The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

The Guyliner Headshot

Does the 'Nature vs Nurture' Debate Exist to Help the Gay Community, or Begin its Decline?

Posted: Updated:
Print Article

Nature, nurture, choice, whatever. The world seems obsessed with what makes the gays gay. The hot potato of how homosexuals came to be is passed around from soapbox to soapbox until it becomes decidedly mashed, becoming kind of difficult to tell it was ever a potato to begin with. I have never understood the fascination with unravelling this big secret. It's just something that happens; why can't we be satisfied with that? But, no, the curious minds continue to peer through the dirty net curtains and into gay society for some kind of solution. And when the code is deciphered, then what? When all the research has been done, genes examined and endless, dull, wittering studies analysed and crosschecked, what happens next? Will it lead to society truly understanding and accepting homosexuality and its 'practitioners'? Or will we be firmly on the path to extinguishing it altogether?

Call me paranoid, but I'm a little suspicious of those desperate to uncover the big, unexplainable mystery that put me here in all my fella-fancying glory. When any great debate or research goes into trying to find out why something happens, it's usually because they're looking for a way to eradicate it or promote its survival. Scientists are only cosying up and getting to know cancer because they want to make it go bye-bye for good, after all, and all those studies that show ginger hair is on its way toward extinction - thinning out, if you like - are in their own way trying to prevent this great genetic loss.

Imagine, then, if the 64-trillion pink pound question is answered. It's nature! It's a genetic thing! Great, so now we know what it is, maybe we can switch it off. Potential parents can opt to have a test to tell them whether there's a prospective interior decorator lurking within. Or perhaps there's a magic potion you can take, or a way of conception you can try, that will eliminate any possibility that your child will ask for tickets to a Lady Gaga concert as soon as it can speak? Would they do it? You, reading this, would you? Why would you? Why wouldn't you?

I asked some friends about this, straight and gay, who either already had children or were potential parents. Obviously, with a gay man doing the asking, they were unanimous in their denial that they'd drink the potion and have a 100% chance of giving birth to a straight baby (if a baby, with no sexual awareness whatsoever can be perceived as straight, of course - I'm not a scientist so can't really delve too deeply here) or at least a child who would grow up to be heterosexual.

Many of them cited 'grandchildren' as a reason for wanting heterosexual offspring. It may be true in the case of my friends, but as a general rebuttal it doesn't wash - gay parenting is on the up, everywhere, enjoying a rise to prominence meteoric enough to rival those insufferable Anya Hindmarch 'I am not a plastic bag' shopping sacks. There are lots of factors involved in being reluctant to have a gay child, most of them based on stereotypes or equally applicable to straight children, but no less concerning for parents. For starters, growing up as one can be difficult, even now - just take a look at the recent spate of teenage suicides - and there's also the perceived loneliness, exposure to illnesses still viewed as predominantly gay, prejudice or violence from others (my mother's only concern about having a gay child, she says), drug culture and, perhaps most worryingly of all, raising a child that will tell you your outfit looks like shit just as you're on your way out the door to a party. And that's before we even get onto the issue of religion.

I'm not saying my friends weren't being truthful - they are all comfortable with homosexuality and would defend me to the death - but I do wonder how many others out there would have the top off that potion bottle faster than you can set up a TiVo to record Queer Eye for the Straight Guy reruns.

And so onto nurture. Scenario two, then. Rejoice gay gene deniers! You can actually 'catch gay'! All it takes is a little boy using lip balm while his mother tells him how much she loves him or staring just a little bit too hard at that poster of David Hasselhoff in his fire-engine red speedos and, eventually, you'll be having an awkward conversation with your pride and joy in TGI Fridays on his 15th birthday. What then?

Do you drive yourself mad wondering if you shouldn't have allowed him to have that 'pretty princess' birthday cake even though he said he liked the colour? Was it your constant playing of Kylie on the kitchen radio? Perhaps young Lisa would not be bringing Sarah home and kissing her aggressively on your front porch if you'd made her wear pretty frocks and curled her hair rather than let her maraud across the fields in dungarees with the lads? And so for the next child, will you force upon it a heteronormative existence in the hope you finally do get those grandchildren to leave sticky marks all over your windows? Maybe you won't answer the door to the effeminate little chap from down the road in case your one and only heir switches a promising start in football for a life devoted to ballet.

Was I born with 'it'? Probably. I knew something was 'up' from an early age. Before I even knew what sex was, something didn't ring true. I felt different, unusual. Bewildered. Other people noticed too and the name-calling commenced. Did I end up gay - after a lot of deliberating and genuine belief that I probably wasn't - because I came into the world that way or was I living up to everybody else's assumptions? I don't think it matters. Some gays truly have no idea. It can creep up gradually or can pounce without warning. The straightest guy or girl of all can see a pair of eyes and fall in love with their owner, rendering them gay without even realising. Nature? Nurture? Who cares? Can't it be both - some born with it, some growing into it? Why do we have a concrete answer? Let it be random.

Like chicken and egg and the expanding universe, there are some riddles we just can't solve. Some questions don't have an answer. I don't want to be studied, examined like a curio in an antique shop, with everyone eager to know my origins or value. I'm not interested in being understood, or 'explained'. I'd rather just get on with it. There's no shame in "I don't know". I don't know. I don't want to. So if you do find out, don't tell me. Keep it to yourself.

Around the Web

Homosexuality - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Homosexuality | Psychology Today

What Causes Homosexual Desire - Dr. Cameron

Homosexuality

Homosexuality and bisexuality

Bishop of Salisbury calls for Church to rethink its views on homosexuality

Persecuted at home, African homosexuals seek refuge in Kenya

Free speech rights, anti-bullying fight collide

Amsterdam's chief rabbi zigzags on homophobic views, causing outrage among ...

Homosexuality seen in pixels

Presented by HomeSense