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Corvino: Should we care if we were ‘Born This Way?’

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I am about to commit an act of gay heresy.

It wouldn’t be my first time. But it is the first time I will be challenging, not just an Article of Faith, but also a High Priestess. I’m referring, of course, to Lady Gaga, whose hit single “Born This Way†is being touted as a new gay anthem.

But I can’t help it. So here goes:

I neither know, nor care, whether I was “born this way.â€

Before you react, let me be very clear on what I’m saying, and what I’m not saying.

By “born this way,†I mean “genetically hardwired to be gay,†and by “gay,†I mean having the disposition to be predominantly sexually attracted to other men. I am not saying that I was NOT born gay. I’m actually agnostic on the question.

There has been a good bit of scientific research in recent decades suggesting a strong genetic component in sexual orientation. I am all for such research.

But the evidence, while solid and growing, is still inconclusive. (Edward Stein’s 1999 book The Mismeasure of Desire remains an excellent argument as to why.) There may be intermediate environmental factors that also play a key role. Human sexuality is complex, and not well captured in terms of simple unidirectional hardwiring.

Moreover, such research—which almost always focuses on men—does not claim to show that the same factors are operative in every case. Thus, even if most gays are “born this way,†it doesn’t follow that *I* was born this way.

That’s what I mean when I say I don’t know. Now here’s what I mean when I say I don’t care.

Science teaches us about how we come to have the traits that we do. It does not tell us whether such traits are good to have. It does not tell us whether acting on them would be worthy or unworthy of respect, or perhaps morally indifferent.

365gay

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