arthur abba goldberg JONAH’s Dilettantes Discuss Genetics(Weekly Column)

A good reason to come out of the closet is to stop the incessant lying, which weighs heavily on the conscience and eats like acid through the soul. Another benefit is no longer having to remember yesterday’s previous fabrications.

This same dynamic plays out in the so-called “ex-gay” industry – which is nothing but an industrial-size closet that demands an even greater adherence to a fantasy world based on half-truths. Similarly, the intricately woven tales lead to stark contradictions when the weavers of this wonderland forget their previous prevarications.

For example, in August 2010, Arthur Abba Goldberg, the co-founder of Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality (JONAH), spoke at the Truth Academy and offered this nugget of wisdom:

“By the way, did you notice that a lot of gays who remain in the gay lifestyle also do a lot of body building,” said Goldberg. “They will be in the gym a lot trying to build up their pecs…Because they have these body image issues and don’t feel they are masculine enough.”

In his 2010 incarnation, Abba Goldberg was quite contemptuous of gay men pumping iron. So, it was rather shocking to see JONAH’s new “ex-gay” video featuring a sad, lonely old man in Arizona who decided to go straight because he made no friends while spending the past five decades having anonymous park sex.

In the tacky promotional video, this poor sap calls JONAH for “help” and Abba Goldberg refers him to a local Arizona therapist who then advises the man to work out at the gym. According to Abba Goldberg’s bizarre theories of masculinity, this so-called treatment was akin to sending this client to a Lady GaGa concert. But, again, when your business is based on a lie, it is difficult to remember what you said at prior speaking engagements.

It is also ironic that JONAH’s geriatric poster boy is a neurotic Catholic from Arizona, rather than a Jewish individual. Could the Jersey City-based JONAH not find at least one Jewish success story on the East Coast? Perhaps not, considering that Abba Goldberg and JONAH’s other co-founder, Elaine Berk, both have gay sons who are out of the closet.

In their silly video, Abba Goldberg and Berk embarrass themselves when they dress up and play doctor. They unethically pose as medical experts, who feign a grasp on the science of sexual orientation.

Goldberg says, in the video, “every person we work with is really a heterosexual person who may have a homosexual problem.” And how exactly does a disbarred lawyer who formerly worked on Wall Street prior to a stint in prison for fraud know this?

When it’s Berk’s turn, she butchers biology and slants the science beyond recognition.

“The evidence is there, there is no proof the gay gene, the gay genome has been studied, they found no gay gene or genes,” she says with conviction that far surpasses her comprehension on the topic. She then goes on to further reveal her remarkable ignorance by saying, “We like to consider ourselves the Weightwatchers or the AA for people with unwanted same-sex attraction.”

I showed JONAH’s video to Dr. Marc Breedlove, Rosenberg Professor of Neuroscience at Michigan State University. He is sponsoring an amazing lecture series at MSU, Whom You Love: The Biology of Sexual Orientation, featuring the nation’s top researchers who have studied the science of sexual orientation. Here is what he had to say about JONAH’s understanding of the issue:

“I don’t think the term ‘gay genome’ makes any sense. I don’t think any scientist would talk about a ‘gay genome.’

As to the question to whether there is a gay gene, it depends on what you mean by that. Have we found a gene, where when a person inherits it, they will for certain be gay? No, we haven’t found such a gene. There may or may not be one. But we do know there is a gene on the X chromosome that has been proven to have an influence on sexual orientation in men. What’s more, we know there are many genes that influence sexual orientation in people. Probably not just one, but a lot. And it will probably be the sort of situation where whether or not you are gay depends on whether which particular combination of genes you get.

The example I like to use is to talk about height. The estimates are there are 150 different genes that influence height. So, is there a gene for being tall?…No…but does that mean there is no genetic influence for height? Of course not, that would be silly. Of course there is a genetic influence on height. Of course there is a genetic influence on sexual orientation. The data are really completely firm.”

JONAH is a joke. If there is ever a study to find the genes for ignorance and insincerity, I think Abba Godlberg and Berk would make fine lab subjects.