Desire and Deviance, again

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Will

Will writes from Washington, D.C. (well, Arlington, Virginia). You can reach him at willblogcorrespondence at gmail dot com.

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36 Responses

  1. Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

    Saying “I was born this way” isn’t necessarily an expression of shame or inferiority.

    I was also born predisposed to be tall, green-eyed, intelligent, strong-chinned, and totally lacking (as far as I can tell) in food allergies. I wouldn’t say I’m ashamed of any of those things. Most of them I even like.

    But I do think, at least for me, that the disposition toward being gay was inborn. At any rate, it was certainly unchosen. I know this because at one time in my life I would have taken the straight pill too.

    But not anymore. It would wreck the life I’ve built and hurt the people around me tremendously. If there were a choice, I sure as hell wouldn’t choose it.Report

    • Avatar Will says:

      @Jason Kuznicki, So in the nature/nurture debate, do you fall somewhere in the middle (at least with respect to sexual preferences)?Report

      • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

        @Will,

        I think the jury is still out. All I have are my internal experiences to go on, and I know that that can’t possibly be enough to settle the scientific question (which may, after all, have different answers for different people). Still, my internal experiences are what I have to build a life out of, and I can’t wait for the science to come in. So I’ve built.Report

  2. Avatar Cascadian says:

    This was a really good piece. However, it still seems a bit disingenuous. The Kinsey scale seems intuitively correct to me. What’s the problem with sticking to it? Homosexuality may be a choice for many but for me (Jason or the author of the linked piece) it’s not. Sexuality, like religion, may be a choice or may feel like a divine directive. It doesn’t really matter and shouldn’t be subject to political pressure.Report

  3. Even if we agree that sexuality is genetic, does that re-enforce or cancel out the notion that it’s a genetic deviation?Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      @Mike at The Big Stick, I don’t like “genetic deviation” because it seems to imply “deviancy”… which implies that it’s something that ought to be corrected.

      Surely you don’t mean this.

      If you mean, well, it will result in the person’s genes not being carried onto the next generation, would a tendency to see abortion as a viable option be genetically deviant? A tendency to get a vasectomy? A tendency to be a spinster?

      Let’s say that we, all of us, agree that homosexuality is a genetic deviancy.

      Now what?Report

      • @Jaybird, I don’t mean deviant at all. What I am saying is, most genetic traits get a baseline and then there are deviancies. For example, brown, blue and green eye colors might be considered a baseline. Having one green and one blue might be considered a genetic deviation.

        So..is homosexuality part of the baseline, like a preference for blondes, or is a deviation?Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          @Mike at The Big Stick, given that people were bitching about homosexuality back in the days of Leviticus and that Greek plays included jokes about the number of homosexuals in the audience and that Aristophanes himself made a rousing defense of homosexuality being something that just happens…

          I’d say that it’s obviously part of the baseline. They’ve been with us for as long as male pattern baldness.Report

          • @Jaybird, So has Down Syndrome and diabetes. Surely you don’t argue those are part of our genetic baseline?Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              @Mike at The Big Stick, it would certainly never occur to me to consider them unnatural.Report

            • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

              @Mike at The Big Stick,

              I continue to struggle with your use of the words “genetic baseline” and “genetic deviancies.” I frankly don’t see them doing any useful work. Instead, they seem to be saying one thing, then another, depending on which way you’d like to argue at the moment.

              On the one hand, these terms may be considered as synonyms for commonness or rarity — some traits are common (baseline), and others are rare (deviant). If that’s all you mean, though, then there is no point to you asking about whether homosexuality is part of the “genetic baseline” — because obviously homosexuality is a minority trait. It’s not a terribly interesting question.

              On the other hand, you seem also to be saying that the baseline is what’s “normal” — that is, ordinary, and therefore both expected, and, dare I say, good enough.

              But in this sense, the genetic baseline really sucks in a lot of ways. Some traits would be incredibly useful, but no one has them — like the ability to synthesize vitamin C internally. Meanwhile, many common, even universal traits are obviously undesirable — like susceptibility to tetanus or the fact that we can’t ingest methyl alcohol safely.

              I would urge you to separate as carefully as you can the commonality of a trait from its desirability. And to consider that “baseline” doesn’t really exist in either of these senses. The commonality of various genes is always changing over biological timespans. And their desirability is dependent on many, many factors, including but not limited to the feelings of the person possessing the genes.Report

              • @Jason Kuznicki, Jason – the complexity you point out is exactly my point, which is that trying to assign biological orign to all homosexuals is opening a can of worms. I think the legal arguments for SSM (and that’s what it’s all about these days) would be more productive if couched in language that doesn’t try to infer origin for said sexual preference and instead attempts to make it a protected class anyway, like religion.Report

          • Avatar Cascadian says:

            @Jaybird,
            Good point. I’d rather be gay than do a come over.Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

      There is no such thing as a genetic “deviation.” For there to be a deviation, we would have to know what the ideal human being was, from which the deviation deviates. We don’t know it, and we never will.

      We certainly do know that some traits enhance or diminish the likelihood of bearing offspring, but this reflects not at all on the worthiness of the individuals carrying them. The purely reproductive standard would make Genghis Khan the most successful human in recorded history. Jesus, Elizabeth I, and George Washington would all be failures. An absurd result.Report

    • Avatar North says:

      @Mike at The Big Stick, Aren’t all deviations relative?Report

  4. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    I wonder if the issue isn’t about love more than about sexuality. My own life experience has involved a good deal of “playing for both teams” as it were (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). Anyway, that was the one thing, and the other thing was romantic love. Thus far, I only fall in love with girls. Hence, I’m straight as an arrow. Except for sex. Of course, the real mentality that gays are fighting against, I suspect, is that love doesn’t enter into the discussion at all.Report