BENLEANDER_Design Studio

+43 650 707 9191

How to be(come) gay

Think about where you are in your life right now. The choices you’ve made, the things that happened to you, the people you’ve loved and lost. Think about this very moment when you’re reading this article.

Now let me ask you a question. How did you get to this point in your life?

Probably not an easy question to answer in a few words, right? Most things in our lives happen for a multitude of reasons. Like why did I decide to study psychology and graphic design at the same time? I have a short answer for that, but I would need a lot of space to thoroughly answer that question.

And that goes for most things in life. But if the question comes up why someone is gay, a simple answer is expected. It’s the genes. The surroundings. The upbringing. The education. It’s a phase of rebellion against society. All I can add is: It is probably not that easy.

I don’t believe that we will ever know for certain why someone is homosexual. As well as we will probably never know why someone is straight. Why some people are transgender. And why most are cisgender.

The title photo of this article is a photo of musicians Tegan & Sara. They are twins, very successful, very pretty and guess what… both are lesbians. A gay friend of mine also has a lesbian sister. And she has a brother who happens to be gay. His boyfriend got a gay brother too. I could go all night, telling you about all my queer friends who happen to have queer siblings. I don’t believe that this is a coincidence. I believe that homosexuality is deeply rooted in our DNA. And sometimes the ‘gay’-gene emerges, sometimes it doesn’t. Just like my sister. She happens to be straight. An exception?

If you are interested in studies about genome mapping and homosexuality I will add two great articles below. Both found compelling arguments that the sexual orientation is somewhat based off our genetic information.

Now for the other question: How is someone gay? Are we all just Appletini-drinking, fashionable basic bitches? No! Gay men are just as diverse as regular men. Sure, some of us are more ‘feminine’ than others, but just look at gay bears. They are probably manlier than a lot of straight metrosexual Hipsters.

And you know what… Why does it even matter if some guys are a little extra and seem more feminine than other men? I say, all is good and well, as long as everyone is happy. I’m just glad that I’m gay so I have an excuse for my weird fashion choices and occasional drama moments.
But let’s not hold on to clichés too tight.


Articles about genome mapping and sexuality:
Science Mag

Suggested further reading:
Heartbreaking story of a gay guy in Christian upbringing
LGBT discussion
Homosexuality and marriage equality

Compulsive nonconformist who left the 9-to-5 world after studying psychology and has since then devoted himself to design and writing on a freelance basis. Has at least four different kinds of chips at home at any given time.


  • 23. May 2017

    My system won\’t allow \’deeper\’ conversations so I hop you see my response anyways.
    I have to admit that I said Catholics but meant Christians. I have no idea about the many variations of Christianity (especially because some of them are still considered cults and not religions in Austria), so I don\’t know which variation of Christianity they were into.

    I also noticed that US Americans have a different view on hygiene. I noticed that many Americans use hand disinfectant gels on a regular basis. Those gels came to Austria about ten years ago but never became very popular. Some own one, some don\’t.
    I don\’t understand the logic behind people being scared of transgender people in cisgender bathrooms… What is supposed to happen? You already share the bathroom with homosexuals, what is this going to change?

  • 9. May 2017

    That\’s an interesting question! The only reason I wonder if being gay isn\’t wired into DNA is because there is such a huge variety of sexual tastes and norms across different tribes and cultures. You get the Dani tribe, for example, who practice celibacy for years so they can have groups of kids that are all the same ages. Supposedly, they have same-sex relations in between.

    There\’s also research showing that most women respond to other women as well as to men, but they apparently repress it. Then you have Ancient Greece where there was lots of bisexuality (or Sparta–where most men seemed primarily gay).

    I don\’t usually make this argument though, because it defaults me to that team that thinks if being gay isn\’t genetic, then it\’s reversible–which I absolutely don\’t believe. I also don\’t think we should try, because it\’s not hurting anyone (as opposed to making people live in the closet). I tend to think most people are on a range with some at the extreme ends of the spectrum.

    Hopefully, scientists will learn more in time. Just because it would be interesting to find out.

    • 10. May 2017

      Yes, that is a very interesting point. I just wonder if e.g. people from ancient Greece practiced bisexuality more openly just because it was no big deal at that point? Maybe nowadays lots of bisexual people choose the ‘straight route’? Could be an explanation why there are so little bisexual men compared to women.
      I believe that there is a multitude of reasons to become gay but I think that the DNA is the biggest factor. That would fit perfectly with your view of the sexual spectrum (which I also believe in 100%). I also don’t think that homosexuality can/should be reversed but I’m really interested in the according studies. However, it makes me sad to see that some scientists treat homosexuality just like a disease that they want to find the cause of. Well, you can’t do right by everyone..

      • 10. May 2017

        See, that\’s where I see the danger… a lot of people argue that homosexuality is genetic because otherwise, it makes it seem like a \”choice\” that can be reversed.

        BUT, a homophobic perspective could also argue that homosexuality is then a defect, a bad mutation that may be cured. My point being that either way, the explanation can be used against the gay community. Unless, maybe, it could be shown that having homosexuals within the population offers advantages? Maybe someone should make that argument, because it hasn\’t been weeded out of the gene pool and maybe theres a reason why.

        I\’ve also noticed how many more female bisexuals there are than men…. also that most female bisexuals ultimately seem to identify as straight whereas male bisexuals ultimately identify as gay. (I worded that badly but hopefully it made sense).

        Maybe that\’s because women are genetically more bisexual (some research says they are) or maybe because the social penalties are higher for gay men (at least, they seem so to me).

        So there may be more women experimenting whereas some men would repress the bisexual side, since they like women too, or use bisexuality to \”half\” come out of the closet, so to speak. Either way, men seem more binary in their attractions and it\’s hard to separate that from social reactions.

        Interesting questions, though.

        • 10. May 2017

          You make some very interesting points – but I ultimately do believe that the sexual spectrum is similar for men and women because that would make more sense on a mathematical level. In psychology you always hear that most traits are distributed normally… but maybe men don\’t explore their sexuality as much. Although I\’ve heard some stories from gay and straight men who experimented; maybe they were just more comfortable talking to a gay person about it.

          And as for a evolutionary \’reason\’ for homosexuality, one I\’ve heard is that homosexuality may have evolved to have couples who cannot have their own kids so they can care for the children who have been expulsed by their biological parents. That\’s also what some animals, e.g. penguins, do.

          • 10. May 2017

            That\’s a good argument–maybe people should be making this argument more because it presents sexuality as a given fact, and one with a positive purpose. Plus, all of the adopting animals can help support that argument.

            I bet you\’re right about straight men who have experimented with other men being more comfortable about talking to a gay man about it. Here, at least, there\’s a sense that any man who has experimented with another man is definitely gay, just hiding it. There\’s very little tolerance for the idea that any man could have any curiosity about other men without being gay, or at least bisexual, which people think is just a cover for being gay.

            It\’s strange, because we also tend to believe that women who have experimented with other women are actually straight but trying to be fashionable.

            • 10. May 2017

              Haha yes that is strange. And I can\’t shake the feeling that this has to do with straight men phantazising about bi/gay girls and having a threesome with them. I don\’t know. In the past I\’ve heard people say that they think lesbians are more \’normal\’ than gays, which ever way that makes sense.

              All in all I am really happy with how the world is changing because I remember homosexuality being a taboo for a long long time… And I\’ve read somewhere that the generation of 20-somethings have the highest rate in people who identify as bisexual. I hope the acceptance of society follows.

              • 11. May 2017

                Yeah, I think you\’re right about threesome fantasies. I also think people don\’t take women\’s sexuality as seriously as men\’s.

                The world really is changing, right? It has changed a lot just since I\’ve been alive. Having gay characters on TV was rare when I was a kid and I\’m surprised by how many high school friends later came out as gay (I had no clue at the time).

                I think it\’s mostly the very religious that are holding out on acceptance. But if things change at the rate they\’ve been going for the past 30 years, it will be a very different world soon.

                • 12. May 2017

                  I don\’t know if women\’s sexuality isn\’t taken as seriously as men\’s but I do feel like the idea of sexuality is a spectrum and not binary is more accepted for women.
                  Yeah the world is changing and it is a good change. I think we are miles from a \’good\’ situation but the visibility of homosexuality in mainstream media is so much higher now than when I was a child. We may have to thank Queer as Folk and SATC for that 🙂 But, at least in Austria, transsexuals are still invisible. And I don\’t think that\’s because there are so little..
                  I just hope that the world is ready for that much change. In the past I always thought that a more conservative generation has to die out before major changes are accepted in the society. And I have the bad feeling we\’re just waiting for WWIII to happen.

                  • 16. May 2017

                    Well, I think women\’s sexuality is taken more seriously with respect to chastity and/or promiscuity, but people seem more accepting of lesbians than gay men–at least the \”feminine\” ones. Maybe this is because of porn, I don\’t know, but female experimentation with the same sex seems taken less seriously, at any rate,

                    Are transsexuals still invisible in Austria? They are a HUGE topic in the US right now, almost all of a sudden. Kaitlin Jenner was big news, there\’s a famous trans woman on the show \”Orange is The New Black,\” and magazines are showing transgender children on their covers.

                    It seems like a topic frequently in the news and on discussion boards lately. There was legislation about allowing transsexuals to use their identified gender\’s bathroom that was very divisive lately. Maybe it\’s very different over there.

                    I can imagine things do change a lot after older generations die out. Kids now are being raised with very different attitudes than they once were.

                    I\’m hoping WWIII doesn\’t happen by then. And that we won\’t be responsible for it, lol

                    • 16. May 2017

                      Yes, I agree with societies\’ different views towards sexuality of men and women. Bad thing about this is, that women seem to be called \’sluts\’ much more frequently than men. I think that\’s so wrong, but what can I do?

                      In the media, yes, we do know about Caitlyn Jenner, although – thanks God – the Kardashian clan is not a topic discussed frequently here. I also heard about the transgender-bathroom debate but I think that I only did because I\’m interested in that kind of news. All the news in Austria are about the European Union and the immigration \’crisis\’. I feel like there is no space left for other news at this moment. So, on a societal level I think that transsexuality is quite invisible in Austria and I believe that most Austrians never had contact with anyone transsexual. But I believe that transsexuals in Austria may use whichever bathroom they want. I don\’t get what the debate was all about anyways. Some bars in Austria have gender-neutral bathrooms anyways and no one cares.

                      Btw we talked about the world changing, but I sadly think that this is less the case for Americans than for Europeans. One of my articled (\’The problem with gay marriage\’) has been featured on another platform ( That\’s cool but the comments on the article are very narrow-minded, discriminative, sometimes dumb… People use metaphors that don\’t make any sense and bend scientific results just to prove their own point. And these comments came solely from Catholic US-Americans. I really doubt they have learnt anything from the past. I just hope they\’re an exception.

                    • 23. May 2017

                      Traveling through Europe while growing up, I came across plenty of co-ed public bathrooms. We never, ever have these in the US unless it\’s a single stall.

                      So maybe it\’s not surprising that Americans feel more threatened by less segregated bathrooms, considering that Europeans are already accustomed to using co-ed bathrooms whether the users are straight or however they identify.

                      I get the feeling, and maybe it\’s just me, that Americans are more uptight and Puritanical about sexual matters in general. For example, I read that shower gels didn\’t displace bar soaps over here (even after they were common in Europe) because people didn\’t like the implication that you would have to touch yourself. Once they started marketing the little mesh sponges to go with the shower gels, they became more popular, because then there was a layer between your hand and your body.

                      Maybe that explains some of the difference.

                      Funny that it was the Catholics. if I had to guess, I would expect the born-again Christians to be the most rigid about gay marriage, transsexual bathroom use, and the like.

Do you have something to say?

%d bloggers like this: