Left vs. Right

The majority of my writing traditionally has more of a right brain leaning. This posting, however, must call upon more left brain objectivity in order to lend credence to my “argument” and minimize emotionalism. This entry is a definite departure from the usual “fluff” on this blog, and one for which I felt led to devote extra time and effort. The impetus for this entry was my gut reaction to an article I “stumbled” upon this week while reading on another subject. Although quite dated, it still has relevance and disturbed me deeply. The following “argument” will haven no conclusion, certainly not by the end of this posting, and likely not in my lifetime. And, it’s one in which many of you will no doubt have strong feelings. That’s cool, so do I to this day.

I have written much over the years on the subject of homosexuality. Most of my writing has been in the form of journal entries, discussion board posts, letters to friends or family and the like. I’ve never undertaken any formalized study on homosexuality, nor researched it for academic purposes. Rather, I’ve lived it and employed anecdotal experiences to “defend” it. The only study of homosexuality of which I’m aware, using scientific methodology and actual study of the brain structure, was done by Simon LeVay (see the link on #4 on his website). The link I’ve included is not an easy read, but dive in if you’re so inclined. Basically, it indicates that Dr. LeVay observed, using autopsy, consistent structural brain differences between known homosexual men and heterosexual men. This, to me, would indicate at least preliminarily that there may be a “genetic” component to sexual orientation. Clarification:There have been multiple non-empirical offerings on the subject of homosexuality, therefore strictly “conjectural and theoretical” in nature, without benefit of actual brain tissue study.

Getting personal for a moment, let me assure you that my “coming out” experience (as bad as I hate to use that terminology, I think it’s appropriate) was a tortuous, decades long path which included continual and painful introspection and self-reflection, intense prayer, thousands of dollars spent in professional counseling, denial, denial, and more denial. I desperately wanted to be heterosexual. I spent years deeply entrenched in evangelical religion, feeling a deep connection to “God” (I do understand that there may be some readers who do not believe in a deity, or whose ideation of deity may differ greatly from mine, and I respect that. Also please know that my designation of “fundamental believer” carries no judgment or malice whatsoever). At the point which I simply could no longer deny my basic biology, my primary sexual attraction to my own sex, I looked back and realized that the same God with whom I felt such a strong connection all those years, and during all those struggles was still there; had been there all along. There is not a fundamental believer on this planet who will convince me otherwise. I’ve included “their” arguments below.

Biblical references (not an inclusive list) to homosexuality, typically cited by fundamental believers are as follows:
Leviticus 18:22
Matthew 19:4
Romans 1:26
1 Corinthians 6:9

Theology-based discussions, by definition, involve an individual’s particular biases based on “rational and systematic study of religion and its influences, and of the nature of religious truth.” However, unlike scientific study there is an indisputable element of subjectivity to theology, and this is where I find difficulty reconciling my previously solid fundamentally religious beliefs with what I know in my heart to be my personal science (a.k.a. biology). This link demonstrates the subjective nature of the interpretation of whether Jesus “condemned” homosexuality. It’s a lengthy page, but if you’re interested enough to read it you will note the absence of any direct condemnation of homosexuals by Jesus.

One fundamentalist argument presented to me years ago was, “Assuming that some are truly born homosexual (genetic) the only acceptable resolution is a life of celibacy.” So, then what about everyone else, the heterosexuals and their “sins?” Do they just get to keep on producing their own particular brand of “sin” as long as it’s not homosexuality? If we are all bound to sin as long as we’re in this human flesh, why should the homosexual give up his/her basic need of love and intimacy, but keep on sinning in other ways? This argument defies logic. “Every sin, every act of rebellion, leads to condemnation and eternal death.” So if sin is sin, how is it that the “sin” of homosexuality is any worse than the “sin” of one’s judgment or hatred of the homosexual?

Granted, the Iranian law which provides for sanctioned extermination of humans essentially for no other reason than a “specific brain difference” does not exist in the United States. However, the mere fact that it exists anywhere in our modern world deeply saddens and disturbs me.

I would respectfully ask the following of anyone who has taken the time to read this: Whether or not you agree with anything I’ve presented, try your best to give the benefit of doubt to those who differ from you especially in the area of sexual orientation. Consider that there is most likely very detailed and specific, possibly very painful history, of which you may not be aware, which brought that person to the point at which you experience them, and it could never justify hurting them in any way.

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~ by William Maloney on June 23, 2010.

11 Responses to “Left vs. Right”

  1. Enjoyed the article and inner-workings of your magnificent mind.
    I’ll just keep this simple: As I said on the day you tearfully called me to tell me you were “coming out” (I don’t like the term either) – I don’t care – it doesn’t change my love for you. I have always loved you and always will. You are my brother and I accept our differences on all levels and it makes me love you no less. I have no shame, but I am proud of you.

    As for choice vs. genetics; I grew up with you. I saw the differences. I have lived with guilt over poking fun at some of those differences when we were adolescents (until you started kicking my ass all over a tennis court). I saw you try long and hard at dating and had some of the most beautiful girlfriends (yeah, envy). I believed you when you called me and said your didn’t want to be this way, but after about five years of therapy, you were coming to terms with the fact that you are who you are. At that point (whether or not I previously believed that sexuality was a choice) I knew you were facing a reality, not making a choice. I believe in a genetic link. I believe in embracing and appreciating differences; and though all humans have built in prejudistic thoughts, I believe in tolerance for others who believe different than I, be it physical, cultural, or spiritual.

    I do not believe I have the right to make condemnations of others on God’s behalf. I don’t believe sexuality should be political either. It should not be a legislative issue, no more than I believe abortion should be. It’s between me and God alone, or you and God alone. I will have to stand before God, all alone one day and atone for my own thoughts and actions – my sins. There will be no Congress (or Iranian fanatics) there to support and defend or condemn me. Is homosexuality a sin, same as adultery? I don’t know and it’s not my business… I am not your judge and therefore I have the ability to love you. And, I do…

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    • Tom, thank you for sharing your thoughts. I very much appreciate it. And, I appreciate your objective support in our “adult lives.” Stay safe over there, and come home soon.

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  2. Dear Bill….As always, I love reading anything you write, you are a superb writer. However, this post is exceptional and I will not soon forget it.

    It’s a little after midnight here, so forgive me if I don’t adequately relay my thoughts well. I felt so many emotions while reading your post but I’m sure they were a small pittance compared to the ones you felt while writing it and for that matter, living it.

    I will never understand the great ignorance in our world when it comes to homosexuality. I could go on but I think you brilliantly covered every facet of it already, so I’ll just say thank you. Thank you for your words, your thoughts and your feelings. I felt honored to read them.

    Although it has only been through Facebook, I have felt a strange kind of friendship with you and reading your blog is always a special experience, for me. I hope I have the privilege of meeting you some day, I think you’re pretty amazing.

    Monica

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    • Monica, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kind and thoughtful words. I deeply appreciate you taking the time to read, and respond. And, perhaps at some point we shall meet up over coffee one day and discuss the finer points of writing; an art which you appreciate, and at which you certainly excel.

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  3. On structure alone, I thought this was written with incredible eloquence, which of course isn’t entirely separable from the topic, but I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciated the writing itself.

    On the subject, I wish more personal stories like yours were known among more people, then perhaps they would see what their own hatred causes. If you had not grown up with the notion that homosexuality is a sin, then you would not have suffered years of denial, self-loathing, and pain. I even have a slight annoyance with the “being born this way” argument. I am not denying it, but I think it’s further proof of the lack of tolerance in our society. You shouldn’t have to prove homosexuality by biology. For example, based on my readings, many women in the sex work industry are involved in homosexual relationships. They often do not identify as lesbian , but often the type of men they experience in their profession leaves them with a very skewed and negative perception of all men. We as social creatures of course want companionship and intimacy, so women in this industry often find it with other women. It doesn’t matter whether or not they identify as homosexual and it shouldn’t. This assistance on policing our bedrooms is ridiculous (for an example of this, you should check out the Texas Republican 2010 platform: http://gayrights.change.org/blog/view/the_texas_gop_wants_to_punish_straight_people_who_support_gay_rights). The insistance on controlling the lives of others via the law creates a paternal government that denies autonomy to people, which I find very incongruent with the Republican emphasis on less government interference in our lives.

    I also like to point out, which ties in with the biology argument, that homosexuality is very prevelant in the animal kingdom. This is significant as non-human animals do not mate for love, they mate for procreation. This is evidence enough for me as homosexuality being a natural part of the range of animal sexuality. I actually find the Kinsey scale to be the most accurate portrayal of sexuality as it emphasizes how we vary on a scale with those who may strongly identify as hetero or homo, while others may identify as one or the other, but feel some attraction to individuals outside of their sexual orientation. If you find love with another consenting adult, then their gender identity shouldn’t matter. And it sure as hell shouldn’t matter to the government.

    Thanks for sharing your story. =)

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    • Jenna, I know I’m gay, and I know you’re taken, but, um….I love you! Your intelligent, thoughtful and eloquent reply made my day. Thank you seems inadequate, but thank you a thousand times for taking me seriously, and taking the time to read, and respond. I am truly enjoying getting to know you, and I love our weekend hangouts with thoughtful conversation over wine, rugby, mexican food, laundry, LOL! I feel fortunate and blessed to have you as a friend. Have an awesome weekend.

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  4. Nature vs. nurture and to what degree? Who truly knows? Bill, you are such a wonderful human being and you make the world a better place. I empathize with your struggles and I get the feeling you are still struggling. You are so courageous to put your innermost feelings out there. I know I sound like a broken record but for those of us (me) who feel ashamed for certain things, you truly are a hero to me. I will write you a note in FB and tell you about a part of me that I am to ashamed to talk about. And yes, doctors have recently discovered a gene connected with the condition. It helps me think I’m not entirely at “fault” but nonetheless does not make it easier. As for your struggle, whether it be nature, nurture, or a combination of both, I love you just for who you are. I love one of the last lines in the Wizard of Oz in which the Wizard (I think) talks about it not mattering so much who we love but how much we are loved by others. ooxx Megan

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    • Megan, I seem to be responding with tears a lot lately, and your reply brought some. I am simply blown away by the beautiful, thoughtful, and loving replies on this post from my dear friends. Sharing my innermost feelings, “out loud”, is a personal flaw, LOL. Ironically, I am basically quiet and don’t share a lot of intimate detail in “real life” but I am bold in my writing, I suppose because in some ways I hide behind a pen? One thing that struck me about your reply was the notion that “we” as humans are flawed because we are human. If you could experience you as I experience you, I think these words of mine would be pointless: but, you are perfect just as you are. And, to me, you are a precious gem. You are going to be a brilliant counselor and facilitate a lot of healing for a lot of folk. And, you are loved back x10 🙂

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  5. Your writing continues to elevate the IQ of the room (perhaps I should start reading it aloud when surrounded by the feeble minded). Not only well crafted and undeniably a person journey born to text, this is one of the best laid cases for what seems obvious to those who have compassion and use that squishy thing between their ears. How long must we all live amongst those who cling tightly to a bastardized interpretation of sacred text as justification for prejudice and HATE. The message is compassion, it’s always been compassion! Love thy neighbor (as long as his yard is tidy). No one is BORN worthy of hatred, no one is born less equal, less deserving, less human, less a man or woman, less worthy of LOVE! I would wager that those who NEED to hate would dissolve in the chair of a mental health professional when made to look within and through that self discovery find the flaw that drives their ire and aims it at others.

    LOVE YOU BILL, thanks for getting the mind churning and blood pumping this late. See you this afternoon.

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