Pinker on Homosexuality

I have been reading The Blank Slate and came across this quotation, which I thought might spawn discussion. If falls within a chapter where Pinker is discussing the plasticity of the brain and brain function, and whether or not these suggests the blank slate as a true model.

Most gay men feel stirrings of attraction to other males around the time of the first hormonal changes that presage puberty. No one knows why some boys become gay—genes, prenatal hormones, other biological causes, and chance may all play a role—but my point is not so much about becoming gay as about becoming straight. In the less tolerant past, unhappy gay men sometimes approached psychiatrists (and sometimes were coerced into approaching them) for help in changing their sexual orientation. Even today, some religious groups pressure their gay members to “choose” heterosexuality. Many techniques have been foisted upon them: psychoanalysis, guilt mongering, and conditioning techniques that use impeccable fire-together-wire-together logic (for example, having them look at Playboy centerfolds while sexually aroused). The techniques are all failures. With a few dubious exceptions (which are probably instances of conscious self-control rather than a change in desire), the sexual orientation of most gay men cannot be reversed by experience. Some parts of the mind aren’t plastic, and no discoveries about how sensory cortex gets wired will change the fact.

Pinker, The Blank Slate, 94.