Born This Way?

I was perusing blogs again today and came across a most excellent quote from Dr. Marc Breedlove, Barnett Rosenberg Professor of Neuroscience at Michigan State University. He is currently sponsoring a lecture series called, Whom You Love: The Biology of Sexual Orientation, which is featuring the nation’s top researchers who have studied the science of sexual orientation. Anti-LGBTQ pundits like to talk about how there is “no gay gene,” but aside from us not even knowing how many genes there are or what they all do, it’s probably not as simple as “a” gay gene. According to Dr. Breedlove:

As to the question to whether there is a gay gene, it depends on what you mean by that. Have we found a gene, where when a person inherits it, they will for certain be gay? No, we haven’t found such a gene. There may or may not be one. But we do know there is a gene on the X chromosome that has been proven to have an influence on sexual orientation in men. What’s more, we know there are many genes that influence sexual orientation in people. Probably not just one, but a lot. And it will probably be the sort of situation where whether or not you are gay depends on whether which particular combination of genes you get.

The example I like to use is to talk about height. The estimates are there are 150 different genes that influence height. So, is there a gene for being tall?…No…but does that mean there is no genetic influence for height? Of course not, that would be silly. Of course there is a genetic influence on height. Of course there is a genetic influence on sexual orientation. The data are really completely firm.”

Along with the genetic influences there is strong evidence that prenatal testosterone and fraternal birth order play some role in influencing sexual orientation, most probably by the prenatal hormones activating or deactivating certain genes.

Of course, no discussion on this topic is complete without Lady Gaga’s Born This Way music video: (FYI if you haven’t seen it yet, it’s kind of insane, and graphic)

On Destroying the Fabric of Society

When we’re not charging up our giant Gay Ray to incinerate traditional marriage, happiness, and kittens, Alan and I are plotting to destroy the fabric of society.

A short transcript of one of these sessions, presented without comment:

Kate: society’s fabric is SO last season

Alan: more like last century

I had to cut the conversation short because I had an appointment to ruin the newlywed happiness of a heterosexual couple at noon.

Curious About Ex-Gay Ministries and Therapy?

The issue of ex-gay ministries and therapy has been in the news a good bit recently. The legislature in CA has passed a bill banning sexual orientation change efforts in therapy for minors, and it is just waiting for the governor’s signature. Alan Chambers, the President of Exodus International, the largest ex-gay organization in world, said earlier this year, “The majority of people that I have met, and I would say the majority meaning 99.9% of them have not experienced a change in their orientation.” Also under his direction, Exodus International, has repudiated the use of reparative therapy (sexual orientation change efforts), and altered a lot of their rhetoric. In effect, they now primarily promote celibacy for LGB people.

In reading more about this, I recently came across the work of Ted Cox, a straight atheists who spent over a year undercover in different ex-gay ministries. He’s published part of his experiences, specifically a story of his time at an ex-gay weekend retreat, online, and I wanted to share that. The story, which is about 20 pages long, can be found here: My Journey Into Manhood. The story almost seems surreal at times, and I might be hesitant to believe it if I hadn’t heard many similar stories from other LGBTQ people that I know that spent years in different ex-gay ministries, often times in even more extreme circumstances.

Queer People Don’t Really Exist…

At least according to spokespeople from the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). This idea isn’t a new one, but it was recently restated by NOM and it came up in a conversation with a friend that I had last week.

Jennifer Roback Morse, who is the head of The Ruth Institute, NOM’s education arm, said in an interview by Michael Brown that as Catholics they don’t even “accept the category of gayness.” She also goes on to confuse gay men with being trans*, while dissing trans* people and saying that biological sex is a “permanent and basic characteristic” (as opposed to sexual orientation, which she calls “accidental”). She even agrees with Brown’s conflation of a woman having a mastectomy with being a post-op trans man. This is seriously one of the most whacked out, crazy, nonsensical things I have ever heard. Go listen to it and let your mind explode.

Then just a couple weeks ago at The Ruth Institute’s It Takes a Family to Raise a Village conference, Thomas Peters, NOM’s Cultural Director, said, “And so, as a Catholic, the church doesn’t believe in gay and lesbian people.”

They aren’t denying that people have same-sex attractions, but they are denying that makes them queer. To them queerness is about how people act, not about who people are on the inside. It’s purely physical and behavioral. I’m not advocating for queerness as the sole aspect of a person’s identity, any more than I would advocate for maleness or whiteness or tallness as the sole aspect of a person’s identity. However, those things are fundamental aspects of our character and bodies. They don’t exclusively define who we are, but they are a vital part of us.

I mentioned that I had a very similar conversation with a friend, who doesn’t know I’m gay, just this past week. She said that in essence she believes all people are inherently straight, and same-sex attractions, while they do exist, are just a distortion of natural feelings. To her being LGBTQ is a lifestyle and has nothing to do with innate characteristics. (This is like saying that black people are inherently white.)

This persistent denial of reality by anti-LGBTQ people is one of the most frustrating things. As I’ve mentioned before, I used to believe it as well, but I did so out of ignorance and changed over time when confronted with the reality of queer people. I know I harp on this a lot, but I really think that one of the most powerful tools we have in changing the way people think is for them to just get to know a LGBTQ person. My friend even admitted that her views and those of most conservatives are formed in a vacuum where they aren’t confronted and challenged by the reality of queer people. My hope is that when I finally come out to her that will start a process of changing her beliefs.

So here’s to a future where we exist in the minds of everyone.

P.S. I wonder if this is in some way similar to how God feels about people who don’t believe He exists.

There’s No Such Thing

This was a phrase I had heard a couple of times in my youth. But by the time I was ready to finally put some kind of label on my sexual personhood, I went with it anyway. Bisexual. There, I said it. I had heard people from both sides of the coin say that bisexuality just doesn’t exist–you have to go “one way or the other.” Interesting, I always thought, especially since LGBTQ/I advocates have been trying to deconstruct the binary conception of gender for a long time. But I digress . . .

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