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A very moving talk by Andrew Solomon

In this TEDtalk, Andrew Solomon, author of “Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity,” presents his findings on acceptance and identity, and talks about the importance of valuing differences.

From the talk:

And there are people who think that the existence of my family somehow undermines or weakens or damages their family. And there are people who think that families like mine shouldn’t be allowed to exist. And I don’t accept subtractive models of love, only additive ones. And I believe that in the same way that we need species diversity to insure that the planet can go on, so we need this diversity of affection and diversity of family, in order to strengthen the ecosphere of kindness.

Posted in Arts and Literature, Socio-politics.


No smoking gun

beach-eternity

A study published earlier this month posited that genetic markers called “epi-marks” can affect the impact of androgen during fetal development, resulting in some individuals developing as homosexuals. The study was initiated for the purpose of identifying a genetic explanation for homosexuality from an evolutionary biology perspective.

While the research is revealing, it does not contain proof of one indisputable factor responsible for the existence of the “non-reproductively successful” homosexual human. One flaw made clear in the article on the study, “Study Finds Epigenetics, Not Genetics, Underlies Homosexuality” is that it appears to conflate gender identity with sexual orientation, a misguided explanation of same-sex attraction. From the article:

“Different epi-marks protect different sex-specific traits from being masculinized or feminized – some affect the genitals, others sexual identity, and yet others affect sexual partner preference. However, when these epi-marks are transmitted across generations from fathers to daughters or mothers to sons, they may cause reversed effects, such as the feminization of some traits in sons, such as sexual preference, and similarly a partial masculinization of daughters.”

(emphasis added)

This appears to be a simplistic explanation as viewed through the reductive lens of evolutionary biology. Clearly a homosexual man is not sexually attracted to other men because he has the sexual characteristics of a woman. This is a very common assumption, but it requires acceptance of an overly stringent binary understanding of gender and sexuality, one that comes from the sociological imposition of a heteronormative construct on human sexual relationships.

While it is certainly useful to identify the ways that genetic factors affect the sexual development of humans, it seems unlikely that it is possible to define human sexuality exclusively within the context of evolutionary biology.

For additional perspective on the study, read “Is epigenetics totally gay?” on the Nothing in Biology Makes Sense blog.

Posted in Socio-politics.


An historical victory

wedding

This past November proponents of same-sex marriage celebrated a great three-part victory as same-sex marriage was approved by popular vote in Washington, Maine, and Maryland. I don’t believe that the majority ought to be voting on the civil rights of a minority population in the first place, but these three wins represent a strengthening of public opinion in recognizing the legitimate rights that should be afforded universally, without respect to gender or sexual orientation.

One particularly great story: “After 40 years together, Clark County men will be first in line for marriage license.

These three are just the leading edge of a long string of dominos, but as additional states codify marriage equality, we get closer to change at the federal level.

Posted in Socio-politics.


Progress

Erwynn Umali and Will BehrensThis is excellent and thorough coverage of the lives of the two men whose civil union was recently celebrated at New Jersey’s McGuire-Dix military base. (They formalized their marriage in neighboring state New York, where same-sex marriage is recognized.) The story illustrates how much things have become better for homosexuals in the military, but the men’s personal histories remind us that the closet is a very real part of many lives. Erwynn Umali and Will Behrens have had the courage and opportunity to walk proudly out of it, and into the life they should lead.

Both young men had done what they were supposed to do. They had gone to school, gotten married, and had kids. But something wasn’t right. “Sometimes,” Will recalls, “I’d look out the window of my bedroom and think, ‘Is this really it? There’s something missing.’ ” Erwynn had the same uneasy feeling: “I was still looking for something else that I know I’m not supposed to be looking for.”

Read the rest of the story on Salon.

Posted in Socio-politics.


The closet in China

couple in traditional Chinese wedding clothing

Excerpted from an article on China Daily Mail on women married to gay men in China:

An estimated 16 million wives in China are married to gay men, the Guangzhou Daily reported Thursday, citing Zhang Beichuan, an expert in homosexuality and a councilor at the China Sexology Association.

The majority of male homosexuals are believed to enter into heterosexual marriages due to Chinese traditions and carrying on the family bloodline, the paper said.

Read the rest of the article, Gay husbands and their wives suffer in silence.

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Posted in Socio-politics.