Queer Studies

In a previous “Journal” article I wrote about a group of Canadian scientists who, in a 2006 study, concluded that lesbians and gay men are more likely than heterosexuals to be left-handed. Based on the results of 20 previous studies that involved more than 23,000 men and women, the Canadian scientists concluded that the odds of being left-handed are 39 percent higher among homosexuals than among heterosexuals. Broken down by gender, they found that gay men are 34 percent more likely to be left-handed and lesbians are 91 percent more likely to be left-handed. “This is one more piece of evidence that sexual orientation is at least partly determined in the womb,” said Ray Blanchard, head of the Clinical Sexology Program at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toledo, one of the authors of the study. (Full disclosure: This writer is both gay and left-handed.)

This left-handed study is not unusual. Long before Dr. Alfred C. Kinsey and his colleagues at the Institute for Sex Research at Indiana University set their sights upon us, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have been researched, investigated, studied, dissected and analyzed by psychiatrists, psychologists, sociologists, legislative committees, law enforcement agencies, and criminologists. They have studied our parents, our siblings, where we were born, how we were raised, our education, our careers, our interests, our religious and political beliefs, our living arrangements, how we spend our money and, of course, our sex lives. Scholarly research is such a major part of LGBT culture that whenever a closet case is caught in a gay venue he would often excuse himself by saying that he was “just doing research.” All those queer studies were motivated by various factors, but most often by an ingrained need to find out WHAT MAKES US GAY.

A favorite goal of the gay sex researchers is to determine the degree that we resemble straight women (if we are gay men) or straight men (if we are lesbians). In 2008 scientists from the Institute of Psychology in London concluded that gay men “think like women” and that lesbians’ brains work like those of straight men. According to this study, gay men did well at mental tasks that women generally perform better than men, but were not as good in traditionally “male” tasks. Meanwhile, lesbians did as badly as hetero men in such a test. According to Dr. Qazi Rahman, “the fact that gay men and lesbians show cross-sex shifts in their brain functioning might also be related, partly, to the cross-sex shifts in their presentation of certain mental health problems in gay men, such as higher levels of anxiety disorders, depression and eating disorders usually found in women.” Dr. Rahman goes on to say that the findings suggest that “homosexuality is a normal biological phenomenon, and not the result of biological fault.” To which I reply, “Who cares?” That I might be better at typing than at football doesn’t mean that the Benham Brothers will like me more.

One thing that you can say about studies on LGBT sexuality or gender identity is the fact that they often contradict one another. A 2000 study by Dennis McFadden and Craig Champlin, of the University of Texas, agrees with the more recent London study when it concluded that lesbian brains process sound the way straight male brains do. On the other hand, according to the study, gay men’s brains process sound in a “hyper-masculine” [!] way. Drs. McFadden and Champlin claimed that exposure to androgens, a male sex hormone, in the womb is responsible for all our alleged hyper-masculinity. Even so, Dr. McFadden assured us,“there’s no shortage of evidence that this is not some social-political choice, any more than being heterosexual is a social-political choice.” Though all this is well and good, I could still get arrested in Russia.

Androgens in the womb made an appearance in still another study, also from the year 2000, about lesbian hands. According to the researchers from the University of California at Berkeley, lesbians tend to have “more masculine” hands than straight women, “as judged by the difference in length between their ring finger and index finger.” The scientists came to this conclusion while testing a theory that higher levels of androgen influence both finger length and sexual orientation. On the other hand, the good doctors could find no major difference between straight male and gay male hands. Only gay men with several older brothers have an unusually “masculine” finger ratio; that is, they had significantly shorter index fingers.

Speaking of big brothers, a study conducted in Canada (2006) concluded that, the more older brothers a boy has, the more likely it is that he will turn out gay. As reported in the New Scientist magazine, boys with 2.5 [!] older brothers are twice as likely to be gay as boys with no older brothers at all. If this is correct, says the New Scientist, “then clearly, as average family size decreases, so will the incidence of male homosexuality. . . . It also follows that, historically, there have been more gay men than there are today.” Though I cannot vouch for others, I can attest to the fact that I am a first-born child, with no biological brothers but still very much gay.

I can go on forever with all this, but let me conclude on a happy note. According to a study conducted in 2001 by the University of California in Los Angeles, gay men and lesbians are as happy and satisfied with life as straight folks are. About 90% of the subjects in the study – straight, gay or bi – report being “very happy” or “pretty happy” with their lives; a far cry from previous studies done way back when gays were not so happy. Though Dr. Susan Cochran, who wrote the report, admits that “anti-gay stigma and discrimination is [still] a fact of life, . . . somehow these folks [That’s us!] manage to achieve equivalent levels of happiness as other people. . . . Perhaps it’s a better environment in which to be gay than it used to be,” she concludes. Of course if she really wanted to make me happy, she and her colleagues would put an end to all of these crazy studies.

Jesse’s Journal
by Jesse Monteagudo


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