Is being gay natural and do we have a choice?


Is Being Gay Natural and Do We Have a Choice?

Is Being Gay Natural?

Some have thought that being gay is a sin. Others have thought that being gay is a choice. Still others have taken no notice of gay behaviour. Others again have given gay people a special place in society and in a few places gays have been idolised, have had temples dedicated to them and even been raised to the status of gods. The Theban 300 was made up only of gay couples and was looked upon as one of the elite fighting forces of ancient Greece.

From this you can see that in the past the answer to the question ‘Is being gay natural?’ depended on where and when you lived. This is still the case today, although there has been a slow but steady liberalisation around the world with more countries and groups being more relaxed about treating gays as normal people. (However, it still pays to check on local attitudes before you travel to a country you don’t know well.)

To get back to the main theme of this page, today there are three aspects to think about.

First, one branch of scientific research has focussed on animal behaviour. Bruce Bagemihl’s book‘Biological Exuberance’ (published by St. Martin’s Press) has been widely reviewed. A major fact stated by Bagemihl is that, of the 2000 or so species whose sex acts have been studied in detail, same sex pairings are found in more than 450.

The second fact is that same sex pairings are found in virtually every human social group. It is essentially impossible to argue convincingly that such a wide-spread behaviour is ‘un-natural’.

The third fact is that all the major professional medical, psychiatric and psychological bodies in the western world now accept that being gay is as natural as being left handed. Whilst there are more straight people than gay guys, just as there are more right-handed people than left-handed, both are quite natural in humans. In addition, in more and more countries, it is now illegal to discriminate against gays.

A second question is:

‘Is There a Choice in Being Gay’

This question has a sort of ‘no’ or ‘maybe’ answer.

To explain:

First, Simon LeVay, then Associate Professor at the Salk Institute for Biological studies and Adjunct Professor of Biology at the University of California, showed that the brains of a group of gay men who had died from AIDS differed from those of straight men. Specifically, the nucleus of the hypothalamus which triggers male-typical sex behaviour was much smaller in the gay men and looked more like that in women. This finding was published in 1991 in the prestigious journal ‘Science’. LeVay, who is himself gay, then went on to discover that the corpus callosum, in the brain also, was bigger in gays than straight men. Three years later a study led by molecular biologist Dean Hamer of the National Institute of Health in Washington D.C. found evidence that a specific gene carried on the maternal line had an influence on sexual orientation in men. A new study finds drugs or genetic manipulation can turn the homosexual behavior of fruit flies on and off within a matter of hours. These studies suggest strongly that sexual orientation is rooted in biology and is not a matter of choice.

Second, it is common knowledge that there are gays, straights and bi’s. This has led to the theory that sexual orientation lies on a continuum with exclusively gay guys at one end and exclusively straight men at the other end. Between the two ends there are bi guys who may fall for a guy or a girl. In terms of the biological evidence above, this suggests that the differences in the brains of bi guys from straights are less pronounced than the differences between the brains of gays and straights.

Summing up, the degree of choice in being gay for a guy at the ‘exclusively gay’ end of the continuum is effectively zero. The guy at the ‘exclusively straight’ end of the continuum will also be without any real choice in being straight. In between there will be gays who are progressively less exclusively gay, those who are bi with a tendency towards the gay life, those bi’s who are equally gay and straight in orientation and then guys who have an increasingly straight (and decreasing gay) orientation. Where a guy lies on that continuum will determine how much, if any, choice he has in choosing a same or opposite sex partner.

This chart will help to explain the last paragraph:

Strongly gay

Mainly gay


Mainly straight

Strongly straight

Little if any choice

Some choice


Some choice

Little if any choice

In spite of all the logical, scientific and rational stuff on this page there are still quite a lot of people who think being gay is a choice, is un-natural or is a sin. There are also people who think the earth is flat and that evolution never happened because God created the world as it is now.

If you want to find out more, any good librarian will be able to tell you which books to read. You can also explore the net using some of the names and terms on this page as a starting point. You could also have a look at the book list on this site (Not available yet but under action) and read some of them. And don’t believe everything your mates tell you!


Same-sex relationships may play an important role in evolution. Biologists claim that same-sex relationships help drive the evolution of animals’ physiology, life history and social behaviour. Gardian Science Blog

Lavender Islands Website. Significant pieces of NZ research on the GLBTI community reported on in various articles.

An article “Breaking through the binary: Gender explained using continuums” takes the idea of a Sexual Identity continuum further by adding continuums for Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Biological Sex is here. By using four different dimensions this helps to explain why there are so many different shades of expression of gender.

GrammarPride is a movement to address attitudes towards LGBTQIA students at Auckland Grammar School, and promote a culture of inclusivity, equality and respect. The current climate at Grammar is one of latent homophobia, in which many students are unable to feel comfortable with their sexuality and/or gender-identity out of fear of discrimination. But the leadership is starting to address these attitudes and we’re excited about the change that will hopefully be coming


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