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Friday, August 7, 2015

A Matter of Nurture: Why the Wound of Homosexuality Claims It's Nature

I've been yelled at by professors, been eaten alive by an area full of students (some I had considered pals) who happen to overhear my thoughts on this, and lost a couple friends who found my opinion just too emotionally unbearable. I've had gay friends disagree, but take it in stride, while straight friends threw absolute fits at the mere suggestion that, no we weren't "born this way." I tried, but I could never get out of them why this suggestion hurt so badly. All I was told was an insult to the dignity of their friends, to the suffering homosexuality attracted individuals had gone through, believing that environment and experiences were the primary determinate for a person's sense of sexuality. They plead that I "just can't know," which is ironic, because they don't know that I do know.

Undeniable proof from eight major studies from across the globe. And YET, 51 percent of Americans insist on perpetuating the myth that people are born with homosexual tendencies, and many will come down hard on those who say otherwise.

In my own life, I can trace (not wholly, but pretty well) the pressures, fears, and environments that built up a confused sexuality in me. Heck, even before I was really aware of my same-sex attraction towards other girls, I was acutely aware of the things that influenced me towards the stereotypical simultaneous idolization of/aversion towards boys and men. I want to laugh at 13 year old me, who dressed like a boy and thought they were disgusting!

 Looking back, it's almost tempting to berate kid and teenage me, to tell myself that if I had understood better, or stopped worrying, avoided certain traumatic influences or been honest about anxieties I might have made it out a 'normal person' without sacrificing too much of that tomboy side. I shouldn't, of course. I was a kid and now its a part of me. But knowing in my head that I'm not meant to be with other women in a romantic way really doesn't mean an automatic fix. 

You don't 'fix' people. But a healthy, happy life is possible.

Its complicated. Not all same-sex attracted individuals are who they are because of traumatic happenstance, yet these were factors in the lives of many far too often. There has been a lot of backlash stating the opposite, in fact, that life cannot be better for people 'out and proud,' and that their lives have been one long fun-fest. But that narrative doesn't stick, and like it or not, when people mention someone's "gay," that person is tossed into a realm of kid gloves and eggshells.

So many of these men and woman have backgrounds of bullying and abuse, of mistreatment and of simply being overlooked. "How can you say that" was the constant reply, "don't you know what these people have gone through? They don't need you adding to it!" We see our same-sex attracted friends and family members as such wounded individuals (while bragging that their 'doing fine! Better than straights,' if anyone asks.) Stabbing all my friends in the chest by putting out the faintest suggestion that attractions are the result of background is the highest social crime imaginable in a place as liberal as my campus. 

But this is 'adding to it' how? By stating that deep and troubling emotions that drove them to seek comfort (in sexualizing what should have been healthy, loving friendships) were born of a million factors, ones that may or may not have ever come about. On the surface, it seems like we're saying (and we feel like we're saying) that it's not written in stone: "You can heal.  It gets better," and we are. You can, and it does.

But what they hear is that the feelings they thought were their own and no one else's were put there. Their hearing that 'gay' is an environmental manipulation, after likely having dealt with manipulations their whole lives. "You built your identity on a lie."

How hard is it to look at that beloved son and accept the fact that the center of his identity is yet another wound? How hard would it be to sit through and read statements like this, decrying even the ability to call yourself 'homosexual'? This wound masquerades in our hearts as 'nature' rather than 'nurture' (environment) because its a shelter, and science and research alone cannot convince refugees to come back to open air. 

Liberals who at their hearts, are very, very compassionate, can't help but want to hold the shelter's flimsy walls. It's true that every political bloc has their hangups and their toe-to-the-line things that they haven't quite learned to question yet, but I don't think this is wholly one of them. I've watched and tried to play a listening ear, and I know that, although at times it's hard to decipher what seems to be a odd raking system in their hierarchy of  Empathizable Things And Causes To Champion, empathy means a lot to them. With a capacity to feel acutely, you don't want to admit a built-in brokenness. Eventually, you'll numb out, and start denying wounds.

I was never really immersed in the lifestyle, thank God, and I can't tell you how on Earth we can bridge this gap with the deniers. What I can say is that for many it very much is necessary, and healing over hiding can't be forgotten. This is at a point where we can't just agree to disagree, because we can't in charity the neglect the wounded among us, saying "no, you're fine" as they bleed out their life in front of us. The lifestyle associated with being gay is defended from the top down in its entirety, despite it's risks.

Men who don't click with the opposite sex are essentially told to stab themselves with a glamours-looking knife. No where else is the likelihood of contracting HIV so high, with the condition being 19 times more likely in gay men than the general population. And its this life that our culture tries to gloss over and for some reason sell, because after all they are 'born this way.' They don't want gay men sick or dead, they just feel, but don't want to admit that it's (in their minds) inevitable, and want to soften the killing blow.

But if "born this way" is a lie, then it isn't inevitable at all. The truth is, we were born to have life, and have it abundantly. Sugarcoating pain isn't merciful enough any more. People who stand with the 51 percent, even after the studies, think they are defending those who choose to live this dangerous life. But there are better ways to defend these men and women than denying they are hurt. We know better.

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