Why homosexuals should not be blamed for their sexual orientation
This article is dedicated to one of my ER patients who was DOA. As I inspected his body searching for a cause of death, I noticed cut marks at the base of his penis, which I surmise resulted from attempted amputation motivated by gender dysphoria.
This article is part of the
$100,000 Challenge Series
People often think they are enlightened even when they believe things that should have been left in the Dark Ages.
In this series, I will challenge conventional wisdom and explore some odd and unjustifiable beliefs that persist, offering $100,000 to the first person who can solve each challenge, proving me wrong. My opinions are bound to ruffle some feathers and make you think.
Would you blame someone for having blue eyes instead of green or brown? That seems impossible to justify, doesn't it? As a doctor, I will explain why it is just as inexcusable to blame people for their sexual orientation, which is shaped by factors they cannot control.
The less you understand homosexual orientation, the more tolerant you should be of it. As a heterosexual man, I cannot personally understand why a man would want to kiss another man. Kissing, hugging, and making love to women is enormously appealing to me, while the thought of becoming romantically involved with men is repugnant. My sexual preference is so immutable that I could not change it even if I were offered all the riches in the world. No matter how many trillions of dollars were deposited in my bank account as an inducement, I would still be drawn like a magnet to women. I crave women even more than I do pizza, cookies, cakes, tools, tractors, gizmos, and the countless other things I love.
Since my sexual preference for women is not under my control, anyone who blamed me for it is at least a busybody and possibly a hypocrite. When I think of the number of perfect people I've met—zero—I wonder if our time would be better spent if we focused more on imperfections in ourselves than in others.
I've met many people who seem to possess a visceral hatred for gay men, lesbian women, bisexuals, and transsexuals. I ask anyone who is similarly intolerant to follow my solution for overcoming racism: put yourself in their shoes. Once you do that, it manifests the iniquity of justifying hatred of others based on their sexual orientation. What if you or a sibling were homosexual? Would you still think that directing venom toward homosexuals or bisexuals serves any useful purpose? Is this world a better place when malicious moralizing takes the place of empathetic understanding?
Why you should tolerate homosexuality if you don't understand it
No one chooses their sexual orientation. The Wikipedia states:
“The current literature and most scholars in the field state that one's sexual orientation is not a choice; that is, individuals do not choose to be heterosexual or homosexual. No simple, single cause for sexual orientation has been conclusively demonstrated, but research suggests that it is by a combination of genetic, hormonal, and environmental influences, with biological factors involving a complex interplay of genetic factors and the early uterine environment.”
I agree. No one chooses their DNA. No one sets their hormonal levels the way they do their thermostat or TV volume. No one can control the dietary and environmental factors that shaped them before they were born or afterward—unless, as an adult, you voraciously read about this topic and careful monitor what you eat and drink, in addition to numerous other things. However, even if you do that as an adult, it's too late: your sexual orientation has already been set. So if a person does not choose his sexual orientation or can affect it in any feasible way, why blame him or her for it?
“No major mental health professional organization has sanctioned efforts to change sexual orientation and virtually all of them have adopted policy statements cautioning the profession and the public about treatments that purport to change sexual orientation. These include the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, American Counseling Association, National Association of Social Workers in the USA, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, and the Australian Psychological Society. There is no sound scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be changed. […] The apparent impossibility of getting someone to change their sexual orientation . . . is a major argument against the importance of the social environment in the emergence of homosexuality, as well as against the idea that homosexuality is a lifestyle choice.”
If sexual orientation cannot be changed even with the assistance of a psychologist, why blame someone for it?
The chemical and processed food industries are filling us with countless substances that indisputably affect our minds and bodies. These chemicals contribute to the increasing incidence of obesity, and they probably are the primary factor for the reduced prevalence of heterosexuality by affecting our hormone levels and effects, and by various direct effects. If you've read my discussion of this topic in The Science of Sex, you can understand why I do not think it is reasonable to blame people for their sexual orientation.
If we're going to blame people for their preferences, why don't we blame them for liking ice cream more than milk, or pizza more than bland chicken? Or why don't we blame them for liking fun more than work?
Can homosexuality be a choice?
Yes. This may seem at odds with what I wrote above, but it isn't. While sexual preference is shaped by factors humans cannot feasibly control (thus, sexual preference is not a choice), some people can choose to be romantically involved with men, women, or both. Thus, those individuals can choose to engage in behavior that would be labeled heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual. Why might they make that choice?
The myriad factors that influence sexual orientation don't always act in a quantal (all or nothing, on or off, black or white) way. Add a drop of black paint to a gallon of white paint, and it is still white; add a large barrel and it's black; add a gallon and it is gray, an intermediate color between white and black.
The factors that influence sexual preference don't always act in an all or nothing way. A baby might become a heterosexual if he or she had little or no factors pushing him or her toward a preference for same-sex partners, whereas exposure to several strong factors could shape a clear homosexual preference. However, just as people are not dumb or brilliant, tall or short, or one extreme or the other, they may not be fully heterosexual or homosexual because they were exposed to some factors that pushed them toward homosexuality, but not all of the way to it. Thus, while most people have a burning desire for the opposite sex, some folks end up somewhere in between the extremes. They can find both men and women appealing because they did not receive a full dose (so to speak) of the factors that can change sexual preference.
While those individuals can choose, blaming them for whatever choice they make is as senseless as blaming people with an eye color intermediate between bright blue and brown.
I am straight, but I have great empathy for those who are not. Life is tough enough without the added burdens of battling criticism, legal hurdles, and social ostracism. The world needs more kindness, not castigation.
The $100,000 challenge: Excoriating behavior that you disapprove of makes sense only if such denunciation might persuade someone to change. However, since sexual preference is not a choice, everyone should find something better to do than getting on one's high horse and condemning people for predispositions out of their control. I will give $100,000 to the first person who persuades me that kind, compassionate, empathetic intelligent people should stigmatize homosexuality as a moral failing. Please note that to succeed in this endeavor, you will need more than luck; you will need to invent a moral compass that cannot be reconciled, IMHO, with other valid ethical principles that form the basis of civil society.
Arthur H. R. Fairchild said:
“The most distinctive mark of a cultured mind is the ability to take another's point of view; to put one's self in another's place, and see life and its problems from a point of view different from one's own. To be willing to test a new idea; to be able to live on the edge of difference in all matters intellectually; to examine without heat the burning question of the day; to have imaginative sympathy, openness and flexibility of mind, steadiness and poise of feeling, cool calmness of judgment, is to have culture.”
Alan Turing, a mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, and the father of computer science and artificial intelligence, was prosecuted by the United Kingdom for having a sexual relationship with a man. He “was given a choice between imprisonment or probation conditional on his agreement to undergo hormonal treatment designed to reduce libido. He accepted chemical castration via estrogen hormone injections.” Turing's suicide at age 41 possibly stemmed from his inhumane prosecution and barbaric treatment at the hands of the illegitimate British government. Turing was one of the most brilliant humans in history and almost surely would have conceived new breakthroughs had he lived a normal lifespan. Judging by Mr. Fairchild's criteria above, the UK government was not cultured.
“Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.”
— Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, quoting someone he termed an "unknown sage" in The Saturday Evening Post article "The World of the Uneducated" (November 28, 1959)
“A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding. When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people's business.”
— Eric Hoffer
“You can tell the size of a man by the size of the thing that makes him mad.”
— Adlai Stevenson II, a great American politician
“Small things affects small minds.”
— Benjamin Disraeli
“I am a little to the right of Rush Limbaugh. I'm so conservative that I approve of San Francisco City Hall marriages, adoption by same-sex couples, and New Hampshire's recently ordained Episcopal bishop. Gays want to get married, have children, and go to church. Next they'll be advocating school vouchers, boycotting HBO, and voting Republican.”
— P. J. O'Rourke
Great minds do not intrude into the private lives of others, but small minds love to pry into other people's business.
- Brain's 'gender' may be quite flexible: Mechanism that plays key role in sexual differentiation of brain described
- New conservative lobbying push for gay marriage
- No Scientific Basis for Prohibiting Same-Sex Marriage, Key Associations Argue
- Do Children Need Both a Mother and a Father?
- Children Of Lesbian Couples Are Doing Well, Study Finds
- Teenagers in Lesbian Families: Healthy and Happy based on US National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study: Psychological Adjustment of 17-Year-Old Adolescents
- My Three Daddies: California Eyes Multiple Parenting Law
Excerpt: “California … is now considering [a] law that would allow children to be legally granted more than two parents. The bill … would apply equally to men and women, and to homosexual or heterosexual relationships.”
Comment: Excellent idea. Based on my professional experience as a doctor treating many thousands of children, I know their parents are often frazzled by the never-ending demands of raising kids. Shared parenting can ease that burden and spread the joy of childrearing. In retrospect, I participated in such an arrangement without formalizing it or planning it; it just evolved from my friendship with a family with five children whose father was too busy (as many fathers are) to give his kids all of the time they wanted, so I did many things with them: go boating and swimming, riding my Sea-doo and the motorized toboggan I made, snowmobiling, bike riding, playing baseball, walking, baking cookies, eating pizza, watching movies, babysitting, taking them shopping or out to eat at a restaurant, picking them up after sports practice, helping them with their computer or with homework, taking care of them when they were sick or recovering from surgery, and so on. I've also “adopted” other neighbor's children in the past and helped pay for one's education.
- New Studies Challenge Established Views About Development of Children Raised by Gay or Lesbian Parents*
Comment: These studies (see below) suggest that earlier ones were overly positive in assessing the effects of gay or lesbian parenting. However, we frequently see this in science: Study A says one thing, Study B says another and suggests that Study A is wrong. Laymen often assume the latest study is the correct one, but this isn't necessarily true. Even if it were true in this case, it can't be used as an excuse to oppose gay or lesbian parenting (and, by extension, marriage) because population groups don't raise kids, individual families do, and some of those families, even if they are gay or lesbian, do a remarkably better job than many heterosexual couples. I lived for years with a lesbian relative who was a much better parent than my heterosexual father. Many heterosexual couples are poorly qualified to be good parents, but they have children anyway. They may be irresponsible, perpetually unemployed, unloving, immature, boozers or drug addicts, ignorant and/or stupid, but our society doesn't stand in the way of them raising children. We often oppose gay or lesbian parenting even when the adults are responsible, stably employed, loving, mature, emotionally healthy, nonaddicted, educated, and intelligent. That makes no sense; it is mindless discrimination.
*Based on: (1) What can we learn from studies of children raised by gay or lesbian parents? (2) Further comments on the papers by Marks and Regnerus (3) The well-being of children with gay and lesbian parents (4) Same-sex parenting and children’s outcomes: A closer examination of the American psychological association’s brief on lesbian and gay parenting (5) How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study
- Foster Kids Do Equally Well When Adopted by Gay, Lesbian or Heterosexual Parents, Study Suggests based on Can Gay and Lesbian Parents Promote Healthy Development in High-Risk Children Adopted From Foster Care?
- Negative findings for children of gay parents don't hold up to scrutiny
- Genetics Has A Role In Determining Sexual Orientation In Men
- Epigenetics May Be a Critical Factor Contributing to Homosexuality, Study Suggests and Epigenetics May Underlie Homosexuality, Study Finds, both based on Homosexuality as a Consequence of Epigenetically Canalized Sexual Development
- Window into women's sexuality: New research explores complex relationship between sexual identity, sexual attraction and sexual arousal
- Tycoon Offers $65M to Man Who Woos Gay Daughter
- Victimization For Sexual Orientation Increases Suicidal Behavior In College Students
- Youth Who Self-Identify as Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual at Higher Suicide Risk, Say Researchers
- Physiological Impacts of Homophobia
- Sexual Minority Youth Bullied More Than Heterosexual Youth
- It's Not Easy Being Gay
- Kelly McGillis on coming out
- Scientists discover moral compass in the brain which can be controlled by magnets
- Homosexual Behavior Largely Shaped By Genetics And Random Environmental Factors
- Quote (source): “Our results suggest that being gender nonconforming and lesbian comes from 'within'.” Genetic and Environmental Influences on Female Sexual Orientation, Childhood Gender Typicality and Adult Gender Identity
- Symmetry Of Homosexual Brain Resembles That Of Opposite Sex, Swedish Study Finds
- GLAAD Fires Back After 'Growing Pains' Star Kirk Cameron Calls Homosexuality 'Unnatural'
- Bisphenol A Exposure In Pregnant Mice Permanently Changes DNA Of Offspring
- Why BPA Leached from 'Safe' Plastics May Damage Health of Female Offspring based on Bisphenol-A exposure in utero leads to epigenetic alterations in the developmental programming of uterine estrogen response
- Soy-Based Formula? Neonatal Plant Estrogen Exposure Leads to Adult Infertility in Female Mice based on Neonatal Phytoestrogen Exposure Alters Oviduct Mucosal Immune Response to Pregnancy and Affects Preimplantation Embryo Development in the Mouse
- Early-Life Exposure to BPA May Affect Testis Function in Adulthood
- Widespread Exposure to BPA Substitute Is Occurring from Cash Register Receipts, Other Paper based on Bisphenol S, a New Bisphenol Analogue, in Paper Products and Currency Bills and Its Association with Bisphenol A Residues
- Hormone-Mimicking Chemicals Cause Inter-Species Mating: Bisphenol A Breaks Down Fish Species Barriers based on Exposure to an environmental estrogen breaks down sexual isolation between native and invasive species
- 'Gender-Bending' Chemicals Affect Reproduction in Fish, Research Shows based on The Consequences of Feminization in Breeding Groups of Wild Fish
- Sexual Orientation Fluctuation Correlated to Alcohol Misuse based on Patterns of Alcohol Use and Consequences Among Empirically Derived Sexual Minority Subgroups
- From 1871 until 1969, Paragraph 175 of the German Criminal Code prohibited homosexual sex, which seemingly led Rudi Wittgenstein to commit suicide in a Berlin bar. He was the brother of the Austrian-British philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein and a member of one of Europe's wealthiest families.
- The Negative Results of Concealing Who You Really Are On the Job
- Chick-fil-A president slams gay marriage
Comment #1: I've had my fill of their moralizing. Ever notice how so much of it comes from people who know so little science?
Comment #2: Before eating a Chick-fil-A® chicken sandwich, it is wise to read its ingredients. Wise people will then not eat it. If the Chick-fil-A president knew what he should know, he wouldn't need to feed his customers such atrocious ingredients to satisfy their taste buds.
- Jim Henson Company breaks ties with Chick-fil-A over gay marriage stance