I was catching up on email when I came across this article about a Christian music performer who just came out as gay (and proceeded to open a can of worms). It wafted into my inbox via the LGBTPOC listserve.
Famed Christian music singer Ray Boltz has publicly announced he’s living a homosexual lifestyle according to Gospel News Wire. He also believes that God made him that way.
“If this is the way God made me, then this is the way I’m going to live … I really feel closer to God because I no longer hate myself,” Boltz said in an interview with the Washington Blade about his decision to engage in homosexuality.
Boltz, a father of four who was married for 33 years before officially divorcing his wife this year, is well-known for his widely acclaimed songs “Thank You” and “I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb.”
Of course, you know someone had to sound off on that. And ignorantly, at that.
The confusion by Boltz has stunned former homosexual Greg Quinlan, who is now with the New Jersey Family Policy Council.
“I’m absolutely shocked. When he says he’s born that way, we know now for a fact that that’s false. In fact, just last year in March, the director of the Human Genome Project, Dr. Francis Collins, said this, ‘Homosexuality is not hardwired. There is no gay gene. We mapped the human genome. We now know there is no genetic cause for homosexuality.’”
Two basic talking points here.
- We’ll probably never know, and
- It doesn’t matter.
A little explanation. As usual, the right winger oversimplifies. No, there is no gene that we can point to and say “There it is. That’s the gay gene. If you have that gene, you are going to be gay.” There probably never will be, for the simple reason that human sexuality is far too complex to be tied down to one gene or two a set of genes.
There have been scientific studies that, while not determining a biological basis for homosexuality, strongly suggest that there’s genetics and biology have roles to play.
- Simon LaVey broke ground in 1991 with a study that reported a difference in part of the brain the between heterosexual men and gay men. Though LeVay cautioned that his work did not prove a genetic basis for homosexuality, it was widely reported as one of the first studies that suggested some biological factor.
- In 1993, Dean Hamer and others isolated a genetic marker on the X chromosome called Xq28, after studying 114 families of gay men. Hamer’s results were disputed by another study in 1999 that found no significant linkage and concluded against an X-linked male homosexuality gene, but Hamer stood by his results.
- More recently, in June 2008 a Swedish research team found highly significant differences between gay and heterosexual brains, through studying the MRIs of 25 straight men, 25 straight women, 20 gay men, and 20 lesbians.
- One of the differences reported in the study was that gay men responded to male pheromones similarly to straight women.
- And lesbians responded to hormones similarly to straight men.
- Even anatomical differences in finger length and hair whorls (I kid you not) have been studied and the suggestions have been basically the same.
Like I said, nothing is definite — and certainly nothing that will sway someone whose religion has already made up their mind for them, and thus what they believe turns into what they “know” — but a strong case can be made for a biological component in sexuality and homosexuality. (Note, no one is asking what make some people straight, but they have a sexual orientation too.) But it’s probably just a component, and one that interacts with other factors like family, environment, culture, and personality in ways that we don’t begin to understand and probably never will.
So, we’ll probably never know. But it doesn’t matter.
The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter what makes people gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. At least not in terms of determining rights in society. That ought to be determined based on two criteria. That we are human beings, and that we are citizens. As long as we’re law abiding members of society, and our actions don’t cause anyone real, tangible harm (and no, being offended is not being harmed, nor is being uncomfortable at the existence and presence of someone who’s reality contradicts your particular world view or beliefs), then we should have all the same rights as any other citizen who meets the above criteria.
That’s something that shouldn’t change, no matter what science does or doesn’t discover.