Why Homosexuality Is Both Normal and Not Normal: Two Equivocations

The latest bit of cultural Hooah! to pop up in my mixed upper class shitlib/batshit recluse libertarian Facebook news feed today was an interaction between Australian Tall Poppy Kevin Rudd and a pastor seemly hellbent on assassinating him with sheer staring power. Mr Rudd discussed his beliefs that people were born gay, at that the idea that being gay is “somehow an abnormal condition is just wrong.”

Except that being gay is by definition an abnormal condition. Normal refers to the predominant prevalence of a particular condition within a defined sample group, or, to put it into more casual terms, “usual, typical, or expected.” [Dictionary definition, provided by Google.] Within the human population, homosexuality is decidedly not “usual, typical, or expected;” most studies of sexual demographics peg the rate of homosexuality in the single digits, with even notorious latter-day Sodoms like Man Francisco only coming in at 15% gay. Even on the extreme high end, Dr. Alfred Kinsey found that 37% of males had “achieved orgasm” with another male, with 13% of females getting theirs from their sisters – still each decided minorities. So homosexuality is not normal, as it refers to individual homosexuals.

Enter equivocation number one. Homosexuality is perfectly normal, as it relates to groups. Every culture on Earth has homosexuality. Most, if not all, sexually reproducing animal species engage in homosexuality. Hell, there are probably even gay plants and a couple rocks and minerals and shit on the down low. The concept of homosexuality in the human population – in other words, that gays will exist – is completely usual, typical, and expected.

Equivocation number two. None of what I just wrote matters for the purposes of the arguments they always appear in. Whether homosexuality is normal or abnormal, or whether being homosexual is normal or abnormal, is never the actual point: the underlying argument is always whether being homosexual is positive or negative.

Normality has nothing to do with the value of the particular condition. Stating that being gay isn’t normal doesn’t cast any aspersions on it: those on both sides of the agenda who claim otherwise, whether gay rights advocates (“He said we were abnormal! Hate speech!!” Well, you are…) or religious conservatives (“Those gays aren’t normal!” So?) are equivocating: they use normal to mean good.

It doesn’t. Normal means typical. Being gay isn’t normal. Homosexuality in the broader sense is. Neither stops gays from being good or bad people, or means homosexuality in itself is a negative or positive trait. It’s not hate speech, and it’s not an accolade. It’s just a comment about prevalence.

You can be abnormal and still be OK.

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