Being gay- Learned behavior or born with it?

Definitely learned. When you’re a kid you have no sexual urges until atleast 10 or 11 years old. Up to that point, everyone and everything is having an influence on you… Then you end up making the decision which team to bat for. What do you dopers think?

“Then you end up making the decision which team to bat for.” Did you do this? I don’t recall making any such choice; what I remember is starting to get a sense that there was something interesting about those girls that hadn’t been there before, and that it had to do with some changes going on with my body that reacted to them.

The well-nigh-universal testimonial of gay people is that it is something they recognized about themselves, not something that they chose to become. Why do you feel they’re in error about themselves?

And what about those people who say that they “knew they were gay” at ages before puberty? How does your idea take them into account?

I’m not out to condemn you for coming up with the OP, but it does seem to me that there are some serious problems with it.

Hasn’t this been debated a million times already?

Nope, I never made the decision that you speak of. In fact, I made a very concerted effort to be straight. I dated plenty of females, had sex with them, prayed that I would be straight, told myself it was a phase, etc…

Finally, I came to the conclusion that it was impossible to be something that I am not. It was at that point, that I started to like myself for the first time and truly be happy in this world, mainly because I stopped living a lie. If any gay person ever wanted to be straight, it was me. It just doesn’t work that way though.

And just so we are clear, exactly what influences are you talking about? What do you perceive as being a factor that would influence anyone to become gay?

And for the record, I can remember realizing that I was different well before 10 pr 11 years old. It was somewhere around 5 or 6, if I recall.

Lastly, can you provide a cite for your beliefs. After all, this is Great Debates.

You can realize you are different at age 5. I don’t think so.

Can you provide any sort of citation that supports your position? Because it flies in the face of the evidence. Check out the APA website.

Of course, by some sort of citation, I mean something that’s unbiased or has an academic foundation. I’m sure you’ll find lots of evidence on websites run by fundamentalist Christians which is obviously biased.

To give Adman credit, he’s opposed to witnessing in Great Debates too – seems that religion gives him the pip, or something of the sort. (He has a Pit thread on this topic.)

So what we have here is his own homegrown hypothesis, without benefit of supernatural endorsement. That’s why I didn’t get irked, just cited some material that would tend to contradict his idea, and am in hopes he will be back to debate.

Ah yes, the quintessential “nuh-uh” argument. I’m sure that the weight of your baseless negation just stops your opponent’s arguments in their tracks, when it doesn’t outright derail 'em, doesn’t it. :rolleyes:

Not only can I, I did. I’m not saying I completely understood what I felt. I didn’t even know there was a word for being attracted to someone of the same sex. I just knew I was. It was more innocent than sexual. I just knew that there were male friends that I thought were cute and wanted to be close to. I don’t recall feeling that way towards females in the same way. I also remember being attracted to toys and things that to many, would be considered feminine. It was all very confusing then and I’m not sure I fully understand it now. It was my experience though, regardless of whether you “think so”.

I remember when I was in kindergarten there was a girl I’d kiss on the bus on the way home. I remember have crushes on various female school chums from as early as 2nd grade. I don’t ever remember a point where I decided that I’d like girls instead of boys.


I’m a straight, celibate woman, but I’ve been having “sexual urges” since I was 4 or 5 at least. I don’t have a history of sexual abuse to account for that, either. I just have a lot of practice at being celibate! :sigh:

Adman, it’s time for stock question number 345:
If you believe homosexuality is a choice, how easy would it be for you to choose to be attracted to men (assuming you are male)?


Depends what youmean by sexual urges. I certainly had romantic urges and crushes from the age of about 7. I know a lot of othe rpeolpe whi had the same experiences. Any argument based on this assertion really does have to prodcue some sort of evidence that it’s most people don’t have any sexual urges before puberty.

Even if this hugely simple suggestion were true, it does nothing to address the factors that influence the ‘decision which team to bat for’ - factors that may be innate.

Humans (including their social structures) are hugely complex things, any simple theory of ‘X behaviour is caused solely by influence Y’ is likely to be at best a vast oversimplification and at worst, completely bogus.

Well…it can’t be genetics. Here’s why.

Gay people don’t make kids. At least not as many as straight folks. Therefore, unless a massive breeding program between gay people exists, gays will eventually die out (evolution…getting rid of unfit genes). However, gays are not dying out. Therefore, gay-ness is not genetic.

One could argue that people are “coming out of the closet” to balance it out, however, as this cannot occur continuously, as long as the gay population does not decrease, the condition is not genetic.


Strictly speaking I’m not sure if that’s true. Even in socities where homosexuality has been accepted or tolerated the men have been expected to marry and sire children. Of course when homosexuals were forced to remain closeted they lived what appeared to be “normal” heterosexual lives which including children.

That isn’t to say I believe it is genetic. I just don’t think your line of reasoning is valid.


There are other considerations than the reproduction of the individual; suppose for example that genetic homosexuality conveyed some advantage to the non-gay siblings (with whom they share a considerable proportion of genes) - there could be a survival advantage for the siblings and their progeny even if the gay individual never procreates. To suggest that there are genetic influences to homosexuality is not to say that the genetic influences will be expressed in every individual.

But as Marc says, I’m not sure whether or not it is nature, nurture or a combination of the two; I just think the reasoning is a little too simplistic.

athelas, your conclusion is oversimplistic and altogether too hasty a jump. It might well be the case that the genetic predisposition towards homosexuality is linked to some other gene which is, overall, evolutionarily advantageous.

For example, I remember reading some years ago that when a similar gene occurs in females it might cause early onset of puberty. Overall, that would be an advantage.

(This hypothesis was extremely tentative, but you get the idea of why it might be genetic - if anyone else can bing us up to date that would be helpful.)

Also note that just because it might not be genetic doesn’t mean it is not natural. There is evidence that suggests that female lesbianism might be influenced by the chemicals associated with stress during pregnancy.

As for “choice”, I echo all those who have asked heterosexual posters “When did you choose?”.

There’s another flaw in athelas’ assertion…

What if it is possible to carry a gene, yet never have it activate? From what I understand, thats been proven with several other genetic traits. Thus, you’ve got heterosexual men and women passing down the pink gene ( :wink: ) generation after generation until something activates it in the homosexual person. That person doesn’t need to reproduce for the gene to continue, since their brothers and sisters will do it for them.

And there are certain arguments in favor of at least genetic pre-disposition. I’m just gonna go into one for now…

Cross-cultural and historical study. In every time and place we have records or access to, there have been same-sex lovers. Today across the world, from wildly different upbringings and environments, we find people whom we would classify as gay or lesbian (or for that matter, transsexual). We can look back in the past and find men (very spotty records for the deeds of women, sadly) whose romantic inclinations were heavily towards other men. Rome, Greece, medieval and Rennaisance Europe, the Middle East… thats just stuff *I’ve[/] read. We also cannot forget the Native American two-spirits which danced the line between gay/lesbian and transsexual.

For a trait to appear in all cultures in all times, we are either talking of genetics or universal environmental aspects (I’m hard pressed to think of one that doesn’t have an exception).

Anyway… if this thread still lives later on tonight, I’ll try to continue.

It could be a bunch of genes acting together, some of them recessive, and others that provide certain advantages individually.

So, there could be three genes

Gene a
Gene B
and Gene c

if you’re aBc, you’re gay, and if you don’t have those three genes, you’re not, but gene a and gene B could give advantages themselves individually, and gene c could be a common gene.

Even then, the genes might only manifest themselves if certain conditions exist in the womb to trigger them.

Any geneticists know if this is possible?

The OP states that gayness is definitely learned. Where are people going for these GAY LESSONS? Surely the parents aren’t teaching kids to become the thing they most fear. Is there an after-school activity group that makes these kids go gay? They can’t be learning it from their straight friends. Where are they learning it?