Monday, January 07, 2013

I say, OK

If you haven't heard, there's a new study out from the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS) - how's that for an acronym? - about the genetic component to homosexuality. Check it out. I don't know if further research will bear this out, but it's brought up something I've long kept in the back of my mind.

Obviously, American society has come a long way in terms of acceptance of homosexuality; hell, even I can remember when things were very different. Thirty years ago I would never have imagined that gay characters would be all over television, and if you'd said that nine states would have legalized same sex marriage I would have backed slowly away, avoiding sudden movements. However, I think this (laudable) march towards acceptance has brought along some oversimplification about just what homosexuality is.

I've heard many times, and in many ways, assertions that gay men and women are just like our straight counterparts, except in whom we love. We gays sometimes adopt this mantra ourselves, saying, "My homosexuality is just a small part of who I am." Well, I don't know about anyone else, but my sexual orientation is pretty fundamental to me, affecting my worldview, shaping my opinions and guiding my interactions with both men and women. That "small part" winds its way through nearly every aspect of my personality, which makes it pretty damn large.

Don't get me wrong; I understand and appreciate the reluctance to define gay men merely as feminized men or gay women as just masculine women. That reluctance, in my view, arises from an enlightened perspective that people are complicated and should not be viewed according to simplistic formula. However, it's possible to look so hard for nuance that one misses the basics. No one thinks, for example, that heterosexual men are just like heterosexual women; why would we then insist that heterosexual men are just like homosexual men? I am often puzzled by the behavior of my straight counterparts, and always have been. We have different approaches to conflict resolution (you rarely see a fist-fight in a gay bar) and romantic relationships, and we just interact differently with the world. I'm not just a straight guy who likes men.

And that's why this study pulled my attention. I suppose some are uncomfortable with the idea that gay people might be the result of "feminization of some traits in sons, such as sexual preference, and similarly a partial masculinization of daughters", but not me. If it turns out I am a feminized man...well, I know lots of women. I like them. They're neat. It's no shame to be like a woman. (Although I'll admit I'm not sorry to miss out on the menstruation thing.) Neither should any woman be insulted to have masculine traits. The world is a much more interesting place for having so many different kinds of people, and if these differences sometimes make it difficult for us to connect as human beings...well, we learn much more in the trying. But we're not the same, and that is just fine with me.

Friday, January 04, 2013

The Frog and the Fool

For some reason I still don't understand, in my early twenties I went through this poetry phase. This is so hard for me to understand because reading poetry generally did nothing for me, and still doesn't. But I digress.

I wrote all kinds of stuff, from the silly to serious, and this morning as I was chopping up a vegetable (Die carrot! Die!), one of those poems came inexplicably to mind. I searched my hard drive and found it, and now I bring it to you. See if it makes you want to eviscerate something orange and healthy.

The Frog and the Fool

I walked under a blue, blue sky
And turned along a path, then I
Came up upon a toadstool patch
And there I found a frog, with match.
He scratched the stick along his rump
Took out his pipe, began to pump,
Said “What you doin’, all nosin’ round here
With your big head, your big face, your big nose and ears?”

Responded I, “I seek advice
About how I should live my life.
I am confused and do not know
Which way the world’s supposed to go.”
He rolled his eyes and snorted out
Disgust that burbled through his snout
(which wasn’t much of a snout, in truth;
He more like burbled through his tooth)

He burped again and laughed aloud
“Come down to earth from that there cloud!
There ain’t no wonder to be found
I know, because I been around.
It’s snot and filth that turns the world.”
He hacked a green one, which he hurled
Too near my foot to suit my needs,
Then cleared his throat, “Just practice greed.”

“Greed?” Said I. “Did I stutter?” said he
“You could do worse.”  I said, “Not me.
Greed’s a goal that’s much too mean
I want love, success, and to leave the world green - ”
Then stepped prudently back, in case he chose
To spit again and illustrate my prose.
He went once more as if to hack,
Then shot me a look that took me aback

“There’s nothin’ noble that can’t be got
By watchin’ pennies in the pot.
Keep close yer cash, ‘cause happiness
May not be for sale, but it’s sure up for rent.”
The days have passed, the years flown by
But well I remember his froggy eye
I planted his words with the seeds that I’ve sown
I couldn’t buy happiness, but I now lease to own.