socio-cultural explanations. I’m a social constructionist babes.

          • Balance

            … and as many have said, the majority of gay males would certainly disagree that they chose to be attracted to males. However even here I think a middle position is correct. We do make some choices to avoid or cultivate our impulses, depending on our beliefs or need to fit in with those around us.

    • TomSatsuma

      Excellent

    • Raisinhead

      I would add that it is only on the basis of science that we can then weave some kind of meta-narrative around the question…. “what are LBGT for’?

      If the answer was only that we are only there due to “our higher order of human individual potential for self-actualistion”, which is what the choice argument seems to reduce to, I think that would be profoundly banal.

      • EndlessRepetition

        The folks who are making the choice accusations against LGBTs generally aren’t using the word “self-actualization”.

    • Jesus_Mohammed

      Jowett’s post is largely “much ado about nothing”. And his concluding statement that “The ‘born this way’ argument cannot dodge the question of morality” is pointless, for the ‘born this way’ argument does not even try to “dodge the question of morality”!

      A small proportion of heterosexuals choose to live a homosexual lifestyle, usually out of dissatisfaction with the heterosexual relationships they have experienced, or simply to be rebellious, or to be adventurous. But for the vast majority of us our sexuality is simply NOT a behavioural choice. It is who we are, through and through.

      It’s ridiculous of Jowett, and anyone else, to criticise us for speaking this truth of our existence.

      We must continue to vociferously attack those heterosexual bigots who insist that our homosexuality is a behavioural choice and that all of us could choose otherwise, even if they don’t demand that we SHOULD choose otherwise.

      Get back inside your ivory tower, Mr. Jowett. Write papers full of masturbatory gobbledegook, but don’t come peddling your pseudo-intellectual nonsense here, thank you.

      • Truth

        The ONLY way in which someone supposedly ‘straight’ can claim being gay is a ‘choice’ is if they themselves have made a choice to deny their true sexuality and to live as a heterosexual. How ELSE can they assert that it is a ‘choice’ unless they have experienced making a ‘choice’? Next time anyone says, ‘it’s a choice’, ask them how they can possibly KNOW that for certain. They may not be able to answer without giving away their TRUE sexuality!

        • Psychologist

          Indeed Truth !!!!

        • Jesus_Mohammed

          Truth, don’t you agree that it must be so hurtful for elderly and highly experienced homosexual men and women to have gone through the wars for decades, to have fought so hard for liberation and equality, to have given so much to our cause, and then to find that a young upstart who has barely started shaving makes utterly preposterous statements about their sexuality!

    • Cal

      @VP But with regard to your 2nd paragraph, How do you know that people’s beliefs in their own nature is to aid propaganda??? It makes no sense at all, seeing what young Gay men go through, that it is a choice of any kind. It may be the case that many Lesbians choose but not so for any Gay man I have ever heard of. Bindel says “sexism and racism continue to exist”. Well, that is, sadly, in the nature of human beings but the difference is, racists simply don’t like people of another colour just as some males might feel superior to – or resentful of – females but they have no faux medical reason for this therefore they have less power to discriminate. No one is disputing the woman’s or the person of colour’s right to exist!!!
      The question is, at what age do those Lesbians who claim they chose it generally make that choice? It would seem to me it is often in adulthood. Gay men tend to know from a very early age that they are different and few wholly embrace homosexuality until maturity. Most wish to escape from it in teens and early 20s.
      Bindel’s argument is aggressive and foolish, giving most valuable ammunition to those who CHOOSE to believe we are being deliberately perverse.

  • Rich

    It’s devastating how this conversation always has people saying how awfully society has treated them for their sexuality and how much they wish they could choose to change it.

    But – the point of the article is that while “my sexuality can’t be changed” was a helpful argument, and an interesting aside for scientists to pick at, it’s not as helpful as an argument that we shouldn’t be discriminated against, tortured or disadvantaged for our sexuality.

    Whether or not there’s a choice element isn’t as important to recognise as the fact that homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, racism, sexism etc should be challenged & stopped, and the people it negatively impacts should be supported.

    • TomSatsuma

      This is true – but half of acceptance is understanding, and making up some illogical, unworkable argument because it makes you seem more edgy and in the process denying the lived experience of so many gay people, is NOT helpful.

  • Andy Millan

    Where does he get the “there is no scientific proof that homosexuality is innate” crap, there are numerous scientific studies that say just that, that human sexuality is fixed by around six years old. The only choice i ever had was whether to act on my same sex feelings or not.

    • Slater

      I agree sexuality, in males particularly, is fixed very early but if at six years it is no evidence of it being innate, rather the opposite.

      • Rumbelow

        There is no consensus on when sexuality becomes fixed, it is thought to be very early in infancy and from my own experience I would imagine well before the age of six.

        • Jesus_Mohammed

          When I was very young and very troubled over the fact that I perceived that I was a homosexual I presented myself to a psychiatrist. He told me that he would see me over a course of sessions with the specific aim of working out if my homosexuality was fixed or not. (Actually he very quickly worked out that it was! And then he magnificently helped me over the course of many months to accept it, embrace it, and eventually rejoice in it!)

          • Psychologist

            That’s great ! Thankfully you didn’t go to some homophobic Christian therapist, or you would have ended up very screwed up, trying to suppress it, by trying to become straight.

        • Psychologist

          I’ve studied intensely almost al the research on this over the last 15 years. Most of it concludes our sexual orientation is fixed at or around our birth, or very early years at latest (as our brains develop). There is NO WAY at this time, that it can be pin pointed any more accurately than that. But all “proper” research agrees it is innate, (and develops that way in early childhood) thus not a choice, nor is it changeable.

        • Andy Millan

          I said around the age of six, certainly by the time the child reaches six sexuality is already fixed and in some cases there is an awareness of same sex attraction. While there is no consensus on when the orientation develops it is not until this age that an awareness of it can be observed.

      • Andy Millan

        Sorry to disagree with you, but psychologically speaking it is around that age on average, certainly not in every case but in a significant majority of the cases it is.

  • Catherine Wilson

    Surely if people feel they chose to be gay/lesbian they are in fact Bisexual? so like both sex, there in lies the choice? I do think you are born to be gay/straight or bi and there is nothing wrong with that. Why do people think there is, wish they would just leave us alone and get on with their own lives. seriously who cares!!!

  • Alexander Kelso Shiels

    Some people can and others cant, its as simple as that! Now lets stop going on about this and steer our outrage at the people who denounce us at every turn they can.

  • Liam

    It’s just a matter of logic to me, why on earth would people in Uganda, Zimbabwe, Jamacia, Russia, Iran etc… just decide one day to put their lives at risk, to risk being tortured to death, to risk being alienated by everyone they know? Just to be contrary? Really?

    • TomSatsuma

      Not just Uganda – anyone who’s ever been in the closet should be offended by the suggestion that they chose it. Not that it’s not great being gay – but the idea that it’s a choice denies the profound experiences of the vast majority of actual gay people.

  • David Greensmith

    This example is a good illustration of why the “nature versus nurture” theories of sexual orientation are interesting from a scientific view of human sexual behaviour, but irrelevant and a dangerous distraction when it comes to “justification” of human behaviour. If there is an argument that being gay is a choice, the problem is not whether it a choice, but perception that this choice is somehow wrong and therefore homophobia is justified.
    We live in a society in which freedom is valued. Freedom of thought and freedom of choice are fundamental freedoms. If people are free to choose which religion they embrace or which political party to support, then there is no reason why other choices – such as which gender they “choose” to be attracted to – should not be given the same freedom. Focusing purely on a biological “cause” and using that a justification is also a dangerous path. What if there is a genetic disposition for violence or paedophilia? Should we allow violent people and paedophiles to act on those biological impulses because they “can’t help it, it’s in their genes”? No, of course not. The only relevant question is “does this person’s behaviour harm anyone?” Whether the answer is “no” or “yes”, choice or biological imperative are irrelevant. If homosexuality is a choice, does it harm anyone? No. If homophobia is genetic, does it harm anyone? Yes. I don’t need to be defined as a victim of my genes, a victim of my upbringing, or a victim of a poor choice. I just need to be allowed to live my one life in a way that makes me feel fulfilled. That’s it.

  • Camomile

    This seems to be a problem of identifying what is an innate biological response (attraction to the same-sex, ‘homosexuality’) and choosing to live a life that is accepting and reflects that response (being gay/a lesbian). We should remember that for centuries in the Christian West there was no “gay” because the force of religion oppressed any such identity or attraction – although obviously there were people who were homosexual because there were sodomy laws that were acted upon. But there’s a difference between being attracted to someone of your own sex and living your life as gay. There are still men and women in opposite-sex marriages who suppress their own desires. They may live their entire lives in these marriages and they would never say they were gay. We do make a choice to be gay when we choose not to suppress the way we feel because of society/religion/the law. Otherwise being closeted, in the closet, would be meaningless words. We have to say more than we were “born this way”, we have to fight for our right to live our lives according to what we feel – to make that choice rather than choose to suppress ourselves.

  • JonParker

    It is not a choice, or at least for the majority it is not a choice, and the danger of letting people think that it is a choice is when people try to “help” us choose to be straight. All the gay cure abuse is founded upon people’s belief that being gay is a choice.

  • http://davepage.valueofnothing.org.uk/ Dave Page

    This article makes a sensible academic point, but ignores the fact that Bindel is only saying what she said to promote her biphobic, transphobic, outdated “radical feminist” agenda. Her remarks need to be taken in that context.

    • TomSatsuma

      Exactly – she’s never logically explained what she means or how it even works.

      Until she does it’s fair to ignore her and focus on every other gay person I’ve ever met whose experiences say it’s innate.

  • F

    I’m gay, that’s how I identify, but I don’t think I was born gay because I don’t remember ever finding anyone attractive until I was about 14/15. I think you can be born gay and you can choose to be gay, neither of those arguments can be used to say homesexuality doesn’t exist or is wrong in anyway. Neither of them fit my experience. I also don’t think sexual orientation is a constant thing, it changes and evolves in each person. It’s not right that as a society we don’t recognise that the boxes (gay/straight/bi/pan etc) are a construct. The feelings are real but the names we use to describe them are words just like anyother word.

    The way we identify should never be used against us, but it is. And that is what we should be fighting, not peoples personal experiences with sexuality.

    • http://hunteratrandom.blogspot.com/ rmthunter

      There’s a lot of variability in human development — I knew I liked boys by age 5 — I remember being particularly drawn to this very pretty red-haired boy at about that age, in, of all places, a summer Bible class. And it wasn’t just a vague liking — I was captivated by his hair, by his skin, by his green eyes: there was a lot of physical attraction at work. (Not that I was prepared to act on it at that point.)

      Otherwise, you make a good point: human sexuality is not an either/or proposition. Like the rest of the universe, it’s a range of grays, and in some cases (I’d be very reluctant to say “all”) it can change.

      I think Alfred Kinsey had the best conceptualization of sexual orientation: if behavior is a reflection of orientation, then it truly is a range, from exclusively heterosexual on one end to exclusively homosexual on the other. There are a lot of in-betweens.

    • MarkN

      “I don’t think I was born gay because I don’t remember ever finding anyone attractive until I was about 14/15″……I don’t think that when we refer to sexuality as innate or present at birth we expect new-born babes to be sexual beings, or even children – even though many are. If you wanted to be pedantic you might want to say that you were born ‘asexual’, though it should be born in mind that certain physical features – height, body hair, musculature, genital size etc. – only emerge as we develop and mature, as do psychological/emotional features such as sexual desire and sexual orientation. Do you remember choosing who you were sexually attracted to, or did it just happen? In the latter case, most people would say that your sexuality was innate; I find it hard to understand people who claim the former – sexual attraction just happens and can’t just be switched on, for most people at any rate….

      • Rumbelow

        Is saying innate really any different to saying born that way?

        • MarkN

          Not as I understand it…

      • Balance

        MarkN and F, I think you are both forgetting the third possible source of sexuality. Socialisation. But not in a linear way like a boy touched me and I started to go gay”. But very subtle things we don’t understand like “I started to view boys as people I wanted to get more emotional with even though I couldn’t express it to them at the time” or “I saw blonds as desirable, then I met a tall blond Scandinavian man and started to view him as desirable. Then I started seeing all tall men as desirable even if not blond”

      • Psychologist

        We are ALL born with the sexual orientation we have for life !
        We just are not mentally developed enough until we arrive through our teens, where those feelings become developed and thus consciously KNOWN to us. The actual process which LEADS to that development in our teens, already takes place at/around our birth. it is therefore innate, and not changeable, nor is it a choice.

  • http://hunteratrandom.blogspot.com/ rmthunter

    This is sort of a “kitchen sink” piece — there’s a lot of stuff all mashed together here, but this paragraph stuck out:

    “The “born this way” argument cannot dodge the question of morality;
    science can never replace the need for thorough and tight moral
    argument. Either same-sex relationships are of equal moral value to
    heterosexual relationships or they are not.”

    This seems to assume there’s some sort of universal morality, which is the foundation of the “religious” right’s arguments against homosexuality,and which, of course, simply doesn’t bear examination. I can’t figure out what a “thorough and tight moral argument” might be, aside from the simple assertion that, indeed, same-sex relationships are of equal moral value, unless it’s calling attention to the “breeding stock” concept of humanity that the so-called “moral” arguments against rest on. I find the idea that human beings are no more than domestic animals, put here to make more domestic animals, all to the greater glory of God, repellent. I’m worth a lot more than that, and perfectly capable of making my own moral choices, which rest on something more than mere sex acts.

    And quite frankly, as long as I don’t harm others, my moral choices — which are not about who I sleep with, but are about how I treat him — are my business, thank you very much.

  • Psychologist

    There is much research out there over the last 10 – 15 years, which concludes our sexual orientation is fixed at/around our birth, and thus IS innate in us. To even consider that it is some sort of choice is incorrect. The ONLY choice which could possibly exist, is to either embrace, accept and act on those real feelings and desires, or ignore, suppress and deny them (do that at your peril !) I’ve studied most of this research over the last 15 years.
    Who would CHOOSE to be gay ? To be treated as unequal, victim of constant stream of homophobia from religions etc etc …. !

    • Truth

      Cal made an interesting and thought-provoking point earlier. Goths are on the receiving end of all the bad things you have just mentioned. So, is ‘Gothness’ nature or nurture …..or something else entirely? I mean why would anyone ‘choose’ to be a Goth when they get such similarly-adverse reaction to being gay …?

      • Psychologist

        Yes Truth – this is an interesting theory.
        However, there are many differences between the reasons someone would be gay, and the reasons someone would choose to be a Goth.
        Our sexual orientation is innate, we therefore have no choice in it (other than perhaps to deny those feelings/desires). However, belonging to ANY identified group (or cult) IS a consciously made choice. (So NURTURE not nature). The reason people often chose to become part of ANY identified club/group/cult can vary from individual to individual, but the main reason is to feel a sense of “belonging”, which is usually as a result of the LACK of feeling of belonging in normal life, WITHOUT the identity which that club/group/cult provides them with. ie it is to provide a substitute for that which they feel is missing in their lives without it. This is how religion acquires it’s followers, it provides people with the “something” which is “missing” in their lives. (it isn’t actually missing at all, it’s always inside all of us, and by adopting the false “external placebo”, such as religion, we give up looking for it WITHIN ourselves).
        So, it really becomes a question of priorities – the need to belong to an identified group (in this case Goth) even with some of the associated negative stereotype attitudes. In fact, it may well be that …. the “non-conformist” (anti-establishment) image which Goth image is sometimes associated with, could well be one of its attractions to young people who feel rebellious, so it provides a need to join an identified “anti-conformist” group. In doing so, accept that it also brings with it some negativity from a minority of “Goth-haters”. (Goth-haters, are largely based on not accepting “difference”, or indeed a “legitimate way” (though it’s NOT of course) of someone finding an excuse to vent their own suppressed anger outwardly onto someone else. (ie, the Goth becomes someone’s “punch bag”- metaphorically, or physically, in order to rid themselves of internal anger and conflict.
        However, this is VERY different from having a gay sexual orientation. There is NO element of rebellion involved in being gay, the drive behind it is simply based on an emotional and/or sexual attraction to same-sex. Unlike CHOOSING to be a Goth, there is NO choice to be made in being gay. The negative homophobia from some in society is far more about fear of their OWN suppressed homosexuality, than anything else.
        In summary, although it clearly is NOT true to suggest that choosing to be Goth is inviting violence against them, they DO CHOOSE however, to have an “image” which invites comments of “looking different” . Being gay has nothing to do with inviting anything, it is merely an attraction to same-sex.
        Gay pride is merely the anti-dote to years of oppression of gay people, and a necessary psychological process of turning “inner self-loathing” from internalising society’s homophobia …. into a POSITIVE feeling of inner self-worth, (self-esteem) which is displayed as PRIDE !

  • JeffGallazzi

    No – it’s offensive to trivialise it as ‘a choice’ much the same way that saying someone who is black is that colour ‘through choice’.

    So you little runt – grow up or go away, because people like you help legitimise homophobia – full stop.

  • CHBrighton

    As I remember it, Julie Bindel’s assertion was that she freely decided to be a lesbian so therefore all other gay people also decided to be gay. All gay men I know, myself included, made no conscious decision to be gay. It is just how we are and it is necessary that the world understands that.

    • Rumbelow

      I guess Julie Bindel then is a straight woman pretending to be a lesbian because it suits her political agenda, that is not the way it is for the rest of us.

      My main objection to Julie Bindel is that what she writes is incoherent un-joined-up nonsense and for this reason she deserves to be ruthlessly ignored.

      • Gia

        OR, she’s bisexual with heavy leaning toward preference to women, so there is some internal understanding of choice for her. Just because it is that way for her doesn’t mean it’s that way for others, true, but just because it isn’t that way for others, doesn’t mean it can’t be for her and very likely many others like her. It’s not black and white, gay and straight. there’s a whole spectrum in between people seem to forget about, and, actually, quite often dismiss!

        • GulliverUK

          She’s a bisexual who came to hate men, is now an extremist feminist – there’s a little cabal of them at the Guardian (although it had to be pointed out to me, because I’m so naive I didn’t see it).

          If must be nice when you do actually have a choice and when one gender pisses you off, you can sling your leg over the other one. Very odd behavior to defend Bindel by the author. Even stranger if you think you’re going to tell 90% of the LGBT community they are actually wrong about Bindel. The simple fact is she has some very strange ideas, lacks intellectual prowess, can’t back up her bizarre theories with any logical analysis or evidence or develop and explain the theory. It amazes me every day that there are people who give the resulting opinion but can’t explain how they got to that conclusion. It’s like being on Countdown, saying you got the number, then saying you can’t or won’t explain how you arrived at the answer mathematically. If someone says something I want the proof, I want to see evidence, I want to see all the parts logically drawn in to a cohesive argument which anyone can follow to arrive at the conclusion they are claiming.

  • Jones

    As they are wrong, I have every right to do so. The other option is to stay silent and then I shall have all my rights taken away from me. Having come so far, I’m not willing to ever do that.

  • Keith Carlton

    What the article seems to blur is the concept of a distinction between sexual orientation (which I would not consider a choice) and whether or not to live life with an identity which is congruent to that orientation. The extent to which the latter is a ‘choice’ is going to depend on the societal pressures being placed on the individual in question. But sexual orientation is not a choice.

    • Rumbelow

      Sexual orientation is not a choice, sexual attraction is not a choice, only a huckster or a fool or someone under duress would choose to act in a way sexually that they are not naturally inclined toward or to pursue someone they were not genuinely sexually and romantically attracted to.

  • http://twrl.github.com/ Tom Robbins

    The question of where different sexualities come from is largely irrelevant, or ought to be, because science doesn’t answer ethical questions. Science may inform ethics, telling us what is less harmful or more beneficial, but it can’t make the rules. However, as long as people go around using arguments like “it’s unnatural”, “it’s a misguided choice” and so on to undermine, in some cases, LGBT peoples’ very right to exist then insisting that sexuality is innate will be affirming to many.

  • CHBrighton

    I have just spent 15 minutes scouring many internet pages about Dr Adam Jowett, including his University of Coventry biography. I have not come across any mention of Dr Jowett’s own sexuality. As a researcher in Equalities issues myself I find this omission unethical. Is Dr Jowett a straight man researching and writing about us and using us to advance his own career? Or is he a gay man researching and writing about us from an ‘insider’ perspective in order to promote constructive change?

    • http://twrl.github.com/ Tom Robbins

      Does it matter?

      • CHBrighton

        In terms of research validity and the credibility of a researcher, yes it certainly does.

        • http://twrl.github.com/ Tom Robbins

          I don’t see how he becomes more or less credible by his sexual orientation. That has nothing to do with his professional competence.

          • CHBrighton

            With regards to credibility, investigators of social phenomena attempt to demonstrate that a true picture of the phenomenon under scrutiny is being presented. To allow transferability, they need to provide sufficient detail of the context of the fieldwork for a reader to be able to decide whether the prevailing environment is similar to another situation with which he or she is familiar and whether the findings can justifiably be applied to the other settings. The life experience of the researcher is an important factor in research of this type.
            Researchers should at least strive to enable a future investigator to repeat the study. And to achieve
            confirmability, researchers must take steps to demonstrate that findings emerge from the data and not their
            own predispositions, hence the need for a researcher to declare their interests.

          • http://twrl.github.com/ Tom Robbins

            Shenton, Andrew K. Strategies for ensuring trustworthiness in qualitative research projects.

            Well, except for that last phrase which you added, but the rest is paraphrased from the abstract. I happen to have referenced it myself recently.

            Shenton does not go on to instruct us that investigators must disclose details of their private lives in some misguided attempt to eliminate bias. We eliminate bias through our choice of method, not our choice of investigator. That’s the whole bloody point.

          • CHBrighton

            Oh dear. I took the passage from my own PhD thesis without looking at the original reference. The issue is not about Shenton, but about research validity and credibility of the researcher or commentator. I am only saying that whereas, for example, Disability researchers, or researchers looking at other social phenomena declare their own interests within their research, Adam Jowett, as far as I can tell, does not. In the comment piece he has written for Pink News he posits a controversial position and in that context I believe it contributes to our understanding to know whether he is a gay man or not.

          • http://twrl.github.com/ Tom Robbins

            They declare their interests in the sense of financial interests, affiliations, and so forth. It is not expected nor appropriate for researchers to discuss their personal lives in their research.

            I think you might need some remedial research ethics if you’re judging papers based on how you personally feel about the author.

          • CHBrighton

            You are simply not understanding the issue. And I don’t appreciate your insult.

          • http://www.bloketoys.co.uk/ BlokeToys.co.uk

            I think it’s entirely right to investigate the bias of someone reportedly presenting academic papers relating to how others should be perceived and treated. It’s ENTIRELY relevant to this discussion whether those presenting this “information” are religiously biased and therefore potentially producing propaganda rather than genuine academic perspectives.

            If this were about racial or religious aspects of others lives, for instance an academic paper on how “Jewish people are genetically inferior” we would be right to investigate whether the author were a Fascist.

          • Psychologist

            EXACTLY !!!!

          • PaulBrownsey

            Whether the data support the findings can be established independently of knowing the sexuality of the researcher.

            If the data don’t support the findings and one is interested in speculating why the researcher thought they did, *then* it might be relevant to ask about his sexuality. But while that may be relevant to counselling the researcher about being too quick to jump to conclusion,s it does not have any bearing on the question of whether the data support the findings.

            Are you suggesting that “These data DO support the conclusions because the researcher was straight” or “This research can be applied to other settings because the researcher wasn’t gay” makes research sense?

          • CHBrighton

            In research of this nature, the readership needs as much information as possible to weigh for themselves the possibilities of bias. Here, the author is making pretty inflammatory statements about gay people and the notion of sexuality being a choice or not. In disability research and many other forms of social science research on issues such as race or gender, it has been good practice for some time for researchers to declare their personal interest in their subject matter. Mike Oliver, former Professor of Disability Studies at the University of Greenwich was an early proponent of this reflexive stance in qualitative research – which type I take the research at the focus of the present article to have been.

        • GulliverUK

          He’s published plenty at; https://coventry.academia.edu/AdamJowett

          My own opinion is that his own background, or those of close friends, might include some religious leanings, hence his peculiar, to me, use of the word “moral”, where the sentence at the end would have happily worked without it – perhaps been much better without it. It’s not a problem as such, but then you have to define what you mean by the word “moral”, and who gets to define what is and isn’t.

    • Balance

      From his article here:

      “We don’t need proof that we were “born this way” to challenge religiously motivated attempts to “cure” homosexuality.”

      So I think he’s saying he’s gay/bi, tho “we” could mean “we intelligent people” or something.

  • GulliverUK

    There is no doubt to the rational thinking logical mind that sexual orientation is innate and biologically-based. Animals don’t have the devil’s rock and roll, or Pop music, or whatever other insane thing religious nitwits think is responsible / the cause, and 1500 non-human species have been observed in same-sex activities. All the credible medical institutions and associations recognise that now.

    Apart from few random cases like Bindel and Dixon, virtually every gay person I’ve ever met or read about knew they were different from an early age. People are gay transgender right across the planet, every place, every culture, with signs there from early childhood in many cases, even in places where being gay or transgender will result in severe prejudice against you, even cost you your life. Why would anyone subject themselves to prejudice and the possibility of prison or death if it was a simple matter of choice?

    It does, in fact, matter that the myth of choice should be shut down entirely, because religions are using this, and have used this, to imply our sexual behavior is broken, flawed, faulty, abnormal, and used this idea to get laws enacted against us by lobbying simple-minded often bigoted legislators, across the planet. If legislators and others had stopped to think for a moment, about scientific evidence, logically, and known more gay people, much of this legislation might never have got through. Pushing the idea of brokenness and thus cures enabled them to hoodwink generations of people who didn’t know better, and didn’t stop to think whether these ideas were right. They wrapped up their rhetoric in pseudo-science and managed to sell it. This must not ever happen again. In the US they had DOMA for 20 years before legislators finally admitted it to be unconstitutional. So it was always unconstitutional, always wrong, put there by myths like the preposterous theory that being gay is simply a matter of choice. The myth that gay couples could be good parents – yet another myth they try to perpetuate.

    They were the ones who insisted it must be some mental illness, rebellion, they implied any number of things caused it, rock and roll, absent father / overbearing mother, soya beans. By marginalising us, smearing us with allegations of improper behavior and conduct – that is the abusers path to further abuse – to de-humanise us, as they did in the past, to say we are … not fully human. And once they say you are going against God’s wishes and that God does indeed hate you, it’s makes it ok for others to hate you. It is incitement to hatred pure and simple. It is what they did to women, blacks, Jews, and anyone else they disliked and wanted to control.

    Ultimately there is enough scientific empirical evidence disproving the “choice” theory and to religate it to the same closet religious nuts keep their flat-earth, earth is only 4000 years old, and “black-slavery-is-ok” posters in. We have to remember all reparative therapy is religious-based, it has caused suicides and serious harm to many thousands of individuals, with some parents forcing their children in to Christian reparative therapy boot camps, with absolutely shocking torture going on, along with the lobotomies and other heinous crimes committed. It is only right-wing religious groups, almost all Christian-based, who go around desperately trying to get traction for this idea of choice. We have proof from the horses mouth (Exodus et al) that there is nothing to be cured, and that their cure theories don’t work, and are harmful.
    Religious belief is chosen, your sexual orientation is not.

    • Rumbelow

      “The myth that gay couples could be good parents”
      You didn’t mean to write that Gulliver, I think you missed out a word by mistake.

      • GulliverUK

        Quite. Correct.

  • Bebe

    There are two separate issues here that have become conflated. One is the traditional nature/nurture debate, which rages on, and is a long way from being settled.

    The other, is the fact that most people who are gay do not experience their sexuality as a choice, and so this sort of language is problematic and elicits the kind of responses seen here. Whilst a small number of people – usually feminist lesbians – may call their sexuality a positive choice, most gay and lesbian people would not. This does not mean that their sexuality is not the result of environmental influences – be in the early years, or later in life. The effects of nurture can be felt as profoundly as any gene; my own gayness feels as set in stone as my hair colour. This does not mean that – like my hair colour – it is down to genes.

  • TomSatsuma

    The reason I feel so strongly about it are:
    a) It doesn’t fit with my experience or the experience of anyone I’ve ever met, I’m fine if it fits someone else’s experience but don’t speak for me.
    b) It doesn’t even work logically… Bindel still hasn’t explained this. Did she like men before but then concentrated really really hard until she also liked women, then concentrated harder until she didn’t like men anymore? Did she start out bisexual but just chose not to be with men?

    I don’t think we should shout people down on the basis that their experience doesn’t match ours – or that it would promote prejudice – if it’s truly their experience then we should listen… but I’ve no problem shouting down people who don’t make any sense.

    • TomSatsuma

      In short – I’m all ears to other people’s experiences if they want to share, and explain them, even if they differ from mine… but we’ve already spent too long on Bindel’s ill thought out and unclear stance, which just happens to show how awesome she is as a ‘political lesbian’.

      I’m open to being corrected if she’s willing to explain – but at the moment it seems she’s more of a lesbian who’s used the fact to be political.

  • James

    Do we really attack “anyone who dares suggest sexuality is a choice”, or just Julie Bindel? If she wants a more positive reaction to her writings, maybe she could disavow all the awful transphobic and biphobic things she has said over the years.

    • TomSatsuma

      Well exactly. If someone is willing to explain what they mean by ‘choice’ and take me through their lived experience then I’m all ears.

      Bindel’s stance doesn’t even make sense and she’s been suspiciously unwilling to explain further.

      I don’t have a problem with sexual orientation as a choice, I have a problem with bullsh1t as a choice.

    • David Greensmith

      Spot on. Hostility towards Bindel is not because she is a woman, not because she is a lesbian, not because she claims that she “chose” to be gay, hostility towards her is generated by her disgusting transphobic writing.

  • MarkN

    The author fails to mention the chief reason why this issue tends to inflame passions amongst the LGBT community: the claim of ‘choice’ made by religious bigots is reserved not for ‘sexuality’, but for ‘homosexuality’ alone, which is classed as some form of ‘sin’ along the lines of murder or paedophilia, with heterosexuality being considered as ‘innate’ and ‘natural’. When such bigots are asked when they chose to be straight ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJtjqLUHYoY) they tend to be equally certain they never made such a choice, and if it were to be insisted that they had, one imagines that they too would be pretty angry and likely to attack – verbally or otherwise – whomever so insisted…He also fails to define sexual orientation, as does Bindel: unsurprising, as that’s not as easy as it might seem….

  • Chris in LA

    Bisexual people have a choice. Innately gay people can choose not to live as nature intended them to live by attempting heterosexuality or living a celibate life, neither of which will lead to happiness. And why should anyone be expected to choose a life of misery? There may be some tough, heterosexual individuals out there who do in fact choose to be gay for whatever reason, though it is very hard for me to understand why they would do so.

    I do accept that choice plays a part in a percentage of instances. But this is a topic that we will be able to discuss rationally and dispassionately ONLY when the religious right, bigots, and ignoramuses stop using the concept of “choice” to condemn homosexuality as sin, perversion, or whatever term of abuse they choose. Until that day dawns, the vast majority of LGBTQ people are going to remain hostile to any suggestion of “choice” — and rightly so.

  • AJayne

    All of this misses two important points.

    One is that, if people don’t like someone they know being gay, as long as they see “gay” as a choice, they feel justified to try to force that person to be “not gay.” We have seen clearly the psychological damage inflicted upon gay people by such efforts.

    The second is the wording of SCOTUS decisions regarding equal rights and SCOTUS guidelines regarding heightened scrutiny. If our courts regard being gay as a choice, then equal rights need not be extended to protect that choice. If our courts recognize that being gay is innate, then equal rights must be extended to those who are “born that way.”

    Both of those issues are why the “choice” argument was brought into play by those trying to oppress gay people and deny them equal rights in this country and around the world.

    • GulliverUK

      well put. But courts will now have to use the science available, which is sufficient to disprove the choice myth. Religious beliefs will no longer hold the upper hand. On the other hand they have re-doubled their efforts with Mark Regnerus Same Sex Parents studies and similar.

      Although highly flawed and discredited as it is, some backward-thinking judge could take this junk-science at face value and make the wrong decision, using this to justify that. They have shown they have deep pockets and a determination to slander the entire LGBT community. They don’t care how they win, just that they do. No ethics you see.

  • JackAlison

    The paradigm that this arguement comes from is that normalcy is this and deviancy is that .
    the need to prove clearly shows that ppl. are trying to say “oh its not their fault” and to finish the sentence that they are NOT normal.
    STOP PROVING
    STOP THE SCIENCE and quackery
    JUST ACCEPT it as an IS.

  • http://fxfp.com/ Alex F.

    My opinion is that people who suggest they chose to be gay / lesbian are technically not gay / lesbian – they are bisexuals who indeed chose to exercise the homosexual side of their sexuality (or to be more precise they probably fell in love with someone of the same sex, not having actively chosen that), yet they understand that they are still capable of heterosexual relations.

    This is not the case for fully gay / lesbian people – myself included. I was born and raised in extremely homophobic country where I didn’t knew anything about homosexuality until I was 16, and I didn’t leave until 22 – yet there was never a choice for me, I always knew I’m not attracted to women and am attracted to men.

    I think this is the case where formal definitions are important and perhaps people making the ‘choice’ statements should be informed that they are not speaking for G or L in GLBT, but for B in that contortion.

    • Rumbelow

      Hi Alex!

  • GulliverUK

    Bindel and Dixon may have the capability of choice – it’s called being bisexual, most of us seem to swing predominantly one way or another. Bisexuality cannot be used to bolster the “choice” myth because the vast majority of people can’t choose their magical and largely unquantifiable sexual and romantic attractions – they are innate, you just know who you are attracted to, but not necessarily why. My blue eyes are a part of my biological make-up, just like my left-handedness and sexuality.

    Many churches (particularly Catholic) still state that left-handedness is the work of the devil. Now we know handedness develops in the womb, we can see the evidence in ultrasounds, and more gay men are left-handed than in the heterosexual population. What sort of idiot would discriminate against someone because they were left-handed? Do we need a law to protect left-handed people from religious groups?

  • to_tell_the_truth

    Either one is or one is not attracted to other people of the same gender. There’s nothing on earth I know of that could ‘convince’ people to ‘choose’ to be attracted to those to whom they simply are NOT attracted.
    If one is attracted to people of both genders, then one is bisexual. That is the ONLY ‘choice’ involved here. And, if a bisexual person ‘chooses’ one over the other, that does NOT mean that they are not (or no longer) attracted to the other gender. All they’ve ‘chosen’ is WHICH PARTNER to be with.

    • GulliverUK

      succinctly put. I suppose I shouldn’t but I will throw a little bit of mud in to the cake, to make it more complex.

      As regards attractiveness I find numerous women attractive, that is, pleasing to the eye, and no doubt somewhere in the brain there is a pathway marked “society says this look is attractive”, but I don’t feel sexually and romantically attracted to them. I think Jeri Ryan is physically attractive, but I’m not attracted to her in a sexual or romantic way. Janeway is attractive but it is her empathy and leadership which I admire. And although heterosexual, sadly :(, Eric Olson I find incredibly sexually / physically attractive, and I can imagine, if he were gay, that I would find him romantically attractive, for sure!

      So it’s a complex thing, which we don’t properly understand, but we do know we shouldn’t listen to backward-thinking religiously driven extremist right-wing fringe Christian views. They thought the world was flat, that women weren’t fully human, that blacks weren’t fully human, that Jews were vermin, that the Earth was the center of the universe, that disease was caused by demons, that slavery was ok. They’ve got most things wrong, that’s a poor track record.

  • Frank Boulton

    Dr. Jowett writes, ‘She received a vitriolic response from the gay community on social media, with comments calling her “stupid”, “confused”, and “an awful human being”.’ I would be interested to know just how many people this “gay community”, which made the vitriolic attack consists of. A few months ago PN claimed that the gay community had engaged in a similar vitriolic attack on comedian Alan Carr. The attack consisted of two letters to a newspaper criticizing camp comedians, as if the entire community of gay men in the UK consisted of only three people. So, just how many members of the gay community were involved in making this “vitriolic response”?

    • David Greensmith

      Criticism of Bindel from the “gay community” – or anyone else for that matter – probably has more to do with her transphobic writing than her incomplete grasp of scientific research.

      • Frank Boulton

        My point is that the vitriolic response, which she received, is from individuals, who may well be part of the gay community. The response was not from the gay community and it is an exaggeration to try to imply that we are all responsible as a group for comments made by a group of individuals.

  • Taurman

    Well said VP. I think an aggressive response to any argument puts one firmly in the losing camp. People will make up their minds based on the logic of the thesis and the type of aggression we have been seeing emanating from the extreme end of the spectrum of the gay vocalists is counter productive. Before I draw fire, I say this as a gay man.

  • Michael

    Would it help to be a little less sophisticated in this discussion? Perhaps ask the scientists and psychologists to leave the room?
    When I was a kid and had never heard of homosexuality, I noticed that an attractive boy, especially a naked one, could induce in me what we then called a “stiffy”. A girl, especially a naked one, would do the opposite. It was an observation that eventually led to my working out that I was gay.
    I did not choose to have an erection, indeed there were embarrassing occasions on which I tried to wish the inconvenient thing away with no success. I want someone to explain to me convincingly where “choice” was involved in all this but I’m not holding my breath.

    • Raisinhead

      A good way to take it back to every day language.

      :-)

  • Daniel

    And this old cabbage keeps rolling around. It is significant how people keep trying to suggest that anything other than heterosexuality is a “choice”. I’m sure people chose to have to spend a life fighting for their rights; or having that awkward conversation when someone makes assumptions about your sexuality (wrongly); or having to deal with personal feelings of inadequacy that somehow you don’t match up to the standard of being “straight/normal”; or being bullied, beaten, injured, killed, and much more besides.
    It always amazes me that people make such sweeping statements about this subject. I am all about a life of choice, and believe that my life is subject to the choices I make. I am also painfully aware that things such as my physical being, gender identity, physical gender, intolerance to some foods and yes… who I like to have sex with; are all things which were innate to me, and therefore not subject to my whim/choice.

  • kim

    Even if I can agree that it really shouldn’t matter if it is inborn or a choice, it should be equally acceptable anyway, that is not the same as saying that it should be OK to say that it is a choice, end of story. Firstly, to say that one is born this way is obviously not only a rhetoric approach to win an argument, it’s an important
    experience of life and identity, of growing up knowing you are a little bit different. Secondly, as long as fundamentalist christians actually use the choice argument as one of their primary defences for subjecting their LGBT children and others to shaming and abominable curing experiments, then it sure is dubious to lend them some perceived support.

    At the same time, to not be allowed to describe what one perceives as reality seems also highly unsatisfactory. Yes I believe that if you have some kind of bisexual disposition, you might have an option to choose just one side (you might, but not for sure, there are many lesbians that can testify that their self-appointed lesbian/bisexual girlfriends one day abandoned them for a newfound ‘true’ love to some man). There are others who talk about their changing sexuality during life, and who am I to say that they are wrong about themselves.

    So fine, if it was a choice for you, please don’t be afraid to say so, but in a public debate or any other educational situations, not without pointing out that for a
    great many people there was no choice whatsoever.

  • Eugene

    Let us also not attack anyone who says they have “evidence” that Jews and blacks are inferior. I mean, one good turn of bigotry deserves the other.

  • Lewis Lane-Holmes

    People of all walks of life are entitled to their opinions. Some people have the ability to choose to be non-hetero (including all aspects of the spectrum) and others, others don’t. Regardless of the nature/nurture argument, that does not give anybody the right to to discount another’s opinions and choices (or lack thereof!).

    As stated, choice or no choice, prejudice still exists both from those outside of the community and those within. Of all people, those in the non-hetero community should consider that people to do not act/behave in the same way that we do does not mean that we should discount, mock or criticise them for it.

    I also find it quite amusing that and article suggesting that LGBT community should stop hurling insults at those who disagree, was met with an awful lot of comments about how stupid and idiotic it is because they disagree!

  • AndyAS

    WHY would anyone CHOOSE to be Gay? Why would we choose to knowingly place ourselves so as to be the butt of crude hateful ‘jokes’, of discrimination, of injustice, of hatred, of prejudice, of lies, and in some countries of lengthy prison sentences and/or death by various means including stoning???????
    I, for one, am NOT that DUMB and it is a personal affront to all Gay people to suggest that they are.

  • jayjonson

    Sorry, most of this is nonsense. The idea that being gay is innate is based on experience. People do not choose their sexual orientation. Bisexuals or others who fall in the middle of the Kinsey scale may have sexual fluidity and can choose to identify as gay or straight, but even they are not choosing their sexual orientation. That is their sexual orientation (i.e., bisexual). For most people our sexual attractions are not willed. They are natural. They are innate. It is very difficult for people to will oneself to be attracted to someone toward whom one is not attracted. Some people’s sexual nature is fluid enough that they can force themselves to perform sexually with people for whom they do not have a basic sexual attraction, and some people’s sexual attractions change over the years (the Kinsey estimate of 10% gay is based on people whose primary or exclusive sexual experiences are same-sex over a three-year period), but none of that suggests that people make choices as to whom they are sexually attracted. People obviously choose who they have sex with, whether they have sex, and how they identify. That is not the same as choosing one’s sexual orientation.

    • Balance

      JayJonson,
      I broadly agree that choice plays little part in our Kinsey scale number (though I think telling yourself that gay is bad because of your religious belief for 40 years might push you say from a 5 to a 4, or even from a 3 to a 1).

      Much more mysterious is how much of your orientation is genetic and how much social (things like boys’ emotional bonds with mothers – tho that’s also a big chicken and egg debate).

    • Psychologist

      I agree with you in principal. Our sexual orientation (whatever that may be) is fixed at or around our birth (in early childhood) and there is NO CHOICE element whatsoever involved. It IS innate !
      Also, Kinsey and his research has been very much superseded by much more recent research. Kinsey’s research was largely based on asking questions to his volunteers. This form of research does provide SOME information, in statistical analysis form. However, it relies totally on the person saying what is REALLY being felt – yet same-sex orientation is now (and even more so THEN) often denied (or diminished) internally. Kinsey’s research took NO ACCOUNT of this level of common denial, so some of the “apparent” “fluidity” which he claimed, is seriously in question in more recent, and much more scientific research. Anti-gay conditioning from religions, for example, have a strong “denial” effect on people when asked about their true sexual orientation/attractions etc.
      Kinsey took NO conditioning into consideration in his research methods. Yet we now know it has profound effects on what people admit to. So much of his research has been superseded by much more scientific methods of research, involving neurologists as well as psychological researchers.

  • wadeisin1971

    This Dr. Jowett doesn’t seem to grasp social psychology very well. When the whole community is telling you their sexual orientation is innate and you hear one person tell you they chose theirs does not dismiss the whole communities’ consensus.

    • http://www.bloketoys.co.uk/ BlokeToys.co.uk

      Indeed, you would think that someone with such an education would be basing their opinions on the wealth of factual evidence and statements from the majority of those in that group, not one lone voice screaming something unfounded and completely unproven.

      • Psychologist

        Indeed you WOULD think that. So you would then have to ask the question .. WHY has he NOT done that .. he would HAVE TO HAVE some sort of personal agenda for NOT following the NORM of study/convention in research.

    • Psychologist

      Yes, quite right !

  • Jennifer Jones

    To say that something is Ok because it is innate is to commit the naturalist fallacy. Or as Hume argued … an is does not make an ought. We need to become more sophisticated in our moral arguments. I think this article is a good start for us to re-examine our thinking, and be more respectful about people who are just being honest about the basis of their sexual choices.

    • jayjonson

      The problem is that people are not being honest–they think they made a choice and then try to impose that on the rest of us. No one I know is saying that being gay is ok because it is innate. It is okay because it harms no one and has existed throughout history. It is innate because most of us know that we were gay long before we had the name for our attractions.

    • GulliverUK

      It is simply a fact that, for most people, which gender they are sexually and romantically attracted to is fixed, innate, from birth. Most heterosexuals will tell you this if you ask them nicely. I don’t need to tolerate Creationists telling the world is on tens of thousands of years old, and that man coexisted with dinosaurs, because those people are actually mad. Similarly, now that we have sufficient scientific evidence, progressed socially to where most people have been forced to confront their ignorance, because gay people are now visible and acknowledged, we don’t need to tolerate a small group of narrow-minded unintelligent imbeciles who think they will get away with stoking up hate. They have any number of groups they could pick on – those who have sex before marriage, have relationships without getting married, have children without getting married – they are all claimed to be against god’s divine plan, according to them, but they always pick on the LGBT community.

      Honestly, it’s not time to have more respect, it’s time to start fighting back. When your views, racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, anti-semitic, cause real damage to peoples’ lives, then those views need to be curtailed, not given a space to breed.

      Hume didn’t exist, nor do you, nor do I. René Descartes thought he existed, Cogito ergo sum but Hume put him right.

      The authors final statements “Either same-sex relationships are of equal moral value to heterosexual relationships or they are not.” are a little problematic. It’s the word “moral”, which is completely subjective, throughout time, throughout geographical location, it has and does vary from society to society, and changes over time. There can’t be any absolute moral position – because what do or whom do you think you are basing moral opinions / rules on? If you are stating that what God says is moral then ask why. If the answer is that because God says so – that’s a circular tautology. If god said to kill all babies who have green eyes or ginger hair – presumably that would be moral to his followers? He ordered 42 boys to be mauled to death by two bears for taunting a bald-headed man (2 Kings 2:24). Presumably if I use two bears to kill 42 boys because they insult me — that will be ok? You might need to have a listen to TheoreticalBullshit on youtube. But you simply cannot apply 3,000 year old religious dogma, meant for a specific time and place and people, to the modern world – otherwise we’d still have slavery, stonings for adultery, etc. Please don’t ask me to respect such cretinous nonsense

      • Balance

        Gulliver
        You say for most people it’s fixed AT BIRTH. The science does NOT prove this. I think it’s a very complex mixture of nature and nurture that we don’t understand.

    • PaulBrownsey

      And when youi speak of “sexual choices” what are you referring to? Are you referring to:

      (a) the acts that people perform; or

      (b) the feelings that they experience?

      (a) are chosen; (b) are not.

  • Mark Y

    It doesn’t even warrant a conversation. What an idiot.

  • john

    I just go blank when I read something like this and stop reading when oviously to me the whole question of chosing our sexuality seems so daft. There’s absolutely millions of gays around the world, we did’t wake up one morning and decide to be gay for the day and the straight the next day. Why would we? I find it hard to crapple with the fact the someone thinks I could be straight when I just don’t fancy women at all. I don’t think I ever made a choice like chosing a banana milkshake . I chose items , I chose not to smoke but chosing to be gay sounds a bit odd to me.

  • Tom (Winnipeg)

    No, no, keep on attacking them until it’s drummed into their empty heads that being gay is not a choice.

  • http://www.bloketoys.co.uk/ BlokeToys.co.uk

    The problem is that logical minds need evidence and facts on which to base their opinion. As a gay man, I know for a FACT that I did not choose to be gay, you can ignore that all you like, but I know for a FACT that my sexuality is a part of my innate being and not a conscious decision, nor something that was inflicted upon me like some kind of environmentally influenced “disease”.

    Individuals out there who claim that they are LGBT because of a choice may be speaking from their own perception, but what does that say about their own psychology? I would suggest that they are psychologically confused.

    How exactly does one CHOOSE to like same sex activity? This is a nonsense. A woman doesn’t suddenly decide that she likes vaginas unless she has an attraction there to begin with, in which case she is at least bisexual INNATELY. Therefore IT’S NOT A CHOICE.

    It comes down to this: people are attracted to sex with certain people with certain genitalia, this is a fact. To claim that it’s a conscious choice to one day switch, when there was absolutely no desire there previously, suggest that this is either complete bullsh*t, or they are psychologically damaged to the point at which their sexuality is something they are ashamed of, for which they need an excuse. Perhaps it’s about attention seeking, or perhaps a genuine psychological illness. Either way, there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that someone can just one day decide to be gay or lesbian – if they think they can then they were bisexual.

    Ultimately, you talk a good game Adam, but no matter how many clever words you use and no matter how you dance around the issue with verbosity, it is a fact that in order to have a genuine sexual orientation (beyond a politically motivated extreme feminism) there needs to be some sexual attraction to begin with. A person cannot suddenly make a conscious choice to like penis or vagina unless there is at least a bisexuality innately in existence.

    Therefore, I will argue against this delusional way of thinking for as long as it persists. It’s nonsense, it’s dangerous, it’s damaging and it’s insulting to millions of people who face attacks from right wing nutters every day.

    • Psychologist

      Absolutely right ! ALL “proper” research concludes that our sexual orientation is FIXED at or around our birth ! It can NOT be changed, nor is it a choice. It could ONLY be denied (which is what manifests into homophobia).
      Some people even misunderstand THEMSELVES, assuming they have somehow made a choice …. they haven’t …. their sexual orientation (whichever that may be) is innate !

      • http://www.bloketoys.co.uk/ BlokeToys.co.uk

        Precisely, if someone thinks they one day made a choice to like the same gender, they were bisexual and in denial about it. You cannot suddenly switch on a sexual attraction to a gender, this is not possible according to all available scientific evidence.

        But, Adam and his fellow delusional blowhards would no doubt like to debate this for days and go around in ever-elaborate circles, never finding or adequately expressing any evidence for their claims, just to make themselves sound intelligent.

        • Psychologist

          Yes, exactly. It’s easy to understand HOW people can “think” they have made a “different choice”, once you begin to understand how deep DENIAL can run, and how effective religious anti-gay conditioning can be (which is often what causes denial in the first place). Once we understand denial, and then the UNDOING of the denial (which then reveals the TRUE feelings/desires), then we begin to understand just WHY people “think” they have made “different choices”. (or even that their sexual orientation has somehow “changed”, often later in life). It hasn’t changed, of course .. (it CAN’T) it is simply that the denial has been undone which reveals TRUE feelings.
          This is way more common that people seem to realise.

  • Robert W. Pierce

    Why would anyone choose to be gay to face a world of stigmatisation, denigration, discrimination, homophobia? I grew up when it was illegal to be gay in the UK. Thousands of lives were ruined, careers lost, as we saw with Alan Turing and others. I was attracted to boys from around the age of 8 or 9 and sexually aware around 12 or 13. There was no way I chose to be gay. I just felt it within me, an natural occurrence in my experience. I never had any of those feeling towards girls.

    • Barry Scarfe

      Indeed. Why would any normal rational human being actively ‘choose’ to be the object of derision at best and of possible physical violence and discrimination at worst? It just doesn’t make any kind of rational sense to ‘choose’ that for yourself.

  • Glen Hague

    Hmmm. It’s very hard to get inside someone else’s head. For myself, I know being gay was NEVER a choice! I grew up in the 60’s when being gay was definitely not okay – if I could have chosen then, I would have been straight, no question of it. But that choice wasn’t there for me. I didn’t come out to MYSELF until I was 20 and it was only then when I found peace and happiness with who I was. Maybe some straight men have the choice – which is why they insist it is a choice so much! After all a lot of same sex activity goes on between straight men in prison. I can’t imagine myself being involved in straight sex if I were in an all women prison – but maybe I’m just too old :-)

  • Glen Hague

    Christianity and other religions insist it’s a choice because if they don’t they are faced with the thorny question of why a loving creator would create people who had no choice but to” sin” in order to live happy, fulfilling lives. It’s a case of denying reality because it doesn’t fit in with your belief system

    • Barry Scarfe

      Indeed. Science and rationality prove what religions say about homosexuality and bisexuality is complete tosh so they have to say the science is faulty otherwise they would show themselves up for the nonsense they spout.

  • http://thenakedgeek.shawwebspace.ca/ Barry William Teske

    So stop using your dogma like its a knife in my back.
    Defending myself is what happens when violence approaches.
    When this is realized by those that make ‘its a choice’ suggestions,
    maybe they will truly be happy like the rest of us.
    Until then Martha your 15 minutes are done.

  • Jase

    Park this Doctor on the danger list and move on, no more publicity.

    The gay tactical team will handle him from now on. Monitor, frame, marginalize, discredit.

    • GulliverUK

      I think the author is not our enemy, even if some (me on 1st reading) have interpreted some of the ways in which he put forward his piece as such. I think he might benefit from reading what he wrote more carefully, perhaps getting some other gay person to read it first. I sometimes write things which are misinterpreted, because I am not precise enough, or eloquent enough, to make the words convey my meaning.

      You may be right about Jowell, but if you are wrong, you may be hurting one of our own who simply needs to be more careful about how the message is conveyed (terminology used for example), or painting an ally as dangerous, when they are just misunderstood. He might have hurt himself by supporting Bindel – guilt by association. He hasn’t said he supports Bindel’s views, only that we should consider how we respond to people with different views. He might be wanting to build a bridge between, say, Catholic followers who he sees might be open to that, and the LGBT community. In short article it’s not always possible to discern his exact reasoning and goal, and he might have been reluctant to be sufficiently specific for us to — get it.

      He’s written a number of articles; https://coventry.academia.edu/AdamJowett
      It would only be right for us to get to know him a bit better before putting on the black hat, sentencing to death, and banging down the gabble ! :)

      • Jesus_Mohammed

        For Jowett to have dared to say such things in such a public forum deserves nothing less than his being told the facts in no uncertain terms, Gulliver. It might teach the pretentious young scamp to pull his head in.

        Furthermore, please know, if you don’t already, there are one HELL of a lot of PhDs out there in the UK which are next to worthless! You may the money to the university that needs the cash, you write a ton of pretentious twaddle, and after five years they give you the certificate, and then you go round parading yourself as “Doctor”.

        I tell them to drop the “Doctor” bit and either impress me with facts or get on their bikes

        • GulliverUK

          The word Doctor never impresses me, except for my dad, he was a vet (retired now), and I once saw him deliver a calf which was in a breached position on my grandparents farm. Absolutely amazing – I can remember it like it was yesterday. But yes, you are very wise, well 2x deity wise :)

          I think some of what he says makes some sense, that we should also point out our families are equal, our love is equal, our committement is equal, but if people feel that he implied he supported Bindel’s ridiculous arguments then he might want to do another article clarifying his position. I think his language was imprecise, and perhaps exact meaning lost. Luckily if he reads the comments here he’ll have a whole new understanding of real-life gays who have kindly given him a wealth of personal testimony, The thread is dynamite.

  • Aurvara

    There is ambiguity when talking about people choosing to be gay. A person may choose to enter into a relationship with another of the same sex, but this means it was an option for them. Choice is not a synonym for libertarian free-will. That we can choose what we desire, rather than choosing to fulfil a desire. That kind of free-will is an illusion.
    People who begin same-sex relationships after only previously having heterosexual relationships can be better understood as having already had that potential, but just never chose to explore it. It doesn’t need to be spelt out why people do that in our hetero-normative societies.
    They are not people who, out of nowhere, conjured up a previously non-existent desire for the same sex.

  • Ivan

    People can live a life opposite to their sexual nature. However, it doesn’t change who they are, just how honest they chose to be with themselves.

  • Ben

    Why should I be any more convinced by the arguments of the transphobic, anti-sex, anti-porn, prudish Julie Bindle than by the arguments of the crazy right-wingers this site mentions? This article makes it seem like she should be regarded as some sort of authority within the LGBT community, or at least that she’s some sort of LGBT ally. She should not and she is not, she is every bit as much of an enemy as the religious fundamentalist nutjobs.

  • JPeron

    The problems with Bindle are legion. There are many reasons she should be the object of condemnation. She sees everything through her radical political ideology which means she almost nothing accurately.

  • Bazza OZ

    Psychologist = Amateur Psychiatrist

    • androphiles

      Psychology and psychiatry are two fields of the study of the mind that overlap but are NOT the same.

  • Jon (Malaysia)

    How does one get a mental illness classified? I really really think adherence to a religious belief in the absence of any evidence at all has to be some kind of delusional illness yet it never seems to see the light of day in professional journals, or is it just not publicized? Some great minds somewhere must be studying this. Perhaps I missed a Richard Dawkins pronouncement?

  • androphiles

    I think it might be a less-volatile position if someone who believes she chose to be lesbian (or a man who believes he chose to be gay) could talk about the age at which she thinks it happened and how the decision was made by her. I have yet to read or hear of any such specificity. I cannot recall choosing to be gay. I simply knew, from a very young age, that I was different, and some time later, roughly around the 7th grade in school, I began realizing the nature of my difference. I have never met or heard of anyone who can pinpoint the time or the nature of the “decision” to be homosexual OR heterosexual. Stories of our lives, our childhoods and our gradual awakening to who we are have been part of gay and lesbian literature as long as there’s been literature. Surely if it were a matter of simple choice someone would have written about it by now. Please, someone, I’m willing to be convinced, as I believe the choice to BE who we consider ourselves to be is the important point and the point that should be most unquestionable. It is, after all, the essence of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

  • Rob

    Im guessing that this has been previously mentioned but how many people on here have consciously chosen their sexuality? If so why would you choose to be gay – to face injustice, discrimination in order to be with the person you love or to live a lie and not be truly happy and live with a person you love?

    You are who you are, nothing can change that and the sooner that the homophobes and the religious nutters accept this fact the better off as a society we will all be!

  • raphjd

    Over the years I’ve known plenty of people that have chosen to live the hetero life, only to later ditch it to be gay. All of them admit they lived the hetero lie. I have yet to meet a person that has gone the other way. I have met a few former “ex gays” who are now gay again.

    I have yet to meet a person that was 100% hetero, by their own words, that later CHOSE to be gay.

    I used to work with a bisexual that flip flopped between gay and hetero relationships. When a relationship broke down, he’d swear off that type of relationship and go to the other until that one broke down; rinse and repeat.

    As other posters have said, at an early age I just knew I was attracted to other boys. My first crush was my swimming coach’s boyfriend.

    • Brian Apple

      There are also people who lived the homosexual life only to ditch it later to live a heterosexual life.

      • raphjd

        Living a “lifestyle” isn’t the same as choosing a sexual orientation.

        I haven’t met an “ex gay” who’s still in the “life” but I have seen them on TV and they are still complete flamers. Bill Maher’s Religulous showed several “ex gay” living a hetero life and they are screaming queens. There’s also the case of several “ex gays” over the years who’ve been caught sneaking back to the gay gay bars for a naughty romp.

        I think you can choose to live a lie, but you can’t choose your sexual attraction.

        • Brian Apple

          But not every man who is sexually attracted to men is exclusively attracted to men.

          • raphjd

            That’s bisexual. They are only living as their sexual orientation already made them. No actual choice is being made.

            In order to prove choice, you have to show proof of 100% hetero men choosing to be gay and doing it completely. They can’t sneak back the hetero bars and do the nasty in the bathrooms like we see with so called “ex gays”.

          • Brian Apple

            All sexual behaviour is a choice regardless of your sexual orientation.

          • raphjd

            I answered this at your new comment, but I’ll answer it here too.

            We aren’t talking about behaviour. The article is about people choosing their sexual orientation.

          • Psychologist

            As I said early .. even EATING is a CHOICE if you really want to be THAT PEDANTIC !

          • http://www.bloketoys.co.uk/ BlokeToys.co.uk

            I can choose to be blond, that doesn’t change the fact that I’m not. While you’re trying to distract with notions of chosen acts, we’re focusing on the article which tries to force on us the notion that people can choose their sexuality, without any evidence to back it up and without any basis in fact.

            If you want to try to divert the debate because you can’t find an adequate argument, I would suggest you have already lost.

          • PaulBrownsey

            Sexual *behaviour* is a choice, but the feelings that prompt it are not.

          • Psychologist

            REALLY Brian ..? How do you know that for sure ?
            You’re beginning to sound like you have issues about your OWN sexual orientation to me !

      • Psychologist

        All they’ve done is to DENY their true sexual orientation of being homosexual !! It is NOT possible to change ones sexual orientation ! it could ONLY be denied/suppressed ! NOT CHANGED !

  • GulliverUK

    There is another aspect to the choice myth perpetuated almost exclusively by right-wing socially conservative Christians, it is children. Unlike the indoctrination of children in to their parent’s religious beliefs, same-sex couples and gay individuals cannot determine the sexual orientation of their children. The typical right-wing religious response to gay adoption or parenting or surrogacy is that the child will grow up to be gay. The science flatly contradicts that erroneous conclusion. Imagine if the choice myth was widely believed – how much more difficult would it have been to get equal adoption rights passed in legislation, because there is still a general homophobic response in the public, some unwilling to do the critical thinking necessary to put that nonsense to bed. There is an understandable, but completely wrong, notion that somehow a male and female parent is required to ensure well-rounded children. Studies now debunk that. You must ask what does a male bring to a heterosexual marriage that a women cannot, and what does a women bring that a man cannot. If you can’t answer those questions with credible responses grounded in proper social science, to the satisfaction and understanding of the majority, it is because children grow up best with a loving parent and parents, regardless of the gender. Millions of children are growing up in same-sex households, or by households headed by a gay individual, in the US, and doing fine.

    • raphjd

      The only real difference in parenting is between single and dual parents, not genders.

      Single parents tend to less well off than dual parents. Being poor has a whole set of issues that don’t affect the well off.

    • white squirrel

      the sex of the parents should only matter if they perform intercourse where the children can watch
      im fairly certian those who do so are a very small minority

  • Brian-E

    Sexuality is notoriously difficult to understand, and no-one should be claiming that they know all about same sex attraction. I have not read Julie Bindel’s book, but the impression I get from her interview with Patrick Strudwick is that she claims to know that every lesbian or gay person has chosen that sexual orientation. She has applied her own experience and that of women she knows in her limited circle to everyone else, and that is the problem here. Her experience is undoubtedly genuine, but it is atypical and she should not use it to make sweeping conclusions which are not backed up by any scientific evidence.

    • Brian Apple

      A woman’s sexuality is not representative of a man’s sexuality. Therein lies the flaw of any comparison. Women can fake it, men can’t.

      • Balance

        some “hetero” male prositutes fake it, just as some gay male prostitutes fake being attracted to that bald, fat 65 year old and somehow manage an orgasm. Some people have special “gifts”

      • Psychologist

        You’re entirely WRONG again Brian ! There has been a massive amount of proper medical and psychological research conducted on sexuality, and sexual orientation for many years now. I’ve read and studied almost all of it over the last 15 years.
        The notion that you suggest “women can fake it” …. is totally invalidated in clinical research. Neurologists, together with psychologists have conducted research by observing men and women under brain scanning (where sexual arousal STARTS) and observing what activity takes place, when sexual stimulus is introduced whilst their brains are being scanned. The results are VERY revealing, and shows REAL sexual arousal activity at source, so can NOT be faked ! This research is equally valid for men AND women !
        The research also reveals much about people who claim to be bisexual, and also reveals much about people who are homophobic too.

  • Aucun Nom

    What about the flip side to this argument? You have a group of straight men. Some “Doctor” comes along and tells them that they all have the “choice” to kill sexual feelings for females and start finding other guys sexually attractive. Would the straight guys go along with that theory or would they point out that you are wrong? Sure, you could give them lots of examples of bisexuals who were married men and are now with other men and claim to be gay, but would that convince the straight guys that they too could choose to find guys sexually attractive? There would be a flood alert as they all pissed themselves laughing at you. Yet that’s the very same argument that Dr Adam Jowett seems to think is a sensible one when talking about gays.

    Sorry Adam, if you genuinely have a choice to be with a man or woman sexually,
    then you fall into the spectrum of bisexuality. Don’t confuse other people’s sexuality with your own, we don’t have the same choices that you have (ask your straight male friends, they won’t be long in putting you straight – no pun intended).

  • Brian Apple

    Female sexuality is almost always about opting in to that which will bring a reward. It’s a very reward-oriented sexuality, and is therefore almost always fake. From fake orgasms to a fake interest in sex to fake lesbianism, women are known to run the gamut for the purpose of obtaining some sort of reward from straight men. It is not a genuine sexuality.

    Men, on the other hand, cannot release their gametes unless they are aroused. Release of gametes is thus directly linked to arousal, unlike the situation in women. There can be no fakery in this very basic imperative, and thus male sexuality cannot be faked.

    Can male sexual actions be chosen? Sure. All sexual actions are ultimately the result of a conscious choice. In today’s society, most men choose to hide their same-sex feelings and behaviour.

  • EndlessRepetition

    LGBTs court disaster if we allow bigots and fools to characterize homosexuality as a choice without very strong challenge. The bigots know this. The fools are fools.

  • Brian Apple

    A lot of gay men have a superiority complex. They thing male homosexuality is superior to any other form of sexuality. They think it trumps everything else. What utter poppycock!!

    Here’s a reality check: not every man who finds men attractive is exclusively attracted to men. Many, many men are capable of attraction to both men and women. Many such men choose to marry women because they resent getting trapped in the lifestyle that is promoted to gay-identifying men (eg drugs and non-stop parties) and also because they want to have children in a nuclear family setting.

    What’s wrong with that? Why are you upset with men who make that choice? And who gave you the right to look down your nose at it?

    • raphjd

      I don’t think gay men are any different than any other group in how they view themselves.

      You talk about gays as if we have the same sex options as bisexuals. We don’t.

      I must suck at being a gay man, my partner and I live a simple life. We have chickens, dogs and grow our own fruit and veg. Hmm, I’ll have to look into whether I need to turn in my homo card.

      You still aren’t making a choice as you are sexually attracted to both sexes.

      • http://www.bloketoys.co.uk/ BlokeToys.co.uk

        I think my membership to the club might be revoked soon too. I’m a metaller, I go to gigs and pubs, I go to a gay club maybe about once every two years if a friend forces me to. My sexual life is actually very boring, sometimes completely stagnant for months at a time. I don’t own a Kylie CD, I don’t have YMCA on my iTunes, I don’t own a single “musical” DVD – unless you count Metallica Live.

    • Psychologist

      Brian – you’re wrong on so many levels here – I wouldn’t know where to start to correct all your wrong statements !

    • JonParker

      A lot of gay men have a superiority complex- As do a lot of straight people, not related to sexual orientation

      They thing male homosexuality is superior to any other form of sexuality- Nope, equal at best

      not every man who finds men attractive is exclusively attracted to men- yep, they’re called bisexuals, not the same thing as gay

      lifestyle that is promoted to gay-identifying men (eg drugs and non-stop parties)- as a gay man, I have never had any drugs not prescribed by my doctor and much prefer playing skyrim to a party. Claiming drugs and parties are the gay lifestyle is as daft as claiming binge drinking and none-stop domestic violence whenever your sports team loses is the straight lifestyle

      What’s wrong with that?- with bisexuals ending up with women? nothing, with gay men repressing their gay selves, marrying women they have no love for and raising kids in such a loveless environment ending up destroying their lives when it comes to the inevitable end…? maybe a bit

      Why are you upset with men who make that choice?- It is the myth that gay people can change their sexual orientation and it opens the door to Gay cure therapy which seeks to “help” gay people to choose to be straight.

      who gave you the right to look down your nose at it?- same right that you have to look down your nose at us

      I look down on your ego-centric gay bar-hopping.- well I look down on your wife beating, shotgun toting straight alcoholism (aren’t stereotypes fun?)

      your entire post- sexual behaviour is not the same and sexual orientation and orientation is not a choice, or at least for the vast majority it is not a choice, and the danger of letting people think that it is a choice is when people try to “help” us choose to be straight. Gay cure therapy is founded upon people’s belief that being gay is a choice and has caused massive emotional and psychological damage to many people

    • http://www.bloketoys.co.uk/ BlokeToys.co.uk

      What you’re conveniently ignoring in this comment is bisexuality. You do realize that is what you are describing, right? You’ve given a good example of the kind of denial and self-loathing this kind of piece is actively supporting, as you yourself have tried desperately to not mention bisexuality despite the fact that this is exactly what you are talking about.

      Someone can indeed be attracted to both men and women, this is what bisexuality is. They have not CHOSEN to be one or the other. They did not make a CONSCIOUS DECISION to be attracted sexually to men or women. They are attracted to both, and I would suggest the level of brainwashing and self loathing is so deep that they are utterly mentally incapable of understanding their own desires, so they find convoluted excuses and explanations as to how it “happened to them”, or how they “decided” to be something.

      There is absolutely NO EVIDENCE that sexual orientation can be chosen, while there is a wealth of evidence that it is innate to each individual. Keep denying or trying to rewrite reality all you like, it won’t change it.

    • PaulBrownsey

      You are confusing choice of *behaviour* with choice of *feeling*. The latter does not exist. But of course you can choose to ignore your gay feelings, which you never chose in the first place.

  • Truth

    No – she didn’t ‘choose’ to be a lesbian. Her conditioning made her FEEL as though she chose. She obviously struggled to accept her true sexuality and therefore felt she made a choice. But that is simply the effects of brainwashing. Her innate sexual orientation was towards women. Her conditioning told her this was wrong. She struggled with this conflict which made her FEEL as though she had to make a choice. And, indeed she COULD have made a choice … but it would have been to be ‘straight’ and to deny her true orientation.

    • Brian Apple

      Females can use their sexuality as a marketing ploy because they don’t need to prove they are aroused, unlike men. Women can thus profit from marketing it, and they do.

  • Brian Apple

    All sexual behaviour is a choice regardless of your sexual orientation. Just keep that in mind.

    • raphjd

      Behaviour isn’t the topic. Orientation is what’s being discussed.

      The article is here because a man hating feminist said that she chose to be a lesbian and the rest of us chose our sexual orientations.

      • Brian Apple

        Have you guys ever thought that the woman might herself be confused as to what she is talking about?

        • raphjd

          She might be confused, sure.

          However, we can’t discuss when she might have meant. We need to focus on what she actually said and let her correct us if she meant something else.

    • Psychologist

      You COULD argue that EVERYTHING we do is a CHOICE .. including whether we eat or not ! That’s NOT the point here. We are born with the sexual orientation we have for life. If that happens to be of a same-sex orientation, then to comply with homophobic based conditioning, thus DENY/suppress those feelings/desires, will (and does) impact on our life in a negative way in some form – including depression, anxiety, even addictions, and in some cases even self-harm and suicide.
      So to claim all sexual BEHAVIOUR is a CHOICE is way too simplistic a statement to be taken seriously – as to chose NOT to follow our true desires and feelings can have highly negative effects on us psychologically. In the same way as CHOOSING NOT to eat would damage us.

    • http://www.bloketoys.co.uk/ BlokeToys.co.uk

      Sexual behaviour is not what is being debated here, sexual attraction is.

  • Leonard Woodrow

    Sexuality is not a choice. Anybody who claims to have “chosen” their sexual life is simply a bisexual who has decided to suppress one side of themselves.

  • Leonard Woodrow

    Nobody can choose their sexuality. Those who think they do are simply bisexuals who decide to follow one path.

  • white squirrel

    given the nature of human sexuality being comprised of a whole range across the spectrum it follows that for some orientation will be a choice
    Bisexuals by their very nature have choice
    but it does not follow that all have the ability to choose

    • http://www.bloketoys.co.uk/ BlokeToys.co.uk

      Then their sexuality is not a choice. If someone is bisexual, that is what they are. They cannot then choose to be exclusively straight or exclusively gay, beyond their sexual activities.

      These people have not made a choice to be bisexual, straight or gay, they are bisexual and have been significantly psychologically damaged by people preaching nonsense, like this piece by Adam.

  • Shan Taylor

    Im transsexual and it wasnt a choice as Gender Dysphoria is no laughing matter. I also knew i would never date men as i have always been attracted to girls. Again no choice. Being gay, bi, trans, straight is not a choice you are Born This Way. You dont just become someone. All these so called educated asses speaking this crap need to stfu

  • Psychologist

    He’s WRONG ! The gay community SHOULD challenge anyone who suggests being gay is a choice …. here’s why:-
    Fist, it is NOT a choice ! Our sexual orientation is fixed at or around birth, (certainly by our early childhood, as our brains develop). (though not consciously KNOW, until later in our development).
    The suggestion that it is a choice should be challenged, because religions USE this suggestion as a legitimiser to try to sell “gay cure” therapy, in order to “change” gay people’s sexual orientation, into becoming straight. If you accept it is a CHOICE, then you must also accept that it can be changed (ie differently chosen) ! Of course, it CAN’T be changed, and any attempt to change it, by applying these so called “gay cure therapies” is highly psychologically damaging.
    We are all born with the sexual orientation (whatever that may be) we have for life. It can’t be chosen differently, or changed. At best, it could only be denied, and thus not acted upon – but that is NOT changing it ! It’s simply denying what is really there.

  • Brooks Austin

    What is with Pink News’ obsession running commentary articles attempting to prove that homosexuality is a choice? First they ran that article by that “ex-gay” guy who defended the Texas GOP’s platform for promoting ex-gay therapy and now this. I also hope they got permission from the people leaving comments on the Pink News article before they allowed this author to quote them for the purpose of mocking the gay community because it’s rather sleazy if they didn’t get permission.

  • Iain Logan

    I think the scientific community need to be the ones pushing the fact that being homosexual isn’t a choice… the scientific evidence is quite overwhelming it’s just the finite points that really need working out (which I strongly believe shouldn’t be).

  • Brian Apple

    Women don’t have the same impulsive and constant sex drive as men. Their behaviour sex-wise is thus more measured and calibrated. It is often a product of a decision-making process. Women weight out what is in their best interests, and react accordingly. In this sense, sexual behaviour in women is a choice.

    Men, on the other hand, can be extremely driven in their sexual behaviour. Evolution has ensured this because it is the man who must deliver the gamete to the woman in association with his arousal, not hers. Arousal in males is of utmost importance. Indeed, the future of the human race depends on male arousal. Men don’t usually weight out what is in their best interests. They react sexually in an “I just want to get off” way.

    This biological difference between men and women is essential to understanding concepts related to sexuality, including bisexuality. Women’s sexual behaviour is determined by a reward system (eg payment in cash) while men’s sexual behaviour isn’t. Women tend to “choose” how they behave sexually whereas men don’t.

    • http://loveandtruth.co.uk Faithful and True

      My dear friend; I am seriously concerned about your logic and beliefs. You need help!

    • PaulBrownsey

      No-one is denying that sexual *behaviour* is chosen (though, of course, you can’t choose to have an erection if the feeling isn’t there). Can you not see the difference between sexual *behaviour* and sexual *feelings*?

  • http://loveandtruth.co.uk Faithful and True

    Once a person fully accepts their sexuality and that God loves them unconditionally, then they thank God for what they are in the face of cruel and brutal verbal and sometimes physical abuse. They chose to be the person they are; rather than live a lie.

  • metta8

    It is called being a bisexual. Bisexuals have always had the ability to choose.

  • Loirin Lancaster

    Of course being gay is a choice yall need to stop it and become straight so you can be unhappy, go and cheat when the opposite sex ain’t around, lie to yo family, pretend your straight in public and lastly commit suicide. And there you have it THE CHOICE!!!!!!!!!! Gotta luv it, society’s norm.

  • ktah

    Anyone who suggests being gay is a choice should then prove it by choosing to be gay themselves.

  • JD

    Why is it ok to argue the opinion that sexuality is innate – is it because ALL superstition, the one endless incurable plague on this planet – the last refuge for the ignorant and foolish – is a choice? People convert to a superstition – marry into one – or are brainwashed by being born into a faith…..

  • myk5

    It depends, if you suggest sexuality is a choice – FOR YOU, then I have no issue. It is akin to choice for many Bisexual people.

    But if you say “Homosexuality is a choice for all homosexuals”, you are now telling a lie because you do not know MY sexuality nor that of every homosexually active person. Just as some Heterosexuals are not bisexual, some Gay people are not bisexual either.

  • Marty Kane

    Why do people say you can’t choose to be gay ? What about all the poor souls that are choosing to be straight out of fear that their family will hate them ? You can choose to be gay and many of us do. For many different reasons.

    • JonParker

      Sexual orientation is not the same thing as sexual behaviour, you can stay/goback in the closet but that is not choosing to be straight.

      and those poor souls “choosing” to be straight are exactly the reason why we should always contest people claiming that sexuality is a choice because the entire premise of gay cure therapy is based upon that one bit of misinformation. And gay cure therapy can cause massive psychological and emotional damage up to and including self-harm, major depression, isolation and suicide

      • Marty Kane

        “Sexual orientation is not the same thing as sexual behaviour”.

        I’m well aware of that. But the point i’m making is you can choose your sexuality. There is no two ways about it. People do it, and for many different reasons. Some do it for preference and some out of fear. I’m not under any elusion that gay doesn’t exist, but nor am I in denial that it’s a choice by many of us.

        • teddy21

          one does not “choose their sexuality”. They are either gay, straight or bi…. somewhere along the scale. Some poor souls do “choose” to live a lie and pretend to be straight out of fear or whatever reasons. Choosing to live a lie is not the same as “choosing their sexuality”

        • JonParker

          You can’t change your sexual orientation. I have been through gay cure therapy and I never managed to choose to be straight and nor did any of the others in the group and all the ex-gay “success cases” I met said the same thing, the gay feelings are still there, you just learn to ignore them. the thing is, is that every ex-gay I have ever met hadnt changed their sexual orientation, only their sexual behaviour. Gay does exist and for the vast majority of us at least, it’s not a choice

  • Gerry Freedman

    A lecturer in Social Psychology – well that figures from this utter tripe. Ask the vast majority of gay men whether they chose to be gay or not and the answer will be overwhelming they did not choose. So this academic argument on whether to attack people who suggest being gay is a choice or not is exactly that academic. But let me make one thing clear. If anyone I knew suggested such a stupid notion as being gay was a choice, they would in all honesty go down in my estimation. While it is clear we are unable to definitively say that homosexuality is innate, my lived experience and logic would suggest as well as common sense, is that it is. Who would choose to face such cruel discrimination and then face that for a lifetime. Now bisexuals…they can have a choice whether they live a gay or heterosexual life.

  • Pádráig O’Gáirmléadháigh

    Is this moron for real. Just why the phuc would anyone choose to be Gay?

  • RW

    “Ah, I well remember, many years ago, it was a bright August day- not unlike this one- that I said to myself, ‘I choose to be gay from now on’ ”
    If that sound like rubbish- you’re right.

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