Monday, January 30, 2012

Nature or Nurture? (Or Is That Really the Important Question?)

Do we bring our sexual orientation into this world (nature) or is it something learned (nurture)? Or is it a consequence of both? Or do some of us actually choose our orientation? Most of us--gay or straight--would concede our orientation is not chosen, but something given to us in the mystery of genes or our mothers' hormones, or a combination of our natural ingredients and those of our early formation. But at the end of the day, does it matter all that much? Frank Bruni, a New York Times columnist and himself a gay man, goes to the heart of the issue in these last lines from this Sunday column:

I honestly have no idea if I was born this way. My memory doesn’t stretch to the crib.

But I know that from the moment I felt romantic stirrings, it was Timmy, not Tammy, who could have me walking on air or wallowing in torch songs and tubs of ice cream. These feelings gelled early, and my considerable fear of society’s censure was no match for them.

I know that being in a same-sex relationship feels as central and natural to me as my loyalty to my father, my pride in my siblings’ accomplishments and my protectiveness of their children – all emotions that I didn’t exit the womb with but will not soon shake.

And I know that I’m a saner, kinder person this way than trapped in a contrivance or a lie. Surely that’s not just to my advantage but to society’s, too.

Though Frank Bruni didn't choose his sexual orientation, he has chosen to live into it with apparent grace and dignity. No lies. No secrets. No apologies. A gorgeous acceptance of his orientation as perfectly natural and inherently good. And he is aware that by living into his orientation as he does, the world around him is better for it, too.

We pray that any child born into a Catholic family and who grows into an LGBT identity will be surrounded by good teachers – parents, grandparents, pastors, First Communion and Confirmation directors, coaches, grade-school and high school teachers. We pray these adults will help the child grow happily, gracefully and proudly into the person s/he was made to be.

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