Friday, July 22, 2011

Born this way — The myth of the gay gene

I'm a man who likes women. There's a gene for that. You're a man who likes men. There's a gene for that. She's a woman who likes women. There's a gene for that. He's a man who wishes he was a woman. There's a gene for that.
So exactly how many genes are there? Is there one that separates the tops from the bottoms? The bull dykes from the lipstick lesbians? The subs from the doms?
At some point, don't we just have to say enough with the genes?

Well, I'm saying it.
Well, let's look at this gay gene for a second. It's just the latest in a long line of speculative, unprovable hypotheses to figure out what went wrong with gay people. And that's not my words. It's not my fault that the gay rights crowd has fallen right in line with a tradition that includes "Boys Beware," an "educational" film from 1961 that is fascinating and hilarious in the unapologetic way it blames homosexuality as the cause of the molestation, abduction and murder of underage boys. (Insert Catholic priest joke here.)
There is a gene that determines hair color, but it doesn't determine thickness of the follicle or strength of the hairline. There's one that picks out eye color, but it doesn't decide if you're nearsighted, farsighted or get glaucoma. There's a gene that determines skull size, but it doesn't mean the difference between being smart or being a Republican. It's ridiculous to think there is a single gene that aligns the complex intellectual and emotional states that result in same-sex attraction.
I know it's probably starting to look like I'm picking on the gays. I am, but it's not personal, and they're not alone. There are plenty of groups deserving of ridicule, large and small. I'm singling out the gays only because I'm trying to help.
The search for the gay gene was really an expedition to find acceptance for the homosexual community, but no one realized what the assertion of genetic homosexuality actually means. This is the "born this way" version of sexuality, and although it's making a lot of money for a would-be Madonna in Lady Gaga, it isn't doing any favors for those it tries to help.
See if this sounds familiar. If they were born that way, they can't help it. If they can't help themselves, it must just be instinct. If it's just instinct, they must be animals. You know, right there with the blacks. Not quite human, so we don't have to consider them, just control them.
But the inability to change is bullshit too. When I was young, I wasn't afraid of putting my hand in fire. I retrained my brain to include a healthy respect of flame. You can alter your vocabulary so your first reaction to bad situation isn't a blurted profanity. You can go through therapy to work through the reasons you're attracted to unhealthy relationships. You can, that is, if you want to, and homosexuality is no different, because it resides in the amazingly adaptable human brain. But before you can train yourself to become heterosexual, you have to believe that homosexuality is wrong, and why would you do that?
All of these musings, the ideas of genetic predetermination and reconditioning, assume it's bad to be gay. I won't say it's good or bad. Why? Because it's none of my goddamn business. If you're gay, it's your business and your right to take credit for who you are. Claiming a genetic cause of homosexuality only cheapens a very personal and intimate choice. You are who you are because you want to be. I know it's stereotyping to suggest that gay men jump three feet backward, flail their arms and shriek anytime they're frightened, but that's what you're doing here. You're afraid of standing up for who and what you are. You're afraid that you can't justify your own choices and your own behaviors. You're afraid of what will happen when being gay only defines your sexuality and not your entire life.
This inability to just stand up and say, "I'm gay because it makes me happy," that's really gay. And while we're at it, if you didn't have a lisp as a child, you don't need one at a gay adult. It's pretty gay too.

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