Being LGBTA: are we born this way or do we choose this way?

Someone recently asked us what we think about the whole “it’s a choice” vs. “born this way” discussion in churches. I wasn’t sure how to answer, until I found a beautiful response from a pretty awesome Catholic nun named Margaret Farley.

In Just Love, a book on sexual ethics, Farley discusses the “nature vs. nurture” and “biological vs. choice” debate. In the following passage, she argues that, while there is substantial evidence that sexuality is innate and unchangeable, this debate should not be the main grounds for accepting or rejecting LGBT people and relationships. Whether we are “born this way” or “choose” this way should not be the one and only guideline by which our relationships are judged. Here is the passage, directly quoted except for the parts in brackets (note that her wording is pretty outdated, cissexist, and LG-centric, alas):

Understanding homosexuality as an inborn characteristic of some persons has been important to the achievement of tolerance and civil rights. Thus far science has not found the exact key to this inborn characteristic, but there can be no doubt that for many individuals who identify themselves as [gay], there is their own clear experience of being attracted to those of the same sex from the time of their earliest memories. The inborn character of being gay would not have to depend on a biological cause; for even if it is the result of social and cultural construction, it may be as “unchosen,” as unchangeable, and as basic to one’s continuing identity as if it were biological.

However we understand the givenness of homosexuality, this insight and conviction have helped religious traditions to accept the gay [people] among them. As Judith Plaskow notes, this allows the view that “since homosexuality is not chosen, it cannot be immoral…[since] God would not demand of human beings something they cannot possibly obey.” Moreover, there is strength in recognizing oneself as a member of a group whose identity is clear, inborn, God-given.

Yet there are reasons to worry about the “givenness” of homosexuality as the primary or sole justification for the acceptance of [gay people]. [Farley here describes how some people do not realize they are gay early on, and also brings up people who are attracted to multiple genders.] Moreover, the requirement of finding some biological explanation for innate homosexuality risks highlighting it as an anomaly – since we don’t keep searching for the gene that explains heterosexuality. Finally, if the givenness of homosexuality is the mainstay of an ethic for same-sex relationships, there will always be the objection that no one needs to act on this tendency, and same-sex activity thus remains still outside the pale of justifiable sex.

My own view, as should be clear by now, is that same-sex relationships and activities can be justified according to the same ethic as heterosexual relationships and activities. Therefore, same-sex oriented persons as well as their activities can and should be respected whether or not that have a choice to be otherwise. Insofar as this is true, it still matters a great deal to individuals how they come to realize their same-sex orientation or preference; but this is not what determines whether they themselves are whole human beings whose sexuality is justifiable when it accords with the norms of sexual justice. Everyone should look forward to the day when it will not matter in the course of human and Christian affairs whether one is [gay] or heterosexual, and when one sexual ethic will help us discern the morality of all sexual relationships and activities.

The general norms that she puts forward for “just sex,” i.e., sex that is moral for Christians, regardless of the orientations or genders of people involved, are the following: do no unjust harm; free consent; mutuality; equality; commitment; fruitfulness; and social justice. LGBT sexual partners are just as capable of fulfilling this ethic as their straight counterparts, which she describes in detail in her book.

It might not surprise you to hear Farley got in some trouble with her superiors in the Catholic Church for this book! But anyway, I hope that helps clarify the whole “choice” vs. “born that way” debate: while we are naturally LGBTA+ and we cannot change that without doing violence to our core identities, whether or not that is true should not determine our right to live and love.

been thinking a lot lately about how (for lack of a better word) ugly men are allowed to be, and still be seen as natural and human, versus the forced maintenance of femininity required of women to be seen simply as human and worthy of respect. we live in a society that celebrates male mediocrity and demands constant performance from women, and idk it just really makes me wanna scream

“Si parcă nu-s căscat
Dar totuși am căzut
Și parcă nu-s naiv
Dar totuși am crezut
În povești științifico-fantastic
În cuvinte goale
În zâmbete de plastic”

i couldn’t sleep and started thinking about the zaeed as shepard’s dad headcanon, so have some crew reactions to finding out zoe and zaeed are related

legion: confusion. starts following zaeed around, trying to figure out why he and shepard are different if their programming is similar. zoe has to explain nature versus nurture to him

mordin: figured out they were somehow related within hours of interacting with both of them. sends zaeed pamphlets on dealing with surprise relatives and pretends he doesn’t know why zaeed is pissy around him afterwards

garrus: “so can i call you dad?” 

“i will shoot you”

miranda: puts it in their files like the professional she is, laughs at the thought of the illusive man trying to use it to gain leverage over either of them

joker: “oh god there’s two of them”

The fashionable ideology that “artificial” lacks the inherent goodness of “natural” is an appealing, but hopelessly simplistic notion of the intellectually chic. Artifice is the result of a deliberate intent to make. Nature also “makes” things, using a set of basic building blocks common throughout the universe. Exchanging infinite time for deliberate design, nature has ingeniously built plants, planets, galaxies and unimaginable constructs which seem to structure the universe itself. What we call “natural” is simply the result of whatever set of rules nature has followed in fashioning our observable reality. On planet Earth, nature has manipulated the common elements to fashion everything from bacteria to the molten core of the planet. Discoveries in the “nano” technologies of bio, molecular, and micro engineering will re-edit the nomenclature of “natural” versus “unnatural”, blurring if not erasing the line of distinction between “machine” and “organism”, “natural” and “unnatural”, “God-given” and “man-made”.
—  Syd Mead

I just did it on my own. I’ve never worked with an acting coach, but my parents had acting classes and I grew up around them my whole life just because I didn’t have a babysitter. I’m actually a very shy person - that’s a big secret, so don’t tell - but being in those classes pushed me to break out of that a little bit. It’s like nature versus nurture: I’m naturally very shy, but I was brought up in a way where I had to get up and get out of that.

Demacia Update

I’m loving the Demacia changes; underlying themes of civilization versus nature, emotions versus expectations, and societal & preconceived prejudices. I really feel the narrative team can definitely explore the parallels between the fear/hatred of magic into parallels with homophobia as well the isolationist views definitely exploring Demacia’s racial prejudices.

Demacia definitely feels Arthurian, it’s epic! - grand! - valiant! ! While keeping grounded in its humanity, that people and societies are stubborn and can suffer from trauma that leads to dark places. I definitely think a major theme of Demacia that will show is a Path of Healing (or Understanding). I have more thoughts I’d love to write about, but I have to clear my head and thinking about what I’d like to ficus on for each character.

Recently Read: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

This book was torturous.

Like seriously. Just emotionally devastating from page one. At the very surface level it is about 4 college friends and their lives after moving to New York but what this book is actually about is trauma, friendship, recovery, and the ability or inability to move on with your life after unspeakable horror. Nature versus nurture. Whether or not people actually can change or if their fates are sealed from the very beginning.

I have really mixed feelings about this book. I’m confused because by the first 30 pages I knew it would be one of the best I read all year and by the first 100 I truly felt that it will be one of the best books I read in my life. It is compelling but maybe not enjoyable? Demanding and yet not satisfying. It can be emotionally manipulative and overdone and yet a simple and astonishing story with metaphor about front porch lights and summer honey had me closing the book and wiping away tears. 

Yanagihara is an incredibly storyteller. She has emerged as a truly fantastic new(ish) voice in contemporary literature and I don’t think this is the last we will hear from her. Her timing was phenomenal throughout most of this book - the way she slipped in pieces of this horrifying story was masterful and just indicative of a true understanding of craft. She is a force to be reckoned with and so is this book. 

“I tried to give it to Watson, but she turned it down.” Sherlock led Lin and Joan through the living room towards the outdoor balcony of the safe house apartment.

“No way!” Lin stared incredulously at Joan. “I think there’s been a mistake. You and I cannot be related.”

Joan scrunched her face at her half sister, “Very funny.”

Sherlock watched the interactions of the new-found siblings, ticking off the similarities and differences in gestures, stance, word usage and mentally catalogued  them for his nature versus nurture study.  The ring of his phone interrupted him.  "Excuse me, I need to take this.“ He strode towards one of the back bedrooms. "Yes, Mason. What did you learn ….”

“Seriously, Joan, why didn’t you jump at this place. It’s a hundred times better than that old brownstone and he was offering it to you for free!” Her eyes scanned her sister’s face.

“I like that old brownstone. Its home. Living with Sherlock makes life easier. We work better together.  I’d spend most my time there even if I moved.” The way Lin was watching her made Joan slightly uncomfortable and she turned to walk back into the living room.

“You like him.” Lin spoke as if it were a revelation.

Joan rolled her eyes, "Of course I like him. He’s my friend, my roommate. We’ve been through a lot. He’s a good guy, fun to be around believe it or not …”

“Yeah and the fact that you can practically bounce a quarter off that cute little butt of his doesn’t hurt…” Lin took in Joan’s shocked expression and it suddenly dawned on her. “Oh my god, you "like” like him!“ She could hardly contain her glee. "Don’t worry, he’s not my type. You can have him.”

"Lin! Stop it. He’ll hear you.” Joan hissed at her sister.

Lin sidled up and bumped shoulders with her. She put her arm around Joan. “Come on, sis. It’s okay. I won’t tell anyone….. You need to loosen up.”

Joan leaned in towards her sister, with a tiny smile on her face, she whispered,  "He does have a cute butt, doesn’t he. And those tattoos …“

"What? Tattoos? Where?” Lin was all ears.

Sherlock’s voice boomed into the room before him. “Mason thinks he’s uncovered information about the remains of Vikner’s network …”  His voice trailed off as he took in the conspiratorial stance and guilty looks on the two women, “Did I miss something?”

watched the gameplay footage for the new sonic game!!!! im super excited tbh

the title being ‘sonic forces’ and apparently there being things said about different characters having forces clashing against each other is really interesting?? like an eggman force v a sonic force and such is super interesting to hear bc like. looking at the level we see in the gameplay trailer we can see a city in the midst of green hill zone style natural environment and to me that immediately invokes imagery of a sort of nature force versus modern / technology / civilisation force, which is this SUPER CENTRAL theme to the whole sonic franchise. so like. im pumped lads