When Joe Normandin begins to question his sexuality as a teenager, he turns to neuroscience for help. Joe Normandin earned a B.
He earned a Ph. Normandin values the wonderful public education and support he received as a young gay man growing up in Massachusetts. Even with that education and support, he struggled with his identity as a gay person. In high school, a psychology class introduced him to neuroscience, which led to a search for research that he thought would validate his sexual orientation.
This search set him on a path towards becoming a neuroscientist, and ultimately led to questions he explores in the classroom: Are people born gay? Does it matter? Normandin is also an avid gamer and has saved the universe many times. This story originally aired on Jan. As an unconsenting "face of diversity" at a statistics conference, Dan Simpson contemplates the role of his gay identity in his academic life.
Marine biologist Shayle Matsuda adapts to his new identity as a transgender man while on assignment normandin elite singles login the Philippines. Research technician Jean Ansolabehere is surprised to find herself falling in love with a woman in her lab. I grew up in a town in Massachusetts called Methuen and on my first day of high school I put on my normandin elite singles login Converse normandin elite singles login and my red sweatshirt and I walked one normandin elite singles login to the bus stop.
There at the bus stop was another guy in a red sweatshirt. It was a normandin elite singles login of high school proportions. But this tragedy turned into a boon because I became friends with this guy. His name was Nathan. In a lot of ways he was very unlike me. He was tall, blond, muscular, very handsome guy. I learned that he was the son of a Methodist minister, that he loved soccer, he loved to play baseball as well and was really, really into sports. I, on the other hand, as I appear here now, am a short, skinnier — back then — and love video games and comic books and science.
So Nathan and I, to some degree, were opposites in this way. That was the bond that we had in fact through the beginning of high school.
He was everything that I kind of wanted to be, that I wished I could be. That admiration sort of led me to feel inferior to him in a lot of ways, so led to a bit of shame, I would say. As I matured both emotionally and sexually, I realized that I was in love with Nathan. That brought even more shame to me because, in the environment that I grew up in, even living in liberal Massachusetts, that meant to me being a gay person would be someone who was sick or someone who would never live a happy life.
It was all just a sense of shame that I had to bury. I buried that and time went on and Nathan and I remained good friends, although with a lot of pain on my part. Normandin elite singles login on in high school, I took a class, AP Psychology. Then there was this one chapter in the book about the brain and it talked about different parts of the brain and what they do. It talked about the amygdala and normandin elite singles login the amygdala is all about fear and the expression of fear, the occipital lobe which is important for vision, the hypothalamus which regulates normandin elite singles login behavior.
And all of this absolutely positively captivated normandin elite singles login. It said to me that everything that we are is right there in our brain. It was absolutely amazing to me. All those talks that Nathan and I had normandin elite singles login about what makes us tick and other people do this stupid shit that they do, it was right there in that normandin elite singles login, and I was normandin elite singles login captivated.
But it also said something else to me. That maybe I was gay because of my brain. Maybe, like my brain makes me right-handed, my brain could be making me gay. So the search was on. I was not going to ask my teacher why I was in love with Nathan. I was not going to ask the teacher why I was gay. But I knew I could perhaps find out a little bit about this.
So like any good nerd would do, I scienced the fuck out of that shit. So I decided to go to the library. No Google back then, no Wikipedia back then. So I went to Andover, Massachusetts, two towns away, and there were two advantages to going to Andover.
The first advantage was that rich people lived there and they had more books than in my town. So I went to the Andover Library and I found the deepest, darkest corner where there was still a card catalog computer.
I searched for different terms and found a section in the library about human sexuality. My plan was that if I walked over there and I saw someone at all I would just ease on over, grab a feminist theory book, read that and be all set. So I headed over to that section. No one was there. And on the bottom shelf, I bent down and sifted through all of these books. This sad kid, this kid filled with shame in those stacks, alone, looking through all those books. I found a book called The Sexual Brain by Dr.
And in this book I saw some amazing things. I learned that sexual orientation was heritable, meaning it ran in families. Gayness ran in families. I learned that there were perhaps even genetic links to sexual orientation in people. I also saw something even normandin elite singles login amazing, which was that there was a part of the brain in gay and straight men that was different.
Not only that, but it was part of the hypothalamus. And it was also dimorphic or different between sexual orientations. So gay men and straight men had different INAH3s as they're known.
Looking at that, it said to me that maybe I was in fact normal. Maybe I was gay because my brain was different. That was an important change for me. This science had given me this gift, to some degree, of just feeling okay. I remember taking this long shower and, in the shower, thinking about all of these things that had come to pass in understanding my sexuality in that book that I read at the library. I remember just crying and crying, feeling like a sense of relief because I was accepting that I was gay.
It was a very interesting experience. In the gay community, we kind of call this coming out to yourself. The idea of finally accepting that you're gay in a culture that kind of frowns upon that. Things changed for me pretty rapidly after that.
I gained a lot of confidence, in general, in high school, in my intelligence, in the good person that I was becoming and feeling comfortable with my sexuality more and more. I came out to a few friends. My best friend Jessica normandin elite singles login very nonplussed about the whole situation and wanted to know if I had more fries for her rather than really having any reaction at all. She also used to be my girlfriend, which is another story.
I came out to other friends and things in general went pretty well. I started going to a gay normandin elite singles login group meeting other gay kids and really gaining a lot of confidence and normandin elite singles login lot of good sense of self from that and a healthy sense of self-esteem. There was a teacher at school, Ms. Jean Matthews, who made sure that I could do that, that I could be the gay-straight alliance for some time.
Normandin elite singles login whenever incidents happened in high school, like bullying or harassment, and there were a few, she always had my back normandin elite singles login I'll never forget that. I also came out to Nathan and I also told Nathan that I liked him. And I know what you're all hoping for right now, Nathan had a secret too. He was straight. So as time went on and I gained more confidence in myself, it then became time for college.
Here, there was a confluence of events. So I had taken this AP Psych class, found this amazing chapter on the brain, I had read this book about human sexuality that, to some degree, validated me and let me feel comfortable, and normandin elite singles login what was I going to do but become a neuroscientist.
So I found myself at Boston University studying neuroscience. While I was there, I went to a symposium at this little school down the street called Harvard.
This symposium or lecture was all about the science of sex. And who was there but Simon LeVay. I met Dr. LeVay afterwards and, let me tell you, it was like meeting Oprah. I really enjoyed that time. I also met another normandin elite singles login from BU, Richard Pillard who was one of the first people to show that sexual normandin elite singles login was heritable. Since he was at BU we made a connection and I ended up being his research assistant for a while.
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