Thursday, July 3, 2008

Why I'm Gay

I started reading The Week magazine. It's very concise, and although I don't have an absolutely overwhelming schedule, I do suffer from an inability to read through an entire issue of Newsweek or The Economist, both of which I love. Ironically enough, I began reading an article in The Atlantic about the inability to read an entire article as an adaptive technique caused by advertising and the web, but I didn't finish it. :) Thus, The Week works well for me.

In this week's issue of The Week, there is a brief blurb about homosexuality and the research surrounding it. To summarize the already summarized article, I quote a portion: "gay men have brains with architecture strikingly like that of straight women." This study, done in Sweden using MRI and PET scans, showed that gay men and straight women both have highly symmetrical brains, with equal-sized right and left hemispheres (various tests done in my biology class showed this was true for me--I'm both right and left brained). There were also similarities between gay men and straight women found in the amygdala, a part of the brain that relates to emotional reaction.

My reaction, you ask?

It all fits perfectly. I believe this article's claims based on my experience (I guess scientifically I should say "based on my data collection and scrutinous observation"). The article said that the presence of certain hormones during a woman's pregnancy masculinizes the brain. The absence of these, then, turns a male child gay. All of this makes perfect sense. The symmetrical brain explains why many gay men are more artistic, more musical, and more creative than straight men, even before puberty begins and gay sexual attractions emerge. The amygdala explains why gay men tend to be more emotional and articulate (don't you like how elitist I am? I'm kind of a gay-o-phile, or something like that. :) ). Homosexual attractions certainly aren't choices--this demonstrates that to be true. All of the pieces fit. I feel well explained.

This article, however, is a reminder to all of us how little in life we actually get to choose. Gender is determined by the type of sperm that swims fastest to the ovum--out of our control. Skin color is determined by our parents, meaning which two people decide to mate--out of our control. Culture and geographic environment are determined by where our mother gives birth to us--out of our control. Intelligence, like homosexuality, seems to be inherent in the brain. Some children are brilliant, some are not--out of our control. Almost everything that determines what becomes of our life is out of our control, handed to us, forced upon us. If I were born to a Black mother in Sierra Leone, my life would be nothing like it is now. If I were born a woman, my life's purpose would be much different. And even if the same sperm and the ovum that made me still came together, if my mother had only produced the masculinizing hormone, my life would be radically different. I might be married to a woman right now. I would probably have children at some point. I might be majoring in engineering instead English (I actually think I'll double in Environment and Natural Resources, just so you know). It's all very strange to contemplate.

At its core, this is what existentialism is all about. It has been taken to be an extremely angsty and negative thing--a godless, depressing philosophy. But the essence of existentialism (how paradoxical--existentialists believe in existence over essence) is to take what you're given and use it. The best thing that I can do is love being a man, love being white, love being gay, love being from the Rocky Mountains, and do the best with what I've got.

None of us knows if we're all the victims of the chance and probability of biology or the intention and plan of a wiser power/creator. But either way, I'll take what I've got--my consciousness, my body, my life--and make it something incredible.