John C Wright posted a strongly anti-homosexual rant on his blog. After reading the equally negative responses, I felt moved to write a response. When I have time, I may come back and clean this up a bit and add links to supporting evidence and such. But for now I just needed to get something down so it wouldn’t drive me crazy.
Your post and its resultant comments are really on two separate issues:
The nature of homosexuality, and
The extent to which media corporations should feel or be obliged to attempt fair and representational depictions of non-dominant groups (specifically homosexuals in this case).
1. The Nature of Homosexuality:
Again, I see at least two debates here. First, whether homosexuality is “natural.” And second, the moral value associated to homosexual acts.
1a. Is it Natural?
Homosexuality is undeniably natural in multiple senses of the word.
It has existed for the entire recorded history of mankind even when it is not encouraged or approved of. It also exists naturally in non-human species. It is therefore natural by definition, by prevalence and persistence.
There is also an overwhelming body of biological, neurological and psychological evidence that proves homosexuality is something you are born with, that it is not a psychological disorder or simply a choice or a fetish, and that homosexuals have very real biological differences from heterosexuals.
In fact, everyone who posted to your site has some percentage of the genes that makes one a homosexual. If you are not exclusively attracted to persons of the same sex, that only means you don’t have enough of the genes, or the exact combination of these genes, that would result in that particular trait of homosexuality.
But the other traits that “homosexual”-causing genes give you make you a better parent and a better partner for your heterosexual mate. For example, a more sensitive, caring man makes for a better father who is less likely to abandon or abuse his child. These “feminine” genetic traits are among those that, when there are enough accumulated in a single male, can make him truly homosexual.
This explains why it is not only natural, but why it would continue to exist in a world where homosexuals’ inability to breed seems counter-intuitive to the survival of the species. Because homosexual “traits” make heterosexuals more successful mates, and it is only in some cases that these traits add up to a person being truly homosexual.
1b. The Moral Question
Much like being a woman or having a dark skin color, homosexuality itself is neither good nor bad except as we make it so.
There are many reasons a person may feel that homosexuality is “wrong,” including religious views, familial and societal influences, buried homosexual feelings, and more. But it is important to remember that these are personal views, not absolute truths, and as such are shaky grounds to persecute an entire group of people upon.
The biological and psychological evidence is also, among other things, important in understanding why homosexuality is not, in fact, like pedophilia or bestiality (which are practiced by heterosexuals, along with serial killings and rapes). Whereas these other sexual tastes may be seen as a disorder (or perversion) of one’s natural and healthy heterosexual desires, homosexuality IS the natural and healthy sexual desire for those who are born as homosexuals.
I personally think it makes no more sense to attach moral judgment on a person simply for being homosexual that it does to attach such judgment on a person for being born a woman. We have (mostly) moved beyond women being viewed as the wicked causers of our casting from Eden. One day we will move beyond similar moral judgments of homosexuals I believe.
But until then, I will judge each person on their individual actions – is this person, homosexual or heterosexual, doing something that is undeniably and demonstrably harmful to themselves or others (physically, emotionally, financially, etc.)? Simply loving someone who happens to have the same reproductive organs as yourself does not qualify as harm for me.
2. Media Corporation Obligations to be "PC"
Technically and as far as I know, media corporations have no “moral” obligations beyond making a profit for their shareholders, although of course there are censorship restrictions placed upon their content to reflect the values of society and the age of their potential audiences.
But one goal of media corporations is to appeal to the largest audience possible. Therefore, to make large groups of their potential audience feel excluded or insulted is just bad business. Of course, I suppose you could make the argument they will lose more business by offending conservatives who are prejudiced against homosexuals if they depict homosexuals than they would lose if they failed to do so.
Likewise, there is in fact also a human element. These companies are made up of people (many of who are no doubt women, and/or black, and/or gay, and/or disabled, etc.). These are artists creating a piece of art that they want to be appreciated to the greatest extent possible. Therefore, to make large groups of their potential audience feel excluded or insulted is against their personal goals as well.
Beyond the technical obligations of a corporation, however, is our obligation to ourselves as a speculative fiction community, and a society as a whole, to push for the kind of world we wish to live in, and see that world reflected in the art we produce and consume.
In this respect, there are in fact some analogies between the debate of racial depiction/ representation/ appropriation, and this debate regarding homosexuality. Just as a person who is white could watch a show like Friends and not feel excluded or ignored, a black person watching such a show, and so many shows like it, may well feel this way. So too might a disabled person, or an elderly person, or a homosexual feel excluded or misrepresented by most media today.
When you look at reality, it obviously does not match the worlds created in the media. Just by numbers alone, the percentage of racial and ethnic minorities, age groups, persons with physical disabilities, and yes, homosexuals, that make up any sampling of society far exceeds what is represented in all forms of media.
This does not mean media has to force reality into inappropriate places just to meet a quota. It does, however, mean that if you do not wish to be exclusionary and hurtful to a significant portion of your audience, and if you want your art to reflect reality and not just your small corner of it, you should consciously work to be truly representational and fair in your inclusion and depiction of non-dominant groups.
The fact that SciFi has agreed to do so just shows that they listen to their audience, and understand these facts.
At least, in some things. Now if only they’d listen to all the complaints about how sucky their SciFi Original Movies are.