Liberals usually claim that homosexuality is inborn. Religious people and manospherians usually claim that homosexuality is a mental illness. Both commit the same fallacy, an appeal to nature based on personal bias. Both assumptions, when declared doctrine, are potentially harmful.
If we declare that homosexuality is inborn, we take all hope away from those who truly suffer from emotional disturbances and developmental setbacks. They are left in a desperate situation and when trying to reconcile the conflicting voices in their heads, they feel forced to support the voice that urges them into homosexuality, inflicting strong pain on themselves from even thinking about it.
On the other hand, I think it is plausible to make room for the assumption that some people are truly homosexual at their core and suffer gravely from having to repress that. Telling them that homosexuality is a mental illness hurts them just as much as those who experience the dilemma from the other perspective.
To make a little analogy, there may be a man who truly enjoys photography and art. And there may be another man who truly enjoys hard work and carrying around big bricks at the building site. Now let’s assume that each of them thinks that his profession is the only true and natural thing to do for a real man. They get children. The artist’s kid would secretly love nothing more than to be a hard worker. The hard worker’s kid would love nothing more secretly than to be an artist. Let us assume that both shame their kids for not doing what they think is the right way. Both kids suffer for having to be something they do not truly wish to be, feeling guilty towards their parents for not truly wanting to be their narcissistic mirror image. And yet, the fact that the kids suffer from having to live a life that does not fit them does not mean that this life would not perfectly fit somebody else.
I do not wish to go into details about research here for two reasons. Firstly, you can look that stuff up yourself and make up your mind; suffice it to say that I have not yet heard convincing evidence from either side. Secondly, I do not think that this kind of discussion is important at all. Why? Because I think that truth is something that is individual to each person and no proof on earth can really satisfy your search for an answer unless you do some serious and courageous introspection, allow those feelings, listen to them, meditate on them, and find the answer within yourself – an answer that you will be able to stand behind with absolute confidence.
But I will say that it makes things easier to be able to meditate on those feelings without bias, without making assumptions about the feelings before evaluating them. And it also makes things easier when you are able to meditate on those feelings without a strong sense of shame.
I personally am pretty convinced by now that I am not gay; I have been somewhat torn apart about it for a long time, partly due to me having been raped and not being able to tell whether those feelings were really attempts of my pain to retraumatize myself or true sexual desire. By now, I think it’s pretty clear it was just pain seeking more pain. People telling me I was gay hurt me a lot, but then even those who said that being gay is a mental illness did not truly satisfy me, because I had not yet done the introspection and simply did not know.
In hindsight, I always shuddered at the idea of being gay and was disgusted by it. I never felt tempted to watch gay porn. When I was in the showers at the gym naked, along with other guys, I felt no sexual attraction at all. I felt nothing. And yet, the thoughts kept coming up and I was too ashamed to allow and address them in a manner that would resolve this thing for me. I had two semi-serious gay experiences in my teenage years and I have felt a strong shame and regret about that to the point that I often even forgot about it.
When you look up such a thing on the internet, like here on Quora, people write with irrational confidence things like this:
The first thing that people need to know, if they are not aware, is that people do not “become gay.” People are born with sexual predispositions, if you ARE able to “choose” you are a bisexual & only then is it “a preference.”
How do you know? It may be true for you, sure, but that does not say anything about other people. This is simply the truth that you need to believe. Or it may be actual truth for you. For you. Anything else is a just another religious view. Another assumption based on what is natural, only that one party invokes God and the other party invokes Science. But neither God nor Science actually allow such conclusions. It is just politically or religiously motivated madness.
And ironically, science does positively support a correlation in a slightly related case. That is, a correlation between having been abused as a child and becoming a perpetrator oneself:
Among 747 males the risk of being a perpetrator was positively correlated with reported sexual abuse victim experiences. The overall rate of having been a victim was 35% for perpetrators and 11% for non-perpetrators. Of the 96 females, 43% had been victims but only one was a perpetrator. A high percentage of male subjects abused in childhood by a female relative became perpetrators.
Think of the guy who published an article on Salom. Now, I am not saying that all pedophiles have been abuse victims, that would be another generalization of the same kind I have described. But yes, it does seem to happen and yes, there is strong shame in our culture that makes it hard to let go of these experiences and heal. It is my personal opinion that the guy writing that article can heal and leave his past behind. But for that, he should look inside himself for answers, not turn to the public in an attempt to get understanding. Because no matter how much understanding he gets, he will never feel at ease before he resolves it for himself.
Nobody can tell you truth. You have to live and experience it.
To speak in spiritual terms, you have to do the job of distinguishing the voice of your ego from your own voice. An analogy: Is your resistance to commitment to a girl just your ego and fear of intimacy? Or is it actually your ego – your internalized societal expectations – that does want you to commit? Only you can find out.
This is not a demand for people to be tolerant or whatever. I don’t give a fuck. This is more me venting and ridiculing the pointless and rather irrational debate on this topic. If you are truly confident about who you are, why do you care about what others do or think? Because you think they need your help? That’s just a projection. You truly want to help yourself. If you feel a strong need to convince others, you truly just want to convince yourself. True confidence does not require others to believe your truth.
Do you feel the pain of someone else? Look deeper and you realize that it is truly you who is feeling it, assuming you only feel it because it exists in the other person, blaming it on empathy. Like some codependent bitch trying to fix you, while she really just needs to fix herself. Everything that you feel, are your emotions.
So, I think both sides come from absolutely valid personal standpoints and experiences. Some may truly suffer from mental illness like a compulsive thinking about whether they may be gay. And some may truly be gay and suffer from shame and the inability to express it.
The problem arises when we project our personal experience onto the world and assume everybody secretly is like us. It is a valid coping mechanism, but it is not rational. And it is not truth. It is just an overwhelming and compulsive need to externalize one’s own pain.
The projection also causes harm to yourself. Why? Because you project your own situation on somebody else. Then that person finds a solution that is not your own solution, making you believe that you have to come to the same conclusion as that person. This happened to me when I was watching American Beauty, where the hard masculine military guy turns out to be a closeted gay man. I projected my own feelings onto the character and then felt with horror the conviction that I was secretly a closeted gay man. While in reality, the character’s story had nothing at all to do with my own.
You think god hates faggots? Why? Because you are truly connected to the divine and have done all the dirty work regarding your own emotions, fears, shame? Or because the bible says so and you want to believe it?
You think everybody who has gay thoughts is really gay? Why? Because you are gay and your parents and friends tried to shame you into being straight? Because you are still seeking for a justification to be truly confident about being gay?
I think human sexuality is more complex and more politically incorrect than most of us assume. And it does not care about our egos and presumptions and naive clinging to ideals. About our so-called hopes for so-called goodness. It is a force of nature that tears us apart if we even think about resisting it. It burns us alive whenever we try to shoehorn it into our puny human conceptions about right and wrong. Like a bomb blowing up in the face of those who do not respect its power.
Yes, those Christian dudes shaming faggots are bigots. But so are the faggots who shame those who truly suffer from traumatic experience; they are bigots no less.
And that’s fine, because we all just do what we think is best in the end. Only that it would help us to realize that the thing that is best is simply the thing that is best for ourselves.
One more thing. Here is an example of a formulated position that I think is on the reasonable side:
I’ve never met a lesbian who didn’t have significant issues with her mother. This isn’t to suggest they don’t exist–I just haven’t encountered one during the course of my personal and professional life.
The author does say that she has never encountered a lesbian who didn’t have significant mommy issues. But she does not automatically assume that this is always the case. That is what confidence and rationality, and true intellectual humility looks like, folks.