Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Insufficient, Unnecessary

Can nurture play a role in being gay? I'd bet it can.

When I came out, though, and looked at those telling me I could change my orientation, I was immediately brought to the conclusion that they were all a bunch of charlatans. None of what they were telling me about my gayness or causes thereof was true, and yet they’d be insistent. I’m sure they lose many gays that way, telling them they must be wrong, as though they don’t know their own life :-).

Down the list:

1. I was never molested. I had in fact never heard of such happening until I heard some really obnoxious classmate associate it with gays in a high school class.

2. I had no homosexual experience (other than maybe dreams I can’t remember) until after I realized I was attracted only to men in that way and found imagining the same attraction to women felt aberrant and wrong. In fact I’d only kissed a couple girls, and only ever went to second base after I’d realized my true attraction, in hopes it would change me. Sorry again girls :-).

So, it was not sexual experience, even imagined, creating my attraction (unless it made me less gay than I’d otherwise be :-)). Funny, I was so unclear on what sex was that I couldn’t really imagine it, let alone gay sex. I don’t know how to put this politely, but I never even figured out how to M*beep*bate until well into my 16th year. As I’ve said, I was naive and sheltered and, when you think about it, doing that for fun really isn’t obvious from a dynamics standpoint. Ah, the surprise of discovery :).

3. Despite my freakish innocence, sex was never demonized (nor was it glorified) in my youth. It was simply nothing that had come to mind until after I was marinated in pubescent hormones.

4. I was never weak or effeminate; my early play activities were far from Barbies and dress up. I spent a good deal of my playtime, for example, on the back of a 3-wheeler with a homemade pvc bottle-rocket gun in hand. I’ve the scars to prove such stupidity ;-). Never have I seen the allure of women’s clothing; seems like a lot more work than what men are required to do :-).

5. Though I had older brothers, I was raised without them in the home, a perfect candidate to test the fraternal birth order effect. I was never left out by them or fixated on them as some suggest is the cause of the big brother effect (see more on it here and here). They were more like uncles as the youngest of them was 18 and out of the home by the day I was born.

6. I didn’t have a domineering mother or distant father, or vice versa (odd how I’ve seen opposites claimed to do the same thing). I had and have wonderful parents, and in very traditional male/female roles. Stop insulting them. :-)

7. In the same vein, my home was kept intact and it was far from unstable.

8. I’ve had more than my full measure of male friends and great male friendships throughout my life. I “fit in” far more than the average teen; my house was the house. R was the same. He was, in fact and as I like to brag, prom king :-).

In short, if there was something in my upbringing that made me gay, I'm at a loss as to what it might be, and it seems most conversion therapists are as well. So, yes, I reflexively look at how I experience it, at the natural causes (Which I’ve touched on and will do so some more), just as most straight folks would.

Still, today, I can’t say for sure not having my childhood might help make others gay. Maybe there are gays out there who are so because, along with a predisposition, something happened to them in their youth. [removed the too flippant] I suppose that could be the case, for them.

But one should always keep in mind that all of what we label as the nurture causes of any human characteristic are ultimately based on nature. As I was getting at here, there must be a switch in us to be flipped in the first place. It must be flappable :-), and the wiring that causes a result in the personality must be there and connected. Sometimes even a lock to keep the new state in place may be there and set after the rush of the hormones of puberty, hormones that give most all of us sexual orientation anyway, in a very natural way.

In short, I’d not say with certainty that nurture cause aren’t there for some gays, but I don’t think such causes are near necessary or sufficient for homosexuality in general, nor should one expect them to lead to a more malleable orientation. I bet you could have a childhood the opposite of mine, and still end up immovably straight :-).


Anonymous said...

you think 16 was late; i was in college before i figured it out. naive? repressed? i think the former; never had close friends as an adolescent who might have clued me in.

gay byu student said...

Scot, I love your logic. I, too, can't seem to find an explanation entirely in nurture. As I noted in my history, I had some sexual experiences growing up - but I don't think they contributed to my orientation. I had more and more intense heterosexual experiences. I had great parents, great male friends, and no abuse that I can remember.

I do think that parts of one's orientation are influenced by nurture - but in the end it is a combination of nature, nurture, and personal experiences that all probably have different effects. To me it doesn't really matter that much anyway - I know who I am and I'm comfortable with that.

By the way, thanks for the understanding comments and thoughtful advice on my blog. I always appreciate it. And I enjoy reading your blog, even if I don't always comment =).

Chris said...

Scot, like you, very few of these nurture explanations apply to me. In fact, it's one of the reasons I was never too strongly tempted to undergo reparative therapy. The explanations for what made me gay didn't seem to fit with my experiences at all. The only place were I might fit the profile is in family life. My parents were divorced, but the home I grew up in was stable, if not always very warm and nurturing. But LOTS of straight people emerge from such environments, so whatever. I was also never molested. All of my sexual experience until very recently was heterosexual. I played and enjoyed sports (and still do). I have no older brothers. I had good, healthy relationships with other boys and men.

Nurture may well be one of the factors that made me gay, but it surely interacted with other natural factors and is not something that can be easily identified and isolated and examined.

But, as I've said before, I don't know what made me gay and I don't really care. I just am.

Scot said...


I bet there’s research on this. I just know I’m a couple years late relative to people I know well enough to have had the topic come up :-).


Thank you, sir.

And I agree, along with Chris; I don’t think it should matter, and in the big picture it doesn’t. It just matters to politicians and activist groups :-).

-L- said...

Someday I'll get around to properly commenting on this interesting post. But today as I was labeling old posts I found this one and thought of you (see the last quote).