Marlboro College

News “Gays, Genes and God” Marlboro College Hosts Lecture and Film Screening with Dean Hamer

MARLBORO, VT - (March 31, 2009) - Biologist, documentary filmmaker and award-winning author Dean Hamer will present a free, open to the public lecture and film screening at Marlboro College at 7:00 pm on Monday, April 20 in the Whittemore Theater.

Entitled, "Gays, Genes and God," Hamer's lecture will delve into two perennial questions:  Is sexual orientation a choice or are people born gay? And why are religious beliefs about this topic still so strong?  Surprising new scientific studies, many of them conducted at Hamer's laboratory at the National Institute of Health, reveals how both topics are informed by human behavioral genetics.

Hamer is the director of Gene Structure and Regulation Unit at the U.S. National Cancer Institute and author of two books, The Science of Desire: The Search for the Gay Gene and the Biology of Behavior and The God Gene: How Faith is Hardwired Into Our Genes, that have helped redefine the conversation about behavioral genetics. The Science of Desire received a New York Times Book of the Year award when it was published in 1991.

The presentation will begin with a screening of the documentary film, Out in the Silence, co-produced by Hamer and his partner, Joe Wilson. The film and complementary discussion will explore the basis for the firestorm of controversy that was ignited in Wilson's small hometown in Western Pennsylvania after the announcement of his wedding to Hamer was published in the local newspaper.

The announcement catches the eye of Kathy Springer, a local woman whose teenage son, C.J., is being brutally abused at school because he is gay. Ignored by the school authorities and with nowhere else to turn, she seeks help from Wilson, the only openly gay person she has heard of from the area. Together they begin a difficult struggle to take on the school authorities who ignored the harassment and violence that make every day "eight hours of pure hell" for C.J.

The announcement has a very different impact on Diane Gramley, head of the local chapter of the ultra-conservative American Family Association. Infuriated by the prospect of the "homosexual agenda" invading her little town, she initiates an incendiary series of actions that polarizes the community and leads to death threats against Wilson, C.J. and his mother, and "every other pervert" in the town.

Books will be available for sale in the lobby of the Whittemore Theater before and after the lecture. For more information, please contact the Marlboro College Public Relations Department at (802) 251-7644, or visit www.marlboro.edu.

For more than 60 years, Marlboro College has offered undergraduate education in the liberal arts. Its 330 undergraduate students enjoy an 8:1 student-faculty ratio, a voice in governing the community and individualized courses of study on a 300-acre campus in the hills of southern Vermont. Marlboro College has also offered graduate degrees and certificate programs for working adults at the Marlboro College Graduate School, located in downtown Brattleboro, Vermont, since 1997.

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