"Well!" I fumed as we emerged from the movie house, "I guess as far as Star Trek's concerned, there are still no gay people in the 24th Century."
Greg and I had just seen Star Trek: First Contact, and as we walked out into the December night I pointed out in exasperated detail that every other minority group was represented among the crew of the Enterprise except gays and lesbians. Not that we needed to be popping out from every control panel or beaming down on every transport just to make a point, I acknowledged, but we needed at least to be there.
Greg flashed me a mischievous smile and replied, "Well, who knows? Maybe we're not there. Maybe they finally found the gay gene and we were all eradicated before the days of Kirk and Spock."
He chuckled at his own joke, but suddenly he sobered. "You know," he continued thoughtfully, "it is possible, isn't it? I mean, if science could isolate the gay gene, we could be engineered out of existence -- and maybe in the next thirty years instead of the next three hundred."
And of course, we could be. The discovery of the "gay gene", which most of us are convinced exists, will be a double-edged sword for gays and lesbians when and if it happens. On the one hand, it would demolish forever the argument that gays "choose" their orientation and are thus undeserving of protected minority status like African-Americans or the handicapped. But on the other hand, if the exact cause of our sexual orientation could be determined, it would be no time at all before science offered a "cure" for homosexuality -- perhaps not for those of us who are already legally recognized as persons in our own right, but certainly for prospective parents who might be "at risk" of giving birth to a gay son or lesbian daughter. And if the cure turned out to be too expensive -- well, there would be another option for parents who didn't want the responsibility of bringing a "different" child into the world. Thanks to Roe v. Wade, they could always choose abortion.
What's that you say? No woman would choose to abort a child simply because of his or her sexual orientation? I'm "fearmongering" in an effort to drive a wedge between gay activists and the pro-choice movement? Not at all. I'm simply a gay man who's looking the facts squarely in the face and inviting my brothers and sisters in the community to do the same.
If some women are already having abortions because the child they're carrying is of the "wrong" sex, do you really think that women in the future will hesitate to abort a child because he or she has the "wrong" sexual orientation? Remember, one of the grounds on which pro-choicers justify abortion is that every child should be "wanted." You don't want a gay child? Fine! You can get rid of it.
And such fears are anything but exaggerated. For example, John Fortunato, in Embracing the Exile, recounts that after a young man named Tim came out to his parents, ". . . his mother approached him. She put her arm around his shoulders. Tim took this to mean that she was going to accept him. 'Tim," she said, 'I've made only one mistake in my life.' Tim asked her what she meant. 'Twenty-two years ago,' she said, 'I should have had an abortion.' This is no isolated instance. In the now-famous report on teen suicide that Dr. Louis Sullivan suppressed during his tenure as United States Secretary of Health and Human Services, there is an account of a gay teenager who was thrown out of his home when his parent's discovered his sexual orientation. When he tried to reconcile with his parents by calling them from a pay phone, the boy's mother told him point-blank that had she known when she was carrying him that he would grow up to be homosexual, she would have aborted him then and there.
A rare case, you say? Enlightened, liberal, and well-meaning parents wouldn't dream of doing such a thing? It's comforting to suppose so, but I wouldn't bet on it. In fact, some might very well decide that aborting their unborn gay child would be in the child's best interest. As one woman I know put it: "Why should I bring a child into the world whom I know is going to have to deal with all this bigotry and hate? Why bring up an innocent child to face that? So, yes, I would have an abortion if I knew my child would grow up to be homosexual."
In other words, "Trust me, dear, you're better off dead."
Given the hard facts, the great question becomes, what are gays and lesbians going to do now to prepare for a time when a woman's "right to choose" becomes a hunting license to exterminate our kind? For that time may well be coming -- perhaps as soon as within the next two or three decades. Do we really think that we can educate society out of its anti-gay prejudices by then? Or do we as a lesbian and gay community need to reconsider the whole issue of abortion?
After all, if a woman's "right to choose" is absolute, then a woman is free to have an abortion for any reason _ even blind, irrational anti-gay prejudice. If gays and lesbians want to object to aborting the gay and lesbian unborn on grounds that we are persons of worth and dignity who have a right to grow up and lead productive and fulfilling lives, then we have another issue to confront. Because if we have a right to life, doesn't every other unborn child have that same right?
In the end, gays and lesbians my find that for us, the issue of abortion boils down to a choice between defending the lives of all unborn, or sanctioning our own extinction. As science closes in on the gay gene, "going boldly where no one has gone before", it may be that more and more "pro-choice" gays and lesbians are going to start listening to the arguments of their pro-life brothers and sisters and then say, "Beam me up, Scotty."