Sexual orientation is neither nature nor nurture, but culture?

For future reference, if you’re looking for a less beastly example you could use conjoined twins.

Sorry, no. Sexual orientation is who you want to have sex with, who gives you a stiffie (if you’re a man; sorry I don’t know the equivalent for women). Sexual behavior, as you state, is who you do have sex with, which can vary with circumstances. Love has nothing to do with sexual orientation (hence the term “sexual”). It may be human nature to want to fall in love with one’s sexual partner(s) but for men anyway history seems to say otherwise.

As I remember it, the 70’s radical queers did not say much about the origin of sexual orientation. They did talk a lot about rights, how a person ought to have the right to love and have sex with any one who wants to do the same with them, i.e. consenting adults. They also were against assimilation of queers in the culture, and so were against things like same-sex marriage. They thought that society needed queers to be as different as possible, to fight complacency and middle-class morality.

Now, to the OP: ultimately, I agree with those who say “who cares”? If you find out there are one or more identifiable causes for homosexual orientation, would you then figure out how to prevent it? And if it were a free choice, would that matter either? Does society have a compelling interest in my sex life, such that I should conduct it as society sees fit?

If society thinks that, society can bite my white pudgy ass.

Sorry, yes. In our culture, if someone self-identifies as a gay man, he is saying that he falls in love with men. He almost certainly wants to have sex with men, too, but he could (and many often do) have sex with women. We use the term “sexual orientation” because love and sex, under normal circumstances, go together-- like love and marriage and a baby carriage.

OTOH, think of all the prison rape that exists. Those are sexual acts, but do not necessarily tell us about the sexual orientation of those involved. It’s just that their in a situation where sex with women is not an option.

If you start reading orientation sites, you’ll see that several different scales for different aspects of what some people see as “one” exist. One such segregation you will see is “Romantic” versus “Sexual”. The Romantic attraction is what you are attracted to (same gender, opposite gender, etc). The Sexual scale is a rating of how much sexual attraction you have (not much attraction, some attraction/attraction in certain situations, “fully” attracted to your romantic interest, etc)

It’s interesting to read up on.

No they don’t. And I don’t even understand the obsession many people have with other people’s sexual behavior or orientation. I grew up in an intolerant environment and had to sort this all out, and in the end realized that I am only concerned about the kind of sex I’m having, and the kind of sex certain porn starlets are having. Frankly, I don’t want to know what anyone else is doing in bed.

A quick look at Epigenetics will help you understand some of the complexities that explain identical twin differentiation:

I’ve seen (without cites anymore) that there are studies that suggest that many people could pretty happily be various degrees of bi if it weren’t for cultural pressures. I can certainly imagine people (perhaps even subconsciously) ignoring feelings for the same sex when they also prefer the other sex, because it’s the path of least resistance. Essentially an assertion that people would naturally trend around 2/4 on the Kinsey scale rather than 0/6.

In this way, an assertion that sexuality is cultural/nurture makes some sense, but I do think it’s a bit of a fallacy to claim that sexuality is nature or nurture, so much as a question of how much of each it is. Because it’s fairly clear that bi people can definitely choose to present as gay or straight if they want. And also the notion that “nature” encompasses things from genetics to hormones in the womb to (potentially) other ineffable factors during childhood development that are a gray area between nature and nurture.

Obviously sexual orientation is internal rather than external, who you’re attracted to more than who you choose to have sex with. Still, people’s abilities to convince themselves of things is strong. It’s pretty easy to dismiss even strong feelings of attraction to somebody if you’re committed to it.

I agree that homophobia is probably largely a cultural artifact. As the influence of homophobia on the culture at large wanes, however, it will require some redefinitions in how we think of sexuality.

The concept of “homosexuality” was created in the context of a society with very rigid expectations about sex. In a society where any sexual contact with another man could potentially ruin your life, only those most uncomfortable in a traditional heterosexual romantic relationship would risk violating the taboo, and that, for a long time, has informed our definition of homosexuality. As a result, we have a definition of heterosexuality that resembles the old “one-drop” rule about race: any homosexual contact at all, and you must be at least bisexual, if not simply a closeted homosexual.

As the taboo against homosexuality breaks down, however, that definition is going to stop being useful. We’ve already incorporated the idea of situational homosexuality - such as in prisons and boarding schools, as you mentioned - into our concept of sexuality. As the taboo against homosexuality continues to break down, I suspect we’ll see a drastic widening of situations where someone can engage in homosexual activity while still identifying as heterosexual, from “I’ve been in prison for ten years and haven’t so much as seen a woman,” to “It’s Friday night and my date just cancelled.” I don’t think a guy getting a blowjob from his gay roommate while he fantasizes about Megan Fox is necessarily anything other than completely heterosexual.

This is different from the question of whether orientation is genetic, innate, cultural, or purely a matter of choice. I suspect it’s a combination of all four, plus a whole lot of other stuff we haven’t even considered, and the exact combination of factors that leads to any one person identifying as gay are going to be different from the next person.

This seems like obviously the correct answer.