The goal of this article is to prove through logic, not faith, that sexuality is a choice.
It has been suggested that absolute sexuality is a product of our society. When a boy shows interest in a girl or a girl shows interest in a boy, he or she is often socially rewarded for his or her interest. Likewise, a child who shows sexual interest in one who shares his or her socially defined gender, may experience disgrace and reprimanding from heterosexual adults. Adults in a child’s world often make the distinction between gay and straight behavior, many of whom condemn actions associated with homosexuality.
It is clear from a young age that certain actions and interests are acceptable for boys and other actions and interests are acceptable for girls. These social definitions of “male” and “female” set regulations for how one should dress and act. As a child grows into adolescence, these socially defined gender roles begin to include sexual interests of the individual. As sexuality often incorporates gender identity, a child entering into adolescence may feel his or her assigned gender identity is fitting or not. That is to say, a male who finds himself more often sexually attracted to other males than females will likely recognize the conflict in his assigned gender role and his sexual desires. He may then seek a gender role that is more fitting to how he sees himself. With the given sexual equipment, there is typically one other option for a clearly defined sexual identity. If one is attracted to the opposite sex, he or she is straight. If one is attracted to the same sex, he or she is gay. It would seem likely for one who is leaning one way or the other to adopt an identity that most closely matches his or her attraction.
These identities are affirmed by adults in the adolescent’s life. Heterosexual adults, that is adults who identify themselves as “heterosexual”, in the adolescent’s life relate to the interest and find joy in the relating. The adolescent may feel a stronger connection to adults in his or her life as a result of this shared experience. This reward works as conditioning and makes the adolescent’s sexual identity that much more important to him or her.
As the most dominant religion in our society takes a clear stand against acting on such desires, repression is often the preferred path for “homosexual” desires. An adolescent who identifies him or herself as homosexual may experience alienation from heterosexual adults and/or adolescents conditioned to believe there is a moral issue involved in a person’s sexuality. The adolescent may then seek out affirmation from those with whom he or she can identify. The “homosexual” adolescent’s sexual identity may be more important to the individual than the “heterosexual” adolescent’s sexual identity as acts and lifestyles associated with homosexuality are often taboo from a perspective of mainstream culture.
It should be noted here that such tendencies are not the products of mere chance. As a child grows into adolescence, hormones begin to inspire sexual interest. According to my research, by the time a person reaches sexual maturity, there is a clear difference in hormone levels in “heterosexual” and “homosexual” people. As the presence of these hormones dictates sexual desire, sexual desire is clearly not a choice. At the same time, this division would not seem to be as black and white as many like to make it. It is the tendency to lean one way or the other that causes people to identify with one absolute sexual identity.
Attraction alone would not seem to make a person gay or straight. we often like to think of sexuality as the product of attraction. In reality, sexuality is the product one one’s willingness to admit to oneself such an attraction exists. It would seem natural to oppress sexual impulses that seem contrary to our own sexual identities. Further, society’s reactions to our assigned sexual identities solidifies our resistance to the exploration of foreign sexual experiences, especially those that would cause us to have to identify ourselves in a new way.
It would seem common for many who have little experience with those who identify themselves as homosexual to condemn acts of homosexuality, insisting such attraction is unnatural and should be repressed. But when repression is the preferred path for desires associated with homosexuality, it is not the attraction that is condemned, but the acting on said attraction.
We may feel attraction to another, but the only thing that makes this attraction real to the outside world is action. Look at it this way, we may want to kill someone; but we aren’t murderers until we actually engage in an act of murder. The enigma of sexuality is the fact that society attempts to define what our desires mean. Society says our desires define us as people. But it is not impossible to change our desires in order to comply with what is expected of us. We desire happiness and each of us has a different idea of what will make us happy. For some of us, fitting into our place in society is important. To others, being true to one’s self-perceived, society-imposed sexual identity is more important.
It is possible for homosexual men and women to repress these identities to which they have subscribed and been assigned from a young age in order to fit better into society. From an external perspective, actions define sexuality. That is to say, as far as society is aware, a person is not gay or straight until he or she shows interest in one of the same or opposite gender. As these labels of absolute sexuality are imposed by society, it is up to society to define them. Further, as society’s attempt to define sexuality relies on an individual’s desires and attraction, repression of said desires and attraction may change how an individual’s sexuality is defined. The kind of sexuality that is often condemned by groups of society is the product of choice as repression of homosexual attraction is preferred by those who would condemn acts associated with such attraction. It is not impossible for a “homosexual” man to engage in “heterosexual” sex acts. Likewise, it is not impossible for a “heterosexual” woman to engage in “homosexual” sex acts. But when they do, they are somehow different to the rest of us. Then again, perhaps it is intent that defines sexuality for us.
Certain religious groups believe they can “pray the gay away”. And this act often works to alter an individual’s sexual identity. As long as a person ceases to engage in homosexual sex acts, he or she may be considered straight. This ceasing to engage in homosexual acts is certainly the product of choice. Many graduates of such programs often do not stay straight. But, if intent defines sexuality, then these people were heterosexual as long as they chose to continue attempting to be heterosexual.
However we choose to define sexuality, be it attraction, action, or intent, our choices regarding our sexuality affect how define ourselves and how others define us. All of this said, denying oneself the ability to be who he or she believes him or herself to be likely causes significant discomfort. It is unfair to expect another to experience this discomfort in order to conform with expectations.