Man gay after stroke

Lucy Wallis tells the story of a man whose personality changed after a stroke: "Chris Birch struggles to remember or identify with his old self. He used to be a 19-stone, beer-swilling, party-loving rugby fan from the Welsh valleys, the life and soul of a party. He worked in a bank and loved sport and motorbikes. After a freak accident in 2011, he says he underwent a big change to his personality. He believes that he has gone from being straight to gay." [BBC]


  1. Maybe he should know that every one of his attributes prior to the stroke are well represented in the gay community.  Just hang out with a few Harley riding bears and wolves and you would walk away enlightened.

    1. And forgot all the reasons he went to all that effort to appear so very, very masculine and straight before.

      There are out hypermasculine gay guys, and closeted hypermasculine gay guys, and I’m sure there are hypermasculine straight men but I never seem to meet them.  When I hear that a guy is this [insert lots of adjectives associated with masculinity] man and therefore obviously straight, I kind of assume he’s in the closet.  You know, like rabidly anti-gay Republican politicians.
      Of course, in my world, people are queer until proven otherwise, and straight people need to come out if they want me to know they’re straight.  :)

      1. My researches on the gay scene in Caerphilly suggest that the Safeway is quite cruisy. Maybe he just didn’t know that we existed if he never did the grocery shopping.

    2. I think you’re on to something. Some folks I know were once very active in the moonshine business until the ringleader had a brain aneurism. He recovered, but went from being a scary, taciturn fellow to an affable, garrulous good old boy who couldn’t keep a secret. Career changes followed for all concerned.

  2. Two nuns are sitting on a park bench. Suddenly, a flasher comes up, opens his coat and exposes himself. One nun has a stroke. The other can’t reach that far.

    1. I came to this article thinking “man turned gay from a stroke?  There’s a joke there…”

      Just found it.  Kudos.

      1. Thanks. 

        It reminded me of the time I was walking along this narrow path cut into a cliff. Cliff to one side of me, 500 foot drop to the other. Suddenly a beautiful girl rounds the corner walking towards me. I didn’t know whether to block her passage or toss myself off.

        I’m here all week….

  3. Something quite similar happened to a co-worker of mine. When he was about 20, he was in a rather horrific car accident. He suffered head trauma and lost his entire memory.

    Before the accident, he was a lower-class straight man: beer-drinking, football-watching, straight from the bad suburbs. Afterwards he was a wine loving effeminate gay man (After some experimentation, of course). Whether it was a physical change to his brain or just the sudden chance for a new life, nobody will ever know.

    It’s most interesting as a nature-vs-nurture thought experiment: If you take a mature adult and remove all the accumulated nurture, does nature suddenly get to dominate?

    1.  Interesting.  Oliver Sacks kind of stuff.  I don’t think it’s a simple system, though.  I think of it like this: take a galaxy of stars and dust and black holes and stuff.   Then, say, hemorrhage out one of the spiral arms.  Now see what happens.  Who knows what would happen.  It would be chaotic and very hard to tease out a clear-cut explanation for what the results are.  You’d see the result (eventually) but how it got there would be a long road of trying to figure out the long list of specific causes and effects.  I think of the brain like that.

    2. The BBC interview said that after trauma this kind of change is more common as the damage is more diffuse (affecting both hemispheres) and very rare after a stroke as the damage is much more localised.

  4. I find it fascinating that this could happen. It’s long been known brain trauma can change ones personality – but I haven’t heard of it changing orientation. So does this mean there is a ‘gay’ part of the brain?

    1. Surely not a gay part of the brain but an orientation part of the individual brain/body. The brain couldn’t really give a fuck either way. What the brain is interested in is pleasure. Orientation is a problem of body/brain communication not mind/brain communication, I think.

      1. Fascinating statement that I’m not sure I understand.  What do you think the “mind” is and how does it communicate with the brain?

        1. I think the fundamental function of the mind is the development of mathematics, but there is a payoff – natural communication between the brain and the body is distorted. The mind is an evolutionary means to an end and not the end itself. It is what all those religious people are saying. It just comes out ‘coded’. (Not that they have the slightest idea what their books actually say.)

  5. Kid has a shocking brush with mortality, ends up feeling more vulnerable and more attentive to life’s frail beauty as a result, then comments: “that’s totally gay, bro”.

    If you ask me, deep down he hasn’t changed a bit.

  6. Strokes do crazy things to your internal wiring. When he had his stroke, my Dad went from a quiet, devoted husband to an ass-pinching horndog, much to my Mom’s and the nurses’ exasperation. It’s like the stroke erased the part of his brain that inhibited his urges.

  7. I think it’s generally acknowledged that gay vs. straight is not entirely binary, and most people just have a strong preference, while bisexuals have a greatly reduced preference.

    Given what a stroke can do to enhance or suppress aspects of our personality,  it’s not entirely surprising that it could make someone gay.

    1.  Exactly! And I think a lot of people seem to think it’s homophobic to not stand behind “born this way” 100%, but it really doesn’t matter if one is gay from birth or “has an accident”, we’re all people and should have the same rights as everyone else.

  8. Sounds odd, but who knows. The brain and human sexuality are both still poorly understood subjects. I wonder if one could theoretically become left-handed that way.

  9. He obviously wasn’t born that way…  Unless you stretch the truth to make it fit your idea that he was secretly gay all along and just wouldn’t acknowledge it.

    1.  Are you willing to believe that hundreds of Conservative public figures all turned gay moments before they were caught having gay sex?

    2. Meh.  I’m inclined to believe that human sexuality can be fluid.  It’s possible he was attracted to men beforehand, but it wasn’t a strong attraction and he didn’t feel the need to act on it (lots of straight ladies live this way so I don’t think it’s hard to believe that men do, too).  Maybe the stroke just made those urges stronger?

    3. A lot of people don’t realize they’re gay, or know it on some level and try very hard to suppress it.  Most of us don’t have a stroke and lose most memories of our old life, though…  we just either accept who we are or don’t.

      Personally I don’t *care* if he was or wasn’t gay pre-stroke.  That’s totally his business.  I just don’t want people to start thinking there’s a little switch in the brain somewhere they can use to make people straight.  

  10. I’m about to finish up an undergraduate degree in neuroscience.  I’m doing an independent study in neurological sexual dimorphisms. There is an area called the SDN-POA (Sexually Dimorphic Nucleus of the Pre-Optic Area) in the hypothalamus which is sexually dimorphic (typically different between men and women) and is thought to guide sexual behavior. There is some CORRELATIVE evidence that gay and trans men have smaller SDN POAs, similar in size to those of women.  

    It is not a perfect correlation and some of the studies are controversial.  In theory, if this correlation gains more evidence, it could be the part of your brain that makes you gay. (This says nothing of genetics and hormonal mileau of course, but I’ll keep this short.) 

    So in theory if the stroke affected his hypothalamus and killed off part of his SDN POA, he might have an SDN similar to that of a woman’s.  

    Obviously I don’t know that’s what happened, or that killing off part of the SDN would necessarily lead to feminization, and science isn’t to the point where we can see the size of the SDN in a living individual.  They should be able to tell what general areas the stroke affected, and I’m not sure why nobody has looked at this yet. I would like to know what parameters the scientist in the article tested him on.  Hormones?  Excitation on viewing male vs female pornography? Why not neuroscience? 

    For the record, I’m a queer and queer friendly person, and that is the perspective from which I approach my studies. 

  11. Great, so as well as the worry of instant death by heart attack we’ve now got instant gay. Is this some kind of cosmic joke?

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