Identity / Life

What Made Me Gay

IMG_5111Anthony Weeks is an illustrator, public listener, and documentarian based in San Francisco. He keeps busy by listening and drawing at the same time, thinking about forgiveness, pondering the cultural significance of jello salad, and working to end the overuse of the word “amazing.” He is the proud new owner of biggaypizzawedding.com, but his plans for the site remain undefined.


Forget the distant fathers and overbearing mothers. Or was it the affectionate fathers and the unavailable mothers? Maybe it was the effete fathers and butch mothers.

When it comes to the question that has tried right-wing souls throughout the ages, you can toss out those old canards about what causes homosexuality. Thank Allah, Iranian cleric Hossein Dehnavi has come to set us all straight. It’s about Dad.

Ayatollah Dehnavi hosts a popular show on Iranian television where he counsels the faithful on topics ranging from marriage to parenting to what kind of underwear women should wear in order to sexually arouse their husbands. Recently, Dehnavi revealed The Truth About Homosexuality: If a man is thinking of another woman during sex, and the sexual act results in pregnancy, then the child will be a homosexual.

Um, Dad? What? You have some explaining to do. To be fair, Dehnavi also claims that the incorrect wearing of the hijab also causes homosexuality. Since my mother isn’t a hijab wearer, though, I guess it’s safe to say that my dad’s impure thoughts are to blame.

And so it goes–the ongoing conversation about the causes of The Gay. While it might be easy to dismiss the Ayatollah’s claims as the ravings of a fundamentalist religious lunatic, we have our own ayatollahs here in the US whose beliefs are not too far removed. Undoubtedly, this earnest theorizing by the likes of Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, and the Ayatollah is rarely about the noble pursuit of knowledge for the good of all humankind. More often, the declarations about what causes homosexuality are used to devise strategies for the erasure of same-sex attraction and to uphold heterosexuality as the natural and preferred state to which we should all aspire. “If we can identify the causes of this scourge, we can prevent it! Bwahahahahahaha!” said the Coalition of Anti-Heroes for the Prevention of The Gay. If only it were so easy (and so utterly plausible) as the ayatollahs and ideologues suggest.

I don’t know, definitively, what made me gay. I suspect I was born this way (thanks, Gaga). Just for shits and glitter, though, let’s engage with this line of inquiry, instead of letting the ayatollahs own all the questions and answers. What MADE me gay?

  1. Being the only boy with three older sisters. After a childhood filled with gossip about cute boys, having cute boys come over to the house, seeing my sisters get excited about going to prom with cute boys, and being part of the preparations for their weddings to cute boys, why shouldn’t I want what they had? Their dressing me up as “Super Lady” probably had some bearing on my gayhood, as well.
  2. Music. My dad liked ABBA and Patsy Cline. My mom liked showtunes, particularly “West Side Story.” My sisters liked Barry Manilow and Donna Summer. Hello?! Isn’t this the soundtrack to the educational video “How To Raise a Gay Son?”
  3. 70s TV Dads. I watched a lot of television. In particular, I liked shows such as “The Brady Bunch” and “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father.” In other words, I liked the shows with the hot dads. I fantasized about being friends with Brandon Cruz (Eddie) so I could stay overnight at his house…and meet his dad. As for Mike Brady, I dreamed about being on the receiving end–of a moralizing lecture, followed by a fatherly hug. In my pseudo-Freudian, distorted, misplaced way of trying to figure things out, I loved Robert Reed and Bill Bixby. RIP, my dear DILFs. I miss you.
  4. My male relatives from rural Iowa. Whenever there was a family gathering at my aunt’s house in western Iowa, the men and women separated quicker than boys and girls at a 7th grade dance. I tried to hang out in the “men’s area,” but finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. The men were boring. They sat around—smoking, farting, and nodding—without saying much unless it had to do with crops or college sports. The women were much more fun. They laughed. They spoke in complete sentences. They gossiped. They weren’t flatulent. I decided then and there that being a straight man didn’t look like much fun. Life is about saying “yes”—and sometimes “no.”
  5. My mother’s cooking. I was raised on gay food. My mother served things like quiche, Cornish game hens, yogurt, salad, and Carnation Instant Breakfast, thinking that she was offering more nutritious and varied fare while contributing to more sophisticated palates. Little did she know that she was preparing a Diet for a Gay Planet. In the middle of Iowa, in the 1970s and 80s, quiche, Cornish game hens, yogurt, and salad may as well have been in the exotic foods aisle. Asian, Mexican, Italian–and Gay.

With so many different variables that quite obviously could have caused my sexual preference, who knows which one of these influences ultimately made me choose androphilia? Is there any chance that who I was at birth predisposed me to choose some experiences over others, gravitate toward some people more closely than others, and pay attention to some things more readily than others?

Ayatollahs and fundamentalists be damned, I’m not going to worry about what “made” me gay, what thoughts my dad may have been having when he was shtupping my mother, or what we might do to prevent gayness in subsequent generations. We are stories. We are compilations of experiences. We are shaped, sculpted, formed, and influenced, not “caused” or “made” or “damaged.” Now, pass the quiche and turn on “The Brady Bunch.” Let’s celebrate.

Hello Mike Brady...

Hello Mike Brady…

FEATURE PHOTO CREDIT: ABC PHOTOARCHIVES/ABC via GETTY IMAGES

4 Comments

  1. Vikki Reich says:

    Well, you know my mother blamed her butchness for my Gay. I have to be honest…that El Camino might have had something to do with it.

    • I gotta get over here more often. I’ll come for the sparkling prose but I’ll stay for the El Camino mentions. Well, that and the occasional glitter.

  2. As usual, your acerbic and delightful wit shines a powerful light on the hirsute fog of homophobic dumbassery, like some glittery and wise detangler, revealing the shining truth of a 1970s-style Mike Brady hairdo in all its glory. Kudos, my friend. Great article.

  3. I read this because I grew up in the same town as Anthony and I just have one question. Where in the hell did your mama shop that you had Cornish hen for dinner? Super jealous. Oh and the horror of contemplating any parents shtupping was way too much to bear. Thanks for that.

    Great read BTW.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.