I'm Gay | News | Wales

Rugby Player Who Claims Stroke Turned Him Gay Speaks Out: VIDEO


Back in November I posted about Chris Birch, a Welsh former rugby player who claimed that after hurting his neck during practice and cutting off the blood flow to his brain, he suffered a stroke, and realized, as he recovered, that his sexual orientation had changed.

CbThe BBC has now done a documentary on Birch, who says he does not recognize himself in photos taken before his accident.

There are few known cases of a stroke turning a straight person gay, and major personality changes in stroke sufferers are rare. Even Jak Powell, Birch's fiance, believes his partner may always have been gay.

"I've still got the same opinion that it was just something that was always there," says Powell. "People grow up not knowing they are gay and have families and then they realise they are gay, but they don't have a stroke to realise that."

Yet Birch disagrees and is convinced that, neurologically, it was the stroke that altered his sense of self. The moment he realised his feelings towards men had changed was a scary period in his life.

"It was a sort of lonely time. It was a time I was afraid to tell anybody because that wasn't who I used to be, so it shouldn't be who I am now," he says.

Watch the full program while it stays up, AFTER THE JUMP...

Here's a shorter promo:

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  1. There was also a fascinating story a number of years ago about a woman who received organ-transplants from a young man who'd died in an accident. Suddenly, she was having dreams about a blonde woman, and was craving beer and wings and "young man food."

    Now, that speaks more to cellular memory than anything else, and it didn't turn her into an adolescent poon-hound, but it's still interesting.

    Still, scientific findings can't back it up yet but I think those of us who've been around other gay people long enough start to see patterns, hear the same variations on the same types of stories, put the pieces together....

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Apr 18, 2012 5:33:39 PM

  2. Why is it that the people who come on here to give their little opinions on things for which they lack both knowledge and insight typically have to be so negative?

    Your conclusions are drawn based on what . . . yourself? A git feeling? Because you think so?

    And why do so many of you concern yourself with what straight people think, that they will conclude that if, as Chris birch asserts, his current sexual orientation is the result of a brain injury via stroke, than homosexuality itself is a birth defect, or the an injured brain?

    This guy is telling his story, and a lot of you turn into drama queens and want to make his story all about you.

    And why assume that he is using the stroke as an excuse to come out? And why the slams to who he is as a man, that he embodies every gay stereotype. That is mean-spirited and proof that things Do not necessarily get better after high school . . . not if you are going to hang out with other gay like many of you. He likes himself. But some of you are embarrassed by him . . . and why? Well, because you are a bunch of wimps that are overly concerned with what straight people will think about you.

    Actually, if one were to give credence to the notion that Chris Birch embodies very gay stereo type, might be a reasonable hypothesis that he once was straight, and his struggle to cope with a sudden change in his sexual orientation, and what that means to his overall identity, may be drawing upon everything he thought he knew about gay people when he was straight.

    And those of you who disparage his story, that he is faking his memory problems, because he seems so clear on some things and not co clear on other things only shows why your opinions are meaningless.

    Even in people who have not sustained serious brain trauma, memory works this way, with some things crystal clear, and other things not so clear . . . or that is what we think. Actually, peoples memories are not nearly as reliable as they think.

    There seem to be similarities to the gay brain and the opposite sex brain in heterosexuals: that is that a lesbians brain has a biological similarity to a male heterosexual brain, and a gay mans brain, resembles a straight woman's brain.

    There are other differences that have been observed, but none of them are all encompassing, or bring scientists very much closer to understanding sexual orientation.

    Here is what they do know about the human brain, and have known at least since 1848, at least, when Phineas Gage, a railroad foreman, was injured when an explosion drove a tamping iron through the side of his face, back behind the left eye, and came out the top of his head: that his personality was thereafter drastically altered.

    Since Phineas Gage drastic alterations have been observed many many times in people who sustained similar traumas to the brain, or stroke. If, as some studies indicate, the gay brain resembles that of women in how they solve problems, or levels of aggression, or a tendency to get depressed, behavioral shifts that have been likewise noted in people after a stroke or other injury to the brain, then it is quite possible for a persons sexual orientation to be altered.

    There are workable and reasonable hypothesis to suggest that sexual orientation can be altered due to a brain injury.

    it is not likely that anyone of Chris Birch's detractors here on Towleroad are doing that kind of research, therefore not qualified, beyond snarky, bi*chy opinions, to offer the rest of us insight. If you could, I am sure you would prefer to publish your findings in a medical journal, rather than waist your time with a bunch of opinionated laypeople.

    But here is why it so important to Chris to have his recollection concerning his orientation proven: it is one of the very few memories of which he feels certain. No one here can possibly imagine what it would be like to have so much of your life stripped away, to have lost so many memories, therefore cannot appreciate why it would be so important to someone like Chris Birch to have one infallible memory.

    You cannot fully appreciate, but you could try to imagine such a loss, and offer the man some compassion.

    Posted by: Ricco | Apr 18, 2012 6:18:23 PM

  3. sorry about the many typos, misspellings, and issues of grammar in my previous post. I should have composed it off line, read through it, then posted it.


    Posted by: Ricco | Apr 18, 2012 6:23:52 PM

  4. helpful "tip" to online commenters: virtually no one reads your posts past the first couple of lines. Edit, edit, edit.

    Posted by: happyday | Apr 18, 2012 6:26:44 PM

  5. Ricco, a lot of us have just heard countless variations on his story a few times too many.

    As much as I would love to join in you what you're saying, I can't. There comes a point where some of us are simply going to call b.s. when we hear someone saying a version of a story we've heard too many times before, and frankly know is untrue.

    I've "listened" to stories like this many times before. And have heard enough to know that what's not being said, or addressed, tells the truth more than what IS being said.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Apr 18, 2012 6:27:23 PM

  6. but for what it's worth, RICCO, i don't a flip about how stereotypical he is or isn't, or how others perceive those stereotypes. and my conclusions or strong-opinions come from more than decade of honest-to-God actual interactions and work with actual LGBT people from different culture, experiences, and walks of life.

    the "i wasn't gay or ever attracted to men until _____________" thing is commonly used, and it's simply a way to remove feelings of "guilt" on one's part for having deceived people.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Apr 18, 2012 6:33:30 PM

  7. I totally believe him. What, is everyone here a neurologist that they can honestly depute his claim? He is what he is & he was what he was. Stop being a bunch of haters.

    Posted by: Gen | Apr 18, 2012 6:38:39 PM

  8. I had a stroke and it sent my hair back to the 1980's.

    Posted by: Kevin | Apr 18, 2012 6:40:58 PM

  9. Phoebe Cates Made Me Gay.

    I'm not kidding.


    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Apr 18, 2012 6:45:05 PM

  10. It's really obnoxious to deny this man's experience because it doesn't fit your personal experiences.

    Posted by: Johan | Apr 18, 2012 6:45:12 PM

  11. Johan, i'd counter that and say it's irresponsible to throw out everything we know because someone else passes off a variation of a story we've already heard before.

    just like when some ex-gay says "I realized I was gay because i had an overbearing mother and my dad wasn't around" I'm not going to sit there and "believe" what he says, either.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Apr 18, 2012 7:03:38 PM

  12. I'm never going to believe everything I hear.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Apr 18, 2012 7:21:49 PM

  13. I'm surprised how much repeated coverage this story is getting. Maybe we should follow up on Chris in ten years.

    Posted by: anon | Apr 18, 2012 8:02:08 PM

  14. This is such bullsht. I hate that people like this push us backwards with all the progress that we make. I have no respect for someone BLAMING being gay on something other than that he is just GAY, Ugggghhhhh

    Posted by: Reppin2 | Apr 18, 2012 8:26:29 PM

  15. While its "possible" to go to the emergency room with a liter coke bottle up your hiney after "falling" on it, that doesn't make it true.

    Posted by: Michaelandfred | Apr 18, 2012 4:36:58 PM

    Read more: http://www.towleroad.com/2012/04/birch.html#ixzz1sRRFs8TG

    HA you made me laugh


    Posted by: say what | Apr 18, 2012 8:28:29 PM

  16. Have there ever been any reports of a gay person turning straight after a stroke?

    Posted by: MarcosLB | Apr 18, 2012 10:17:45 PM

  17. Hellavu lot of trouble to go through to just come out to your parents. Lotta trouble you're putting our cause for equal rights through too. Jerk.

    Posted by: mododavid | Apr 18, 2012 10:20:07 PM

  18. REPPIN2 . . . Really, suggesting that people like Chris Birch pushes us back, undoing our progress is like the straights saying gay marriage affects their marriages, or that gay marriage is responsible for the behavior of the Secret Service.

    Here is how life works. Straight people are responsible for their failed marriages, and their neglect of their children and their spouses. And gay people, not Chris Birch, are responsible for their own stupid sh*t.

    Posted by: Ricco | Apr 18, 2012 10:44:19 PM

  19. Looks like the stroke TURNED HIS HAIR WHITE, too! LOL!

    Posted by: Old Sourdough | Apr 19, 2012 12:35:09 AM

  20. In related news...... are this muppet, and the annoying mohawk dude from American Idol, actually the same person????

    Posted by: Marcfab | Apr 19, 2012 12:51:49 AM

  21. First of all, regardless of whether this guy’s memories & perceptions are accurate, he comes off as totally ingenuous and in-earnest. As the documentary makes clear, he has gone through a sea-change personality shift, beyond just his sexual orientation. I feel sorry for him that he has become alienated from friends and family, and has had such difficulty being understood. It’s particularly annoying as I read through these comments that so many *gay* people are unwilling to accept the possible validity of his situation. Like maybe homosexuality doesn’t exist, and you’re just confused or going through a phase or something…

    Oliver Sachs has documented all sorts of weird brain anomalies. Just because we know how things are generally supposed to work, doesn’t mean we know how it will work in every single case or that there aren’t exceptions.

    Posted by: Randy 2 | Apr 19, 2012 2:04:57 AM

  22. So, according to the comments section, sexuality can't be altered by physiological changes to the brain? Any particular reason people think that's the one aspect of personality that can't be altered?

    Everything you think, feel, and know is rooted in your brain. A change in your brain's physiology, such as atrophy from a stroke or a change in the levels of neurotransmitters, can change any and every aspect of your personality. There are cases of average people turning into irresponsible sex fiends, or gamblers, because they were over-medicated for their Alzheimer's.

    While we don't know precisely what constitutes the basis for sexual attraction and desire, there is documented evidence of the differences between the brains of homosexual and heterosexual men in response to these things. That, combined with other cases also reporting a change in sexuality, leads any sensible person to the conclusion that sexuality can be influenced by changes in the brain.

    Sure, you may have half a dozen anecdotes about guys who have claimed to have been "turned gay" to help them cope with it, but those are just that. Anecdotes. I understand that people are apprehensive of anything touching on changing sexuality, fearing that it will give fodder to those offering ex-gay therapy, but you have to realize that, if anything, such evidence only supports the idea of sexuality being something innate that can't be changed by anything short of extreme physical intervention.

    Posted by: OddBet | Apr 19, 2012 2:29:30 AM

  23. OK, so I had 7 visits to the ER last year because of muggings and seizures. I almost certainly suffered brain damage, because my head got slammed on pavement several times and head wounds bleed a ton. Also, try having staples in your head. It seemed medieval.

    That has caused problems with my speech, which was already difficult for some people to understand because I speak way too fast. But it never changed my sexuality. I've seen three neurologists about it, and that's just how it is. I had so many CT and other scans last year, it's not even funny. This story is a f'ing fraud.

    Posted by: Paul R | Apr 19, 2012 10:30:37 AM

  24. Ha. What do you want to bet he has another "stroke" sometime in the distant future and changes back? As the SNL church lady would have said. "how convent"!

    Posted by: Mike | Apr 19, 2012 4:08:46 PM

  25. the only problem is that what he is perpetually saying could be kinda dangerous. He's saying one stroke and your cured there's bound to be that one psycho who tries it out

    Posted by: Ben | Apr 19, 2012 4:19:00 PM

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