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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » LGBTQA Relationships » sexual orientation: a choice? (Page 1)

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Author Topic: sexual orientation: a choice?
Jessie
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i'm just curiose (sp?) because i have heard a lot of straight ppl's opinion on this subject but not too many bi/gay/les/whatever's opinion.

not that it matters, but in case anyone cares i am 14, female, and maybe bi? i donno quite yet.

anyway that's not the point, my question is, do you believe that sexual orientation is a choice or is it something you're born with, or something else?

i know everyone has different opinions and beliefs and i respect them all. i am not trying to get an answer for myself, i'm just curiose what you think. i love debating and hearing new opinions and i think this is a very interesting topic. i thought this would be a good place to get some new points of view.

so lemme know if ya want! thanx, jess


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Heather
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Ask a heterosexual to choose to be gay, and see what they say and if they can do it. It makes a pretty quick point.

For the most part Jessie, from a standpoint of sexuality study, sexology and psychology, there is pretty solid evidence abounding that it is not a choice, but is instead to some degree fixed by a combination of genetics, sexually developmental influences, personality and identity.

(Which is why the term "orientation" is used, not "preference.")

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Heather Corinna
Editor and Founder, Scarleteen

"If you're a bird, be an early early bird --
But if you're a worm, sleep late." - Shel Silverstein


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Gaffer
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She pretty much said it all. For a while there was a big debate about this, but now I think pretty much all the people in labcoats are in agreement that it isn't a choice. There are some people who think that you can change your orientation if you want to or try hard enough, but that is another topic completely. If anyone has seen "But I'm a Cheerleader" then they know what I mean. It's a very funny satire about this camp where gay kids are sent to become straight.
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Mary
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I believe that sexual orientation is something one is born with. I am a lesbian, and I have known this for quite some time... Just how heterosexuals know they're straight, I know that I'm gay. If I had a choice to be gay or straight I would probably choose straight because of many reasons that I could babble on about for centuries. So I wouldn't personally choose to be gay, although I love myself for who I am and I would never want to change who I am now. I hope I'm making sense. Bottom line: Gay people are born gay. That's what I believe anyway. And I'm taking into account what Miz Scarlet said. It's also a matter or personality, sexually developmental influences, and identity... Not just genetics. So let me change my bottom line: Sexual orientation is not a choice. And THAT is my two cents

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Baptist
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If people are born gay, then why haven't scientists found any "gay gene" yet? Personally, I believe its a phycological issue.

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"The greatest danger to American freedom is a government that ignores the Constitution."

-Thomas Jefferson


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Eclipse
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If people are born heterosexual, why haven't people found a heterosexual gene yet...?

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Heather
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Even if it WERE solely a psychological issue, human psychology is not any more malleable by nature or definition in some respects than genetics are considered to be.

For instance, sociopaths cannot be "cured" by therapy or by drugs. Many paraphilias are psychological or experiential, but also cannot be "cured," or simply go away when someone changes their minds. Personality traits are often developed very early in childhood, and remain during one's lifetime, even when they attempt to change them.

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Heather Corinna
Editor and Founder, Scarleteen

"If you're a bird, be an early early bird --
But if you're a worm, sleep late." - Shel Silverstein

[This message has been edited by Miz Scarlet (edited 03-09-2001).]


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Baptist
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Then why are there centers in Colorado which help homosexuals to lead a normal heterosexual lifestyle? The problem is indeed phycological.

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"The greatest danger to American freedom is a government that ignores the Constitution."

-Thomas Jefferson


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Heather
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Because some people will do anything for a dollar.

There are also centers for penis enlragement that have no basis in reality, fact nor long-term effectiveness. There are "centers" for lots of things.

And Baptist, this is your last warning. Please post in other areas of the board. Not the GLBT areas. I have asked three times now.


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Gaffer
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That person, Baptist, is scary. Reading this whole topic just ruined my day. Why does it even matter whether or not homosexuality is a choice or genetic or anything else they think it is? This is getting me very grumpy. I almost killed myself when I was ten because I couldn't be "normal", and someone is sitting here telling me it's a choice. Grrrrrrrrr.

[This message has been edited by Gaffer (edited 03-09-2001).]


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Heather
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I'm terribly sorry, Gaffer.

Bptist has been told explicitly not to post in this area of the boards again. If he does not follow that advice, he will be banned from the boards.

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Heather Corinna
Editor and Founder, Scarleteen

"If you're a bird, be an early early bird --
But if you're a worm, sleep late." - Shel Silverstein


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Jessie
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Gaffer:
[B]That person, Baptist, is scary. Reading this whole topic just ruined my day. Why does it even matter whether or not homosexuality is a choice or genetic or anything else they think it is? This is getting me very grumpy.

i'm sorry this is upsetting you, but i don't understand why. as i said before i am just interested in hearing other people's opinions. i was just trying to have an interesting conversation about a topic that interests me.

as to Baptist, unless there is background information i don't know about, i don't see the problem. he is just stating his point of view. personnaly i don't agree w/ him, but i asked for everyone's opinion, and i said i would respect them all.

so please don't get too afended, i know this is kind of a touchy subject for some people, but that's is also what makes it fun to discuss. if people have strong opinions about something, they will get involved. i was not trying to start any trouble by asking this question, so i'm sorry. i don't mean to be rude but, if this bothers you, don't read it!

jess


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Mary
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Gaffer, I'm sorry this upset you. And Jessie, I understand where you're coming from, but this subject can be very touchy for some. We need to respect all people reading this. And I know you weren't trying to start trouble. You started a good topic . As Miz Scarlet said, Baptist has been told not to post in this section of the boards again, so hopefully that'll quiet some things down. While he was stating his opinion about the topic, he was doing so in a disrespectful manner. So everyone take a breather, and let's return to the subject
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Heather
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It may also help it be discussed more neutrally to ask in the vein of ALL sexual orientations basis.

In other words, you might ask if heterosexuality is something people choose, or be able to change their minds about from day to day.

Again, nearly every bit of vibale sexological and psychological evidence of the last thirty years minimally has shown that it certainly is not "choice" (inluding some interesting studies done of twins a little while ago which showed that when one twin was a certain orientation, the other twin was about 40% as likely to ALSO be that orientation), per se, but a very complex combination of numerous factors, of which the choice of sexual identity and lifestyle(which is not orientation) is but one.

But I think you'd find that this conversation can be less hot-button when you make it inclusive to include all kinds of orientation, and though to my reading you were being inclusive, it being in this area rather than the general boards may have made it seem otherwise, and Baptist's comments were NOT inclusive, but only addressed one orientation (and had also been asked due to other posts not to post in this area).

So, if everyone involved can keep it non-discriminatory, I agree that it certainly can be a productive and interesting thing to discuss.

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Heather Corinna
Editor and Founder, Scarleteen

"If you're a bird, be an early early bird --
But if you're a worm, sleep late." - Shel Silverstein

[This message has been edited by Miz Scarlet (edited 03-10-2001).]


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Rizzo
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Well, I certainly don't agree that sexual orientation is something that needs to be cured, but I do believe that "nurture" plays a bigger role than "nature".

I'm not a scientist, so I have no idea how much sexual behavior is inherited. Possibly some people are born gay, or straight, or whatever. I but I am also quite sure that some people are what they are entirely because of things they have experienced.

Just to distance myself from people like Baptist, I will say that this is my view for straights as well as gays. I believe that heterosexuality is not more natural than homosexuality, it is simply more prevalent and socially acceptable. I also think it applies to gender-- we are born biologically one sex, but I don't believe this in any way affects our behavior. We simply adopt the behaviors that are expected of our sex.

So I wouldn't say that gender or sexual identity is exactly a choice. But I believe environmental factors play a large part. Perhaps, in SOME cases, there is a subconscious choice to behave differently from the majority. I would not rule this out in my own case.

Oh, one more thing. Even if sexual identity were a choice, I don't believe that would justify anyone's mistreatment of gays and lesbians.

[This message has been edited by Rizzo (edited 03-10-2001).]


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Pixie69
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Who says that being heterosexual is normal? I certainly don't.

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Brittany
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This person is a natural product. The slight variations in color and texture enhance its individual character and beauty and in no way are to be considered flaws or defects.


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Gaffer
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Now we are getting into the epic debate over what "normal" is and isn't, and what is or isn't "normal".

I think baptist is scary because he/she is posting anti-gay stuff in the gaydar zone, leading me to think that maybe they are a little, umm, confused (Ahh, the joy of euphemisms). I have no problem with heated debate about whether or not homosexuality is a result of nurture or nature, but a bit of what Baptist said went a little too far. I have a lot of buttons and too many of them were pushed.

Also, if homosexuality is inherited I think maybe there would be no new gay people. I am sticking with the genetic, not inherited, part of nature on this one.

[This message has been edited by Gaffer (edited 03-11-2001).]


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Rizzo
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Hey Gaffer: why would there be no new gay people if gayness was inherited? Lots of gay and bisexual people have children. Also, it might be a recessive gene, or something that doesn't show up every generation. I don't know much about genetics, but I don't think it's possible for something to be "genetic" if it's not inherited. Unless a gene spontaneously mutates...
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Heather
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By defintion, an inherited trait does mean it is genetic. It is the only way to literally inherit traits from your parents.

You can certainly be nurtured (or not) and influenced by family behaviours, and most psychologists agree that that is one major part of many in terns of individual sexuality, but genes are how we directly inherit anything.

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Heather Corinna
Editor and Founder, Scarleteen

"If you're a bird, be an early early bird --
But if you're a worm, sleep late." - Shel Silverstein


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rdavid
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I read an article once that had a pretty interesting take on the born-with-it vs. choose-it debate. It was written by a lesbian, and it was her opinion that homosexuality was a choice. Her argument was that sexuality is a biological drive and that who you are sexual with is up to you -- you can *choose* to be sexual or have relationships with people who will turn you on and make you happy, or you can choose not to with the consequence of being unfulfilled. "Hunger is a drive; eating M&M's is a choice," is how she put it, I think.

Granted, it doesn't make a lot of sense to choose to date people who you have no interest in, but I do think it's an interesting argument. I don't think I agree with it in the terms she put it -- but I definitely think that sexual orientation is way way way more complicated than JUST biology or JUST personal preference.

Lots of gay activists say that homosexuality is not a choice, and therefore just a normal human variation and not an "immoral lifestyle" or anything. This definitely furthers the cause of gay rights, and this is what I personally think -- it's not bad, it's just different from what is apparently "the norm." On the other hand, because of this statement a lot of the gay-rights rhetoric comes out sounding like "of COURSE it's not a choice! Why would anybody *choose* to be gay when it's so horrible?" This is harmful, I think. There isn't anything wrong at all with being GLBT or anything in between -- actually, it's kinda fun.

Note to self: You ramble too much! Go write your paper!!

What do you guys think?

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r.d.m. * riotboy * http://f0o.org
"and you say i'm just a kitty cat in disguise" -- estrojet


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Heather
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While I agree that we all certainly choose what relationships to be in or not, orientation really isn't just about experience, but about attraction, which isn't something we really can construct -- some people call it "chemistry" -- it simply happens or it doesn't, is there or isn't..

I have been bisexual fo as long as I've recognized being "sexual" at all (which'd be over 20 years at this point), and I know that walking down the street people simply walk by at times who I find attractive, as happens with anyone. If, theoretically (again, I defer to sexology here, that orientation is fixed to some degree by several factors), I could "choose" NOT to be attracted to any of those folks, want to tell me *how*?

I'm not being snippety, I'm simply earnestly curious anytime anyone suggests all aspects of sexuality might be choice as to HOW -- in practice -- that really can be. Imiagine, for instance, how much happier many people in arranged marriages could be if they could simply "choose" to be attracted to spouses that they simply do NOT find attractive in any way.

Amd if you can tell me how, and orientation and attraction IS a choice, then how could one orentation be a choice, yet another could not be?

(Again, not sexual identity or the label one chooses, but actual orientation)

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Heather Corinna
Editor and Founder, Scarleteen

"If you're a bird, be an early early bird --
But if you're a worm, sleep late." - Shel Silverstein


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rdavid
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Just presenting a different view -- I don't really see it as a choice... apparently I wasn't clear enough about that. Oops. Anyway, yeah, you'd have to ask the woman who wrote the article in "off our backs" several years back...

what I think is that sexual orientation is not reducible to just one factor, and neither can it be defined by just one scale -- it's always going to be an oversimplification. So I don't think that sexual orientation is a choice or a "lifestyle" ... but I'm really not sure about the inborn, innate fact of one's existence thing either. Sexual orientation is often fluid, and can change over time (NOT in the sense that like, you go to an ex-gay camp and get "fixed"... just, like, some people like one gender at one point and later in life, they are primarily interested in another gender, for example).

so basically I'm just being The Mad Equivocator here. hope I cleared up any confusion resulting from the... limited coherence of my last post. granted, I'll *always* be confused about this subject...

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r.d.m. * riotboy * http://f0o.org
"and you say i'm just a kitty cat in disguise" -- estrojet


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Gaffer
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I have no idea what i meant when i said genetic, not inherited. Maybe something to do with chemicals controlled by genes as opposed to actual genes that control sexual orientation that are inherited, or maybe that it is a polygenic trait that requires both parents to have a gene, ok now I'm just confusing myself. I think it is in your genes but you don't get it directly from your parents, there. Then again, that is starting to sound a lot like guessing so I'll shut up now.
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Heather
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You describing it as fluid is, IMO, very apt, rdavid. Within an individual -- like most aspects of an individual -- sexuality (in all its various forms and aspects -- orientation, gender and gender identity, various sexual and attraction preferences, paraphilias, etc) tends to develop and evolve as we do.

And it being of various factors is the current sexological standpoint. if you're curious, what most psychologists and sexologists include in those factors which "create" orientation and individual sexuality are things like:

- genetics
- early childhood sexual experiences and influences (for instance, ppeer experiences, sexual ideology and feelings as taught by the family and community, etc)
- developmental sexual experiences (which varies from person to person in different stages of development)
- and personality overall, which again, it fluid in some respects, and somewhat fixed in others

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Heather Corinna
Editor and Founder, Scarleteen

"If you're a bird, be an early early bird --
But if you're a worm, sleep late." - Shel Silverstein


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Sympathys_Sin
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I have to put in my 2 cents here.

I think it's a choice. Right now. I havent made any conclusions, and I dont think it's a choice for everyone, but I think its very possible to be equally comfortable with both sexes, not consider yourself bisexual, and then decide. i can be straight, i can be bi, i can be gay. not that important to me. no big discovery of oneself.

Sometimes I think I'm really really just babbling. Sorry, this is from a girl who is convinced she's straight but still finds other girls sexually attractive and persues relationships with them...

My big thing is that, as someone who is straight, I feel I'm making a choice when I'm with other girls. And since I AM sexually, not just physically, "i think shes cute" but SEXUALLY attracted to them, it's not like I'm just a straight girl messing with another girl for kicks, it's like I'm, at that moment, CHOOSING to be bi, or gay or something.

Now that I've successfully confused MYSELF....

Bye.


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bettie
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Sin, so what you are saying is that you choose to have sexual relationships with other girls but you do not choose to have sexual attractions to other girls?

I think that goes for anyone. I choose who I am going to be sexual with (i.e Bob vs Jim), but I am attracted to who I am attracted to. I don't purposefully go out thinking I am going to be attracted to this person, or that gender. I don't plan it out. it is not a conscious choice.

I think many of us have been in the situation where someone has told you that they liked you. Swell person that they were, you weren't attracted to them. You can't force it, you can't choose to be attracted to them if you are not.

For me my sexual attractions are for both men and women and have been for sometime. I don't really care how this tendancy to have certain attractions came about (it could be all the apple juice I drank as a child, for all I know).

I think it all comes down to the fundamental way of thinking, is diversity OK with you or is it not? If it isn't what should we do with people who are different than what we deem acceptable?

I am of the thinking that diversity is good, sexually, racially, ethnically, culturally, religiously, spirirtual, gender-wise, etc....

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Louise Lalonde
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And glad to just be me"
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Heather
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I think it's worth taking a moment to pint out that there is a reason that one of the areas of this board is titled "Oreintation and Identity." And, not or. because they aren't the same thing, and, like most words, they do have an intended proper usage.

ORIENTATION is a term which is used to describe a general gender attraction base. In other words, your orientation is what gender you are *mostly* attracted to (not whom you become engaged with or date). If you are mostly attracted to those of the same sex, your ortentation is considered to be homosexual. If you are mostly attracted to the opposite sex, it is considered to be heterosexual. If your attraction base includes both same and opposite sex people, you are considered to be bisexual or pansexual. In other words, it really *is* arbitrary, and someone else (like a psychologist studying you, for instance) can assign it to you. And it is -- sexologically, psychlogically, medically -- NOT consiidered to be a choice. People are attrracted to whom they are attracted, and sceintists have beentrying to figure out *why* for eons. But the fact of the matter is that what is found is that nearly all people truly cannot *make* themselves attracted to someone to whom they are not, and that is scientfically measurable in terms of arousal and response.

IDENTITY on the other hand, is what you assign to yourself based not only ON your orientation (your base of attraction) but on what sexual choices you make in terms of what partners you choose, and what you choose (if anything) to call that. In other words, you may be homosexual, but not identify as a lesbian or a dyke. You may be heterosexual, buit choose NO sexual partners and be celibate, but that does not mean you are not a heterosexual. You may be bisexual, but choose only male or female partners, or be sexually active with only one group or another, and thus live a heterosexual lifestyle, or identify as a straight person.

So, when it comes down to what those terms mean in common use and in proper usage, that is what they mean. They are not one and the same.

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Heather Corinna
Editor and Founder, Scarleteen

"If you're a bird, be an early early bird --
But if you're a worm, sleep late." - Shel Silverstein

[This message has been edited by Miz Scarlet (edited 03-17-2001).]


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KittenGoddess
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Ya know, I've always wondered how things would be if there was just one word. As in, if instead of drawing lines and saying someone is "heterosexual", "homosexual", or "bisexual"...if everybody was just "sexual" instead. Would there then be no "normal" (as some people see it) orientation or identity?

~KittenGoddess

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"Reality is nothing but a collective hunch."
~Lily Tomlin


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Sympathys_Sin
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Well... I think its like having an aquired taste... Umm... how do I... Ok. Like music. I can totally hate a band, but if my friends like it, and I'm around it a lot, or I get bored with the artists I'm listening to, I can convince myself that this band I hate is totally GREAT and then I'm not JUST listening to it, I'm CHOOSING to enjoy it. To like it.

So, bettie, in sort of a reply, to some extent, I think I teach myself to be attracted to people. YES, there are people I am just naturally attracted to... but surprisingly... not a lot. It's almost as if I'm.... like almost asexual or something. I dont have much natural attraction for EITHER sex, but in my head it's like a scientific assessment... like "ok her face is symmetrical, she's pretty... ohh see, now I think she's attractive... ok now i'll ask her out"

I can't really say whether or not this is choosing to be attracted to someone... It's kinda hard to explain... but that's what it feels like.


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Mary
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Oh, Kitten, if only the world were that simple.... ::sigh::. But people seem to strive on diversity. There are heterosexuals who would never want to be considered in a group with homosexuals and vice-versa. I've known oh-too-many people like this. And you remember those commercials aimed towards kids that said, "What would the world be like if we were all the same? Diversity is good"? While it would be nice for us to not have a label, for all of us to be "sexual", I don't see that happening anytime soon.

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Never criticize someone until you've walked a mile in their shoes, because then you're a mile away, and you've got their shoes!


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Lynne
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I don't think that labels are an entirely bad thing, however. While they can be limiting and problematic, particularly if one doesn't fit nicely into a box, they're also a quick way to communicate some basic information.

Just my two slightly off topic cents.

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$uMMeR
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I think it's something you're born with.

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PoetgirlNY
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quote:
Originally posted by bettie:

For me my sexual attractions are for both men and women and have been for sometime. I don't really care how this tendancy to have certain attractions came about (it could be all the apple juice I drank as a child, for all I know).

Nope . . . couldn't be the apple juice. I can't stand it. I didn't drink any apply juice as a child and I'm still bisexual. Could it be the string cheese? I ate a lot of that.

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Limes Are Sublime


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PoetgirlNY
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quote:
Originally posted by bettie:

For me my sexual attractions are for both men and women and have been for sometime. I don't really care how this tendancy to have certain attractions came about (it could be all the apple juice I drank as a child, for all I know).

Nope . . . couldn't be the apple juice. I can't stand it. I didn't drink any apply juice as a child and I'm still bisexual. Could it be the string cheese? I ate a lot of that.

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Limes Are Sublime


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momma cat
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Nope, not the string cheese 'cause I still eat a lot of that and I'm quite heterosexual. Hey, you know how people have been blaming polution for causing "early" puberty in girls? Maybe the same people will find some way to blame that for the "problem" of homosexuality and bi (please read those last two sentences with bitter sarcasm) I wonder, has anyone ever given half this much thought to the basis for the other qualifications to select mates? I mean, why hasn't anybody done a study on if "I adore red-heads" is nature or nurture? I'd guess that's because no one sees this as being strange. I for one don't want humanity to ever know for sure what dictates a person's sexual orientation because people would be very tempted to try to "fix" the "problem" or prevent it. Imagine we dicovered a chemical, that in different amounts, dictates how attracted to your own gender/opposite gender you are. Would they make people take pills to regulate that? It's happening right now with ritalin and young boys being young boys.
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