Fruit Flies and the Gays

Fruit Flies–as in the insect drosophilidae–not savvy straight women who enjoy hovering around fabulous gay men.

Yesterday a reporter from ABC contacted me to ask what I thought about a new study that reveals the sexual orientation of fruit flies can be changed. My immediate response was that I am not a scientist and had not yet been in contact with the fruit fly community, so I wouldn’t want to speak for them. But as a vegan, I have personal knowledge of drosophilidae in my fruit bowl, and as an ex-gay survivor, I know about the desperation to change one’s orientation.

But how deliciously ironic that they did a study about orientation on fruit flies. Aw, those poor gay fruit flies being type cast in a fruity role once again.

But as I spoke with the reporter, he asked about humans and how some people may respond to this fruit fly orientation switching news. In my mind and heart I traveled back to when I was 19 and longed for a cure. I would have done anything and everything to fix my homosexuality. Any time I heard of a powerful minister or of ex-gay seminar or of a book that another ex-gay found helpful, I pursued these with more earnestness than I ever pursued anything in my life up to that point.

I wanted to be fixed, healed, delivered, saved, set free, cured–be it instantaneously or progressively. I knew it would likely be a long road, but I felt it was all worth it for Jesus and for my own well-being. (and as a good Christian, I had scripture to back me up)

In the quest to straighten out my life I not only harmed myself, but also the people who loved me. I believed that I must discover the way out of being gay no matter the cost, not realizing that I also put the burden on others in my life and ended up wounding them by bringing them along with me on my journey to heterosexuality.

Life became one huge battle–a colossal war that I thought was waged against the devil, my flesh and the world. I grew to understand that the struggle, the strain was so great because I fought against myself and a part of me that could not be changed–a fixed part of me that need not move or shift. When I attempted to change, it created more conflict.

So I spoke with the reporter yesterday and you can read his article here. If There Was a Gay-Straight Switch, Would You Do It?

And the answer was yes. I did do it, well I tried to do it. I did it for all the wrong reasons (and found not really good reasons in the end), even bringing God into the equation believing I had a divine mandate and backing to change my orientation and my identity. But turns out the force behind my discomfort with my orientation actually came from an anti-gay world that has gotten emmeshed with the church to the point that the church upholds and enforces the oppression of the anti-gay world.

And the core of the oppression has little to do with who I desire sexuality. The anti-gay mandate is about masculinity. It springs from sexism and the anti-female madness that poisons the minds of men and large religious institutions. It is the same madness that drove the Nazis to experiment on gay men to try to fix them and turn them into real men, and when that didn’t worked, they killed the homosexuals. This drive to stamp out effeminacy in men has even gotten into parts of the gay community.

A real man will have the courage to be authentic in spite of what society has to say about him. A real man will not tamp down the ways he speaks and acts in order to pass as a “straight-acting, masculine man.” A real man will abandon an egocentric path of de-homosexualization when he realizes that such a lifestyle is not possible or healthy, and that it harms his loved ones.

And fruit flies, well, perhaps for a season, with scientific intervention, they can jump ship and swim in different waters. They can act heterosexuality or homosexuality while under the influence of a drug or genetic tampering, but really at the end of the day, drosophilidae just want my banana (and apples and peaches and pears and plums and…)

This post has 7 Comments

  1. Ally on December 14, 2007 at 4:54 pm

    Can I just say here that I love you? Anyone who can get a cold call from a reporter and immediately come off with the bit about not having been in contact with the fruit fly community deserves special accolades in my book.

    I have to say, though, that “real man” language, even when it subverts the societal norm, gives me shivers (and not in a good way). Can I spin your second-to-last paragraph a bit?

    A whole person will have the courage to be authentic in spite of what society has to say about him. A whole person will not tamp down the ways she speaks and acts in order to “pass” as anything, but will let her true self shine through. A whole person will abandon an egocentric path of de-selfication when he realizes that such a lifestyle is not possible or healthy, and that it harms his loved ones.

    (Yeah, I just invented that word, de-selfication. You do witty off-the-cuff remarks, I do neologisms.)

  2. Peterson Toscano on December 14, 2007 at 5:25 pm

    I stand (well, actually I’m sitting) corrected.

    Thank you Ally for pointing this out and rephrasing the language.

    And I love your new word (and your profile pic!)

  3. Ally on December 14, 2007 at 5:43 pm

    Oh, I didn’t intend to correct! Just to spin your (characteristically erudite and insightful) words into something more comfortable for me. Words touch different people in different ways, and I’m still working out my own issues with “real man,” “man of God,” “family man,” etc. I really do love it the way you wrote it originally!

  4. Oliver Danni on December 14, 2007 at 6:27 pm

    I think that there are times when it is valuable to use “real man” language, just as there are times when I feel it is valuable to use “real woman” language and times when it clearly makes no sense to gender the experience of authenticity. I personally happen to be in a place on my journey (transitioning from female to male) where it’s really empowering for me to see masculine language used that way. My “girl” side got to grow up in an era of radical feminism, and I still think that movement is awesome…but men, especially men who have learned that some part of them (be it homosexuality or some other quality) makes them “not real men” DO need affirmation that we are “real men” and that we don’t have to strip ourselves of healthy masculine gender identities in our quest for self-empowerment.

    That said, I really like how you have reworded that paragraph (although I would love to see gender-neutral pronouns used!) and I think it serves an equally valuable purpose as Peterson’s originally-worded paragraph. 🙂

  5. Peter O on December 14, 2007 at 6:27 pm

    It’s very clear to anybody with a basic understanding of biochemistry that this study didn’t show a “gay gene” in the fly but rather demonstrated behavioural variations at the synaptic level caused by pharmacological intervention.

  6. Oliver Danni on December 14, 2007 at 6:34 pm


    I thought you might be amused that the XKCD comic strip today is also about fruit flies.

    Apparently, you CAN catch more of them with vinegar than you can with honey…because (surprise!) they are attracted to FRUIT!

    Your post made me smile a lot, both because it resonated really well with where I am right now, and because you in general make me smile a lot. 🙂

  7. brittanicals on December 14, 2007 at 9:31 pm

    “not savvy straight women who enjoy hovering around fabulous gay men.”

    That cracked me up. We are not just “savvy,” darlin’, we are so fabulous we sparkle :).

    I feel so safe and loved when I am with my gay male freinds–the ones who tell me I am wonderful, loved, faboo, without the posibility of saying it just to get a chance at a roll in the hay. My best freind Rog used to say “good god, woman, I am *gay*, not *blind*, and you are one the best things in all creation.”

    I somehow find it odd that a scientist would even suggest making the leap from flies to men.

    Good for you for talking about the authentic. My husband is very straight, but without all the “macho” trappings and hang ups. He loves to cook and nuture, and has a very true heart, and cries easily when that heart is touched. He is soft voiced and gentle, and never more of a man than when he cooks all day and serves me dinner.

    Keep being you. I like you.

Leave a Comment