Friday, September 14, 2012

Long Lives

I'm STILL watching Q and A.

Now they're talking about the idea of gay people having a shorter life expectancy. 

My gut feeling is that if it's true, I'd agree with the people on the show who say it's caused by homophobia NOT homosexuality.

Feeling ostracized by family, friends, classmates, the community, etc. is NOT good for your health.   There's often talk about suicide; but it's not just thoughts. There's stress, and stress can lead to physical illness. There's depression.  It's not good.

I did think, though, that MAYBE there's more to it. I didn't want to just dismiss the idea as being outlandish. Though I do think the intent of the study is nuts. What if homosexuality does lead to a shorter life span?  Then what?   I'm sorry.  I do love you. But I want as long a lifespan as possible.   I'm going to go marry a woman...even though I know I can never really love her.

If the study was done out of pure curiosity. Fine. It's pretty silly. But a lot of studies are.

From what I'm seeing online, though, I'm getting that the study was done so there'd be leverage in talking people out of being gay.

Or is it to stop the whole gay marriage thing?

If homosexuality leads to shorter life spans, would forbidding marriage reduce the health risk?

I can't see how the hell that would work.

Although I guessed the likely culprit was homophobia, I tried to be open-minded. Could there be something else about homosexuality that leads to a shorter life?    One idea that came to my mind was genetics. Could there be some kind of genetic cluster.  Something like, those who are born with the tendency to prefer the same gender are also more prone to stomach cancer. Or heart attacks. Or whatever.

When Jack was a toddler and not talkative I got a book about children who are not talkative yet they're good at music and math.

It's that kind of thing I had in mind.

I don't personally find the idea offensive. Well, obviously it's not to me, since I came up with it.

But I'm not offended if someone points out that Ashkenazi Jews are prone to breast cancer. I'd be offended only if they suggested that I stop being Jewish. That would be bad...and silly.

If there truly is a lower lifespan for homosexuals, I think it's important to research it and talk about it.  The purpose shouldn't be to discourage and/or ban homosexuality. The purpose should be to remedy the situation. We should look  out for certain things then. Hey, your kid just announced he's gay?  It's a good time to bring him into the doc to make sure his heart is strong because there's a correlation between homosexuality and congestive heart failure. 

Despite my thoughts on this, however. I'm not convinced that homosexual folks do have a shorter life span.

I found this website that talks about one of the studies that was done looking at life spans. I found it to be very insightful and helpful. They say the research was faulty, because it was based on obituaries in gay/lesbian newspapers.  The article's argument is that not all gay people get their death mentioned in the newspaper. They have a list of good reasons why not. I'll give you one as an example. Not all gay people are part of the gay community; therefore they might not read or contribute to gay newspapers.

The basic idea, of the article, is that the research was faulty.

So for now, gay folks can relax.  They don't have to dump the love of their life in hopes of a few extra years.   


  1. You would rather have breast cancer than get rid of your Ashkenazi Jewish genes???!!!
    No, just kidding. [Ptew, spitting over left shoulder.]

    Honestly, if we took all the silly "studies" based on wishful thinking and threw them into the ocean... no wait, that would be polluting and would also cause sea levels to rise.

    The very words "study", "survey" "statistics" and others set my bullshit detector alarm screaming. My first reaction when I hear these words designed to lend emotional authority to a crackpot idea is to believe the opposite must be true.

    en tout cas better two years of bliss than twenty in hell.

  2. It was very unhelpful of that religious crackpot to bring the subject up. Young gay people struggle hard enough with sexuality issues, without being told they won't live as long as they would if they were straight. Having said that, I think because of lifestyle issues, I suspect what he said is quite true. Gay people drink more alcohol and smoke more for a start, and there may be other reasons too. Youth suicide is much higher among gays and lesbians being another, which is why the foolish man should have kept his trap shut.

  3. Fruitcake: I think most studies like that are frustrating and hurtful. And there's a lot of...well, what the hell am I supposed to do.

    One that comes to mind is studies showing that stress during pregnancy can cause problems in the future kiddo. Well, thanks. If the pregnant woman wasn't already stressed; now she's sure to be.

    Maybe IT is helpful for scientists to know these things. Maybe if they can help fix them.

    But maybe it would be better if they didn't make them so public?

    I don't know.

    Andrew: I think people are more likely to want to off themselves because they feel rejected and hated. I'm not sure if being told they have a shorter life span is going to damage someone's psyche.

    Men have shorter life spans than women. Should we not talk about that?

    Would it hurt your feelings if I told you the lifespan of women in Australia is 83.6; and for men it's only 78.9?

    As for drinking and smoking....If that's true....then I think we should say people who smoke and drink have shorter life spans; and gay people tend to smoke and drink more than straight people.

    It's a matter of reducing drinking and smoking rather than a matter of reducing gayness.

    Do you know that for a fact; or do you just imagine it's true?

    Anyway...I'm not sure if the information (false or true) is going to hurt a lot of people. But I do think the intent behind the announcement is hurtful.

    Something to think about: What if the study and statements didn't come from a Christian lobby. What if it came from a group that promotes homosexual rights? Then I'd think we'd see the study in a very different light.

  4. Fruitcake,

    Thanks for spitting for me!!

    I'm touched.

  5. Dina, you are missing the point. It is not about facts and figures and ok, I did not paint the picture well. It is about teens who are struggling with their sexuality and the last thing they need to hear is another negative, among the many they have already heard, the newest one being that being gay means you will have a shorter life span. I see many young gay out there people in my inner city hood. The ones I worry about are the ones who live in the country and the outer burbs who are gay but will never be 'out'. My niece with her dyke parents goes to school in an area that is accepting of diversity. Most same sex parents choose to live in accepting areas. Privileged children, for sure.

    But I think of a gay kid in outback Australia. Because of where he or she lives, he is already up for a huge struggle. He or she needs to hear positive things, not negative things like not living as long from religious cranks.

    Teen angst has been around for time immemorial, but gay teen angst is as it has as it always been.

    I hope I do not sound to harsh to you and in my opinions, but while kids top themselves because they are gay, I feel the need to speak out.

  6. Andrew,

    I agree with you and disagree.

    I can't imagine people are going to stop saying cruel things about being gay. Saying someone is going to have a shorter life span seems the least of the problem. Do young people even care about life spans?

    There's always going to be mean horrible messages out there. The best thing to do is counteract it with positive ones. A lot of people are doing that; and that's great.

    I still fear for those in hostile communities though. I imagine a teen going on his computer and hearing "It gets better. It gets better. It gets better. It's fine to be gay." But then they go to their school and are bombarded with hateful bullies.

    I'm not sure if the media can completely counteract personal messages. But maybe it can give some degree of hope.

    Back to the life span thing. Let's say a teen hears this, and it does upset him? Well, wasn't there also a lot of people speaking out against it? Wouldn't they have heard that as well?

    I personally feel a teen would be more uplifted by those who spoke up against it; then he was brought down by the idea of a few less years of life.

  7. Sorry Dina. That was a bit of an emo rant by me. It must be a sensitive spot. You have argued soundly and logically and I pretty well agree with you. I am not sure that any org is heading down the right path for gay teens to feel secure with their sexuality. I suspect the rate of gay suicide is much higher than it was when I was a teen. Just a feeling I have. But do multiple positive comments over ride one negative? Of course they do, but are they heard when the focus of someone's mind is on the negative.

  8. Andrew,

    No need to apologize. We're all entitled to our rants...especially about subjects that are important to us. And you weren't rude or obnoxious about it.

    If the suicide rate has gone up...why do you think that is? I would think there's more support today than there was in the past.

    Well, I guess if there's more support...From where that comes, there's probably also more cruelty.

    I wonder what would be harder. Someone living in a very rural area. They don't know any gay people. They hear only negative things...every so often from family members. But mostly it's not talked about.


    Someone living in a rural area with the internet. They meet other gay people online. They can find support. They can find positive messages. But then they can also find more horribly cruel messages.

    I'm probably over-stereotyping rural areas here. I'm sure they're not all homophobic.

    Back to your comment....I think you have a good question. If someone is really negative and depressed; will a positive message help? I don't know. The listener might be too cynical.

    It would probably help some; but not all.

  9. Andrew,

    I'm beginning to think that I have a very skewed view of things.

    My problem is I am thinking of media and general internet attitudes towards homosexuals. In my eyes, for the most part that's positive. I think the homophobic folks are disliked by the public more than the homosexual folks.

    This might be very different from the regular people hanging out in the world.

    I assumed that the media would have influenced people and there'd be less bullying and less family rejection. But maybe that's not the case.

    Of course I didn't think ALL of it disappeared. I've heard some sad stories. But I assumed it had decreased. Maybe I'm wrong.

  10. I found this article. It's about a study that shows gay teens are more likely to attempt suicide if they live in a conservative area.

    That's what I would have suspected.

    I think it matters little about positive and negative messages in the media. If your own family and community treats you like crap, it's likely you might not want to go on living.

  11. No one would choose to be gay if they know the road ahead would be so difficult. It's not a choice, I think. They are born like that. It's not like kowing smoking is hazardous to health so ppl should stop smoking. There is no way to change a person from gay to straight or vice versa. So even if there is a real possibility that they live a shorter life, I don't think they would drop their gay identity becasue of that. And funnily enough, I am sort of always being attracted by gay artists. Most of them I don't know they are gay in the beginning. Guess they are more sensitive,tender and artistic and that's very appealing. By the way, I'll go travel to Australia (Tasmania, Melbourne, Sydney) in mid-Nov. And will see George Michael's concert in Melbourne.

  12. June,

    That's true. You can't change who you are.

    I think there's a lot of studies though that compare life spans in regards to things that people can't easily change. Like females usually live longer than males.

    I think there's also life span differences among ethnic groups sometimes. You can't change that as well.

    To me, it depends on the purpose of the study. Is it to say. "Ha ha. You're going to live a shorter life because you're less of a person than other people." That's bad. And I think that pretty much was the purpose of the gay lifespan study.

    But if scientists are trying to figure things out so they can IMPROVE the lifespan of certain groups; then I'd think it was a positive thing.

  13. June,

    Oh! Sorry missed your last sentence.

    That's awesome you're going to Australia soon!!!!

    I forgot. Have you been there before?

    I'd love to see your photos if you end up posting them online. Please tell me if you do.

    Also...if you ever want to write a guest post about your adventures; I'd love to have one for my blog!

    I hope you enjoy the trip...including your George Michael concert.

  14. Dina,

    This will be my first time going to Australia.
    How many times have you been there?

    By the way, I have a question when I hear GM's old song 'Wake me up before you go go' U'know he is English but he seemed singing with American accent. I mean the way he pronounced 'dancing', sounds to me he is using American accent. Why?

  15. Thinking about the 'conservative area' piece. In the annual Melbourne Gay Pride March, I recall three secondary schools marching in support. One, Eltham, is an outer suburb but it is a very artistic area with lots of hand built mud brick houses. No surprise about that one. The other two I recall are both in middle to outer areas are traditionally very christian, although that is changing. Both Glen Waverley and McKinnon are expensive areas and both schools are excellent, top achieving government schools but I would describe both suburbs as conservative. Perhaps the key is all the suburbs I mentioned have very highly educated residents, conservative or not.

    I didn't know George Michael was coming to Australia.

    June, many Australian singers sing with American accents, sad but true.

  16. June: I've been to Australia twice. It's great. I hope you have a lot of fun there.

    As for the singing...Andrew's right. A lot of Australian singers sing with an American accent. And now it seems a lot of Americans are trying to avoid singing with an American accent.

    Andrew: I would guess that any suburb within a big city is going to be somewhat influenced by the big city. So a conservative suburb in the New York area is likely to be more open-minded than a conservative suburb in Mississippi.

    I'm looking at Wikipedia for Glen Waverly and McKinnon.

    Glen Waverly has a history of being Liberal; but lately the Labor party is gaining power. The election results have been pretty close.

    McKinnon is in the electoral district of Bentleigh.

    In the 2010 election, the Liberal Party got 49% of the votes.

    The Labor party got only 39.35% of the votes; but if you add the Green party vote's to that; it's 49%.

    In other words, the suburbs are conservative. But there's also a lot of...I don't know what word to use. In America, I'd say liberal. But that's confusing when talking about Australia.

  17. Hi Dina and Andrew,

    That's an interesting thing to know. So not only the UK singers but the Aussie singers also sing with American accents. Personally I like the English accents...the Oxford accents.

    Yes GM is going to Australia. I knew him from his WHAM days but not until I saw his 2012 Olympic closing ceremony performance, then I suddenly became obsessed with him. It's like missing an old pal. He was so sick last year that he nearly die. I'm glad to see him back on the stage singing again.

  18. June,

    I can relate to being obsessed.

    I'm very glad George Michael didn't die; and that's he's continuing to perform.

  19. Dina,

    Haha obsession...thanks to youtube, can watch many old clips of interviews/performances...I'm catching up on what I missed.

    If Priscilla Queen of the desert musical is shown in Sydney or Melbourne, I'll definitely go see it. But seem there is no more showing in Austalia now. U'know I am a Guy Pearce's fan after I saw him in it.

    Yes I'll send you some pics (if they're good) of my trip.

  20. Oh just got the news that GM cancels his Australia tour due to health reason. Hope he is alright.

  21. Just got the news that GM cancels his Australian tour due to health reason. Hope he takes care of himself and get well soon.

  22. Hope GM will get well soon.

  23. June,

    Oh no : (

    That's so sad.

    I feel sad for you. I know you were so excited about the concert.

    And I'm sad for George Michael. I hope he'll be okay.

  24. Dina,

    Thanks. I'm a bit disappointed but that's ok. I'm still exciting about my Australia trip.
    Btw, sorry I posted 3 messages to you cos' somehow there was problem posting messages yesterday.

  25. June,

    No worries!

    I put on comment moderation yesterday; so it probably looked like your comments were disappearing.

    I hope you still have fun in Australia. I think you will! I can't wait to hear all about it!