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Researcher Claims Gay Men Fail to Break from Childhood

While I posted about new studies on fruit flies this morning which have led researchers to theorize that homosexuality is based on altering the strength of synapse connections, there are new behavioral hypotheses emerging as well. Anthropologist Desmond Morris has put forth a theory about why some men are gay in his new book The Naked Man that is sure to stir discussion:

Morris"In his latest book, The Naked Man, he concludes that men are 'made gay' because they retain infantile or juvenile characteristics into adulthood – a phenomenon known as neoteny. According to this theory, gay men also tend to be more inventive and creative than heterosexuals because they are more likely to retain the mental agility and playfulness of childhood. 'Gays have in general made a disproportionately greater contribution to life than nongays,' said Morris, who is also a noted artist. 'The creative gay has very much advanced Planet Earth. The playfulness of childhood is continued with certain people into adulthood. This is very much a positive. Adult playfulness means that certain people, often a fairly large proportion of them gay, are more inventive and curious than heterosexuals.' His theory was, however, attacked by Steve Jones, professor of genetics at University College London. 'It’s arts faculty science to say that gays are neotenous,” he said. 'It’s a stupid idea. Where is the real evidence?' Morris points to work done by Clive Bromhall, who produced some of his television programmes. 'Gays do infantile behaviour in the extreme,' said Bromhall, who after gaining a PhD in zoology from Oxford, left academia to form a company making educational films. Morris, who is 80 in January, long thought that absent fathers led to boys and young male adults becoming gay. '[It is] the dominant and ever-present mother theory,' he said. 'But now I’m convinced that is wrong, and that it is neoteny which makes people gay. Gays are using what is reproductive or creatively constructive to non-reproductive ends. This is very much a positive.'"

Here's an excerpt from Morris' book.

Men are ‘made gay by the child within’ [times online]
Why are Men Gay? [EXCERPT - Desmond Morris]

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Comments

  1. I disagree. I'm 28 and act like I'm 80. I'm a hermit, bitter, and don't like young people.

    Posted by: Matt | Dec 10, 2007 4:19:36 PM


  2. To quote Bugs. What a maroon!

    Posted by: Shaun | Dec 10, 2007 4:26:30 PM


  3. So, gay men are little childlike sprites that giggle when they splash color on the world? I suppose people of color are all simple-minded, tap dancing, basketball playing singers who really want to run back to the plantation - all Jews are money grubbing doctors and lawyers, all asians great at math and science. What of the Black Asian Jewish Gay Man? A tap dancing doctor attached to his mother who sings calculus while he fingerpaints his way back to his crib with glitter no doubt.

    Posted by: David Ciminello | Dec 10, 2007 4:28:33 PM


  4. So, gay men are little childlike sprites that giggle when they splash color on the world? I suppose people of color are all simple-minded, tap dancing, basketball playing singers who really want to run back to the plantation - all Jews are money grubbing doctors and lawyers, all asians great at math and science. What of the Black Asian Jewish Gay Man? A tap dancing doctor attached to his mother who sings calculus while he fingerpaints his way back to his crib with glitter no doubt.

    Posted by: David Ciminello | Dec 10, 2007 4:29:46 PM


  5. My entire male peer group--gay, straight, and none/all of the above--has failed to break from childhood.

    None of us are a Black Asian Jewish Gay Man, though, and the world's poorer for it.

    Posted by: David D. | Dec 10, 2007 4:36:11 PM


  6. Kinda makes sense to me...but kinda also suggests that there are probably a lot of heterosexual identifying men out there who are probably too homophobic to admit they might like dick. How does that saying go? "...but you can't take the boy out of the man?" At least I don't feel offended by the hypothesis...

    Posted by: Michael W. | Dec 10, 2007 4:38:39 PM


  7. See, and y'all wonder why so many Black Gays refer to Gay Folks as "the children".

    That Morris guy looks great for eighty. To bad is theory is a crock of shit. All theories about what makes Gays "Gay" (and non-Gay homos "homo" for that matter) are a crock of shit.

    Hey, DAVID CIMINELLO, was Larry Craig trying to tap dance in the stall?--"passing" for straight and white...that silly childlike creature.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Dec 10, 2007 4:39:00 PM


  8. here come the stereotypes again!

    Posted by: god | Dec 10, 2007 4:39:11 PM


  9. "Morris, who is 80 in January, long thought that absent fathers led to boys and young male adults becoming gay."

    Tell me again why we're supposed to give a crap about what this man thinks?

    Posted by: Zeke | Dec 10, 2007 4:40:02 PM


  10. This is old news. Psychiatrists used to paint gays as sexually immature. Once gays finally reached the maturity of their physical age, they would become straight. With gaybies all over the place, I don't see how that kind rationale works any longer. Now we have another spin on the old theme. And while Morris likes to make it a positive one, it is still a negative comparison against straights, with straights being the normal and gays are the exception to that normalacy.

    Is Morris gay? If so, then he's like so many Log Cabin Republicans....a self-hater.

    Posted by: woodroad34 | Dec 10, 2007 4:41:38 PM


  11. Sorry he's wrong...when I was a child I knew I was different,but didn't know why....I didn't know I Liked "COCK".....as an adult I know for sure I do...No Vajayjay for me.

    Posted by: Disgusted american | Dec 10, 2007 4:45:15 PM


  12. Scientists can be idiots too.

    Posted by: homer | Dec 10, 2007 4:54:23 PM


  13. Scientists can be idiots too.

    Posted by: homer | Dec 10, 2007 4:55:21 PM


  14. Scientists can be idiots too.

    Posted by: homer | Dec 10, 2007 4:56:43 PM


  15. What a load of horse-shit.

    Posted by: Robert In WeHo | Dec 10, 2007 4:57:16 PM


  16. Yes Morris loves to examine human behavior from a purely zoological perspective, in particular via natural evolutionary mechanisms. Most of his theories have been attacked as incomplete, incorrect, or overly simplistic. His comments tend to be sensational, untestable, and as a result unscientific.

    Posted by: Jocko | Dec 10, 2007 5:01:53 PM


  17. Idiocy. This is theory with no factual basis.

    He calls childlike behavior a "cause" of homosexuality. Couldn't it also be an "effect" due to the fact that gay folks can't follow the predetermined heterosexual path and therefore must forge their own path in a more creative manner?

    Any minority tends to be more creative than the status quo, simply out of necessity to carve out a niche for themselves in society. That's my theory anyway.

    Posted by: Gregg | Dec 10, 2007 5:05:51 PM


  18. Clearly, there is no neat and tidy explanation for why there are homosexuals in the human population. In all probability, the origins/causes of homosexuality are manifold: genetics, environment, uterine hormone levels, brain chemistry, population stress, etc.

    Morris' viewpoint sounds very similar to one I read about many years ago which stated that homosexuals are a "bonus" to the population and since we don't usually reproduce we can put our energies to supporting/nuturing other family members. Since we don't "mate" in the breeder sense of the word, we theoretically have more "free time" and can devote ourselves to creative ventures.

    I would add to this and to Morris' paper that homosexuality is also probably a natural reaction to overpopulation. Consider how some fish and reptiles are able to change their sex under certain conditions. When there are too many females among certain species of fish, a certain percentage of them will change themselves into males. Given the billions of people sharing the Earth at this moment, it makes perfect sense to me that Mother Nature would need to put on the brakes and slow down reproduction by introducing an increasing number of non-reproducing males into the population.

    I get very concerned when claims like "gay men fail to break from childhood" are bandied about. Morris' take on this idea is quite positive, but the average reader wouldn't take it as a positive and would in fact assume that Morris means that we gays are "childish". We should also remember to point out to our homophobic fellow Americans that re: the fruit fly experiment we humans are much more complex than are fruit flies and such. It isn't as simple as flipping a genetic switch.

    And of course, any time that causality of homosexuality is discussed there will be those who say "Aha!" and think that a "cure" can be developed from such research. We should point out that because there is nothing wrong with homosexuals there is no need to "fix" or "cure" homosexuality. There is indeed an evolutionary advantage to homosexuality - else it would have disappeared from our gene pool millenia ago. "Curing" all the homosexuals would bring about problems of a different sort, and we would lose out on the evolutionary legacy of our ancestors.

    Posted by: Jonathon | Dec 10, 2007 5:08:25 PM


  19. What the hell was his research material? "Ma Vie en Rose" when it arrived in his mailbox from Netflix?
    My research claims that heterosexuals become asshats by obsessing over what makes the rest of us gay.

    Posted by: AdamN | Dec 10, 2007 5:09:29 PM


  20. Oh god, what a bunch of junk.

    I actually respect Morris: "The Naked Ape" is deservedly a classic.
    But he's so desperately wrong here.

    Love or hate her, I think Camille Paglia's idea that sensitive and artistic boys are activally shunned by their peers at an early age has more resonance.

    Morris's idea that all boys have some sort of group sexual attachments and experimentation they don't outgrow is a) not my experience and b) absolutely discredited Freudian hogwash.

    Posted by: Arundel | Dec 10, 2007 5:11:05 PM


  21. Zeke, Desmond Morris is an accomplished and brilliant anthropologist and he should be respected for his hard work. While I don't necessarily agree with this assertions re: gays not "breaking from childhood", his dedication to science and his fields of study deserve recognition. Note that his assertions are not necessarily negative towards us. The headline is a bit pejorative, but the content of his article isn't.

    Posted by: Jonathon | Dec 10, 2007 5:12:08 PM


  22. Hi is absolutely, 100% correct! I still prefer playing with Lincoln Logs, Barbie and Matchbox Cars over any old yucky 'grown up' activities. And sometimes I cry when I can't have milk and cookies before bedtime.

    Posted by: peterparker | Dec 10, 2007 5:21:54 PM


  23. Neoteny is a valid developmental and evolutionary concept. Many organisms evolve by retaining juvenile characteristics. In fact, there is good evidence that Homo sapiens evolved in part from retaining ape juvenile characteristics like standing erect and large head to body ratios.

    This is a LOT different than saying, as does Morris.. or at least the news article, that gays can't "break from childhood." It's taking a valid scientific principle and F%%^^#@ it up. Especially since he has no developmental or genetic evidence.

    It's just junk science and a "just so story"

    Posted by: Trey | Dec 10, 2007 5:24:14 PM


  24. In some ways, this sounds like a rehash of old developmental ideas from Freudian psychoanalysis (unworked out Oedipal stuff) and some areas of phenomenology (Homosexuality as the failure of desire to become "differentiated" in the normal course of maturity).

    Posted by: Rich | Dec 10, 2007 5:30:55 PM


  25. This is another version of the 'gay gene' rubbish. Mumbo jumbo if ever I heard it. Makes me want to say retarded socio-sexual development my ass ... but there again...

    I did know I liked men as a child, but nowhere in my childhood did a liking for several inches of manmeat in me, or a hot sauna, or sharing the cream of some young guy come into the frame. So simplistic an explanation Desmond... off to Florida with the rest of the Golden girls with ya!

    Posted by: SeanR | Dec 10, 2007 5:42:04 PM


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