This will be the first part of a two-part post, discussing my amateur genetics enthusiasm as it relates to the "nature versus nurture" argument on homosexuality. This post will first describe the LGBT themes in X-Men: First Class and the societal implications, and the next post will look more at the propositions of biology and genetics on homosexuality.
Spoiler alert: For those who have not seen the movie, I may give some things away. You've
Yesterday, I watched the movie X-Men: First Class, which outlined the beginning of the X-Men, particularly the rise of Charles Xavier, also known as Professor X, and Erik Lehnsherr, or Magneto, and the disparities in their philosophies on mutants with the human race. As I watched the movie, there were many things that alluded to homosexuality that I never knew. Perhaps the most obvious scene is when a CIA official escorts Professor X to the CIA compound where a young Hank McCoy, a.k.a. Beast, is one of the scientists working on mutant technologies. As the two mutants are introduced, Professor X remarks on how wonderful it is to find another mutant, yet the official is unaware of this fact. When he asks McCoy why he never informed him that he was a mutant, McCoy replies, "You didn't ask, so I didn't tell." This is one of the more "in your face" references, but there are more subtle instances, so I encourage you to watch the movie and find them.
humans accepting mutants if they help prevent a war with Russia, but Magneto is angry with humans, and thinks that, no matter what, humans will turn against mutants so to avoid extinction. (I have heard hypotheses on a possible relationship between the two, and the movie does show a scene with both of them lying together in the same bed at a strip club as they are finding Angel, so this is very possible. There is another scene when the first two first meet and Magneto says "I thought I was the only one." I don't want to give away too much more, so you'll have to watch the movie.)
The general premise for the X-Men is the notion that genetic mutations in an individual genome causes the powers the mutants possess, whether that is telepathy and telekinesis, adamantium claws, or storm-conjuring abilities. Some of the genetic mutations cause a phenotypic variation, as seen with Beast, Mystique, or Nightcrawler, to name a few, while others may not cause such a physical abnormality. The majority of mutants discover their abilities either as a child or a teenager, often without control or in anger.
While mutants like Beast and Mystique try to cover up their visible mutations from the rest of society, other mutants with non-visible powers still hide their abilities, for fear of the power they possess and for fear of society's view on their powers. For one example, Beast did not originally take the blue form most of us know, but rather a more human form with over-sized simian hands and feet. However, with his superior intellect and understanding of biochemistry and genetics, he tries to create an antidote for himself and Mystique so they can revert to more human qualities while retaining their mutant powers.
Mystique rejects the antidote, even though she expressed the most interest in being "cured," as Magneto helps her to realize that her true form is beautiful and there is nothing to be ashamed of as a mutant. Beast, on the other hand, takes the antidote, and unfortunately, the antidote enhances the mutation as opposed to repressing it, thus giving us the more familiar Beast. One might draw the comparison between these mutations and what people have called "the gay gene," and how Beast tried to create a cure for his "mutation," yet failed. His attempts to hide his mutant form, analogous to being "in the closet," failed, and he had to "come out" with his improved powers.
The mutants, spearheaded by Professor X and Magneto, decide to help the CIA against the communists of Russia around the beginnings of the Cold War and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Professor X wants to gain the acceptance of human civilization, while Magneto wants to pursue the Hellfire Club, notably Sebastian Shaw, a Nazi scientist who tortured Magneto as a child in a concentration camp so he would use his mutant abilities. During their collaboration, the feelings and philosophies between Xavier and Lehnsherr start to diverge.
One may consider Professor X's philosophy to be based on nurturing while Magneto's is focused on the natural order. While the consensus between the two is that genetic mutations lead to the powers, Professor X wants to train young mutants on how to properly use their powers and to hone in on their abilities, while Magneto wants to gather mutants so they can be the ultimate beings on Earth. In my opinion, this reflects the two sides of the "nature versus nurture" argument, perhaps with more dramatization to reflect the super powered beings. The differences between the views of Professor X and Magneto are not those of "nature versus nurture" of the creation of the mutants, but rather a parallel to "nature versus nurture" argument for homosexuality. In addition, Professor X is also optimistic about
Skipping a few scenes, we're at the end where Magneto has achieved his mission, and he establishes his new order to foster the superiority of mutants. Magneto wants to be very out and open about being mutants, while Professor X believes that this is inappropriate and will only further provoke the human race. He decides to create his School for Gifted Youngsters to brings mutants who are bullied at home because of their mutations and provides a safe haven for them, thus leading to the creation of the X-Men. This poses many analogies to the LGBT community, including acceptance into the community, degree of openness, and bullying.
The allegory of genetic mutations and the differences they cause in the X-Men can be seen as comparative to what may be the genetic disposition for homosexuality. The debate on the causes of homosexuality always boils down to a "nature versus nurture" argument. Are we born this way? Is being gay due to our nature, our genetic code, a gene or something of the sort, or does parenting and our childhood cause homosexuality? When it comes to the X-Men, genetics dominate, with Juggernaut being an exception. There are plenty of biological markers that lead to a genetic predisposition, so why have we not isolated a gay gene? Why don't all identical twins have the same sexual orientation? Why is it that many gay guys say they spent more time with mom growing up than dad? Or is it more than "nature versus nurture"? I will explore more of these questions and other genetics and biology in my next post, so please be on the lookout for that.
I leave you with a line from the movie. As Mystique decides to go with Magneto at the end, she tells Beast to remember one thing. Our friend Beast, who once rejected his exterior form and even devised a cure so he could be normal. Mystique utters these words to him:
"Mutant, and Proud."