Why are some people homosexual and others are heterosexual?Why are some people homosexual and others are heterosexual?

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I believe this question will be answered definitively one day through genetic research. Why a person is physically attracted to one sex or the other is not a matter of choice; it is innate, a matter of biology, and it crosses all centuries and cultures.

Anecdotal evidence is clear and convincing. Gay people recall when they first became aware of their feelings, aware of being "different," and these memories are always rooted in childhood, long before one would intellectualize sexual preferences. What seven-year-old would wake up one day and think, "Well, I've decided to be homosexual." Many gay people speak of struggling for years to deny their own feelings. They remember feeling afraid and ashamed.

The most compelling and tragic evidence that homosexuality is not a choice is the matter of suicide, especially the instances in which kids have killed themselves because they cannot live with the isolation they feel because of their sexuality. Children have been heartbroken and abandoned by ignorant parents who reject them because of their sexuality. Someone made a choice there, but it wasn't the children.

I have no idea how it must feel to be gay, to grow up in fear and confusion, and to be labeled and rejected by many in society, but I can imagine--and I am dead certain nobody would choose to suffer that kind of relentless misery. Why some people still cling to the irrational belief that homosexuality is a matter of choice is a topic for another discussion.

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If you could answer that question in 300 words or less, you'd be a very rich individual, indeed.  Who knows?  Some say they're born that way (I've had homosexual friends who believe that they were homosexual from birth...they had no choice over the matter, and were even considering sex changes to "correct" Mother Nature's mistake), and some believe that something in the nurturing or lack of nurturing behavior after birth caused them to be more masculine in the case of women and feminine in the case of men than is expected of their gender. 

Personally, having watched how some of my homosexual friends were treated over the years, I can't imagine anyone actually choosing to be homosexual knowing the overwhelmingly negative response.

On the other hand, most religious texts state that homosexuality is an abomination.  Why on earth would the creator of the universe put rebukes against homosexuals in these texts and then create so many homosexuals?

It is almost as befuddling as which came first, the chicken or the egg?


brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There have also been some who suggest that human sexuality is not an either/or thing, and that few people are fully heterosexual or homosexual.  They suggest that individuals' sexuality falls along a continuum, with say a "1" being completely heterosexual, and a "10" being completely homosexual and most people falling somewhere in between.  The famous Kinsey Reports from 1948 and 1953 compiled thousands of interviews about sexual behavior and concluded the continuum was a more accurate description of human sexuality.

Of course, even that 50 year old theory is very controversial.  I have always known I was heterosexual, and some openly homosexual individuals I have known have said the same thing about their orientation, which leads me to believe it is not a choice.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I, too, am straight, but several of my friends made the switch in mid-life after unsuccessful heterosexual relationships with former mates and husbands. I'm not so sure that my friends had the inborn call of homosexuality, but they do seem happier now with their same-sex partners. I do believe many people suffer rejection from the opposite sex at an early age, and they, in turn, seek out contact with others of their own sex. No doubt many people fall "in between" the 1-10 scale, with bisexual relationships being a preference.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

That's a pretty controversial topic.  Some people believe that it's a choice.  This is an especially common view among the American religious right.  They tend to believe that people choose to be gay and can therefore be cured.

My own feeling is that it is surely something we are born with.  I'm straight, but I did not choose to be this way.  I do not choose each morning to be straight.  Therefore, I believe that it is inborn but that scientists do not yet know exactly what causes differences in sexual orientation.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Nowadays, there are factors that seem to influence one's sexual persuasion, so to speak. For instance, as evidenced in some magazine articles with documentation, children are given "gender choice" by their parents.  One mother calls her young son her "boy princess" and clothes him in dresses.  At times, one wonders if some pressure is put upon youths to be homosexual. This is true at a local college where girls in dormitories are pressured to engage in sexual activity with other girls--"just experiment."

trophyhunter1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Since I am a teacher of science and believe that genetics plays a greater role in our phenotype than the environment does, I have to say that homosexuality or heterosexuality has a large genetic component. Genes determine proteins, and one group of proteins, the hormones, in turn, affect our sexuality. Are some people homosexual by choice? Why not? In today's environment, it is a much more acceptable lifestyle, than say 30 years ago. However, my vote is for a stronger genetic component.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

From a sociological perspective, I think we need to be wary of how we apply these labels to create the illusion of strict categories of sexuality. Homosexuality, and in particular the term "gay" are modern inventions implying that we are either one or the other. If we look at history we see that there was far more fluidity in sexuality, with people engaging in relationships with both men and women without the cumbersome labels of being "homo" or "heterosexual."

megan-bright eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In many cases, I do believe that sexuality is a natural extension of a person's overall genetic-based characteristics. Sure, many people experiment and 'choose' to be homosexual, but I think in most instances, a person is simply born homosexual and being homosexual is their natural response to their hormonal and internal desires the same way being heterosexual is natural to the rest of us.

swimma-logan | Student

I can't attest to the science of it, but as a gay male, I can assure you I was born this way. I had my first same-sex crush at the age of three, and my parents are religious right, so it surely wasn't socialization. Think about it. Saying it's a choice is ignorant. Growing up being gay now-a-days is similar to growing up black 60 years ago. It's hard. There's discrimination, slander, beatings, suicide, homicide...why would anyone choose to face that?

Like I said, I don't know about gene's or w/e, but it's not a choice. I was born this way