The most prolific argument used to identify homosexuals as deviants is the issue of whether or not we choose our sexuality. I've often argued that the idea of choice is absurd. Why would I choose to be an outcast? Why would I choose to be ridiculed and despised? Why would I not choose to be normal so I could enjoy the same rights and privileges as others? It's laughable to think for an instant that anyone would choose to be gay only to be rejected by society and religion, to distance themselves from family and friends, to be forced to hide their true identify and feelings, to be hated and rejected, to be called evil and possessed, and to lose claim to benefits only bestowed upon government sanctioned relationships. And still the argument goes on.
An equally important yet rarely examined question is the reciprocal approach — did every heterosexual person on the planet choose their sexuality? If being gay is a choice, then being straight must also be a choice. I've asked before, but I've rarely received an answer to this question. Did heterosexual people wake up one morning and say to themselves, "What do I want to be? Straight? Gay? Bi? Transgender? Other? I think I'll be straight. Yes, that seems reasonable and fun."
No, I think we all can agree that there was no such decision. In fact, I think we can all agree that every heterosexual will say that they are the way they were born and that they didn't decide for or against anything (if they're being honest, that is).
Moving toward confirmation of what I have always believed — that our sexuality is more genetic predisposition and direction than it is choice and selection — researchers at the University of California Los Angeles School of Medicine have identified genome variations which organize male and female brains differently. Their findings strongly suggest that these genes direct and define sexual identity before birth.
The study found 54 different genes which play a part in defining sexual identity. These findings refute 30 years of theory which assumed that hormones, primarily estrogen and testosterone, were solely responsible for the developmental differences between male and female brains. As recent evidence indicates that hormones could not explain all of the sexual differences, the study's findings are timely.
The study found that 18 of the identified genes were produced in higher quantities in male brains while 36 of the genes were produced in higher quantities in female brains. The testing was performed in the embryonic stage long before any sex organs developed and prior to any hormonal influence.
Although the study was conducted with mice and further research is needed to determine how these various genes influence sexual identity, it is safe to assume that similar genetic programming takes place with humans. Mice are generally the first place to look for and test such theories since they share a remarkable genetic similarity to humans, sharing at least 80% of our genes with only 300 individual genes separating the two species. With more than 30,000 genes each, the similarity is noteworthy and relevant.
Regardless of the research, however, I don't need a scientist to tell me that my genes had a significant influence on my sexuality.
I distinctly remember as a very young child that I was more fascinated with the male form than the female form. No, I wasn't sexually active before ten, but I was sexually aware. It was well before I reached my teen years when I realized that I was not exactly the same as other people. As my male friends around me began to "notice" girls and to put the childhood drama of "cooties" behind them, I found myself looking toward my own sex to fulfill those same fascinations.
I discarded my failure to join my male friends in this newfound discovery and began the long and painful road of deception and pretend. I knew well that I didn't share those interests and feelings, but it was quite clear that boys should share those feelings. I began to hide who I was and attempt to persuade myself that I could be something that I was not.
As you can guess, it didn't turn out that way. I spent too many years, from about the age of eight through 21, losing the battle with myself to be normal — to be like everyone else.
So, this study is a step in the direction of confirmation — confirmation that I am normal; confirmation that I am who I am because that's the way I was wired, not because I woke up one day and decided that being an outcast seemed like so much more fun; confirmation that the religious zealots are wrong; confirmation that the right wing is full of stodgy old men who are too fond of the "good ol' boys network" to accept anyone who doesn't fit their cookie-cutter definition of society; confirmation that I am not possessed by some evil spirit and can be prayed into heterosexuality; confirmation that those who believe otherwise and aren't willing to accept the truth are hateful bigots and should be ignored.
This is a small step, but it's a small step in the right direction. I hope the research continues. I know there are plenty of people out there who will not accept anything short of clear scientific proof. I also know there are people who won't even accept that, but that will ultimately be their problem.