How realistic is 'The God Players'?
This is probably the most-often asked question I get. Could this really happen? I probably did more research for this book than any book I've written. And that's saying something, given my first three books were non-fiction with copious endnotes and references. The search for the gay gene is not new. What's interesting is there hasn't been a lot of effort put into finding it. Sure, there have been studies, but nothing like one would think given the contentious nature of the subject.
There are theories as to why that is. One line of thinking is any discovery would be inconsequential. In other words, the political argument has shifted away from 'why.' In fact, I've read articles arguing that gay advocates shouldn't allow themselves to be dragged into the debate of nature vs. nurture. One article in the Daily Beast tells of a Sex in the City star who caused a ruckus by saying her lesbianism is a choice. The LGBT community jumped all over her and she jumped right back in their face. She says gays and lesbians should demand respect no matter how they came to be gay. That's assuming no moral objection to homosexuality is legit, and she's going to get some push-back on that.
Another reason there hasn't been an APB out for the gay gene is many people simply believe it doesn't exist. Or they believe there are multiple genes or numerous biological factors that go into making someone gay. They think searching for a single gay gene is oversimplifying a complicated issue.
What most of these people haven't considered is the very place we take the argument in the book. The real controversy isn't finding the gay gene. It's finding it and changing it. Especially if it can only be changed in the womb. Asking a grown gay man if he wants to be straight is one thing. Putting the choice in the hands of heterosexual parents is another.
They say timing is everything. The week we were preparing to release the book, the International Summit on Human Gene Editing was meeting in Washington. I saw a news story with the headline "Ethicists square off over editing genes in human embryos." The story sounded like it was ripped from the pages of The God Players. The next day I saw the headline "International 'Gene Editing' Talks Hit a Catholic Brick Wall." The religious groups were behaving just as I'd written they would in the book.
I think it's inevitable that we'll find a gay gene or something like it that can be altered. I think it's also clear that neither side is even close to being ready for when we do.
Phil Valentine is an award-winning talk show host, screenwriter, and documentary producer. His radio show is syndicated with Westwood One.