[NOTE: There was some mention yesterday in the comments section about the question of whether being gay is a choice or not, which made me think it might be a good idea to clarify some of my thoughts on the matter.]
What do we really know about gay people and society at this point? Here is my own idiosyncratic summary:
(1) Being gay is neither is wholly biological nor wholly environmental, but most likely some roughly equal mix of the two.
(2) The predilection to be gay is not wholly a choice, although the act most definitely is. However, the only viable alternative for many or most gay people people is lifelong celibacy, an exceedingly difficult road.
Then there are bisexuals, people who report attractions to both sexes to a greater or lesser extent. For example, I’ve personally known two men who identify as mostly gay but who each were strongly attracted—and in fact in love with—a woman, whom they later married. In the first case the wife didn’t know of her husband’s bisexuality, and in the second she did.
In the first case, there was a divorce after a few years, when the husband decided he was so much more attracted to men than to his wife that the marriage could not work out over time. They were quite young and had no children, and she went on to marry someone else and have children by him.
In the second case, the marriage lasted very happily for many many decades and several children, till death did them part. During the marriage, the man was completely faithful to his wife and never strayed, with man or woman. But after her death he formed a stable, long-lasting relationship with a man.
I offer these examples not to say they are typical of the gay population (they are not), but to offer them as instances where the choice to live life as a heterosexual seemed possible, and in at least one instance of the two that choice seemed to work very nicely. But the possibility was predicted on the fact that, for this man, there was a woman to whom he was highly enough attracted to live a life with her. That is not the situation with the huge number of people who are predominantly gay rather than bisexual.
Attraction is a funny thing, whether for gays, bisexuals, or heterosexuals. We can’t will ourselves to be sexually attracted to and to love someone, no matter how nice that person may be, or how wonderful a spouse they might make, even if they love us and want us. And although we could will ourselves to live in a loveless, attractionless marriage, it’s hard to see whom that particular choice would benefit.
But when we are attracted, we also have a choice on how to act. For heterosexuals, the choice is whether to marry this person or that person, or whether to marry at all. For bisexuals, it’s more complicated because the choices are more vast, but—as with the men I described above—a bisexual person can choose to live a heterosexual life and be faithful. For a gay person, the choice is to express the sexual part of his/her being or to be celibate for life.
Why should a gay person choose celibacy? I can see no reason except if that person subscribes deeply to a religion that believes that gay behavior is a sin to be avoided at all costs. Celibacy’s a hard life, though, one that usually only a Catholic priest takes on for religious reasons. But these people are not priests, they are just ordinary people trying to live their lives. I would never ask anyone to make that choice, even if they are religious; it is between them, their conscience, and God.
[ADDENDUM: I’d like to emphasize the link above to this article, which contains a brief summary of research on the nature/nurture question. The following seems especially interesting to me [MZ twins are identical, DZ are fraternal, and the twins and brothers who were recruited for the study had at least one member of the pair who was gay]:
J. Michael Bailey and Richard Pillard also studied the gayness between MZ twins, DZ twins, and non-related adopted brothers. They examined how many of the sample population examined were gay and how many were straight. They found that 52% of MZ twins were both self-identified homosexuals, 22% of DZ twins were so, and only 5% of non-related adopted brothers were so. This evidence, repeated and found to be true a second time, showed to the biological camp that the more closely genetically linked a pair is, the more likely they both are to exhibit gay or straight tendencies. Later experimenters found similar evidence in females.
Other twin studies using somewhat different methodology seem to have replicated the basic finding, so it seems they’re on to something. It would be much better if we had a study that used twins reared apart, but it would be nearly impossible nowadays to get a big enough sample of such people.]