Yesterday evening I watched The Making of Me: John Barrowman on BBC-America in which he searched for the origins of his homosexuality. Was it a choice, was he born gay or was it due to something in his childhood environment?
He underwent CAT scans, psychological tests, DNA testing and other tests to determine why he’s gay. Early in the program he ruled out nurturing, environment and choice, following the biological path. Some of the theories and ideas he explored included:
- The “gay” gene or an altered X-chromosome. His DNA matched that of his straight brother.
- As a fetus there may have been something that interfered with testosterone production, resulting in more feminine brain patterns and physical features such has having a ring finger that’s shorter than his index finger. Apparently, that’s quite common among gay men but his ring finger was longer than his index finger.
- Some studies indicated that having older brothers increases the chance of a man being gay with each older brother increasing the odds by about 30%. It turned out that his mother had carried two male siblings (one miscarried) before he was born. This was the theory that seemed to fit him the best so he went with it.
The program only briefly touched on the possibility that being gay might be a choice. John spoke with a man who claimed to have renounced his homosexuality after seeing how it had adversely affected those close to him and he credited his Christian faith for making and keeping him straight. It seems logical that some people may be able to make a conscious choice about their sexual orientation. It’s also logical that these people may be in denial and repressing that aspect of their sexuality.
Throughout the program each theory seemed to emphasize the stereotype of gay men being more feminine than straight men both psychologically and biologically. Surely, there are many gay men who are very masculine just as there are straight men who have feminine qualities.
It seems to me that this show demonstrates the Anglo-American tendency to try to pigeon-hole things into neat categories of black or white while ignoring the more ambiguous shades of gray. Isn’t it possible that all of these theories for being gay may have some validity even though they may not apply universally? Some homosexuals are genetically predisposed to be gay while for others it may be due to prenatal conditions, nurturing, other experiences or free choice. There could be several reasons why some people are homosexual while others are heterosexual. The idea that one theory fits all seems absurd.