Do you think it is possible at all to choose your sexuality?

I do not believe that sexuality is a choice. I base this on my own experience, and many conversations I’ve had with friends (gay, straight, and bisexual). It’s just built in.

The exception is a guy I knew when I was in college. I was living in a huge co-op with a bunch of roommates, and once we were all sitting around on the porch, shooting the shit, and this topic came up. This guy said that there was a point in his life where he felt that he could have chosen to be gay, but he decided to be straight instead.

This just totally conflicts with everything else I understand about human sexuality. For some reason the incident just popped into my head and I was thinking about it. What do you think, Dopers, do you think there are instances where people can consciously choose their sexual orientation?

I started a similar thread recently, and shared my opinion.

My opinion was, cut short, that while sexuality may or may not be an active choice it can be influenced – at least by some people. Not everyone has the ability, nor should, even if everyone could choose, anyone be forced to choose something other than their initial disposition.

I would wager a guess that someone that could ‘choose’ is already bi. They are just choosing to only express one side of it.

The line will get more and more blurred as time goes on. Especially now-a-days when people are more apt to seperate love and sex.

I know when I was young, there was no way a straight guy would ever have man to man sex. But now young people are more apt to try it, “just to see.” Or even, “Well if no one else is around and I want to get off.”

They may not even be attracted to their sexual partner but are looking for a release. All these issues blur the line between gay and staright.

Do you think it is possible at all to choose your sexuality?

No, I believe that it is something that you are born with, same as with having blue eyes or green eyes.

I’m pretty sure a straight man still won’t have sex with another man. If he does, both men are at least a little bi-sexual, gay, or otherwise some sort of “queer” (I think that’s the preferred term?)

I don’t know, call me old-fashioned, or whatever, but I just think that you would only have sex with someone if you are, in some fashion, attracted to them, and by definition ‘straight’ means you’re only attracted to the opposite sex.

I will agree, though, that there is a lot of area in between ‘straight’ and ‘gay,’ and that a lot more people than one might think fall in that area, but I still find it hard to reconcile that someone could have consensual sex with the same gender and still be 100% straight.

I kind of feel that way too. I wonder what this guy is up to now. Sadly, I can’t even remember his name. (And I had a crush on him, too, until one day, in a discussion on religion, he said that all religions were the same and he only believed in ~love~. Okay, lame hippie guy.)

You can definitely choose which genders you have sex with. The question is, can you choose how you feel about it the morning after? (or during, for that matter)

I think that your sexuality, defined by actual attraction, is hardcoded. However, I do think there is a societal bias that can cause you to, in essence, delude yourself into thinking one way or another. I know I just contradicted myself, but I think it’s akin to somebody convincing themselves that their abuser is really a good person. Deep down they may not believe it but they tell themselves so enough that it may as well be a true feeling.

I also think that there are probably a lot more bi people that get shoehorned into straight by societal pressure (also attracted to their gender, but not enough to make an issue out of it or even notice in some cases). Which I guess is a form of choosing, but at the same time they didn’t choose to be bi, they just focus on one aspect of their sexuality.

Sort of. From what I understand based on studies, female sexuality on the whole tends to be much more flexible than male. I’m pretty damned straight, really into the guys and always have been, but I’ve had a handful of times where I’ve been tempted to swing the other way.

From what I gather, our genetics aren’t really something written in stone when we’re born. They are something shaped by our environment. We may have predispositions but that doesn’t mean those predispositions will absolutely be expressed. They must be triggered.

I think for a lot of people, it’s not a choice. Saying that environment affects your sexuality is not the same as saying you can choose who you are attracted to. But even if it were a choice, so what? It’s a choice devoid of moral implications. It seems like a pointless argument.

I think it is possible to choose how do you express your sexuality, but not who are you attracted to.

olives, you’re thinking of fenotype, not genotype. The genes are “set in stone,” but their expression is not.

The supposed phenomenon of, say, jailhouse homosexuality (specifically, in the context of otherwise straight men); is that real or purely a Hollywood invention? If the former, how should we account for it? (Of course, fluidity of sexuality is not quite the same thing as having voluntary control over it, but the possibility of fluidity is nonetheless interesting in itself)

(On edit: I basically agree with the entirety of olivesmarch4th’s last paragraph.)

I don’t think people have a choice in who they are attracted to. But they have a choice on which attractions they act upon. So a person who is attracted to both men and women might choose to only pursue one gender.

I have been considering this for some time.

I believe that you can open yourself to other sexes.

If people can learn to appreciate sauerkraut, natto, or any of the hundreds of other highly disgusting foods out there, they can learn to appreciate a dick or vagina, as the case may be.

People can train themselves to tolerate and eventually enjoy a lot of weird stuff so long as its not socially unacceptable. It’s really quite fascinating how flexible we can be.

So yeah… I think most every straight guy could get into being gay. Oh sure, another guy wouldn’t ever get their blood pumping like a hot girl would, but they would certainly still derive pleasure from the experience.

I think that sexuality occurs along a spectrum.

The vast majority of people are going to be exclusively heterosexual (from birth or perhaps early childhood? I don’t know!), pretty much no matter what.

A small percentage (who knows what the exact number is?) is going to be exclusively homosexual, pretty much no matter what.

An indeterminate amount of people will fall between those two extremes – they have the potential to be bisexual, gay, or straight, depending on the circumstances, early childhood experiences, etc.
And, of course, there will always be people who are willing to experiment – the “I’ll try anything once!” crowd.
Of course, I could be completely wrong about this!

I believe there are points were we get to chose certain paths, times we might know what we are choosing, in this case sexuality, other times not so much (what’s behind door #2), till these decisions come up we are locked on a path, and all we can do is deny ourselves if we wish to change.

Will everyone get a choice of sexuality? I would guess no, but believe some do.

I posted this in Todderbob’s earlier thread. Might as well repost it here:

I’ve known two people who chose to jump from heterosexuality to homosexuality back to heterosexuality and neither used the dreaded “bi” label. It could be that both of them had no real desire to think of themselves as bi (which apparently is fairly common), but the conviction with which they talked about being gay (and then later about being straight) leads me to think there is at least some choice involved.

Yes, I do. Firstly, I’ll use the dictionary definition of sexuality, which refers to all of a person’s sexual preferences and behaviors, not merely which genders they’re attracted to. As such, though I’ve always been heterosexual, my sexuality has changed over my life, sometimes unconsciously, sometimes due to my conscious decisions. Further, other people I’ve talked to generally say the same thing. I can name a number of people who were homosexual or bisexual at one point and chose to become heterosexual, and I also know people who have chosen to make other changes in their pattern sexual attraction. Obviously making such changes is not easy and can’t be done in five minutes, but it can be done with determination and time.

The possibility of change has been confirmed scientifically. The famous Kinsey studies on human sexuality found 10% of men exclusively homosexual for part of their life, but only 4% exclusively homosexual for their entire life. For women the numbers were 2-6% for part of their life and 1-3% for their entire life. A great deal of subsequent research has shown that Kinsey’s numbers for homosexuality were high in all categories due to bad sampling. However, the fact that only half or less of those who are exclusively homosexual for some time remain so for their entire life has remained consistent through many studies.

Bisexuality is the red-headed stepchild, elephant in the room of the discussion.

Both straight and gay people think, “Oh, they’re gay, they just don’t know it yet.” Especially if you’re male-- women can obviously get away with experimentation, and within limits, female bisexuality increases their attractiveness to a typical red-blooded heterosexual man.

For straights, bisexuality is threatening in all kinds of ways: it essentially doubles relationship pressures for heterosexuals (“Great, now I have to worry that my girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/husband will leave me for another woman/man, I can’t even HOPE to compete with that”). Also, there is the general unsettling effect it can have on people with very mild bisexual tendencies (“Gee, Fred/Alice is bisexual… what if I am??”).

For gays and lesbians, bisexuality poses a different threat: namely, it weakens (in public perception, not in fact) arguments that homosexuality is biologically hard-wired, immutable, never changing. Many homosexual activists latched onto this explanation to defend themselves from criticism and bigotry-- “I can’t change who I am, I was born this way.” Well, guess what? Some people can change who they are-- or, at least, change partners on account of temporally and situationally discrete moods and desires. Which can lead to those more intolerant of homosexuality to wonder why can’t “the gays” change who they are like “the bi’s”?

I believe there are biological reasons for homosexuality-- genes, hormonal baths in the womb, sibling selection pressures, whatever. But nurture has a place as well, and I don’t doubt that people who fall in the cracks on the Kinsey scale can and do modify their behavior accordingly. I’ve known my fair share of college “lesbians” to know that for some people, it really is just a phase.

All kinds, really.