Does one ‘choose’ to be gay?

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has entered the Republican presidential field.

He’s also said he doesn’t know if people choose to be gay.

The columnist Richard Cohen posed what I presume to be a rhetorical question: “At what point did he (Walker) decide to be heterosexual? At what age did he decide that he would not be homosexual or, if he had the energy, bisexual? I know for myself that I am unaware of making such a decision and did not mark it down — as I now would — in my Google Calendar or tweet it to much of America and the ships at sea.”

It’s a question that’s likely to dog the governor as he campaigns for the GOP presidential nomination.

I keep falling back to another question posed by a gay friend of mine. His name was Tim. He died of AIDS-related complications in 1994. After he revealed to his friends and colleagues that he had contracted HIV, he and I discussed his sexual orientation. “Why would I choose to be vilified and condemned?” Tim asked.

Why, indeed?

Tim said he didn’t choose his sexual orientation. He considered it to be part of his DNA, of his character, of his very being

I don’t know when, or if, Gov. Walker will ever reach a conclusion on people’s sexual orientation. He’ll likely have to decide before his presidential campaign gets too far down the road.

3 thoughts on “Does one ‘choose’ to be gay?”

  1. You know, you base your argument on what seems to me a very hateful foundation: that being gay is so abhorrent that nobody would ever choose that way of life. With arguments like that, it’s no wonder some people still want to treat homosexuality as if it’s some sort of disease that needs to be cured.

  2. You’re welcome.

    For further consideration: Recently, the movement has begun using the acronym LGBTQ with the Q meaning questioning (undecided?). It seems at some point those people are likely to come to a conclusion. Would a reasonable person assume that person has just made a choice?

    You should read up more on the studies searching for a gene causing homosexuality (hasn’t been found yet) and the findings of the American Psychological Association. Even this strong opponent of the idea of choice in sexual orientation can’t say what causes a person’s sexual orientation or completely rule out some element of choice.

    The widely-cited study being pushed for finding a genetic connection to homosexuality, concluded genetics accounted for only 30 to 40 percent of a person’s sexuality.

    If actual PhD scientists can’t rule out choice and environment as a factor in sexual orientation, maybe we shouldn’t be calling names based on one two-decade old conversation and a string of logical leaps.

    The correct question is not whether sexual orientation is a choice or genetic, but what mixture of genetics, environment and maybe even choice it is. Call me a hateful homophobe again if you want, but I suspect it varies depending on the person.

    As always, my sources: “What causes a person to have a particular sexual orientation?
    “There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles; most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.”

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