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One summer evening,
my eighteen-year-old son Jimmy said he wanted to talk.
So, after my wife Joan and I got his three much younger siblings tucked in
and read their bedtime stories,
Joan and I sat down in our bedroom.
Jimmy came in and closed the door behind him.
And he sat down on a chair across from the bed where we were sitting,
and says, "Mom and Dad, I have something important to tell you,
and it's not a problem, it's not a bad thing, it's just different."
We said, "Okay."
And he looked at us in earnest, and he said, "I'm gay."
So, after a few seconds of deafening silence,
Joan takes a deep breath and says, "Jimmy, we will love whoever you love."
That was about 12 years ago when he came out to us,
and I'll have to admit that, at the time,
Joan and I did think this could be a problem,
for his safety, even.
And as his father, I had this feeling that, somehow, I had failed him,
and maybe, because of that, he wouldn't have a chance to have kids of his own.
So, I'm a cardiologist,
and I like to imagine the world through the eyes of a hunter-gatherer ancestor
for clues about how to thrive in the modern world,
but, viewed in the light of evolution,
homosexuality seems to be a real self-defeating non-productive strategy.
I mean, gays have 80% fewer kids than heterosexuals.
This is a trait that ought to go extinct in a few generations,
but down through recorded history,
in every culture, and many animal species as well,
homosexuality's been a small, but distinct subgroup.
If this were a genetic error,
natural selection should have long ago called this from the gene pool.
So, while I was pondering this,
this paradox about the natural origins of homosexuality,
our babies grew up.
Jimmy has three younger siblings who adore him.
He has this magnetism and this charming wit
that helps them feel happy and relaxed.
And one day, while contemplating this "Jimmy effect,"
it suddenly dawned on me: homosexuality is not so much about sex;
it's really more about survival, the family's survival.
So us, Homo sapiens, we are among the most social species on Earth.
For us, it's not just a kill-or-be-killed struggle for existence.
It's a snuggle for existence, you know.
An ability to love our family and bond with our group
determines, in many cases, whether we survive or perish.
So it's the survival of the fittest family,
not the fittest individual.
So, you share 50% of your DNA with your siblings.
Your nieces and nephews share 25% of your DNA.
Frоm evolution's perspective,
you have the same genetic success if you raise one child on your own
or you enable a sibling to raise two children.
Frоm evolution's perspective,
this is all about cooperation and altruism.
Homosexuality is genetically-programmed altruism.
Gays are designed by nature to help us be kind to one another,
like Ellen DeGeneres says.
So, E. O. Wilson,
probably the greatest evolutionary biologist since Darwin himself,
says homosexuality gives advantages to the group by specialized talents
and unusual qualities of personality.
So, a society that condemns homosexuality harms itself.
So, what does professor Wilson mean by "unusual qualities of personality"?
Well, let me tell you about our dear family friend Jenny.
She is 35, single, straight.
She was telling us she is looking for a man who's smart and funny,
who's sensitive, who's a good listener.
And she says she occasionally meets a guy like that,
but she complains, "You know, he usually has a boyfriend already!"
So, although people tend to obsess over what gays do or don't do in a bedroom,
it's really this distinctive personality and a strong intellect
that are more critical, from evolution's perspective.
So, scientific studies do indeed show
that people in the sexual minority tend to be intelligent,
particularly when it comes to emotional intelligence.
So, this study showed
that boys and girls who scored in a very bright IQ range
were twice as likely to be homosexual as adults
as those children who scored in the low to average range.
And, among gay males, on psychological testing,
gay males tend to score higher in metrics of compassion and cooperation,
and lower in metrics of hostility.
So, if Michelangelo had been straight,
he might have just wallpapered the Sistine Chapel.
Songwriter Sam Austin says,
"Homosexuality is God's way of ensuring
the truly gifted aren't burdened with children."
But today, in the US, about 2 out of every 25 people are in the sexual minority.
Diversity is nature's secret weapon.
If all males were gay, that would be a problem,
but if all males were warriors, we'd always be at war.
The recipe for a successful human culture
is a synergy of many different ingredients.
Homosexuality is like a catalyst
to help emotionally connect groups of people together.
For heterosexuals, to disapprove of gays
is kind of like the white flour in bread disapproving of the yeast.
So, if your genome is your hardware, epigenetics is your software.
You have many different DNA programs downloaded on your DNA,
and epigenetics chooses from among these to determine
which version of you actually is the best fit for the environment.
So, ants, you probably didn't know it, but are another highly social species
that have epigenetic mechanisms very similar to humans.
These two are identical twin sisters, huh?
Even though their DNA sequences are exactly the same,
this one, the worker,
is a brainy little scurrier who goes out looking for food,
whereas the one on the right, the soldier,
is obviously a brawny one to fight off enemies.
So, the queen ant epigenetically orchestrates this
by placing different epigenetic tags on the developing ants.
So -
she places tags when the colony is under attack
to uncoil the DNA and light up the genes to make the soldier,
but when the colony is hungry, she puts different tags to uncoil the DNA
and epigenetically create the conditions for the worker.
So, in this way, the epigenetics -
the dynamic power of epigenetics changes our genetic expression,
so that we're born with traits that allow us and our families
the best chance to succeed in the current conditions.
So, you probably have gay genes in your DNA,
but, unless they were turned on in your mother's womb,
they remain coiled up and silent.
A recent groundbreaking study from UCLA found
that, by looking at a group of men, some gay, some straight,
and looking at epigenetic tags in nine different sites,
they could predict with 70% accuracy their sexual orientation.
So, what conditions in the uterus turn on those gay genes?
So, for a male,
your chances of homosexuality increase in proportion
to the number of previous baby boys who inhabited your mother's uterus.
So, for every older biological brother you have,
your chances of being born gay go up 33%.
Long before we invented the pill,
nature devised homosexuality as a prescription for birth control.
After four straight, heterosexual males, nature says, "Enough already!,"
and the mom's immune system switches on the epigenetic switch
so a gay male is born into the family.
This one will not be overburdening the clan with yet more mouths to feed
in the next generation - sometimes more isn't better -
and he's not going to be killing his brother
in a fight over who gets the girl.
Thankfully, the sexual minority these days have many options
for having kids of their own,
and I have a hunch my gay son may bless us with grandchildren
before our three straight children do.
So, another gene, this one on the X chromosome,
is called a "male-loving gene,"
because, when it shows up in a female,
she tends to mate early and have a lot of kids,
but, when the male-loving gene shows up in a male,
it predisposes to homosexuality.
So, this is another gene that balances a family
destined to have a large brood of kids and grandkids
with an occasional gay son whose natural tendency to promote togetherness
could improve the chances of survival for the whole family.
Now, I apologize.
We have a lot more science about sexual orientation in men than in women,
so this talk is mostly about gay males.
Though, I have no doubt
that female homosexuality is also a natural variation
that is advantageous for the family and the community.
But Jimmy has no older brothers.
Why is he gay?
So, when Joan was pregnant with him,
we discovered a large cancer growing in her chest.
Metastasis in the neck.
It was a scary time.
She had radiation therapy to her chest
while Jimmy was still in the third trimester.
It was a rocky start for little Jimmy.
Miraculously, they both survived and are in great health today.
But, in fact,
severe prenatal stress does predispose to homosexuality.
In this study, 37% of gay males
reported their mothers suffered severe prenatal stress
compared to only 3% of heterosexual males' moms.
This is kind of like the queen ant,
where the mom is placing epigenetic markers on the baby
to change his identity to help the future welfare of the family.
It's as if the mom was saying, "I'm in trouble here.
I need a kind and clever ally to help me hold this family together."
So, to summarize,
if the family is flushed with plenty of kids
and/or it's a stressful place and time,
nature occasionally flips these epigenetics switches
to turn on the gay genes.
This alters brain development,
that changes sexual orientation and also improves emotional intelligence.
I have no doubt that Jimmy was born gay.
Here's his first birthday party.
When he was three, he said, "Mommy, when I grow up, I want to marry Daddy."
Now, some parents send their kid away, you know, well-meaning parents,
to a conversion camp to pray away the gay.
You might as well send the kid to a camp
to convert his eye color from brown to blue.
Not happening!
But Jimmy is like social glue holding our family together.
You know, whether his brother Evan gets beat up in a bar fight,
or his sister Caroline gets dumped by a boyfriend,
or his sister Kathleen gets busted for plagiarizing Wikipedia -
they know Jimmy's made them feel
like they belong to something bigger than their problems.
So, storytelling is the great survival skill of the Irish,
and, right here in Dublin, 162 years ago,
one of your finest storytellers was born:
Oscar Wilde.
Oscar ran away to the University of Oxford
where he met a young poet named Bosie Douglas.
Their long-standing openly gay relationship
infuriated and humiliated Bosie's father, Lord Queensburry -
I'm not making this up -
who was so mad that he eventually had Oscar arrested for gross indecency,
thrown into a dungeon for two years of hard labor.
Oscar died three years later, a young man.
Oscar wrote, "Always forgive your enemies. Nothing annoys them so much."
But these days, open homophobia is being replaced by more of a subtle heterosexism
where people in the sexual minority
are often considered second-class citizens.
Boy George says, "There's this illusion
that homosexuals have sex and heterosexuals fall in love.
That's completely untrue. We all want to be loved."
I agree: among all the things in life it'd be hardest to live without,
love would come first.
But indoor plumbing and toilet paper would be pretty high up there too, right?
I want to tell you about one more study,
this one a heartbreaking, nationwide study, from the US,
that looked at US teens, and they found that those in the sexual minority
were twice as likely to be bullied,
five times more likely to have attempted suicide.
Twenty-nine percent of gay teens had tried to kill themselves.
These days, around the world, in many countries,
it's illegal to have same-sex physical intimacy.
In many countries, it's punishable by death.
In the red countries, it's punishable by imprisonment.
In India, the law states 14 years to life,
because "homosexuality is against the order of nature."
Except that it's not!
Nature prescribes homosexuality at specific times and places,
and endows these people with special traits
that help the people around them flourish.
What is against the order of nature
is the ongoing persecution of the sexual minority.
These are not confused or defective people
that need to be cured, or punished, or ostracized.
They need to be accepted,
for who they are, and embraced.
They make us better.
If you had told me 30 years ago, as I held my baby boy,
that he would grow up to be gay,
I would have been devastated,
but looking back, I see Mother Nature knew what she was doing!
Her clairvoyant intelligence, forged during eons of evolution,
instinctively knew my family would need the advantages of a gay son.
Now, admittedly,
the science of homosexuality is still in it's infancy,
but as his father, what I can tell you for sure
is that Jimmy is exactly who he was meant to be,
and my family is stronger and happier because he's in our clan.
How about you?
Can you set sex aside?
Realize gay men and gay women are essential to humanity?
We're like the ants.
It's in our diversity where we find our collective strength.
Thank you.
(Applause) (Cheers)


【TEDx】Homosexuality: It's about survival - not sex | James O'Keefe | TEDxTallaght

7174 タグ追加 保存
Li-Ting Lo 2017 年 2 月 3 日 に公開
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