Monday, March 13, 2006

Gaydar

The report on 60 Minutes last night about the physiology of being gay or straight was intriguing for a couple of reasons. The first is that it studied twins, noting that it’s not unusual for identical twins to be one gay, one straight. This knocks a pretty big hole in the stereotype that being gay is caused by strictly environmental elements, i.e. the distant father and smothering mother, because if so, both twins — or all the children in the family for that matter — would be gay. (I’m also interested in this topic for creative reasons.) However, I’m the son of an identical twin, and both my father and uncle are straight. In fact, other than my fictional creations of the Hollenbeck and McKay twins, I can’t think of a set of twins that I know personally who are gay/straight.

The second reason is the rather startling assertion that the more older brothers a man has, the more likely he is to be gay. Hmm. I’m the second son, and I have a younger brother who is a raving heterosexual. So you can’t prove it by me. I’ve also done an informal survey among my gay friends and they are scattered throughout their family’s birthorder; one is the oldest of three brothers, another is the second of two sons, and still another fits the so-called pattern; the youngest of three sons. As for childhood friends, most of the boys I grew up with were either the youngest or the next-to-youngest in birthorder of sons, and as far as I know, most, if not all, of them are straight.

I really don’t care what it is that makes me gay, and I don’t spend a whole lot of time wondering about it, either. I think it’s more important to make sure that sexual orientation becomes, like every other innate human trait, irrelevant when it comes to according us the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. That would be a real breakthrough.