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Lazy, Selfish, Insensitive – Labels, Morality, & ADHD

If you haven’t read Part One of this blog ADHD Is So Gay, you should do that now. I’ll wait here till you get back. Don’t rush…

So, as I was saying… I have had the opportunity to be a part of many different ‘communities’ during the course of my life.

And I have found a common thread among three of those groups: The Speculative Fiction (SF) community. The Lesbian/Bi/Gay/Transgender (LGBT) community. And the Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) community.

ADHD community, acceptance, inclusiveThe more I’ve noodled about this, the more I see that these three communities share a surprising number of traits.

For instance, they are welcoming to new members.

And when people find their place in these communities, they finally feel like they are understood. There’s a sense of ‘I’m home.’

On the flip side, members of these communities often experience what it’s like to be mocked, misunderstood, and marginalized.

Leaving the SF community aside for a moment, the LGBT and ADHD communities are both familiar with dealing with a ton of stigma, or being dismissed as having a weakness or a flaw.

Both are condemned by fundamentalists.

The Bible contains about 50 words and phrases prohibiting homosexuality. And also lots about ADHD issues. Seriously!

The book of Proverbs tears into anyone who is lazy, idle, a sluggard. Corinthians has a few choice things to say about clutter.

Oh, and consider that ADHD folks have high rates of addiction to gambling, shopping, work, sex, food—all biblical no-nos. Until recently, addiction itself was also dismissed as a sign of ‘a weak, sinful character.’

ADHD and homosexuality used to be, and sometimes still are, dismissed by some as a moral failing. (In 1902 ADHD was called A Defect of Moral Control. Thank you Dr. George F. Still.)

Both were, and often still are, not acknowledged or actually persecuted in developing countries. That’s changing, but slowly.

ADHD is considered a disorder and is included in the Psychiatric ‘field guide’, the DSM-5.

Homosexuality used to be in there—it was only “declassified” as a mental disorder in 1973.

The labels ADHD and LGBT appear to apply to somewhere between 4% and 7% of the adult population. (I’ve heard 10% as the number for the gay community, but the current consensus is that someone rounded upward.)

The percentage of people who are gay or ADHD has remained pretty steady over time.

It may seem like it’s rising, but it’s just that the LGBT community is speaking up, and more and more adults are learning what ADHD looks like and going, “Oh man… That sounds like me!”

Many grow up believing, ‘There’s something wrong with me,’ but eventually come to like who they are. They may or may not be loud, but they are proud.

Despite recent gains, many people who are gay or ADHD still fly under the radar for fear of negative social or professional reactions.

An ADHD specialist that we’ve interviewed told us that they see some of the top people in Silicon Valley, Hollywood, Wall Street… you name it. And very few of these powerful figures will ‘go public,’ because of the lingering stigma attached to the ADHD label.

More parallels?ADHD Meme

Science shows that people are born this way. Honest-to-Darwin, there are observable differences in how the brain is wired in people who are gay or have ADHD.

You don’t choose to be ADHD (though you can get ADHD symptoms from a head injury).

And if you think homosexuality is a choice, fine, go ahead and change your sexual orientation for a couple of months just to show us how easy it is.

It’s as ridiculous as telling someone with ADHD, ‘Just try harder.’

Given that ADHD and homosexuality have both been observed throughout history, one has to ask, you know, Why? What’s the evolutionary advantage?

The “Hunter” theory, which Thom Hartmann and others have championed, suggests that any ‘tribe’ that has some members who are restless, risk-takers, who can hyper-focus, seek novelty, and think creatively has some very real survival advantages.

This goes along with that research suggests there are evolutionary advantages to any ‘tribe’ that has gay men.

Extra, unattached men provide the tribe with extra hunters and warriors to ensure the young are fed and protected. It’s called, “The Uncle Effect.”

Basically, if you’re a child in a tribe, and your father has a brother who is gay, the brother won’t have wives and children of his own to worry about, so in a crisis they can focus on helping protect you. Cool, eh?

If I’m offending anyone, or everyone, with this topic, my apologies. I’m often insensitive without realizing it. Which suggests I am not gay but I am ADHD…

Okay, yes, I know that’s offensive. But it’s a JOKE. And all jokes offend someone.

Actually, if you’re so offended by the very idea of this, please, feel free to go read something else or play Candy Crush. I have no idea what Candy Crush is but I keep getting invited to join and I am already involved in too many communities.)

As far as I know, I’m no more open-minded than the next person. Unless the next person is Reverend Pat Robertson.

But I’ve known a lot of adults who’ve discovered their ADHD in adulthood. And I’ve had friends, performers among them, who finally admitted to the world that they are gay. I’m in awe of their courage.

Of course, once I was immersed in show-biz I met one or two people who were gay. Ahem, maybe more than one or two. What struck me most was… they were all so different. Flamboyant. Shy. Open. Closeted. Macho. Sensitive. Funny. Retiring.

In my 40’s, I was in a course and a guy I really admired referred to his ‘husband’, another guy in the course. It took a second to process, and then… I continued to be a married, heterosexual guy.

I guess I’m trying to say that I’ve had plenty of opportunity to be around people who are different from me and realize that… well, they are pretty much just like me.

Although yes, some are taller, and some are shorter. Mostly taller.

And so, given all of this, I was shocked–shocked!–to hear an ADHD specialist suggest that the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding gay marriage went against God’s Law.

Being a comedian I couldn’t stop myself from asking, “Which God? There are so many.”

The reply was “The God in the Bible.”

But as you’ve doubtless seen on Facebook, people are pointing out that this is the same God who also expressly forbids eating bacon, getting tattoos, divorce, wearing clothes made of two kinds of fabric (Leviticus 19:19 says 100% cotton or to Hell with you), speaking with menstruating women (Which may be wise. JOKE!!!), bobbed haircuts and bangs (Leviticus 19:27), and eating shrimp (does wrapping the shrimp in forbidden bacon cancel the sinfulness?).

I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised.

After all, I know all too well that there are still plenty of ADHD kids and adults who are told every day, “You are lazy. Selfish. Insensitive. Disorganized…”

Things are changing, but there is still a long way to go with ADHD. Hopefully it won’t take 2,000 years.

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  1. redbandit14 October 25, 2015 at 9:47 am

    Rick you continue to blow my mind. I finally watched ADD and loving it start to finish recently (It was on PBS once but when the show took a break for donations I’m afraid my mind kind of wandered off somewhere) and it was as great as i thought it would be. ADD and mastering it is next.

  2. madreamer October 25, 2015 at 10:28 pm

    Rick, you are one wise and wonderful man! This is so well put, and makes some amazing points! Thank you!

  3. Rick October 29, 2015 at 12:36 pm

    Thanks for the kind words. I’m so glad it resonated with you. I have to say, I was a bit unsure after I’d written it, but obviously it resonates for you too.

  4. ialgie November 11, 2015 at 7:35 am

    Well said Mr. Green, the only problem is … now I can’t get the thought of shrimp wrapped in bacon out my mind!

  5. tesserin December 13, 2015 at 2:41 am

    First off, Thank You for this article!!!! I have lost count of the number of times I have sat in my room and replayed a family member’s “just get over it” statement over and over (I call it ocd thinking but I think it’s also considered brooding). The belief that I’m lazy has been getting to me more often these days, probably a combination of ADHD and OCD. But when I read articles like this, I feel a little less like an invalid or defective imp living among intelligent adults.
    I still find it funny how I’ve come to view myself as a warrior in terms of my congenital Hydrocephalus but when it comes to my diagnoses of ADHD, anxiety and depression I still feel like the lazy terrified Debbie Downer when a comment is made.
    Likening ADHD with LGBT made me feel better as well. I have a cousin who is gay and seeing this comparison added to my understanding of what he also has to deal with in the way of stigmas and how family would view him if they knew.
    Thank you so much again!!!

  6. wolfshades February 17, 2016 at 12:20 am

    Bad enough when we call ourselves lazy and stupid (before we finally are diagnosed as having ADHD). It’s so lovely when others do so as well, isn’t it?

  7. jerrygol December 13, 2016 at 8:54 pm

    Rick, this speaks directly to our hearts. Diagnosed in my early 60s and about to turn 70 now, I’m writing a memoir looking back on my life from my earliest pre-school and kindergarten memories where ADHD played a crucial role in forming a negative self-image based on the reactions of teachers and peers, to my at times erratic behavior, disorganized books and papers and blurting out remarks I thought were genuinely funny and a propos! Anyone with me here…? I learned so much from your videos, especially ADHD and Loving It, & its partner…Living with it. I loved ” With ADHD there are two areas of time: Now & Not Now! True and priceless…

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