Monday, April 9, 2012

The Science of Same Sex Relationships

    I've spent the bulk of my time in social justice learning about equality, ethics, bystander activity, etc. But never before have I been so frustrated then a few days a go in class.

    To explain, my studies on campus are in anthropology and I mainly focus on people and place, interactions, effects, etc. In addition to learning this, my anthropology major requires education in some physical anthropology as well. For me this is difficult, primarily because ideas and concepts or histories are used as facts, and it is my personal nature to question those facts, or find out where this 'common knowledge' came from. Because of this, I apply social justice concepts that I have learned to almost everything that I do. So while discussing some aspects of evolution, human development, etc. One of my classes also brushed up on the notion of how homosexuality ties into evolution, benefits to the community, etc. We were also shown a clip for this film "Survival of the Fabulous," and this is where my views take an unfortunate turn.

    As a student in Peers for Pride, we've touched on the biology, environment, and other 'explanations' that some scientists present for those who identify in the LGBTQ categories. I'll admit, some of me is still processing the information found in this trailer, but for the most part, I've found that it is somewhat ethically challenged. Much of the films editing and portrayal of the host (Michael Sage) is very clearly characterized as the stereotyped 'television gay' identity. He self identifies as not being educated or knowledgeable on the subject, but that he intends to find out the truth about why 'gays haven't gone extinct.'

   Though this film is labeled as a documentary it seems that it's made more for show than tell. Along with the documentary I found much of what I learned that day difficult to adjust too. Hearing what research/ studies had to say was tough to listen too as well. Not because of personal feelings, but because the study was based on those who were 'defined' as engaging in homosexual activity (This was strictly noted as partners having genital contact). From a scientific point of view this probably functions as a control of some kind, however from a social justice perspective red flags are waved without pause. Hold on now- you're telling me that you're basing studies off of information that is given only when individuals are in a safe environment, and are open about their sexual orientation, and engage in sexual behaviors with those of the same sex. What about the fact that not all couples (same sex or different) even engage in sexual activity? What about the fact that there's a notable number of LGBTQ identified citizens who aren't even available for participation because they aren't in a safe environment? What about the fact that these studies are likely not to have participants just because of the sheer fact that many consider them irrelevant and refuse to participate?

    So to what extent should we take the science or the social justice of same sex work to heart? There is no right answer (except I would hope to avoid extremes). It's ridiculous to think anything is perfect, but you will be held accountable for your actions regardless, so it's best to cover all of your bases. This film doesn't seem to do this. Instead it's represented almost as a showcase or wacky exploration endeavor. To me, this notion for 'finding out why people are gay' seems to resonate with the older days of U.S. history when there was a search for the scientific explanation of race. The added hate crimes, and public response to those in the  community is a result of these unsettling effects. Having well rounded sources of information however is key! And if there's one thing that both scientists and leaders of the LGBTQ community agree on, it's that there isn't one sole reason for the presence of those gay, lesbian, straight or otherwise.

Here's a link for the trailer, give it a look and tell me your own personal thoughts!:

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