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Author Topic: Why am I gay? -- Nature? Nurture? (Straights welcome, too)  (Read 177886 times)

Offline jim ...

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Why am I gay? -- Nature? Nurture? (Straights welcome, too)
« on: January 20, 2006, 11:49:55 AM »
I'm sure that in the process of coming out to friends, family, co-workers, etc ... we've all gotten the question: Why do you think your gay ... or bi.?† What made you that way?† It's the old debate over genetics vs. our up-bringing.

What triggered this post for me was a conversation I had last evening with my brother.† He and his wife were passing through through town and spent the night with me.† I had been telling them about BBM and in the course of the conversation the nurture vs. nature subject came up.† I have two older brothers, both straight.† It was my brother's position that there must be something in our genetic code that determines our sexual orientation.† He mentioned that we all had the same parents, same moral and ethical values instilled in us .... essentially the "same" upbringing.†

As he was talking, I was thinking about my childhood and mentioned that my interactions with mom dad were pretty different from his ... that I always had felt a closeness with my mother and couldn't really relate to my dad in my younger years. I felt therefore, that I was somehow treated differently.† He felt that to large degree, it had less to do with my relationships with them and more to do with my genetic disposition.† My sister in law mostly just listened and smiled (not sure what the smile was about) but did pose the question of birth order?† She wondered if that had any influence.

I think most likely, it's a combination of genetics and our relationships with our folks ... who we relate to more or feel some kind of affinity with.

In any case, I'd be curious what you all think about this.† I realize we're not going to "solve" this great debate here ... today, but am curious as to why you think you're gay or bi .... ???
« Last Edit: February 28, 2006, 08:53:32 PM by Dave Cullen »

Offline adamblast

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Re: Nurture vs. Nature ... how'd we get like this?
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2006, 12:46:32 PM »
This much I can tell you, it wasn't any conscious choice.†

I would have been a perfect candidate for the whole supposed "ex-gay" movement, as I was nearly a teen suicide due to the shame and guilt of being gay, most of it a direct result of evangelical Christian culture.† I spent my first two years of high school desperately praying for God to change me, and my last two in a spiral of mental illness when he didn't.†

I made it out alive, but emotionally crippled enough to be stuck with "downcast eyes" and panic attacks like Ennis, and seem to be stuck more-or-less as a neurotic celibate for the remainder of my life.

Personally, I think neither genetics or environment could hold the whole story.† But when I hear someone talking about a "lifestyle choice," I want to reach for my revolver or hit them with my own tire-iron.

Offline jim ...

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Re: Nurture vs. Nature ... how'd we get like this?
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2006, 05:22:56 PM »
This much I can tell you, it wasn't any conscious choice. 

I would have been a perfect candidate for the whole supposed "ex-gay" movement, as I was nearly a teen suicide due to the shame and guilt of being gay, most of it a direct result of evangelical Christian culture.  I spent my first two years of high school desperately praying for God to change me, and my last two in a spiral of mental illness when he didn't. 



as much as we might like to "blame" Christian culture or society in general for our orientation, I think that's more the reason why so many live for much of their lives in a repressed state.  I still have to think that the origin of anyones orientation is more genetic and attributed to our upbringing.

Offline XLdog

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Re: Nurture vs. Nature ... how'd we get like this?
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2006, 06:15:36 PM »
i have had an attraction to both men and women all my life.† i recall strong feelings (not sexual) for a very handsome guy when i was only 5 years old.† i dated women all through college, but also wanted to experience being with a guy.† i† had a few close (drunk) calls, but never followed through.† i steered clear of gay bars because i had had a narrow, stereotypical view of the guys that frequented gay bars.† (im over that now)

so, i guess i should get back to the point. LOL† i think its nature.† being gay is genetic for the most part and probably is tied to numerous genes...not just one.† i think sexuality is not black or white.† there is a large gray area in between.† (this gray area explains bisexuality)† also, i feel the environment (ie family values, religion) can mildly affect sexuality expression to a certain point.† when the pressure becomes to great, internal anguish can build to the breaking point.† i think† many people who "come out" feel a release.† i "ruined" xmas one year by coming out to my parents, but soon developed a closer relationship with both. mom doesnt think gay is so heretical now that its her son. :)

as far a gravitating to your mother as being a nurturing factor.† i wonder if that gravitation could be a genetic response as well......the natural urge to BE nurtured.† hmmm.

i find it fascinating that many job fields are largely gay.† landscape professionals, horticulturists, meteorologists, and cartographers are prime examples.† what about the cupids bow lip?† a curved, clefted upper lip is a strong indicator of homosexuality?† (hey, i have that)

† when the human genome is completely mapped and the gay genes are identified, i wonder how some couples will act when they are told "congratulations, you are having a healthy gay boy".
"excuse me while i whip this out"

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Re: Nurture vs. Nature ... how'd we get like this?
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2006, 11:29:16 PM »
ďFirst tell me what made you heterosexual?Ē

Thatís what I used to ask.† †But I donít anymore.† It only encourages them.† Honestly, I donít much like discussing sex with people who lack imagination.

Iíve always felt different.† Apart.† From the age of 6 or 7.† I think sexuality is only part of it.† Iím also left handed.† Was diagnosed dyslexic in grade school.† Iíll second XLDogís thoughts on sex not being black or white.† If you read about asexuality you begin to see that orientation exists independently of sexual attraction.

At nearly 800 pages, Bruce Bagemihlís ďBiological ExuberanceĒ is not light reading.  But perhaps two thirds is reference material.  The really interesting stuff is in the first 300 pages.

Hereís a link:
http://www.donshewey.com/1999_zine/biological_exuberance.html

« Last Edit: January 20, 2006, 11:35:21 PM by sactopete »

Offline Passion

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Re: Nurture vs. Nature ... how'd we get like this?
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2006, 11:51:02 PM »
I am in my mid 30's  married to a man and have two children.  The funny thing is that I used to call my self--very proudly I might add--a lesbian.  I grew up in N. California and my first experiences were with women and I liked it!  But then I dated some men in college and thought --wow, not bad.  I was in an 8 year relationship with a woman that was destructive for both of us so we parted ways and I found my husband!  I guess that makes me bi????  If (god-forbid) I got divorced tomorrow--I could easily have a relationship with another woman or a man.  Now how was I born??  Was it that the first group I ever belonged to was a lesbian group so that would put me in the "nurture" group (I was a lesbian because all my friends were) or is it since I ultimately found my life partner in a man--does that mean the nature took over and showed my true heterosexual self?? It is confusing---I guess I am bi-sexual by nature and nurture!
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." - Mark Twain

Offline ImEnnisShesJack

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Re: Nurture vs. Nature ... how'd we get like this?
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2006, 07:35:07 AM »
i think sexuality is not black or white.† there is a large gray area in between.† (

Finally!  We have our flag!!!

But seriously, I can honestly say I don't know where my orientation came from.  I have always been attracted to men - not even remotely bi-curious or gay-curious EVER.  Then one day I kissed my best friend good night and didn't stop.  I was 33, married, four kids in suburban white-bread america.  WTF HAPPENED?  I don't know. 

I guess then I'd have to say this is "nature", but I sure was a late bloomer!  Even looking back now, I don't really recall any repressed "gayness" or "gay" clues in my past.  No pivotal moment in my development where I thought, "Huh.  I might be gay."

So now, as I am asking my lesbian lover to become my partner, she is pressuring me to change my 'status' from "bi" to "gay".  I don't feel that is accurate, b'c I do not feel solely attracted to women, in fact, I don't cruise women at all.  Perhaps this is a 'one off' kind of thing, but other than her, I do not have PSA responses with women.  Only men. 

Now that I'm here, what the hell am I and what do I call it??
"And when he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night."
~~Heath Ledger 1979-2008~~

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Re: Nurture vs. Nature ... how'd we get like this?
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2006, 11:17:47 AM »
I would have been a perfect candidate for the whole supposed "ex-gay" movement, as I was nearly a teen suicide due to the shame and guilt of being gay, most of it a direct result of evangelical Christian culture.† I spent my first two years of high school desperately praying for God to change me, and my last two in a spiral of mental illness when he didn't.†

I made it out alive, but emotionally crippled enough to be stuck with "downcast eyes" and panic attacks like Ennis, and seem to be stuck more-or-less as a neurotic celibate for the remainder of my life.


Oh my god, I hope you can overcome this feeling and learn to be proud of who you are. This is sooo sad.

Sometimes I've WANTED to be gay. Here in NYC, it seems like they have such a close-knit wondeful family-like culture. I tell this to gay people and they laugh.

Offline Cat

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Re: Nurture vs. Nature ... how'd we get like this?
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2006, 11:21:24 AM »
i think sexuality is not black or white.† there is a large gray area in between.† (

Finally!† We have our flag!!!

But seriously, I can honestly say I don't know where my orientation came from.† I have always been attracted to men - not even remotely bi-curious or gay-curious EVER.† Then one day I kissed my best friend good night and didn't stop.† I was 33, married, four kids in suburban white-bread america.† WTF HAPPENED?† I don't know.†

I guess then I'd have to say this is "nature", but I sure was a late bloomer!† Even looking back now, I don't really recall any repressed "gayness" or "gay" clues in my past.† No pivotal moment in my development where I thought, "Huh.† I might be gay."

So now, as I am asking my lesbian lover to become my partner, she is pressuring me to change my 'status' from "bi" to "gay".† I don't feel that is accurate, b'c I do not feel solely attracted to women, in fact, I don't cruise women at all.† Perhaps this is a 'one off' kind of thing, but other than her, I do not have PSA responses with women.† Only men.†

Now that I'm here, what the hell am I and what do I call it??

wow you sound like an Ennis for sure-- in that he was only attracted to one man, you to one woman. Why does your handle say you're Jack?

Offline ImEnnisShesJack

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Re: Nurture vs. Nature ... how'd we get like this?
« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2006, 12:26:03 PM »
i think sexuality is not black or white.† there is a large gray area in between.† (

Finally!† We have our flag!!!

But seriously, I can honestly say I don't know where my orientation came from.† I have always been attracted to men - not even remotely bi-curious or gay-curious EVER.† Then one day I kissed my best friend good night and didn't stop.† I was 33, married, four kids in suburban white-bread america.† WTF HAPPENED?† I don't know.†

I guess then I'd have to say this is "nature", but I sure was a late bloomer!† Even looking back now, I don't really recall any repressed "gayness" or "gay" clues in my past.† No pivotal moment in my development where I thought, "Huh.† I might be gay."

So now, as I am asking my lesbian lover to become my partner, she is pressuring me to change my 'status' from "bi" to "gay".† I don't feel that is accurate, b'c I do not feel solely attracted to women, in fact, I don't cruise women at all.† Perhaps this is a 'one off' kind of thing, but other than her, I do not have PSA responses with women.† Only men.†

Now that I'm here, what the hell am I and what do I call it??

wow you sound like an Ennis for sure-- in that he was only attracted to one man, you to one woman. Why does your handle say you're Jack?

Because I am the one willing to take the risk and have a live with my "ennis" and she is afraid to leave her "alma."  I am the one who can accept my love for her - regardless of labels and give it a shot - to have a chance at something wonderful between us.

She's suffering paralysis by analysis.  She is thinking too much and trying to come up with every little reason why we won't work together.

I am the Jack in the relationship, she is the Ennis.
Here's my story:  (I hope this works!)
http://davecullen.com/forum/index.php?topic=137.msg4304#msg4304
"And when he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night."
~~Heath Ledger 1979-2008~~

Carol8159@yahoo.com

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Re: Nurture vs. Nature ... how'd we get like this?
« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2006, 12:33:52 PM »

She's suffering paralysis by analysis.  She is thinking too much and trying to come up with every little reason why we won't work together.

I am the Jack in the relationship, she is the Ennis.
Here's my story:  (I hope this works!)
http://davecullen.com/forum/index.php?topic=137.msg4304#msg4304

Ah, I see. You are a strange combination of Jack AND Ennis. LOL.

Well heterosexual people come up with all kinds of excuses to not commit as well. I imagine it must be doubly difficult to sort through what is real and what is fiction when you've got the whole sexual identity crisis thing to wade through. Life is so short. I kind of feel like it is way to short to waste on someone who won't be with you for one reason or another, and perhaps causes you more agony than happiness. But I've always been one to cut my losses early if I saw it headed for disaster. I came from such a long line of truly disastrous and abusive relationships I'll be damned if I was gonna make the same mistake.

Offline ImEnnisShesJack

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Re: Nurture vs. Nature ... how'd we get like this?
« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2006, 12:41:51 PM »

She's suffering paralysis by analysis.  She is thinking too much and trying to come up with every little reason why we won't work together.

I am the Jack in the relationship, she is the Ennis.
Here's my story:  (I hope this works!)
http://davecullen.com/forum/index.php?topic=137.msg4304#msg4304

Ah, I see. You are a strange combination of Jack AND Ennis. LOL.

Well heterosexual people come up with all kinds of excuses to not commit as well. I imagine it must be doubly difficult to sort through what is real and what is fiction when you've got the whole sexual identity crisis thing to wade through. Life is so short. I kind of feel like it is way to short to waste on someone who won't be with you for one reason or another, and perhaps causes you more agony than happiness. But I've always been one to cut my losses early if I saw it headed for disaster. I came from such a long line of truly disastrous and abusive relationships I'll be damned if I was gonna make the same mistake.
I think you may have me completely misunderstood.

On the contrary, I do not identify with Ennis at all.

Neither do I consider my relationship with Carol to be a mistake.†

I do not see my sexual identity as "in crisis."† I am actually very comfortable in acknowledging my bisexual status.† That doesn't mean I'm cruising chix in the bar, neither does it mean I am after all the mens out there.† I prefer to think of it as being open-minded and progressive enough to be receptive to love in whatever form it comes to me.†

If there is any crisis in my life it is the limbo I have put myself in while waiting for Carol to make up her mind.† There is a significant piece missing from my life, and I don't know yet if I am supposed to go out and find someone new to fill it, or if she will agree to join the two halves of our soul together.† My aloneness and my loneliness are expanding exponentially to fill my life with a darkness.† I need to know if I should look to her to ever be my light, my life or should I step aside from the void and let someone else in to brighten my days.

I am the quintessential Jack.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2006, 09:34:38 AM by ImJackshesEnnis »
"And when he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night."
~~Heath Ledger 1979-2008~~

Carol8159@yahoo.com

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Re: Nurture vs. Nature ... how'd we get like this?
« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2006, 12:45:06 PM »

I do see my sexual identity as "in crisis."† I am actually very comfortable in acknowledging my bisexual status.†

No, I meant her. Carol. I just assumed that SHE was not able to accept that she might be a lesbian. Or is it just that she doesn't want to leave her "Alma" because she loves that person? Is that person male or female? I assumed male.

I am very confoozled.

LOL.

Offline Cat

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Re: Nurture vs. Nature ... how'd we get like this?
« Reply #13 on: January 21, 2006, 12:53:27 PM »
Oh and I do have this recurring fantasy that Jack would have tried breaking off contact with Ennis-- not being so willing to give Ennis what he wanted, always on HIS terms. And that maybe that would have been enough to wake Ennis up and things would have turned out differently.

Maybe you could try that?

Offline ImEnnisShesJack

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Re: Nurture vs. Nature ... how'd we get like this?
« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2006, 09:42:47 AM »

I do not see my sexual identity as "in crisis."† I am actually very comfortable in acknowledging my bisexual status.†

No, I meant her. Carol. I just assumed that SHE was not able to accept that she might be a lesbian. Or is it just that she doesn't want to leave her "Alma" because she loves that person? Is that person male or female? I assumed male.

I am very confoozled.

She is in a marriage to her best friend (a man).  They are virtually non-sexual anymore.  She has a hard time envisioning a life without him in it on a day to day basis as they [platonically] love each other.  They've been together for 15 years.  Her reluctance is understandable.  We have a good friendship and companionship too, but we have the passion and fire that she and her husband don't.  She has admitted that the intensity of her feelings for me scare her.  She thinks will shoot across the sky and burn out like a shooting star.  Shot down in a Blaze of Glory.

We both refer to ourselves as "bi."  However one of her arguments w/ me is that if we move in together and decide to live as partners, she feels that we probably to change our personal orientation to "lesbian."  I really don't think it's necessary to label or whatever, but I'm not a lesbian.  I *like* men.  Just because my partner is a woman, doesn't mean I am no longer sexually attracted to men.  It means that I've chosen to spend my life with a woman.  Does that make sense? 

I'm afraid sometimes I get a little to transcendental in my defining all this chaos in my life.  Like XLDog says, there is black and white with a WHOLE LOTTA GREY!!!!
"And when he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night."
~~Heath Ledger 1979-2008~~

Carol8159@yahoo.com