Queer Questions, Clear Answers: The Contemporary Debates on Sexual Orientation

Queer Questions, Clear Answers: The Contemporary Debates on Sexual Orientation

Queer Questions, Clear Answers: The Contemporary Debates on Sexual Orientation

Queer Questions, Clear Answers: The Contemporary Debates on Sexual Orientation

Synopsis

Evidence tells us that same-sex behaviors in protohumans date as far back as five million years ago. Despite that longevity-and despite the fact that every tenth headline today seems to be linked to battles around sexual orientation-as a culture we remain ill informed about the topic. How can we go beyond the sound bites to deeper understanding?

Excerpt

Over the past several decades, our cultural conversations on homosexuality have dramatically changed. Once a topic for the occasional off-color joke or put down or the relatively obscure movie or theatrical production, homosexuality has moved to center stage in our public discourse—with ongoing debates in media, church pulpits, polling booths, and courtrooms across the country. And with each change in these conversations, the stakes seem to get higher. For some of us, reversing the growing acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle is an absolute imperative if we stand any chance of restoring our disintegrating morals. For others, the shift in attitudes represents remarkable steps toward securing the long-sought freedom to build families with same-sex partners. With the stakes so high, it is predictable, but nonetheless disappointing, that much of our public dialogue has degenerated into little more than sound bites and chatter designed to spin the data so that our truth becomes everyone’s truth—those same strategies we use in the worst of our political campaigns.

These sound bites represent recurring themes that deserve to be examined. But more often than not, all we remember is the bravado, failing to look at the accuracy of the underlying data.

Having been victimized by and, I confess, having engaged in these tactics, a few years ago I made a personal decision to step back and carefully consider the often-asked questions about homosexuality. For my own sake I needed to stop and look carefully at what stood behind the bombast on all sides of the arguments. What lessons could I uncover by peering through the lenses of the zoologist and the jurist, the psychologist and the politician . . .

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