Are homosexuals born that way

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  • 1. • Are Homosexuals Born That Way? Sex on the Brain• Magazine article by Darrell Yates Rist; The Nation, Vol. 255, October 19, 1992 Are Homosexuals Born That Way? Sex on the Brain. by Darrell Yates Rist Was Schubert Gay? If He Was, So What ? Debate Turns Testy The New York Times, February 4 Aside from abortion, few social issues-not the nations illiteracy or poverty or crumbling healthcare system-rouse such persistent, angry interest among the American populace as questions of homosexuality. Nor is it only on the vulgar hustings--like the "family values" Republican convention in August--that the discourse on same-sex love makes people mad. Just this past February, for example, according to a report in The New York Times, even so sober an event as the annual weeklong Schubertiade at New York Citys 92nd Street Y turned vitriolic when an assertion of the masters same-sex libido and its effect on his music was made. While noted feminist musicologist Susan McClary merely argued for the "possible homosexual character" of the second movement of the "Unfinished Symphony," an even more strident propagandist in the audience declared that "heterosexuals are more repressed than homosexuals." One disgusted participant felt at last compelled to ask whether Schuberts short, fat stature had in any way influenced his music--a response I am enormously in sympathy with. In their own way, debates like these over the artistic stamp of Schuberts homosexuality disturb me more than all the weird ranting over moral decline from the likes of Pat Robertson, Pat Buchanan, Dan Quayle and George Bush. These arguments among intellectuals--whether art critics or political philosophers or, say, research scientists--treat homosexuality more polemically than it deserves and, under the guise of being socially progressive, go a long way in darkening our already benighted, though deeply believed, sexual thinking. In the end, such "liberated" views continue to imprison desire in the dark cells of "gay" and "straight," rather than freeing our hearts and genitals to the fullest expression of human affection, which ought to be the unabashed ideal of any sexual liberation movement. This Schubert debate, for example, cannot pass merely for an innocent argument to establish a biographical fact-that Schubert was known to favor men in his erotic pursuits. Rather, in the hands of a certain brand of homosexual ideologue, it is intended to feed the ridiculous and dangerous assumption that there is such athing as a "homosexual character" in art and in life, a particular sensibility welling up from the homosexual soul, embedded in the genes. Behind it is the devout belief that homosexuals are constitutionally different. This dogma is by no means new. As John Lauritsen and David Thorstad relate in The Early Homosexual Rights Movement (1864-1935), when a new penal code criminalizing sex between men (womens sexuality has almost always been treated as trivial) was proposed for Prussia in the 1860s, one Hungarian activist doctor, under the pseudonym K.M. Kertbeny, sent an open letter to the Minister of Justice decrying the German states barbaric intrusion into all-male bedrooms. Kertbeny justified his position by arguing that homosexuality, a term he devised, is an "inborn, and therefore irrepressible, drive," consequently incapable of seducing the majority of men--those born with "normal sexualism"--because it is naturally alien to them. The pseudonymous Kertbenys musings were, of course, egregiously political. As Lauritsen and Thorstad epitomize Kertbenys argument: "If homosexuality is inborn... it