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Culture & Religion

Can You Choose to Be Gay?

'Sex and the City' star Cynthia Nixon recently said she chose to be gay, sparking a conversation over whether choosing to be gay entails the opposite ability: choosing not to be gay. 

What’s the Latest Development?

Before ‘Sex and the City’ star Cynthia Nixon gave a prepared speech to a gay audience recently, organizers wanted to make changes where Nixon had written that she chose to be gay. In a follow up story, Nixon said: “A certain section of our community is very concerned that it not be seen as a choice, because if it’s a choice, then we could opt out.” What is more important, she says, is solidarity in the community with those who self-identify as gay, no matter how they came to see themselves that way.

What’s the Big Idea?

Where does science fall on the question? Most biologists say nature is more influential than nurturethe education one receives or the interactions one has with peerswhen it comes to preferring your own sex in intimate situations. Studies show there is some genetic consistency between individuals who are gay or lesbian. Ellen Schecter, a pyschologist in Hanover, New Hampshire, thinks there is a role for both biology and free will. “You feel what you feel,” she said. “What you do with those feelings might be a choice.”

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