January 09, 2011

It's OUR nature, our TRUTH

And a picture is worth 1,000 words!


See more about this photo and the blog HERE
or in my CNN video HERE
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Out, Loud, & Laughing: A Collection of Gay & Lesbian HumorWrangler: Anatomy of an IconI'm Not Gay But My Boyfriend Is Men's Tee Shirt Medium-Kelly GreenNow That You Know: A Parents' Guide to Understanding Their Gay and Lesbian Children, Updated Edition 

29 comments:

Dennis skeen said...

Hey!! This is my picture! Stealer. At least let me know when your using my fabulously gay stance for everyone's amusement! And don't be jealous of the jumpsuit!

Anonymous said...

Lookin cool Dennis

Anonymous said...

OMG! I have that same jumpsuit!

Anonymous said...

As a gay man who believes it's nurture rather than nature, I really hope you post this comment if only to inspire discussion. Believing it's nurture doesn't mean I believe everybody necessarily chooses their sexuality. Children have as little choice about what random influences come into their lives or how they're raised as they do choosing who their parents are and, thus, their genes.

I think the nature argument has grown so strong because we've had to defend ourselves for so long against religious bigots. These bigots only argue that it's nurture so they can 'blame' us instead of their God and then offer to cure us. But what if, instead, we say back to them, "Maybe it IS nurture but I don't need or want a cure, thank you very much." And when people say this means I'm making a choice, I say to them, I'm proud of that choice and I don't need to justify it to anyone or blame anybody or anything.

I choose to be who I want to be and I am not ashamed. I don't need to say that it's something beyond my control because I'm glad I'm me.

Cute pics, though, everyone. I grew up with lots of sisters, played with their toys, dressed in their clothes and was taught to believe that there was no such thing as boys' or girls' toys/colours/clothes/anything. I wish I still had some of these to post.

Anyway, much love. Be happy with who you are.

bradgarbus said...

This is great! What a great way to share this serious topic in a humorous way.
I wish I had a photo of myself when I was 6 years old in my Wonder Woman outfit that I refused to take off.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, @4:17. Whenever there's a discussion on tv about "lifestyle choice" I always wish someone would say, "Nature? Nurture? Who gives a fuck?"

Anonymous said...

Nature vs. Nurture is a great discussion point and one where I think there needs to be open mindedness to get to the core. Because while some believe it is nurture that leads to same sex attraction/lifestyle, I found through personal experience that nature is my driving force. But I do think everyone is individual and they reach this point through various means.

Having a very feminine mother who wanted me to be the same, I grew up with feminine influences. I had the pull to play sports instead and crushes on girls. I further tried to fit into a heterosexual lifestyle by getting married and having children. It wasn't until age 44 when I felt I could not deny this integral part of myself any longer. I am now out, dating women, and loving myself fully for the first time ever.

Nurture just wasn't working for me thus I had to go with my nature.

Anonymous said...

This is sad. I, and many of my friends, have been involved in fights against censorship of LGBT material in various publications over the years. And now I find I'm fighting censorship all over again.

I have tried to post an opinion here about five times now and it's been taken down. It is neither offensive or abusive but is something that is very close to my heart, particularly as it relates to sexual identity and suicide.

But I assume because it argues against the nurture point of view and because the moderator doesn't wish to defend their point of view against mine, they will continue to take it down. I hope not.

Because there may be other people out there who ARE actually interested in having this discussion.

If the moderator leaves THIS post on for five minutes, I will take it that they have changed their mind. I will then post my other entry again and you can take this one down and we'll pretend it never happened.

Then, if you disagree, you can tear my opinion to shreds if you like, but at least give others the chance if you don't feel like it.

Thanks for listening

Anonymous said...

I've decided to post in two halves, figuring maybe it's just too long. It can be nature/nurture or nothing, as long as you’re happy. But because you react AGAINST your upbringing doesn’t mean it’s not nurture. All people do this in childhood. We realise we’re different and everyone else is an 'other'.

But it’s society's obsession with shaping gender and sexual identity that turns a love of sport or dresses or our same-sex crushes into an identity crisis. Pink/blue, dresses for girls, trucks for boys - a complete crock. Society, religious heterosexual conservatives, do this because most kids will conform and continue on their merry way, producing religious ‘heterosexual’ children. And those that react against are marginalised.

As a result of this marginalisation, we’ve adopted a strong but flawed defensive position, saying, “I’m naturally gay, there’s nothing you can do. Accept me.” I think this misses the point and it’s why we’re losing the argument.

We should question gender and sexual identity constructs and say to society, “That's your game, we're not playing", rather than just, "I'm changing teams." This also leaves kids with the same old identity dilemmas and to play the same old game, which is why we’re losing so many to suicide.

If your hetero friends are honest with you, most will tell you of same-sex crushes they had when they were kids, even into adulthood. But because most people are beaten down by family, church, peers, society, into believing that’s wrong, most end up married with kids, denying this side of themselves as an aberration (which of course it’s not).

But the flipside happens. There are those of us who hide our same-sex crushes and conflate them with a love of so-called 'feminine' objects; those who, when we're boys, look at the macho bravado of hetero men or, for girls, the extreme femininity of some women, and feel we can't match that; those who, if we had hetero experiences as kids or teenagers, found them bad (most people’s are) or in some cases terrifying or horrific. We take these as signs of our own nature.

Aberration? Nature? Perhaps it’s neither. But instead of saying, we’re not buying into the process of standardising sexual identity, we do buy in - just on the opposite side.

Anonymous said...

PART 2: Why, on a fun website like this, am I taking this so seriously? I've seen how the nature argument hurts kids. As a kid, I struggled with sexual identity. Tragically, several friends also attempted or committed suicide over sexual identity.

These friends had very loving, accepting families and friends. They died, I think, because they felt everyone, including our community, were asking them to define their identity. But not only that, our community was telling them this identity was inside them, like instinct, whereas to them, it was more complicated.

The blame for this rests with the wider society for herding all kids into unquestioning hetero lives. But if we argue that some kids should just be herded in an opposite direction, we fail too. Kids should be allowed to take a more fluid approach to this without expectations from outside by us or them, even if our intentions are honourable.

Kids aren’t powerless victims of their own genetics, or even their own upbringing. Society and religion shouldn't be saying this about heterosexuality and WE shouldn't be saying it about homosexuality.

Instead we should be saying, "You're a unique individual who can be anything you want. These feelings you're having are natural, not because you're 'naturally gay' but because everyone has them, even your hetero friends. People are attracted to people. And it's OK."

And while it's fun to look at cute pictures of ourselves reversing (or mirroring the opposite) gender roles as youngsters, to extrapolate these into an argument for nature determining sexual identity does our cause more harm than good and does a disservice to kids especially.

Born This Way said...

I just want everyone to know: I have not removed any comments from this page. I'm not sure what "Anonymous" is talking about - all parts of their comments are here. Paul V. (site moderator)

Anonymous said...

I just want to apologise to you, Paul. I got a bit over-sensitive after being called a 'concern troll' by Jake. Then when I was trying to post my rather over-sized 'blah', and it kept appearing on the site, then disappearing, I thought it was being removed deliberately by someone who agreed with Jake.

Obviously not, so, a big sorry to you and everyone else involved and thanks for letting me join the discussion.

Robin Monica said...

I love this blog. Love love love. I wanted to share it with the world so I wrote about it on Popdose, where I have a column. Terrifyingly, the very first comment was from a self-described "Christian" who went on about sin and morality and whatnot. I really hope my tribute to your project attracts more positive feedback than negative.

Born This Way said...

Robin, just WOW! Thank you SO MUCH! YOUR writing almost moved ME to tears, in how well you understand and celebrate what this blog is all about! And as a wonderful "straight ally", I salute you! XOXOX!!!! - Paul V.

Anna said...

Early scientific studies have shown that homosexuality, like many things, is actually a combination of nature and nurture, though they know more about male homosexuality than female homosexuality (the latter has been determined to be somewhat more fluid, generally speaking.) But they've done studies of identical twins with the exact same genetic material, and found that often, the twins grow up to have differing sexual orientations.

So like the scientific community, I think there's a strong genetic component, a component that has something to do with hormones in utero (since birth order has shown to correlate with the likelihood that a child will be homosexual,) and of course, an environmental component. But as with all things we do that shape our children, the nurture component isn't exactly something we have any strict control over, in terms of what happens, how it happens, or how it affects the children in that environment.

I don't think it matters how or why people are homosexual, bisexual, transgender, etc. Whatever the cause, sexual and gender identities that differ from the "norm" should be embraced, just as the ones considered more normative are.

Anonymous said...

For me, the hormone thing in utero could have been it. But the only thing science has proven regarding hormones is that they make the child have more so-called feminine or masculine traits. The link which is then made from gender traits to sexuality is more dubious and I think it's a bit of a leap.

In my case, and in others I know, it was certainly true that (possibly due to hormones) behaving outside of expected gender roles and even having physical traits which were more like the opposite sex, led to questions and teasing from others and self-questioning about sexuality. And this questioning and teasing, especially at a young age, can have a big influence on how you perceive your sexual identity as you grow into an adult, particularly if these feminine traits (for boys) remain.

Being more feminine as a boy and as a man, it's almost constantly reinforced to you that you're gay, both from the well-meaning and the hateful.

So, I think that even though you can prove empirical links between hormone levels in utero and sexuality, the data needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

And especially when it comes to labelling kids. I have known parents who, when they've noticed feminine traits in their boys at two, three or four, have discussed how to deal with their child's homosexuality. Or others who have belligerently tried to stamp such behaviour out because they're afraid they're child might be gay. In both cases, the influence these sort of reactions can have is profound and, I think, misguided.
Kids need to know that their personality, including their sexuality is unique to them and that they don't need to choose a label from a classification system which was actually invented by the church and psychoanalysts who believed they could cure us all!

Also, just to be clear, the scientific community has, as yet, found no compelling evidence of a genetic determinant of sexuality. I don't believe they ever will because I think that human beings are attracted to other human beings.

Moreover, I think people should be able to partner with, have sex with, whoever they choose, regardless of gender. And I think we should fight for and celebrate the freedom we have to choose to do this, rather than claiming that we have no power over our own feelings.

Harry Velez said...

I should really save this for when I send my picture along, but here it goes. Kudos for the brilliant idea. I just read about the blog in EL PAÍS, a Spanish newspaper. After going through a few entries I have enough smiling in me to last me the whole day.
¿Nature or nurture? I rather not go there. Things have a way of becoming "false" the moment one begins to consider them in terms of binary opposites. That being said, I will share not my closest memory of being a boy who liked boys, but the one that most stands out clearly in my mind: checking out all the boys in my first grade class on the initial day of school. I was a very disappointed 5 year old. None of the boys did anything for me. Already I had a definite "thing" for skinny blond boys. This being Puerto Rico and my school a lower middle class Catholic outfit, the odds for finding boys like that were slim.
I never felt bad or guilty or different-in-an-awful-way as a gay boy. I knew that I had to be careful and that acting "normal" was wise. Fortunately, I found it to be natural to represent myself in a way that was "satisfactory" in a heteronormative way.
By the time I was in high school I began having queer friends. "Dios los cría y ellos se juntan" (God makes them and they find each other). My first gay friends selected the name "Victoria" for me on account of my acting straight or, what they termed my "Victorian ways".
It took them and me a little time to realize that gay is as gay does and that a boy acting in a feminine way is engaging in a performance of gender that may or may not be indicative of gayness. However, I was a teen during the mid 1970's in Puerto Rico and back then there was only one way one could visualize being gay. Luckily things have changed. As we all know: "It gets getter!".
To all who have survived: Here's to you!
To all who are struggling: Hang in there - It does get better!
To all the gay and lesbian kids out there: Take lots of care, kiddos, we all love you so much and expect the world from you!

Anonymous said...

I like a lot this blog is very original and the photo is great!!! Kisses everybody from Spain.

Anonymous said...

For me it is not a matter of Nurture Vs Nature, but of Nature via Nurture. Each of our characteristics is the product of the interaction of our nature with the environment (in a broad sense) we grew in. Maybe that duality is a bit artificial. Matt Ridley´s book "Nature via Nurture" is quite interesting.

And congratulations, really lovely blog this one.

Les Contalles d'Alba said...

After some big smiles and a few tears reading through you posts I couldn't help to THANK YOU FOR SHARING !!!! Thank you for the wonderful idea you've had. I'm also an "EL PAIS" reader from Spain, lesbian married to a woman mother of a 3-year-old son and very lucky woman to live in a country like Spain. But still struggling to reach full equality and helping others to become visible... that is our most powerful weapon to fight discrimination.

Congratulations for this wonderful blog

((¯`»¦«´¯)) FrAnÇoIs ((¯`»¦«´¯)) said...

OMG!!! U look lovely!!! hehe cheers from Buenos Aires

Anonymous said...

do u feel safe

Paul V. (Creator) said...

Anonymous:
"Do you feel safe"
Either explain what you mean by this question - or stop asking it.

Tiger Munson said...

Hi Paul. I just wanted to let you know how impressed i am with your sensational creation and its meteoric success! A terrifically simple but really important and neglected topic, the blog is just great. I am going to try to not get too academic: Smart, Funny, painful, bittersweet, moving, I think its larger implications are even more profound. While being hugely important to gay history, a history that is already marginalized, Born This Way in a very personal way, and with evidence, refutes the misguided idea that people "become" gay, and all the other set of notions that attempt to legitimize homophobia. Society and the WORLD are directly going to be a better place because of your blog!

I know it started like a basic idea and some posts and then it just got so much attention spreading like wildfire. And now it seems like its getting even bigger in response and attention. It has all the right stuff to make the mark: Social and political message, humor, focus on the individual growing up within the family, pictures, stories, reflections and memories. And the fun/horror of digging through old family photos.

Bravo, you knocked it out of the park, Paul and I am proud to say I know you! : )

.....(not that i wasn't before, but you know what i mean.)

Anonymous said...

I found this blog through a link via NPR. After reading most of it through and getting to understand what life was like for many gay kids, I find myself really really angry about the fact that people market toys to kids as either "boy" or "girl." You know what? My little girl hates dresses and barbie dolls. She loves robots and rocket ships. Maybe she's gay, maybe she's not gay. I don't think it matters either way, but I do think it's rather offensive that companies tell her that the toys she likes can only be found in the "boys" section, and that since she's a girl she should enjoy the pink frilliness and play-makeup they have provided for her in the "girls" section.

How can we put a stop to that?

Anonymous said...

Bravo! I absolutely LOVE this site!!
I am an elementary school counselor in Portland, OR and I work with students who may be posting revealing photos to this site in the future.
Personally, I am sick and tired of narrow-minded people who make such a big deal out of someone's sexual preference. . . it has nothing to do with an individual's personal integrity. In fact, the gay/bi/trans community has MORE integrity and personal strength for standing up for their rights!
If you, too, work with children, please teach from the heart. Focus on collaboration, diversity, community responsibility and global-awareness. There's enough bigotry and hatred in the world at the moment. Let's give them the tools and means to create a world of peace, understanding and mutual respect for all things, great and small.

boothby171 said...

Excellent blog (got here through an NPR link).

Stores are going to divide out their shelves by SOME criteria, if only to help with inventory, stocking the shelves, etc.

Just don't give it any power. If your children are wise enough (every parent's hope, I hope!) they will understand the ridiculousness of it all, by seeing it in YOUR response, and eventually by seeing the world refracted through your lens.

Anonymous said...

I love the concept of inviting everyone to the table to have a conversation. I am also please to see how many view points there are on this blog. There is something about the tag line that grabbed me. As someone who is currently trying to figure out my place in the world, I just don't believe there is an imperical force driving me to certain things. I NEED food, drink, and sleep. Shelter is nice and company of my choosing is lovely. But for me, and am saying me, I think "your truth" may not be "my truth" any more than crazy right wingers, or crazy liberals "truth" is "truer". If you call it "Your nature, your truth", is it the only truth. I'm not arguing more thinking out loud as I am trying to find my own truth. Who's truth is more right? Which is less harmful/hateful/vengeful? I hope we can all think objectively, and not just hold our breath and scream "Only mine!"

nodders said...

Hello everyone, loved the blog, I've read the whole thing and I am in tears. I am moved by all this stories of humanity, courage and love.
And the nurture vs nature discussion is enlightening. So here is my question, from the posts, it transpires that most people knew they were "different" from an early age, some knew what this meant and some discovered it only growing up, nevertheless there is usually a "coming out" epiphany, which -inevitably- seems to be about being sexually attracted by someone of the same sex. Which one of the two aspects is due to "nature" and which due to "nurture"?

I recognize myself in most of the stories of feeling different from an early age and not conforming to gender stereotypes (that is I spent childhood convinced that I was a boy). However I miss the point about "coming out" in late adolescence/20s. First in a closed minded environment (Catholic), I just kept quiet and secretly harbored a crush on a (beautiful) girl for years, putting up a stoic resistance against a society that expected me to be a certain way, but then when finally I moved on to a much happier and open environment (a private school where kids of all sorts of sexual orientation were encouraged to express their feelings and true selves) I fell madly in love with a boy and embraced a femininity that I had always ignored. In the end I never defined myself as "gay" (nor "straight" for that matter).
Does it make sense?

Now, master of my own life, I struggle to define what I am, neither queer no straight, neither female nor a man. Like when I was child/teenager I wish I'd been born a male, and certainly I am never going to marry a man and have a family. Yet at the same time I don't particularly feel the need to have gender reassignment as society -more or less- can tolerate my genderlessness and particular identity.
So, what I am arguing is, that in the continuum of gender identity, a bigoted society that only defines gender in a strict dichotomous way, in fact encourages "queerness"!
Agree?