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Eli

I'm one of the people who dislike seeing the "genetics" argument - not because I don't want it to be true; it's not the reality or otherwise of it that bothers me, but how people use it to make moral judgments about others. People shouldn't be discriminated for their orientation, even if that orientation IS a deliberate lifestyle choice.

Sexual orientation as such may not be a social construct, but I do think the "idea" of sexual orientation, of categorizing people based on how they like to have sex, is.

Sharon

"It's a little bit of both" seems (so far) to be the answer a lot of the time in nature vs. nurture debates. And for some reason this post made me think of your "Is Altruism Real?" post.

In that case, I would think that the "it's all really selfishness" crowd is a lot like the "essentialists" you describe here. I get the feeling (from the altruism arguments) that some people would like it to be entirely genetics because that would make the world simpler. Or something.

Anyway, very thought-provoking, even though it also reminded me of some joke about lesbian sheep - you'd never be able to tell because they just stand around waiting.

Kagehi

Lets put it this way. When dealing with something as mentally flexible and capable of forming entirely "non-normal" responses that override instinct as humans, its quite stupid to assume that just because the "social" norms, and the convoluted mess of behaviors and ideas we use to shoehorn people into those, practically from birth, are currently the norm, that *they* also represent the natural state we would land at ***without*** those complex rules. Those that promote the idea that gays and bisexuality are not normal, or absolutely wrong, are doing so based on confusion what they **want** us to be like, according to the **rules** they want us to follow, based on what **they** where shoehorned into by the same rules, with what is actually instinctual and/or normal for us.

Or, to put it another way, when it still worked, I could install a bit of code on my Palm pilot to **make** it run a version of Linux, off of a sort of disk image, if I went out and added that to *every* Palm device on the planet, then convinced everyone using them that Linux was the "correct" OS for it, it wouldn't change the fact that this is a state *I* created, while the original Palm OS is *still* buried on the device. Its a flexible enough design that, even though it isn't easy to manage, and it won't always *keep* the changes, that you can impose rules on it that are not *part* of its natural state. Now, this might be a bad analogy, but I think you get my point. Humans are even "more" flexible, and often we can find ways to project or natural inclinations into other avenues, thus making it *easier* to derail what would have been the behavior we exhibited without the rules and indoctrination used to shape us into something normal by societal standards. Some people either are not pushed quite right, or are on the bell curve where they differ "too much" from the mean to conform so easily. Or at least that is my take on things. And, just to be clear a) equivalent genes are almost certainly there in humans, b) the gene expression probably is far more complex and c) more complexity may mean that the "norms" are somewhat narrower, but it doesn't mean that the norm logically is "straight", and it almost certainly means that such a mess of interlinked genetic traits is going to create wide variations, not strict, "gay vs. straight", situations. So, yes, its bound to be more complicated, but that just means that the treating people like fruit flies, who are either "normal" or "fruits" is even stupider than claiming its all about personal choice (which it might be, to varying degrees, for like 90% of people, who are, again, not on the extreme ends of the resulting curve).

the chaplain

Nice piece. This is another fascinating line of research into sexuality.

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