Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger may shatter some stereotypes in Brokeback Mountain, but they’re a pretty unlikely match-up, according to controversial neuroscientist Simon LeVay.

LeVay, famous for identifying a possible brain difference between gay and straight men in 1991, believes a more realistic representation can be found in the butch/ femme relationship between Robin Williams and Nathan Lane in 1996’s The Birdcage.

Writing in this week’s New Scientist, LeVay argues that similarities in a same-sex relationship -“ like the equal masculinity of Ennis Del Mar and Jack Swift in Brokeback -“ can lead to boredom and bed death.

When men and women are attracted to each other, fall in love and enter into lasting relationships, they are choosing partners who differ from themselves, he writes.

Men and women may not be from different planets, but they are much more alien to each other, on average, than are two men or two women.

Same-sex couples could be too similar for stable relationships, the gay neuroscientist writes. They have nothing to trade, as it were. In addition, it may be difficult for a person to see their partner as sufficiently -˜other’ or -˜exotic’ for romantic passion to exist.

LeVay believes this need for opposition explains some of the sub-sections of the gay and lesbian community, including butch/ femme relationships in lesbians and gay men who date much older or younger partners or partners of a different race.

Some degree of difference between partners is probably necessary for the establishment and maintenance of loving sexual relationships, he writes.

With a man and a woman, this essential difference is supplied automatically by the very fact that the union crosses the sex divide. Differences between that, in age, race and so forth, may tend to overload a couple’s capacity for mutual understanding, or may provoke social intolerance, which would explain why most stable heterosexual partnerships are between fairly similar people.

LeVay became famous in 1991 when he announced he had found a potential biological marker for homosexuality in the brains of gay men.

See the full article on the New Scientist website.

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