From the right side of my Facebook feed the other day I spotted an article pushing the position that people who are homosexual are not born that way and science proves it. I was skeptical of the proposition and went and read the article.
It fell far short of the bold position but it did rely on a curious fact about human sexuality; that within identical twins the sexual orientation of the pair is not always matched. It follows that if two people bearing identical genetic make-up do not share a trait then their genes do not determine that trait. Or at least is not determined solely by their genes.
The mistake is to think that because something is not solely determined by the genes then it must not be innate to the individual. The growing field of epigenetics has shown us that there are a lot of factors and traits that are set before birth but not because of the presence or absence of a gene but because of gene expression.
The position that people are choosing their sexuality was also the point of a recent conservative op-ed piece I read the other day. The main evidence supplied by the author was that more people are identifying are gay. bisexual, or transgendered than in the past and that this must represent people choosing these label simply because today’s ‘permissive’ society allows them to do so. The author goes on to argue that it our society were not so ‘permissive’ some of these people would reject such things and go on to be happy, heterosexual married people further society. That last element he presented no evidence only an assertion that matched up with his world view.
I found his argument unpersuasive. At the very least you have a diagnosis problem. People often lie on surveys and they often lie on sexual surveys getting good number on such a subject is very difficult now and was more so in years past.
As I have stated in other posts in my opinion it is better to think of human sexual desire as a spectrum, and that most individuals do not exist at the far ends Society can repress expression but that does not change the underlying predispositions. Despite human genetic make-up being basically the same throughout history and around the world the expression of sexual desire has varied greatly. The Spartans carried the same genes as we do today but had a very different set of sexual practices.
So while there is no ‘gay gene’ that doesn’t mean people who primarily are attracted to member of the same sex selected that and it also means that these people who so stridently insist on this false binary choice are very likely not so far out on the spectrum themselves.