Can a brain injury turn you queer? Chris Birch, a 27 year-old Welshman, says it did.
Last year, in a freak accident, Birch broke his neck and suffered a stroke as a consequence. He seems to have made an excellent recovery with few physical problems. However, he claims that he has changed from a rough and tumble, girl-chasing rugby player into a homosexual. In a recent interview he reveals that over a period of months he lost interest in girls and sports, became for creative and gregarious, and has become a hairdresser.
Changes in personality after strokes and other brain injuries are not unknown. Perhaps the most famous case is that of Phineas Gage, a 19th centuty railroad worker who had an iron rod blown into his skull in an explosian and underwent a well documented change in his relationships. In 2006 there were reports of a woman from Yorkshore who recovered from a stroke but was left with a Jamaican accent!
Not everybody is buying it. A gay commentator in The Guardian suggests he was probably gay already but wouldn't admit it, and the most the stroke would do is lower his inhibitions and let him come out of the closet. One might also offer that many people reassess their lives after some life-threatening incident, without any brain trauma involved.
Of course, this brings us down to the old nature vs nurture question of sexuality There are those who claim that homosexuality is a psychological choice that can be cured with therapy, while the concensus is that it is inborn. If there is some neurological basis for homosexuality, then the possibility of switching over after some physical trauma becomes at least feasible, as is developing some medical intervention to switch you back to hetero. The gay side of the issue seems to have doubled down and claims that sexuality is innate from the first instant of conception, so there is no possibility of reconverting.
Meantime I'm still wondering about the Jamaican accent.