Ex-Straight British Dude Still Thinks A Stroke “Turned Him Gay.” But Is It Medically Plausible?

Remember Chris Birch, the straight fellow who said a broken neck and a stroke turned him from a straight rugby-playing jock into a gay hairdresser?

Well, the 27-year-old Welsh fellow is back in the news! The BBC reports he still believes he wouldn’t be gay unless he’d suffered the accident, but that he’s happier with his new life.

“I was doing a forward roll down a grass bank one day and cut off the blood supply to my brain which caused a stroke to happen. It was from there, while I was recovering, that I realised I’d changed,” says Birch, from Caerphilly.

“The Chris I knew had gone and a new Chris sort of came along. I came to the realisation that the stroke had turned me gay.”

But Chris’ twinky 19-year-old fiance Jack Powell thinks he was bisexual or closeted before, and that perhaps the trauma made Birch take a deeper, more intimate look at his life.

“I’ve still got the same opinion that it was just something that was always there,” says Powell.

“People grow up not knowing they are gay and have families and then they realise they are gay, but they don’t have a stroke to realise that.”

Doctors are divided on the the issue of whether a stroke could turn you gay. Dr. Qazi Rahman thinks it could:

“Sometimes it takes something like a neurological insult – which is what a stroke is – to make you reassess those feelings, perhaps that are lying dormant, and bring them into the front of your mind and it is possible that is what has happened with [Birch]”.

But Dr. Sudad Jawad thinks not:

“Just like a stroke can change you as a person, your behaviour, your personality, the way you think, why not sexual orientation, it is part of the personality of the individual.”

What do you think—was he a bisexual closeted rugby jock whose trauma caused him to unearth hidden parts of his personality, or did the stroke really insert something into his personality that theretofore was nonexistent?

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  • Paul Mc

    It’s ‘hitherforeto’.

    How about the straight part of his brain was damaged, uncovering the latent capability in all main to be attracted to men. After all, we all start as female eggs and it’s only a bit of Y chromosome jiggers pokery that makes you male. Like all things male, it’s a bit more wobbly than the female, biologically speaking. Eg women live longer.

  • cam

    Yeahhhh…. Just like getting drunk changes all those other straight men gay.

  • Paul Mc

    Oops ‘its ”hithertofore’.

  • HIW

    I have my money on the very improbable chance that he was actually gay all along, and he just used the “accident” as an excuse to have his way. What i am trying to say is, stroke cannot contribute to overhaul of all the psychosexual development, influence of hormones and probably some genetic disposition at all.

  • Paul Mc

    The most important thing is….. He likes it. Prefers.

    8 out of 10 cats prefer gay

    You might say.

  • Chrissypoo

    Here is what I don’t get — he’s not just gay, but every stereotype gay.

  • Andrew

    I totally agree with HIW, I think he used the stroke as a excuse to come out. Now he’s gone too deep with the lie and has started believing it himself.

  • mike128

    Why does it matter? We all have our own stories – and still can’t put our finger on what “causes” someone to be gay (any more than we can put our finger on what “causes someone to be straight). If this is his truth, let him have it. He’s not doing any damage with it.

  • Evan Mulvihill

    @Chrissypoo: My thoughts exactly. He almost conformed to exactly the story the tabloids thought would be most sensational.

  • READ

    Do you all think we’re gay by magic? There are structural difference in the brain that makes us gay. I am pretty sure a stroke can cause changes in the brain. I read a pretty interesting book called “Gay straight and the reason why” by a Oxford neuroscientist.

  • dazzer

    I just don’t know. A member of my family suffered a brain injury and almost every aspect of her personality changed after the accident. And the way in which her brain controlled her body changed as well. All the sort of stuff that’s controlled by the front brain, was shifted to the back brain and neurologists had a field day trying to work out how her body had generated the chemicals to change all the connections between her brain and body. So while Birch’s story is unlikely, it’s not impossible.

  • Pete B

    Speaking as a stoke survivor, you really learn how to prioritize what really matters in your life and leave all the excess B.S. behind, having a brain injury does that to you.

  • Scott

    My partner is a physician. He says that brain damage can cause a person to let out things that they previously suppressed. His mother married and had many children. After the husband died she had a series of mini strokes. She wasn’t physically incapacitated but she couldn’t be left alone because she wasn’t totally grounded in reality. The family hired a 24-hour caregiver and the mother fell in love with her. She would hold her hand and say how much she loved her. The kids would say “Mom, I’m going back home now, many hours away” and she’d reply, “That’s ok, I’ve got my sweetheart here.” It’s possible she suppressed her same sex attraction all of her life.

  • cam


    No, actually the exact cause isn’t known and the study that showed some structural differences didn’t know if they were the cause, or if they were the result. Additionally, strokes have LONG been known to take out peoples filtering ability. i.e. some people will say things they wouldn’t have before, get wild, party…or possibily in this case…stop hiding in the closet.

  • Dave

    I read the article, I’m not sure what to think I’m bit confused. I feel even more confused looking at his picture. Who would let a man with that hairdo style their hair?!

  • Hyhybt

    I don’t think there’s any way to know for certain… but if anybody knows what he really was like inside before and after, it’s himself.

    Certainly, stranger things have happened.

    @Dave: Ever hear the story of the stranger in the town with two barbers? He went with the one with the bad haircut on the assumption that they had to do each others’.

  • DenverBarbie

    While the implications may be worth the medical community’s time and research, the tabloid debates over whether or not a stroke “turned him gay” seems inappropriate. Possible or not, all that matters is he looks soooo much better now!
    (And something about him being happy. Whatevs.)

  • Olive Austin

    I’m happy that he’s happy whether it’s true, or a story he needs to believe, or a story he wants to believe. That’s one less new recruit we need towards the quota.

    Send him his membership card.

  • Mike

    I wouldn’t trust that bitch with my hair. Even Kelly Clarkson got rid of the skunk highlights. Now what’s your excuse, Miss Kate from Days of our Lives?

  • rob

    #7 Andrew: Bingo!

  • michael

    Do you guys hear yourself??? He used a stroke as the excuse to come out? Maybe one day he can have a heart attack so he can finally admit to liking broccoli. Give me a break.

  • kj

    oh no! I hope the stroke didn’t make him gay- because . . . . oh god forbid . . .any one of us could have a stroke and ‘become a straight’ . . . .arghhhhhh :-(

  • Hyhybt

    @kj: Of all the things that can happen when you have a stroke… don’t worry. Even if this story is true, if you have a stroke you’re still far more likely to wind up in a nursing home (or just plain dead) than straight. Better?

  • JKB

    I like to give a couple of strokes to some straight guys to see if it turns them gay :P

  • Andrew

    Agreed Chrissypoo. I’m guessing this guy was always a queen or in denial about being gay but then almost died or had a horrible thing like a stroke happen and he thought “Well I almost died, time to come out and be open about how I’m a gay man and stop living my life in fear.”

  • hf2hvit

    That’s about as good as the married straight guy who was “rear-ended” in a car accident and sued the other driver because the accident turned him gay and destroyed his marriage.

  • B

    No. 13 · Scott wrote, “My partner is a physician. He says that brain damage can cause a person to let out things that they previously suppressed.”

    That’s a very likely explanation in this case – at the end of the BBC article, the guy is quoted as saying, “I’m happier now than I ever have been, why would I want to change?” What made him happier was probably the removal of some suppression.

  • AEH

    Sure, why not?

  • Rex

    If this guy is gay, then he’s never been straight nor will be.

  • Curtis

    Im didn’t waste my time reading the comments.

    Of course its plausible. Have we not the official studies of thousands incidents involving severe TBI, in which the victim’s personality and demeanor are entirely changed. Studies such as the one with Finneus Gauge and others have proven that the brain and the soul are essentially the same thing. Therefore, when the brain is damaged, (the only organ in the body that will not heal entirely), the soul may be permanently changed.
    The only way this may not be plausible is if we can determine that our sexuality is somehow encoded on our DNA.

  • Curtis

    @kj: Who knows..? Its “plausible” :]

  • AS

    A person I know who lives in Wales says he slept with him a few times long before the stroke (he was ashamed to admit). Expect “breaking tabloid news” soon.

  • kevin

    Are you kidding me?
    Opportunistic at it’s best!
    Sorry about the accident, really. But come on!
    Was his hair that color before the accident?

  • Codswallop

    I don’t believe he went from 100% straight to gay due to a stroke. It’s possible he reassessed his priorities in the wake of a profound injury or that “filters” in his brain were altered or damaged, but to go from a 0 on the Kinsey Scale to a 6? No.

    And if his family wasn’t accepting of gays he may feel the “a stroke made me gay!” story gives him an excuse, protection from their judgement.

    What’s most interesting to me isn’t that he “became gay” but that he now embodies pretty much every gay stereotype there is.

  • Hannah

    @READ: Changes in the brain are a given, a stroke is essentially brain damage, which is caused by lack of oxygen to the brain. Whether it’s physical, psychological, personal, somethings will indefinitely change.

  • Hannah

    @DenverBarbie: I love how yourcomment starts out promising and intellectual then BAM, straight to how he looks!!

  • Rraiju Narhnuif

    maybe had a gay doctor and the doctor did not wash his hands, then Chris Birch caught gay from him, or maybe the doctor sneezed on him accidentally

  • Rraiju Narhnuif

    No. 35 · Hannah says
    Changes in the brain are a given, a stroke is essentially brain damage, which is caused by lack of oxygen to the brain.

    that is funny – homoism is caused by lack of oxygen

  • 1equalityUSA

    Leaning a little to the left? Different strokes for different folks.

  • Daniel love

    Hello growing up in this world if hard as a gay man my self I know how hard it must be for you as I ways say no one knows what we are going thorw so just keep it going . Your fan daniel

  • Andy

    Saw a clip about this on the Colbert Report. I think it’s possible, as strokes can be absolutely devastating to the brain and alter it in uncountable and unpredictable ways.

    To me, though, the greater likelihood is just that he was gay the whole time, and the stroke gave him an easy out (no pun intended) that saved him, for instance, the problem and awkwardness of his former teammates asking him if he was getting off on watching them walk around naked in the locker room, etc. I *was* straight–honest!–but now I’m gay, so don’t feel lied-to or nervous, my former teammates: I’m just as shocked as you!

    i.e. The stroke offered him a very clean, simple break with his life being in the closet. Plus it gave him a nice story to sell to the tabloids.

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