Dutch researchers confirm existence of gaydar just in time for new inquisition

by on June 6, 2010  •  In Religion, Social science

The journal Frontiers of Cognition has published a report by researchers at Leiden University and the University of Amsterdam finding that gay people pay more attention to details, and are faster at perceiving them, than heterosexuals. Under the headline "Gaydar Really Exists," The London Mail quotes Dr. Lorenza Colzato of Leiden as saying, "This is the first time that scientific proof has been found for the existence of a gaydar mechanism amongst homosexuals. This perceptual skill allows homosexuals to recognise other gay people faster…"

No downside to this, you might think – what's the harm in lgbt folk being able to eyeball a room and spot who's potentially available? (assuming that "scientific proof" of "a gaydar mechanism" does not turn out to be roughly equivalent to scientific proof of Santa Claus)  

No harm in gaydar, however real it may be — except that according to a NY Times article on Memorial Day

…curtailing the entry of gay men into the priesthood has become one of the [Roman Catholic] church’s highest priorities. And that task has fallen to seminary directors and a cadre of psychologists… “The best way I can put it, it’s not black and white,” said the adviser, the Rev. David Toups, the director of the secretariat of clergy, consecrated life and vocations of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. “It’s more like one of those things where it’s hard to define, but ‘I know it when I see it.’ ”

Hmm…Could gaydar be put to, shall we say, perverse uses?

Bemusement aside, the screening procedure designed to keep gay candidates out of the priesthood is intense.  In the effort to implement Vatican directives from 2005 and 2008, seminary officials and the experts they hire use a battery of questions. "[M]ost candidates are likely to be asked not only about past sexual activities but also about masturbation fantasies, consumption of alcohol, relationships with parents and the causes of romantic breakups. All must take H.I.V. tests and complete written exams like the 567-question Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory… In another test, candidates must submit sketches of anatomically correct human figures." It sounds like the screening process that I associate with the military circa World War II.

Even creepier to me is that if these directives are enforced effectively, the process will lead over time to a diminution of any priests who might in the future challenge the Church's position on homosexuality.  The 2005 document calls for the exclusion of applicants to the priesthood "who practise homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called 'gay culture.'"

I don't know what "the gay culture" is, or whether someone might some day announce scientific proof of it, but the ideological purity being sought on this issue is frightening.


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