Life as an Extreme Sport


John Cloud gets in a delightful pun in his Time article on gay sheep and the research being done in Oregon. The furor erupted a couple of weeks ago, with the predictable sides bleeting (sorry) their usual POVs – Limbaugh and company crowing that gay folk now have a reason to oppose abortion, and celebrating the potential end of gayness across the land, while the other side (helmed by Martina Navratilova) condemned the research as homophobes murdering gayness wherever they find it.The research involved looking at the brains of straight and gay male sheep, trying to determine if hormones could affect attraction. The sheep were slaughtered to examine the brains (mmm brains), and if anything, the ultimate research shows that there are definite brain variances between straight and gay sheep. Extrapolation, of course, is that the same would be true in humans.

Cloud, however, takes a very interesting position on the idea of a hormone patch (or other method of insuring a pregnant woman gets the proper hormone bath to insure a straight baby): let them. Let the bigots and homophobes have the straight babies they want, and let the gay children grow up in households where they won’t have to deal with that. Cloud’s probably right in the assumption that not all prospective parents would care if their child was gay or straight, instead more concerned about things like five fingers and toes, and the ability to breathe and nurse at birth.

The assumption seems to be, among advocates on both sides, that people would automatically choose to eliminate gayness. But Cloud’s position raises the interesting question of if this is necessarily the case, or if we’re seeing the insecurities and fears gay-rights advocates, in the face of a threat to there being others like them.

I think Cloud’s right – I think there are more than enough people out there who aren’t going to try to modify at least that potential aspect of their children. But maybe I’m just being optimistic… or just wanted the chance to use ewegenics in a post. Tough call.