I have a number of friends who still insist that homosexuality is a choice that can willingly be turned on and off at a whim, like a switch. Admittedly, I used to think the same thing, until I decided to put the philosophy minor I earned in college to use by sitting down one evening and attempting to reason through the choice vs. “hardwired” debate in an intellectual dialogue with myself. After analyzing my own heterosexual orientation, I arrived at the following:
I know there is no way I can ever willingly choose to find myself sexually attracted to men. It has never happened, and it simply never will, because I’m simply not attracted to men. Therefore, I must somehow be “hardwired” to only be sexually attracted to women. That being said, it’s not unreasonable to conclude, then, that there are men and women who may be “hardwired” to be sexually attracted to members of the same gender.
Also, if homosexuality is merely a choice, why would people willingly choose to be gay, knowing the harassment, bullying, violence, depression, strained family relationships and friendships, isolation, and even, sadly, suicide and homicide, that can accompany such a choice? It simply isn’t logical. As humans with the ability to reason, it’s in our inherent nature to avoid at all costs choices and situations which we know can bring us so much harm, even death.
Along those lines, then, there is no logical explanation for why, say, a middle school or high school student for example, would willingly choose to be gay, knowing the endless emotional and even physical consequences that can accompany such a free choice.
A third type of “hardwiring”?
What about bisexuals, then? Where do they fall into the grand scheme of things? I submit that there are actually three distinct types of “hardwiring”: there are people who are “hardwired” to be heterosexual; there are people who are “hardwired” to be homosexual; and then there are people who are “hardwired” to be sexually attracted to members of both genders – bisexual.
While it may appear to the strictly heterosexual or strictly homosexual observer that bisexuals are able to turn their sexual interests on or off like a switch, this must only be an illusion. It’s an illusion because, as a “hardwired” heterosexual, I know I cannot willingly choose to be attracted to men. Therefore, I cannot willingly choose to be bisexual. And those who are “hardwired” to be homosexual cannot willingly choose to be attracted to members of the opposite gender. Therefore, there must be a third type of unique “wiring” that allows people to genuinely be sexually attracted to members of both genders. And depending on who they just happen to meet at the right time, that’s who they’ll seek to form a romantic relationship with.