Emmanuel Mashandudze

Business Intelligence, Tools and Process Specialist, Witwatersrand University

This conversation is closed.

Is being gay a choice, or genetic make up?

There are different points of view on sexual orientation. One says, "A person's sexual orientation is within the realm of choice except when raped or molested." From the several myths in the world, what makes a person gay? Are they born gay? Is it social upbringing that channels them to be gay? What do you think?

  • Oct 23 2011: I think there is an aspect to the discussion that makes the conclusion of choice or not, moot. One implication by those who assert it is a choice is that choices do not deserve protection from persecution. However there are people in various places in the world who are in fact protected for their choices. If a person chooses in the US (for example) to convert from Christianity to Buddhism, they are protected against hate crimes for their choice. They are also protected against work discrimination for that choice. The energy spent to counter this and assert biology in my opinion becomes less important.

    It might be biology. It might be choice. Is this a crucial fact to find? If it was found a choice, what would you do with that information? If it were found to be biology, what would you do with that information?
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      Oct 23 2011: Bravo! Clean clear thinking!
      • Oct 23 2011: Thank you. :)
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          Oct 23 2011: Paula,
          Your comment is so wonderfully insightful! What does it matter, except as Emmanuel suggests to maybe seek enlightment on the subject.

          I have many gay friends, and we've had in-depth discussions about a lot of things, including sexuality. Many of my gay friends knew from the time they were teenagers that they were attracted to the same sex partner. Some were in heterosexual relationships and marriages for many years, some had children with an opposite sex partner, and after years of partnership or marriage decided they were attracted to a same sex relationship. I have friends who are bi-sexual, who have been in relationship with both sexes at different times. There are so many possibilities presented with our sexuality, and the one thing we really need to remember, no matter what a person's life story, is that we are all people, with feelings and choices.
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        Oct 23 2011: We only seeking enlightment on the domain, but strong points right there. Excellent.
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      Oct 23 2011: It is indeed important to recognize that the conclusion we come to should have no bearing on how we treat gay people in the end.
      • Oct 23 2011: How do we divorce ourselves from that though? If someone is begging the question, how do we prevent the 'therefore'?
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          Oct 23 2011: We do what you did, show that the conclusion that people want to get to cannot be reached either way. You defended that even if it was a choice it was still be worth protecting and defending. Those who want it to be a choice or genetic or this or that often want to find a way to repress it.

          edit: which I am of course assuming isn't anyone's position here of course!
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      Nov 9 2011: QUOTE: "It might be biology. It might be choice. Is this a crucial fact to find?"

      Given that Emmanuel's question is, "Is being gay a choice, or genetic make up?" then, yes, this is a crucial fact to find.

      And, the facts have been established.

      If you wish to take the discussion in another direction, then "the facts" may or may not be relevant but, then that is another conversation (for example, a conversation of tolerance, acceptance, and so on.)
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        Nov 10 2011: Craig,

        You really are not willing to let this one go are you?

        When you see someone going back and forth it proves the person is choosing to go back and forth - not that they are choosing their sexual orientation (they are not choosing what they LIKE, they are choosing how they act based on what they (already) like.) Or maybe they are just "checking things out" (like you did.)

        So someone who "goes back and forth" might be experimenting; or they could be a "3" on the Kinsey scale.

        He or she did not, and can not, choose to be a "3" - or a "6" or a "0."

        So someone might:

        - Try a guy. Not so bad. (Based on predetermined preferences.)

        - Try a girl. Not so good. (Based on predetermined preferences.)

        - Go back to guys. (Based on predetermined preferences.)

        That looks a lot like going "back and forth" and the outcome is determined by preference - which is predetermined.

        If the outcome is, "Hmmmm, I'm not so sure, lets try that again;" the cycle might continue a few times until a definite preference is established (that might happen if someone is, say, a "4" on the Kinsey scale.)

        The pattern of back and forth might continue "forever" if someone is a "3."

        QUOTE: "We do have free will and we can make choices. Its called being human.

        And you still cannot choose to be a gay, black woman. Its called being human.
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        Nov 10 2011: Craig, why would someone change back and forth?
        I had a brother that's my sister now.
        As adolescent he tried to be more man, overcompensate for his real feelings to do body building and do men things in an extreme way.
        As he got older he married two times which both were failures.

        I'm talking about the fifties and sixties when no one talked about these things and you had to find out everything for yourself.

        Then he got acquainted with friends that had similar problems which led to his acceptance and understanding of the situation. Yet he turned from he into she just after my father died because he couldn't confront him with that truth despite they had the worst relation you can imagine.

        He was over the age of forty as he started the operations and chose to live not with a man but with a woman so they had an lesbian relation. Now she’s singel and happy with that.

        What do you think was there anything to choose from?
        Denying and suppressing how thing really are led many people to suicide or a tormented life. Don't judge anyone until you've been in their shoes.

        Never judge, always love.
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        Nov 10 2011: This is no jump at all in our language but in English it may sound more like an ordeal.
        My intend was to have no opinion on what is or is not with anyone else.
        Everyone is as he or she is and it is not for me to say whether something is choice or faith.
        Things I cannot see like blue eyes I cannot know and all it can tell me is to know more of myself as the other has its own mystery.

        Some need drama, who am I to say?
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    Oct 24 2011: Is being straight a choice, or genetic make up?

    Same answer.
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      Oct 24 2011: There you go. Flip the question around and see what answers yo get. Unfortunately you only go this so far. This was the most intelligent answer I have read so far.

      I don't think the answer really matters at all. All that matters is that the couple, gay or straight, have a connection that they understand to be love for one another. Anyone else involving themselves in their situation without being ask to is 100% wrong.
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    Nov 7 2011: Let´s imagine a world where being gay is a choice:

    Everybody is attracted to both sexes equally. When the time of choosing a life partner comes, they choose the member of opposite sex. Maybe few artists in open-minded countries decide to go gay, but that´s it. Everybody can clearly see the advantages of being straight. And nobody would choose homosexuality in countries where they could be seriously penalized for that.

    Seriously, I don´t understand why there even is a conversation like this on TED...
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    Oct 25 2011: It really doesn't matter if its genetic or a choice. Homosexuals exist in the human species just like left-handed people exist. From Wikipedia (if you take stock in that) "Historically, the left side, and subsequently left-handedness, was considered negative in many cultures." To make laws that restrict left-handed people because "HISTORICALLY" they have been thought of as negative is of course absurd, but then again one's scriptures of mythology may say different. Can we say that historically homosexuals have been thought of as negative. The earth isn't the center of the Universe, the world isn't flat, species evolution exists, tectonic plates move, left-handed people are NOT going to corrupt social order and neither will homosexuals. Irrational belief systems are far more negative and troubling than left-handed people. Need I say more...?
  • Oct 23 2011: Hi emmanuel,
    I personally do not think it matters. If a human is gay, so be it. If a human is straight, so be it.
    We are human, there is so much, to us. No one really knows. I personally, would not want a human to stress over their sexual orientation. Live your life, with happiness and soul!
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      Oct 23 2011: My worry is in the choice of words and titles given to people because of thier sexual orientation. Yes there is so much happiness to embrace for ourselves and our souls. Why do we have a title "straight" for people who are not gay what then becomes the title for those who are gay? I suppose "not straight". It doesn't really matter but the world does not really accept the other one. Should we accept homosexuality as a normal sexual orientation?
      • Oct 24 2011: Emmanuel, do not let words worry you! Do not let titles worry ya! Man, why can't humans let humans be human? I will never understand this world! As far as accepting homosexuality as normal? It is non of my business what a human does! AS long as it does not hurt another human!! I am straight, the title does not bother me. My best friend is gay, the title makes her proud! ( she is pretty head strong and high maintenance) Take Care Emmanuel !
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        Oct 24 2011: I think it is a condition with which it comes, I am heterosexual, I did not choose to be, I just like men, period. As for the title as the conglomerate is quite disrespectful in that sense, there is absolutely no reason for sexual orientation discrimination, as it is supposed to live in a modern society where human rights prevail, and virtually all the world's constitutions prohibit discrimination. On the other hand, personally I have great friends who are homosexual and they are great professionals in their areas and great people.
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        Oct 24 2011: It's already accepted as a normal sexual orientation or should we go ask the dolphins and other animals that partake in homosexual behavior whether or not they accept it?
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          Oct 24 2011: The question isnt really about accepting the orientation. Its already there and people in so many places do not really find it easily acceptable because of several beliefs and cultures etc. I raised the question, "Is it a choice?", because I live in an environment where people who are gay seem to do it because of attention deficit in some instances. Well I wanted to know if this is a make up by genetics or personal choice.
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        Oct 24 2011: Emmanuel, you're confusing me. The second question you asked, and the one I'm replying to, is "Should we accept homosexuality as a normal sexual orientation?"
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    Oct 23 2011: When we experiment in college, that's choice. However, I don't believe anyone chooses whom to be attracted to, and our inclinations are biological.
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        Oct 24 2011: Craig,

        You cannot cure "gay."
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        Oct 24 2011: Craig could you identify the biological specifics that inform your choice for your sexuality?
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        Oct 24 2011: Craig,

        I know the question was for Brittney. I'd also like to hear your response to your question.
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        Oct 24 2011: Craig,

        There you go getting all snotty again.

        Challenge me all you like (that's why I'm here) but let's leave the little digs out, shall we?
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        Oct 24 2011: Well, thank you for that Craig, I appreciate the clarification. Perhaps I am feeling a little defensive after having being elevated to God status for a time.
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      Oct 25 2011: Religion matters brings sensitivity and it provokes people worse than sexuality. I would prefer dealing with a conversation based on the basis of the question. People believe in different things and doctrines approve different things too. The matters of God are more complicated and I am a God fearing person. Lets discuss these concepts based on either science or choice as the question states.
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      Oct 25 2011: Craig,

      I find it really intriguing how you interpret what I am saying.

      How is saying science has determined (with a reasonable degree of certainty) that our sexual orientation is determined by genetics, in utero maternal hormones, and brain development, in any way based on judgment?

      If I told you brown eyes are determined by genetics would you see that as judgemental?

      Seriously, I find your assumptions about my "judgement" so disconnected from reality as to be almost surreal.

      I appreciate you have found some meaning in "spiritual practices" but I assure you, science has NOT been derailed. It's doing just fine.

      That you think it not so is quite telling.

      I have no desire to discuss the merits of science versus the merits of spirituality with you (perhaps in another conversation.)

      So to summarize:

      Based on your religious belief and anecdotal evidence you assert sexual orientation is a choice.

      Additionally, you do not hold science in very high esteem and believe your religious views are in some way superior to science.


      Based on scientific research, I assert sexual orientation is determined by genetics, in utero maternal hormones and brain development.

      We do not agree with one another.

      Is that a correct summary of the major points as they relate to the topic of this conversation?

      As I say, I have no desire to discuss your spiritual views with you, so, if you please, there is no need to reaffirm or elaborate on them.
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      Oct 24 2011: Hi Craig,

      QUOTE: I believe being gay is a choice.

      It's not.

      If being gay is a choice, try choosing to be gay (assuming you're not) and see how that works for you.

      Sure you can choose to have sex with someone of the same sex but if your are not inclined to enjoy such a union, you won't.

      But, as I said, most of us actually can enjoy intimate relations with members of either sex so, if we are so inclined, then, yes, we can choose to act according to our nature and pick either a male or female partner.

      Our predisposition makes the choice a viable option. If we are not in the fuzzy middle zone - and are 100% straight or 100% gay - we cannot choose ourself out of our sexual orientation.

      Craig, there is no need to get all bent out of shape - I am not choosing people's orientation (in fact you are!) you are saying someone who is gay can choose not to be gay and someone who is not gay can choose to be gay. Nonsense!

      And what the heck does GOD and LOVE have to do with it? The topic is: "Is being gay a choice, or genetic make up?"

      I've given my answer you have given yours ... let's not get all snotty.
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          Oct 24 2011: Craig,

          "I didn't know you had worked your way up the TED ranks to become GOD. If you were a real GOD, you would support LOVE where ever it flourishes. My two cents," sounds a little snotty to me but fine, if you think it's a not, I'll buy that.

          Okay, so your opinion is: Being gay is a choice.

          You seem to be missing the point that: If it is a choice, then you (Craig) could choose any orientation at all and it would be equally satisfying as the one you have "chosen" now.

          Do you think that is true?

          Or are you constrained in your choice by .... what? A moral imperative? Integrity (in honouring and pre-existent choice?) Love? Genetics? What?

          Do you not see? If it is a choice, you (Craig) must also be able to choose anything whether or not it is in alignment with your particular "orientation" or not.

          Just out of curiosity, do you think I am "anti-gay" because I am saying we don't get to choose? This whole support love thing you've got going isn't making much sense to me.
        • Oct 24 2011: Craig,

          It seems you associate free will to all of our (human's) outcomes in life. If so, I have a few questions for you.

          Can a person decide his or her own brain anatomy and hormone production?

          What external factors are involved in consciously or subconsciously shaping the sexual preference of various animals that partake in primarily homosexual behavior?

          Is it possible that the brain is just a clump of cells that controls us through electrical and chemical reactions and that some of us have differently "wired" brains than others?

          I actually don't claim to know if someone is born homosexual or not. I happen to believe that it is not a decision that is made by them any more than they decide to be born with the color hair or eyes that they have. I also believe in varying forms or "Gayness" in a range from straight, to bisexual, to gay. My opinions have been formed through real life experience and educating myself on the subject through the scientific field. My opinions have nothing to do with religion other than the fact that I decided for myself at an early age that religion impaired critical thinking and therefore not to look at any subject through a religious lens.

          I understand why you believe what you say is true. Maybe someday science will be able to prove with certainty whose opinion is correct, but until then, neither of us knows for sure. I am convinced that the majority of the "good science" at this time resides on the side of genetics and biology being involved in Homosexuality.
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          Oct 24 2011: Thank you Jason Kather.
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          Oct 24 2011: Hi Craig,

          I see you have edited you response (removing me from my God-like stature.) Thank you for that. The air was a bit thin way up there.

          I am still not following how you are reading "judgment" into what I am saying. I am not making a judgment of any kind (other than judging that research findings might be more meaningful than personal opinion and anecdote.)

          I hear you, you believe being gay is a choice. And as indicated by Colleen's stories, you think our orientation can "change" over time.

          You are entitled to your opinion.

          As I have said, many times now, your opinion is not supported by the research I am aware of. The research indicates that our orientation is determined by a combination of genetics, maternal hormones, and brain development.

          Let's simplify. Let's say there are three "options." Straight, Gay, and Bisexual.

          A combination of genetics, maternal hormones, and brain development will determine how we "come out." (Pun intended.)

          If we come out (are born) straight, we get to choose members of the opposite sex as viable partners.

          If we come out (are born) gay, we get to choose members of the same sex as viable partners.

          If we come out (are born) bisexual, we get to choose members of the same sex, or of the opposite sex as viable partners.

          People who are born in the first two categories (the minority of the population, by the way) do not "change over time."

          The people born in the last category, can choose either a male or a female partner at any time. The genders of the partners they choose might change over time, their sexual orientation (bisexual) does not.

          Now, is it possible the research is wrong?


          That's what the scientific method is all about.

          But right now, as compelling as your opinion seems to be, I'm going to cast my vote on the side of the research.
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      Oct 24 2011: Craig,
      I agree that there are many physical, emotional, spiritual and cultural drivers that influence our choices.

      You bring up a very good point Craig...
      It's important to listen to what people have to say about themselves, rather than try to explain "them" based on statistics. I gave two examples of people who changed sexual preferences, and as you say Craig, it happens all the time. I also have many friends who knew they were attracted to same sex partners from the time they were young, and continue in same sex relationships as they are elderly. I've also talked in depth to them about this topic. When we truly listen to people and their experiences, we get more information than we do when we try to label people based on what we think we know.
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        Oct 24 2011: Oh, cut the moralizing.

        The question is a simple one: "Is being gay a choice, or genetic make up?"

        You opinion is irrelevant. As is mine. Which, like or not, leaves us with the research. And the research, I am aware of, is pretty clear.

        If you know of other research (not anecdotes) I'd (really) like to hear about it. As I say, I haven't studied this for a long time and there might be new findings.

        EDIT: The wiki article on the topic elaborates on some of the stuff I alluded to and then some ... it's quite good. I haven't read it all. Here's a link:

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          Oct 24 2011: As I said Thomas, I'm much more interested in people sharing their personal experiences, thoughts, and feelings about themselves, rather than evaluating "them" based on research.
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        Oct 24 2011: Again, cut the moralizing. If you want to have a nice warm fuzzy conversation about personal experiences, thoughts, and feelings people have about themselves, that's fine but this is not YOUR conversation, it's Emmanuel Mashandudze's. And his question is specific: "Is being gay a choice, or genetic make up?"

        Your opinion, based on anecdotal evidence, is it's a choice. [I presume, 100% of the time.]

        My opinion, based on research, is it is constrained by our genetic makeup. And, yes, within those constraints, an individual might have some latitude to choose. But, if an individual's genetic makeup does not support such latitude - and not everyone's does - they cannot choose themselves out of their sexual orientation.

        So is it a choice? Only if our biology allows it to be (which it does much of the time.)

        Personally, I could not choose to be gay if you offered me "all the tea in China."

        There's just no "spark" between me and guys.

        For my pseudo-brother, Pat*, it's the opposite. There's no way on God's green earth, a woman would ever get him ... interested.

        Could he "choose" otherwise? Not a chance.

        * Pat is my "pseudo-brother" because he "adopted" my Mom about 30 years ago and now he, and his partner Chris, are part of the family.
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          Oct 24 2011: Thomas,
          You are right. It is Emmanuel's conversation, and in his introduction, he states...
          "There are different points of view on sexual orientation. One says, "A person's sexual orientation is within the realm of choice except when raped or molested." From the several myths in the world, what makes a person gay? Are they born gay? Is it social upbringing that channels them to be gay? What do you think?"

          You see Thomas, Emmanuel asks...what do we think. That leaves the conversation open to all of us to honestly share our thoughts on the topic. If you actually read my comments Thomas, with an open heart and mind, you wouldn't have to "presume" anything about what I've offered.
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          Oct 24 2011: Thomas this is everyone's Conversation. No one owns it. Colleen simply gave her opinions, which are completely in line with what Emmanuel has proposed for the community to discuss. Please refrain from asking her to stop leaving her opinions. Thank you.

          As a lesbian, I disagree completely that homosexuality is a choice. Homosexuality is a label. Heterosexuality is also a label. They all describe varying degrees of intimate interactions with others that are not based on genetics but society and interactions. So honestly, I'm not sure what we're supposed to be discussing here, because you're all discussing labels, not people.

          I did not choose to be a lesbian. Society gave me that label. I chose to act on the desires, emotions, and feelings that naturally arise in me when I am in the company of women. Why don't I act on these desires with men? Because they don't exist when in the company of men. I have a different set of emotions, desires, and feelings in the company of men and I act on those desires.

          Do I think it's genetic? No. I don't think being straight is genetic either. The labels themselves are society and culture's own doing. Nurture, not nature.
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        Oct 24 2011: Corvida,

        You have made my point quite well, and we appear to be in agreement with regards to whether homosexuality is a choice or not. You say: "[You] did not choose to be a lesbian. Society gave me that label. I chose to act on the desires, emotions, and feelings that naturally arise in me when I am in the company of women."

        You did not choose; and you are acting on desires that arise "naturally."


        Now, you may have an opinion about why you feel the way you do about women, (the label is not particularly relevant - without "labels" we cannot write. You are also a "human being" - that is also a label society has applied to another set of attributes you possess - which attributes are also genetically determined, by the way, or you could choose to be a dolphin.)

        Your opinion - that sexual orientation is not a genetically determined trait - is not supported by the research I am aware of. The research indicates the reason we do have preferences, one way or the other, is a combination of genetics, maternal hormones, and brain development.

        Once those are expressed, we can choose within the constraints delineated by our own genotype.

        You are constrained to choose women. As am I. Others have been given - by virtue of genetics, maternal hormones, and brain development - more latitude in the options they can choose from.
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          Oct 24 2011: I'm not constrained to do anything. I could CHOOSE to ignore those desires, feelings, emotions and not act on them with women. Anyone can go against their feelings. You can even trick yourself into thinking you like something you don't.

          I could easily give into the media and society and start having sexual relations with men. That wouldn't necessarily be a genetic disposition, but I'm certainly capable of it in a physical manner. Everyone is.

          Good point though Thomas! I like your reply.
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        Oct 24 2011: Colleen,

        My point is not that your opinions are not "welcome" but rather, the author of the conversation has not limited the conversation to "people sharing their personal experiences, thoughts, and feelings about themselves rather than evaluating "them" based on research."

        And, to clarify, citing research is not an evaluation of "them" - it is citing research.

        Any "evaluating" that is being done might be a projection on the part of the person who is seeing the "evaluating."
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          Oct 24 2011: You are right Thomas...the author of the conversation has not limited the conversation, so then it is not appropriate to tell others how s/he will participate.

          I am very aware of "projection" Thomas:>)
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        Oct 24 2011: Hi Corvida,

        QUOTE: "I'm not constrained to do anything."

        Ah, human hubris - we are NOT constrained by our nature. You might not be but the rest of us are (whether we want to admit it or not, is another thing.)

        Yes, you get to choose whether you ACT on your desires. You do not get to CHOOSE your desires.

        QUOTE: "You can even trick yourself into thinking you like something you don't."

        True enough. Given cultural attitudes towards sexuality, I would not be surprised to find a lot of people who are (genetically determined to be;-)) bisexual, would "trick" themselves into thinking they were straight.

        Not SUCH a bad thing ... unless the specific opposite-sex partner they choose is abusive and, as a result of their "self-deception," they reject, say, a same-sex partner who might be a better choice.

        Given that so many of us have been given the latitude to choose either way, I think the stigma of choosing a same-sex partner is an anachronism.

        QUOTE: "Good point though Thomas! I like your reply."

        Thanks. I liked yours too.
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        Oct 25 2011: QUOTE: ... it is not appropriate to tell others how s/he will participate.

        And you are doing?

        I am very aware of "projection" Thomas:>)

        Yes, I know.
  • Oct 24 2011: I believe (!) there are certain genetic predispositions that may guide some peoples decisions, but those same predispositions don't make all people with them homosexuals any more than it keeps all those without them heterosexual. Ultimately I believe it is a choice, with the caveate it is a mostly sub-conscious choice in much the same way that who we fall in love with is a sub-conscious choice. We may never know for sure as the study of what is truly causal is filled with more prejudicial bias than the debate over how the universe was created.

    All debate aside as long as people are alive they have the capacity to choose whatever they want for themselves, and environment will play a part as opportunities presnt themselves.
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      Oct 25 2011: When did I choose my blue eyes and red hair?
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          Oct 25 2011: Interesting notion that " I " was conscious enough to make a decision before my body with brain with mind (the decision machine) existed, even before the moment of conception which created my DNA profile which expressed my body and ultimately the " me " that I am. LOL...
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        Oct 25 2011: I think the colours of hairs couldn't be and cannot be choices you can make as you are born with the hair and the colour of your eyes is there too. How you are sexaulity orientanted becomes only a matter when you start to see the need to be with a partner and as we choose who to be with.I am sure that is when we make the choices of whether to be straight or the other way round or both.

        This generation is more of an experimental kind. We want to see experiment on everything and then define what we find as normal because several people do it. What makes something bad or good is society. If thieves where in their own world and a thief was their ruler, theft would be a crime but a way of life. Society makes titles and makes classes but is that how it is supposed to be?
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          Oct 25 2011: Somewhere in the thread above this point in the conversation it is alluded to that we make ALL choices about ourselves. Hence my question "when did I choose my blue eyes and red hair?" to establish in the conversation that there are attributes of our human profile we did not choose but are expressions of our DNA profile. OR - there are some things we are born with and do not choose. Thus there exists a possibility that sexual preference is a genetic expression not a choice.

          At this time I don't think we have enough information to affirm or refute that no component of, some component of, OR all of homosexuality is genetic or choice.

          There are interesting research projects that shed light on this possibility such as Helen Fisher's research on "The Brain In Love" (see TED talk http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/helen_fisher_studies_the_brain_in_love.html). Dr Fisher's research has shown there is a physical part of the brain that becomes active when in love. At this time we don't have a clue as to why or how that part was formed - was it DNA expression (hardware) or environmentally programmed (software on a neural net) or a combination of both. Oddly we don't know how decisions are made (choices) in the brain or mind.

          Until we understand how decisions are made in general in the brain how are we to know if a result (like homosexual preference) is by decision or by genetics or a combination.
  • Oct 24 2011: I have several friends who have admittedly made the choice on who they're attracted to.
    ...To an extent it is dependent on genetic makeup, but there IS the "choice" factor. One of my friends not too long ago was constantly changing her mind whether or not she was attracted to guys or girls or both. She'd often switch and be quite confident of her decision. Knowing this, I'd say it depends on both genetics and personal preference.
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      Oct 24 2011: Nope.

      We choose what we like, and what we like - including latitude of acceptable choices - is determined by genetics. (It's a little more complicated than that.)

      The fact is, some of us like "both" and so we fluctuate back and forth and may eventually settle in one camp or another. But if we happen to be "100%" gay, we cannot choose to be straight anymore than if we are "100%" straight, we can chose to be gay.

      Check out Kinsey's studies from the 40s and 50s, and, of course, some of the more recent stuff.
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      Oct 24 2011: Hi Austin,
      I agree...there may be a choice factor as well as genetic factor, and it probably differs with all people.

      A friend of mine, was married for many years, had two kids in a heterosexual relationship, and never questioned her sexual preference. After divorcing, she spent many years dating and in relationships with men. Finally, she met a woman who she totally connected with and loved, and as she said..."what difference does it make? I love this person, and I want to spend my life with her...it doesn't matter". She was (she passed away) a psychotherapist, had done a lot of research and looked at all the studies. The only question was why does it matter?

      I have another friend who clearly labeled himself gay from the time he was a young boy, and had same sex relationships throughout his young adult life. He labeled himself "100% gay". In his 40's, he decided that he really wanted to have a family and heterosexual marriage, and that is what he has been happily living for about 20 years.

      I believe that people are people, and I don't personally like labels. We can look at all the research we want to, and I prefer to consider information from real life experiences, which tells me that there are MANY variables.
      We (humans) often want to "KNOW" the answer, and once we have lebeled something, we stop being open to possibilities.
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        Oct 24 2011: She couldn't have made the choice if her "genetic makeup" didn't support it. But like Dubravac Smailovic Amirasays, in the above post, many of us have a proclivity to go either way. However, if we fall on either extreme of the spectrum, we can't choose our way out of whatever our predisposition is.

        I forget what the actual numbers are but I think it's something like 80% of us are sort of "ambiguous" with 10% on either end of the spectrum who can only play for one team.

        The reason I put "genetic makeup" in quotations is because our sexual orientation is not JUST a "gene" thing - apparently it also has something to do with hormones secreted by the mother during gestation.

        It was a long time ago that I studied this stuff so there may be new research that sheds more light on the topic. And someone may have a better memory than me.


        PS Just because your friend decided to raise a family does not mean he can decide not to be gay - if he is. If he is, he is simply a gay man who decided to raise a family. Seriously, we do not get to "choose our orientation," we only get to choose our behaviour.
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          Oct 24 2011: Thank you for the information Thomas, and as I said above, I'm not really concerned with data and research. I agree with William, who says that "we may never know for sure as the study of what is truly causal is filled with more prejudicial bias than the debate over how the universe was created".

          I don't need to explain why my friends choose certain partners. I know they are my friends no matter what their sexual preference is.

          If you need to say "she couldn't have made the choice if her "genetic makeup" didn't support it", that's your choice. I accept that we are all different, love people for who they are, and it doesn't have anything to do with his/her sexual preferences. I don't need to explain why people choose certain life partners.
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          Oct 24 2011: I just noticed your edit Thomas.
          Seriously, I do not have a desire to explain other people. I'm simply sharing some stories about people I have interacted with, observed living their life experiences and spoken in depth with regarding this topic:>)
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        Oct 24 2011: QUOTE: "Seriously, I do not have a desire to explain other people."

        Of course you do, that's why you explained your friends choices. So now we know your friends made a choice. And the question remains: Was the choice "arbitrary" or was it predicated on a biological (genetic) predisposition? (That's what has been asked: Is it a choice or genetic.)

        If it was arbitrary, YOU should be able to choose any sexual orientation you like (as should we all) and enjoy each one equally. If it is not arbitrary, and your choices are constrained to whatever your personal preferences might actually be, the question is: "Are your choices constrained by culture, environment, religion, or genetics? (Or something else?)

        As far as memory serves (and my cursory reading of the wiki article) the foundation is genetic, in conjunction with maternal hormones (and brain development.)

        We cannot arbitrarily choose an orientation that our personal "biology" does not support.
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    Oct 23 2011: I dont see any evidence of choice,try on queer for size? in modern studies its been used as a way of transcending terminologies... what is gay, straight, trans, male, female, intersex... evidence has suggested there are five sex's so that kind of alters the terms of the question somewhat!
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    Oct 23 2011: Most African countries do not approve such choices. I have learnt through this not to mind and maybe have space to accomodate people's choices. I grew up in an environment where you are jailed for being gay and having gone to an all boys school it was an issue that could get you expelled. I clear understanding of these concept of an upbringing and a genetic modification before birth, if there are true, it would help some to understand that maybe its not just about choice.

    Discrimination exists in all sorts of forms in the world. What drives most discrimination is ignorance and lack of information in a certain area. I for one, really wanted to know why people are what they are sexually because i have seen discrimination and jail terms for sexual orientation. These religious beliefs and religions around us preach the same thing and in Christianity Leviticus echo these sentiments. So which is right and are the leaders who do not approve this doing something wrong against human rights? What really makes a right? Is it society or a few individuals with a certain line of influencial thinking and power over the others?
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    Oct 23 2011: I took a good look at the literature on this topic during my MA in Psychology and my own conclusion based on the studies is that no one really knows with any certainty but that there is pretty good evidence that sexuality is often influenced in the womb. When a mother undergoes great stress it alters the composition of hormones in the uterus. Additionally there is some evidence that with subsequent pregnancies a mother's body begins to oppose the testosterone which alters the female fetus into a male at the fourth month of pregnancy.

    I think that the best answer so far is Paula's. I live in a country where sexual orientation is protected against hateful acts and prejudice. Last Sunday all of my children, who happen to be straight attended a gay wedding and reception that was a very joyful event. With all the hate in the world why are we not attacking and worrying about hate rather than undermining love in whichever form it manifests?
  • Oct 23 2011: I think that I really don't know. When we are born we begin taking in information, messages with meanings, that we go along with, conclude on our own, evaluate or change somehow, coming up with something new. All this without conscious knowing of what we are doing because we are so young. We now know that the genes in us can be changed by our environments, information we take in, and thus, our responses do too. We are given "choices" at a cellular level, again that we are not aware of. What or how much, do we learn about attraction, sexual or otherwise that is influenced by what is going on around us? And what then, about those who begin to sense and know within themselves, that they are not attracted (fit in), or are like most of the people in their lives? Is this a choice or a genetic condition that occurred? I don't think it really matters any more than what is someones favorite color, guitar sound, body type, and on and on. But we have had so much false influence embedded into our psyches about sex and sexual orientation that it has poisoned us. We are not so much different personalities as we are "poison-alities". Genetics gives us choices in how we may respond, As we remove the false information and prevalent phony prejudices, orientation can most definitely become more of a choice. Our senses (WE) need experiences. That is what they are lacking at birth. Experience is of supreme value in life. Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment. What we have had for too long is limiting our experience from moral standpoints that don't serve the human condition and spirit. In fact, they try to destroy it. Coming to understand ones own sexual orientation is a formidable task, limited by only one thing. Not accepting and loving yourself for and as you are. We are supposed to love one another and not hide it. If there is a God and a Devil, why were so many taught to make other people into Devils? All sexual orientations are "normal".
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    Oct 22 2011: I think it encompassess all the determinants you mention as does heterosexuality.
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      Oct 23 2011: I hear your point. Since the word normal means conformance to an average in some contexts, Is homosexuality an abnormal selection in the distribution of human sexual orientation?
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      Nov 10 2011: *Sigh*

      I am not sure why certain TEDsters like to make assumptions about what others do and do not know, and have and have not studied. For the record, philosophy is precisely what I studied in university - largely logic, but not solely. At UToronto, there are two streams: one through St. Mike's, where you can assume the existence of God, and the one I took. (In other words, I rule out theological determinism entirely.)

      On top of that, there are a sufficient number of branches of the study and how it relates to determinism, that your assumption would only reveal your own paradigm, not mine.

      But as pertains to this particular case, you can assume that I am exercising free will and choosing lack of interest over mild irritation, which possibly (probably) at a younger age would have resulted in my arguing with you out of pride.

      Suffice it to say that I disagree with your assessment of sexuality as choice (except as stated).
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          Nov 10 2011: Mr Patterson,

          Your logic is faulty. For reasons that make sense only to you, you are applying the concept of "free will" and choice to an aspect of human existence that is as determined by nature (genetics, epigentics, and evolution) as is hair colour, eye colour, and gender.

          Sexual orientation is not a choice.

          Eye colour is not a choice.

          Gender is not a choice. (Surgical intervention notwithstanding.)

          That you cannot understand this is not really a concern to me. That you insist on providing a faulty answer to Emmanuel's question is.

          I really do not mind if you are confused. I do mind if you mislead someone who has come here for an answer.

          Your argument that, "If anyone ever changes their sexual orientation in human history, then it follows that sexual preference is a CHOICE" is simple nonsense.

          It's like saying if, "If anyone ever levitated in human history, then it follows that obeying the laws of gravity is a CHOICE."

          We can SAY anything we want. Saying something is so does not make it so.

          But let's just say, there is one person in human history that "changed their sexual orientation." Let's say someone named Pat, "switched" from girls to boys; can you prove the reason for the switch was that Pat changed sexual orientation?

          Simple observation (which it appears is all you are capable of) would make it appear so. It would seem as if Pat chose to change his or her sexual orientation. But, Craig, can you prove that?

          No you cannot.

          Why? Because you cannot know what his or her underlying orientation actually is; all you can see is the behaviour.

          So aside from your hypothetical musing that one person might have changed his or her sexual orientation, this is what the research says: the underlying mechanism that governed Pat's apparent "CHOICE" was determined by genetics, in utero maternal hormones, and brain development.

          But let's give you "one person" who chose his or her sexual orientation, does that mean everyone can?

          Maybe "one person" did levitate.
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          Nov 10 2011: Alas, Thomas, I am out of thumbs up for you.
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          Nov 11 2011: Thomas, same here, cannot give you more than one "thumbs up"
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        Nov 10 2011: LOL!

        I'm going to choose to take that as a compliment ;-)
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          Nov 11 2011: Gisela, do I re-write the comment? ;-)

          It caught my eye, I think it was funny, and true as well! You do make us walk the line... and that's good!
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      Nov 8 2011: Well I have considered molestation. If you are abused am sure there is little choice involved in your actions. An unabused being is what we want to find out if they make choices.
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        Nov 8 2011: Hi Emmanuel,

        We cannot choose how we feel. We can choose how we act on how we feel.

        Not too long ago it was illegal in England to be gay. Gay people were put in jail.

        People who were gay, chose to live a "normal" life. They got married had children, Went to church and so on. But they were still gay. They still felt sexually attracted to people of the same sex. And very often, they had relationships outside of marriage. Some decided they did not want to "hide" - and, if they had the money to do so, they would move to other countries (like France) were it was legal to be gay.

        People who are gay can not choose not to be gay. They can choose not to act gay.

        People who are straight can not choose not to be straight. They can choose not to act straight.

        People who are "in the middle" can choose to act any way they like and they will not be "acting."

        Whether we have been abused or not, will not change this in any general way - although it might have an impact on an individual basis.

        If we could choose not to be gay or straight then Edwin Cameron could simply choose to be straight (Cameron is a gay South African judge.)

        How about Richard Simmons; do you think he could choose to be straight?
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      Nov 8 2011: Yeah. OK.

      I suppose it's a choice. Like EATING is a choice. Clearly, as some people go on hunger strikes and choose not to eat, the rest of us are just deluding ourselves that it's anything but.
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          Nov 8 2011: Craig,

          No worries. But I assure you, it is not a game and no matter what you think, we do not get to choose our sexual preference any more than we get to choose our eye colour.

          Why you have a hard time accepting this is simply beyond me. There in nothing "wrong" with the fact our orientation is determined by genetics, hormones, and brain development. How do you even hear "judgment" in that?

          Your interpretive skills are truly bizarre. Baffling, really. You are certainly committed to NOT hearing anything that does not conform to your beliefs and your tenacity is impressive.

          That you hear that our sexual orientation is determined genetically as a negative is mystifying.

          Nature decides whether you are going to like males or females; how can you see that as negative?

          Seriously, do you think Richard Simmons could choose to be straight?

          Craig, we do not get to choose our sexual orientation. Period.

          Your opinion has no bearing on the facts.

          I'll leave you with a quote by the late Andy Rooney:

          "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."

          Anyway, I choose to leave you to live in your imagined world were Truman Capote could have chosen to be a real ladies man ... if he had wanted to.

          Maybe someone else can breach your cognitive barricade.
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          Nov 8 2011: QUOTE: "...Yes, eating is a choice too ..."

          Yes, Craig your are right, eating is a choice.

          Needing to eat and wanting to eat are not.
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      Nov 8 2011: Craig,

      Ah, I see. You have a unique definition of the word "choice."

      I see you have chosen to be a white male (if your picture is of you.)

      Would you kindly demonstrate the power of choice (as you see it) by choosing to be, say, a black woman?

      Let's say, a gay, black woman.

      Now the fact that "every fibre of your being" says you are a heterosexual, white male should in no way impede your ability to choose. And, as we can simply choose to be, I assume, anything, at any time, you should be able to choose to be a white male again if you do not actually like being a gay, black female.

      If you liked the gay part, you could choose to be a gay, white male.

      Okay, Go!


      What part of my challenge do you think of as nonsensical?

      The black woman part?

      The gay part?

      The choice part?

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        Nov 8 2011: Quote "Sexual orientation is determined by genetics, in utero maternal hormones, and brain development."

        I work with a lot of people and I seen several behavior and in these people came this question of sexual orientation. Reason why I had an assumed mentality that this is all driven by choice, is because I see gay people who dress as girls when there are man and females lesbians who dress like guys. That's is where I loose this whole idea. If its something hard wired in the brains I am confident that I am a man only think is I am attracted to another man the same thing in women. I have a feeling there are some people who really choose to be a part of this orientation. Such behavior dont think is really think is for someone with hormonal hard wired to be gay.

        I have seen the same with kids with attention deficit. I would like to believe some people become gay to get attention. trouble now is we cannot make the demarcation between the choosers and those who do it because of genetics.

        One point I would like to say about your argument above is, I believe when we come into the world we have certain characteristics already like sex, race etc. Like I mentioned earlier sexual orientation only matters when our hormones start to race uncontrollably at puberty. One amazing things is people would date both sexes before they are gay. Most people I asked have always told me, 'I realised I was gay'. Anything that has a realisation I think has a choice behind it
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          Nov 8 2011: Hi Emmanuel,

          You are right, some people behave in particular ways "to get attention." And that could include some people "acting" gay to get attention (assuming they are not gay.) But that is adding a degree of complexity that goes beyond the original question and I suggest it would represent a very, very small percentage of people who engage in such behaviour.

          When you say anything that has a "realization ... has a choice behind it" I would not agree.

          It might be true sometimes. For example I might realize I like to drink iced tea more than I like hot tea. That is a choice.

          But if I check my ancestry and realize my grandfather was from Africa and I am part black, that is not a choice.

          In an earlier post, I mentioned many people are not "100%" gay or "100%" straight. Kinsey used a six-point scale I think it was and most of us would place somewhere "in the middle."

          About 11% of males and 7% of females were right in the middle (rating a "3") and equally attracted to both men and women.

          That means many of us would be comfortable choosing a partner of either sex, to a greater or lesser degree, depending on were we were on "the scale."

          Those of us on either end would not feel at all comfortable choosing "either/or." For those of us on the extreme ends of the scale only one kind of partner will "work."

          That is probably were this whole "choice" discussion originates. Many of us would be, more or less, comfortable choosing a male or a female partner regardless of our own gender.

          Many of us would not.

          This propensity to choose is determined by our sexual orientation and our sexual orientation is determined by genetics, in utero maternal hormones, and brain development.

          So can we choose to be "gay?"

          Not if we are a "0" on the Kinsey scale.

          Can we choose to be straight?

          Not if we are a "6" on the Kinsey scale.

          But if we are "3" we can choose anyone we want and be equally satisfied.

          Can we CHOOSE to be a "3?" How about a "0" or a "6?"

          What do you think?
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          Nov 8 2011: I'm thinking the wheels fell off somewhere in your internal definition of "choose".

          Looking to me like you have some bizarre need to feel in control of your life and are therefore are clinging to everything as a function of "free will".

          Had you ever had a friend who sustained a serious head injury and actually seen the difference in personality that comes with a physical reconfiguration, I suspect you would be less stubborn on this front.

          There are things that are chosen, and there are things that are chemical/physical.
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          Nov 8 2011: Craig,

          I have no problem with the word "choice;" it is your application of it that is baffling.

          Were did we go wrong?

          Well, you seem to be offended or chagrinned that nature would have the audacity to determine for us something you believe to be a choice. And you seem to be upset that I have the temerity to say so.

          For reasons only you understand, you wish to assert we can choose to "override" something that is determined for us by nature.

          And reasoning has no effect on your stance, so we can only assume that your position - that we can choose our sexual orientation - has great emotional import for you.

          If I told you we had a genetic predisposition to LIKE food, I do not think you would argue the point. That we can choose not to eat, does not alter the fact that we are designed to LIKE food. We cannot choose to not like food. We like food. We cannot choose to not like food.

          We are designed that way. It goes beyond mere "genetics" it even goes beyond "epigenetics." I assume you would have no problem understanding this.

          And yet when we substitute "sexual orientation" for food, you seem to lose all ability to reason.

          Just as we are designed to like food, we are designed to like sex. How these desires are "expressed" is the result of genetics and epigenetics.

          That means they might be expressed differently in different people depending on genetics and environment (genetics + "environment" = epigenetics.)

          Some people like cilantro. Some people do not. It is not "a choice." (I am not making this up or using the example lightly, some people are genetically predisposed to not like cilantro; to them it tastes like soap and they can not CHOOSE to like it.)

          Some people LIKE men. Some people do not. It is not "a choice."

          Some people LIKE women. Some people do not. It is not "a choice."

          Some people LIKE both men and women. It is not "a choice."

          Some people LIKE cilantro. Some people do not. It is not "a choice."

          This is neither "bad" or "good." It just is.
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      Nov 7 2011: Is being human a choice or genetic makeup?

      Same answer.


      QUOTE: "Its a choice as all preferences are."


      Being gay is no more a choice than being straight is a choice.

      Are you straight?

      Are you gay?

      Are you bisexual?

      Whichever one you are - just try to choose another one and see how that works for you.

      You can choose any BEHAVIOUR you want.

      You cannot choose what you are inherently attracted to.

      You can choose to "act" gay, "act" straight, "act" bisexually, or even to "act" asexually. But you cannot choose what your natural inclination is going to be.


      We have covered this before.

      Nothing has changed in the last few days.

      It is still not a choice.
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        Nov 7 2011: Thomas, I have a question. In human kind, what governs the bracket of things that we call 'choices' ? When does something become a choice? Maybe separating the construction of such words in the questions would help us understand these manifestations .
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          Nov 7 2011: QUOTE: "In human kind, what governs the bracket of things that we call 'choices' ? When does something become a choice?"

          Hi Emmanuel,

          Those are interesting questions. In simple terms, choice implies we have alternatives and we select from those alternatives. We choose.

          If there is no alternative, there is no choice.

          We cannot choose to live forever. [And for those who think we already do live forever: just flip it around - We cannot choose to not live forever.]

          No alternative, no choice.

          We can choose our friends but we cannot choose our parents (or our biological siblings.)

          We cannot choose the circumstance of our birth but we can choose our response to our circumstance.

          We cannot choose our "feelings" we can choose how we react to our feelings (generally speaking.)

          So is being gay, a behaviour; or is it a feeling?

          If it is a behaviour, we can choose to be gay or not, simply by choosing to "act" gay or not.

          If it is a feeling, and we have that feeling, there is nothing we can do about that. No matter how we act, we will still be gay (or straight, bisexual or asexual.)

          Sexual orientation is determined by genetics, in utero maternal hormones, and brain development. The impact these have on our preferences are "imposed" upon us - they determine what we are going to "feel" about men, women, and sex - we cannot choose otherwise.

          We can choose our behaviour.
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          Nov 7 2011: QUOTE: "Get over it, it don't matter one wit. Leave those who love one another alone, and work on the ones who hate.... or are self righteous.... Know any?"

          Dear Mr Patterson,

          There you go getting all snotty again.

          [Deep sigh ... let's try this ... again.]

          What you have seen is people changing their behaviour. They would not change their behaviour if their underlying predisposition had not induced and allowed them to do so.

          They did not "suddenly" choose to become gay (or straight.) They chose to act on feelings that were already present even if they were, or had previously been, suppressed, latent, or otherwise unacknowledged.

          Your stories are lovely, and your spiritual beliefs I am sure bring you much comfort and solace but, Mr Patterson, they are not particularly useful in this instance.

          Perhaps you would like to get over that?


          Your insistence that I am in some way attacking people who love one another ("Leave those who love one another alone") is so disconnected from reality as to indicate some underlying sensitivity, on your part, that renders dispassionate listening virtually impossible. That is, whatever it is you think I am implying is a fabrication of your over-active and hypersensitive imagination.

          You will have to deal with that on your own.
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      Nov 8 2011: You say "choice" I say "they stopped being in denial".

      And while a certain segment of the population can be bisexual and therefore for them it actually IS a choice, the rest of us, not so much. I could intellectually decide to go sleep with women now, but pretty much every other fibre of my being yells "not happening!"

      If it were actually a choice, that wouldn't happen.
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    Oct 25 2011: Just go to Google and ask. Good luck!
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      Oct 25 2011: Hi Craig,

      Thanks for the clarification.

      I understand you believe God has a role to play in "everything." That's fine.

      As far as I can tell, there are no tests we can do to determine if God plays a role in whether we are gay or not. And, of course, not everyone believes in God; and many who do, do not believe in "your" God.

      So bringing God into the discussion, as meaningful as it is to you, does not really help us much other than to shed some light on the foundation of your opinion.

      I understand that, based on your belief system, you assert sexual orientation is a choice.

      I do understand your position.

      I do not agree with you.

      And neither does the science.

      Can YOU understand THAT?

      Based on the research I am aware of, science says, our orientation is determined by genetics, in utero maternal hormones, and brain development.

      That our orientation "shows up" as a choice we make, is neither here nor there. What the heck do you think a heterosexual man would CHOOSE as a partner, a cow? No, a heterosexual man would CHOOSE a woman. But the heterosexual man DID NOT get to choose if he would be heterosexual.

      Can YOU understand THAT?

      Your religious conviction and belief is not a valid counter-argument to science. I do not expect you to change your beliefs but, surely you can understand your beliefs - no matter how coherent they are to you - do not have the force to counter empirical research.

      I assume you have the good sense that, if someone were to present their religious belief as a counter-argument to, say, the earth being older than 6000 years, you would say, "No, the science does not support such an assertion; the earth is older than 6000."

      Well, science says our sexual orientation is determined by genetics, in utero maternal hormones, and brain development.

      You can CHOOSE to believe that or not.

      But as I say, I choose to believe the science and not your religious-based belief or your personal anecdotes.

      I get your point. I do not agree with you.
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    Oct 24 2011: I hear yours too Emmanuel. Im not so concerned with normal or abnormal these days unless it inteferes with a person's quality of life. Given the ratio of heterosexuals to homosexuals throughout all of life. I'd say it was pretty normal. Good luck with your research, I hope you find what it is you are looking for.
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      Oct 24 2011: I suppose it is. The battle of acceptance and of social fittness in some other areas fueled my question. First world countries have accepted so many things that wouldn't be as normal in some countries. Freedom of choice does not always exist.
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    Oct 24 2011: I would have to say it is not a choice but a matter of genetics or biology.

    My reasons for saying so is because I do no think, even with the greatest amount of volition, that I can choose to be something that I am not. I do not want to this to come off the wrong way, I have much respect for homosexuals (I have many friends who are).

    Anyhow I think by the time we are little we sort of have an idea of what/who we are attracted to. There may be psychological influences that I may not know about (if anyone do please fill me in on the details) but I think it is moreso a product of biology.

    Homosexuality and bisexuality appears in nature as well: Bonobos are great examples. Being that we are about 98% genetically related to our primate buddies I fail to really see the issue with this outside of ignorance from those who are against homosexuality.

    This is really a case in which evidence need to be placed at a higher standard than religion, politics, social norms and even certain values. I think there are many other things that religious individuals, politicians, businessman and others who oppose homosexuality to worry about such as poverty, how to maximize good morals, education, etc.

    To answer your last question "Is it social upbringing that channels them to be gay?" I would have to say, if anything, social upbringing, would not make them gay, given that homosexuality, at least in the U.S., has a bad stigma on it for the most part. Put it this way: If being gay is an individual choice and ones society does not accept it, then to choose to be homosexual would essentially be committing social suicide and to be honest I do not think there are many people who are willing to put themselves in that type of situation in which they are outcast.

    Great post by the way
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    Oct 24 2011: . I understand your response above. Which part of my argument should I clarify.
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    Oct 24 2011: I understand you and there is no offense. It sharing ideas and no hard feelings. There was a comment that had percentages and that is what i was responding to. Pardon me there is no blackberry app as yet it might have been misplaced.

    For interest sake how is artificial insemination in two males who are attracted to each other? I know there is assisted reproductive technology but how does it really work if you are aware?
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      Oct 24 2011: Hi Emmanuel,

      I'm not sure who you are responding to - the way this forum works, replies are usually "nested" under the comment that is being responded to. Your comments are "free standing." (It might help if you addressed comments to an individual if it is addressed to one person.)

      Artificial insemination is not possible between two males. If two men wish to "have a baby" the only options are to adopt or engage a "surrogate mother."
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        Oct 24 2011: I understand and I have been doing that earlier but like I said in a post above, There is no app for blackberry so some of the nested features like the reply button will not reflecting. I realised what it has caused now, mixed up replies. Pardon me for that.
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      Oct 24 2011: Craig,

      I am really intrigued by your responses to me. They do not connect with anything I am actually saying.

      Your comments are also a little general so I cannot connect them to anything specific I have said.

      For example, you say, "Being Gay is not a DIS EASE."

      What, in anything I have said, makes you think I am saying being gay is a disease?

      Genetics determines eye colour. Are brown eyes a disease?

      You also make comments about LOVE and GOD that I am unable to connect to what I am saying.

      Perhaps you could clarify how you are interpreting what I am saying?

      My basic point is our sexual orientation is determined by genetics, maternal hormones, and brain development.

      How are you connecting all of these other things (GOD, LOVE, disease, etc.) to something as simple and basic as that?
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          Oct 25 2011: Hi Craig,

          Oh, there is no pain and suffering - and thanks for your concern - just a little disconnect between what I am saying and your replies.

          The disease one makes sense now that you connect it to a specific comment. Perhaps I misinterpreted your comment - to Brittany, was it? - I thought you were trying to imply she could overcome a genetic predisposition by choice.

          And the whole GOD and LOVE thing just doesn't connect to what I am saying at all. (That you have inserted it as a determining factor, does not imply I have expressed an opinion about it either way.)

          As to homosexuality being a choice, I think you are mistaking behaviour for constitution.

          We can choose any kind of behaviour we like but we cannot choose what we are inherently attracted to.

          Here's an analogy: Cilantro.

          Some people like it. Some people hate it.

          But the interesting thing is it is not "a choice" ... For some of us, cilantro tastes like soap.

          We cannot choose to like it ... even if we wanted to. We can choose to eat it.

          I understand you believe sexual orientation is a choice.

          Let me be clear: Sexual orientation is nothing like saying "I like blond hair" (unless we find we have a genetic predisposition for that too - and we might.) You identify as heterosexual. You did not say, "I choose to be heterosexual" you said, "I am heterosexual."

          That is my point: You ARE heterosexual. You did not choose to be heterosexual.

          Is this really that hard to understand?
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      Oct 24 2011: Craig,

      What is your sexual orientation? [It's a rhetorical question.]

      Think about your answer.

      Hold the answer in your mind.

      Is your orientation "your choice?" [It's a rhetorical question.]

      If so, you should be free to choose another orientation and it would be equally satisfying to you. (If sexual orientation is a choice, it means, just that, you can choose.)

      Now think about this: Do you really think you could choose a sexual orientation other than the one you identified in my opening question.

      If your answer is no, then sexual orientation (including being gay) is NOT a choice.

      If your answer is yes, perhaps you are bisexual.
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    Oct 24 2011: Every person has a besexuality.There is a question of equilibre.
    But problem is : In one case there is a genetic mistake, another one is sociologic and psichologic.
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      Oct 24 2011: Nope.

      You are sort of right, MANY people do fall somewhere on a continuum and so may have a sexual orientation that is a little bit flexible but there are some people on either end of the scale who are "100%" straight or "100%" gay.
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      Oct 25 2011: Genetic Mistake? Aside from the issue of discussion how is it possible to make genetic mistake?
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    Oct 24 2011: There is something called natural selection, this process can result in adaptations that specialize populations for particular ecological niches and may eventually result in the emergence of new species or continued survival of species. Say we choose to be gay 100%. That leads to extinction of human kind. Is there sexual reproduction without creation of new organism. What comes out as an offspring of a gay species couple.

    I am not against their self fulfillment of the sexual pleasures, but continued survival of mankind. With choices comes survival. Dinosaurs lived 165 million years on the face of the earth and then maybe it was choice that made them fail to survive and become extinct. Humankind has only been on the face of the earth for 200 000 years and we are making choices of all sorts. Are we going to survive for 165millions years? Its just choice I suppose.
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      Oct 24 2011: That does not lead to extinction. You're saying people won't have a brain if they choose to be 100% gay? That's absurd.

      Artificial insemination is alive and kicking, a thriving business and alternative for homosexual couples to procreate. Even without artificial insemination, what makes you think people wouldn't be smart enough to get together and figure out how to continue procreation without disrespecting their life, values, beliefs, and themselves?

      Homosexuality does not and will never lead to extinction. Please give humans more credit than you are currently doing with this hypothesis.
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        Oct 24 2011: The whole point of sharing ideas is to get insightful knowledge on subject in question. I never spoke about people's lack of brain by choosing to be gay, if it is a choice after all. I was responding to a comment above. A debatable subject has no right or wrong answer and one who has better and convincing answer or responses is support by many.

        I believe there is artificial insemination and it does work so well. There is no state that will lead the world to be 100% gay anyway. Its just an argument.
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          Oct 24 2011: Quoting your argument Emmanual, " Say we choose to be gay 100%. That leads to extinction of human kind. Is there sexual reproduction without creation of new organism. What comes out as an offspring of a gay species couple. "

          You just said that if we choose to be gay it would lead to extinction of human kind.

          Saying that if we choose to be gay it would lead to extinction is a pretty bold statement that there's a lack of mental progression associated with being a homosexual. I'm not sure what comment you were replying to as your original comment appears as a standalone comment. My apologies if i'm not getting the full context of your reply.
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    Oct 24 2011: Society has channeled our judgements and what we believe in. The people we become are govern by the environment we are brought up in. Modifying these hard wired ideas and beliefs isn't easy. Thanks to TED, sharing ideas and conversations has never been so good.

    I believe life is all about being happy and embracing the joys of this life but funny how its affects so many people to associate with people because of their sexual orientation.
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    Oct 23 2011: It's neither a choice or genetic makeup. It'll have to be environmental factors, although nothing as obvious as parental upbringing or living conditions. Surely nobody would suggest that a preference for blond women comes from parental upbringing (someone might suggest genetics but that can't be the end of it. Same for gayness.