Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich -- excuse me, DR. Newt Gingrich, M.D. -- made the following comment about homosexuality on Thursday:
Asked if people can choose to be gay, Gingrich told the Des Moines Register editorial board that he does not "believe in genetic determinism, and I don't think there is any great evidence of genetic determinism."
He said that certain people may choose to be gay if they have certain genetic traits and are raised in a certain environment.
"I think people have a significant range of choice within a genetic pattern," he said. "I believe it's a combination of genetics and environment. I think that both are involved. I think people have many ranges of choices."
Why is it that heterosexual GOP presidentidal candidates appear to have more to say about homosexuality (what causes it and its impact on society) than actual homosexuals? Congressman Barney Frank was in the closet compared to these guys.
Politicians stating that homosexuality is a choice is nothing new, and it's both illogical and irrelevant. If you don't believe heterosexuality is a choice, then it would follow that neither is homosexuality. However, if you are inclined to believe that heterosexuality is innate and that certain people choose to veer from that norm, it's irrelevant. Shouldn't we value freedom of choice in the United States? It certainly is less of a threat to me and my wife if my neighbor is gay than if he chooses to own an assault weapon.
Where Gingrich ventures into dangerous territory (not for him, of course, but for gays) is when he states that one is more inclined to choose the homosexual lifestyle if they have "certain genetic traits" and "are raised in a certain environment." He tacitly acknowledges a "Sissy Gene" but implies that it would remain dormant in the "right" environment. Those of us who possessed the "Sissy Gene" - whether we were gay or not -- know the hell it can be growing up around those who either want to mock you or "fix" you.
I was a black kid who hated sports and loved musical theatre in 1980s Greenville, South Carolina. It wasn't pretty. The only women whose posters I had on my walls were gay icons (Marilyn, Judy, Liza) or androgynous (Annie Lennox in her "Sweet Dreams" video suit). I once came home from school and my mother had replaced my Annie Lennox poster with one of Whitney Houston from her "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" days.
I told my mother, "In 20 years, the world will remember Whitney Houston as a crackhead who married a bigger crackhead and will recognize the generations-spanning genius of Annie Lennox." I didn't really say that but it's one of the many reasons I want a working time machine.
My father also tried to help me with sports. I appreciated that he wanted to spend time with me, but it was agonizing. After he took me to a basketball game, my mother asked for a status report. "Well, he fell asleep during the first quarter, but I think he was almost happy before he dozed off."
My parents were well-meaning. They only wanted their son to be normal. No parent wants their child to be called "queer" or "fag" (as I was) if it can be avoided. Almost 25 years later, I'd like to think we've reached a point where we can support differences. As writer Peter David once said, "There's no such thing as normal. Just varying degrees of abnormality." But Gingrich and his ilk wish to use their own political time machine to take us even further back: "If your kid winds up gay and thus suffers through all the crap that people like me are going to hurl at her, then it's your fault. You're to blame."
Of course, this is about as effective as black parents trying to make their child "more white" because life would be easier. All you're going to wind up with is a tormented kid. Or Carlton Banks from "The Fresh Prince" (oh, I got compared to him a lot as well -- the white kids thought I spoke "queer," the black kids thought I spoke "white," the white kids got offended with the black kids for implying that they spoke "queer," I sneaked off in all the confusion.)
Oh, yeah, well done "30 Rock."
What's most sinister about Gingrich's comments is how it turns a common retort from gay-rights supporters on its ear: "Why would anyone choose to be gay?" That's because we make it too easy for them. We let them have too many rights. Our coddling culture is just enabling their degeneracy.
Ultimately, my parents loved me and most likely would have supported me if I had been gay. Too many gay kids out there don't have that luxury. Their parents' love is contingent on making them look good in society's eyes and will not hesitate to make life miserable for their "sissy" sons and "butch" daughters. So, we'll have another generation of sons who dread sinking airballs in front of their fathers because it means far more than just losing a game, and we'll see more girls forced to try to walk in heels when they're more comfortable in Chuck Taylors.
Gingrich might like that world, but to me, it's a hell on earth, and as Ricky Roma said, "I won't live in it."