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by Abigail Van Buren

To Be or Not to Be Gay Is Not a Matter of Prayer

DEAR ABBY: My nephew -- I'll call him Neil -- is gay. He came out of the closet to his family a few weeks ago on his 20th birthday. You would never suspect that Neil was gay by looking at him or talking to him, but when his brothers were outside playing baseball, Neil would be in the house drawing pictures of flowers.

Neil's father says that Neil is gay because all the time his mother was pregnant with him she kept praying for a little girl. (She already had four boys and no girls.) Abby, can praying for a little girl have anything to do with having a gay boy? -- NEIL'S AUNT

DEAR AUNT: According to Dr. Judd Marmor, eminent psychoanalyst and past president of the American Psychiatric Association, there is no scientific evidence that supports the theory that a boy could become homosexual because his mother, while pregnant, prayed for a little girl.

It is more likely, however, that Neil was born with a predisposition toward becoming gay, and his mother's strong wish for a girl contributed to his preference for doing "little girl" activities rather than "little boy" activities during his childhood years.

Thus, Neil's ultimately becoming gay was a combination of nature and nurture.