The Case For a Biological Origin For Homosexuality: A Recap

Did you miss the lecture last night? That's really sad, you know? Because it was an outstanding presentation by Bill Bradshaw, Emeritus professor of Microbiology and Molecular Biology.

Oh but look here!

Bill Bradshaw/The Case For A Biological Origin of Homosexuality

We have the audio of the lecture, courtesy of the Mormon Stories Podcast people (who do great work). So if you have an hour and forty minutes, go ahead and give it a listen. A download is available through Soundcloud, or here.

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The room buzzes as Bill Bradshaw steps in front of the crowd. He's an ex-football star and he looks every bit of it. To say he occupies space is an understatement. He owns it. He calms the packed room with the click of his dual projectors and begins unpacking rudimentary biological principles. He is not there to banter or win you over. His breath comes, often, in huffs in the midst of his sentences. He's out of breath, whipping transparencies from the projectors, standing over the front two rows of students as he speaks into the various microphones and recording devices held into the air. He is a man possessed.

"It's not nurture. It's nature." He's slapping his hands together.

There is a tenderness to Bill Bradshaw's character that cannot be easily apprehended. His frame, though large and capable, seems to shrug off its weight and size. He is humble and direct - gentle and honest. Brother Bradshaw's compassion for this field of study is clear. He does not wish to succor you into agreeing with him. He never even asks you to. He states clearly and openly the limits to the statistics presented, as well as the limits of his own knowledge. His manner of speaking is concise, and yet he lacks a sort of rhetorical flare. He is obviously used to knowing what he's talking about, however he often seems out of words. This carries into his question and answer section. He is very careful and considerate of his answers, retreading over territory already stated and confirmed in order not to say anything undue or out of line. Though he does not have all of the answers to the questions posed, it is clear that he cares. He cares about the treatment of those in the Gospel who are gay. He cares about how they see themselves. He cares about making a change for the better. As he states, his aim is to encourage open discussion about this matter in the LDS community. He is there to begin this conversation, not to end it.

What of the facts, then? And what are we to make of them? If a person is born gay, is biologically different from a heterosexual, then how does that effect their approach to society, themselves, and God? And, more importantly, how can this knowledge help that person come to better understand themselves?

The facts are not irrefutable, but they are convincing. We do not have all of the answers, but we have some good ones. And, better yet, we have the beginning of an understanding that humanizes the demonized. That brings the marginalized into the conversation.

The best part of last night wasn't watching Bill Bradshaw throw transparencies at the desk, muttering about what he'd like to say but can't. That was great, but certainly not the defining moment. No, the best part was watching the faces in the room getting lost in thought as Dr. Bradshaw discussed the origins of life. It was the clenched jaw of the student when he asked quietly about what he was to do in order to deal with the homophobic literature being sold in LDS bookstores. It was the lost look of a girl, slumped in her seat on the far side of the auditorium. It was the wince of a student when the word suicide carried through the lecture hall.

Likewise, the best part of this recording is the hushed, whisper-y silence that carries on its droning conversation behind all of the explanations and facts and closed throats.

"Find out what's true and don't be afraid to express it. Isn't that what the purpose of this university is?"


Bree Rose said...

It was an intense lecture.
I am extremely glad that people are talking about it. There was allot of tension there, allot of tension and allot of carefully placed words from Professor Bradshaw, If I have one criticism of the lecture, it is that open, liberal discussion Homosexuality at BYU is such a taboo, I felt there was allot of fear in the room, allot of people who were frustrated and full of anger and confusion looking for answers. I personally have gone through allot concerning this issue, I myself was inactive from the church for some time because I disagreed with the church's stance on it. There are allot of people in my life who are very important to me who are homosexual, and I was angry and frustrated at their exclusion from it. It took me a long time to realize that if one searches for answers with frustration and anger, that is what one will find. Only with love, peace, and patient educated consideration can an answer be met.

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