Straight Talk On Queer Things
Copyright © by Dan Schneider, 3/20/04
As a white
heterosexual male there are some people who would state that that fact
disqualifies me from opining on anything non-white, non-heterosexual, &
female. Of course, this obviates any ideas of intellect, imagination, &
empathy. Since I disagree, here goes. I want to address homosexuality in a much
more plainspoken & less histrionic way than members of the far left &
right do. Before I do let me just give a brief background to what homosexuality
is. Currently it refers to either an individual sexually attracted to a member
of the same sex, or an act of same sex sexual behavior. The most important word
in the sentence I just wrote, however, is current. That’s because the
term only came into usage about 1870. Before then there was a distinction
between the act & the actor. A man might commit sodomy & be considered a
sodomite- but this was not thought to be a dominant factor in the person’s
life, nor did it equate with the feminine. Alexander the Great, as example, was
considered the most virile man of his time, yet he had 1000s of male lovers
& a few dozen female 1s to boot.
In short, while there were people who had same sex sex they were not parsed ad infinitum by the plethora of modern terms such as homosexual, bisexual, lesbian, transsexual, transgender, omnisexual, etc. In short, the idea of sexual ‘orientation’ is a modern 1 suited to political climes that favor a more automatonically genetic explanation for human behaviors, rather than a social 1. Even a term like ‘sexual preference’ is considered offensive in the most extremist elements of politicized sexuality. Yet, even as less explicit terms like gay, queer, & even fag have gained acceptance in such quarters there is a logical schism when 1 tries to account for such things as ‘gay pride’. How can 1 have pride in something they’ve no control of? This seems to most non-gays a tacit admission of a non-genetic factor (or choice) at work. Indeed, a noticeable political schism has existed for decades in the modern post-Stonewall gay rights movement- that between female & male homosexuals, with lesbians- especially those of the lipstick chic variety- openly claiming lesbianism as a choice, while the vast majority of male homosexuals claim they ‘were born that way’. Of course, the more vocal & butch ‘dyke’ lesbians tend to deny that their ‘lipstick’ kin are true lesbians, & most also reject the term ‘gay’ as referring to only male homosexuals, for whom they hold a palpable hostility.
The modern basis for this hostility seems to be an outgrowth from the perception of AIDS as a gay male disease & lesbians’ desire to distance themselves from that perception of all homosexuals- even female- being carriers of death. This distancing also echoes back to fundamentalist religious notions which chide homosexuality as a sin (1 which could be engaged in by ‘normal’ people as sexual groups were not subdivided in most human cultures), then being seen as a crime, & later as a mental illness along the lines of paranoia, psychopathy, & schizophrenia. While modern medicine has removed homosexuality from the ignominy of mental illness its true nature remains as confounding as ever.
But, more so than its basis & origin, I find puzzling the very obsessive desire to seek its root. Yes, scientifically I understand the urge, but culturally I do not, save for some remnant Puritanism stalking the recesses of our collective unconscious. After all, it’s far more important to simply treat all people as fairly as humanly possible. Thus, I support all gay rights- marriage, the desire to kill for their country, adoption, fair housing, & employment, etc. For this Right wingers have been known to call me a ‘fag lover’. Yet when I state that I do not believe homosexuality is purely genetic nor purely social, but a varying portion of each in any individual non-heterosexual, I am labeled a ‘fag basher’ by the Left.
This is typical of the puerile dualism that haunts American discourse today. I say to hell with it. Let’s look at some ‘facts’ that will never show up in reports, studies, nor crusades. All attempts to pinpoint a biological basis for homosexuality have proven to be as miserable a failure as those which seek to prove environment as the main or sole cause. The ‘gay brain’- actually a small portion of the hypothalamus that was supposedly enlarged in gay men, & discovered in 1991 by a Dr. Simon LeVay- is as silly as the Freudian ‘weak father’, & even less justifiable as it is well known in neuroscience that the brain is remarkably plastic, & parts of it change & grow with repeated usage. For instance, those parts of the brain thought to regulate risk-taking have been shown to be more active & dynamic in those people who engage in extreme sports & daredeviltry. Does this mean that it’s genetic? No, because as those people got deeper into their pursuits those regions increased. Similar attempts to remove responsibility from substance abusers by showing ‘addictive brains’ have been fruitless since tests of the very young progeny of known addicts has shown that enlargements of their brain areas, in the same areas as their parents, is non-existent. But, let’s say 1 of the children grows up to be an alcoholic, with a seemingly more active brain area for addiction, how would 1 go about proving which came 1st? That said, LaVey’s research was shown not so after peer review. Later attempts to revive the ‘gay brain’ with studies of glucose levels in the hypothalamus or a bloating of the anterior commisure which connects the 2 hemispheres of the brain via the amygdala proved as baseless & unrepeatable as LaVey’s.
Even more publicized was the ‘gay gene’. This notion 1st gained notoriety in late 1993 when a gay researcher who was gay, himself, named Dean Hamer, published a study in Science magazine. The piece detailed a ‘linkage study’ done by DH & colleagues & found that certain genetic variants existed in slightly higher proportions of family lineages with gay members than those not, & that the variations were more frequent in certain members of those families. On the surface there seemed to be some correlation, but this heritability (meaning can be passed along) does not equate with being inherited (meaning definitely passed along). Also, such higher frequencies are normal in regards to many human traits. Even Hamer, when asked- by the rival Scientific American- if homosexuality was simply biologically rooted stated, ‘Absolutely not. From twin studies, we already know that half or more of the variability in sexual orientation is not inherited. Our studies try to pinpoint the genetic factors...not negate the psychosocial factors.’ Yet, the media & gay rights movement seized upon this term until it crumbled away in the late 90s.
1 of the most damning bits of research came from the previously apolitical ‘twin studies’ being conducted to see the level of genetic influence on twins reared apart. Studies showed that if 1 identical twin were homosexual then the other was only about 38% of the time if male & 30 % if female. Here’s where the trouble with a gay gene arises- if homosexuality is biologically- or genetically-based then if 1 twin is gay the other would be gay 100% of the time. While biology has an influence, it is clearly not the only nor dominant influence.
Unremarked in all of this is that even were similar biological influences shown to be present in all homosexuals in the same degree, that would still not resolve the issue, as all people- even twins- react differently to different stimuli. 1 of the major problems with all twin studies in fact is that they have greatly overstated the effect of biology in all twins in all traits- besides homosexuality. This seems to be part of a larger general movement to remove responsibility from individuals in all spheres. Let’s face it- it’s easier to pawn off behavior on a devil, a voice, or a gene. We all seek to make ourselves feel better & to lessen guilt. If society constantly looked down upon people who enjoyed mathematics do you not think that people who loved math would seek to deny that love’s complex causes in favor of the easy out provided by some ‘expert’? Things have gotten so ridiculous in today’s world that the most recent attempt to show that a biological difference exists between gays & straights is a British study of the way eyes blink in response to loud noises. The relation to homosexuality that this has is anyone’s guess.
More intriguing to me than homosexuality is homophobia- literally the fear of homosexuals, but more generically the hatred or disdain of gays. Gays have tried to portray this ‘fear’ as meaning that straight folk fear they are gay, & while there are closet homosexuals who feel this fear, the majority of straight folk are more properly homtaediot- they suffer from homotaedium, or a disgust of things homosexual. When I’ve encountered most people who don’t like gays the overwhelming response is that of disgust- their faces scrunch, a ‘yuck’ comes to their lips, etc. Even I, who don’t care about others’ private lives, admit that when forced to picture same sex sex I cringe, more so than when I think of heterosexual sex (where I’m not involved)- I cannot help it. But, this reaction is far different from a bunch of rednecks who beat up some 1 they think is a ‘fag’- that sort of reaction is far more easily explained as a typical human reaction to ‘the other’- be it on a gay, ethnic, racial, or religious basis. The disjunction from the real reason some straight people shun homosexuality & the reasons gays ‘believe’ are behind it are mostly political. Gay rights activists have propagandized such myths as a sliding scale of sexual preference (oddly, even as some deny bisexuality), that all people are homosexuals if they’d just admit it (the old saying lesbians use is ‘once a woman’s tasted snizz [female ejaculate] she’ll never go back to plain old gizz!), & that homosexuals make up 10% of the human population.
The last myth was propagated by the 1948 Alfred Kinsey Report, & has long been discredited for Kinsey was a homosexual who was displeased with the fact & sought to create reasons/excuses for his displeasure. His ‘study’ reached the 10% figure by a combination of interviewing prison inmates, known pedophiles, & by asking leading questions such as if the person ever thought of a same sex person sexually. A yes to this was taken as a yes to being homosexual. The most recent studies have put the figure between 1 & 3%. Of course, this depends on what defines homosexuality & the truth of the reporting participants. This is not to diminish gay rights, only recognize that its activists have been as deceitful as their fundamentalist counterparts who attack all homosexuals as pedophiles. Recall actress Anita Bryant’s infamous declaration in the late 1970s: ‘As a mother, I know that homosexuals cannot biologically reproduce children; therefore, they must recruit our children.’ It is this sort of thinly veiled Rightist hatred that gay activists have uses as a rationale for their deceptions.
That said, there is the fear of pedophilia that infuses much of the arguments against homosexual civil liberties. As a child I knew many a runaway child who ended up working as a fluffer behind glory holes in glory rows in gay bars. Such exploitation of children has never been admitted by gays in general, just as the fact that those gays who have done so represent a minuscule % of the gay population is not admitted by the Right. My own belief is that sex abusers & deviants of all sorts are a bit higher in gay males than in general for the same reason that straight men are more sexualized than straight woman, gay men are more sexual than straight men, so consequently sex offenders are going to occur more often in gay males. This is just a logical extrapolation. What is not logical is the de facto assumption, then, that all or most gay males are sexual predators. Any gay male is just as likely or not to be a sex abuser as any straight female. Increased %s of a trait in whole populations does not equate with a higher % in any given individual in that population. This is the unfortunate, & misguided, basis for racial profiling. In my last 2 jobs I had 2 terrible bosses- 1 was a gay male & the other a straight female. Should I seek to link their inability to deal with underlings & competently do their jobs with their sexuality? Of course not. Another point often overlooked is that sexual repression tends to lead to more deviant behavior in sexual practices (from rape, sodomy, & incest all the way up to bestiality & serial killing)- & what group has been more sexually repressed than gay males?
Other people have sought to disprove homosexuality’s having ANY biological cause via Darwinian reasoning- i.e.- were homosexuality to go unchecked it would quickly be eradicated since they would not reproduce. A good argument, but only as far as it goes, because homosexual attraction or behavior has never been shown to abnegate the desire to reproduce. Nor could it be out of the question that some homosexual traits are recessive & occasionally pop up every so often.
Similarly shortsighted arguments are made from the side that believes homosexuality is TOTALLY biological. Statements like ‘I however know for sure that they DO NOT voluntarily pick the orientation. Why would anyone CHOOSE to be ostracized?’ are callow. Many of the runaways I knew led ‘gay’ lives because that was the only support they ever got. Don’t believe that it could happen in less extreme situations than runaways? Then I’d wager you have not lived life that fully. Humans are plastic & more adaptable than credited, & a moment here or there can change a life. Had I, at 12, when insecure over being rejected by many females I liked, been given nurture by another male who was gay, would I have responded, & suppressed my natural desire? Maybe- but probably not. Still, I cannot know for sure, nor speak for all. I have seen & known ‘closeted heterosexuals’ though.
Does this mean gays can change? Perhaps….some? Others- no way. But, if they’re really happy why should any of them change? To ease someone else’s fears or insecurities? While human sexuality is mysterious the hate-tinged motives of the most vocal anti-gay activists are not. I believe that if you could metaphysically prove why 1000 homosexuals were homosexuals you would get 1000 different answers in all arrays & %s of reasons from strictly biological to too-strict mothers, & everything in between. As I’ve said I’ve known too many people who were definitely nurtured into their sexual preference & too many ‘faggy’ men & ‘bull’ dykes who were naturally that way to not say that a plenum of reasons for homosexuality exists. Most of the answers to hard queries reside in the moderate, middling ground.
Even Simon Le Vay stated, ‘At this point, the most widely held opinion is that multiple factors play a role.’ If we realize this for most of life’s endeavors why is it so difficult to accept for homosexuality, or any other human trait? Or, as neuroscientist & researcher Dennis McFadden said, ‘Any human behavior is going to be the result of complex intermingling of genetics and environment. It would be astonishing if it were not true for homosexuality.’ What needs to end is the deceit that emanates from both sides. Anti-gay folk need to simply mind their own business- is not the implicit right to be left alone considered the bedrock of American political thought? As for the gay activists, it would be wise to drop their politicized myths. The 10% myth took off not long after W.E.B. DuBois’s idea of a Talented Tenth (10%) of the black population faded politically. It seems to be 1 of those #s that just was plucked out of the air like 6 million for Jews killed by the Nazis. The problem is that pre-WW2 #s do not support such a figure- thereby letting sick Holocaust deniers peck away at the credibility of ALL Holocaust claims, & that the 6 million figure totally segregates the rest of the millions killed by the Nazis- Gypsies, gays, unionists, Communists, Poles, Lithuanians, etc.- which made up about 50% of the 10 million killed in the Final Solution.
Unless gay activists want to find their ideas permanently marginalized they need to be far more honest & scrupulous about their claims, & the motives behind those claims- in other words, practice what they preach to their opponents. If they do so essays like this will be superfluous in the future.
In closing, I do not feel that a lack of a definitive answer is a bad thing, for such lends life its very power & mystery. & does not the mystery make life all the more interesting?
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