Ten years ago this month, Neil Swidey’s byline appeared in the Boston Globe Magazine under the headline “What Makes People Gay?” As the reporter explains in this weekend’s cover story revisit of both the topic and identical twin boy principals, that Aug. 14 2005 article has shown remarkable staying power:
In 2012, a full seven years after publication, it ranked as the fourth most-read story of the year on the Globe’s website.
Over the last decade, barely a month has gone by when I haven’t received an e-mail from at least one reader finding the article for the first time. These notes tend to be poignant, often coming from adolescents or their parents grappling with questions about sexual orientation, urgently Googling in search of answers. And with remarkable frequency, these e-mailers have closed by asking me variations of the same two questions: What’s changed in the research on sexual orientation since the story was first published? And how did things turn out for Patrick and Thomas?
For years, I had no new answers for them. It finally seemed like time to change that.
Swidey attended a sexual orientation conference at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, for which he was granted rare media access on the basis of his 2005 piece. He also reunited with the then-seven, now 17-year-old twin boys who provided the provocative framework for his original article. What the journalist discovered and concludes are fascinating.
There’s also this editorial recollection from the reporter:
When I wrote my 2005 story, the concept of trans kids was such a foreign one that I didn’t include it because my editor and I agreed we didn’t have enough space for a sufficient explanation.