Saturday, July 9, 2011

Bad Science

"It's a choice!" you'll hear. Homosexuality is a choice, a lifestyle entered into by conscious decision. This what those who oppose same-sex marriage and full civil rights for gays and lesbians say. Homosexuals aren't and shouldn't be a protected class, they say, because homosexuality is not a genetically determined trait such as race or gender.

In their zeal to deny others of their rights, and to hold on to as much power, themselves, as they possibly can, the far right points to science. Many of the same people who poo-poo science when it comes to evolution vs. creation theory suddenly look to science as the be-all and end-all that they hinge their anti-homosexual agenda on. The problem is, the science they're pointing to isn't science, at all. It's pseudo-science. It has nothing to do with scientific investigation, controlled study, or hard evidence. It's quackery that amounts to taking select bits and pieces of scientific theory, mixing that in with large doses of religion and personal ethos, and calling it SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE.

The Myths

"The only natural sexual inclination involves males being attracted to females, and females being attracted to males."

Homosexuality and bisexuality occur all the time in the natural world. Animals such as chimpanzees, whales, dolphins, penguins, walruses, bison and some species of reptiles, to name a few examples of the close to 1500 species where homosexuality has been observed by scientists. Last I checked, bison and walruses weren't being induced or pressured into a gay lifestyle. Animals act on instinct. Outside forces play no part in bisexual and homosexual activity in the animal world, the natural world.

"Sexual activity is strictly a function driven by the urge to reproduce and preserve the species, therefore homosexuality must logically be a choice." 

One of the driving factors of human sexuality is almost certainly reproduction, but it isn't the only one. If it were, human beings would only feel the urge for sex when and if their bodies were capable of successful procreation. If it were, no one would ever masturbate or feel the need to masturbate. If it were, men with low sperm counts would have zero sex drive. If it were, no pregnant woman would ever have sexual urges - why would she? If it were, people who didn't want to have kids would have no sex drive. The truth is, human sexuality is a complex phenomenon that has several driving factors and which serves many purposes. Procreation is just one of them.

"Homosexuality is a learned behavior, and people become homosexual because of images of homosexuality they're exposed to in the media. Since it can be learned, it can be unlearned."

A child raised in a traditional household, by a mother and a father, can identify as homosexual, without even knowing what homosexuality entails and without exposure to homosexuality in the media or in real life. It happens all the time. In fact, that's the background story of most homosexuals I know. Homosexuality occurs in all cultures, including those without mass media and those where any images of homosexuality are strictly forbidden. Homosexuality predates the Internet. It predates Tom of Finland and Sarah Waters. It predates the printing press and mass literacy.

"Homosexuality is curable."

In order for something to be curable, it has to be an illness, a disease. Homosexuality is not a disease or a disorder. This is not just my opinion as a lesbian. Every major mental health organization in the country, including the American Psychological Association, has stated that homosexuality is not an illness or disease. So has the World Health Organization. Real science says homosexuality is not a disease. If it's not a disease, there can't be a cure. If it's not a disease - and it isn't - only a fool would look for a cure.

"Homosexuality isn't even learned - it's a conscious choice. People who engage in homosexual sex just need to choose to be heterosexual by engaging in heterosexual sex."

Sexuality is about a lot more than the mere sex act. A celibate heterosexual is still a heterosexual, and the same holds true for a homosexual. A person can and may choose how to behave and what to do, but no human being can choose his or her sexuality. Who would choose homosexuality in a country where homosexuals are denied their civil rights, face discrimination at every pass, are mocked in the media, and are often shunned by their families? If it were a choice, why would anyone living in a country such as Iran or Yemen, where homosexuality is punishable by death, choose to be homosexual? 

There are lots of homosexuals who live what we think of as heterosexual lives. I'm talking about men with wives and children who, when they feel safe that no one is watching, engage in sex with other men. They can't help it. Because, at their core, they're gay. They just aren't brave enough to embrace this reality, so they settle for gay sex on the DL and a straight life for their public personas. As recent history has shown, it's not uncommon for some of the very people who use bad science and spew bullshit theories about the curability of homosexuality to be nothing more than cowardly, self-loathing homosexuals. Hey, I'm not making this up. The Hall of Shame includes:

George Rekers
Pastor Eddie Long
Troy King
Richard Curtis
Ted Haggard
Glenn Murphy Jr.
David Dreier
Bruce Barclay
Roy Ashburn
Jim West

The Truth

The truth is, people who use bad science to defend the denial of basic civil rights to homosexuals are scared to death that their tenuous grasp on power is weakening. This is not new. It happened in regards to blacks, Native Americans, Jews, women, people with disabilities, etc. In 2011, we know better than to believe that Africans are genetically inferior to Europeans. We know that Native Americans aren't "savages." We know Jews do, indeed, bleed when we prick them. We know that it would be outrageous to deny women the vote. We acknowledge that people with disabilities have as much right to live in the world, and have access to public spaces, as the rest of us. In 2011, it high time bad science be kicked to the curb and homosexuals be granted our civil rights.

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