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Why do lots of people think that people choose to be gay?

  1. Jul 22, 2014 #1
    It's obvious to people that people don't choose to be black, white, asian or have blond hair. Why is it not so obvious to people that people don't choose to be gay? It's it because gayness is not a visible thing? You can't look at someone and immediately know that they are gay.
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  3. Jul 22, 2014 #2


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    Choose to be gay? I believe it was most clearly explained by the cultural anthropologist Todd Goldman[1] in his two seminal works regarding phase II of the transitional phases from sexual ambiguity(I), to a misogyny/misandry phase(II), and finally to gender selective period(III).

    It is the transition from phase II to phase III which confuses most people into believing that a choice was made.

    These are of course generalizations, as I've met people who defy all manner of attempted classification.

    [1] Actually, he was an accountant. But... meh....
  4. Jul 24, 2014 #3
    1) Because it fits their ideology?
    2) Something inside mind - not visible in a way that would immediately prove otherwise
    3) Actually, sexual orientation that's not 0 or 1, but a wide spectrum. A bisexual can be even used to prove that they are "right". (Anyway, I was personally shocked, after seeing stats how big fluctuation there is between homo- and bi- if you study the same sample after a few years. There must be plenty of evidence if you cherry pick it properly :D )
  5. Jul 24, 2014 #4


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    Religious people believe all kinds of nonsense with absolutely no evidence of any kind. Believing that homosexuality is a conscious choice is just one of many such things.
  6. Jul 24, 2014 #5
    Not a big mystery

    Most people can't stand people who are different from them.
    This goes double for those who haven't got much schooling, like conservatives/evangelicals.
    Narrow-mindedness is cured with education, on average, the more educated you are, the less bigoted you will be. Exceptions do occur, both kinds: highly educated people can be very bigoted, and non-educated people can be very broadminded.

    So, these people cling bitterly to the notion that gayness is a choice to avoid having to deal with the reality and fact that gays are a natural occurring phenomenon, far more frequent that lefthandedness or red hair.
  7. Jul 24, 2014 #6
    I'd be careful with that "religious". In my country during communism, all such people who were openly homesexual, were being shown as evidence of decadence and moral corruption of capitalist West.
  8. Jul 24, 2014 #7


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    If you replace the word "religious people" with "religious and/or extremely ideological people" (and communism is an ideology) then phinds' comments are still valid.
  9. Jul 24, 2014 #8


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    There's a lot of speculation going on about theology and people’s attitudes, but very little evidence based discussion. In fact the whole question could be re-asked as "What makes anyone do anything?" We don't know why people think other people choose to be gay. I'm sure there are a myriad of reasons.

    How about we just talk about what makes people gay: I read this a while back, seems like it is a possible factor in sexual preference

    So after thinking about this some, is there any evidence that proves homosexuality is not a choice in some instances? There are plenty of examples of homosexualality that seem to arise for convenience or gain rather than a locked in sexual orientation at birth: Gay for pay, prison populations, ship populations, ect. Are these groups homosexuals? It would seem to me that we need to lay some actual ground work for this discussion.
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2014
  10. Aug 1, 2014 #9
    The number of people who think homosexuality is a choice shrinks every day. I think it's because the topic is being discussed openly. When something is kept hidden or is forbidden to be discussed, it takes on a sinister quality.

    Reasonable people, who are thankfully the majority, can see that very few people would choose a lifestyle that invites persecution and danger. Being social animals, we want friendship and camaraderie, especially from our families.
  11. Aug 3, 2014 #10


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    I did not LIMIT such inanity to religious people. As StatGuy2000 correctly pointed out, any group that substitutes belief for fact is subject to this kind of nonsense.
  12. Aug 4, 2014 #11


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    You are confusing homosexual behaviour with homosexuality. One is a sexual orientation and identity, the other is not. In sociology and epidemiology people who engage in homosexual behaviour but are not themselves homosexual are referred to as men who have sex with men.
  13. Aug 5, 2014 #12


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    Thanks Ryan, I didn't know there was distinction.

    Anyway, another question:

    Here is the huffpost piece on this: Here

    So does the "we don't choose to be gay" line really help or hinder gay rights?
  14. Aug 5, 2014 #13
    I think you read that wrong. According to that article, the MSM term is meant to cover any man who has sex with other men, for whatever reason. This would include any gay men who are sexually active with other men. It would not include gay men who are not sexually active with other men. It's a label for the behavior as opposed to the emotional/psychological predisposition.
  15. Aug 6, 2014 #14


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    I worded it poorly, gay men can also be refered to as MSM if sexually active. My main point was that there is a difference between behaviour and orientation.
  16. Aug 6, 2014 #15


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    I disagree with a lot of this article. Sexuality isn't a choice and the recognition of that has helped the gay rights movement. You can choose to try and live differently sure, and for some people that might work (potentially because sexuality isn't trinary [hetero/bi/homo] like is usually thought but a spectrum) but that doesn't change the fact you develop with the sexuality you have without conscious effort.

    As for posing some hypothetical where science can alter sexuality, that impacts in no way on LGBT rights and culture now.
  17. Aug 6, 2014 #16
    The distinction is important, but my expectation would be that the majority of MSM would self identify as gay.
  18. Sep 10, 2014 #17
    To say that people think others choose to be gay, would imply that everyone makes that choice and some choose gay and others do not.
    I am not gay, but I did not choose to be not gay, So I would assume people who are gay did not make any 'choice' either.
    If it does not matter to you, and you want to address it, you have to ask yourself why you want to make that division?
    It is like I simply cannot understand race discrimination, there is only one race of humans, the human race.

    It is simply beyond me (and I don't think I am that stupid) that people want to use physical attributes to promote their own agendas and ideals.
    its like gay marriage, are they forcing you to marry into the same sex? I don't think so, so what really does it have to do with you, or your morals or ethics,
  19. Oct 19, 2014 #18


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    My only "proof" that homosexuality is not a conscious choice is knowing a two people from a very young age (one male, one female) both expressed to me when we were all under the age of 15 they were not attracted to the opposite gender. I had never been raised to believe it was ever wrong morally, so it never mattered. And why should it? It's really none of anyone's business who we are attracted to and love.
  20. Oct 20, 2014 #19
    I've asked people why they think that and I never got a clear answer. Just got "it just is". And I'd say "could you choose to be attracted to a man if you wanted?" And they just say something like "that's disgusting"... It's kind of an impossible argument, they wouldn't "choose" it because they find the thought unpleasant.. but I argue they find the thought unpleasant and therefore they can't choose it. Even if some day we could show people brain scans of new born babies and say "look, there it is, that bit there, this is a gay baby" some people would still believe it's a choice.

    I think the real issue, and here is where i say something from actual psychology so the thread doesn't get closed, is that the belief that being gay is wrong is very important to some people.
    These same people, because we live in 2014, also believe that it is wrong to hate someone for something they can't control.
    These two conflicting cognitions cause cognitive dissonance.
    Therefore they create a new cognition to resolve this dissonance, i.e. that being gay is a choice.

    Motivated reasoning: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motivated_reasoning
    There is a much more fitting term for exactly what I am talking about it but I forget.. argh.. The triangle.. kung fu panda.. argh.. damn you brain!
  21. Oct 25, 2014 #20
    I think people tend to choose to be LGBT because of the pressure put on them by religion to have more and more and more children that the person really doesn't want to have to begin with. The person then becomes LGBT to get back at the religion hoping that the thought of the nastiness of someone being LGBT will drive the religious person trying to make them conceive children for said religion mad and crazy. LGBT is basically life's way of telling religion that you don't force humans to conceive for your self centered and greedy maligned desires.
  22. Oct 26, 2014 #21


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    No one chooses to be gay simply to get back at the religious. Given how traumatic it can sometimes be to come out in a family which is particularly religious it isn't exactly an easy rebellious streak. Besides it's clearly not this as homosexuality is prevalent in all sections of society and cultures, whether they be religious or not.
  23. Oct 26, 2014 #22
    Dryson how do you explain highly religious gay people, gay people who desperately want children, and highly religious gay people who desperately want children?
  24. Oct 26, 2014 #23
    Not necessarily - it could be that heterosexuality is the "default", as it were, and that homosexuality is the choice to diverge from said default.
  25. Oct 26, 2014 #24


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    So just to clarify: You think people don't choose to be heterosexual but do choose to not be heterosexual?

    I'm heterosexual, surely if I have the choice to "diverge from the default" I have the choice to remain with the "default"? Or did I choose not to make that choice?
  26. Oct 26, 2014 #25

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    Prejudice aside there is a common confusion between acts and orientation ... it is possible to be homosexual and exclusively have sex with women for example. The act is a choice, the orientation is, pretty much by definition, not.

    One can choose all kinds of acts.

    Similarly it is possible to act as a man or a woman (or anything else for that matter) regardless of biological gender. It is possible to act as what you are not: theater depends on this (and causes problems for some people that way too.)

    Religions and other ideologies commonly prohibit acts rather than orientations, but tend to label people by their acts too. The thinking is "you are what you do"... or, more, your act has revealed your inner nature.
    i.e. stealing may be prohibited - and a person who has chosen to steal (for whatever reason) is "a thief" ... always has been and always will be but has shown their nature by their act: goes the thinking - once a thief always a thief. We've heard this before.

    But some choices are not always choices - if we focus on the immorality of choosing to steal, and label the offender, we may be able to convince ourselves we are not complicit in the crime (say by perpetrating a system where there is a starving mass of people who must steal to survive)... we become the good people and there are also bad people.

    It is very convenient also if the underclass cannot escape - so the 2nd class status of women through big chunks of history. You cannot choose to be male of female - and some people are naturally inferior (or so superior and pure that they should be repressed for their own protection...)

    These days, if something is not a choice there is a social and moral pressure, in those societies we are pleased to think of as "free", that it should be accepted in some way... for people who have some interest in repressing homosexual acts (usually among other acts) it is convenient, therefore, if homosexuality is a choice. They can claim to be moral, and continue their way of life.
    For those people, there not many responses available to the mounting evidence:
    1. maintain the "you are what you do" and call homosexuality a choice - therefore we can oppress/help/cure them
    2. accept a split between acts and nature - and suppress the act
    3. give up - focus on things that are actually harmful

    The #1 groups get a lot of press...
    The #2 groups tend to treat homosexual acts as a kind of addiction and try all kinds of "therapies" to "cure" gayness. It seems to be a crackpot industry now, like homeopathy.

    There are a lot of social structures set up around a simple picture of sexual orientation - for instance: if you dress in a revealing way, then you want to have sexual approaches. We also have established social structures pertaining to sexuality - and ideas about them are seldom discussed. They make people uncomfortable.

    i.e. If you are being cavity searched you may be able to request a same-sex officer to perform the search ... why? Well, there is a suspicion that an opposite sex officer may be getting a sexual thrill from the process - that may even encourage some groups to perform cavity searches more than strictly needed. But what if the same sex officer is homosexual - could a homosexual get a thrill off a cavity search? Should officers be made to disclose their sexuality? Perhaps we should allow homosexuals to request an opposite sex searcher? Which leads to the possibility that someone may claim to be gay in order to get cavity searched by someone they find attractive. Maybe someone is best advised to request a same-sex but heterosexual officer to avoid giving someone a thrill? Why not give someone a thrill - maybe they'll be too excited to notice the contraband? Or perhaps it shouldn't matter? Clearly there is a lot to talk about - and the discussion has barely started.

    It's more complicated by the situation with children - feelings run higher there. We segregate childrens changing areas at school. Why?
    Somewhere in the back of the collective mind is a worry that the boys may rape the girls - perhaps being too young to exercise adult moral restraint. A lack of restraint in growing teens manifests in many other ways and it seems prudent to keep the sexes apart to avoid other forms of harm while they are becoming better socialized. But what about homosexual teenagers? Should there be 4 kinds of changing rooms and bathrooms? Should everyone end up with a private cubicle to change etc?

    This sort of example speaks to fears - seldom articulated - and people are not good at thinking where fear is involved.
    Thinking is hard anyway - most people seem to prefer some form of ignorance that resembles knowledge.
    People like to stay comfortable.

    This is all very general - the reason is because the question is very general.
    People do stuff because they think they are, ultimately, doing the right thing. They believe stuff because they think they are correct to do so.
    Why any particular person or group believes of does a particular thing can be quite specific to the group.

    A lot of the answers above have concentrated on specific, if large, groups - religious people, people with strong dogmatic ideas etc.
    There has also been a tendency to think of homosexuals as men for some reason.

    Most of the time nonsense becomes mainstream, primarily, because nobody questions it.
    It used to be, in NZ, that pregnant girls were no permitted to attend school. When the subject went up for discussion, it turned out that the main objection was mostly that some people were worried that (these girls were sluts and would corrupt the other girls, so that) pregnancy was catching. The nonsense of this was so self-apparent, once it was stated out loud, that the ban was, tentatively, lifted. iirc it was discovered that allowing pregnant girls into school reduced the teenage pregnancy rate - which everyone was so concerned about.

    This is what we try to encourage here isn't it? The main threat science has to established dogmas is that questioning and disbelief is built-in.
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