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60 Minutes: Science or Stereotypes?

Gay men are limp-wristed and may have a Queen Gene, according to a controversial segment on CBS's 60 Minutes, "The Science of Sexual Orientation." The show suggests that gay men are prissy and prance and wear lavender pants while they lisp and dance. Which can certainly be true, in some cases, but is this just crass stereotyping masquerading as science?

The segment featured two sets of twins. The fist pair - Adam and Jared - was nine years old. Jared was tough as nails and had a collection of G.I. Joes, while Adam painted his nails and dreamt of pantyhose.

Steve and Greg, the second pair of twins, were adults. Steve, who is straight, grew up playing sports, while gay Greg "liked helping out in the kitchen."

The idea of studying identical twins is to show that upbringing has nothing to do with the outcome of sexual orientation. Indeed, one has to be a dolt with an agenda to still believe the outdated myth that homosexuality is caused by bad parenting.

"Psychologists used to believe homosexuality was caused by nurture - namely overbearing mothers and distant fathers - but that theory has been disproved," reporter Leslie Stahl authoritatively said. "Today, scientists are looking at genes, environment, brain structure and hormones. There is one area of consensus: that homosexuality involves more than just sexual behavior; it's physiological."

Identical twins with differing sexual orientations suggest that there are other factors at work than just genes.

"There's also the environment that happens to us while we're in the womb," said Northwestern University researcher Michael Bailey in the segment. "And scientists are realizing that environment is much more important than we ever thought it was."

Michigan State University's Marc Breedlove drove home this point by showing Stahl how he can take a rat that scurries and make him sashay with a shot of hormones or castration.

"I wouldn't call these gay rats," explained Breedlove, who has the perfect name for a vermin sex researcher. "But I would say that these are genetic male rats who are showing much more feminine behavior."

The show also pointed out that for every older brother a man has, his chances of being gay increase by one-third. Additionally, Bailey addressed the lie that gay men are more promiscuous by nature. He said both gay and straight men are "shallow" and tend to focus on looks, but gay men simply have more opportunity.

"They're [gay men] just more successful at it, because the people they're trying to have sex with are also interested in it," Bailey said.

I applaud this dose of truth, because anyone who has spent five minutes around straight men, know that they are just as frisky as their gay counterparts. The only people who deny this are uptight fundamentalists. And they are really no different, except they have hang-ups and feel guilty after the sex.

Whether Bailey has hit the scientific jackpot or is a crackpot is open for debate. Many people bristle, for example, when he claims that gay people walk and talk differently. True, one's gaydar does not have to be finely tuned to figure out Richard Simmons or Clay Aiken is gay. Oh, wait, is Clay gay?

Before Bailey makes such broad assumptions, however, he should put on football pads and collide with former NFL player Esera Tuaolo. This might rattle him out of his one-dimensional mind-set and lead him to expand his research to include gay and lesbian people who are not borderline transgender.

There are also critics who rightfully question Bailey's potentially dark motives. He once told The New York Times that if it became possible for parents to determine sexual orientation in the womb than, "selecting for heterosexuality seems to be morally acceptable....Selection for heterosexuality may tangibly benefit parents, children and their families and seems to have only a slight potential for any significant harm."

"His research is highly questionable," said Lisa Mottet, a transgender rights attorney with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force."Bailey's work is simply not credible." NGLTF has criticized his research on transgender people and bisexuals calling it shoddy and filled with unscientific assumptions.

Still, the 60 Minutes segment, as a whole, was very helpful to the gay rights movement. It brusquely dismissed the inane pseudo-science of our opponents. But in the process of neutralizing the right, it neutered gay men. While we are cheering the segment, Bailey should know that most of us aren't using pompoms.

by Wayne Besen
Mar 14, 2006
©2009 Wayne Besen. All rights reserved. Used with Permission

Wayne Besen is a nationally recognized advocate for gay and lesbian rights. He has appeared as a guest on leading news and political talk shows including: NBC Nightly News, The Roseanne Show, CNN's Talk Back Live and The Point, Fox's O'Reilly Factor and Hannity and Colmes, Fox News and MSNBC News.

Truth Wins Out is a non-profit organization that counters anti-gay propaganda, exposes the "ex-gay" myth and educates America about gay life.

Contact Wayne: Phone: 917-691-5118 Email: