The most recent book was "They F*** You Up: How To Survive Family Life" by Oliver James. It is about how the first 6 years of our life are very important. The way we were cared for as infants and children shapes the majority of our personality, psychology and behaviour. Very little is genetic, according to the author. Even homosexuality, he says, has a huge "nurture" factor. At first when I read that I was angry. If you say it is nurture rather than nature, that would lead people to conclude that it can be changed. Also in the book he says that many disorders, such as schizophrenia, are greatly affected by our upbringing rather than by our genes. And this is supported by how many schizophrenics do not get better when prescribed drugs, but on the other hand benefit from the right therapy.
I felt that this was a dangerous way for the logic to flow, because those who seek to "cure" homosexuality will believe that it can be cured, since its origin is also "nurture". So I decided to write to the author. I checked online and found his website and his email address. I explained that there are still people around who believe that homosexuality is an illness and that it can be "cured", and these people might make that connection from the way the book is presented. And I was so impressed when he replied by email 10 minutes later. He thanked me for my feedback and said that while there are many traits, such as playfulness, which are shaped by our "nurture", no one would think that they need to be changed. He said that perhaps in the next edition of his book he should explicitly state that though homosexuality is heavily influenced by "nurture", that in no way means that it either can or should be changed. And he thanked me for alerting him to this.
I feel happier now that I know he is not a homophobe. It also makes me realise that I have always had a polarised view of the situation. In my head, there can only be two camps: if you are anti-gay, you believe that gay people were raised wrongly as children, and therefore you would think that reparative therapy works, and that supports your homophobic ideas. On the other hand, if you are pro-gay, you believe that homosexuality has a genetic cause, and you would not expect gay people to be able to change. Now I have a new perspective, that being gay could be environmentally influenced, such as is being artistic, or eloquent, or strong-willed, but that does not mean that you can change it. Saying that homosexuality is caused by "nurture" is not necessarily in itself an anti-gay statement.
Over the course of reading the book, I have developed the details of my new perspective. I have always known that you can't trust all the research you read. But I must have known that purely on a cerebral level, but not absorbed it on a visceral level. When confronted with the statement that "homosexuality is caused by upbringing", it conflicted with ideas that I had held dear for many years. I thought, "But what about all the research that says that homosexuality is inborn?" But as I thought about it more, I could not cite one example of fair unbiased research to support my ideas. Does not mean that there are none, it just means to me that I have not delved deeply enough into the subject to confidently and concretely answer that question. Which made me realise that I probably have been guilty of selectively believing only those facts convenient to me and in synch with my worldview.
So maybe the author is right and homosexuality is not entirely genetic in origin. And as I make that statement, I'm half afraid the gay community will hang me for heresy and treason. But I admit that the cause of homosexuality cannot be pinpointed easily. If you can't trust research, you can't trust books either. So, deviating from nature vs nurture, my third view is: The fact that I'm gay now might be because of genes or might be because of my childhood. But I think one factor that environment has fully controlled is: how I deal with my gayness. To borrow the phrase I read in another article, "genes load the gun but environment pulls the trigger". (The quote was regarding illnesses like obesity and diabetes, hence it sounds morbid.) But maybe it is the same with being gay: the way I was raised has made me aware enough and comfortable enough to realise and accept I am gay. Being born in this modern age also gives me the option to live as a gay person; if I'd been born 2000 years ago instead, I might have had no choice about marrying a man just to survive. And 2000 years ago if the concept of "gay" hadn't come about yet, having gay genes wouldn't make me a gay person, just some man's unsatisfied and unhappy wife.
So let's consider the possibility I might have turned out straight if I had different parents, a different childhood. But even then, so what? At this point in time, I know I'm gay, I can't go back and change the past. So there is only moving forward. The most important thing to remember is that gay people can't change their sexual orientation. Whether it is due to nature or nurture is secondary, being gay can still be viewed as a gift from God, He created our genes but He also chose our parents to be the ones who raised us. So what do we do with this gift, one of the many that God has given us?