I'm often asked by friends when I come out to them, "Do you believe you were born gay?" The smart ass in me wants to ask them if they were born straight! I withhold this. Usually. The other question I get occasionally is "When did you know you had to choose one way or the other?" I'm much less gracious in responding to this question when I quip back with "When did you choose NOT to be gay?"
Perhaps they are treading the waters of challenging their own belief systems, or they are testing me to see just how steadfast I am in my identity. Regardless of the motivation, I always welcome the opportunity to educate.
I knew from the earliest age that my inclinations were not like the men and other boys in my life. I knew I was different, but didn't necessarily know that I was gay.
It wasn't until I developed my first mega crush on a boy a year ahead of me in school that i knew romance was in the gaze of another boy. I was completely fascinated by his wily blond hair, daring spirit, and any crumb of attention he gave me. When he was near, I was mesmerized. Our friendship lasted for many years, and I was very much smitten by him the entire time. We met when I was entering the 3rd grade.
As for "born this way?" I answer with a hearty "YES!" For a few years I worked with a conservative christian lady who was inquisitive, and spirited. She was the very first one that ever said to me that she understood it wasn't a choice, and gave a compelling reason why. She simply said, "Who would choose a life so hard." She went on to build her argument to say that if sexuality was a choice, it would be much easier to choose to be straight because that is what most of the world believes in, and supports.
I was forever altered by such direct insight.