Thursday, November 30, 2006
What hubris and pride. When my dad was a boy, they knew how to treat southies. Teachers would bind or smack the hand of those practicing such abnormal behaviors (true, actually). These deviants should be grateful today we leave them live.
But no; this tiny militant minority has to push it. They demand my “tolerance” and “respect”, and yet won’t tolerate my views. Hypocrites. In the left wing media they’re all over. I’m constantly bombarded by attempts to convert my family towards their miserable choices. They’d have us believe we could all live lives just like Ned Flanders in some joy-filled left-handed lifestyle. Like it’s okay, not a choice, normal. What a lie.
Twin studies show it’s a chosen lifestyle, as some twins are left-handed and others aren’t (1). Did you also know left-handed people are more likely to be schizophrenic (2,3)? They also more often develop immune diseases and migraines (4); they’re miserable people. Compared to normal people, their intellect suffers as well (4-7). Left-handed people, no doubt by their “parenting” behaviors, are also more likely to produce children with mental retardation, and, of course, teach their children their same perversion (8). It’s no surprise that many left handed people, and their children have been known to be murderers and thieves.
It’s a moral weakness, and we let left-handed and bi-handed people be authority figures to our children in our public schools, let alone become parents and marry?! Sure a few may, by some fluke, raise a passable child in their “families”, but we know scientifically, these kids are worse off, on average, mentally diminished with their schizophrenic “parents”. It’s simply not the ideal family makeup, to be sure, and we should promote the ideal. I’m not saying we should harm these innocent children in any way, of course, but treat them with pity, the poor victims, invalids, raised without right morals, by people selfish enough to raise them.
America has to start thinking of the children! (Not the left-handed children, though.) We should be outraged and stop worrying about hurting feelings; the world is becoming another Sodom. The southies are even more likely to be gay (9,10) (so I guess they ain’t all that bad).
And, no, you pervert, my aversion to left-handedness does NOT mean I’m secretly left handed!!! THE MERE IDEA OF IT MAKES ME SICK.
Now, to all you so afflicted by this moral weakness in my audience, let me say, actually, some of my very best friends are left-handed (or do you people prefer to be called Right Hand Restricted, RHR?). Like my friend Mary Stevens, do you know her? She went to a movie with me once and is left-handed; I thought you might know her... She told me all about how you live in your “community”, all about the left-handed lifestyle. But at least she knows she’s cursed with a detestable addiction.
Such good folks don’t flaunt it in our faces in public displays of “writing”. To watch them soldier on, regardless, on the tennis courts, or scribbling on their right-handed ledgers, they humble me in their courage. They have a noble life of self-denial, sacrifice for their eternity of pleasure, unlike those lazy, debouched southies who mindlessly take left-handedness as a part of who they are and wallow in its many animal pleasures.
Sure, being left-handed in itself isn’t really a sin; it’s just a part of a person that tempts them with evil, and we’re all tempted. This addiction isn’t evil or part of anyone, really, but CHOOSING to act on it is the very definition of sin. Abstention from using your hands altogether is a far more noble and preferable option. It doesn’t matter what harm comes or does not come from it, when you move your body in a certain way, in a certain geometry, do what I do with my right hand... Well, I’m telling you it’s against God’s law. I mean, please, you think God would be left handed, after separating us from the bi-handed beasts of this world, into His image, into right-handedness? Still, I know the suffering you must feel at that (personally, I’m tempted to stay home from church some Sundays; I do feel your pain), but it’s the inarguable TRUTHtm.
While I love and respect all southpaws, I can’t condone that sin, and that puts my compassionate soul in a really difficult position. It’s tough love. I cannot sit idly by if anyone tries to normalize that perversion in my culture. There’s no debating it, but I hope you all can understand. I must do what’s right, and, if I didn’t love southpaws and know it’s for their own good, I wouldn’t hurt them or my possible left-handed children (which I’ll not have as I raise children with morals).
I certainly would support anyone, though, when they decide to leave that deviant lifestyle. Keep that in mind, my left-handed readers. I know the life of those so addicted is filled with sadness and desolation--I’ll make sure of that--but THERE IS ANOTHER WAY! You can change! Studies show that upwards of 93% of southpaws, if they honestly want it and have enough faith and love of the Savior, can gain a normal right-handed orientation (11).
In the meantime struggle on and don’t become one of those militant southpaws, out there threatening the very sanctity of baseball. Their so-called “community” is nothing more than a bunch of one-dimensional creatures brought together by only their sick obsession with using their left hand, and the manipulations of Satan himself, whispering in their ears. They and their invisible demons only want to keep you from realizing your potential, and force their agenda into every American’s home, destroying the very fabric of society (somehow, but it will happen). Militant southies just hate society, and children, and America, and puppies.
Finally, don’t be taken in, my audience. Sure, the militant southies claim they want to be treated with legal parity, but they don’t really care about so-called “rights”. All they’re after is our endorsement of their twisted proclivities, to trick us into calling Evil “good” and Good “evil”. Don’t be blinded by talk of justice and equity--never let such marketing tools blind you--they’re after the corruption and approval of righteous people like us.
And who wouldn’t want that?
:-) Okay, I couldn’t resist after thinking back on handedness and my old site, old foes. Gosh that feels decadent; I see why they do it. You know, I just need to emphasize how much I can’t stand the sins of the southpaws. Try to talk me out of it; I dare you ;-).
1. Sicotte, N., R. Woods, et al. (1999). "Handedness in Twins: A Meta-analysis." Laterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brain, and Cognition 4(3): 265-286.
2. M.F., G., P. Satz, et al. (1989). "Is there atypical handedness in schizophrenia?" Journal of Abnormal Psychology 98(1): 57-61.
3. Mary Cannona, Majella Byrnea, et al. (1995). "Prevalence and correlates of mixed-handedness in schizophrenia." Psychiatry Research 59: 119-125.
4. Geschwind, N. and P. Behan (1982). "Left-Handedness: Association with Immune Disease, Migraine, and Developmental Learning Disorder." Proceedings of the National Acadamy of Science 79(16): 5097-5100.
5. Coren, S. and D. Halpern (1991). "Left-handedness: a marker for decreased survival fitness." Psychological Bullitins 109(1): 90-106.
6. Soper, H., P. Satz, et al. (1987). "Handedness distribution in a residential population with severe or profound mental retardation." American journal of mental deficiency 92(1): 94-102.
7. Grouios, G., N. Sakadami, et al. (1999). "Excess of non-right handedness among individuals with intellectual disability: experimental evidence and possible explanations." Journal of Intellectual Disability Research 43(4): 306.
8. Bradshaw-McAnulty, G., R. Hicks, et al. (1984). "Pathological left-handedness and familial sinistrality in relation to degree of mental retardation." Brain Cognition 3(4): 349-356.
9. McCormick CM, Witelson SF, et al. (1990). "Left-handedness in homosexual men and women: neuroendocrine implications." Psychoneuroendocrinology 15(1): 69-76.
10. Holtzen, D. (1994). "Handedness and sexual orientation." Journal of Clinical Experimental Neuropsychology 16(5): 702-712.
11. Some guy’s web site that I read once and believe wholeheartedly. Dude, just trust me.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
I don’t know, it just seemed like a sequel was in order… Like “The Son of the Murderous Coyote” or “Coyote II, This Time It’s Instinctual”…
Gee, I hope I’m not now fixated on them :-), but the kids still worry about it, bring it up, and that puts me on guards I guess.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
I admittedly still keep track of some of them every once in a while (not near as much as I once did). It’s too late there, I’ve already become so used to them that I almost find them cute, in a kitschy way :-). The vitriol I mainly hope to avoid and no longer go looking to combat is the “I want you dead” sort.
On the lighter side and for example, take one of my favorites, Jack Chick. You may have had his work handed too you on a street corner. He can’t stand the gays (the Mormons, the Masons, or the Catholics either).
I can’t help but find some ironic humor in his tracts, particularly those regarding gays. I suppose there’s no more hilarious an effigy than the one purporting to be made of yourself, one that reveals just how absurdly far into an illusion those burning it have bought. Take for example The Birds and the Bees:
Yes, yes, Mr Chick, if I and my “wife” (and the invisible demons making out while perched on our heads) get our way, we’d put you in prison. Boogaty boogaty boogaty! And the old Gay Sodom yarn… Classy.
My “favorite”: the panel with the quote “But some people are evil and intolerant,” (my emphasis certainly not added or needed). Maybe I should take that shocked gay guy on the left as my avatar ;-).
But, if you think that’s bad, you should see how he treats the LDS, in the ominously entitled The Visitors:
Bet you LDS folks didn’t know your religion was so easily debunked, or that you were modern-day worshipers of Baal ;-).
Ah, classic Chick: the angry non-believer missionary, the missionary about to see the light after such an overwhelming intellectual assault ;-), the literal light that old Aunt Fran gains when she sees the error of her ways. Why, you can see the villainy and morality right on their faces (But not as well as Ms. Henn in the gay tract; she appears ready to throw a kid into her gingerbread oven and take off on a broom).
Anyway, see what I mean? How does one remain respectful and measured in the face of such? It’s so difficult… Must… maintain… respect… for his… humanity. :-)
I think though one of the main lesions learned from my last site was that I can’t take out my frustration with people like Chick on those who share his faith. In fact, one of the best online friends I ever made from that site is a Baptist minister. Simply and of course, not all of them want to harm my family; neither do they all think the LDS worship a Babylonian God :-). To treat them, from the start, as though they are Chick clones is to use just as unfair an effigy as those made in the tracts above.
Monday, November 27, 2006
Still, that goodbye makes me hesitate:
Firstly, I can see why my emoticon use has grown (I don’t think my self-amusement translates too well :-)… ;-)). But there you have it, as prophesized; after a couple years I’m thinking on going back to it.
Furthermore, is there really anything else to say on this site? I mean, just how many intricate and winding side roads do I have to go down before I get it?… I tried to blame it on entertainment, but that doesn't cut it; this isn't fun anymore; it's distressing and becoming absurd….So, in the end, I still have my damsels in distress, axes to grind, hills and underbellies to defend, wicked plots to subvert, frauds to expose, and so on, but I can't help but think that going on here would be going about it the wrong way.
And life is so much better than this. Bitter-sweet, sure, but why kick against the pricks?
So, I'll be peeling off my spandex costume, throwing my cape under the bed, and corking my antlers. I know... A year or so ago, I tried to quit but failed, and so maybe I will again...
Do I want to get into that again? (Haven’t I already with this blog :-)?)
BUT it’d not be the same thing… I hope. I hope I’ve learned a lot in those years; I’m near sure I have. I’ve changed enough to make the above contract null and void, right? :-)
I know this has changed (another excerpt of that goodbye):
I know the sentiment by heart [the sentiment of the violently anti-gay], save for a couple novel notes. Why did I do this to myself [become so familiar with those who want me dead]? I think, all these years I was hoping to become desensitized to the rhetoric by seeking out the people who'd do me and those I love harm. I wanted to hear them say it over and over again, as though each time such sentiment would hurt them more and more and me less and less. Now though, I don't know that I really want to be desensitized; maybe it should be shocking and maybe it should hurt.That was an unhealthy effort, and I no longer hope to “seek them out”; I want to talk this though with far more reasonable people :-). I certainly no longer think being unaffected by other’s vitriol is a strength I want. I also know now people can be cruel and feel it as love, oddly enough. I don’t care either if it eats at them more or less than it does me. It eats at us both and, these days, I clearly don’t have the right to attempt to stoically take damage to those parts of myself; others own them. It’s those others though who make speaking up so important.
That’s, in fact, the crux here, the balance I need to make: an appropriate, measured, and respectful defense, but one that doesn’t trip into angry retribution. If I can trust some of my gracious fellow bloggers :-), I’ve maybe learned some of that in the years past (also, the kids are great inadvertent teachers). Maybe getting back on that horse would be the right thing to do.
Simply, I guess I’m saying, if I do it, I’ll leave the horns corked, (try to) keep the emotions on the blog and away from anger and aggravation, and only take the cape out every once in a while :-).
Sunday, November 26, 2006
(In the following an alteration needs to be made; I'd hope to know if it’s clear before you get to the end :-))
I first want point out how difficult it is to understand who we’re talking about in these studies. Are they people who identify as homosexual or choose homosexual actions? As Perelle et al. point out in their review, An International Study of Sexual Orientation: The Data (1):
“there is no agreement among researchers as to who can be considered a homosexual person, what is the etiology of homosexuality, or what the proportion of homosexuality is in the world's population”
By defining people by the actions they choose, we do find that just under 10% of the US population is homosexual (2). With such a high occurrence of homosexual behavior, one should expect a genetic role in the associated orientation. This fact has been readily accepted and without controversy, for many decades. As Rief explains way back in 1939 (my emphasis) (3):
“WHILE the occurrence of hetero- and homo-sexuality does not appear to conform to any simple Mendelian formula [a simple genetic mode of inheritance], the familial incidence of homosexuality rather definitely indicates a genetic basis.”
More recently, in a review by Orlebeke, 1996, we see this observation repeated with much supporting data (4). Simply, homosexuality clearly runs in families, and no serious researcher disputes that.
But finding the extent and mechanism of the involved gene or genes has been a bit of a problem. To do this and better separate nature from nurture, twin studies have typically been used.
Firstly, similar to what we saw in my past posts (here and here), gay twins also show a birth weight effect, as reported by Orlebeke et al. in a study of 1,700 twin pairs (4). They report “very low” birth weight correlated with homosexuality, and theorized that the “possibility that exposure to prenatal…hormones” made these children gay. These finding were repeated by James et al. in 2002 (5). It should also be noted that same-sex twins were more often gay than opposite sex twins (6).
But back to the genes in twin studies.
On the general topic, Sicotte et al., in 1999, did an excellent job of reviewing and compiling 28 studies, which represented almost 10,000 twin pairs (!), in “the largest meta-analysis of twins and singletons conducted to date” (I, of course, see no need to go into each study separately :-)) (7). They found, in part, for dizygotic twins (fraternal, not sharing the exact same genes) that if one twin were gay the other had a 9.4% chance of being gay themselves (choosing gay activities). This is about the same as the background, thus suggesting no upbringing effect, as the twins were raised together.
But, for monozygotic twins (twins who do share the same genetic code), the other twin had a 14.9% chance of being gay. So clearly they found a genetic effect. When a child shares the same genes as his brother, he’s about 1.6 times more likely to be gay himself.
Also clearly, with only a 15% concordance, genes are not the whole story. It’s clear this is where effects such as hormone exposure, immune response, and prenatal experience come in. Regardless, the authors conclude (my emphasis):
“Although the frequent occurrence of monozygotic twins who are discordant for sexual orientation is clearly inconsistent with genetic models that would define hetero and homosexuality as dominant or recessive traits, discordance among monozygotic twins does not automatically preclude straightforward inheritance of one or more genes that strongly influence sexual orientation.”
Sure, there are many discordant identical twins who do not share their brother or sister’s orientation, and there are some interesting findings regarding the non-gay sibling (8). Still, discordance, gratefully, causes no one to rule out a strong genetic effect or claim homosexuality is a chosen lifestyle.
But the genetic cause must be complicated, and a handful of studies bring to question the results of Sicotte, questioning the existence of any significant genetic cause. For example Derom, was unable to find any significant difference between monozygotic and dizygotic twins using 808 twin pairs (9), and a similar finding was reported by Ross in 1999 with over 2,000 twin pairs (10). Simply these two studies were unable to find any statistically significant difference between the appearance of homosexuality in fraternal and identical twins.
This apparent inconsistency in the data, coupled with the low concordance found even in studies purporting it, has lead prominent researchers in the field to refer to twin studies as the Achilles heal of the hypothesis of there being a genetic cause of homosexuality (11). Fortunately it really doesn’t matter much, not to homosexuals, not to the general public, not to politicians. While, in my dad’s day, they’d be persecuted for their behaviors, even by public school teachers in front of the whole class, no kid questions or tries to alter his orientation these days. It’s really only of interest to biologists and psychologist who care to study such things. And among them, even those questioning the genetic involvement know there is a biological reason involved and it would take willful ignorance and a denial of one’s own experience with sexuality to think homosexuality is a matter of choice.
Okay, enough. I must confess I stole this idea from a book I read a long while ago (but I put a lot more work into it :-)). In short, the above in this post only is false, and I hope you can see the reason I did it this way. None of those studies refer to what I say they do. To make it true, though, is quite easy: replace all references to sexual orientation with handedness, and those to homosexuality with left-handedness.
There, now this post true; look at the references if you don’t trust me ;-). But read it again and see how it sounds, all true, but now minus the political, social, and religious baggage we all, both sides, carry into the topic of homosexuality and issues of “born that way”.
As we’ll see in a future post, for a genetic role in being gay a shocking amount of the above applies (for example, the birth weight findings again), and where it deviates from handedness it deviates into the direction of homosexuality being more a matter of genes than handedness (perhaps surprising with the apparent difference in effect the two have with regards to reproduction). Both the biological parallels and differences are surprising to me, not to mention the political and social differences (which I just mentioned ;-)).
1. Perelle, I. and L. Ehrman (1993). "An international study of human handedness: The data." Behavior Genetics 24(3): 217-227.
2. Estevez-Gonzalez, A., C. Garcia-Sanchez, et al. (1996). "Neuropsychology of left-handedness: current knowledge." Revista de neurologia 24: 515-522.
3. Rife, D. (1939). "HANDEDNESS, WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO TWINS." Genetics 25: 178-186.
4. Orlebeke, J., D. Knol, et al. (1996). "Left-handedness in twins: genes or environment?" Cortex 32(3): 479-490.
5. James, W. and J. Orlebeke (2002). "Determinants of handedness in twins." Laterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brain, and Cognition 7(4): 301-307.
6. Carter-Saltzman, L., S. Scarr-Salapatek, et al. (1976). "Left-handedness in twins: Incidence and patterns of performance in an adolescent sample." Behavior Genetics 6(2): 189-208.
7. Sicotte, N., R. Woods, et al. (1999). "Handedness in Twins: A Meta-analysis." Laterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brain, and Cognition 4(3): 265-286.
8. Gurd, J., J. Schulz, et al. (2006). "HAND PREFERENCE AND PERFORMANCE IN 20 PAIRS OF MONOZYGOTIC TWINS WITH DISCORDANT HANDEDNESS." Cortex 42(6): 785-970.
9. Derom, C., E. Thiery, et al. (1996). "Handedness in twins according to zygosity and chorion type: A preliminary report." Behavior Genetics 26(4): 407-408.
10. Ross, D. C., J. Jaffe, et al. (1999). "Handedness in the NAS/NRC Twin Study." Laterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brain, and Cognition 4(3): 257-264.
11. Corballis, M. (1997). "The genetics and evolution of handedness." Psychological Reviews 104(4): 714-727.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
2. Allowed children to swim in icy salt water, as if we could have stopped them.
4. Watched a mammal over a ton in weight jump a couple stories into the air. Walked under a floating and vicious shiver.
6. Kept children from harassing more legless mammals.
7. Thanksgiving dinner with the grand parents.
8. Visited our old home. Answered question as to where B was before he was born, when R and I lived in said old home.
10. Rode a dragon five times; towered menacingly over a tiny village; photographed son battling a sith made of a million little pieces.
11. Flew home, and boy are my… ug, never mind…
Ah, we just got back, from where R and I lived for a couple years before deciding to come back to Utah to start our family. I think I wrote that to remember my life before children was like remembering another’s life. Visiting our old home felt the same.
Having our kids back in our old stomping grounds was a lot of fun. I love the weather. I love the variety of people; the social acceptance. I love all the options one has in every day; the sort that only come with such a large city. I love the politically friendly environment.
But there’s a lot we don’t like, a lot we’d miss if we moved back, and a couple convincing reasons to not raise children there. In short, I return more sure in the knowledge Utah was the right choice than when we left, even for us :-).
You can never go home but you can go home, I guess… It just sucks to love something that doesn't feel as though it shares the sentiment. Someday, Utah, we’ll laugh about it; I’m sure :-).
(Curses! The title should have been "A Utah Man Am I", for today. There aren't any BUY fans out there are there? ;-))
Monday, November 20, 2006
To say there is much for which I’m thankful would be a scandalous understatement, as I’m sure anyone in similar shoes knows. I’ll not go into that; it would end up threatening my laptop with girly tears.
But each Thanksgiving, in our family, we go around the table and say what we’re all thankful for about each person (yes, that ends in tears too). So I thought I’d go around this table. If I miss you, I deeply apologize (that was a worry with such a post). I simply went on 1. who had a blog I read and 2. who I know posted or visited here recently (mainly by my gmail 1st page :-)).
Anyway, in order of who I like least to best ;-) (alphabetical order):
Beck – First, I love your music. Second, not too long ago, it seemed to me we posted on nearly the same thing on the same day, and it made me feel good someone was feeling similarly. Despite our differences in homes, I’m thankful for the love you show your family; it’s a sort of love many don’t know. I’m grateful for your kindness and willingness to listen and be open. I’ve enjoyed your blog for a while now and I’ve come to very much appreciate the man I see in your words, struggles and all.
Chris – Many have softened my opinions here but none as much as you and your ex-wife. I’m thankful for being shown that there is indeed a way to get from that point A to that point B with honor and ethics intact. Thank you also for your story. For a guy like me, who left the LDS church quite early, it’s an eye-opener, and I don’t think the importance of your perspective in this debate can be overstated. And you write it out with intelligence, passion, and compassion, a trait that is too rare. Finally, though I certainly understand the need to keep some distance recently, I have to thank you for being there in the comments at the times I’ve felt outnumber ;-), and I hope I’ve done the same for you.
Elbow – Understandably, I don’t think you’ve been out and about for a while, but I must say I’m grateful to have gotten to know what little I do of you. You are so kind. I’ve been repeatedly impressed that, each time I’ve tried to offer help, you’ve never failed to ask me how I’m doing, how’s my family. Your concern for others in the face of your own great heartache speaks volumes of your great worth. I’m very worried for you and think of you daily; I’m sure we all do. I’d be grateful if I could help, but I am still grateful and put at ease to know what I know of the sort of guy you are.
Fob — The poster boy :-). Even though you don’t represent me in the minds of many when you appear in the media, you do represent gay men, gay fathers, and you do it well, and I am thankful for that. I’m thankful someone smart, sympathetic, and eloquent has put his face out there. When I first found these blogs I was bracing for the worst sort of attacks on my sort of family, but, in that, I did you all a disservice. I’m just grateful it’s people like you on the not-so-other side, Ben (not to say others here might not do a passable job of it ;-)).
Foxx – First, you have quite a skill with words, and a way of building dramatic tension; you should be in the arts or something ;-). I’ve looked forward to your stories and posts. I’m thankful for your handling of yourself in a potentially difficult situation, with honor and care. I’m grateful for your example being out there, and know it can change lives for the better, of people you’ll never know. I look forward to following as to where life leads you and where you take it, and am glad to believe it will be a happy ending.
GayBYUstudent – We’ve really just been introduced, but you strike me as quite a nice guy, and I’m always grateful for that :-). But most importantly (and with all you young gays blogging out there, trying to come to terms with your faith and orientation), I’m grateful that you are trying. I’m grateful you care, that it’s important to you to figure this out and not just act blindly or hastily as so many other gay men have to their detriment. It shows an example of a great and valuable maturity that can save you and many others a lot of heartache. And, again, to discuss it in a public blog helps people who’ll never be bold enough to make themselves known. Simply, whatever path you end up on, I hope you’ll be happy, but am thankful you’re off to a good, careful start.
GayLDSActor – Now, you’re not on the gmail page but I do read your blog :-). My kids would say "rules are rules," but they ain’t here :-). Like Foxx, I am very thankful for your example to others who are where you were years ago. I can’t make a big enough deal of this; gay kids, particularly LDS kids, need help and your example is a big help. I’m also grateful for your love of family and the care with which you’re treating your situation. You are an intelligent, creative, and impressive guy and I’m glad to have gotten to know you through your blog.
Kengo – I’m grateful that you are so quick to offer help, and be of help to others. Even though we may disagree on what specifically someone should do, we see eye to eye more often than not and I’m appreciative for those times. I’m also thankful that you’re willing to meet in person some of these men in trouble; I’m sure you’ve helped many people reach a better place and we can both agree on that. You strike me as a compassionate and bright individual and I look forward to getting to know you better.
L – Smart, considerate, good humored, if not potty-mouthed :-), L, I’ve very much come to look forward to your posts, email, comments and chats. I always know they’ll make me think and/or put a smile on my face. I’m also thankful for your exhaustive list of links, that timesaving “latest links” section of your blog, and the fact that your name doesn’t strain my feeble spelling abilities. If I could complain, we just don’t disagree as much as we should; it’s something we can work on :-). In a simple world (and by your political actions :-[) you should be my foe; we should be battling it out. But it’s not a simple world, and you sure don’t feel like a foe; you feel like a friend, one anyone would be grateful to have.
Loyalist – Ah, my Heroes buddy, and an instance where it is actually in the name (minus the defect part :-)). I’m so sorry for the recent events of your life, but am grateful to have come to know you’re the sort who can weather the storms and help others. I’ve enjoyed your political perspectives and the fact that you’re so into the topic; it’s nice to know there’s someone out there who keeps up on all such things, someone I can count on for a knowledgeable take. Above all that, you strike me as a good, dedicated and able family man. You have my respect.
Santorio – It takes guts to speak up for rights when you’ve no need for them and it puts you at odds with your church. A minority can’t change a thing; it takes people like you to give a hand up. Though you’re gay, you’re in a place where you don’t need, for personal gain, to speak up and I’m very grateful you do. You are quick and to the point, not even time enough to touch the shift key ;-), but what you say is insightful, clever, and very much appreciated (smart guy, steal my thunder with the biology posts so early on! :-)). Have a good holiday with your fortunate family.
Silus Grok – I’ve only become familiar with you in the past couple weeks. I am very glad to have you reading here though. As we vote similarly, go to the same plays (or try to :-)), and have similar interests, I’m sure there’s much to be grateful for in getting to know each other better :-). Meeting yet another smart and friendly guy in the bloggosphere is always something to be grateful for. Finally, I am certainly grateful for your avatar; it makes me smile each time I see him staring back at me.
Again, if I missed you, I’m sorry (Now that I see the publish button, I’m second-guessing this post :-)). I kind of bunched a couple folks together, but each blog I read has something in it for which I’m grateful, and I can’t say I’ve met anyone hear I’d rather not have met, even when we’ve exchanged harsh words, :-).
Now, you pay some guys a compliment and then they feel all obligated to say something back. Too d*beep*n bad. The comments are off; you just have to take it. Ha!
Thank you, and Happy Thanksgiving.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Friday, November 17, 2006
I get them on podcasts, and those may be found here (seems their mp3 link isn’t working but it's on that page too if they get it up and running soon).
It’s quite an interesting reflection of many of the topics discussed by my fellow bloggers. Difficult stuff.
As I left off (here), having older brothers increases the chance that you will be gay (by about 33% per older brother). In fact, of those with an older brother, it’s calculated (by statistical magic ;-)) that 24% of them may attribute being gay to that fact (43% for those with two older brothers and so on) (1). Anyway, that effect is there but how does it work? (I’ll be greatly following the review in reference 1, but will deviate)
The theories here may be broken down into pre and postnatal causes.
To recap, evidence has accumulated to the extent that the hypothesis of a postnatal fraternal birth order effect is becoming relatively defunct (2). Early sexual experience (3,4,5) and any other effect of being raised with an older male child (6) has greatly and recently been ruled out. In fact, the older brother need not even be present in the home. Only a womb need be shared, strongly suggesting the womb is the place to look for a cause.
Another important indication that a prenatal cause is in play came surprisingly from measurements of birth weight (1). Blanchard and Ellis seem to have been the first to look at such a relationship in gays (7). They analyzed the birth weights of 2599 heterosexual females, 1111 heterosexual males, 125 homosexual females and 208 homosexual males some with the same biological mother. It was found that:
1. Men with older brothers weighed less at birth than men with older sisters.
2. Gay men with older brothers weighed less at birth than heterosexuals with older brothers.
3. Gay men with no older brothers weighed the same as heterosexuals with no brother.
With Zurcher, these findings were repeated (8), in part. The first finding was not found in one subsequent study, but, as the authors admit, this may be due to the fact that their controls were all suffering from clinical disorders and found from a psychiatric hospital. One has to be careful from where one picks their “average” human ;-). But that first finding was repeated by Cote (a bunch of crazy French accents on that) (9).
It may also be important in finding this mechanism to note that gays seem to run along the maternal line more frequently (10). I’ve got’em on both sides. This could indicate there’s something passed in the genes from mother to male child, but it could also be evidence that the maternal line has characteristics that cause the mother’s biology to influence her child towards homosexuality.
Regarding these findings a “single-mechanism” hypothesis has been proposed. Here there is one cause from the mother for both the low birth weight and homosexuality. So, if this mechanism isn’t present (no older brothers) there’s no effect on gayness or weight (#3 in the above findings). A bit more of this mechanism and baby boys are slowed in their growth, and made more effeminate (#1 above, along with Reference 1). Finally, a high dose of this mechanism leads to homosexuality (#2 above).
The front-runner as to what this mechanism could be seems to be the maternal immune hypothesis (11,12). That’s not to say others are not possible. Neither is that to say there aren’t other prenatal effects, such as hormone exposure (to which I’ll eventually get but I’ll limit the focus in this post to the cause of the fraternal birth order effect only).
It is known that a variety of cell types from the fetus enter the mother during a typical pregnancy, and do more so during birth and throughout abnormal pregnancies (21-23). In the maternal immune hypothesis, such wondering male cells are more readily recognized by the mother as foreign, due to their sex. With each exposure, each pregnancy, she may develop a progressive immunization. The related antibodies may then cross the placental barrier in future pregnancies to attach to the same male markers in the first child’s younger brother, thus altering his development, attacking what would have made him fully male (thus no such effect in lesbians). Importantly, in this theory each older brother would increase the chance that the next will be gay, as we see in the data.
Now, this is the prevailing theory, no one has found a smoking gun in humans, and how to do so ethically, in a simple manner, may be problematic. But such a theory is not without it’s evidence. As early as the first days of a pregnancy, a H-Y immune response (an response to molecules expressed by male but not female cells) has been shown in mice and cattle (24-26). This, of course, also means this effect may be in play even if you have no older brother, and it may be even stronger than the current data suggests, which only uses live births. Also, immunization to paternal antigens have been known to affect birth weight in rats (13), and mice (14, 15). Unfortunately, such experiments on humans would be frowned upon by anti-science fanatics ;-).
In humans, though, it’s not a theory without a real, and well-understood example: hemolytic disease or HDN. A woman who is Rh-negative and carrying a Rh-positive child (due to a Rh-positive father) develops an immune response to the child’s blood, which enters her system primarily during birth. Subsequent Rh-positive children are affected more and more by this attack, as seems to happen for the fraternal birth order effect. The first child is fine, the second may be anemic, and the third may never make it to term, as the mother’s immune system destroys their blood (16). It’s also important to note, adding strength to the maternal immune hypothesis on gays, it’s been shown the immune response in HDN is more likely to occur in male children, indicating mothers recognize and attack male cells more often as foreign than female cells, as one might expect (17-19).
But HDN affects the blood, and we’re talking about the brain. Here too there is evidence of a mother’s immune system playing a role. Serum from women who’ve produced autistic or dyslexic children, when injected into pregnant mice, produce mice with mental deficits (27,28). Also, in humans, boys with cognitive disorders show the same fraternal order effect that we see in gays, but girls do not (29, 30).
As to the specifics of this theoretical immune response, a number of H-Y antigens have been discovered. Of those, we do know of some good candidates. Of the 27 known proteins and protein families encoded on the Y chromosome, 12 are expressed throughout the body, and three are known to be specific to the brain and two of those on cell surfaces (20). Both of those are instrumental in cell-cell adhesion and thus the structure of the male brain. But who knows? It could be a protein encoded on another chromosome and only regulated by the Y chromosome. Much is to be done.
Let’s end it there. Though there are a couple of other variants on this theme involving the placenta and some hormonal effects, that’s plenty for now. To sum up, we see this fraternal birth order effect as one of the more prominent predictors of homosexuality, and it seems we are closing in on its mechanism. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out. For example, right now we have treatments for HDN, preventative injections. Maybe the question will someday be there for mothers with such antigens: Do you want to stop your infant from being gay?
I’ll take a break from the research for a while.
1. Blanchard, R. (2004). "Quantitative and theoretical analyses of the relation between older brothers and homosexuality in men." Journal of Theoretical Biology 230: 173-187.
2. Purcell, D., R. Blanchard, et al. (2000). "Birth Order in a Contemporary Sample of Gay Men." Archives of Sexual Behavior 29(4): 349-356.
3. Wellings, K., J. Field, et al. (1994). Sexual Behavior in Britain: the national survey of sexual attitudes and lifestyles. London, Penguin Books.
4. Dawood, K., R. Pillard, et al. (2000). "Familial Aspects of Male Homosexuality." Archives of Sexual Behavior 29(2): 155-163.
5. Bogaert, A. F (2003). "Number of older brothers and sexual orientation: New tests and the attraction/behavior distinction in two national probability samples." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 84(3): 644-652.
6. Bogaert, A. F. (2006). "Biological versus nonbiological older brothers and men’s sexual orientation." Proceedings of the National Acadamy of Science 103(28): 10771-10774.
7. Blanchard, R. and L. Ellis (2001). "BIRTH WEIGHT, SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND THE SEX OF PRECEDING SIBLINGS." Journal of Biological Sciences 33: 451-467.
8.Blanchard, R., K. Zucher, et al. (2002). "Fraternal birth order and birth weight in probably prehomosexual feminine boys." Hormones and Behavior 41(3): 321-327.
9. Cote, K., R. Blanchard, et al. (2003). "THE INFLUENCE OF BIRTH ORDER ON BIRTH WEIGHT: DOES THE SEX OF PRECEDING SIBLINGS MATTER?" Journal of Biological Sciences 35: 455-462.
10. Camperio-Ciani, A., F. Corna, et al. (2004). "Evidence for maternally inherited factors favouring male homosexuality and promoting female fecundity." Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 271: 2217-2221.
11. Blanchard, R. and A. F. Bogaert (1996). "Homosexuality in men and number of older brothers." American Journal of Psychiatry 153: 27-31.
12. Blanchard, R. and P. Klassen (1997). "H-Y Antigen and Homosexuality in Men." Journal of Theoretical Biology 185(3): 373-378.
13. Gentile T, Borel IM, et al. (1992). "Preferential synthesis of asymmetric antibodies in rats immunized with paternal particulate antigens. Effect on pregnancy." Journal of Reproductive Immunology 22(2): 173-183.
14. Lu, E. and W. Dawson (1986). "Paternal antigen and progesterone effects on conceptus size in laboratory mice." Biology of Reproduction 35(3): 524-530.
15. Saji, F., K. Nakamuro, et al. (1980). "Sensitized T-lymphocytes against paternal histocompatibility antigens cause intrauterine fetal death and growth retardation." Nippon Sanka Fujinka Gakkai Zasshi 32: 1853-1858.
16. Adams, M., J. Marks, et al. (1981). "Rh hemolytic disease of the newborn: using incidence observations to evaluate the use of RH immune globulin." American Journal of Public Health 71(9): 1031-1035.
17. Renkonen, K.O., Sepp.al.a, M., 1962. The sex of the immunizing Rhpositive child. Ann. Med. Exp. Biol. Fenniae 40, 108–109.
18. Renkonen, K.O., Timonen, S., 1967. Factors in.uencing the immunization of Rh-negative mothers. J. Med. Genet. 4, 166–168.
19. Scott, J.R., Beer, A.E., 1973. Immunological factors in .rst-pregnancy Rh isoimmunisation. Lancet 1, 717–718.
20. Skaletsky, H., T. Kuroda-Kawaguchi, et al. (2003). "The male-specific region of the human Y chromosome is a mosaic of discrete sequence classes." Nature 423: 825-837.
21. Pertl, B., Bianchi, D.W., 2001. Fetal DNA in maternal plasma: emerging clinical applications. Obstet. Gynecol. 98, 483–490.
22. Bayrak-Toydemir, et al., 2004, Are fetal cells in maternal plasma really there? We think they are, Journal of Human Genetics, 48, 12,
23. Kolialexi, A., et al., 2004, Fetal cells in maternal plasma are found in a late state of apoptosis, Prenatal Diagnosis, 24, 9, 719-721.
24. Epstein, C.J., Smith, S., Travis, B., 1980. Expression of H-Y antigen on preimplantation mouse embryos. Tissue Antigens 15, 63–67.
25. Krco, C.J., Goldberg, E.H., 1976. H-Y (male) antigen: detection on eight-cell mouse embryos. Science 193, 1134–1135.
26. White, K.L., Anderson, G.B., BonDurant, R.H., 1987. Expression of a male-speci.c factor on various stages of preimplantation bovine embryos. Biol. Reprod. 37, 867–873.
27.Vincent, A., R. Deacon, et al. (2002). "Maternal antibody-mediated dyslexia? Evidence for a pathogenic serum factor in a mother of two dyslexic children shown by transfer to mice using behavioural studies and magnetic resonance spectroscopy." Journal of Neuroimmunology 130: 243-247.
28.Dalton, P., R. Deacon, et al. (2003). "Maternal neuronal antibodies associated with autism and a language disorder." Annals of Neurology 53(4): 533-537.
29. ACKERMAN, P., C. GOOLSBY, et al. (1988). "A test of the immunoreactive theory of selective male affliction." Journal of pediatric psychology 13(13): 49-53.
30. FLANNERY, K. and J. LIEDERMAN (1994). "A test of the immunoreactive theory of the origin of neurodevelopmental disorders: is there an antecedent brother effect?" Developmental Neuropsychology 10(4): 481-492.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Why am I home? A couple days ago I had two sick guys here in my care, R and B, and A was going crazy with boredom. Thank goodness grandparents are near to help; I don’t know how people do it without family about.
R and B are okay now, after a couple of bad days (and one horrible night), and now it’s my turn.
Anyway, here’s hoping for a little leniency. And here’s my excuse for not doing what I said. Sadly too, I’m missing Facing East at this very moment, probably a blessing for my mood though :-).
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
"When we attained our democracy, we sought to distinguish ourselves from an unjust painful past, by declaring that never again shall it be that any South African will be discriminated against on the basis of color, creed culture and sex," Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa- Nqakula told the National Assembly.This has been a while coming as their young constitution expressly forbids discrimination on sex, and their high court ruled that meant couples could marry regardless of their sex. Regardless, it passed 230 to 41 votes.
I think of the South Africa of my youth and I think of apartheid… What a change. Who would have thought, two decades ago, they’d offer equal rights to citizens and their families regardless of their sex before the United States of America would?
Monday, November 13, 2006
The nature/nurture debate is relatively unimportant to me, personally. Why should it matter? You don’t hear this sort of debate with, say, handedness ;-), even though it’s far more out of the genetic category. What if someone did choose to only be attracted to their same sex, a choice as simple as one to, say, date a brunet or practice a particular religion? If a person wants to date a man I don’t see why they want that should matter, be they a man or a woman.
But it does matter to many minds. Gay-rights opponents hope to control other’s agency, coerce them into not having relations with men, either remain celibate or marry women, and so on. They best gain that control over their neighbors, politically and socially, by posing gay attraction as chosen or alterable. Gay’s just have to want to be good, bad enough. Then, because nurture strikes most as more alterable than nature, nurture is their favored cause of gayness.
Of course, because they don’t want to be coerced or controlled, most gays tend to be biased to favor nature.
But, nature or nurture, it’s fuzzy territory.
What is the practical difference between an event that causes a person’s sexuality occurring one week before birth, and one occurring one week after? What’s the important difference between an event that occurred in an egg ten years ago, a sperm yesterday, or in a newborn boy 10 months from now? The effect is undeniably there; gay people are there. To me, the causes of being attracted to men are only important from the standpoint of discovery, be they in the genes, prenatal hormone exposure, the actions of siblings, birth order, family size, or any other event in a person's life.
An infinite web of events come together to make a person who they are, from their eye color to their religion, but there is no real need to segregate these events into post and pre-birth or pre-conception slots. A hormone or gene combination, for example, can be just as valid an effect on a person as being orphaned or losing their arm in an accident. In fact all such events, which we categorize as either nurture or nature, may be enduring or alterable (even, someday, the genetics).
So “nature”, “nurture”, “narture”, whatever; they are all merely causes. As to the more potent of them, I do favor what most would call nature for homosexuality and I feel those causes may be sufficient (I’ll go into why in my other posts on the topic in great detail, as I have in a small part here). But I don’t discount nurture, nor do I disbelieve it may be a cause for some gay men. If there’s one thing I’m sure of, there are many causes for human sexual orientation.
One last thing I want to point out is that, regardless, all sexual attraction has a very natural cause. All our wants, if traced back far enough, have to come from outside us: nature, god, the teachings of others, space aliens ;-) and so on. The debate here is over the desire’s focus, which, again, must originate from outside us, in nurture or nature. Hunger, for example is undeniably natural. It is the basis of the human act of eating and without that innate drive of achieving the pleasure in eating or avoiding the pain of hunger (and the drive to live) we’d not eat. What you want to eat, though, is certainly a mix of nature and nurture, but it all remains contingent upon the nature of hunger with which we all come pre-programmed.
Sexuality is one area where children in general are much less ridiculous than adults, by far :-); most never even think about it, let alone make awful decisions because of it. But, come puberty and the new, very natural expression of our once dormant genes, that all changes. No one would attribute puberty to early childhood upbringing. All sexual attraction, even mine, is and was brought on by the very natural effects of some well known chemicals. But when my switch was flipped, I got more of a surprise than most; I got what the female half of the population gets, and, unfortunately, that’s important in these days (though, gratefully, not as important as it was centuries past).
Saturday, November 11, 2006
As I mentioned I’ve been physically aggressive twice in my life. I’ve gone over the second of the two, here. But, as the fact that I’ve another violent assault on my record is already out there ;-), I may as well explain, and today is the perfect day.
I was in 8th grade, on a school trip to Washington DC. It was the second to last full day of our trip and we finished that day off at Mount Vernon.
I should preface what comes next by emphasizing, once again, my school was not ordinary. I loved it, but it was very strict and focused. We’d spend a good part of the week studying the Bible or some other complimentary form of ethics. Corporal punishment was a reality, but gratefully one not realized by yours truly :-). Punishments came quickly and socializing was kept infrequent and monitored closely for any hint of meanness or formation of social clicks. The school was about learning and ethics, and not much else.
And now this trip, going from monument to museum to hotel and so on, had started to wear down our well tuned atmosphere, and on this walk off of Washington's property I’d soon be doing something I could never have imagined.
We were walking back to the bus on a gravel road. I was with a couple of my classmates, talking about the day, and all the sudden a kid, Alex, bumps into me from behind, and pretty hard. It seemed like an accident and he apologized.
It then happened again, and he apologized again. I then began paying attention and a group of three of my classmates were behind us and all pushing each other, sort of playing bumper cars. One kid kept bumping Alex and Alex would, purposefully and with far more drama than it deserved, flail into me. I told them to stop and they didn’t. I looked for an authority figure and I couldn’t see one.
It was our tame tiny version of Lord of the Flies, and I was tired, annoyed, and I felt anger, which came as a surprise. I wish I could convey how serious this minor bit of unruly behavior felt to me; it was bedlam and it had to stop.
About the fifth time Alex was bumped my way I stepped back, stuck my foot out, and with my left arm at his back I added to his momentum and he plowed into the gravel road.
It was bedlam and now I had done the impossible. Once he rolled onto his back, groaning, we could all see his hands were bleeding, pebbles still sticking to or in his palms. Importantly, his pants were torn at his similarly damaged knee.
At the end of that warped stretch of time, up came my principal, his wife, and our teacher from behind us. Where had they been when I needed them, and now they caught me doing this?!
They helped Alex up, saying nothing to him in my memory. The women helped him back to the bus, and all my dumbstruck peers were instructed to follow. At that my principal faced me and told me to wait, as though I could have moved. My feet were already frozen in shock and I was spewing genuine regret before they got to us. Now, I knew I deserved what I thought was coming.
I must explain, my principal, he was seven feet tall if he was an inch. This man most often kept a serene smile on his face, and a gentle demeanor. He also commanded us with a look and kept a paddle on his desk. I had (and have) great respect for the man, and now what? He’d be my righteous executioner? At least a good beating? Though I’d never been hit in my life, it seemed probable at the time :-).
But, no, nothing near that. He put his massive hand on my shoulder and told me everything would be okay; he told me I was in the right. They had been watching us from behind, and decided to not step in.
Not step in!?
They had drilled a code of behavior into us, kept us from being cruel even with the slightest of social jabs through all my youth. And today they’d not step in?
It seemed a great mystery to me back then, and I would have been frustrated if not for my insurmountable relief. But looking back, maybe it was because this was our last year, literally our last days together? We were going out into another world, and, aside from our homes, we’d never see such a controlled, stable environment again. I don’t know, but they waited and watched.
Once it sunk in, my principal then walked me back to the bus with his hand comfortably on my back, so all the students could know, if not understand, my merciful fate. We took our seats and had a quiet ride back to the hotel. No one spoke.
Once there I got settled in my room and after a shower my roommates told me our principal wanted to talk to me. I went to his room, fearing he had rethought the clemency. Instead, there was Alex; he’d been there a while trapped in a lecture, still in his torn clothes. I felt pity, I told him I was sorry, and he graciously accepted it (as though he had much of a choice in such a predicament, but I believed him :-); we were actually friends).
Our principal gestured to Alex’s torn pants, and said something like “Alex has torn the only pair of slacks he brought for his formal uniform,” a fact I knew all too well. He went on, “Did you know, Scot, that he was selected to help lay a wreath tomorrow at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier?”
“Yes,” I said. I knew that well as it was an honor I had hoped for as soon as it was announced as a possibility.
Before I could figure it out, he said “Scot, I’d like you to take his place,” and I about cried. I’m just thankful Alex couldn’t have fit into my formal pants ;-).
That next day I experience the greatest honor of my young life. I don’t dare describe the emotion of it, of being there in respect for that nameless soldier, all soldiers. I’m tearing up right here, just thinking back on it.
Anyway, that’s it, my two acts of physical violence, and both bought me something priceless in return. Maybe I should go around knocking people down more often. :-)
Happy Veterans' Day
Friday, November 10, 2006
I’d like to not simply give dry findings, but give a bit of the history behind them, to both emphasize the case and simply because the progress of science is interesting stuff (to me ;-)). Also I’ll not go tracking down the full text of the older studies (pre-1980), only those I can find online.
As far as I can tell, the first significant published hint of homosexuality having anything to do siblings came in a study by the German Jensch, in the midst of WW2 (1). Earlier findings had been published but this seems to be the first major work, using a rather large group, 2,072 gays (one has to wonder about the likely awful way in which he found so many gays in 1941 Germany). Jensch found a ratio in their family of 114 male sibling live births to 100 female. In the general population, the ratio is about 106 per 100.
A number of smaller studies followed, some showing less and some more of an apparent correlation. Then in a paper entitled Homosexualitat als genetisches Problem (Homosexuality as a genetic problem), which I’m sure is a read every bit as delightful as the title, especially in his native tongue :-). Lang presented another large set of data, and found, in a group of 1,777 gays, a ratio of 126 brothers to 100 sisters (2).
So by the 1960s it’s pretty clear and repeatedly shown that gays have more brothers than the general public. But these studies were missing a great deal of the true picture, as we’ll see.
About this time researchers began looking at a possible effect in birth order. The Slater index is the number of older sibling one has divided by their total number of siblings. Thus, if birth order had no effect, the average gay's Slater index should be 0.50.
In 1962, Slater found the average of his humbly named index was 0.58 for a group of 337 gay men (3). Over the years this study was repeated, with Tsoi et al. in 1977 again finding an index of 0.58 (4), and Hare and Moran in 1979 finding an index of 0.55 (5).
Incidentally, I’ve a couple older brothers and my Slater index is 1, and from a typically large LDS family :-).
So we now have two pieces of the puzzle: gay men 1. have more brothers and 2. are born later in the line of their siblings. But again, something is missing. It will take putting these two pieces together to make the next big step in this process. Still, at this point one should pause, as there are some important implications already.
A couple of popular theories as to why a boy is gay are losing ground here (though you’ll still see them hanging on today). For one, it was assumed that if boys grew up around women, without maleness around, they’d grow up queer, taking on the effeminate attributes they predominately observed. The evidence shows though, a house full of sisters or being an only child is more likely to produce heterosexual men, and it’s brothers that contribute to a boy being gay. Another theory, and one with some data to back it up, was that being gay correlates with an absent father. It does correlate, but likely because being born last makes you more likely than your siblings to grow up with an absent father, say, due to his death or abandonment.
Moving on, it seems Blanchard et al. was one of the first to put the two pieces together and find the connection between older brothers and homosexuality. He published two studies in quick succession (5,6), 1995 and 1996. Each study had two matched groups of homosexuals with heterosexual, 458 subjects. Among his results (my emphasis):
“Logistic regression analysis showed that homosexuality was positively correlated with the proband's number of older brothers but not with older sisters, younger brothers, younger sisters, or parental age at the time of the proband's birth. Each additional older brother increased the odds of homosexuality by 33%.
So the reality was painted into an even smaller corner. It seems the past studies all included sisters in their Slater indexes, and weren’t accounting for birth order in their research on brothers, thus diluting the actual effect in both cases. It is also important to note that this effect is only found for gay men, and a similar effect for women has proven either slight or nonexistent (another important hint that will lead to new hypotheses; as we all know, only women carry homosexual children ;-)).
So what is it about older brothers? Is this a congenital, more nature thing, or a learned, more nurture thing? Many on the anti-gay side promote nurture first, you know, not something God intended, something “reparable”, and something kind of sordid would help too. They already went after our fathers (and still do); now it’s our brother’s turn. Here’s one: maybe those older brothers are molesting their younger siblings and that mental trauma makes the kid addicted to sex with men.
So this, of course, was examined (as, sure, I suppose it should be ruled out, and I was a bit too quick-tempered above :-)).
Skipping a number of studies that repeated the above research reported on by Blanchard, Bogaert compiled a similar study, in 2003 (8). But this time the participants were questioned on their early “same-sex play” and other sexual experience. His paper reports on two separate and large national probability samples (one of 18,876 People and the other of 3,432). He reports:
“fraternal birth order predicted same-sex attraction in men, with each additional older brother increasing the odds of homosexual attraction by an average of 38%. Results also indicated that the fraternal birth order/same-sex attraction relationship in men was independent of sexual behavior, including early same-sex behavior. No sibling characteristics predicted sexual orientation in women. Results suggest experience-based theories (e.g., early same-sex play) of the fraternal birth order effect in men are unlikely to be correct.”
So, they found no correlation between adult sexual orientation and early sex play, related to an older brother or not, but again they found that older brother effect. Still, the question was only winnowed down; it seems it has nothing to do with sexual activity. Instead, could this effect somehow involve something less scandalous, something like early identification or de-identification with older brothers?
At this point a review was published. In 2004, Blanchard conducted a rather large meta-analysis representing 10,143 men in 14 different studies. He also takes into account a fetal birth characteristic, weight (9). In part, he reports:
“ Research on birth order, birth weight, and sexual orientation suggests that the developmental pathway to homosexuality initiated by older brothers operates during prenatal life. Calculations assuming a causal relation between older brothers and sexual orientation have estimated the proportion of homosexual men who owe their sexual orientation to fraternal birth order at 15% in one study and 29% in another.”
FYI: I’m holding back on some of the other material in this paper (and some other papers) as I’ll get to it in posting on the biological hows and whys of this big brother effect within a week. I mainly want to establish the phenomena here.
Anyway, so there’s another effect that seemingly comes with having an older brother, lower birth weight. The male baby weighs less than it would if it had older sisters. This is another hint. There seems to be something that goes on in utero with regards to having an older brother that affects us in an easily measurable way. Is it the same thing that will account for some of our homosexuality? Even if low birth weight comes with older brothers, the likelihood of, say, a post-birth identification or de-identification psychological mechanism behind homosexuality would only be weakened.
Gratefully, such questions were settled to a significant degree by Bogaert, and just this year (2006) (10).
“Four samples of homosexual and heterosexual men (total n 944), including one sample of men raised in nonbiological and blended families (e.g., raised with halfor step-siblings or as adoptees) were studied. Only biological older brothers, and not any other sibling characteristic, including nonbiological older brothers, predicted men’s sexual orientation, regardless of the amount of time reared with these siblings. These results strongly suggest a prenatal origin to the fraternal birthorder effect.”
Note first, this was published in PNAS. Fancy ;-).
So, men raised with older biological brothers were compared to gay men raised as adoptees, or with half- or step brothers. The only sort of brother that seemed to significantly correlate with being gay was the older biological brother, even if the gay man wasn’t raise in his same family. That’s a pretty good bit of work to show that, no, it’s not being raised with older brothers in the home that helps makes one gay. It’s only having the same mother as another male human. It’s sharing a womb, not a room (har har :-)).
Next: the research on why and how this effect exists.
Lastly, occupational habit makes me disclaim: questions are never settled in any science, even with regards to laws established for decades and observed daily. We simply have a really good idea and a heck of a lot of data on this one, more than enough to reasonably count on it. I also want to be clear: this is only one effect among many; it’s just one of the more significant effects. So, if you don’t have older brothers, don’t get all offended; I’m not calling you a hetero ;-).
1. Jensch, K. (1941). "Weiterer Beitrag zur Genealogie der Homosexualitat
[A further contribution to the genealogical study of homosexuality]." Archivfur Psychiatrie und Nervenkrankheiten 112: 679-696.
2. Lang, T. (1960). "Homosexualitat als genetisches Problem [Homosexuality as a genetic problem]." Acta Geneticae Medicae et Gemellologiae 9: 370-381.
3. Slater, E. (1962). "Birth order and maternal age of homosexuals." Lancet: 69-71.
4. Tsoi, W., L. Kok, et al. (1977). "Male transsexualism in Singapore: A description of 56 cases." British Journal of Psychiatry 131: 405-409.
5. Hare, E. and P. Moran (1979). "Parental age and birth order in homosexual patients: A replication of Slater's study." British Journal of Psychiatry 134: 178-182.
6. Blanchard, R., K. Zucher, et al. (1995). "Birth order and sibling sex ratio in homosexual male adolescents and probably prehomosexual feminine boys." Developmental Psychology 31(1): 22-33.
7. Blanchard, R. and A. F. Bogaert (1996). "Homosexuality in men and number of older brothers." American Journal of Psychiatry 153: 27-31.
8. Bogaert, A. F (2003). "Number of older brothers and sexual orientation: New tests and the attraction/behavior distinction in two national probability samples." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 84(3): 644-652.
9. Blanchard, R. (2004). "Quantitative and theoretical analyses of the relation between older brothers and homosexuality in men." Journal of Theoretical Biology 230: 173-187.
10. Bogaert, A. F. (2006). "Biological versus nonbiological older brothers and men’s sexual orientation." Proceedings of the National Acadamy of Science 103(28): 10771-10774.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
“FACING EAST is a world premiere parable for our place and time by noted LDS author Carol Lynn Pearson.
Ruth and Alex McCormick are an upstanding Mormon couple reeling from the suicide of their gay son. In FACING EAST, they are stuck between the comfort of their faith and the unfamiliarity of their new reality when they encounter their son’s partner, Marcus, for the first time”
One could read more on it from this link.
We’ll be attending with a group primarily composed of PFLAG parents (Yep, it’ll be voluntary emotional punishment). I’m sure I’ll leave the play in quite a mood.
My parents actually told us about it and invited us after themselves being invited by PFLAG. I wonder if it seems odd, though, that my parents never joined PFLAG when I came out. I never even knew anyone involved in the organization until the Amendment 3 debate. I think my parents and I both thought PFLAG was only for families in turmoil. What would we want with it?
Our opinions changed after R and I participated in a panel discussion. A bunch of PFLAG parents were there, and we were to discuss being parents ourselves. The grandparents came along to take care of the twins, then barely toddlers. We gave the short version of our lives, and answered a bunch of the typical questions.
Afterwards, a group of parents came up to us to give their regards, all wonderful, friendly people. One woman stood out as soon as I saw her approach. She waited behind the others, and once she reached us, she congratulated us and went on about how beautiful our family was.
She then got to her point by asking what she could do to help her son into a monogamous lifelong union. I should have known to be more careful by the emotional signals she radiated. But I wasn’t careful; I assumed too much. My initial response, which I now regret intensely, was some weak generic answer: “Be there for him. Make sure he knows nothing changes but the sex of the person he loves by his being gay--not your love, your support, what’s right in a relationship... Make clear why you think monogamy and family is important, regardless, for all relationships.” And so on. I even gestured to my parents and accredited them with why I have the family I now had. Once I got off my soapbox, I could see I’d done her wrong.
She paused and looked at our boys over playing with my parents, with the look of a person about to cry, emoting the great effort it took to hide her emotion.
“My son,” she finally said, both loosing it and catching herself at that comma. She then explained, speaking quietly and matter-of-factly, trying to keep decorum, but it was clear she was trying; every word was pregnant with urgency. It was as though she didn’t want to scare us off, but knew her problem deserved hysteria. It did.
She said she knew her boy was gay from very early on in his childhood. By the way she once saw her faith, she was zealously against the “sin”, but still loved her “sinner”. She had decided to wait to see what he’d choose; having taught him homosexuality was evil. Eventually the kid told her what she already knew, a couple years prior to that day, and she was prepared. She took a tough love stance, wanting him to try to change in therapy, and forbidding any contact with other gay kids.
That drove a wedge between her and her son and he subsequently hit back. He left the home for days; went through boyfriend after boyfriend… The “gay lifestyle”. Evidently, their once loving mother-son relationship devolved into a cycle of tit-for-tat of emotional punishments, and a once model son became an angry, self-destructive stranger.
A couple month before our meeting she had a dramatic change of heart, a moment of clarity as she put it. She knew she was wrong about her past morality, and choices, and was now going to PFLAG meetings, apologizing, wanting to help, and ready to accept her son’s orientation. But the boy wasn’t changing, wasn’t letting her back in either. Her guilt was palpable, but her son, evidently, wasn’t ready to put down his arms.
Why, exactly? I can guess but I wished he could have been there.
Once the situation became clear I apologized over and over for my rude and careless assumptions, but by the end I was left with that familiar helpless feeling, wanting to fix it but not knowing how. She could see it on my face.
I don’t know how parents can help their child get from that point B to point C, once point A has passed. I suggested they get professional help, and that a couple months were probably too short of time to heal what had occurred between them. I told her of others we know, now parents in long-standing relationships, who’ve made that change, and put that past behind them. Their once hostile parents were now happy grandparents, some even living with their son’s family in their old age. While I certainly know why they did choose the slow family life, I only knew how by guessing.
She gave an undeserved “Thank you”, complimented our family again, and made her way back into the crowd. At that, a very pleasant experience became one of the most somber and humbling of my adult life. I think of her and her son often, along with all the others.
I find myself wanting at least another hour with her, thinking of new ideas, angles. I wanted to talk to her son, tell him to let it go, “She’s you mother!” and so on, and I wish I’d thought of getting her number. Maybe it did work out in the end, and all it took was a couple more weeks of assurance for him to forgive and stop being such a smuck. That’s what I’d prefer to imagine, but I want to know.
Anyway, I realize now all families with GLBT members have a reason to be in PFLAG. It’s not just for families in turmoil; as long as parents such as that woman are frantic for help, it’s for all our families. I wish my parents and we could devote more time.
Oh yes :-), off the tangent, my impressions of the play should be forthcoming, for those interested.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
That’s a personal best! Anyone beat me?
Last year it was 45%; even the republicans I voted for lost. Yep, I’m becoming more mainstream ;-).
Seriously, this is usually a tough day for me, and, sure, this day is not without it’s low points (All those marriage bans…). But hey, the country will be trying something different, an improvement one would hope, in a time when stay the course just isn’t cutting it. I can’t be upset and am, in fact, quite happy with the results (Very happy for Winder, despite Gill’s loss).
Now, if only those two senate races go to the Dems… A couple of our “liberal” “activist” Supreme Court justices have seen better days...
I also want to congratulate McCoy, Biskupski, Johnson, and Litvack, who all won handily. I wish we didn't have to leave before real results came it.
Anyway, I want to end this post by bidding a farewell to the Senator from Pennsylvania. Yes, yes, Senator Santorum, the terrorists have won and we’ll be gay-marrying hijab-wearing cattle within a fortnight. Yippee!!
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Anyway, I’d like to put out an appeal.
If you’ll be deciding anything regarding marriage rights, please hear me out. I’ve gone through many ways society would benefit by implementing such rights for gay couples, and they range from the financial, to the familial, to the intangible. I’ve also gone through all the ways such law would help my family, one with two kids and a stay-at-home-parent. Please, please, give it careful consideration, as you will be changing the lives of real people.
If your amendment forbids both “marriage” and any other civil union, please don’t keep people like us and our children from all those rights and obligations for the name alone. Don’t ditch the moral of equal protection for that. If you want to keep “marriage” for heterosexuals but have no problem giving our unions another legal classification, vote the amendment down and make your representative write one that you can fully support.
There really are people out there who’s job it is to find ways to get good people to feel okay about hurting their neighbors. I saw many an example of such through our marriage debate here in Utah; not that it’s anything new ;-). Packaging your fellow citizen’s rights in this “attack on marriage” wrapping is one of those ways. Think on it. Who is attacking families? Who is anti-marriage, anti-commitment, anti stay-at-home parents, and pro-welfare in this fight? Call them on it; give your neighbor and his family a chance at equal rights and call it whatever you want (even a dorky name like "Nessiage" ;-)).
Now that I got that rant out of the way, on to the more local topics… I just want to express support for a couple people.
Though I’m more a moderate than most expect with the details of my life (I think I voted about 65/25 Dem/Rep last vote, the rest being protest votes), I am abnormally involved in politics.
As a person who’s had significant interaction with him and his staff, I’ve come to greatly respect Salt Lake County Mayor Corroon. Those who work for him vouch for his ethics without solicitation, and he is a fiscally responsible, fair-minded Democrat, my favorite kind of Democrat :-). Because of this, when Sim Gill was endorsed by the Mayor (and much of the county staff I know), I took notice. After talking to Sim a couple times and becoming familiar with his qualifications, I’m sold. No offence, Lohra (BTW, you need to find a better color scheme for your signs next time; they’re difficult to read above 50 mph).
Anyway, this is a neck-and-neck race and I’ll be voting for Sim Gill, and do recommend him.
Jim Winder. I’m relieved he’s far ahead of Kennard for Salt Lake County Sheriff now. I'll not go into why I’ve a problem with Kennard, but it's a good reason :-). I’ve talked with Winder a couple times. He comes across as an honorable man, with a grip on the problems law enforcement faces in SLC. Simply, this is one race where the incumbent has gotten too comfortable and there’s a well qualified opponent waiting for your vote.
I’d also like to pick out Cannon. I think I can agree with the far right in Utah on his needs to go. Burridge is a fair replacement; at least until the Republicans can come up with a better candidate to test him. But who am I kidding? Cannon would be going back to Congress even if his name was Mark Foley.
You may notice a couple high profile races are left out. I’m undecided or resigned to their outcome, but feel free to persuade me; I may just vote for libertarians in a couple races.
Kengo, I see an Ashdown advert in your blog... you want to take a shot at it ;-)? While I'm no fan of Hatch and he'll not get my vote, I worry about Ashdown's qualifications.
Don't get me started on Matheson, but his opponent, Christensen, wow. I’d rather be represented by a homophobic tree stump. At least I can protest vote and still know Christensen won’t win.
As for my state representative, I know I said he had my vote, but I’m wavering after my parent’s discussion with his opponent. I don’t know what I’ll do now, and will decide after talking to the opponent in person tonight.
Finally, of course, I’d hope those who can do go out and vote for McCoy, Biskupski, and Christine Johnson (Despite the Trib’s befuddling endorsement of McCoy's opponent; and, no, I'm a different Scot :-)). They are all three good people who I’ve come to respect.
Hmm, all democrats this year, but one or two possible holdouts. It is what it is, I guess, but I'll never vote straight ticket :-).
Anyway, that’s it. Happy voting; be gentle.
Brought to you by Citizens United For Justice, Kittens, and Perfect Government, and The Endowment for the People Dedicated to Scot’s Bidding.
I don’t want to harm one part of them by encouraging another. Neither do I want to be distracted by what I find perfect for me, in my home, as to assume and promote it as the right or practical answer for everyone. And then I feel presumptuous and self-important for even thinking it matters what I write :-). I’m almost a complete stranger, only blogging here for a couple months.
I think I’ve deleted more comments than I’ve posted.
In short, I did not anticipate such feelings (not to mention to be left without my usual longwinded $0.02 :-)). This is a strong emotional aspect of blogging that I only limitedly encountered in my old sites, or even in forums. Here an emotionally potent topic can be found near daily. It’s funny how that happens, too. A string of letters, a turn of phrase, and even habits of punctuation come together to form an idea of a person with whom you can’t help but relate.
Now, I don’t mean to say I’m some magnanimous spring of eternal compassion for the masses :-). Far from it. My home is my priority, and, honestly, there are real world things I’d not do to lend a hand (I’d type my point of view till my fingers turned blue, though, if I thought that’d help :-)). Of course, there’s a line. I’m also not going to claim I’m not going on my history. I’m not looking at blogs about, say, people who’ve lost their spouse to cancer; I’m looking at gay LDS blogs and relating to it with my past and my surroundings.
Nonetheless and for what it’s worth, I want them to know, even if I can’t think of the right words, they can count one more human as listening, reading, concerned, and invested to some degree, with however much meaning a blog relationship may allow.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
The comparison between same sex marriage and polygamy is often made, claiming polygamy will follow from legal marriage for gays. But two apples are not a bushel of oranges:
1. Refusing legal polygamy is discrimination based on the number of people. Refusing legal marriage for gay couples is discrimination based on a person’s sexual anatomy, an undeniably inborn trait with a long history of nondiscrimination law.
Not all discrimination, of course, is bad. But we are guaranteed equal rights as individuals and individual gay men want the rights in their unions they’d have if the state was blind to their anatomy, the rights a female citizen in their same place would have (not to mention the rights of other family legally diminished for the same reason).
In general, I’ve no problems with discriminating based on the number of people and I don’t think anyone honestly does. I’d not think twice about the state rejecting two people interviewing as a couple for a certain job in favor of one, even if the two together had better qualifications. That’s a world apart from the state doing so for a person’s sex, and, if number is a person’s reason for discriminating against polygamists, I’ve no counterargument to it. You can, in that way, reasonably want legal marriage for couples regardless of the constituent individual’s sex, but not for more than two people.
2. Polygamists are not asking for the same rights as current legal marriage; they are asking for a whole new body of law. They cannot have the same rights or obligations by simple and inflexible mathematics, not law or cultural prejudice.
Without a will, for example, how do you decide SS, inheritance, and so on for a polygamist? Do they all get the same, even the wife there for only one month with no kids, when there is a wife there for 40 years with 10 kids? Do they decide medical decisions for an incapacitated husband by vote? What if there’s a tie? What about alimony? Are the remaining wives responsible for a divorced wife? What about child custody? Is a sister wife the default parent if her husband and one of his wives dies? Or is it the dead wife’s other next of kin? What is the legal relationship between wives? Do they get on another wife’s health insurance? Do they have automatic rights of inheritance, and if so how is the math done? One could go on.
It’s a legal mess, and a whole new set of law would need to be pounded out for polygamists; but gays want the same rights and obligations. For gay couples nothing is changed in law but two words about a person’s apparent sex.
3. Polygamists families can already have these rights, with one person (with the same legal limits placed on same-sex couples).
This already gives polygamist families far more rights, legal stability, and economic freedom than families headed by monogamous gay couples. Funny, as it’s as though the anti-gay rights folk seem to think polygamists are even lower than gays in respectability, in warning us “they’re next.”
The problem is that our opponents insist on ignoring such differences. They are fixated on framing this debate as discrimination between union types, gay marriage vs. heterosexual marriage vs. polygamy. If gay marriage wins that supposedly means a blow for heterosexual unions, us vs. them, and so on, but this is legally about an individual’s rights (It makes one want to search up old editorials from when the same sort of folks were up in arms against interracial marriage).
But for PR reasons they connect the two, as they know those who may be for gay marriage tend to also be against polygamy, due to its popular history of abuses and misogyny (No, certainly not the case for all polygamists, but those most in the public eye; I’ve known some who are very decent). What’s worse is that our opponents will even go so far with their union type non-discrimination arguments as to attach it to relationships between human and beast, somehow never thinking of the ease with which we can and do justify discriminating between a human and, say, a box turtle :-).
Simply, if polygamy ever did follow from gay marriage, it will be, in large part, the doing of the modern opponents of gay marriage. They are the ones who hope to convince the public the two are tied together.
Now if anyone wants to get into whether legal polygamy, as a separate issue, should be implemented or not, I’m game :-), but, in the comments (My posts get way too long).
Friday, November 03, 2006
Part 3 of 3 (Part 1, Part 2)
In 1233 Pope Gregory IX set up the Papal Inquisition. From here, it’s a bit confusing as to who was a condemned homosexual and who was a condemned heretic; homosexuality had been tied so tight to being a heretic that the same word was often used for both. But in 1255 the Head of the Dominican order began aiming particularly for “sodomites”, a word that now meant what most think today, and in 1260 Bologna’s laws made the Dominicans officially responsible for hunting down homosexuals.
In 1252 Innocent IV okayed torture in inquisition trials, but it was not to be done by clerics; a layman must dirty their hands. In 1256 though, Alexander IV allowed clergy inquisitors to absolve each other for their acts of torture. Convenient, huh? They believed, sans doubt, and were thusly able to justify the horrible things they or their leaders did.
In the 14th century, we have the Templars, a monastic order of knights, under allegiance to the Pope. It’s debatable if even an abnormal number of them were gay men, or heretics, or simply on the wrong end of politics, but homosexuality and apostasy were the crimes of which Philip IV accused them, playing on popular rumors in what appears to be an attempt to gain power over the church. Pope Clement V (1264 1314 AD), under coercion and not wanting to be treated by Philip as his predecessor, Boniface VIII, had been, acquiesced and instructed the bishops and inquisitors to interrogate the Templars. Most of the “confessions” gained were eventually retracted, but many knights were quickly burned anyway and the Pope got rid of the Templars, in part for “the execrable outrage of sodomy”. Execrable…
The use of homosexuality against political obstacles is clearly realized by now.
While it is the state carrying out most all these sentences, and that does give some absolution to the RCC, the church and state can’t be separated here. The church would extract a sodomite’s confession and then, as they referred to it, “relax” him into the custody of the state executioner. Ostensibly they love the sodomite and are only doing what’s best for him, familiar sentiment. They were “helping” him get a far better chance at heaven, absolved and then quickly killed, and as a great example to others so afflicted. And if their faith was right it could be seen as moral: an infinitely tiny sliver of torment for an eternity of heaven. Who wouldn’t make that trade?
But good loving intentions about the supernatural don’t cut it. The church knew what the effects of their judgments would be and the laws of the state were clearly based in doctrine. In the Netherlands, for example, the punishment for “breaking the law of Octavianus [referring to the Lex Julia of Augustus criminalizing male relations] and Moses and the whole world” could be either 1. being burned 2. buried alive or 3. self-castration. In the Etablissements de Saint Louis (book 1 ch 90), it states “if anyone is suspected of bougrerie [homosexuality] the magistrate shall apprehend him and send him to the bishop; and if it is proved he shall be burned; and all his goods shall go to the baron.” The same fate is then given for heretics.
Also, again, “all his goods go to the baron.” Finding a “sodomite” (gay or not) meant a good deal of money at times, and it was used.
There are also the victims of incitement to mob violence that should be considered. In 1519 Luis Castelloli, a Franciscan Friar, in a fierce sermon, attributed a plague to homosexuality. The Friar did such a job that a mob formed. They burned 4 of 5 suspects alive (one was a member of the clergy and was initially given leniency, but was eventually strangled, then burned).
Then we get into the always-unexpected Spanish inquisition (1478 AD). The rights of secular bodies to do such things as burn homosexuals based on Papal claims were spelled out in the Directorium Inquisitorum, by Nicolas Eymeric. Here the church is said to be able to punish even the heathens violating “natural law”; the proof given is the now fully transformed Sodom story. It concludes, “the judgments of God are our example! Consequently, why should the Pope not proceed, if he has means, as God proceeds!” Why indeed? There is a strength in faith, but anyone can have it, feel its potency without doubt, and do horrible things with it.
In 1524 Pope Clement VII gave license to three tribunals set up to specifically try “sodomites” in the Spanish Inquisition, claiming “among the children of the infidels [the Moors] the horrendous and detestable crime of sodomy has begun to spread and that if these debased kinds of men are not isolated they can drag down the faithful into this corruption.” This of course was another useful political maneuver. Does it sound familiar? :-)
To his credit, Pope Clement VII did specify that typical inquisition rules did not apply to the edict, and thus local laws allowing for confrontation of witnesses and the forbiddance of torture were in play. But torture was still used and when objection to it was finally made in 1593, it was excused as “custom”.
By the end of the Spanish Inquisition it’s estimated 100 men were put to death for homosexuality, and on top of that are those tortured and receiving lesser punishments (only an estimated 1/5 were put to death). Also, that doesn’t count those put to death in secular courts for sodomy, which is estimated to be about 100 as well for the same period, placing the total around the number of protestant heretics killed (No, probably not as many as the reputation of the Spanish Inquisitions brings to the imagination, but enough to my mind to give the period its bad name).
The religious pageantry of the autos showcasing these punishments is a terrifying thing, if you can find a description. On top of those victims one must consider the countless others in secret fear for their lives, in the audience.
Briefly, in the new world, we’re told by the letters of Spanish explorers and missionaries that "sodomy", was common and far from unacceptable among the natives (pottery seems to back this up in part). Hernan Cortes (1485-1547 AD) reported to Charls V "we have learnt and been informed for sure that they [Vera Cruz natives] are all sodomites..." This was one of the justifications for their murder. We have depictions of the torture of such natives who had the misfortune of having their alleged "sodomy" come to the attentions of the Spanish conquerors. It’s, of course, another example of a political use.
I don’t want to take this too far into modern times, and so I’ll end with a record of same-sex marriages performed in Rome, in 1578. The Venetian Ambassador reported,
“Eleven Portuguese and Spaniards have been captured. They had assembled in a church near Saint John Lateran where they had performed some ceremonies of horrible wickedness which sullied the sacred name of matrimony, marrying each other and being joined as husbands and wife. Twenty-seven or more, it is said, were discovered altogether on another occasion, but they were not able to capture more than eleven, who were given to the fire as they deserved.”
These are humans wanting to marry each other, but ended up burning to a horrific death. They were burned alive, as so many others, and with so much callousness and with as much respect for their humanity as one would have for a stick on the fire. They may not of been too unlike R and me, and I can’t shake the fear and nausea of the idea.
On the upside, I think that pretty much sums up the difference in the times and points out how much the Christian faiths have evolved. Merely a religious ceremony of gay marriage meant being burned alive and you had much theological opinion backing up, inspiring, and encouraging the authorities. The world is changing; we should all, gay or straight, Christian or not, be grateful.