B*ggers CAN be choosers! (About “sexual orientation” determinism.)

gay

Will you, won’t you, will you,
Won’t you, will you join the dance?
Will you, won’t you, will you,
Won’t you, won’t you join the dance?

Would not, could not, would not,
Could not, would not join the dance.
Would not, could not, would not,
Could not, could not join the dance.

Lewis Carroll, 1832-1898

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Have you heard the slogan, “nobody chooses to be gay”?  This piece has been written in order to stimulate thought about the effect upon children of social attitudes towards homosexual behaviour, in the light of that slogan’s truth, or it’s untruth.

The myth

Consider the following pair of statements.

  • Everybody has an innate, immutable, biologically-determined sexual orientation that is either homosexual, or heterosexual.
  • People with a homosexual orientation cannot engage in heterosexual behaviour, or vice versa.

Let’s call that two-part thought-bite “the myth”.

The myth isn’t true

In that form, the myth is easily refuted, by pointing (for instance) to the counter-examples of people who identify and live as bisexual, or as ex-gay.  Or one can point to much of the homosexuality found in single-sex prisons.  Or to the married, father-of-four, public figure who has been caught with his pants down, and a rent boy in the hotel room with him, for whose kiss-and-tell story the gutter press is willing to pay.

Nobody much is actually asserting the myth either, in so many words.  Some readers will therefore suspect me fleetingly, of being about to use a “straw man” argument, attacking an easy target in the form of a caricature of a position I disagree with.

In the clichéd arguments raging all over the world, the rhetoric typically deployed by the proponents of homosexual equality is based squarely upon the myth.  It assumes the myth, or asserts the myth subliminally, time and time again.  People who would say, “Don’t be silly”, or “It’s not that simple”, when asked outright if they agreed with the myth, therefore often have the myth in the backs of their minds.

Other ideas that accompany the myth

Here are some of the other thoughts that the myth brings with it, which many people also have in the backs of their minds.

  • Nobody chooses between heterosexual and homosexual behaviour.  People have no choice.  There is no decision to make.  Homosexual and heterosexual behaviours alike, are equally determined by one’s biology.  (Or, perhaps God creates gay people.)
  • Since homosexual behaviours are not a choice, the behaviours must therefore be morally neutral.  They cannot be “wrong” or “sinful”, if they are involuntary.
  • The old school of gay activism got it completely wrong in the mid 20th century, when it encouraged “straight” people not to be uptight, but to “explore” their “gay side”.  That’s not how it works after all, we have since discovered.  Straight people cannot do gay things, or vice versa.
  • Any individual, group, subculture or religion – or parent – that discourages homosexual behaviour in children, is simply wrong, unenlightened, retarded, unscientific, hate-filled, bigoted, and so on.  He, she, or it, is risking harming children.
  • There are no “formative years” during which a child could go either way.  Each child was either born gay, or born straight.
  •  Social attitudes towards homosexual behaviour cannot possibly have any effect upon its prevalence.
  •  Traditional hetero-normative peer or parental pressure, in the playground, the workplace, or the home, cannot possible affect the outcome even for one child.  All one can do, is to watch helplessly, waiting to discover whether one’s child was born straight, or born gay.  Hetero-normative social pressure of any kind is therefore nowadays to be denounced as hate-motivated, homophobic bullying.
  • There is no point in giving children information about (say) the comparative health risks of sexual intercourse and sodomy, because such knowledge cannot possibly influence their behaviour.  Their future sexual behaviour had already been determined biologically by the time they took their first breath.   Nobody is able to make the sort of choices that providing such information would transform into informed choices.  The information thus has no conceivable use.
  • People who engage in homosexual behaviour are rightly described as “homosexual people”.  They are akin to an ethnicity, for the purposes deciding what “equalities” they should have, and what “discrimination” against them they should be protected from.
  • A child who experiences same-sex attraction, or has early  same-sex erotic experiences, must conclude that he or she is one of these homosexual people.  If a child is distressed by unwanted same-sex attraction, the child should never be reassured that this might be just a passing phase, or encouraged to explore his or her “straight side” too.  That would be to risk harming the child.
  • Sexual intercourse, the sexual act by which a new human life is usually started, is nothing more than the heterosexual equivalent of sodomy, and vice versa.

So what?

We know that the myth isn’t true.  It is, at best, an over-simplification.  And the myth’s other accompanying baggage listed above, is suspect too.   Rather, we can be sure that:

  • One cannot say truthfully that having sex and sodomy are equivalent in any way, other than as the expression a value judgment, from which present and future generations will remain entitled to dissent, as long as mankind has freedom of thought.
  • Children do have formative years during which they could go either way, maybe for the rest of their lives.
  • Many children do have a real choice to make, when they experience same-sex attraction; or when they are sexually initiated by older children or by adults of the same sex, and experience physical pleasure when this happens; they are likely to experience this physical pleasure, even if they are in some emotional turmoil about whether what they are doing, or what is being done to them, is right.

And so on and so forth.

What about gays though?

Yes, there are people, who call themselves “gays”.  Their perception is that the myth is subjectively true for them, so-to-speak.    What I mean by that,  is that if the world consisted only of them, with their perception of always having been, for as long as they can remember, deterministically, ontologically, innately, immutably and exclusively homosexually oriented, and another group that had exactly the same perception of being heterosexually oriented, then we’d be some way on the journey towards proving that the myth was true after all.

 But that is not how the real world is.  The reality is more complex than the myth conveys.  This is the reason for having chosen the rainbow symbol, which represents diversity.   It takes all sorts to make up a world, and some of those sorts, are counter-examples that disprove the myth.  Some of the “colours” of the “rainbow” represent people – many of them still children – who can, and will, and do make choices.  They choose whether to have sexual intercourse, or to commit sodomy, or both, or neither, during their lifetimes.  Some of them, when they are old, will remember like yesterday, the days when, in their youth, they chose to practise homosexuality, and the day they chose to leave homosexuality behind forever.

Gays (meaning, in this post, people who choose to self-identify as “gay”) protect their collective perceived interests, by hinting, in the rhetoric that they, their activists and spokesmen use, that the myth must be objectively true for everybody.  Why is peddling the myth in the perceived self-interests of gays?  Because, they tell us themselves, self-loathing, through exposure to  social attitudes that are critical of homosexual behaviour, drives some gays to suicide, which is tragic.  Social attitudes motivated by faith in the myth that are more favourable or neutral towards homosexual behaviour, it is claimed, would have prevented or ameliorated any self-loathing, thus saving the lives of an unknown number of gay suicide victims.  Or so the usual (rather emotional) argument goes.

What about children who aren’t deterministically, future gays?

But might not social attitudes favourable or neutral towards homosexual behaviour, for which is claimed such a good outcome for future gays, the prevention of suicides, have a potential downside for other children?  If the myth were true, there could be no downside.  Social attitudes would not be able to affect the prevalence of homosexual behaviour, or the outcomes for the children with choice, because children don’t have any choice, says the myth, none of them.  But we all know that the myth isn’t true, that many children do have choice.  Is it unreasonable to suppose that social attitudes to homosexual behaviour are unlikely to influence at all what choices children make?

Gays claim that they themselves didn’t “choose to be gay”.  But, let us not forget the many adults who did once actively choose to engage in homosexual behaviour.  Nor to forget those who chose to refrain from such behaviour, or such further behaviour.  They remember choosing, and for some of them, carrying out the decision was a struggle.

Adults who have chosen to practise homosexuality, and those who have chosen not to alike, began to make those choices when they were children themselves.   So, above all, let us  consider the interests of today’s children, those who are still about to make their choices, or are in the process of making their choices.

There are always going to be children who have the ability to chose their sexual behaviour, even if one accepts the plea of automaton that most gays offer, “I didn’t choose to be gay”.   (That is, if the children want to label themselves with a  “sexual orientation”, presumably having in the first place accepted the concept of “sexual orientation” as valid.)  Are not these children with a choice entitled, at very least, to factual information from which they can work out the pros and cons of sodomy for themselves?

A Utilitarian question

A genuine conflict of interests presents us with a moral dilemma here.

We could teach children that homosexual behaviour is normal and unavoidable for some people, and equivalent to heterosexual behaviour.  We could teach them that experiencing same-sex attraction means that one has discovered that one is one of those people oneself.  That’s certainly the direction in which we seem to be heading as a society.

If we choose to teach this system of doctrine, which is largely based upon what I have called “the myth”, there may be fewer suicides caused by gay self-loathing.  But this hoped-for benefit will not necessarily be without collateral damage elsewhere in the population.  And besides this, our teaching won’t exactly be truthful, will it?  It won’t necessarily be what we believe ourselves, for a start.

Many would like our schools to teach children who can choose between sex and sodomy, that the two are equivalent, just as good and as safe as one another.  They want to give the children who could go either way, no reason to prefer one way to the other.  They want us to teach this to children, in order to avoid hurting the feelings of the future gays, who (it is claimed) cannot choose between sex and sodomy.

 If we teach this syllabus, are we acting responsibly?   Of course not!  We may actually end up deserving to be sued by members of the future generation we would be harming, by teaching children the myth and the package of ideas that flows from it.

To ask a Utilitarian question, which will harm more children the most?  Teaching children that sodomy is equivalent to sex?  Or teaching children that sex and sodomy aren’t the same thing at all?  As a society, or at least as parents, we must, in practice, choose one or other of the two teachings.

Relevance to same-sex marriage?

Most opponents of same-sex marriage say that redefining the word “marriage” by permitting same-sex couples to use the word “marriage” for their registered domestic partnerships if they choose, would “devalue” marriage.  The sophisticated arguments to this effect tend to go right over the heads of the casual listener.  Those arguments have yet to  succeed in changing political opinion enough to kill the Bill.  But there are other arguments against same-sex  marriage.

The introduction of same-sex marriage, is almost bound to lead to purges.  Staff who work with children, however long and unblemished their track records, who have a conscientious objection to expressing approval of, or neutrality towards, same-sex marriage, are likely to be staff whose attitude toward homosexual behaviours is critical, rather than affirmative or neutral.  Such workers won’t be allowed to enter, or to remain in (for example) the teaching profession before long.  They will be sacked.  Only the syllabus based on the myth will be taught, with no dissenting voice heard, or tolerated.

Another argument against same-sex marriage is that it indirectly exalts sodomy, raising that behaviour to the same level of sexual intercourse, in society’s esteem.  How?  Well, not directly, through a consummation clause in the present Bill.  We’ve escaped that indignity.  But same sex marriage exalts sodomy indirectly, by furthering the entire package of ideas that is based upon a myth that nobody believes in the first place – the myth, as I have called it.  The adoption of the rainbow symbol testifies that it is admitted that the myth is an over-simplification.  But it is the myth that nevertheless lurks behind the slogan “equal marriage”, as it’s only rationale.  Part of the package of ideas that accompanies the myth, is the value judgment that sodomy is equivalent to having sex.  Same-sex marriage thus exalts sodomy.

Same-sex marriage is perhaps the final nail in the coffin of public sector hetero-normativity.  I have questioned whether eradicating from our culture every last trace of hetero-normativity, might not actually harm children who do have the ability to make sexual orientation choices that gays deny ever having been able to make themselves.

Would it be such a big problem – and what problem would it be, and to whom – if we retained just this one, tiny vestige of hetero-normativity in our culture?  Keeping the meaning of the old, old word “marriage” what it has always been until now?  Keeping the M word’s meaning to be about relationships in which sexual intercourse itself is possible?  Sexual intercourse as distinct from sodomy?

Is there a solution?

I cannot see how anybody can seriously doubt that some children avoid ending up gay, and are all the happier for it, partly because the prevailing culture retains some vestigial hetero-normative characteristics.

I don’t see how it is going to be possible to strike a balance, between the interests of the following two groups:

  • Children who might commit suicide if society is too hetero-normative for them to find life bearable, the future gays
  • Children who are by no means deterministically gay, but who could end up gay in practice, by making the “wrong” choice, so-to-speak

If there is a middle ground, what is it?

If there is no middle ground, which group’s interests should trump the other group’s?

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27 Comments

Filed under Homophobic, Law, Political

27 responses to “B*ggers CAN be choosers! (About “sexual orientation” determinism.)

  1. Ed

    Your argument seems to based on the non-sequitur that sexual practice = sexual orientation.

    Also, you assert many times that sex does not equal sodomy. Unless this is to be a trivial assertion, I take you to mean that they are not morally equivalent, yet you don’t ever actually say why. It remains thus an assertion only. So, what’s the problem with anal sex?

    • @ Ed

      “Your argument seems to based on the non-sequitur that sexual practice = sexual orientation.”

      The simple answer to that, is to assure you that I don’t equate sexual practice with sexual orientation. Do you think that I constructed an “argument” for a particular proposition? I wasn’t trying to do anything quite as specific as that.

      “you assert many times that sex does not equal sodomy. Unless this is to be a trivial assertion …”

      The assertion that sexual intercourse and sodomy are not equivalent, is indeed a “trivial” assertion. Yet, trivial or not, it does no harm to remind people of this, because this trivial fact is frequently overlooked.

      On numerous occasions during the past couple of decades, complaints have been made that will immediately be rejected by who anybody is aware of the non-equivalence of sex and buggery that you label as “trivial”.

      For example, I am old enough to remember a time in our history when it was a criminal offence for a man to bugger a woman. Yet the same man could, in some circumstances, bugger another man who was aged eighteen or older, with impunity. In what sense did this different treatment of homosexual buggery and heterosexual buggery, give rise to the complaint made at the time that the “age of consent” was higher for homosexuals than heterosexuals?

      The false perception of an alleged higher age of consent for homosexuals and heterosexuals, only existed in the minds of those who obviously needed to be reminded of what you rightly characterise as so “trivial”, that you could scarcely bring yourself to believe that was all that I was saying, and therefore went looking for hidden meanings, to do with morality.

      • Ed

        If you don’t equate orientation with behaviour, then why say that

        “Gays claim that they themselves didn’t “choose to be gay”. But, let us not forget the many adults who did once actively choose to engage in homosexual behaviour. Nor to forget those who chose to refrain from such behaviour, or such further behaviour.”

        ?

        Unless for you the label ‘gay’ denotes one’s sexual practice rather than the widely accepted denotation of sexual orientation, I can’t square the content of this quote with the statement in your reply that you don’t equate the two.

        You say that you are not setting up a straw man, but nobody is espousing the apparent myth that one can’t choose one’s sexual behaviour. What is being put forward in the assertion that “nobody chooses to be gay” (clumsy as this phrase is) is rather that nobody chooses who they are sexually attracted to, nobody chooses what their orientation is.

        So there is no question of teaching children that they can’t choose their behaviour – of course they can! Nor is there any question of teaching that anal sex is equivalent to sex, if by that we mean simply that they are (obviously) different things – if we are not talking about their moral character.

        You ask in your post, are not children “entitled, at very least, to factual information from which they can work out the pros and cons of sodomy for themselves?”

        Apart from the fact that on the whole children recieve good sex ed in schools in the UK so the issue doesn’t arise; I still wonder – since you didnt answer my question above – what do you think are the pros and cons of anal sex?

  2. @ Ed

    “nobody chooses who they are sexually attracted to” [Ed]

    I disagree. I make hundreds of such choices every year of my life.

    “nobody chooses what their orientation is”

    I don’t understand that assertion of yours. Since I don’t understand it, I’d better not agree with it until I do. I don’t know what you mean by the term “sexual orientation”. There are so many competing definitions. None of them seem to define a biological attribute that can be measured scientifically. Behaviour can be observed, but behaviour isn’t orientation. Forest Gump might have said, “Stupid is as stupid does”, and others might say, “If it walks like a duck”, but (we have agreed) that principle does not apply to sexual orientation. Professions of sexual identity, i.e. statements that the speaker “is” gay, tell the listener that the speaker has made a choice to self-identify, as having a “homosexual orientation”. But what does the speaker actually claim to have, by saying that he “has” a homosexual orientation?

    What the speaker does NOT mean to tell the listener, by making the statement that he “is” gay, is either of the following:

    (a) that he has merely made a choice to make that statement; or

    (b) that he practises homosexual behaviour.

    He is, rather, making an ontological claim about the person he is, “inside”, so to speak.

    The worldview of Stonewall and others seems to be that there is a first group that practises homosexual behaviour, that there is a second group that professes homosexual identity (the claim to have homosexual “orientation”, or to “be” homosexual people), and there is a third group that actually possesses homosexual orientation. It is possible to belong to any one of these three groups, without belonging to either of the other two, and an entire set of jargon associated with belonging to one group but not another, such as to be “in denial”, or to be “in the closet”. You have accused me of “conflating” these three groups, but that is not something I have done intentionally or exceptionally badly. Rather, I say, pro-homosexuality activists tend to be rather more guilty that I am, of the conflation of the different qualifications for membership of each of the three groups.

    The first two groups are well-defined, by the behaviour of the first group, or what the members of the second group say about themselves. But how the third group is defined is a mystery.

    Please allow me to use an analogy, to explain my problem with the entire concept of sexual orientation. On discussion boards all over the world, you will find atheists who gleefully draw attention to the sins of professing Christians. “If God exists, he must be horrible, judging by the behaviour of his followers.” This is how the atheists might open their argument. They are often answered, inadequately, by would-be Christian apologists who will simply say that, judging by their dreadful behaviour, the offenders concerned couldn’t possibly have been “real” Christians. If they had been “real” Christians, it is claimed, they would not have been able to commit the dreadful sins or crimes concerned.

    Those who say this are usually referring to, as “real” Christians, those who are in the ontological state of having been “born again”, and hence are “real” Christians, Christians on the inside. That special usage of the word “Christian”, does not describe an attribute that is scientifically observable. All that are directly observable are the professions of faith (“I am a born again Christian”), and the behaviours of those who make such professions. Not surprisingly, therefore, the “not real Christians” argument therefore attracts ridicule from the atheists, for its circularity.

    What, other than by self-identity, or by behaviour, does it mean to say that somebody “has” a homosexual orientation, or “is” gay? I put it to you that the concept of having a homosexual orientation is exactly the same sort of concept as the concept of having been born again! The deeply unscientific concept of having a homosexual orientation – or of being a homosexual person (perhaps even somebody who was “born gay”) – is a concept of being different inside. For the purposes of enabling rational dialogue between people who believe in universal sexual orientation and others who are sceptical of this entire system of doctrine, the concept of “sexual orientation” as a state of being different inside, separate from practised behaviour or articulated identity, is every bit as controversial, unscientific and unhelpful, as is the Christian concept of being a different person inside, as a result of having been born again, when the latter concept is invoked in dialogue (including flame wars) between Christians and atheists.

  3. Ed

    Personally I don’t think this is much of a problem, pragmatically speaking. We don’t, on the whole, I think, have any problem with the concept of desire. Almost nobody would respond to the statement “I like cake” by pondering whether the statement-maker really does like cake, or only says he does but doesn’t eat it, or else eats cake but doesn’t actually like it. In most situations we just accept that the person likes cake and that’s it. But that would be a mundane case of something inside that can be settled only by reference to utterances or actions.

    But alright, lets do away with the idea of orientation. I suggest we confine ouselves to desires (and/or attraction). I find it uncontraversial that if a man has a first-order desire to have sex with another man then that man is gay. This, I’m pretty sure is what I mean by sexual attraction.

    First-order desires being what they are, they cannot be chosen. You cannot choose to desire to eat cake. You may choose to act on that desire; you may even have a second-order desire not to get fat and so choose not to act on the desire; but you cannot choose to have that desire in the first place.

    Into this category I put sexual desire and/or attraction. So unless there is some misunderstanding about the meaning of ‘attraction’ here, I find it profoundly strange that you think you regularly choose who to be sexually attracted to. Certainly I can’t, and I would argue no other person can either. I am either attracted to a person – and thereby desire to kiss them or touch them or have sex with them or whatever case may be – or I am not. I may choose whether to act on that attraction, but I cannot choose to have the attraction in the first place.

    So I’m curious about how you think you can choose who to be attracted to, and I would like you to explain how.

    ———————————–

    For the third time, I’d still like your answer the following: what are the pros and cons of anal sex that children should be taught about?

    • “I’m curious about how you think you can choose who to be attracted to”

      Because I’m not a robot, that’s why.

      “what are the pros and cons of anal sex …?”

      If you need to ask, perhaps your own sex education wasn’t as “good” as you said earlier that sex education already was, in British schools.

      • Ed

        Funnily enough, it seems to me that if you can in fact choose who to find sexually attractive, then that rather than the opposite would make you a robot. There must be a misunderstanding here, so lets break it down further:

        Do you accept my explanation of desires – do you accept that, for example, if someone who likes cake sees a cake she cannot choose to desire to eat it? (Granting that she might override that desire with a second-order cognitive desire not to get fat or overfull or whatever.)

        —————–

        Re anal sex: let me try this formulation – what do you think are the pros and cons of anal sex that children should be taught about?

        • Ed, why don’t you start a blog of your own, and write an essay there, about cake, first order desires, anal sex, and any of the other things that you find interesting? You could invite me to comment on your blog, if I suddenly become interested in any of these other topics. And, when you have done that, you can read my post again, and comment intelligently about what I’ve actually written about, whilst you are waiting to see if I want to talk about your very different and diverse interests.

  4. Ed

    I don’t think these are different inerests at all. I’m trying to understand your point of view precisely as epoused in your post – no new blog is necessay.

    The thing I have most difficulty with is this idea that anybody can have a choice about who to find attractive. It really is completely unfathomable to me, akin in my mind to being able to choose to desire something. For this reason I’m sure that there must be a misunderstanding somewhere between us and i’d like to try to find out what it is. Perhaps I’m missing something; perhaps you’re misinterpreting me; perhaps I’m misinterpreting you. Wouldn’t clearing that up be a good thing? Isn’t a proper dialogue between members of opposing groups something to strive for?

    So in order to get to the bottom of this misunderstanding I ask you wether you think you can choose to desire something simple like cake – because for me the involuntariness of liking cake is akin to the involuntariness of finding someone sexually attractive.

    Now, your original post is ostensibly about what you call the myth that nobody chooses to be gay, and the effect of that apparent myth upon children. We’ve already established that by “choose to be gay” you don’t mean “choose to engage in homosexual activity” but rather something like “choose to find sexually attractive members of the same sex”. Since this is the case, and since (so it seems to me) desires and findings of sexual attractiveness are equally involuntary, is not a discussion about whether we have a choice to have a desire directly relevant to the post you have asked me to comment intelligently about? (I apologise if my remarks are too stupid for you.)

    As for anal sex – the point I’ve been pressing is not plucked out of thin air but is pursued in response to a line of thought in your original post. You are very concerned that teaching children that homo- hetero- or bi-sexuality is not a choice may end up harming more children than it protects. But you don’t ever specify what you think that harm might be, and it is by no means obvious. Since your discussion of this revolves around your disquiet about the prospect of teaching children that sex and anal sex are equivalent (somethung that by no means follows from social attitudes towards homosexuality, but I won’t pursue you on this point), it seems reasonable to assume that it is this latter teaching which will be responsible for the harm you are so nervous about. But you don’t ever say why teaching the equivalence of sex and anal sex is a bad thing, instead leaving it to implication in the form of the rhetorical question quoted previously and reproduced again here:

    “Are not […] children with a choice entitled, at very least, to factual information from which they can work out the pros and cons of sodomy for themselves?”

    What, we may wonder, is it about not being able to work out the pros and cons of anal sex that might lead children to harm? I can only speculate as to what you think this might be. So, in order not to misrepresent, and since it is not obvious, and since it is after all the whole point of your blog post to encourage thought about the implications for children of social attitudes towards homosexuality, I ask you:

    What do you think are the pros and cons of anal sex? What do you think it is about not being able to work out the pros and cons of anal sex that might lead some children to harm?

    • “The thing I have most difficulty with is this idea that anybody can have a choice about who to find attractive. It really is completely unfathomable to me …”

      The thing I have difficulty with is your idea that nobody make choices about whom they find attractive.

      Are you unable to conceive of the possibility that developing and acting in a sexual way upon same sex attraction might at least have some disadvantages? If you cannot imagine this being true, I cannot see that any sort of evidence is likely to enable you to change your mind about that.

  5. Ed

    Hello John, I’ve some further comments to make:

    “I don’t see how it is going to be possible to strike a balance, between the interests of the following two groups:

    – Children who might commit suicide if society is too hetero-normative for them to find life bearable, the future gays
    – Children who are by no means deterministically gay, but who could end up gay in practice, by making the “wrong” choice, so-to-speak”

    1) If those non-deterministically gay children who end up gay in practice are truly non-deterministically gay and have a genuine choice whether to be gay, what is to prevent them from simply choosing not to be gay once they realise they have made the “wrong” choice?

    2) What, therefore, is “wrong” about choosing to be gay? Why is choosing to be gay the “wrong” choice?

    3) If there is nothing “wrong” with the choice to be gay, does not the utilitarian balance favour the gay children forced to commit suicide, since suicide is much worse than simply making a wrong choice which can in any case be reversed?

  6. @ Ed

    To respond to your numbered questions:

    1) If those non-deterministically gay children who end up gay in practice are truly non-deterministically gay and have a genuine choice whether to be gay, what is to prevent them from simply choosing not to be gay once they realise they have made the “wrong” choice?

    What might prevent them, would be the same sort of considerations that prevent anybody from abandoning a behaviour that they didn’t have to adopt, once they have adopted that behaviour. The behaviour becomes part of who they have become, as a result of that choice of behaviour. Change, in the form of abandoning any behaviour, isn’t necessarily impossible, but it is notoriously more difficult than avoiding that behaviour in the first place.

    2) What, therefore, is “wrong” about choosing to be gay? Why is choosing to be gay the “wrong” choice?

    I put the word “wrong” in quotes myself, in order (in that context) to express the popular consensus, rather than an objective measure of rightness or wrongness, at least prior to the success (as I see it), of the “nobody chooses to be gay” social programming, in instilling sexual orientation determinism into the public’s mindset, which (people suppose) has neutered the ethical question.

    This said, you must surely know that there are Utilitarian considerations that prescribe against widespread homosexuality, because of the undoubted health risks of behaviours that actually do get chosen when persons are trying to express same sex affection using sex acts. You have mentioned one such sex act yourself, many, many times.

    It is my position that people consider that the choice to be gay in practice is just as good and as right as the choice not to be gay in practice, only because they believe in the simplistic determinism of “the myth”. They believe that any perception of choice is illusory. If people viewed the choice as the act of a free will, and the options between which the choice was made as equally capable of being freely chosen, and assessed merits and consequences of the options objectively, do you really think that many would say that homosexual behaviour was an equally wise choice?

    What if we liberate ourselves from the idea that there is no free will, that our wills are in bondage to our nature, that we all merely appear to choose only that which we were always bound to choose? Can we not then be set free from the illusion that it is wrong to discuss the pros and cons of choices?

    What the actual pros and cons are, of choices to become gay in practice, others have discussed. Almost always, they are heavily criticised, for not making the assumption that their critics make, that true, free choice is impossible. They are seldom taken to task for the paucity of the evidence they bring that one behaviour, for example, reduces life expectancy compared with another, or prevents the natural procreation of children. Rather, they are criticised for bringing any evidence at all, as though to do so was to be mean or even (it is often said) “hateful”. Though the evidence be ever so compelling, of what one should choose, if choice were possible, it is said that the evidence has no possible use, given that there are no free choices that can be made, which evidence, however compelling, would make into informed choices. No possible use, that is, except as an expression of alleged “hatred”, of those who make quasi-choices that they cannot avoid making.

    3) If there is nothing “wrong” with the choice to be gay, does not the utilitarian balance favour the gay children forced to commit suicide, since suicide is much worse than simply making a wrong choice which can in any case be reversed?

    Yes, but the “if” begs the question whether the choice to be gay in practice is a wise choice.

    The determinism that many subscribe to subconsciously, portrays as bigotry the mere asking of the question whether there might be anything less than wise about the choice to be gay in practice. Those who condemn attempts to discuss the rights or wrongs, or the wisdom or folly, of choosing to be gay in practice, condemn those attempts on the basis that nobody chooses to be gay in practice. The only possible effect of attempting to discuss whether it is wise to choose to be gay in practice, is merely to upset those who are gay in practice, and who claim that they never really had any choice about this destiny of theirs, because (often) they claim that they were “born gay”.

    Any researcher who attempts to document the harm suffered by practitioners of homosexuality, is condemned, as somebody who is expanding an area of scientific knowledge that ought not to be expanded, because this area of scientific knowledge has no possible good applications, only evil applications, including the causing of suicides that continued ignorance might prevent, if he were to leave well alone. The researcher is accused of wishing to cause this harm, by attempting to ascertain objective facts about the measurable health risks of homosexuality.

    • Ed

      I’ll respond to both of your last replies here to avoid running two threads at the same time.

      “Change, in the form of abandoning any behaviour, isn’t necessarily impossible, but it is notoriously more difficult than avoiding that behaviour in the first place.”

      As it stands this is a tenuous point. There are different types of behaviour, some of which are no doubt difficult to give up, some are not. The question is: which category do homosexual practices fit into? If I go for a run twice a week I don’t see why it should be difficult to stop doing that. Are homosexual practices materially different from this?

      “you must surely know that there are Utilitarian considerations that prescribe against widespread homosexuality…”

      Not having babies? The world is overpopulated anyway, better that fewer babies are born than more.

      “…because of the undoubted health risks of behaviours that actually do get chosen when persons are trying to express same sex affection using sex acts.”

      Now you’re getting somewhere. What do you think these health risks are? Are they not the same as heterosexual sex act health risks? And can they not be countered by education and safe sex practices?

      “If people […] assessed merits and consequences of the options objectively, do you really think that many would say that homosexual behaviour was an equally wise choice?”

      Depends on those merits and consequences – what do you think they are?

      “What the actual pros and cons are, of choices to become gay in practice, others have discussed.”

      This is passing the buck, if what you are doing is trying to avoid having to set out a positive case yourself. I want to know what you think the pros and cons are.

      “Though the evidence be ever so compelling”

      And what is this compelling evidence?

      “the “if” begs the question whether the choice to be gay in practice is a wise choice.”

      You then go on to explain how any suggestion that homosexual practices might not be wise is invariably met with derision and accusations of bigotry. But you still don’t explain why you think being “gay in practice” is not wise. Telling me that it’s obvious or that others have already said so is not good enough – I am asking you, not those others. If you’re reluctant to say what you think because of the danger of a possible backlash, I can only reassure you that I am interested in discussion, not mud-slinging.

      “The thing I have difficulty with is your idea that nobody make choices about whom they find attractive.”

      Ok John. I’ve tried to explain to you why exactly I find your position untenable (all that stuff about desires) and have asked you to elaborate your views on several occasions. Each time you have either simply ignored what I said or else passed it off as irrelevant and responded only with this kind of flippant remark. Of course, this is your blog and you may do with it as you please, but your reticence on this point is revealing. It suggests that you know your position is weak but for whatever reason you won’t admit it and so resort to bare assertion.

      “Are you unable to conceive of the possibility that developing and acting in a sexual way upon same sex attraction might at least have some disadvantages? If you cannot imagine this being true, I cannot see that any sort of evidence is likely to enable you to change your mind about that.”

      You put the cart before the horse. Whether I can conceive of disadvantages to homosexuality is not relevant: I am the one challenging your stated views, not the other way round. Evidence should be introduced for the purpose of defending those views, nothing more. Perhaps a successful defence will convince me that you’re right, perhaps not; it doesn’t matter. If you avoid the responsibility to provide evidence for your opinions simply on the basis that your interlocutor won’t be persuaded, what you say is, again, reduced to mere assertion.

      • I was not setting out, in this posting, to make a case against homosexual practice myself. I was drawing attention to the falsehood of the myth that is behind the commonplace denunciation as bigots, of those who do argue that homosexual practice is harmful, and that it should therefore be avoided by individuals and discouraged by society, and certainly not presented to children as “normal”.

        You are now inviting me to make an argument against homosexual practice. Although I don’t want or need to do that here, that you are so eager for me to play that different “game” with you, suggests that you have arrived yourself, at the realisations that I hoped readers of this posting would arrive at. The realisation that it is far from pointless for people to attempt to make a case against homosexual practice. Plus the realisation that it is possible for people to argue against homosexuality with good motives. Plus the realisation that there may well be a sound case to be made against homosexuality, a case you have become impatient to hear from me, of all people.

        In talking about what I have called “the myth”, I believe that I have identified accurately one of the main reasons, why some of those who do try to make a case against homosexual choices, often find that their words are falling on deaf ears. I have argued that it is because their listeners think subconsciously that the opponents of homosexuality are knowingly arguing against choices that those who make those choices do not make freely, and which nobody ever can make freely. That’s what I set out to debunk: that deterministic thinking.

        Judging by the questions you seem now to be demanding that I answer, I have succeeded in my goal of debunking the determinism of the myth, as far as you are concerned. You now appear to be eager to listen to arguments against homosexuality. As I have made it clear, I do not want to present arguments against homosexuality myself. I am content to have succeeded in enabling you to reach the new level of understanding that you have. The understanding that those who do make arguments against homosexuality (as you have invited me to do), are entitled to do this; and that some of them might even have good arguments. Your insight seems to be superior to that of the many others, who appear still to believe that opponents of homosexuality are all just out to be gratuitously annoying, for the sake of being annoying, to an entire, naturally-occurring demographic or subculture, whose helpless members were all biologically fore-ordained from before birth, to belong to that demographic, or to join that subculture.

        You now seem keen to learn what the arguments against homosexuality are. (So keen that you want to learn those arguments from me of all people!) But you really don’t need my help for that journey of discovery, and I am not offering it at present. The arguments against homosexuality are probably going to be easy for you to find.

        Where those who have published arguments against homosexuality have allowed comments, you will probably find a preponderance of comments dismissing those arguments, and insulting those who published them. You will probably notice that the critics almost never point out anything wrong with the arguments against homosexuality, or refute the evidential basis claimed in support of those arguments.

        The majority of the objectors, will instead almost certainly use slogans similar to the “nobody chooses to be gay” slogan in my opening sentence. A few of the objectors, may instead try to ascertain or to guess what religious beliefs the critics of homosexuality hold if any, and will attack those beliefs, rather than engaging at all with the argument actually made against homosexuality. You will know better to engage in either of those tactics yourself. You will instead meet the arguments against homosexuality square on. And you will, of course, defend the opponents of homosexuality, against any dumbed down “nobody chooses to be gay” arguments that any enthusiasts for homosexuality try to get away with. Won’t you?

        • Ed

          I find this response evasive and more than a little disingenuous. Your stated aim was not simply to challenge the ‘myth’ that nobody chooses to be gay, but also to suggest that its widespread acceptance risks harming children. If it’s going to harm children it’s only because some children might end up gay who wouldn’t otherwise and that this will harm them. If this will harm them, it can only be because engaging in homosexual activity is a harm. Without this harm you have no point to make, so it is incumbent upon you to say what that harm is.

          Nevertheless, lets accept your shifting of goalposts, and pretend that all you wanted to do was attack the ‘myth’ as you have defined it. In this case, you have provided no evidence for your claims; all you have done is asserted as false a ‘myth’ that as far as I can tell nobody ascribes to anyway.

          I’ve challenged you to explain how you think it is possible to choose to find someone attractive, having given reasons for thinking you’re wrong, and you have failed every time to come up to proof.

          Without such an explanation, I can only conclude that you have no case.

          • Tony

            It sounds to me as if Ed has no case. Somebody must be very stupid and ignorant if they are unaware that buggery causes physical harm to the anus and to a lesser extent to the penis as well. The anus, unlike the vagina, is not designed for sexual intercourse. It is not elastic, it is not elastic, it is not lubricated naturally and it is crooked. Contact with the anus and waste matter cause infection. That is how AIDS began and that is one reason why homosexual men have such a high rate of venereal diseases. Homosexual men typically suffer from damage to the anus causing incontinence in later life, and have to wear nappies. They also suffer from a wide range of other symptoms which used to be called “gay bowel syndrome* until that term was shunned as non-PC. These side-effects range from mere colon inflammation to bowel cancer. Young men in their twenties have to be fitted with colostomy bags.
            Nurses and doctors regularly come across cases of queer men who have got everything from vibrators to coca-cola bottles forced up their anuses and need to have them surgically removed.
            It is a total insult to normal people to equate buggery with normal sex in any respect or for any purpose. Perversion should not be normalized either by law or by general apathy.

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  9. Ellie

    A substantial part of your argument hinges on the dangers of anal sex when compared to ‘normal’ sex. How does the moral character of the situation change for lesbian women (of whom I can find very little trace in your post)?

    • Thank you for your comment, Ellie.

      My post doesn’t mention “anal sex”, or use the word “normal” (with or without quotes) before the word “sex” like that. You must be reading something into my “argument” because of the punning headline, and the suggestive picture at the beginning.

      However, all of my daughters are grown up now, whilst I still have a son in the target age-group. For an example of one proposal to target children as young as five, see

      Same sex parents ‘should be featured in school books’

      There have also been proposals for teaching children about homosexuality in pre-school.

      I am male, so all of my experience of homosexuality has been male-on-male.

      I wasn’t therefore specifically thinking about female-on-female homosexuality when I wrote the post. But there again, my “argument” isn’t gender-specific either. It is your perception that my “argument” doesn’t cover female homosexuality, based upon the same misunderstanding as Ed showed, in his earlier comments. (Ed was also trying to divert the discussion to one about “anal sex”.)

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  11. Broadwood

    For some more hard statistics on this topic, do check out ‘My genes made me do it’ – A great site, including a free e-book by a New Zealand based scientist who is tired of the myths and lies and has collated a great deal of good scientific data.
    It includes such gems as – solid evidence that the great majority (80-90%) of 16 year olds who identify as gay/bs will no longer do so by their mid-twenties.

  12. Broadwood

    Oops! amended link – mygenes.co.nz

  13. aformersexworker

    Just a thought that occurs to me…

    I am very heterosexual, I would find sex with another woman utterly repellent, so that I genuinely cannot conceive of a woman choosing to have sex with another woman unless there was something dramatically different about her sexuality and mine.

    Perhaps this curious idea that gender orientation is a choice comes from the heads of people who are at the centre of the spectrum and capable of desiring both men and women, as I am not?

    In other words, it seems to me that only bisexuals see homosexuality as a forbidden treat to be resisted…full heterosexuals cannot see the appeal and full homosexuals cannot see the appeal of heterosexuality.

    Incidentally, a very sweet gay friend of mine vividly recalls wanting to marry Jolyon in the 1967 “Forsyte Saga” (actor Michael York) as a toddler of about 3 or 4…probably not evidence of a preference for sexual dissolution at that age…

    • “only bisexuals see homosexuality as a forbidden treat to be resisted”

      That isn’t exactly how I would summarise my own thoughts (which are expressed quite widely on this blog), but it is an excellent bite-sized approximation to one of my thoughts, expressed in a way that ought to make it immediately understandable to people who are locked into a belief that innate and immutable, biologically-based sexual orientation, not subject to the exercise of human free will, is an objective reality. So, thank you very much for sharing that thought of yours, which is a valuable contribution indeed.

      People have said that the demand for “same sex marriage” is merely a demand for “equal marriage”, for “gay” people. Others have said that it is the thin end of the wedge, and will make demands for state registered polygamy irresistible. It is customary to ridicule that argument. However, I think (from your comment) that you have the brains to realise that, if and when people who “identify” as “bi-sexual” (who are presently keeping jolly quiet whilst the gays consolidate their victory) get around to demanding “equal marriage” for themselves too, what they will logically have to demand, is nothing less than the right to be “married” to two people at the same time, one of the opposite sex, and one of same sex as themselves. Stopping arbitrarily at monogamous same sex marriage, is the ultimate in bisexual erasure.

      I think you might also enjoy another post of mine: “What’s in a name? There’s LOTS in a name!”

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