So is my outer adult. And that, according to Desmond Morris, is because
DESMOND MORRIS, who became a bestselling author by applying zoology to explain human behaviour, has now utilised the techniques to put forward an explanation for homosexuality.
In his latest book, The Naked Man, he concludes that men are “made gay” because they retain infantile or juvenile characteristics into adulthood – a phenomenon known as neoteny.
According to this theory, gay men also tend to be more inventive and creative than heterosexuals because they are more likely to retain the mental agility and playfulness of childhood.
“Gays have in general made a disproportionately greater contribution to life than nongays,” said Morris, who is also a noted artist. “The creative gay has very much advanced Planet Earth.”
“The playfulness of childhood is continued with certain people into adulthood. This is very much a positive. Adult playfulness means that certain people, often a fairly large proportion of them gay, are more inventive and curious than heterosexuals.”
Desmond, with all due respect, grow up.
His theory has got to be the most inane, stereotype-laden — not to mention insulting — bit of pseudo-scientific garbage I’ve heard in quite some time. I suppose this should be expected from someone who only recently abandoned the absent-father/domineering-mother theory that keep “reparative therapy” mills in business. And however much he softens it with statements like “This is very much a positive” and “Gays have in general made a disproportionately greater contribution to life than non-gays,” the bottom line is that he’s still calling gay people intrinsically disordered. Disordered in a good way, according to him, but disordered nonetheless.
My guess is that if there’s anything to the theory that gay people tend to be more creative, it probably has more to do with centuries of living in a culture that required secrecy on pains of ruin and/or death. Gays had to invent creative ways of identifying and meeting each other. Over a lifetime, one develops a propensity to sense the unspoken and recognize the unseen. The flip side of the question is whether this will change as culture and society becomes more accepting of gays and of same-sex relationships. Will increased acceptance and the attendant lack of a need for secrecy alter the allegedly innate “gay creativity” Morris mentions?
Speaking of culture, there’s one more thing Morris appears to have gotten wrong.
In his book Morris also argues that homosexuality has always polarised societies: “While many countries over the past 30 years have relaxed attitudes and less prejudice, there are eight I know of where homosexuality can still be punished by the death penalty,” he said.
Always? Morris would to well to pick up a copy of William Naphy’s Born to be Gay: A History of Homosexuality (Revealing History), which a convincing argument that actually the polarization Morris speaks of is a more recent phenomenon, and one that departs from the historical norm which Naphy says consists of cultures that for the most parteither accepted same-sex activity and same-sex oriented people, or at least were not hostile to them.
But what bugs me more about theories like Morris’ is basically this. It doesn’t matter why I’m gay. It doesn’t matter how I came to be gay. What matters in all of this is how I’m treated. Both my gay outer adult and my queer inner child.