Thursday, April 02, 2009

Nature Vs. Nurture

There is a notion that a number of people have that finding the biological basis of homosexuality ("gay gene" or fetal hormone levels or a host of other possibilities) is the key to civil rights and social acceptance for gays. The thinking goes that if want we can say to homophobes, "See, we're born this way, so it's beyond our control! You can stop hating us now and let us get married!" But I think that is just a totally naive notion. Black people are born that way and have no control over their skin pigmentation, but plenty of people are still racists; so too would there be homophobes even if science proved homosexuality was innate. Bigotry is a stubborn, nasty thing, tenaciously clinging to the human psyche with tentacles of irrationality, fear, and hatred even in the face of empirical evidence or even simple reason. Those who already hate gay people will continue to do so. We'll just see some stunning hypocrisy about genetic engineering "to save our children!" And I can hear cries of, "People are born schizophrenic, but we still treat them!"

There is something a bit unsettling and self-hating about this notion of acceptance-via-biology, too, though I don't think a lot of people who hold this view realize it. It's like, "Yeah, it's dirty and shameful, but I was born with this affliction! Of course I'd rather be straight and normal, but I can't control my biology, so get off my case!" Not really a positive affirmation of self-acceptance, I'd say.

It doesn't matter if we're born gay or "choose" it or it's all our mothers' fault for putting lipstick on us that one time. We deserve civil rights such as marriage because we're human and we're citizens, because our love is just as real, our feelings just as valid, as anyone else's. We should be able to love who we want for whatever reason we want (within the bounds of sanity and consensuality), because we're free human beings. American history, is one long slog to live up to our extraordinary ideals, to bring what is universal, but abstract, into the realm of the particular, and actual. Those who deny the rights of gays or transgendered or any minority are on the losing side of history, betrayers of our national soul, small, frightened minds rejecting the human feeling and understanding that makes us worthwhile as a species and representing the worst impulses that make us damnable as a species.

BTW, personally, I do believe homosexuality is innate, but I think from what we can tell so far, there are a whole complex of causes, not just one "magic bullet."


CB said...

Sounds like someone was watching a little BBCAmerica last weekend. lol

If not, then I suppose this comment won't make any sense to you.

Frank said...

Bingo! Once again, our uncanny mental twinness strikes! That's exactly what provided the impetus for this post.

CB said...

I knew it! The minute I saw this post I said to myself, "Someone got Barrowman'd last weekend." :D

Did you watch Any Dream Will Do, too? It aired forever ago in the UK, so I know the winner, but I'm still watching it casually because Graham Norton is awesome and I love seeing that blond West End biatch put Barrowman in his place every now and then. "Enough out of you, Barrowman!" lol

If you found The Making of Me interesting, I suggest downloading the episode online because BBCAmerica cut the ever loving shit out of that documentary.

And also, on a more serious note, I agree with you rather completely. I think that for most people sexuality is innate, but that it doesn't matter as far as civil rights go. Same-sex marriage should be legal for the same reasons heterosexual marriage is legal. End of story.

I felt bad for John all throughout the documentary because I wanted him to realize that he didn't need to find a "magic ticket" to homosexuality. Being gay, for whatever reason, is natural.

His husband is cute as all get out though, I'll give him that. :D

Frank said...

I'm not watching Any Dream Will Do. I adore Graham and John, but it's really just not my thing at all.

I was quite shocked at Barrowman's attitude, actually. He seems like the kind of gay who wouldn't care. And, yes, his husband is totally hot.

REALLY weird, BTW, how he switches from an American to a thick Scottish accent.

Tim said...

I agree it doesn't matter why we are gay, it just matters that we deal with it responsibly and that we deserve the same rights as our fellow citizens.

nicely thought out post Frank.

Frank said...

Thanks! I'm so awesome. *LOL*