Do we want to know?

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    Aug 26, 2009 1:00 PM GMT
    Ok so I asked this question on another forum a while ago, it was interesting to read the responses, so I thought I may ask it here. I have infact finished the essay now, so I'm again trying to reassess my opinions. Here it is:

    The question: Do we really want to know what makes us gay?

    The background: I'm doing research at the moment into the persecution of gays in Nazi Germany, and have come across a man named Magnus Hirschfield. He was a gay, jewish psychologist at the turn of the 20th century who was doing extensive research (later burnt) into homosexuality with the view of removing the social stigma, bringing "justice through knowledge" as he called it, and the removal of legal punishment of homosexuality in favour of 'treatment' (sic). His primary theory was that homosexuals constituted a biological 'third sex', in between men and women, and in line with most scientists penchant for circumferences back then, began measuring the pelvises and chests of gay men in an attempt to proove it. Although ultimately inconclusive, his work amplified the stigmatization of men as feminine and therefore 'inferior', a theory which was used after the Nazi rise to power to justify the persecution of homosexuals.

    For some reason this reminded me of a Law and Order episode I've seen (i know i know, but i feel it raised an interesting issue), in which a doctor was searching for, and found, a 'gay gene'. He was killed in an attempt to stop his research on the grounds that it could lead to a gay holocaust, and sure enough, by the end of the episode, a fetis which had been tested and found to have the gay gene was aborted.

    This gets me thinking, arguably one of the most beneficial contributions to the LGBT emancipation movement over recent decades has been the notion that we are 'born gay' (I personally believe it). The notion that it is unchangeable has enabled us to garner much support from an increasingly more open community, yet there are still those that say there is no proof we are born gay, people who say we can and should change, repent, die etc. etc. etc.

    My question is this, to what extent do we want to know what makes us gay, considering the implications this knowledge might have? Do we just want people to know we cant(/shouldnt have to) change, or do we want them to know why we cant? Do you think knowing what causes homosexuality could lead to an attempt to 'cure' it at its source?
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    Aug 26, 2009 1:36 PM GMT
    I personally think that sexuality (desire, if you will) will likely be determined to be caused a mixture of genetic, hormonal, and psycho-social influences. I.e. I don't think they'll ever find a "gay gene."

    I agree that the idea that we're born gay has certainly convinced some people that giving us civil rights is just. But, I really don't think it should be the basis of our rights claims.
  • calibro

    Posts: 8888

    Aug 26, 2009 1:55 PM GMT
    homosexuality has it's basis in genetics, but it's also dictated by nurture. It's why identical twin brothers can be both gay and straight.
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    Aug 26, 2009 1:58 PM GMT
    At the end of the day, I don't care if I know or don't.

    I'm happy. The end. icon_smile.gif
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    Aug 26, 2009 2:04 PM GMT
    I've come round to the frame of mind that the whole argument is over a moot point. It should not matter if a person engages in consensual physical relations with a member of the same sex, provided both parties are willing. What more needs to be discussed here? The moral end of this discussion must come to an end. Your morals are not my morals and morals are not absolutes. I no more need to justify the way I have sex and the way I love than does anyone of sound mind and maturity.

    It's my body, it's my blood. If I wanted the general population to partake, I'd have jumped up on a fucking cross.
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    Aug 26, 2009 2:05 PM GMT
    Knowing will give me greater knowledge, but it won't change the fact of me being gay.
    Knowledge is always a good thing. It is what you do with it that can be bad. It is how you acquire it that can be bad.
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    Aug 26, 2009 2:06 PM GMT
    It doesn't really matter to me, but I have to wonder that if such information was found and proven, there would be a scientist somewhere that would create a test for parent to know if the child would be gay or such gene therapy that could reverse it from those already born. And I do know a couple of guys who have had a very difficult time with being gay because of their surroundings wishing they could change to make life easier. I think this is a Pandora's box left permanently closed.
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    Aug 26, 2009 2:18 PM GMT
    gibby320 saidAt the end of the day, I don't care if I know or don't.

    I'm happy. The end. icon_smile.gif

    exactly icon_smile.gif
    NO, we don't want to know because we are not some science mistake that needs to be fixed. Therefore there is no need to search for a reason.
    I accept myself the way I am and frankly... I don't even want to be straight! icon_rolleyes.gif I feel great being gay and I don't need some gay gene or whatever to support me. I'm fine with it icon_smile.gif
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    Aug 26, 2009 2:24 PM GMT


    ...lol, some mistake to be fixed - take a peek at Charlitos' topic, Gay Geniuses and see just what they would be 'fixing'.


    Well done Charlitos, and excellent answer to this topic!


    Here: http://www.realjock.com/gayforums/636356
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    Aug 26, 2009 2:31 PM GMT
    Clearly from the genetics standpoint, we already know that there isn't a single 'gay gene'. So the idea of turning it off is not a possibility.
    Secondly, in an extraordinarily complex biological system that is our world, the idea that gay exists, may contribute to the system in ways we cannot fathom. The very fact of homosexuality in other species attests to that.

    To apply some medieval sociological or religious morals to it in the name of science in some absurd convoluted way, so as to determine the value of it as a benefit or mistake is foolish.

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    Aug 26, 2009 10:23 PM GMT
    Christian73I agree that the idea that we're born gay has certainly convinced some people that giving us civil rights is just. But, I really don't think it should be the basis of our rights claims.


    Let me say I agree with your first claim aswell, but to the issue of born gay, I agree that it should not be the basis of our rights claims now. Rather I think it would be beneficial to claim rights on the basis that we shouldn't have to change, because there is nothing wrong with us, rather than that we can't change. Having said that the born gay argument I think played a very particular role it getting us to the point at which (if we are there) we could make such an argument, I simply don't think the higher argument that we shouldn't have to had sufficient political weight, in the decades leading up to where we are currently, needed to help us gain community support.

    bgcat57Knowing will give me greater knowledge, but it won't change the fact of me being gay.
    Knowledge is always a good thing. It is what you do with it that can be bad. It is how you acquire it that can be bad.


    This is a point I find contentious. It is all very well and good to say that knowledge, or science, is neutral, but at the end of the day you cannot separate knowledge from the subjective intents with which it is imbued by virtue of its inescapable connection to human beings. For instance I do not think the knowledge of how to make nuclear bombs could be said to be neutral, such things have a definite purpose behind them.

    I guess I shall attempt to direct the conversation thusly: at the turn of the 20th Century, Germany was the most liberal state in the world towards homosexuality. By 1935 it was a crime to look at another man with what could be perceived as sexual intent. Despite where we currently are with rights, what is your opinion of the basis of our wider public support. Harking back to the original context, how much do you think people see homosexuality as 'inevitable' rather than acceptable in itself, and how far do you think as a society we have moved away from eugenics.

    I post this tidbit from wikipedia for interest, I admit fully there are a whole different set of circumstances between Downs Syndrome and homosexuality, however those circumstances aside, people with downs syndrome are not incapable of leading a fulfilling life by virtue of their disability alone:

    A 2002 literature review of elective abortion rates found that 91–93% of pregnancies in the United States with a diagnosis of Down syndrome were terminated.[31] Data from the National Down Syndrome Cytogenetic Register in the United Kingdom indicates that from 1989 to 2006 the proportion of women choosing to terminate a pregnancy following prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome has remained constant at around 92%.[32][33] Physicians and ethicists are concerned about the ethical ramifications of this.[34] Conservative commentator George Will called it "eugenics by abortion".[35] British peer Lord Rix stated that "alas, the birth of a child with Down's syndrome is still considered by many to be an utter tragedy" and that the "ghost of the biologist Sir Francis Galton, who founded the eugenics movement in 1885, still stalks the corridors of many a teaching hospital".
  • EricLA

    Posts: 3461

    Aug 26, 2009 10:45 PM GMT
    I'm innately curious, so yes I'd want to know the answer. If a test was available for a reasonable cost, I'd probably take it. But, I don't think it would change much.

    What if it came back negative -- that there was no genetic reason that I was gay? It would throw a bit of a wrench in the nature vs. nurture thing, but would it really affect me? I don't think so. I know what I am. No test result is going to change my attraction -- both physical and emotional -- to men. I'm not going to suddenly change and go for women.

    It would just mean the answer was a bit more ephemeral.

    But, the ethical nature of the test does give me pause. Would parents use the test to abort possible "gay" babies? Probably. And that is a scary thought.
  • Zoologist913

    Posts: 1

    Aug 26, 2009 11:20 PM GMT
    I think that the first step all gays should take is to not let people do research about what makes u who u are. people don't ask women why they are attracted to men or why men are attracted to women its just the way that person is i can honestly say that i have always been attracted to men and never really felt anything more than that for women and i know that i am not alone. Some men may say well i dated and slept with women well i ate dog shit to but i didn't like it hahah. The people who think about this shit are just to focused on what other people think period! So know i am who i am and i love myself and and everyone else who is gay should feel the same way because there is nothing wrong with men being with men!!!!!
  • jrs1

    Posts: 4388

    Aug 26, 2009 11:39 PM GMT

    Zoologist ... you're beautiful! icon_redface.gif

    however, I must disagree a bit. I think people may do all of the research they'd like ... knowing the why helps to understand the how. thing is, we're gay and we know it. research may someday conclude that it is a choice - highly damned unlikely - but the issue would still rest with people being forced into categories.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 26, 2009 11:49 PM GMT
    Yes I do. You don't cure bigotry by keeping people ignorant.
  • EricLA

    Posts: 3461

    Aug 27, 2009 12:05 AM GMT
    jrs10k6 said
    Zoologist ... you're beautiful! icon_redface.gif

    however, I must disagree a bit. I think people may do all of the research they'd like ... knowing the why helps to understand the how. thing is, we're gay and we know it. research may someday conclude that it is a choice - highly damned unlikely - but the issue would still rest with people being forced into categories.


    Agreed. Research into homosexuality does further research into heterosexuality, too. Researchers admit they don't know what makes us "straight." So this research does further knowledge about what makes us who we are, straight or gay.
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    Aug 27, 2009 12:18 AM GMT
    Daedalus304 saidOk so I asked this question on another forum a while ago, it was interesting to read the responses, so I thought I may ask it here. I have infact finished the essay now, so I'm again trying to reassess my opinions. Here it is:

    The question: Do we really want to know what makes us gay?

    The background: I'm doing research at the moment into the persecution of gays in Nazi Germany, and have come across a man named Magnus Hirschfield. He was a gay, jewish psychologist at the turn of the 20th century who was doing extensive research (later burnt) into homosexuality with the view of removing the social stigma, bringing "justice through knowledge" as he called it, and the removal of legal punishment of homosexuality in favour of 'treatment' (sic). His primary theory was that homosexuals constituted a biological 'third sex', in between men and women, and in line with most scientists penchant for circumferences back then, began measuring the pelvises and chests of gay men in an attempt to proove it. Although ultimately inconclusive, his work amplified the stigmatization of men as feminine and therefore 'inferior', a theory which was used after the Nazi rise to power to justify the persecution of homosexuals.

    For some reason this reminded me of a Law and Order episode I've seen (i know i know, but i feel it raised an interesting issue), in which a doctor was searching for, and found, a 'gay gene'. He was killed in an attempt to stop his research on the grounds that it could lead to a gay holocaust, and sure enough, by the end of the episode, a fetis which had been tested and found to have the gay gene was aborted.

    This gets me thinking, arguably one of the most beneficial contributions to the LGBT emancipation movement over recent decades has been the notion that we are 'born gay' (I personally believe it). The notion that it is unchangeable has enabled us to garner much support from an increasingly more open community, yet there are still those that say there is no proof we are born gay, people who say we can and should change, repent, die etc. etc. etc.

    My question is this, to what extent do we want to know what makes us gay, considering the implications this knowledge might have? Do we just want people to know we cant(/shouldnt have to) change, or do we want them to know why we cant? Do you think knowing what causes homosexuality could lead to an attempt to 'cure' it at its source?


    As we all know, knowlegde is power. I believe that we are born being gay, and also a factor of psychological development. A lot of factors go into to it I think. Thats why there are so many various types of homosexuals.

    I heard about that abortion when it happened, and personally it horrified me. Not just because of why, but the fact that a life was extinguished with so little provocation. Sick really.

    Lets just say that a "gay gene" is found. Then what? We will still have to promote understanding and acceptance, otherwise, there will be the possibility of a "gay holocaust",or a greater scale of parents aborting their childs lives in the wombs, and god knows what other ideas people will come up with. It all comes down to how that information is used.

    God willing, if there is a gay gene found, we have all the necessary legal protections in place. I would like to think better of the human race, but I am thinking we will need it.

    *By saying "finding a 'gay gene'" I mean establishing its indisputable existence.*
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    Aug 27, 2009 1:19 AM GMT
    fulldelight said
    gibby320 saidAt the end of the day, I don't care if I know or don't.

    I'm happy. The end. icon_smile.gif

    exactly icon_smile.gif
    NO, we don't want to know because we are not some science mistake that needs to be fixed. Therefore there is no need to search for a reason.
    I accept myself the way I am and frankly... I don't even want to be straight! icon_rolleyes.gif I feel great being gay and I don't need some gay gene or whatever to support me. I'm fine with it icon_smile.gif

    Well said. Why do some want to ponder "Why"? The preoccupation with finding out the origins of homosexuality is premised on the notion that homosexuality is aberrant. I promise you heterosexuals don't ponder what makes them heterosexual. Why should homosexuals ponder what makes them homosexual?
  • Timbales

    Posts: 13993

    Aug 27, 2009 1:33 AM GMT
    will they identify the straight gene?
  • swogdog

    Posts: 143

    Aug 27, 2009 2:15 AM GMT
    McGay saidI've come round to the frame of mind that the whole argument is over a moot point. It should not matter if a person engages in consensual physical relations with a member of the same sex, provided both parties are willing. What more needs to be discussed here? The moral end of this discussion must come to an end. Your morals are not my morals and morals are not absolutes. I no more need to justify the way I have sex and the way I love than does anyone of sound mind and maturity.

    It's my body, it's my blood. If I wanted the general population to partake, I'd have jumped up on a fucking cross.


    I agree. Neither the cause nor whether it's a choice should matter.

    When my own conservative family (or even the not-so-conservative members) try and debate with me about whether homosexuality is a choice I always ask them if it matters... and my position is that it doesn't. Harmless sex between consenting adults is just not worth making a fuss over.
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    Aug 27, 2009 2:40 AM GMT
    I am uncomfortable with the idea that certain areas of genetic research should be marked off as forbidden territory simply because we may not care for the results or because the results might be misused.
    Knowledge is a seamless web and the whole is compromised if some pieces are deliberately left missing.
    After everything we have achieved we should be strong enough and confident enough in who we are not to have to call for the suppression of free inquiry.
    Remember the female professor who said she felt faint and nauseous when she heard Harvard president Larry Summers speculate that there might be fewer women in the sciences because men might possibly have a greater genetic predisposition that way? As gay men we shouldn't take as our model an academic feminist who suffers a self-induced attack of the vapors at the mere mention of a politically-incorrect genetic study.
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    Aug 27, 2009 2:47 AM GMT
    There is no such thing as gay or straight--just men who realize men are hot, and others who have yet to.

    icon_cool.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 27, 2009 3:08 AM GMT
    Yep, want to know.icon_neutral.gif
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    Aug 27, 2009 10:32 AM GMT
    I guess I shall attempt to direct the conversation thus: at the turn of the 20th Century, Germany was the most liberal state in the world towards homosexuality. By 1935 it was a crime to look at another man with what could be perceived as sexual intent. Despite where we currently are with rights, what is your opinion of the basis of our wider public support. Harking back to the original context, how much do you think people see homosexuality as 'inevitable' rather than acceptable in itself, and how far do you think as a society we have moved away from eugenics.
  • nadaquever_rm

    Posts: 139

    Aug 27, 2009 11:28 AM GMT
    I absolutely would want to know- and hope I get to know one day. The whys and hows things work are just facts. We as a society have to deal with the facts, and the best way to be able to do that is to have as many of them as possible.