Same Love, Different Genes?

Jan 30 2014 @ 5:14pm

In response to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s “Same Love,” the soundtrack to the cringe-worthy Grammy wedding, Brandon Ambrosino asks whether we can support equality without imagining sexuality as biologically predetermined:

One of the reasons I think our activism is so insistent on sexual rigidity is because, in our push to make gay rights the new black rights, we’ve conflated the two issues. The result is that we’ve decided that skin color is the same thing as sexual behavior. I don’t think this is true. When we conflate race and sexuality, we overlook how fluid we are learning our sexualities truly are. To say it rather crassly: I’ve convinced a few men to try out my sexuality, but I’ve never managed to get them to try on my skin color. …

Arguing that gayness is as genetically fixed as race might have bolstered our rhetoric a few years ago, but is it necessary to argue that way now? I understand that the genetic argument for homosexuality is a direct response to the tired “You weren’t born that way” rhetoric of religious people. But in my opinion, we could strip that religious argument of much of its power if we responded like this: “Maybe I wasn’t born this way. Now tell me why you think that matters.” I imagine many religious people haven’t really thought through the implications of their own rhetoric. (What, for instance, does a socially-constructed word like “natural” even mean?)

Sigh. The salient fact for a vast majority of gays is that we experience our sexual orientation exactly as straights do. We experience it as a given – and even the old-school reparative therapists believed it was fixed by the age of three. The pomo left doesn’t want this to be true, just as the Christianist right doesn’t either. But it is. John Aravosis makes the obvious point:

I’d love to see the Great Ambrosino in action, willing an attraction to a gender where, only moments ago, there was none. It’s never happened in the history of the world.

Ambrosino is likely not formulating his thoughts terribly well (which happens when magazines hire people who can’t write). He’s not describing gay people actually choosing their sexual orientation. He’s talking about either bisexuals (or people who are predominantly of one orientation, but still have enough attraction the other way that if the right person came along they could act on it), or he’s describing people who legitimately have seen their orientation morph over the years, through no causation of their own. But all three of those categories are not people who “chose” to change their sexual orientation. They are simply people who chose to act on the already-appealling meal placed before them. Ambrosino didn’t choose to find men sexually attractive any more than I choose to love chocolate. I can choose whether to partake in chocolate, but I can’t choose to turn on and off the underlying desire for the sweet.

Savage, meanwhile takes the gay outrage machine to task for bitching about Same Love:

The queers complaining about Macklemore & Ryan Lewis now remind me of the queers who used to bitch and bitch and bitch about how big beer companies didn’t advertise in queer publications or sponsor pride parades. (“Queer people drink a lot of beer! They want us to support them and buy their beer but they don’t want to support us and our community!”) But when big beer companies began advertising in queer publications and sponsoring pride parades… the exact same queers who had been complaining about how big beer companies weren’t advertising in queer publications or sponsoring pride parades immediately started bitching about how the beer companies were trying to profit off our sexuality. (“The pride parade is not for sale! We are a community, not a commodity!”) Blah blah bitchy blah.

I kinda hoped this lefty whininess and escape from reality would dissipate at some point. But no! At least at this point they aren’t actively sabotaging the case for gay equality and integration, as they did in the 1990s. But you’d think these fantasies about fluid male sexual orientation and the social construction of everything all the way down would have faded away by now.