I agree, Jeremy Helligar, that debates about the origins of sexual orientation are exhausting. I mean, it’s pretty self evident that sexual orientation and gender identity aren’t choices.

Even people who argue that they are choices don’t often seem convinced.

You’re right; we shouldn’t have to talk about it. The information is out there for anyone who wants to look. Unfortunately, I think it matters more than we want it to matter — because if sexual orientation was only about choice of sexual activity, then we lose a good bit of the philosophical underpinnings of our human rights claims.

If we’re minority variants humans wired to experience sexuality in particular ways, then we’re unable to pursue happiness or fulfillment if society demands we not express our sexuality. That’s a basic and compelling human rights interest.

If we’re not, if we’re just people who make choices on a whim or even on something stronger, basic human rights come less into play. It’s easier to manufacture “compelling interests” to keep us down.

At least that’s how I see things sometimes, and I believe it’s how some of our religious opponents see it too. I think some of them kind of get it. They like to argue that minority sexual orientations are not innate, because on some level they understand that if they were innate, their arguments would lose a lot of force.

Witness how so many Roman Catholic bishops argue vehemently that homosexuality isn’t built in to gay people, that it’s not a basic human characteristic. They’re smart, especially the Jesuit trained ones. They know perfectly well that if they admit that same-sex attraction is a built-in human characteristic that their philosophies fall to pieces.

Which I guess is why they deny evidence so hard.

Anyway, those are my thoughts.

Come to think of it, I posted a story this morning about US civil rights law and how religious exemptions are threatening the underpinnings of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I don’t think I could have argues the LGBTQ portion of my piece without presupposing innate sexual orientation.


Writer. Runner. Marine. Airman. Former LGBTQ and HIV activist. Former ActUpNY and Queer Nation. Polyglot. Middle-aged, uppity faggot. jamesfinnwrites@gmail.com