April 11 - Aiden Grimshaw
What makes us gay? Is it our genes? Is it hormonal? Or is it our environment and upbringing? These questions fascinate me and, I am sure, many of you. But they also worry and frustrate me.
In this issue we ask two leading scientific experts on the origin of sexuality whether gay people will eventually become extinct – our genes rejected by the process of natural selection – and whether increasing acceptance of homosexuality in society may actually accelerate that process. There has been a lot of research on the subject. Some of it, like the work done by our experts, has been scientifically motivated and is genuinely interesting. Sadly this is often clouded by dodgy studies and the misquoting of genuine research by quasi-scientists who have an agenda of their own. That throws up obvious dangers.
But despite being intrigued by the subject it frustrates me that we are spending so much time, energy and money asking the wrong question. Wouldn’t it be better for researchers to focus their attention on what makes someone into a homophobe and what can be done to change them? Obviously you can’t force people to love us and there’s nothing to be gained from pathologising dislike. But there are real questions about how best to tackle homophobia. What makes some kids into anti-gay bullies? How do we change organisations where homophobia is institutionalised? Sadly these practical problems aren’t fashionable enough to attract serious amounts of research money.
But whatever the scientists argue in our Big Debate, one thing’s for sure. With the world population reaching seven billion this year, and still rising, there’s not going to be a shortage of gays any time soon. So I say let’s work on improving society and leave our genes to look after themselves.
And, on a lighter note, some of our favourite people from that seven billion are in this issue; like Corrie writer Jonathan Harvey, Aiden and the guys from X Factor, Same Difference making us laugh again and our new-found hero Tanwarin Sukkapisit. I hope you enjoy some time in their company as much as we did.