It's Never a Choice
I wrote this post in response to the perception of homosexuality being a 'choice.' I thought I'd post it in a blog format as well. It's taken from Maxx's Thread titled "Sorry Starrunner, I guess it is all my fault."
... If only it was that simple.
Maxx, I doubt there is anything that I can say that will change your mind, but I'll ask you to take few minutes to listen, really listen, to a perspective from someone who desperately wished homosexuality was a choice. If nothing else, I hope this post can be helpful and supportive to anyone here who has struggled with sexual identity.
When I was a kid, I did everything I could to believe I was not gay, that I was going to be okay, sneaking a peak at my brother's Playboy magazines when he wasn't home, and trying to act macho. It never worked. In school I was beat up, ridiculed and called 'fag' on a daily basis. I was lonely, depressed, and there was no one I could talk to about it. There was no internet in those days and I thought I was the only gay kid in the city because no one else would come out due to the risk of violence, harassment and humiliation. My first suicide attempt was at the age of sixteen.
Maxx, do you really think I would have chosen to live this way? I would have turned heterosexual in a heartbeat if it was possible. My life would have been so much different and so much easier.
We lived in the closet in those days. Finding a relationship or even a friend was almost impossible. The only avenues available were a few hidden and secluded gay bars since there were no other services or outlets where we could meet other people and be ourselves. I didn't go near bars, but I eventually found someone who became my partner. We had a very closeted affair with both of us living in fear that our family or friends would discover it. The pressure got to be too much for my partner and he eventually committed suicide. I grieved alone and in silence, and nobody knew the extent of my loss.
Do you think we would have chosen to live out our lives that way? A heterosexual relationship would have been a blessing to have had instead of the fear, the living in secret, the terrible outcome of losing a bright light so early in his life because society didn't accept our love as a real relationship? I still feel his loss today.
Going back to the psychiatrist jokes from our previous posts in this thread, would it surprise you to know that I met with several psychiatrists after my partner died? Not to help me cope with the loss, but to help me with my sexuality. I didn't want to be gay in the first place, and after the loss of my partner, I wanted to put the past behind me and finally get help' in dealing with my sexuality. I was determined to overcome my gay tendencies. I saw several psychiatrists who were sympathetic to my life struggles but none of them suggested they could change my sexual orientation, only that they could help me in exploring and learning to accept my sexuality. And believe me, I tried to find the ones most likely to 'convert' me to a heterosexual. The medical profession does not try to change a person's orientation due to the harm it can cause an individual. In my province, Ontario, conversion therapy has been banned for being an unethical, harmful practice.
As I get older and society becomes more accepting of the LGBT population, I have met so many men and women in my age range who grew up with similar stories, similar losses, and lives of isolation and sorrow over the fact that we never got to have the kinds of relationships most people took for granted. We lived alone and a lot of people deprived themselves of any human contact outside of the office rather than have a gay relationship. No, Maxx, there was no 'choice' for them.
Evidence Based Research
There is so much research that shows that homosexuality is not a choice and no credible evidence to suggest otherwise. The Academy of Science of South Africa concluded after extensive, comprehensive research that biological gender is determined in the first trimester of pregnancy, psychological gender is set in the second trimester when the foetus is in the womb is exposed to varying levels of testosterone. Homosexuality was determined to be part of the normal spectrum of sexuality.
A number of studies were conducted in the US with one showing that the the hypothalamus of the brains of gay men was structurally different than the heterosexual brain. The hypothalamus is the part of the brain related to sexual drive and function.
Other studies have discovered that specific genes on some chromosomes are found in higher prevalence in men who are gay. The study included more than 400 pairs of gay brothers, was done after a 1993 report which the existence of a "gay gene." Other research has found that being gay or lesbian tends to run in families. There is also strong evidence that identical twins will share the same gene and be gay.
Hope for the Future
When I look back at your first post, Maxx, it was originally a discussion about the poor state of health of the LGBT population. It's certainly an issue worth exploring since health care is such a costly institution. Personally, I believe things have and will improve over time and our overall health will get better. Young people today have many more resources than what we had growing up, such as the internet, counselling services, and social opportunities to meet people.
The climate has changed substantially in North America as we have lived to see same-sex marriages in our lifetime. Schools are implementing anti-bullying initiatives, and gay-straight alliance clubs. The LGBT population can legally adopt without fear from the general population we are pedophiles. Pride events draw thousands in to the urban cities as some of the largest tourist events. I see young same-sex couples walking down the street, hand in hand, and no one even looks twice at them. This is the world I dreamed of, one I wish I had grown up in. But as I had no choice in my orientation, I had no choice of the time I was born.
A World Still in Transition
Just reading through the news this week, I realize how far we have come, yet I still manage to find stories that inspire me. For example:
On Thursday, the US Pentagon announced it's ban on transgender serving in the military.
Here in Ontario, the government is announcing gender-neutral driver's licences and health cards. In 2017, drivers will be able to select X instead of M for male or F for female if they identify as transgender. The province also started issuing health cards that no longer display information about a person's sex on the front of the card.
A decision from Ontario's highest court ruled that a Christian university was discriminatory against gays and lesbians by forcing its students to sign a 'community covenant' in which they agreed to 'abide by Christian values and abstain from sex outside marriage,' which they then defined as strictly a commitment between a man and a woman. The court ruled that freedom of religion does not allow freedom to discriminate.
And the world moves forward. Carry it on.