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Straight answers, bent choices


by Andrew Lansdown

Channel Nine’s current affairs program, 60 Minutes, recently ran a story titled “Straight answers”.1The “difficult question” the story tried to answer is one that all parents supposedly worry about: “is their child straight or gay?” Or, as the “coming up” trailer for the story bluntly asked: “Is your boy gay?”

If parents were not worried about this question before viewing the 60 Minutes story, they probably were afterwards. For the story led viewers to believe that homosexuality is something innate, something determined before birth. In consequence, “your boy” is—he simply, irresistibly is—either “straight or gay”. It only remains for you to scrutinise his behaviour for telltale signs of “gender non-conformity” to determine his (homo) sexuality.

The “Straight answers” story cited all sorts of crooked hypotheses to explain why some children are allegedly born with a homosexual “orientation”. And the gullible reporter, Lesley Stahl, seemed impressed with them all. There was the genes theory, the structure-of-the-brain theory, the hormones theory and the the-more-older-brothers-you-have-(so-long-as-you-are-not-left-handed) theory.

My favourite was the theory put forward by the nine-year-old boy who was the star of the story. His name was Adam and, by virtue of his girly interests, he was supposed to be living proof of the type of gender non-conformity that flags the presence of homosexuality. Adam’s theory for his own condition was, “I was supposed to be a girl in my mum’s stomach but my mum wished for all boys so I turned into a boy.”

Adam can hardly be blamed for thinking such nonsense, for his parents had plainly given him to believe that they believe he is “gay”. And they had encouraged him to believe it about himself, too, by buying him dolls, decking his bedroom in pastels and fluffy toys, draping his bed in a gauze canopy, giving him scarlet nail polish to wear to school, and putting him on programs like 60 Minutes so that he could enjoy all the more attention for behaving like a girl. So who can blame him for talking nonsense about being a girl in mummy’s tummy until mummy wished him into a boy?

Besides, Adam’s hypothesis was not much different from one mentioned earlier in the story by a university academic, who suggested that the reason a boy with older brothers is supposedly more likely to be homosexual is because “Somehow, the mother’s body is remembering how many boys she’s carried before”. The only difference between the boy and the academic is that the academic has less excuse for talking such nonsense, and far less cuteness to carry it off.

Towards the end of the story, Lesley Stahl said, “You can give yourself a headache trying to apply all the theories to real people.” To her credit, she could see that none of the theories could adequately explain why the people in her story were (or, in Adam’s case, were supposed to be) homosexual. Things just didn’t fit.

Yet there is one explanation that does fit. Although it did not rate even a passing mention in the 60 Minutes’ story, it is the simplest and most sensible explanation. And it is this: choice. Homosexuals choose to be homosexuals—that is to say, they choose to engage in homosexual acts, and it is these acts that define them as “homosexuals”.

According to this freewill explanation, a homosexual is someone who actually engages in same-gender sex, not someone who exhibits certain other-gender characteristics or who experiences certain same-gender attractions. A homosexual is someone who engages in homosexual sex, nothing more and nothing less. So then, homosexuality is not a state of being but a state of doing. It has nothing to do with nature but everything to do with behaviour. No person is fated by his genes and/or hormones to be a homosexual: but any person can become a homosexual by choosing to engage in homosexual acts.

Over the past 20 years, homosexuals themselves have fostered the view that they “can’t help it”. They began to push this view in the mid-1980s when AIDS became a public health issue and they feared that they would be held accountable for their role in the spread of the disease by their unhygienic sexual practices. However, during the heyday of the gay liberation movement in the 1970s and early 1980s homosexuals rejected the idea that homosexuality was determined by nature or nurture. They insisted that they chose to be homosexuals. I documented dozens of such claims in my book Blatant and Proud: Homosexuals on the Offensive (1984). Consider four examples:

In 1980 the NSW Planning Committee of the National Summer Offensive for Gay Rights produced a Gay Information Kit.
In one article the writers stated: “Lesbians at some stage of their life make a choice about whom they most feel attracted to i.e. women. They make such a choice at age 10, or 50, sometimes even at 75. They make such a choice consciously, sometimes unconsciously.”

In a booklet titled Sexuality, published by the Australian Union of Students (1977), one woman offered advice on how to get started with homosexual sex: First, she wrote, “decide whether this is what you really want to do in your very inner self … Second, understand that this may be not where your guts are at yet, so go in stages that are fast and risky enough so that your feelings can actually change, but slow enough that you don’t scare yourself so badly that you want to give it up.”

In 1978 the Melbourne Gay Teachers’ and Students’ Group published a book for use in schools called, Young, Gay, and Proud. Referring to a particular homosexual act, the authors told their teenage readers: “If you find [the act] a little hard, it may be because it is not your thing. Or it might be that you need to practice a bit for the pleasure to come through …”

In another publication by the Australian Union of Students titled Homosexuality: An action and resource guide for tertiary students (1977), a male homosexual explained how he was troubled by the fact that “My mind’s eye still views me as straight much of the time.” That is to say, he still had heterosexual desires—women were still sexually attractive to him. To solve this problem, he said, “I need to feed it new material to help change its outlook—say through pictures of myself making love to a guy.”

Throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s, statements such as these were common in student and homosexual publications. And they leave us in no doubt that homosexual behaviour is a chosen behaviour. Sometimes the choice is motivated by lust, at other times by ideology. Sometimes the choice is even pursued despite initial repugnance.

Although many homosexuals have backed away from choice as an explanation for their sexual behaviour, not all have done so.
A significant minority still proudly insist that they choose to be the way they are. Consider four examples:

On a current website run by, dedicated to and named after homosexuals who claim to be “queer by choice”, one 20-year-old man introduced himself (on 2 May 2004) with these words: “Hi, I am Aniruddha, I am gay and am so by choice. I have also been attracted to girls so could have, maybe, got myself into a heterosexual relationship”.

In July 2001, the American homosexual journal, The Advocate, published the results of a survey on the question “Why Are We Gay?” One reader responded:

I am 46 years old. I am female. I was married for 26 years and have three children and two grandchildren. In my case it was definitely a choice. When I was 35 or so, I met this woman, and we became friends. In the manner of teenagers, and at her suggestion, we decided to “experiment” sexually. I laugh now, to think back on it. I was petrified at the thought, but one day I looked at her and said, “OK, kiss me.” We looked at each other and laughed, and she did. My response was, “Well, what the hell, the sky didn’t fall! Do it again.” … I made the choice to be a lesbian.2

In the book Straight With a Twist: Queer Theory and the Subject of Heterosexuality, which was edited by Calvin Thomas and published in 2000, one lesbian made this statement (p.262):

[O]ne of my goals in the women’s studies classroom was to convert someone to lesbianism in the course of the year—and I was always successful at this, just by talking about how sexuality is a construction and heterosexuality an institution and by simply posing the question, by asking my students: How do you identify yourself sexually? And if they would respond: I’m heterosexual, then I would ask: How do you know? How can you be so sure? thus provoking them to question their sexuality in certain fundamental ways. Result? Conversions right and left. 2

In an interview published in November 2000 in the Sydney homosexual journal Capital Q Weekly, homosexual activist and author, Graham Willett, stated:

I think the idea that sexuality is genetic is crap. There is absolutely no evidence for it at the moment, and I think it is unhealthy that people want to embrace this idea. It does reflect a desire to say, “it’s not our fault”, as a way of deflecting our critics. We have achieved what we have achieved by defiance, not by concessions. I think we should be recruiting people to homosexuality. It’s a great lifestyle and something everybody should have the right to experience.

The prominent homosexual academic and activist Dennis Altman summed up such testimonies in his book Aids and the New Puritanism (Pluto Press, 1986, p.188): “being gay is a choice.”

Ironically, these homosexuals are expressing a biblical view on the matter of choice. For by its prohibition of homosexual acts and its condemnation of anyone who practises them, the Bible indicates that homosexuality is essentially voluntary. Indeed, God could hardly forbid the homosexual lifestyle, let alone condemn those who live it, if homosexuals themselves have no control over it.

In Romans 1, the apostle Paul tells us that, far from being natural for some, homosexual behaviour is unnatural for all (vv 26, 27). He also tells us that such behaviour arises not from innate compulsions but from lust (vv 24, 27) and wrong thoughts (vv 21, 28).

In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul tells us that those who practice homosexuality are unrighteous and in danger of damnation (v 9). He also tells us that such behaviour can be forgiven and forsaken (v 11). His disclosure that homosexuals can cease being homosexuals (“such were some of you”, v 11) is decisive proof that homosexual behaviour is a chosen behaviour. Indeed, the testimony of many once-homosexual now-Christian men and women is that, with God’s help, homosexuals can reverse the choice. They can choose to come out of homosexuality. Homosexuality is not given but chosen, and as such it can be rejected (not only before, but also after, it is practised).

“Is your boy gay?” If 60 Minutes had tried, they could not have devised a question more likely to cause confusion and anxiety among Australian parents.

“Is [our] child straight or gay?” Every parent of prepubescent children should reply emphatically, “Of course not! He/she has not been having sex with anyone, let alone anyone of the same gender, so he/she cannot possibly be a homosexual!”

As for identifying interests and traits that might indicate that a child will choose to become a homosexual, forget it! A search for such things wrongly presupposes that homosexuality is already a reality, is already manifesting itself, in the child’s life.

It is quite possible and acceptable that a particular child might have an interest in something typically associated with the opposite sex. This merely reflects the fact that no person is entirely predictable: every person is individual, unique.

So, parents need not be alarmed if, say, their son wants to play with a doll. They simply should not overly encourage him. And they should be careful never to give him the impression that they think he is, or will become, a homosexual. For if they overdo things as Adam’s parents seem to have done in “Straight answers” they may unwittingly predispose their boy to make bent choices in his teenage and adult years.


1. “Straight answers”, reporter, Lesley Stahl, 60 Minutes, aired on Channel Nine, 3 September 2006. Transcript available at sixtyminutes.ninemsn.com.au/sixtyminutes/stories/2006_09_03/story_1760.asp
2. These two quotes are posted on the website queerbychoice.com

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