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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Gay or Straight: A Choice?

I don't have Writer's Block, any more than I have Talker's Block (something many people wish I did have, periodically). Give me a subject and I'll discuss it, whether in speaking or in writing! But with so much crap going on right now, I am feeling rather blase about blogging.

Don't get me wrong! I am as interested in you as I've ever been. My life remains interesting as well (although perhaps a little too interesting).

After all, I could talk about the various debacles that are occurring right now. For instance, I have rotting rats peppered throughout my kitchen; behind walls, under cabinets, and in drawers. Only my intrepid next-door neighbor, a seasoned Vietnam vet, is willing to find and remove the corpses. I haven't been able to cook in there for a week. But do I blog about it? Heck no! It's rather horrid, and I'm burned out about it. Thank heavens it hasn't been so cold that I have to keep my windows shut. I'd have to move out at that point!

I could whine about my businesses. But, I also don't wish to be too specific. So, how could I whine effectively? Besides, whining doesn't take care of issues. It just inflicts small portions of misery on everyone else and I will be no less miserable for sharing.

Of course, I could tell funny stories and thus distract both myself and you, but I'm not feeling particularly funny on this cold, grey, wet winter day. And I'm not inspired to craft clever dialogue or witty repartee.

Still, this blog was born from a desire to enrich your life as well as mine. And today, I feel that I am not living up to that goal.

So, let me leave you with a very interesting excerpt from a Robert B. Parker novel ("Widow's Walk") which I just finished reading. Consider it food for thought. I have many gay and straight friends who will be interested in this fictional discussion.

Let me briefly set it up for you: There are four people having dinner together. One, Susan, is a brilliant counselor (who is modelled on Robert Parker's real-life wife). Another is her main squeeze and the protagonist of the book; Spencer (a private detective).

Susan is very upset, because a young patient of hers just killed himself. She is discussing this with Spencer and his friend Hawk, and Hawk's girlfriend-of-the-month, Estelle. Let's listen in:

"Do you know why he killed himself?"

"He was gay, and he didn't want to be," Susan said. "That's why he was seeing me. He desperately wanted to be straight."

"Isn't that a little outside the scope of your service?" I said.

As she talked, she began to focus on the subject, as she always did, and in doing so she came back into control.

"It is hideously incorrect to say that one can help people change their sexual orientation. But in fact I have had some success, in doing just that."

"Helping gay people to be straight?" Estelle was startled.

"Or straight people to be gay. I've had some success doing both. The trick is over time to find out where they want to go, and where they can go, and try to achieve one without violating the other."

"I've never heard of that," Estelle said.

She was genuinely interested, but there was that sound in her voice that doctors get which says, in effect, "If I haven't heard of it, it's probably wrong."

"No one is willing to incur the vast outrage that would ensue," Susan said.

"It's your experience," Hawk said.

"One ought not to have such an experience," Susan said. "And if one were stupid enough to have it, one should surely not talk about it."

"Shrinks, too," I said.

"Hard to believe," Hawk said.

"We've all known people who were married," Susan said, "and left the marriage for a same-sex lover. Why is it so impossible to imagine it happening the other way?"

"But who would be gay, if they could choose?" Estelle said.

"That is, of course, the existing prejudice," Susan said. "But it also implies that those who led straight lives could have chosen not to before they did."

Estelle didn't look too pleased about existing prejudice, but she didn't remark on it.

"I guess, as I think of it, that if a gay person entered into a straight relationship I'd assume it was only a cover-up."

"As if gay is permanent but straight is tenuous," Susan said.

"I hadn't thought of it quite that way before," Estelle said.

Susan nodded. "It's a hard question," she said.

18 comments:

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

I would say it's not a choice, I would say its all a matter of programming in our DNA and then I would say 'there is even gay animals' and then I would say 'does it matter?'.

Jamie Dawn said...

I think that life circumstances can have a strong influence on sexual orientation, but for many, I think homosexuality is not a choice.
I think many young people are confused and unable to decide where their attractions are, so they go with whatever feels right at the time. I have always felt so sorry for gay people who long to not have gay feelings. I think it must be hell to live with.

Edge said...

Ya see, this is one of those I am obliged to answer. And people don't like my answer. And I have gay and straight friends.

It's a choice. It's not in the DNA as that vaires from gays to straits and is not consistent.

It's not hormonal as there would be a hormone treatment for it.

It's not learned behavior as people who grew up in gay marriages ( although there are few ) don't always turn out gay.

It has to be choice.

There is a ministry called Exodus ministry that has success in helping those WHO WANT to go straight go straight ( notice it's a choice ).

I do have a hunch about a few things. I do believe that male homosexuals have some characteristics shared ( over bearing mother, distant harsh father and mayeb some type of sexual abuse ). Lesbianism, I have not found a theoretical pattern for with parental relationships, but it's still a choice. You choose who you have sex with.

Notice I did not bash anyone and tried not to step on toes.

~Jef

OldHorsetailSnake said...

This is too deep for me. I'd rather hear about whom you're suing today. Heh.

KristieD said...

I dont beleive its a choice. As one of my gay friends said, "why would anyone choose to be gay and to go thru what I and many people like me have gone thru?" She was discriminated against, she can't legally adopt a child (she cant have children at all- not even with a man) because she is in a gay relationship and in florida, there is a ban on adoption by such people. (but they can be foster parents, and not to just normal kids, but special needs..hmm?).

I dont see what the big deal is with homosexuality. THere are plenty of other things to go to hell over. Shit- there was a day when interracial marriage was illegal and thought to be a sin as well. That God placed the different races on different continents to keep us from intermingling. So...that thought process didnt last...

Sorry to be long winded. I feel very strongly about this topic. Good post.

~Deb said...

Well, right up my alley. Even when I was a child---from the age of 3 yrs old, I was awed by women. Hell---I even masturbated when I was a baby---no kidding. My mother told me and I remembered doing this when I was in the crib. I didn’t know what that weird feeling was, but I thought about girls. Interesting, huh? And to think that children are ‘innocent’.

So with that being said, (I know—a bit too much info for ya) I think that being totally gay is in our DNA. There’s something that triggers our attraction for a certain gender.

As for ‘me’ personally-----I go for the person I fall ‘in love with. I don’t like labels. If anything, I’m a lesbian because I have been in a 12 yr relationship with a woman now, but I have always desired women more than I did with men. I did fall in love with one man---once---so who’s to say down the road I won’t fall in love with a man again, …..if my girlfriend and I break up.

Great thought provoking post. I think everyone has a different view on this of course, but it’s interesting to see what people think of it…Is it a choice? Or is it in fact—in our DNA? My girlfriend and I call it, 'half baked'. (Think...) haha...

Okay okay okay! I'm leaving! No need to kick me out of your comment box!

Ladylove said...

I think being gay or straight IS a choice. That doesn't necessarily mean that either is a WRONG choice unless you bring religion into the mix to tell you otherwise.

In answer to why someone would wish to be gay, there are obviously benefits for them to choose that lifestyle! If there weren't, then gay people would abstain from sex entirely. So, they choose to be gay because, in other words, it 'rocks their socks'.

I think they don't want us to think it's a choice because it's seen as perverse. But as long as it isn't hurting anyone, who really cares any more?

Badoozie said...

everyone has a line that they draw. straight, gay, whatever. there is a line that one will not cross, and in one in which the person makes a choice as to how far they will go. gay people might think it is unacceptable to marry or have sex with your brother or sister. and i ask them, why? why not? maybe it's not their fault? who makes up the lines, and who decides what is right and wrong? the answer is each and every individual in this world. just ask the murderers in prison, who beat the crap out of child molesters. even killers have a line. society keeps moving the line. but what if we don't want to move our line? are we bigots? are we haters? or are we entitled to say where we will draw our own lines?

actonbell said...

I definitely think being gay is genetic, not a choice. It occurs in all animals.
It's tragic that it's such an issue.

Jenn said...

wow, you are not afraid of controversy, are you?! :)

Saur♥Kraut said...

Jenn, ;o) To me, the point is moot and I fail to see the controversy. But it's interesting to see what others have to say, and why!

Lee Ann said...

I am sorry about the rat corpses. Ugh! I think I would be a bit distracted as well.
You always have something interesting to talk about.
Very interesting conversation they had.

Three Score and Ten or more said...

Never having been attracted to a man (physically) I can't evaluate how or why such attractions begin. I have a terrible fear though, that participants in any sexual act not approved by society, from child sexual abuse to necrophilia, to having sex with animals could, at least find some justification in an argument for "the DNA". Having served on juries a lot, I have heard the "I just couldn't help myself" argument for just about everything. I have had an online friend, for many years, who is, as he says, same sex attracted, who determined that "unmarried homosexual acts are just as sinful as heterosexual ones" (his tongue in cheek assertion at one time, and wanting to be a faithful Christian, he has married, had children, is faithful to his wife (she knows all about this, he has a web page that deals with it), but, as he says, he has never ceased to be same sex attracted.

I try had to empathize with others, but when the problems they have are out of my paradigm, it is difficult. (One of my old professors said we should try to walk in the shoes of those with whom we interact, but we should try not to get their athlete's foot.)

Beaver said...

I have a cousin who is admitedly gay. He is my best friend and has been my surrogate dad since my father passed away 3 years ago.

He says he has been gay since puberty. Never considered the straight option.

And you know what? I don't care.

It's none of my business who he goes with. How would I feel if someone placed jugement on my sex life?

The truth is, he's a great guy with a big heart. The rest is all up to him.

Kathleen said...

I do not believe that sexual preference is a choice. And, I think it is ethically bankrupt to heap pain and suffering on anyone for a sexual preference (excluding children).

ts said...

i think the whole point of the book excerpt was that "it's a hard question."

personally, i think everyone has some genetic predisposition towards everything, including homosexuality. but that doesn't mean there is a "gay gene," as if you have to be one or the other.

even if it was genetic ... do you always have to obey your natural urges? think about all the instances where you deny your own natural desires? we all do ... BECAUSE IT'S A CHOICE.

exMI said...

I don't know about genetic although it is possible. I believe that there is some event in our youth that flips a trigger towards what we prefer, but that isn't set in stone. I have gay friend who told me once that he could have gone either way but chose gay, and could go back if he wanted to. Buyt he admitted that was a horribly incorrect thing to say among his gay buddies and said he would deny it if I ever brought it up around them.

chosha said...

"You choose who you have sex with."

Yes, you do, but the conversation isn't about who you have sex with - it's about who you WANT to have sex with, who you are attracted to.

I can never make my mind up about the gay gene theory. I mean, after all, if homosexuality is genetic, then it's a self-defeating gene - if you're gay and you obey your 'genetic' make-up, you'd never have children and the 'gay gene' would die out in a few generations. Some people even theorise that homosexuality is nature's way of addressing over-population.

I tend to feel that it's a choice, but one shaped by experience. However, it's easy for me to feel that because a)I'm too straight to really comprehend the attraction, so it's easy to feel distant from it as if it couldn't be inate, and b)every lesbian I know has past experiences that would turn anyone off men (and again, I recognise that may be circumstantial evidence). So in the end I just don't know.

~deb: young children masturbating is not at all unusual, and it has nothing to do with sexual awareness vs innocence. It's just something physical that people either discover early or late. My friend's daughter, for example, found out what rubbing herself achieved (at around 2) after getting an itchy case of thrush. The thrush went away, the rubbing didn't...no mystery there.