When I was in grade school, there was a boy in our class who played jacks and jumped rope with the girls instead of playing ball with the rest of the guys. At that age, we didn't think anything about his sexual orientation at all. We just thought he was a sissy.
There was also a girl who was always one of the first people picked when we were putting together a softball team because she could hit the ball farther than most of the guys. We knew she was a tomboy. We had more in common with her than the guy who played with the girls because she shared our interest in sports so we always considered her to be just one of the guys. We were 9 or 10 years old at the time.
One of the news programs on a national television network did a story on twin boys a year or two ago. The parents were very concerned because although the boys were born at the same time and raised the same way by the same parents, they were as different as daylight and dark.
The parents took the news team into one of the boy's bedroom and it looked the way most of our bedrooms looked when we were growing up. There was sports memorabilia on the walls and on the floor, a blanket on the bed that signified his favorite sports team and when he was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, he said "an athlete."
Then they went into the other boy's room. There wasn't anything even remotely connected to sports in it. Instead he had dolls lying all around and he had a canopy bed that his parents said he had asked for. When he was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, he said "a girl."
These three examples are used because these three kids were who they were before puberty, before they or the rest of us knew anything about sex at all. The boy and girl I grew up with both became gay and it's likely that the boy in the news show will too.
For them, they obviously didn't make a choice to pursue a "deviant" lifestyle because none of us even knew what a deviant lifestyle was. Heterosexuals don't have an "aha" moment when we realize we're straight.
We just do what comes natural to us based on the desires we feel without having to "learn" a particular lifestyle. If the world works that way for straight people, it makes sense that it works that way for gay people too.
The rhetoric of the political right, influenced significantly by the religious right, insist that homosexuality is a deviant choice that people make.
No one yet knows exactly what determines our sexual orientation, even though different theories abound. But we have to remember that a theory is not a fact, at the most it's an educated guess.
Because the vast majority of people living in the world don't go through a decision-making process about their sexual orientation, I have to believe gay people don't either. They just are who they are, just like straight people.
The best estimates put the number of heterosexuals in the world at about 90 percent, gays 4 to 6 percent and bisexuals 2 to 4 percent. These numbers are consistent regardless of the political, social, or religious nature of the culture.
In the '40s and '50s in the United States when being gay guaranteed the loss of a job, being evicted from where you lived, social isolation from anyone who knew and ostracism from your parents, there were just as many gay men and women as there are now when most of us have become a lot more tolerant towards gays.
It seems to me the only way this is ever going to become a better world is to stop hating and start embracing those who are different from us.
And based on the current political climate, we've got a long, long way to go.