Tuesday, 1 May 2012

... On 'choosing' your sexuality...

I was reading around the internet last night when I came upon this video, which I will admit to finding slightly odd, enough so in fact, that I have decided to put together a post on it.

Overall I agree with the interviewer's position, (ie. that homosexuality should not be considered a choice, just a way of being in much the same way that heterosexuality is); however, I find the way he chooses to interact with those who suggest that environmental factors may be part of what leads towards someone's sexuality, highly combative and massively flawed.

In the video when someone expresses a belief that homosexuality is a choice, the interviewer, quite rightly, asks the question "when did you choose to be straight?", leading to the person he is interviewing reconsidering their standpoint, maybe not enough to change their entire worldview, but at least enough to force them to think about it.  Unfortunately the interviewer also asks this question of anyone who believes that environmental factors also have a part to play, which damages his argument somewhat, as believing (quite sensibly considering the evidence) that environmental factors effect the development of a person is not the same as believing that the person made a conscious choice to be that way.

As a straight man I never really decided to be straight; however, over the years I have asked myself questions about my sexuality and it took me a long time before I really noticed that I felt very differently about women that I did about men.  At school I didn't really fancy anyone as far as I remember, although I thought I did on a number of occasions, I tend to believe that the reason I thought I did was probably down to societal pressure that a boy of ~13-18 was meant to fancy people and that in general most boys fancy girls so I "fancied" a girl.  This leads me to believe that sexual preference is a result of a combination of genetic and environmental factors and that to suggest otherwise is to ignore an important part in the development of our personalities.

I will admit I don't understand why the interviewer takes such a stance against environmental factors (maybe it's because of some people's suggestion that certain things can "make" someone gay, but that only matters if it is assumed that being gay is a negative trait), but to outright deny the existence of such things is a detriment to the argument as a whole.  Additionally there do appear to be a minority who do "choose" their sexual orientation, although whether this is down to societal pressure to define themselves or or down to a naturally occurring facet of their personality I cannot be sure.  If this orientation exists independent of societal pressure, it is another form of human sexuality which must be accepted and not talked down to as in this video.

Anyway, overall this video is attempting to put across a very important point, that hetero and homo-sexual desires almost certainly stem from the same place; however it does this in a way that I feel overlooks a large number of important points in the discussion that need to be accepted.