What is Natural?

The whole idea of what is “natural” or “as nature intended” is an argument often used to oppose homosexuality. Even good, well-meaning people will say things like, “I don’t mind gay people, but really, it just isn’t natural.”

I do understand this way of thinking. I spent enough years of my life with internalized homophobic beliefs. Because I understand this way of thinking, I try and make people see things from a different angle … after all, perspective is everything in life.

Many people believe that homosexuality is not seen in nature and this is now widely disputed by scientists. Homosexual behaviour has been widely reported among many species including primates and birds.

Science has made an effort to try and see if there is a genetic or biological basis for homosexuality. For those who oppose homosexuality, the argument is that it is a choice and that at some point whether it is conscious or not, the behaviour was learned.

Biological Determinism is the school of thought that seeks to understand whether behaviour has a genetic component or if that behaviour has an environmental basis. Basically this is the nature vs. nurture debate.

Biological determinism is important in understanding many social issues like addiction, crime, obesity, I.Q and risk taking to name a few. Homosexuality is now being studied in this context as well.

Humans make difficult subjects for study especially limiting the types of experiments that can be done. Many of our behaviours are due to many factors with many possible interactions. Therefore, no iron-clad conclusions have been drawn yet, just many hypotheses.

The debate continues and many do hope for a conclusion to the nature vs. nurture debate to perhaps put an end to homophobic beliefs and policies. The thinking is that if they can prove that homosexuality is “natural” then people will be more accepting of it.

I read an article that hypothesized that brain structure was impacted in the womb by factors such as exposure to certain chemicals and these changes led to homosexual behaviour. If this is true, then why have there been homosexuals throughout history, long before these chemicals existed?

I also wonder why proving the “naturalness” of homosexuality will make people more comfortable with it? How does someone’s sexual preference impact someone else’s life in any way? If it did, then homosexuals would be greatly impacted by the overwhelming number of heterosexuals they are exposed to daily. Yet they are not.

Outside of all the debate and conjecture and science, the issues still come down to prejudice and how we choose to view the world. Just because there was a civil rights movement does not mean that racism is gone. Our beliefs are a choice. If people choose to believe that homosexuality is unnatural, no “proof” will change this belief.

What seems natural to you may not seem natural to another. For a homosexual, coming to terms with their preference will seem like the most natural realization of their life. Should they be denied happiness and love in their life because it does not seem natural to someone else?

The debate will go on, but I will continue to view the argument from the perspective that what we believe determines how we view the world above everything else.

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