Sometimes the positions taken by certain groups—especially certain radical groups—surprise us, given the commonly accepted wisdom of the political sides in which they are aligned. For instance, take gay groups and their sympathizers—it is commonly accepted wisdom there that gays do not choose to be gay, that such condition is highly likely to be genetic, biological, or inborn—either wholly or to some significant degree. There is virtual unanimity of sentiment at least among male homosexuals that they didn’t choose their orientation, and that they, since a very young age—at latest early puberty, at earliest, early childhood (between 2 - 5)—were aware of their orientation, at the very least being “different” than the other boys.
Of course the anti-gay right often challenges this narrative. Although I believe in the narrative (lived it), I certainly don’t believe that homosexuality’s “naturalness,” or its “immutability” (or at the very least its “intractability”) justifies it. But I certainly believe it’s more deeply rooted in human nature than say, the religious right does.
Yet Marty over at Vigilance Matters has discovered a group of gay radicals who call themselves QueerbyChoice. Their name is self explanatory. Some might scratch their heads wondering how honest their personal testimony is or why they appear to give fodder to religious conservatives.
Yet, if we understand the philosophical underpinnings of such a radical group, we better appreciate why they would seem to go out on a limb and endorse such a position that seems counterintuitive to anyone who is homosexual or who knows well homosexuals. You see "queer theory" is just a smaller component of the larger, "social constructionist/deconstructionist/critical theorist" school of thought whose intellectual godfather is Foucault. This school has a racial component, a gender component, an "economic class" component and there are other "components" or "branches" to this way of thinking as well. And the "queer theorists" are just the "gay" component of this larger left-wing/nihilistic/Marxist mindset.
One central tenet to this school of thought is that "nature" doesn't exist, that it is wholly a "social construct," and that human nature is entirely malleable. As such, sociobiology is completely antithetical to them. They have a vested intellectual interest in demonstrating that all "group" differences, whether they be racial, gender, or class are NOT products of nature. As such, the "born gay," sociobiological viewpoint completely conflicts with their intellectual worldview.
Now on the other hand, here is an article that best sums up the case that homosexuality is a product of our biological nature. When I have shown this article to religious conservatives skeptical of this theory, their first reaction is to write it off as “pro-gay” or “liberal” propaganda. But if they looked further into the politics of the host website they would see that it is the antithesis of liberal political correctness. In fact, some of the most “hard-right conservative,” “un-PC” thinking can be found on this website (much of it, I certainly don’t endorse).
The website is run by sociobiologists who have a view of human nature & biology that is the polar opposite of the critical theorists’. These sociobiologists believe that nature & genetics are more and more responsible for human variation. That means racial, gender, class, psychological, and yes, sexual orientation differences are most likely to have strong biological causes.
Although not all sociobiologists are conservatives, there is a huge strain of sociobiolgists who are indeed quite conservative, starting with the late Garret Hardin (the creator of the “Tragedy of the Commons” theory), and presently, I’d say that Vdare.com’s Steve Sailer is one of the most influential intellectuals in such right-wing sociobiology circles.
In fact, National Review’s John Derbyshire is strongly influenced by Sailer and is part of a biodiversity group run by Sailer. Derbyshire is well known for his homophobic screeds. If anyone is unlikely to buy into pro-gay science (or dismiss it as “homo-propaganda,” a term that he used in a private email to me), it’s John Derbyshire. But in this article, Derbyshire writes:
Homosexual spokespeople nowadays lean heavily on the argument that "we can't help it, we're born that way." My guess, based on the evidence I have seen, is that in most cases this is true, so far as inclination is concerned.
And in this article he writes:
Now, the trend in current research on homosexuality, if I have understood it correctly, suggests that the homosexual orientation is indeed mostly congenital — the result of events in the mother's womb, or in early infancy, with perhaps some slight genetic predisposition. The thing is, in short, mainly biochemical — part of a person's physical make-up.
I am sure many fundamentalist Christians dedicated to the proposition that “gays can change” are wondering how such a right-wing homophobe like Derbyshire could believe what they would regard as “homo-proganda.” Yet, this is perfectly in line with what other right-wing sociobiogists believe. And simply believing that homosexuality is a matter or biological predetermination by no means equates with gay friendliness. In that same article, Derbyshire writes:
My personal bet is that homosexuality will disappear before homophobia does — possibly quite soon, in a generation or so. Here's my logic: One of the least controversial things you can say about homosexuality is this: Practically nobody wants his kids to grow up homosexual. Some people mind the prospect more than others, but practically nobody welcomes it — not even, I should think, homosexuals….
Supposing this [homosexuality’s biological makeup] is true, let us conduct a wee thought experiment — admittedly a fanciful one. A young woman in the late stages of pregnancy, or carrying a small infant, shows up at her doctor's office. "Doctor," she asks, "is there some kind of test you can do to tell me if my child is likely to become a homosexual adult?" The doctor says yes, there is. "And," the woman continues, "suppose the test is positive — would that be something we can fix? I mean, is there some sort of medical, or genetic, or biochemical intervention we can do at this stage, to prevent that happening?" The doctor says yes, there is. "How much does the test cost? And supposing it's positive, how much does the fix cost?" The doctor says $50, and $500. The woman takes out her checkbook.
Of course this is not happening anywhere in the U.S.A. right now. If my understanding of the state of current research is correct, however, it might very well be happening on a daily basis ten years from now.
If this really comes to pass, the results will be curious and interesting. They will not necessarily bring an end to homosexuality right away. No test, and no $500 fix, is likely to be 100 percent effective. Also, there must be some few borderline cases who "turn," or get "turned" quite late in life. For sure, though, if such a thing becomes reality, there will suddenly be a vast reduction in the numbers of homosexuals. From the current proportion — from 1 to 4 percent — of the population, we might, in a couple of generations, see a drop to, perhaps, 0.01 percent.
This passage in particular has led Derbyshire and his fellow sociobiologists to be accused of wanting to see a eugenics style wipe out of the homosexual condition.
And to further compound the irony: Let’s add one Francis Fukuyama into the mix. Fukuyama is one of those Straussian neoconservative/social conservatives. He is quite a reactionary social con on some issues, but very moderate on other social issues. Fukuyama is known for aligning himself with the religious right in taking a very reactionary stand on biotech issues against things like cloning and any sort of biological tweaking of our human nature. Yet Fukuyama takes a very moderate and reasonable position on acceptance of homosexuality (perhaps [??] because his intellectual mentor was the late, great, and very gay Allan Bloom). And his reactionary view on biotech and his moderate stance on homosexuality are connected. Fukuyama has anticipated exactly what Derbyshire mentions:
I suspect that if the U.S. ever gets into something like this in the future, it will have to do with potential "enhancement" targets other than sex. One I speculate about in my book is sexual preference: It seems pretty clear to me that if parents, including ones who are perfectly accepting of gays today, had the choice, they would select against their children being gay, if for no other reason than their desire to have grandchildren (contrary to Stock, by the way, gays can't reproduce, so I'm not quite sure how they'd do germline intervention to produce gay children). The proportion of gays in the population could drop quite dramatically, and I'm not at all sure that society as a whole (let alone gays as a persecuted minority) would be enhanced as a result.
Finally, just led me add, that, even though I don’t endorse much of what the sociobiologists believe on inherited racial differences and IQ, I do agree that many differences between social groups are caused by heredity and biology and that talents and abilities clearly differ among the various groups. And from what I have been able to observe, homosexuals, like Jews and Asians, are human-overachievers. Just go into any neighborbood or geographic location where gays disproportionately congregate and check out the average property values! Bruce Bawer writes in this article how homosexuals, particularly homosexual men, seemed to be vastly overrepresented among the great geniuses who have given us the “Western Canon.”
Even if gays constitute as much as fifteen percent of the population, the gay contribution to Western art, architecture, music, and literature far exceeds what it should be statistically. If you accept the right-wing claim that only one in a hundred people is gay, then the gay contribution is truly extraordinary. Think about it: A group comprising one percent of the population producing Erasmus, da Vinci, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Marlowe, Bacon, Hölderlin, Hans Christian Andersen, Tchaikovsky, Proust ... the list goes on and on to include three of the four major nineteenth-century American novelists, one (perhaps both) of the two great nineteenth-century American poets, and two of the three most noted mid-twentieth-century American dramatists.
Now I do fear what Fukuyama fears (but still don't endorse his position on biotech): Imagine if what Derbyshire writes about comes to pass and homosexuality as a condition is either wiped out entirely or virtually. And imagine that at the same time, we would be eliminating the genius contributions of a Michelangelo or a Proust. That would truly be a sad day for the human race.