Friday, November 28, 2008

Gay to the Core [of my brain]

Disclaimer: Before you read further, be aware that this is an opinionated post, substantiated by no facts, no references, and no research. Ninety-eight point seven percent of readers experience discomfort, irritation, nausea, and bloating. If you experience any of the first three symptoms, take a chill pill. If you experience bloating, I know how that feels and I extend my deepest apologies.

My dear friend Scott published a wonderful post entitled Gay to the Core on whether being gay is a choice or a "core characteristic," as he puts it. I will not go into detail on his thoughts but I would ask that you read the post as it is well thought out and presented.

I do not wish to comment on what the right or wrong answer is; the scientists and philosophers can hash that out. I believe that there is truth in bits and pieces of each argument. What I would like to discuss is the category that I believe I fall into and some specific and general reasoning.

In most circles of debate, there are two arguments presented, most commonly known as "Nature" and "Nurture." Either you made a conscious decision to be gay or you were born that way. As Scott pointed out, there is a third option: you subconsciously made the decision to be gay. This is the category that I believe I fall into. I apologize in advance for any lack of eloquence.

I have known I was attracted to men since about the age of eight or nine. Most of my friends did not "know" they were attracted to girls until about 12 or 13. I would think that if sexuality were a core characteristic, that it would manifest in a parallel time frame. (Yes, I know that argument is weak. I would be interested, though, to know if any studies have been done as to what the average age is that homosexual children and heterosexual children identify themselves as such)

From a psychological standpoint, one argument for the cause of sexuality is that a male infant needs to make an emotional connection with an adult male, generally a father, by the third year of his life. My father readily admits that he was not around much when I was a baby because he was busy finishing school and working. I carried a resentment for my father throughout my entire childhood and adolescence. I had no basis for this resentment. My father was supportive and positive. Most boys would have loved to have him as their dad.

Because my father and I did not create that bond during my infancy, I believe that I subconsciously made the choice to seek the attention and love of men. Interestingly enough, I also believe that from year 3 to approximately year 8, I had ample time to bond with my father and possibly reverse my subconscious decision, but I consciously made choices to deny the love of my father.

In addition to my subconscious decision, I do believe that there are certain inherent traits that can dispose a person to be more vulnerable to homosexuality. I have always been skinny. Because of my body type, American culture, in general, views me as less masculine. This assumption may have caused my more masculine counterparts to treat me as if I didn't belong. It may have caused the women in my life to treat me with more sensitivity than they would a masculine boy. Because the the boys don't treat me like one of the boys, but the girls treat me like one of the girls, a subconscious inclination might be to associate with female desires or aspirations.

Okay, now for the tough part. This is not meant to offend anyone, it is just a general observation. I feel like to too many people say that they were born gay without taking time to analyze their life because it is the easy way out. Because if they were born gay, you can't hold anything against them. You can't make jokes at them, you can't discriminate against them, you can't withhold love from them. It isn't their fault so you can't fault them. But what these people don't understand, is that even if they made the choice to be gay, whether it was subconscious or conscious, they probably made it at such a young age that they could not realize what the choice was or how it would effect their life.

Finally, I must say that I don't really care what the answer is. Whether Scott is completely right or I am partially right or we are all out in left field, it doesn't matter. I am gay. I am a man attracted to other men. Through my life experiences related to this attraction, I have learned patience, understanding, empathy, and perserverance, as well as the openness and desire to trust and rely on my Heavenly Father.


Bravone said...

Your last paragraph resonates with me. I am gay and have made many mistakes in life, but I am grateful for the humility, compassion and understanding that have resulted from my journey back to God and from His help in coming to love and accept the man in the mirror.

invisible said...

I don't think that we will ever know exactly what causes this. I find it intresting though how many similarities our childhoods have though. You may just be on to something.

Scott said...

Thanks for the post. I appreciate your viewpoint.

I'm not entirely sure that the "nature" vs. "nurture" debate is exactly as you've described it... As I understand your post, you've defined "nature" as "I was born that way" and "nurture" as "I chose to be that way". I think the actual argument is closer to nature=physiological (genetic or prenatal development) and nurture=psychological (resulting from how a person is raised, i.e. "it's in your head", but not necessarily because of any conscious choice that you've made).

If your feelings on the roots of your orientation are correct, you have placed yourself firmly in the "nurture" portion of the equation, citing experiences from early childhood as the catalysts for your development of an attraction for men.

I agree with your suggestion that, whatever the cause, a homosexual orientation has its roots in very early childhood development (if not prenatal development or genetics) and that therefore a gay person cannot be held "accountable" for his orientation. I think that when people say that they were "born this way" what they're really saying is that they didn't make the choice.

As an interesting aside... if we assume that sexual orientation cannot be changed and that it is "fixed" or made permanent at a fairly early age, we really cannot "blame" anyone for their orientation even if the initial "choice" to be attracted to members of the same sex is a conscious one (not that I believe that it is a conscious choice), since our doctrine teaches that children under the age of eight are not accountable for their choices.

Anyway, great post! Thanks for your input!

LDS Pride said...

Bravone: Thank you for your comment. I also think that not only should we accept the man in the mirror, we should embrace him. I had an idea for a post that will expand on that.

Invisible: You know, I feel like I have pretty solid gaydar just by looks and actions. But when I hear men talk about their childhoods and it sounds like deja vu for me, my gaydar goes wild!

Scott: My apologies, I whipped together this post because I wanted to send it to the presses. I did generalize...a lot. But I'm glad that your "interesting aside" was exactly where I wanted your mind to take you.