When I was in graduate school 15 years ago, I had a Gay instructor who mentioned one day all the Gay people he knew were incredibly smart, rich, creative, emotional and thoughtful. He was not making a political statement.

He was merely wondering aloud. He went on to ask us if we knew any Gay people who were stupid, poor, dull, emotionless or uninterested. No one in class could think of any stupid Gay people.

There were several openly Gay people in the class who sat there and smiled and dared us to point at them. Some in class said they didn’t have much exposure to Gay life or Gay culture. Our instructor nodded and moved on to another topic. 15 years later I still find his wondering interesting on several levels:

1. His thesis appeared to support the idea that Gay people were bred and not born.

2. Today his “Gay people are smart and not stupid” argument is fascinating because, as I understand it, one of the main arguments from the Gay community for equal access, opportunity and protection under the law is that Gay people are genetically coded to be Gay. The Gay community believes, as I understand it, that being Gay is a fact of life on the cellular level and not a lifestyle choice.

3. His argument curiously suggests there may be a large pool of undiscovered Gay people in the world who don’t realize they are, in fact, Gay because they are too stupid to realize the difference.

I grew up in the theatre and while I am not Gay I do have a lot of Gay friends. All of them are bright and shiny — but rarely rich — and it makes me wonder about the validity of my instructor’s query all those years ago. I’m sure there must be “stupid” Gay people in the world.

I just haven’t met any. Maybe I’m hanging out in the wrong neighborhoods or unwittingly believing in stereotypes. If you have an interesting comment on this topic, please feel free to share your intellectual and logical thoughts.

I will not allow any Gay-bashing comments here or any other method used to disparage Gay people. I am seeking thoughtful, personal, experiences and insight and not outside quotes or rigorous dogma intended to crush or hurt.

23 Comments

  1. Well, this is interesting. I’m not gay myself but I know a lot of gays. They are all pretty well-off and smart and funny. don’t know any that are dumb. I will think about this more and ask aroudn.

  2. The gay people I know aren’t rich – maybe because I’m far from being well-off myself 🙂 – but they are smart and funny. One long time friend of mine “came out of the closet” a few years ago, and she’s always been an emotional, passionate person. Although, she’s not any more so than I am. Of course, I guess your professors point was that a larger percentage of gay people were this way when compared to heterosexuals.
    All the gay people I know are also in the creative field, or have been at one time, although they aren’t necessarily writers, painters, actors and such.
    As for the “born or bred” thing, I think it can be both. The friend of mine who came out a few years ago (we’ll just call her K) had her first crush on a girl in college, but she didn’t really realize what was going on until a couple of years after she graduated. I don’t believe her lifestyle was a choice, but I also don’t believe that she was born that way. K now considers herself a lesbian, and I don’t think she’s ever been happier.
    Another friend (we’ll call her P) fits the born scenario. She has always had crushes on girls. However, she is now married to a guy and has an adorable 14-month-old boy. She’s not a full-fledged heterosexual, though. She and her husband joke about being out somewhere and their heads turning to look at the same girl! 🙂 But I know that her marriage is a happy one, and who knows if she’ll ever go back to being with girls?
    Okay, that’s probably long enough for this one, but I’ll leave you with one kicker thought: P was K’s first lesbian relationship. 🙂

  3. Hi Carla!
    What a fantastic and interesting story! I love it!
    I think my professor’s point was that to be Gay you had to have some kind of higher intellect than “ordinary” people — at least that was the vibe I was getting from him at the time.
    I agree that labels that define people can be problematic. People are always a variety of things and to pin a person down based on sexuality alone can create more problems than it solves.
    I find the argument hard to believe that the Gay lifestyle is a choice. People, by nature, want to fit into the world not be outside of it. Gay people, and especially Gay teens, are often tortured by their inability to be accepted into the mainstream. They are mocked and vilified and made fun of based on their sexual identity. No one would actively choose that kind of heartbreak and exclusion unless they had no genetic choice.
    Gay adoption is also another big issue. My feeling is if two Gay people want to adopt a child from an orphanage — isn’t it better to give that kid a shot at love and some sort of familial structure and a hand up instead of letting them sit alone and rotting in a system famous for ignoring the needs of those they are intended to serve?

  4. While we still have a long ways to go in accepting gays, I think things are better than they used to be, especially in the 50s and 60s.
    And while the gay people I’ve known have felt “meant for” this lifestyle, I believe that it’s within the realm of possibility for someone to choose. It may not be the case for anyone, but that doesn’t mean it’s possible.
    I totally agree with the gay adoption issue. Why let these kids bounce from foster home to foster home, some of which are detrimental to these children, when there are couples out there ready to shower them with the love they so desperately want and need? Because they’re gay? How lame!
    The other thing that makes me mad are those who claim that homosexuality can be “cured” by Christianity. I’m a Christian, but that arrogance just infuriates me.

  5. I’m gay. And I know quite a few gay people. And sadly I’ve met a couple of really, really stupid ones…. But not many. I never really thought of it as Gay=Smart, although if you’re speaking genetics it’s not very practical to make the smart people gay.
    I think that perhaps the perception that gay people are smart, funny, outgoing, etc… has to do with the fact that it does take some very special personailyt traits to come out of the closet even in this “enlightened” society that we live in. Coming out is a tortuous process, I’m going through it at the moment while being in a heterosexual marriage. You have to be bery open and outgoing, very outspoken and passionate to be willing to go through something like that. Stupid people don’t tend to have that passion and drive.
    Perhaps there are a lot of dumb gays, they just aren’t out.

  6. See, and here I thought we were just all well off. And incidentally, I know plenty of psycho, flat affect gay people though overall we seem to be over-represented in the “having your shit together column”.

  7. Carla — You make some beautiful and interesting comments! I agree that people do not need to be fixed or realigned. They need to be accepted and welcomed because with that dedication comes understanding and support from both sides. I believe there is already a medical study that identifies a “Gay gene” so if that turns out to be scientifically verifiable, then legal protection on all fronts will be pressed into action because you cannot discriminate against people who have no genetic choice in the caste of their lives. That’s why some fight so hard to make it clear that being Gay is a lifestyle choice — because to admit otherwise is to give Gay people the right to marry, to adopt and to have a full purchase in society.
    Gwynne — Wow! What a story! You are incredibly brave and tough and your point about having the “smarts” and the guts to be able to come out of a shadow and into the light of your real life is incredible and touching. Thank you for sharing your story!
    Jen — You made me laugh! 🙂 Thank you for stopping by and sharing a comment! I think one can be brillaint and psycho, though. 🙂

  8. I had a Friend who was gay and he was a legal luminary. And he nearly succeeded in seducing me. But I slipped away politely.
    Why I respected him was tha fact that he was not hypocritical. Because, he admitted that he had a problem and needed help. And I tried as much as I could with the books and tapes I gave him.
    I could be gay, because I have heard men saying that they found me physically appealing to them.
    But, I prefer to not to be gay. So, what I am saying is that being gay has nothing to do with our genes. It is a matter of choice. To be or not to be.
    My friend who was gay died last year.
    His name is even in the “Who is Who” book of the most notable and wealthy people in the world. But, he was often in depressions.

  9. OSINACHI — Thank you for sharing your views on this topic. There are many like you in the world who believe being Gay is a choice.
    Carla — Without excellent comments, the posts do not exist with context, depth or meaning! Thank you! 🙂

  10. hi david.
    love the remark “…there may be a large pool of undiscovered Gay people in the world who don’t realize they are, in fact, Gay because they are too stupid to realize the difference.” too funny.
    as a gay guy who has lived and worked within the gay community for a number of years, i can assure you that not all gay guys are rich, intelligent, urbane, witty, interesting, wonderful gift wrappers, home decorators, great dancers, snappy dressers or terrific cooks with a remarkable knowledge of art, opera and/or Judy Garland trivia…
    in my own experience, the GLBTI community is as prone to all the flaws and vagaries of the heterosexual community; it is a diverse, organic creature, with all the flaws and potential for nobility as any living thing might possess.
    one thing i have noticed in the GLBTI community (and this is probably more true of gay guys) is that we appear to like to believe in our own publicity; that is the common ‘perception’ society has of gay guys.
    i suspect the truth is (and some gay folk and straight folk will possibly take exception to this) but there’s very little that separates us other than attitude and delusions of granduer.
    just my $0.02AUS worth 😉
    cheers

  11. Wow, what a topic.
    I can’t comment on the genetic part, I just do not feel that I know enough on the subject. Even those in the field of study seem unable to agree 100%. However, I have had plenty of gay freinds, most of which do seem very bright.
    Not to get to “Tony Robbins” on this discussion, but I believe that it may have more to do with people gravitating towards like forces in others. Surrounding ourselves with people that will foster our own growth and success in reaching our life goals.
    Your instructor, as well as yourself, probably come into contact with more people on the academic, artistic or enlightened path with a certain amount of drive. I personally tend to run with those in the artistic and athletic circles and so on.
    I am sure that if we spent any significant amounts of time with those that have less economic, academic, or life success in general then we would indeed encounter the demographic that is being discussed. I mean that to in no way disparage that demographic, only to point out a possibility.
    Have a great day David!

  12. Eban — Well said, old friend! Your analysis is always helpful and intriguing.
    Hannah — I use “Gay” instead of “gay” to differentiate a culture and a people from a state of happiness. I use “Black” instead of “black” to differentiate between a group of people (who may not all be from Africa) and a color. As well, I use “White” instead of “white” to differentiate between Caucasians and a color.

  13. Just a thought to ponder, but maybe gay people are smart because they need to be smart. Why would they need to be smart you may ask, well here are some possible reasons why, they need to be smart in order to:
    1)Be able to disguise themselves so as not to be found out to be gay, and consequently be unfairly stigmatised to some degree.
    2)Be able to defend themselves against those who would hate them and do them harm, by intelligently turning their prejudiced arguments against gays back onto them(the attackers).
    3)Be able to achieve financial and career success in a predominantly unaccepting ‘straight’ business world.
    Then again they may be smart because it takes guts, inspiration, and intelligence to be able to successfully go against the straight majorities grain.

  14. It’s always a pleasure to be able to contribute and be heard, but as Carla mentions (and to pinch her words), it’s your insightful posts that solicit the responses you get.
    I look forward to both seeing more, and to have my mind stimulated. Much appreciated.