Dear Neighbors to the North, "Homosexuality will never be detectable through a blood test," the Flemish media reported in capitals some weeks ago. An international study shows that there are only five places in which homosexuals differ from heterosexuals in their genetic make-up.
In scientific circles this is called “a statistically insignificant difference,” knowing that our DNA is constructed of millions of sequences. In other words: a DNA profile does not suggest whether someone is heterosexual or homosexual.
It is difficult to say whether this is a blessing or a curse for the GLBT community. Activists would like to prove that we are indeed “different” from the rest of the population, with a DNA test as the ultimate evidence. Other gay people, however, don’t not want to be “different” than others with another orientation, and simply prefer to go through life as “normal.” There is also much to say for this view.
This study on possible differences was not the first of its kind. To what extent homosexuals are physically and genetically different from people with a different orientation, is a different approach to scientific research than the more classical psychological studies on homosexuality and heterosexuality of the past decades. The results of these psychological studies may derive from sound scientific research, but the conclusions are not as clear as objectifiable data, such as DNA profiles, which leave little room for interpretation. In this case, they failed to demonstrate any significant physical and genetic difference.
From another point of view, we can say that genetically, homosexuals are almost indistinguishable from heterosexuals. We might be “different” in our perception of sex, but actually are not “different,” no matter how much it would be the desired outcome for some. Perhaps that is why gay activists are fighting the wrong fight: the being “different” narrative cannot be maintained.
I think that I’m essentially no different than a heterosexual. For ninety-five percent, I do what heterosexuals do. Anyone who considers this carefully, can only admit that we are not really “that different,” perhaps only slightly so. Gay and straight people go to the same schools, the same universities, have the same driver’s license, and so on. The differences are mainly in sexual experiences, and of course with discrimination.
At the other end of the spectrum there are those who hate gay people and feel supported in saying that homosexuals are “different.” In our fight against our adversaries, some are keen to highlight “being different,” but the point is that we should not be saying that at all because it is simply incorrect. And science agrees with us, for now.
For years, I have been advocating emphasizing what we have in common with people with different orientations in our fight for gay rights. No one has ever benefited from continuing to emphasize possible differences that encourage and sometimes sustain discrimination.
Admittedly, it is increasingly the attitude taken by gay emancipation organisations, but all too often we continue to wallow in this “diversity” narrative. This diversity is supposed to give us an answer to discrimination, while at times, that same diversity is just providing grounds for discrimination. But that is a different debate.