Friend — are you… left-handed? Fear not, for all can be healed. You can know the joys of living right. Stave off your preponderance for alcoholism, disease and depression. We can help you. Many of our “ex-lefties” live happily today with legible handwriting, fewer injuries using buzz saws and blah, blah, blah…
Scientific evidence points more closely to a biological and/or genetic cause for same-sex desire.
When religious ministers admonish, “Live right or be left!” their syntax has some curious coincidences. We live in a right-dominated world (all unfortunate puns intended). Although the word “left” in the minister’s rant is the past participle of “to leave,” the word “right” is directly connected to an ancient sense of morality that permeates the very space around us, dividing creation into polar opposites. Although “to leave” and “left” are not related etymologically, the play here on the word “left” is a witness to an actual prejudice throughout the world against sinistrality.
It is no coincidence that the word “right” not only signifies the preferred direction, but also conveys a sense of being correct (you are right), fair or proper (that seems right), morally superior (righteous), empowered (the right to do something) and direct or immediate (right here, right now). Throughout history humans have had an overwhelming tendency to be right-handed. The left hand was, literally, less useful for many refined tasks, therefore the left side became a symbol for weakness or lack of finesse.
As history teaches, difference is a source of fear. If the right is the useful, or “good,” side of the body, then the “logical” conclusion is that the left is the “evil” side of the body. Projecting that body image out onto the universe, a very distinct sense of the world and its machinations develops. In ancient Rome it was a bad omen or an insult to enter someone’s home by stepping across the threshold with the left foot first. Left-handed people were even burned at the stake in Europe (since most Christians were right-handed, it seemed fairly obvious that anyone left-handed must be a devil worshipper, as a matter of course). Not surprisingly people were severely discouraged from using their left hands in public schools in the United States until the 1970’s.
Left-handedness is particularly interesting now. There is scientific research coming from Brock University in Canada demonstrating that it is especially common among gay men, suggesting a genetic link between sexuality and handedness. Those gay men who participated who were not left-handed showed a very strong disposition for being almost entirely right-handed. Here on staff at Q-Notes four of our six men are left-handed and another is left-side defective (sorry, couldn’t help, but score one for the lefties). Perhaps an update to the T-shirt saying “I can’t even think straight” could be “I can’t even write right?”
• Ten percent of people are LGBT, 10 percent of people are left-handed.
• Thousands of left-handed people die each year trying to use products or technology designed by right-handed engineers, thousands of LGBT people die each year trying to live with laws or penal codes designed by right-minded bigots.
• “Right” is used for various grammatical contexts the same way in most of the Germanic (English, German, Dutch, etc.), Romance (French, Spanish, Italian, etc.), Eastern Slavic (Russian, Latvian, Estonian, etc.), Western Slavic (Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, etc.), Turkish, Chinese and Japanese languages, revealing a perspective of good and bad that exists across cultures and oppresses lefties and LGBT people simultaneously.
• “Left” has many negative associations in various languages: lyft (Old English for useless/weak/paralyzed, which itself comes from the Low German lucht, meaning castrated); izquierda (Spanish, sounds like skewed, from the Latin torquere, the same root as for queer or twisted/torqued); sinistra (Italian, sounds like sinister); and gauche (French, a synonym for ugly, awkward or unstylish) — the connections here don’t require elaboration.
• George W. Bush is right handed (all puns intended).