The cable network BBC America has been providing some of the most interesting and provocative programming from Great Britain. Its nonfiction shows have been particularly ground-breaking in regards to tackling issues of gender and sexuality. This latest is no exception, as it deals with the controversial subject of what makes a person gay.
John Barrowman is an openly gay actor of Scottish descent working in England. His parents immigrated to the United States when he was eight. The 42-year-old has acted in various plays and films, but he's probably best known for his starring role in Torchwood. He came out and told his family he was homosexual when he was 24. For this program, he returned to the U.S., to his parents' home, to ask the question why is he gay and what made him this way.
His basic concern was to discover whether or not the cause of homosexuality was due to nature or nurture. He wanted to learn if people were born gay or if environmental factors pushed them in that direction.
Barrowman talked to religious people who argue that homosexuality is a choice but who admit that they don't know from where the so-called sinful urge comes. For example, does the urge have a genetic origin? Is there a gay gene? Is it a chemical imbalance when a child is developing prenatally? Does a lack of testosterone as a fetus cause gay behavior? Or, is it because you have an overbearing mother growing up?
Barrowman explores these questions, and what's interesting is that he explores them scientifically. Barrowman meets with a series of scientists and researchers who provide him with answers on biological and psychological levels to get at real evidence to help prove the cause of gay behavior.
From Northwestern University in Chicago to Long Beach, California, Barrowman goes and sees the various experiments and tests that scientists are conducting. Barrowman undergoes those same tests, tests to get at the source of his and others' homosexuality. He has a lie detector test and a brain scan. He has his DNA examined and his testosterone levels checked.
What Barrowman learns about himself might be a little surprising, but perhaps what isn't surprising are the indicators or predictors for gay behavior, which is most often seen in childhood.
Now, if you are a person who is gay or lesbian, the truth about whether or not you were born that way is something only you can say. Gay people know the truth about themselves. It's not a choice.
These tests and experiments are, as Barrowman states, are more to prove to heterosexual people that this is something that is inherent, and that shouldn't be used as a means of discrimination or bigotry.
Five Stars out of Five
Running Time: 1 hr.