Thursday, June 19, 2008

Study confirms my theory of homosexuality...

I'm a philosopher and a writer, not a scientist. But my beliefs and theories surrounding homosexuality (plus heterosexuality and bisexuality for that matter) have been largely informed by personal observations and experience, not by ideology or faith. I've read every article I can get my hands on dealing with the origins of queerness and why it seems that a relatively constant percentage of all human populations - crossing all demographics, religions, races, classes, etc. - continue to be primarily sexually attracted to their own gender.

Like many, I've found contradictory or inconclusive evidence. A recent theory - that the more older brothers a man has, the more likely he'll be gay - is intriguing but I suspect probably false. Why? Because of my own personal experience. I have an older brother who is straight and married. I'm the middle boy who turned out gay. My younger brother is as straight as they come. Another study says that most gay men's index fingers are even length or longer than their ring finger (just like those of women). Not so for me: my index finger is much shorter than my ring finger, just like most straight men. So much for those theories. This article nicely dissects the various theories and studies circulating out there.

I'm beginning to suspect the roots of our sexuality are ingrained so intangibly within our human make-up that pinpointing the exact gene or exact biological or environmental condition that creates homosexuality in a person may be impossible, at least in terms of today's science. But just because we can't seem to pinpoint how a person's sexuality gets determined, of course doesn't mean such causes don't exist.

This study came to light this week showing that gay male brains have more in common with female straight brains than they do with straight male brains. The study also showed that lesbian brains have more in common with straight male brains than they do with straight female brains.

I've long given great credence to the notion espoused by some Aboriginal communities about 'Two-Spirited Peoples' or others about the so-called "Third Sex" or "Third (gay male) and Fourth (lesbians) Sex."

For me there are two primary forces that manifest themselves in the physical world: Female and Male. Both are equal, yet interchangeably linked, sometimes in conflict. On one end, we have the ultra masculine; on the other end of the spectrum, we have the ultra-feminine. All of humanity finds itself born somewhere along this spectrum. I know many heterosexual women with many masculine qualities. I know many heterosexual men who have many decidedly feminine qualities. At the same time, I know many lesbians whom I would never describe as "butch" and I also know many gay men who are decidedly "straight acting".

We all have varying degrees of masculinity and femininity. Yet when it comes to gender, the world is still pretty clear cut. All humans are either born female or male (with the exception of hermaphrodites). But of course, we don't all fit neatly into the social constructions of male and female, never have and never will.

Human beings don't choose where on the spectrum they'll be born. These innate characteristics are chosen for us, perhaps by fate, or by God, or what have you; our only choice is whether or not we'll accept who we are.

In my mind, homosexuals are those humans who are born near the very cusp between Male and Female. It does make sense to me that among the entirety of the human race, that a certain percentage of people would always be born with a good mix of both feminine and masculine. We don't choose this, it's just the way we turn out. Once born, we are locked in for life, at least in terms of sexual orientation, and why shouldn't we be? Yes, I am saying that gay men are men with strong female sides and lesbians are women with strong male sides. In a way, queer people blur the lines between the genders. I choose to see queers as bridging the divide between the genders, in a way saying that both are valid, equal and worthy of dignity, respect and love. I even ascribe a likely divine design to this reality.

This line of thinking is, of course, in great conflict with the current mainstream world views espoused in Christianity, Islam and Judaism. For a typical extremist Christian response to this week's study, check out this post. The Abrahamic religions have always been about one thing: male supremacy and female denigration. These religious traditions are inherently unhealthy and violate the spirit and dignity of humanity - and this is why these traditions will slowly, over the next few centuries, continue to decline.


Red Tory said...

You're too kind. That Bouncing Ball guy is astoundingly ignorant.

Jason Cherniak said...

I think what you're saying makes sense, but it is dangerous. It suggests that some people are in a position to choose whether or not to be gay, bisexual or straight. Once they make the choice, socialization would probably help cement it. Unfortunately, that gives support to those who would argue that kids should be brought up one way or the other in the hope that they make the "right" choice.

Matt Guerin said...

Thanks for the comment, Jason. However, I don't think I'm saying people can choose to be gay or straight. In fact, I'm saying and I believe quite the opposite: that people are born somewhere on the spectrum and they don't have a choice in the matter, at least when it comes to sexual orientation. Most of us can accept our birth gender and our sexual orientation, but not all as we have seen. While some people can choose to switch genders through SRS, I think it's pretty clear that people can't change their sexual orientation. Perhaps I wasn't clear enough in my post, so perhaps I'll amend it slightly with an update.

Jason Cherniak said...

Sorry for the delay. I forgot to come back for your repsonse.

I don't see how your response deals with the spectrum concept. The closer to the middle of the spectrum you are, the less likely you are to have your sexuality determined by genes. No?

Matt Guerin said...

Who says sexuality is determined by genes? I'm not sure I understand where you're coming from, Jason. Please elaborate.

I am making a metaphysical/philosophical point about humanity in general, a species divided in half biologically by gender, but not so cut and dry when it comes to sexuality and gender identity/etc.

Is our sexuality determined by genes? Is our blend of masculine vs. feminine attributes determined by genes? While who we are is largely determined by our heritage, there seems to be a lot about us that is not determined by genes, seems at first more random? Why did this family get a gay son, while this family got only straight sons? But when you look at the larger picture, a greater, difficult to understand pattern emerges. I'm just trying to make sense of it the best I can.

Nathan said...

Though I think your theory of links between sexual orientation and a spectrum of gender is interesting, my personal experiences lead me in a slightly different direction. I definately agree that sexual orientation exists on a spectrum, but I don't agree that it's fundametally tied to gender. From my experience, it seems like it is homosexual attraction that is determined genetically (or by some other physiological distinction), but the behavioural and characteristic traits that are commonly associated with gay men and lesbian women are socially cultivated.
Because gay men (we'll stick with them for now, to make things simpler) are attracted to other men, they feel more comfortable with women, who they don't need to impress and attract. Their stronger relationships with women cultivate more feminine character traits. So, though I wholeheartedly agree that sexual attraction is irreversibly biological, a stronger connection to your "feminine side" or "masculine side" is not. (By the way, this is just my opinion, I am in no way trying to tell you you're wrong.)

You might be interested in some theories about the continued existence of homosexuality, despite Darwinian laws of "survival of the fittest" that suggest homosexuality should have gone the way of the dodo. Sisters, aunts, and mothers of gay men tend to be more reproductive, and their children are often better off. Whether this is the manifestation of the "gay gene" in the women, or the social benefits of an extra, unburdened caregiver, the gene is carried on through the female carriers who benefit.

Just my two cents, thanks for your great blog!

TheRanger said...

What do you think of this.

From what I know of stats you don't eliminate outliers.