Last week, I had lunch with an long-time friend, Steve Sternberg. I enjoy Steve because he is a thinker and he bypasses popularized slogans, cliches and hype. He can talk intelligently about complex issues in a way that clarifies the arguments on both sides while he maintains his own views strongly. So we can talk about homosexuality from a Christian perspective without bashing anyone. Steve gave me permission to reproduce three of his writings which I have done below. They date back to the late ’90’s but constitute a wonderful resource for study that is still very current.
I. “The GLBSO and Education” was Steve’s contribution to the opinion page of the Daily Campus Newspaper. Here he rebuts three claims that the homosexual community made at a lecture on campus.
II. “Homosexuality, A New Perspective” was written for the Daily Campus Newspaper.
III. “What’s Choice Got to Do With It?” gives Steve’s notes that he used in a human sexuality course at SMU.
I recommend that anyone interact with Steve’s material if he is studying this issue at a thoughtful level.
“The GLBSO and Education: Dorothy Hajdys and Gay Awareness Week”
— A Personal Opinion —
It is a telling commentary on our society that it often requires tragedy and brutality to move us to self-examination. As a university community, it is important to be confronted with the “real world” so that we can seek to prevent the kind of brutality and violence that took Allen Schindler’s life.
Gay Awareness Week at SMU gave the campus the opportunity to evaluate information that the gay community desires to have us know. The topics of discussion did not of necessity coincide with those made during Dorothy Hajdys’ visit to SMU but we would do well to closely and critically examine three frequently made claims that arise during discussions about homosexuality (Daily Campus, Oct. 21. pg. 1). They are: “10% of the population is homosexual”; “homosexuality is genetic (it is something you’re born with)”; and, “homosexuals are not asking for special rights.”
Each of these claims, however, is misleading and false. We must remember that homosexuals do not number 10% of the population, that there is no evidence that homosexuality is genetic and that homosexuals are asking for special rights (so-called “gay rights”).
First, numerous independent studies have shown that homosexuals do not number 10% of the population but rather between 1%-3% of the population at most (Univ. of Chicago study as reported in TIME). Even though the myth of 1 in 10 has been known for a long time, this erroneous statistic is nonetheless repeated, uncritically reported and often accepted without question. However, it simply isn’t true. No matter how often 10% is claimed, 1 in 10 is not a homosexual.
Second, there are no scientific data that support the claim that homosexuality is genetic. While the studies by LeVay, Pillard, and Hamer, which claim a genetic link to homosexuality, have raised interesting questions, the results of these studies are inconclusive at best. The National Cancer Institute’s press release of Hamer’s study stated, “the findings do not permit determination of an individual’s sexual orientation . . . . because complexities of sexuality cannot be fully explained by a gene or genes.” All of the above studies have received wide criticism within the scientific community. Charges of researcher bias have also arisen. Hamer himself gives the impression of being somewhat of a “spin doctor.” He told a P-FLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) group that sexual orientation is like being left handed and “if you tell the press what to write about a scientific study, they’ll write it.” In addition, he ignored the Byne and Parsons’ study (Columbia Univ.) which confirmed that “there is no evidence at present to substantiate a biologic theory.” No matter how often genes are cited, there is no evidence to support a genetic link to homosexuality.
Third, homosexuals are asking for recognition as a class with full protected class minority status and privileges (under the Civil Rights Act, 1964) based on their homosexual behavior (or mere desire) alone. The special protected class status and advantages (special rights) homosexuals are seeking are not the fundamental rights and protections guaranteed to all Americans under the US Constitution. The Supreme Court has clearly ruled that citizens may benefit from all fundamental rights and protections without possessing special, protected class status, which is reserved for truly disadvantaged, politically powerless and obviously distinct minorities, under strict court established criteria (Frontiero vs. Richardson, 1973; SAISD vs. Rodriguez, 1973; Mass. Bd. of Retirement vs. Murgia, 1976; Plyler vs. Doe, 1982; City of Cleburne vs. Cleburne Living Ctr., 1985; Jantz vs. Muci, 1991). Not all “minorities” are eligible for protected class status. Even members of the gay community acknowledge that they are not educationally, economically or culturally disadvantaged, are not politically powerless and are not an obviously distinct minority. Therefore, as a group, homosexuals are not a true minority but rather a very powerful special interest group. Nonetheless, full protected minority class status and the special rights that go alone with it are being sought. No matter how often it is denied, “gay rights” are special rights.
Keeping this in mind, the goal of “Gay Awareness Week” was to change the campus’ perception of the GLBSO from reactive and negative to positive and proactive. I, for one do not consider the GLBSO as either reactive or negative. However, it seems to me that “Gay Awareness Week” was just another indication of the SMU gay community’s goal to have their sexual behavior/preferences confirmed or legitimated and not just tolerated. This is the point of contention. This strategy includes many activities, for example: AIDS Awareness Week, Joseph Steffen and Dorothy Hajdys, not to mention, jeans and T-shirts, Log Cabin Republicans, Thanksgiving Dinner, and an AIDS Canned Food Drive. These activities are both proactive and positive. However, these events or activities are unrelated to sexual behavior/preferences or “out and proud.”
Pirates and priests can wear T-shirts; Pimps and Philanthropists can vote Republican; the KKK and Kindergartners can collect cans; Pilgrims and Prisoners can come to Thanksgiving Dinner. Homosexuality is about sexual behavior, as is adultery, “free love”, a one night stand, serial monogamy, open marriage, and marriage fidelity. Homosexuality is not about jeans, cans, Republicans or Thanksgiving any more than it’s about gabardine, bottles, Democrats or Labor Day.
The gay community defines itself by their sexual behavior/preferences. Levis and turkey only divert one’s attention from the “main thing,” which is the goal of the GLBSO education: the ‘normalization’ of homosexual behavior/preferences and attaining special, protected class status (i.e. special rights) for homosexuals.
If the GLBSO desires to take a positive and proactive step, let them cease perpetuating the 10% myth, the genetic myth, and the myth that “gay rights” are not special rights. If the GLBSO is serious in its attempt to educate the campus community then truth telling and not myth making should be a part of their message. 10%, a genetic link, and “gay rights are not special rights” are myths and neither proactive or positive.
The GLBSO should continue to have canned food drives, encourage people to vote, support friends and acquaintances and continue bringing speakers to campus. However, these activities have nothing to do with homosexuality. For the observer to confuse the two is to lend credence to myth and forget the truth.
“Homosexuality, A New Perspective”
SMU Daily Campus, Friday, October 4, 1996
Last year at this time, five student Christian groups and DCL ran two ads during National Coming Out Week (NCOW). The theme was “There is another way out” of homosexuality. The ads included the testimony of a former gay man and a lesbian who briefly described their journey out of the homosexual lifestyle as a result of placing their faith in Jesus Christ. Those who responded to the ads received a more in depth explanation of their journey and gave rise to responses which extended into November.
The responses were varied. Some responded to the ads, some to my accompanying Commentary article, and some to both. The responses included expressions of outrage and anger, charges of stereotyping homosexuals, reasoned critiques of my op/ed piece, and shock and disbelief that folks still existed at SMU who believed homosexuality was a choice or a person could change.
Our intention was to speak to those struggling with homosexuality or questioning their sexuality and to inform them of an alternative rarely mentioned and often ignored or denied: men and women all over the country have experienced a change in their sexual desires and behavior. In light of this and National Coming Out Week, John Smid of Love in Action, will address the topic, “Homosexuality: A New Perspective,” at the Baptist Student Ministry meeting, tonight, at 8:30pm. All are welcome.
One might ask why this and why now. NCOW is a public forum for homosexuals who celebrate “coming out of the closet.” It is an event this week that will touch many who attend the State Fair of Texas. Since the homosexual community has created this public forum in order to advocate the normative nature of homosexuality, it seems only logical to address the topic at this time.
Homosexuality is a sensitive subject about which many people have an emotional opinion. My purpose, however, is to suggest alternatives. John and Anne Paulk’s story were not meant to speak to the entire homosexual community but to those who were struggling with homosexuality and wondering if there was only one way out. John Smid will offer his personal experience and the address this issue from a new perspective.
Last year, it was suggested that the homosexual community was being singled out by the ads. I want to affirm that the message of freedom in Jesus Christ—“the other way out,”—is not limited to any particular person or group of people. We are all in need because we have all “missed the mark:” we all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. The message of the Gospel is that freedom from those things in our lives which confirm and cause our estrangement from God is available to everyone; the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ. We cannot come to know God or experience personal freedom on our own. The Scriptures teach that each person must acknowledge this need and admit their helplessness without Christ before freedom in Jesus Christ can be experienced.
During NCOW, some will choose to publicly declare their homosexuality. They will be encouraged to do so by the homosexual community. For many individuals who have been “in the closet” or struggled with homosexuality, this will seem to be the only recourse to serenity and freedom. However, others, in growing numbers, have experienced “another way out.” Check it out on the world wide web: http://www.stonewallrevisited.com
I do not believe that a homosexual identity, no matter how acquired, is the only choice for anyone. If a person so chooses, he or she can set aside a homosexual identity with God’s help, strength and love. Since some people want to set aside their homosexual identities, our goal is to assist them and offer them support. John Smid has experienced this change.
One accusation was that these ads (check the http://www.stonewallrevisited web site) stereotyped homosexuals. During last years’ National Coming Out Week in Dallas, Chastity Bono and Candice Gingerich gave testimonials about their homosexual experience. Both were speaking about their personal lives. They were not presented as proto- or stereotypical examples of the homosexual experience. Could some of those who heard them identify with them? Certainly. Will some identify with others who have come out of homosexuality? Yes.
Please don’t interpret my message as “just come to Jesus” and everything will be perfect. Christians are not perfect. This needs no explanation. Martin Luther said Christians are beggars who have found bread and tell others who are hungry where to find it too. Christians have found forgiveness in Jesus Christ and have embarked on the “freedom road.” Bunyan’s classic, Pilgrim’s Progress, illustrates how difficult this road is. Christians are not “better than . . .” This “other way out” is filled with struggle. It is also filled with freedom, fulfillment and serenity as God’s forgiveness, love and power is experienced by those who trust Him on the “freedom road.”
But how does one answer an argument that homosexuality is known in other cultures or that the APA removed homosexuality as a psychological disorder in 1973.
As we thought about placing these ads, we wanted our message to be sensitive, helpful, and compassionate. We wanted to do more than just state an opinion. And we certainly didn’t want to communicate judgment–our message is always Good News, not judgment. The Good News is “there is another way out” and Jesus Christ meets us where we are. But this road is not easy.
There will be responses to the ads and this article because there are those who disagree with us. Some will also think that both the message and the ads are “hateful, mean-spirited, homophobic, narrow minded, promote violence and harassment toward homosexuals, and represent harmful and false stereotypes of homosexuals, etc.” This is not true. We reject and condemn any violence or harassment in word or action toward anyone. Still others will dispute Mike and Michael’s experience of this “other way out.”
If you have been offended or hurt by my words or by the ads, that was not my nor our intention. We care about each person on campus who is struggling and grappling with life’s issues. I think you can recognize this from the tone of the ads and my words.
Finally, I would encourage you to weigh the message and experience of Mike and Michael carefully. Consider the arguments and experience of those responding to the ads. Recognize rhetorical language and personal attacks for what they are. Responses of this type ignore the message by dispensing with the messenger and should be quickly discounted.
If you would like more information about freedom in Jesus Christ or about issues concerning homosexuality, speak to us, call the number, check out the web site or other resources on campus. If you would like to respond please, call or email. However, if you only wish to vent your anger or yell, please don’t. This helps no one and stifles dialogue and diversity.
‘What’s Choice Got To Do With it’?:
Can Those Identifying Themselves as Homosexual Change?
Some Introductory Questions::
- What do you notice about the title of this elective session? What does the title tell you about what the subject matter is? About what the subject matter is not?
- From the Title, one might infer that personal freedom and determinism stand in opposition to each other or correspondingly raise the question, “If homosexuality is not just about choice, what then?
- From the sub-title, one might infer that personal identification and human nature might be in opposition to each other or correspondingly raise the question, “How can one interpret or understand someone when they state, I’m gay? What, if anything is open to question?
- What is meant by CHANGE?
A. Personal–Educational and vocational history & interest in sexuality and gender
- Personal: I grew up in three distinct but related families: Nuclear family; Single parent family; and blended family.
- Education: I’m not a professional scholar or an academic: I have a B.S. from the University of California, and a Masters in Theology with an emphasis in New Testament from DTS and, in Germany, I did post graduate work in New Testament.
- Professional: I’ve been with Campus Crusade for Christ for 39 years. I spent 15 years overseas: in Ireland, Austria and West Germany and traveled extensively behind the Iron Curtain between 1974-1988.
- Passion: My passion and concern is our culture’s understanding of the Christian Gospel and the application of the Christian faith to the issues of our culture.
a. In 1992, I attended a daylong symposium at Baylor Medical Center on STDs and was radicalized by the information presented, the results of which informed me of the multiplicity and complexity of viral STDs and the overwhelming predominance of women as victims; economic, physical, emotional. Women are both the problem and a part of the problem by allowing themselves to be used. They are the ones who predominantly bear the brunt of the consequences of the “Sexual Revolution,” which occurred under my generation’s watch. The “Sexual Revolution was supposed to be about freedom when instead it pushed both men and women into further bondage.
b. In the late 80’s to mid-90’s, I became interested in the increased tendency to break away from established sexual norms. I began to read and interact with material concerning the ‘gay rights’ issue. I interacted with members of the GLSO, GLSBO and now, though somewhat less, the GLBTSO. On campus, I addressed issues about homosexuality, National Coming Out Week, AIDS Awareness Week. The Campus Ministry Council also became involved for the first time, when this was celebrated on campus.
c. Personal agenda, concern and focus: You will notice that I have entitled this talk, What’s Choice Got To Do With It: Can those identifying themselves as homosexual change? And therein lies my agenda. I am concerned that when talking about the issues concerning homosexuality, both sides understand each other’s language and seek the truth. I will not be talking about whether or not someone who identifies them self as homosexual should change. Though I certainly believe this, it is neither my decision to make for them nor one I would force upon them. After all, this is a FREE SOCIETY. This is A MORAL QUESTION and depends upon one’s belief system and the meaning and significance he/she places on the concept of purpose both as it relates to our bodies and to nature. This talk is just about whether or not change is possible. By change, I mean can and do men and women who have previously identified themselves as homosexual and are sexually active, change their behavior; either by becoming celibate or, by different means, having their sexual desires reoriented to be predominately towards the opposite sex and possibly enter into a marital relationship. In any case, change does NOT and has never meant that a self-described former homosexual would NEVER have same-sex attractions again. I WILL NOT deal with public policy or religious views, though I have them. The ISSUE OF CHANGE is, in my opinion, a most important first question, which simply put, MUST FIRST BE ANSWERED. If left unanswered, the questions surrounding the corresponding issues of public policy and the morality of homosexual acts will automatically have incomplete and inadequate answers. My reason for not defending traditional Judeo-Christian teaching regarding sexual morality is that I don’t believe that there is any real competing perspective which takes both the authority of Scripture and the history of the Church seriously. That includes the views of the late John Boswell, former history professor at Yale, and other scholars and theologians. Second, this is not the place for such a discussion and I believe the issues of choice and change must first be addressed before considering these other issues. For if change is possible, one clear roadblock is removed from the table.
- “Can those identifying themselves as homosexual change?: Homosexuality in History and the 1973 APA Decision to Remove Homosexuality from the DSM II” [Note: I have relied heavily on Ronald Bayer, Homosexuality and American Psychiatry: The Politics of Diagnosis, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press), 1987. Pp. 242]
“The entire process (i.e. discussion and vote of APA concerning the pathological nature of homosexuality) from the first confrontations organized by gay demonstrators at psychiatric conventions to the referendum demanded by orthodox psychiatrists, seemed to violate the most basic expectations about how questions of science should be resolved. Instead of being engaged in a sober consideration of data, psychiatrists were swept up in a political controversy.” The APA had succumbed to the disorder of the 60’s and the politicization of social life. Egalitarianism challenged the APA and they found themselves negotiating “the pathological status of homosexuality with homosexuals themselves” (pg. 1). The result was not a conclusion based on an approximation of the scientific truth as dictated by reason, but was instead an action demanded by the ideological temper of the times.” (pg. 1-2).
Psychiatrists in alliance with Gay Liberation groups didn’t see this as a capitulation but an admirable flexibility and a remarkable capacity to acknowledge the significance of new research findings and to rethink its approach to sexuality. Other psychiatrists, broadly committed to the Judeo-Christian tradition and the pathological nature of homosexuality, saw just the opposite; namely, a capitulation to intimidation, ideology and the politicization of psychiatry.
The fundamental questions are: “What is normal sexuality? Is there such a thing? What is the role of sexuality in human existence? Do the brute requirements for species’ survival compel an answer to the question of whether homosexuality is a disorder? How should social values influence psychiatry and help to define the concept of mental illness? How should conflicts over such issues be resolved? How should the opposing principles of democracy and authority be brought to bear in such matters?
For Bayer, the question of the normalcy of homosexuality remains a political one, “representing a historically rooted, socially determined choice regarding the ends of human sexuality.”
[NOTE: In 1969, the Stonewall ‘riots’ occurred and in 1973, both Roe v. Wade was enacted and the APA removed homosexuality from its list of dysfunctional behaviors and mental illnesses. The tenor of the times and these decisions (APA and Roe v. Wade) loosed social forces and individuals willing to struggle for change and for the subversion of dominant sexual values.
I. The Signs of the times: From Sin to Pathology, from Mattachine to Stonewall and from pathology to 1973.
It was assumed that the Judeo-Christian tradition considered pleasure and procreation a unifying purpose to human sexuality. This ethos has ceased to be relevant in the West and the two have been not only divorced but now sexual pleasure is preeminent and a priority in a culture committed to sexual individualism (pg. 5). In other words, in private, I alone am the sole arbiter of what is appropriate, moral or good regarding any sexual act.
Homosexuality, despite periods of greater tolerance, has been considered an abomination in the West for much of two thousand years” (pg. 15). Anatomy and purpose seems to be divinely planned and to provide the morally acceptable parameters for sexual behavior. Non-procreative sexual behavior (here at the beginning is the divorce of procreation from pleasure) was a violation of God’s purpose and a “dangerous diversion of energy” (not to mention a denial of our individual humanity—characteristic of worshipping the creature rather than the creator).
Influenced by religion and morality, homosexuality was thought to be freely willed and therefore a vice. Though the civil authorities were sometimes lax in the prosecution of homosexual activity, the religious authorities “condemned it with a moral fury as an abomination against God.”
This, then, is the moral background against which the scientific study of homosexuality began in the last century. Only in the latter 1800’s did homosexuality become the study of concerted scientific effort. A volitional “crime against nature” was the dominant view but there were those who viewed it as inborn. This “scientific” endeavor was a part of a greater effort to challenge the dominance of the moral-religious perspective (i.e. the church) and was inspired by a thoroughly deterministic science of human action (i.e. pathology—there is always a reason). Health and pathology were the considered to be “morally neutral” (which Bayer, in the conclusion, shows are not value or morally free). The Divine was replaced by Nature (“a standard thought to exist in nature”).
A. Scientific Views in 19th Century — Initial theories of Homosexuality.
- Carl Westphal (1850/1870), psychiatry in Germany, placed the study of homosexuality on a clinical, scientific footing.
- In France, Jean Martin Charcot (1825-1893), the director of the Salpêtrière, believed, along with Westphal, that homosexuality was inborn.
- Paul Morear (1818-1889), also a Frenchman, thought it a combination of constitutional weakness and environmental forces.
- Most important was Dr. Richard von Krafft-Ebing (1840-1902), University of Graz, called “the father of the psychology of sex,” whose monumental Psychopathia Sexualis had an enormous effect on informed opinion of homosexuality. Krafft-Ebing considered any non-procreative sexuality a perversion with disastrous personal and social consequences. He, too, tried to link environmental and inherited factors to show a correlation with sexual deviancy. His work influenced Carl Gustav Jung to enter psychiatry.
- Prof. Cesar Lombroso (1835-1909), an Italian psychiatrist and criminal anthropologist at the Institute di Patologia Generale, thought homosexuality evidenced a “lower stage of human development.” The process of evolution or human development was to be recapitulated in the course of individual development. Some ‘got stuck’ because of heredity defects and could not be held responsible but were restricted because of the ‘danger’ they posed.
- Karl Heinrich Ulrichs (1825-1895), thought homosexuality was a heredity anomaly. A homosexual’s brain developed in the opposite direction of his/her sexual organs (a man in a woman’s body). He thought himself a man with a female mind. First known openly homosexual “activist.”
- Magnus Hirschfeld (1868-1935), of Berlin, thought homosexuality was the result of inborn characteristics determined by glandular secretions.
- Dr. Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), of Vienna–one of the three most influential men of the 19th century along with Marx and Darwin. Freud believed that heterosexuality was the normal end of psychosexual development. Freud called homosexuality “sexual inversion.” He did not maintain it was a sign of degeneracy—this was only if personal survival and “efficient functioning” were severely impaired. Freud saw homosexuality as a “natural feature of human psychosexual existence” (pg. 22). Homosexuality was simply a stage to heterosexuality. Masculine and feminine impulses coexisted in an “instinctual, constitutional bisexuality (is this where Kinsey came from?). “Exclusive homosexuality,” for Freud, “represented an arrest of the developmental process, an instinctual fixation at a stage short of normal heterosexuality” (pg. 23). . . .He was opposed to a rigid, condemnatory stance toward homosexuality, which I think, was related to his rejection of Christianity. He was, according to Bayer, a therapeutic pessimist about the homosexuals’ “ability” to change. In his now famous 1935 “Letter to an American Mother,” he noted, “ . . .Homosexuality is assuredly no advantage, but it is nothing to be ashamed of, no vice, no degradation, it cannot be classified as an illness; we consider it to be variation of the sexual function produced by a certain arrest of sexual development. . . .” (Bayer, pg. 27).
B. Scientific Views in the 20th century — Homosexuality as a psychological disorder and evidence of arrested development.
- Psychoanalysis and Homosexuality: Sandor Rado (1890-1972), Irving Bieber (New York and Yale Universities, served as President of the American Academy of Psychoanalysts and taught at New York Medical College), and Charles Socarides (studied at New York Medical College and Columbia University and served as attending psychiatrist and taught at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine).
- While Freud’s pessimism regarding the possibility of change for homosexuals remained dominant for almost 40 years, the work of Dr. Sandor Rado, founder of the Columbia Psychoanalytic Center. His adaptational school of psychoanalysis developed a more optimistic stance because they rejected Freud’s core concept of bisexuality and theory of the libido, in which human development was viewed in a psychosexual perspective. Rado replaced it with a theory that focused on childhood dependency as its central concern, with his starting point of reproductive anatomy; i.e. our bodies. Therefore, male-female pairing was both natural and healthy. “While biology dictated the appropriate nature of sexuality, humans did not inherit biological directives regarding the use of their sexual organs” (Bayer, pg. 28) [No, but we received a divine directive]. For Rado, culture supplied the requisite instructions. Rejecting an “innate homosexual drive,” only an overwhelming environmental force could explain the abandonment of the “standard pattern” (pg. 29). Homosexuality was a “reparative” attempt on the part of some to experience sexual pleasure when the heterosexual was too fearful or threatening.
- Rado’s explanation of homosexuality as a phobic response to members of the opposite sex rather than an instinctual or biological response enabled them to have a more optimistic therapeutic outlook. This optimism was conveyed through those at Columbia University’s Psychoanalytical Clinic for Training and Research and affected the clinical work of psychoanalysts in the 1960’s, among them Irving Bieber and Charles Socarides.
- Dr. Anna Freud, who studied with her father, Sigmund Freud, and is recognized as the founder of child psychoanalysis, was Chairman of the Vienna Psycho-Analytic Society and founded and directed the Hampstead Child Therapy Clinic in England. In 1950 she “lectured in New York on the recent advances in treatment of homosexuals, stating that many of her patients lost their inversion as a result of analysis. This occurred even in those who had proclaimed their wish to remain homosexual when entering treatment, having started only to obtain relief from their homosexual symptoms”
- During the 60’s and 70’s, Bieber and Socarides gained considerable prominence but other psychoanalytic formulations also gained adherents during this time. The diversity of approaches represented profoundly divergent theoretical orientations but all agreed that homosexuality was a pathological condition and a disorder requiring therapy. When psychoanalytic theory waned in the 1960’s, other schools of thought incorporated this view of homosexuality.
C. Challenges to the Psychiatric Orthodoxy
Sex reformers, Havelock Ellis (1859-1939) and Mangus Hirshfeld, who identified himself as homosexual, led the effort to classify homosexuality as a normal variant of sexual behavior early in the 20th century. The psychological viewpoint eclipsed both Ellis’ and Hirshfeld’s views. The pathological emphasis, supported by professionals (psychologists and psychiatrists) and by laypersons, led to a concern for etiology (cause or origin) and contending psychodynamic hypotheses. Secondly, the concern was for the therapeutic “cure” rate; i.e. how much therapeutic intervention could expect to restore “normal” heterosexual functioning.
Criticism came from those of other disciplines, from researchers who didn’t share the dominate clinical orientation, or from psychiatrists who didn’t share the dominant paradigm. A serious challenge to the view that homosexuality was a pathological condition didn’t arise until after WWII.
- Alfred Kinsey (1894-1956): “For Kinsey, the statistically normal could not be the psychological abnormal” (pg. 44). Kinsey believed “that the capacity of an individual to respond erotically to any sort of stimulus. . .is basic to the species” (“Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, Philadelphia: Saunders, 1948. pg. 660). Kinsey’s quantification of behavior and empirical data led him to deny the existence of the homosexual. By that, he means that individuals are somewhere on the spectrum of 0 to 6. A 0, an exclusively heterosexual male or a 6, an exclusively homosexual male, were misnomers. Instead, one should speak of the spectrum and ages when variant sexual behavior was prevalent. Kinsey thought “the pattern of sexuality chosen by individuals represented but one example of “the mysteries of human choice” (Bayer, pg. 45; Kinsey, pg. 637). Societies rejection of certain sexual practices posed the problem and magnified their (i.e. the varied practices) significance (pg. 45). Kinsey also believed sexual orientation, like all other social behavior, was learned. It was culture that transformed, channeled and directed the sex drive. More recently, it has been shown that Kinsey practiced “extreme sexuality”; his behavior was bi-sexual and masochistic. He practiced group sex and swapping with colleagues. Kinsey rejected traditional sexual morality and believed that sexual behavior of any sort was amoral.
- Cleland Ford and Frank Beach: Ford and Beach published Patterns of Sexual Behavior in 1951, three years after Kinsey’s work. Kinsey’s work relied on a cross-sample (though fatally flawed) of American males but Ford and Beach relied upon a cross-cultural analysis and an investigation of the behavior of non-human primates. Their relativism was a striking rejection of the primacy of Western standards of sexual normalcy. They did not take direct aim on those standards but that indeed was the effect of their work. . . . In order to explain the dominance of heterosexual behavior, they had to resort to the force of cultural restrictions or pressure; i.e. cultural conditioning.
- Evelyn Hooker: Hooker was a psychologist by training, who was drawn into her research by a former student who was a homosexual. She was introduced to a far wider diversity within the homosexual community than the ordinary observer and clinician. She began her research in 1954 with a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health. Her sample was from lists provided by the Mattachine Society and One, Inc., two homosexual rights groups then active in California. Hooker admitted those on the lists did not provide a “representative sample” but argued that since homosexuality was a largely covert phenomenon it wasn’t possible to study a more representative population.
- Thomas Szasz (the ideologue): While Kinsey, Ford and Beach, and Hooker focused on “empirical results” and “scientific data,” their results did not call into question the fundamental categories of mental health and psychopathology. Their findings were consequently subject to rebuttal and alternative interpretation. Thomas Szasz attempted to shift the discussion to the theoretical and conceptual level and to the “underlying ideological assumptions of psychiatry and the power of the profession in contemporary society” (54).
- Judd Marmor (Szasz’s bulldog): Szasz was a revolutionary thinker and, as such, could not have achieved support for his views. Most still understood the notion of mental illness a giant step forward in understanding human behavior. The association of Szasz’s attack on psychiatry with rejecting the orthodox perspective on homosexuality may have hurt more than helped. However, Judd Marmor, a prominent psychoanalytic practitioner, became an establishment advocate for reclassifying homosexuality. Because of his status an commitment to psychoanalysis as a mode of therapeutic intervention, he was able to provide a language and line of reasoning to the main line members of the APA calling the classification of homosexuality into question.
II. Brief summary of the Politics of Diagnosis and the APA 1973 decision to remove homosexuality from the DSM.
A. From Procreation to Pleasure
In a consumption-oriented society, it seems consistent that human sexuality would also become a consumer industry. The success of the contraception industry is explained in part by the change in sexual values. (pg. 7). Vern Bullough, a historian of sexuality, argued that once the public came to accept non-procreative sex, the door was open for every thing else to follow. A post WWII phenomenon, the modern homophile movement began to challenge the dominant culture values. By the late 60’s, this challenge had turned into a “full-blown attack.” Homosexuality was now an “alternative lifestyle” worthy to be on a par with heterosexuality. “Mere tolerance was no longer the goal; the demand was for social legitimization.” (pg. 8 ).
Psychiatry, previously was a “friend” to homosexuality, because it sought to wrest control of the social definition of homosexuals from moral and religious authorities: better a therapeutic concern than criminal activity. However, by the late 60’s these “friends” were now challenged by homosexual activists. I.e., who are you to tell me whether or not homosexuality is a psychological disorder or not? This became an attack on the “unassailable status of science and technology, and medicine in particular.” (9)
B. Important dates/events:
- 1932-The pseudonymous Parisex wrote, “Now that inverts have almost escaped the stake and the prison, the psychoanalysts threaten them with the new danger of the psychiatric torture chamber.” (pg. 68). Because homosexual behavior had been present in diverse cultures, had survived persecution, it was seen by some as a “natural” trait, a form of birth control and not a neurosis. Parisex also challenged the claims of therapeutic change. All of the approaches to justifying and legitimizing homosexual behavior in the face of societal morals and psychiatric diagnosis were prefigured prior to WWII.
- 1948-Alfred Kinsey’s, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male
- 1952-Kinsey’s, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female
- In 1952, a working group under the aegis of the U.S. Public Health Service developed a nosological (classification of a list of diseases) scheme to meet the needs of modern psychiatry because the AMA’s Standard Classified Nomenclature of Disease had proven inadequate and it was considered outmoded by those who emerged from the centers dominated by psychoanalytic theory. Thus, DSM-I represented a major effort to establish the boundaries of its work. Problematic about the classification of homosexuality, was the homosexual who was not distressed or anxious because of his “disease.” It was the pattern of behavior that determined pathology and not the psychological discomfort (which later would be explained in terms of resulting from the culture’s “homophobia”). “DSM-I asserted that individuals so diagnosed were “ill primarily in terms of society and of conformity with the prevailing cultural milieu” (pg. 40). DSM-II, revised in 1962, removed homosexuality from the category of sociopathic personality disturbances and listed it together with other sexual deviations, among the “other non-psychotic mental disorders.” Though a very well developed homophile movement existed at the time, there was little concern expressed. Two years later, the classification in
DSM-II was to become a central focus of the Gay Liberation movement’s attack on psychiatry (pg. 40).
- 1953-Playboy & Hugh Hefner
- 1953-Mattachine Society (w/ a secret membership) founded by Harry Hay. Its concerns were: Employment discrimination, exclusion of homosexuals from the mainstream, threat of criminal sanctions, the dispelling of homosexuals being a “morally depraved culture incapable of assuming conventional social roles.” It attempted to achieve these goals through “evolution and not revolution.” They also encouraged the full participation of homosexuals in American life. They did not oppose the mores of society and opposed indecent public behavior and contributing to the delinquency of minors. They were also staunchly anti-Communist, says Bayer. They tried to educate their members concerning appropriate social behavior. “Integration could not be achieved if decorum was not maintained.? Personal reform/change preceded social reform/change.”
- 1964-The New York Academy of Medicine released a report on homosexuality, which was unacceptable to the homosexual community. Until now, challenges to the medical profession (psychiatric) remained personal. The Ladder (Daughters of Bilitis publication) noted that the Academy, by prescribing heterosexuality as “normal” was practicing moral manipulation in the guise of scientific leadership.” Increasing militancy in the tone of declarations (like that of the Ladder ) was cause for concern by some homophile groups.
- 1964-Mattachine Society, fearing more local independence, disbanded local councils. They lost their authority as a single voice and were replaced by independent local groups who were free to pursue their own course, be it more militant or conservative.
- 1965– the D.C. Mattachine Society adapted this statement with only one opposing vote: The Mattachine Society of Washington (under Frank Kameny) takes the position that in the absence of valid evidence to the contrary homosexuality is not a sickness, disturbance or other pathology in any sense but is merely a preference, orientation or propensity on a par with, and not different in kind from, heterosexuality. This started the landslide.
- 1968-AMA Convention in San Francisco, leafleted by homosexuals in opposition to a lecture by Dr. Charles Socarides and demanded “equal time.”
- 1968-Protest at Columbia University‘s College of Physicians and Surgeons over a panel on homosexuality.
- 1968-Student Shutdown @ Columbia University
- 1968-Martin Luther King & Robert Kennedy murdered
- 1968-Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia
- 1969-Stonewall “Rebellion”
- 1970-Kent State shootings & invasion of Cambodia
- 1970-“Gay Pride” demonstration in New York
- Early 70’s- militant homosexual groups also attacked publicly any psychiatrist who presented clinical findings on homosexuality. These denunciations were sometimes accompanied by hate-filled letters and threats over the telephone.
- 1970-Gay activist disruption of APA Conference in San Francisco: May 1970, gay groups in alliance with feminist groups engaged in their first systematic effort to disrupt the meetings of the APA. Bieber faced his first personal confrontation and was unprepared for the rage of his “outlaw” hearers. Other speakers were equally ridiculed and shouted down, esp. Nathaniel McConahgy, an Australian psychiatrist. Shouts of “vicious,” “torture,” and “Where did you do your residency, Auschwitz?” interrupted his discussion of aversive conditioning techniques. Then, came the demand for equal time: “We’ve listened to you, now you listen to us.” After the confrontation, Kent Robinson, a Maryland psychiatrist, met with Larry Littlejohn, one of the protesters. With the threat of total disruption hanging over the APA, they agreed to host a panel discussion at their next conference which was to be in Washington D.C. Gay men and women were invited to address the convention to tell their stories.
- 1970-The Catholic Church became a target, as well as psychiatrists who gave lectures on the disease of homosexuality. At the Univ. of Penn., David Rueben’s Everything you Always to know about sex and were afraid to ask was pulled from a course taught by the Sexual Counseling Service and was replaced by a book more favorable to homosexuality. Demonstrations also took on the tactic of disruption. The purpose of protest was no longer to make public a point of view, but rather to halt unacceptable activities. Ideology became an instrument of domination, of power, and of control. The traditional willingness to tolerate views of one’s opponents was discarded. Those who sought intellectual justification for this change found it in Herbert Marcuse’s essay, Repressive Tolerance.
- 1971-APA Convention in Washington D.C.-In spite of the opportunity for homosexuals to have their own panel discussion “gay activists” believed there needed to be greater pressure applied. The APA was in for a jolt! Frank Kameny, the Washington Mattachine Society leader, turned to the Gay Liberation Front to plan the demonstrations. The APA had added security but didn’t want to appear to be establishing a “police-state” convention and decided to institute the “flex defense.” This response seemed to resemble the strategy of the 60’s university presidents. Bend, bend, bend, but don’t break (i.e. keep your position). Activists stormed the prestigious Convocation of Fellows. Kameny grabbed the mike and proclaimed, Psychiatry is the enemy incarnate. . . “ Their tactics were compared with the Nazis but after the dust had settled, the wisdom of their approach was self-evident. Homosexuals had forged credentials and gained access to the exhibit area. Finding various examples of therapy which sought to “cure” homosexuality, they demanded their removal. Threatening violence, were able to force the removal of the “offending displays. Open dialogue planned for the convention was purposefully avoided by members or they had successfully been intimidated. The homosexual groups wanted to have homosexuality removed as a pathological condition from the DSM II manual.
- 1972-APA Conference in Dallas— A fully institutionalized gay presence at the 1972 APA meetings in Dallas had been set in place by Kent Robinson. Gay activists received a grant for travel expenses and to set up a booth, “Gay, Proud, and Healthy,” which was designed to elicit support from APA members. Their strategy was clear: Indict, expose and reach out.
- 1972/1973- Theoretical unrest was prevalent in the APA, various Task Forces, and in local branches. Most of the members resided in the theoretical middle, unable or unwilling to suggest that all homosexual behavior was pathological.
- 1973-Roe v. Wade
- 1973-Robert Spitzer of the New York Psychiatric Institute and a member of the Nomenclature Committee of the APA came into contact with homosexuals who demanded a change in the APA’s attitude toward homosexuality. Spitzer agreed to arrange for a formal presentation before his committee at the 1973 convention and to sponsor a panel on whether homosexuality ought to be included in the Associations official listing of psychiatric disorders.
- 1973 APA Convention in Honolulu–Nomenclature Committee recommends that homosexuality be removed from the DSM-II. Not one of the members of the Nomenclature Committee was an expert on homosexuality (The APA was also concerned about the “civil rights” consequences of the decision. I believe that this, in fact became and continues to be the overriding issue. Because many homosexuals were capable of “functioning normally,” the declaration of homosexuality as an illness was arbitrary, i.e. not “scientific.” Many felt that “sexual dysfunction” was a more apt label.)
- 1973-Decision of the APA’s Trustees, led by Dr. Robert Spitzer, to remove homosexuality from DSM-II as a psychiatric disorder. The declassification reflected a willingness to bend the psychiatric nosology to serve “laudable” (quotes mine) social goals but desert (Bayer’s word was bend, mine desert) psychiatry’s scientific posture. (pg. 140). Harold Voth of the Menninger Clinic said the board had done society a grave harm and, in the process, “disgraced itself.” Abram Kardiner, a senior figure who had pioneered in an effort to merge the insights of psychoanalysis and anthropology viewed homosexuality as a symptom of social disintegration (pg. 141). The sharp opposition culminated in circulating a petition to call for a referendum by the entire APA. More that 200 (243, to be exact) signed the petition in a very short period. The referendum was to coincide with the election of officers. Having been pushed into a corner by the politics of diagnosis, those who wanted a scientific justification for the removal of homosexuality from the list of psychiatric disorders, moved into the political arena—the vote would democratize science; i.e. science would be determined by vote!! The APA, by their decision took a road from which there would prove to be no return. “This suggested that psychiatry’s claim that it constituted a clinical science like other branches of medicine was at best self-deception” (pg. 142). I can imagine that this referendum only further alienated Socarides, Bieber, et. al. from those who remained skeptical or silently opposed to the removal of homosexuality from DSM-II. Socarides called the decision “a wonderfully democratic, vital tool” (pg. 142). Bieber, more cognizant of the decision’s consequence, said while he was “unalterably opposed to democratic decision-making in matters of science, it was the board of trustees that had violated the standards of scientific inquiry by voting on the classification of homosexuality” (pg. 142).
- 1974- An intense lobbying effort by the National Gay Task Force followed. The NGTF sent copies of a letter co-written by it and Dr. Spitzer to the entire membership of the APA urging members to vote for the nomenclature change. The NGTF funded the direct-mail campaign but did not acknowledge that it was involved. The two hundred plus psychiatrists responsible for the referendum did no campaigning. In the end, only a quarter of the APA members sent in their ballots. The final tally was 60-40, for the change. The militant homosexuals had won, and scientific integrity had lost.
- 1977, ten thousand members of the APA were polled, at random, on the issue of homosexuality. Sixty-eight percent of those replying said that homosexuality was indeed “usually a pathological adaptation (as opposed to normal variation).” This led the interpreter of the poll, Dr. Harold Lief, to conclude that “the previous APA vote was influenced by political and social considerations and that the vote was [mis]perceived as a step towards the denial of rights to homosexuals.”
III. Why Questions will remain?: Change and fluidity of sex roles/behavior, the legacy of Alfred Kinsey, “Gay gene” studies and advocate scholarship and dissenting voices in research.
A. Kinsey’s legacy
Alfred Kinsey carefully crafted his public persona. He made every effort to convey the image that he was a tweedy academic and family man. He and his wife, Clara, had three children, Bruno, June and Anne. However, James H. Jones noted (“Annals of Sexology: Dr. Yes,” New Yorker, August 25 & September 1, 1997. Ppg. 98–113) the following: “In his reports on America’s sexual behavior, Alfred Kinsey hoped to free society of Victorian repression. But what really inspired the author’s crusade was his own secret life” (pg. 99). Jones, who served on the Institute’s scientific board of advisors, “discovered, while researching a biography of Kinsey, he was, in reality, a covert crusader who was determined to use science to free America from what he saw as the crippling legacy of Victorian repression. And he was a strong-willed patriarch who created around himself a kind of utopian community in which sexual experimentation was encouraged” (pg. 100).
“After delving into the institute’s archives, reading thousands of letters, and interviewing his associates, I concluded that Kinsey was himself beset by secrets: he was both a homosexual and, from childhood on, a masochist who, as he grew older, pursued an interest in extreme sexuality with increasing compulsiveness. His secret life was shared with a small circle of intimates, a few of whom became his sexual partners, sometimes in the name of “research”. (pg. 101).
Slate reviewer, Thomas Laquer, asked whether Kinsey was a “pioneer or pervert” [http://slate.msn.com/BookReview/97-11-04/BookReview.asp]:
As biased as Kinsey’s intentions and as skewed as his research “sample population” was, even his data showed a wide range of sexual behavior. He found sexual experience was somewhat fluid rather than static, on his scale from 0-(exclusively opposite sex) to 6 (exclusively same-sex). His biographer, James Jones notes: [H]ow interesting that he should assign this [heterosexuality] no value.” The 10% figure came from a portion of his unrepresentative sample population, many of whom were prisoners, and indicated that from the ages of 18-35, 10% of the men experienced same-sex sexual experiences over a period of 3-5 years.
Conclusion: So, in answer to the question, “Is change possible?” the answer is an unequivocable, “Yes!” At the same time, the question, “Should those identifying
themselves as homosexuals change?” remains subject to an individual’s worldview, moral and ethical principles and own personal choice.
But why is the question of the possibility of change important and/or why is “so much energy” being expended both in public debate and, if you will, during this class period to discuss this? One might also ask why so much energy has been expended over the years to “scientifically define, support and justify” the notion that human sexuality is an inborn trait or component of “human nature” which has almost endless variations/possibilities? The answer is because there is so much at stake in the personal, public/political, moral/ethical and religious realms.
The reason is because each side of the debate wishes to shape public policy and social mores. On the one hand, those who agree with Kinsey’s philosophical bias and with those who believe that variant sexual desires and practice [meaning gender and age related, number, species of ‘partner’, as well as manner or means of desire fulfillment] are personal decisions seek to justify as normative for society as a whole both the existence of these desires as well as their expression in private among consenting individuals.
And, on the other hand, the answer lies with natural law theorists’ philosophical biases, with 3,500 years of Judeo-Christian tradition and with those who believe that normative sexual intimacy should be limited to men and women who have entered into a life-long relationship; i.e. marriage.
B. “Gay-gene studies” and advocacy scholarship
Several “gay gene” theories have been floated, such as a possible difference between homosexual men and others in a particular neural nucleus in the brain. However, that speculation’s proponent, Simon LeVay, claims only that his findings indicate that further research might hold promise for investigating sexual orientation. “Until [LeVay’s] original findings are confirmed,” wrote Burr in The Atlantic Monthly, “the notion that homosexuals and heterosexuals are in some way anatomically distinct must hold the status of tantalizing supposition.”
Researchers, Bailey and Pillard reported that 52% of identical twins of homosexuals were also homosexual. The implication was that the high incidence of gay twins indicates a genetic basis for homosexuality. However, other researchers reported only a 25% incidence of homosexuality among identical twins of homosexuals.
Even granting the accuracy of their figure, why only 52%? If homosexuality is genetically based, shouldn’t 100% of identical twins turn out to be homosexual? Byne & Parsons, after noting that anywhere from ½ to ¾ of identical twins of homosexuals did not turn out to be homosexuals themselves, “despite sharing not only their genes but also their prenatal and familial environments…[which] underscores our ignorance of the factors that are involved, and the manner in which they interact, in the emergence of sexual orientation.”
Further evidence along these lines came from the January 1996 issue of Developmental Psychology, in which Susan Golombok and Fiona Tasker tracked the sexual preferences of 46 children, 25 of whom were raised by lesbian mothers and 21 of whom were raised by heterosexual mothers. Golombok and Tasker discovered that only two of the children of lesbians became gay as adults. If homosexuality were genetic, a much larger percentage of the children of gay parents would be expected to be gay themselves, but this was not the case. Not surprisingly, none of the children of straight mothers considered themselves gay. The difference between that finding and the result for the lesbian families was considered by the researchers to be statistically insignificant.
In the July 1993 Science magazine, molecular geneticist Dean Hamer and colleagues reported the findings of a so-called “linkage study,” in which researchers identify a behavior trait that runs in a family and correlates it to a chromosomal variant found in the genetic material of that family. Hamer’s study discovered that in a small number of families, homosexual males (40 homosexual brother pairs) had a larger-than-average number of homosexual uncles. The researchers claimed to have identified a link on the q28 region of the X chromosome in homosexual males.
Criticisms of Hamer’ study include:
· The study sample (the number of family members who were research subjects) was too small. Four months after the Hamer report, Science published a critical article by genetics researchers from Yale, Columbia, and Louisiana State University, which stated unequivocally: “[The study’s] results are not consistent with any genetic model [or] statistically significant…. Small sample sizes make these data compatible with a range of possible genetic and environmental hypotheses….”
· Conclusive proof that any behavior is genetically based is still far in the future, if possible at all. One psychiatric researcher, Brian Suarez, has calculated that a research project of this kind would need at least 8,000 people. No study of homosexuality has had anything close to this number so far.
· An independent study ongoing since 1989 by researchers at the University of Western Ontario and Stanford Medical School (which used 52 pairs of gay siblings compared with Hamer’s 40) had different results: “[O]ur data do not support the presence of a gene of large effect influencing sexual orientation…”.
· Dr. George Rice of the University of Western Ontario said that the homosexual brothers in his study were no more likely to share X-linked genetic patterns than would be determined by chance. He believes that the search for genetic factors in homosexuality should continue, but the results of such studies to date “would suggest that if there is a [genetic] linkage, it’s so weak that it’s not important.”
· Hamer has made the following embarrassing backtrack in the face of his critics: “[T]he question of the appropriate significance level to apply to a non-Mendelian…trait such as sexual orientation is problematic.”
· The Yale, Columbia and LSU researchers also took Hamer to task for focusing too much on social and political ramifications and not enough on merely scientific evidence.
· Hamer had testified as an expert witness to a Colorado court hearing a motion to void the state’s Proposition 2, which would have disallowed homosexuals to claim minority status on a par with race. He told the court that on the basis of his research, he was 99.5% certain that homosexuality was genetic.
· In June 1995, Science confirmed rumors that Hamer was under investigation by the Office of Research Integrity at the Department of Health and Human Services for misrepresenting his data. The investigation did not result in any definitive action by the DHHS.
However, a 1995 article published in Scientific American noted that LeVay’s and
Hamer’s studies had not been replicated by any other researchers, that Hamer’s research has been discredited by other studies. More recently, Dr. Alan Sanders, also of the NIH, replicated Hamer’s study for verification purposes, and found no evidence to support Hamer’s “discovery.”
In 1998, University of Texas researchers claimed that the inner ears of lesbians undergo “masculinization,” possibly from hormone exposure before birth. “Their auditory centres have been masculinized and the presumption is that so have the sites in the brain that direct sexual preference,” said Dennis McFadden, the lead author of the study. However, one cannot say whether or not the auditory centers have anything to do with sexual preference/orientation or whether or if this “masculinization process” exists, it is prior to birth or subsequent to same-sex sexual behavior.
Such are the foundations for the alleged “genetic basis of homosexuality,” which, even if substantiated, would still merely document an anomaly–not a normative state. All recent research into homosexual demographics has produced numbers in the one to four percent range.
C. Dissenting Voices: Secular/psychological testimony about change
On the other hand, ample clinical evidence refutes the “homosexuality is unchosen and unchangable” assertion. Even Masters & Johnston reported a 50% success rate in changing sexual preference from homo to hetero in willing subjects. Dr. Jeffery Satinover, past president of the C.G. Jung Foundation, with degrees in medicine and psychiatry from MIT, U. of Texas, and Harvard, also reports a 50% success rate in helping patients overcome their “homosexual compulsion.”
Dr. Reuben Fine received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Southern California, is Director of the New York Center for Psychoanalytic Training and serves as a Visiting Professor at Adelphi University. He stated, “I have recently had occasion to review the results of psychotherapy with homosexuals, and been surprised by the findings. It is paradoxical that even though the politically active homosexual group denies the possibility of change, all studies from Schrenck-Notzing on have found positive effects, virtually regardless of the kind of treatment used…” [Reuben Fine, “Psychoanalytic Theory, “Male and Female Homosexuality: Psychological Approaches” edited by Louis Diamant, (Washington, D.C.: Hemisphere Publishing Corporation, a subsidiary of Harper and Row Publishers, Inc., 1987), p. 84]. “…Whether with hypnosis…, psychoanalysis of any variety, educative psychotherapy, behavior therapy, and/or simple educational procedures, a considerable percentage of overt homosexuals became heterosexual….If the were motivated, whatever procedure is adopted, a large percentage will give up their homosexuality. In this connection public information is of the greatest importance. The misinformation spread by certain circles that ‘homosexuality is untreatable by psychotherapy’ does incalculable harm to thousands of men and women” (ibid., p. 85, 86).
Studies on Gays Yield Conflicting Conclusions: Effectiveness of Efforts to Change Orientation Through Counseling Disputed, by Shankar Vedantam, Washington Post Staff Writer, Wednesday, May 9, 2001; Page A13
“A controversial study has found that some gay men and lesbians are able to change their sexual orientation through psychotherapy or religious counseling, while a second study has concluded that most who attempt such a change fail and suffer lasting harm.
“Robert L. Spitzer, a psychiatrist at Columbia University in New York, interviewed 153 men and 47 women who reported that they had changed their sexual orientation from homosexuality to heterosexuality after undergoing counseling and had maintained the change for at least five years. Each was asked about his or her sexual orientation, behavior and fantasies.
“The subjects’ self-reports of change appear to be, by and large, valid, rather than gross exaggerations, brain-washing or wishful thinking,” said Spitzer in a summary of his paper, which will be presented today with the second study at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, in New Orleans. . . . .
[“Like most psychiatrists,” says Dr. Spitzer, “I thought that homosexual behavior could be resisted–but that no one could really change their sexual orientation. I now believe that’s untrue–some people can and do change.” Linda Ames Nicholosi, Narth, 05/09/01]
“American Psychiatric Association officials distanced the organization yesterday from Spitzer’s research and said there will be no change in the association’s conclusion that homosexuality is neither a mental disorder nor a condition in need of “treatment.”
“‘There are a group of people who think all homosexual behavior must be changed and has to be changed and can be changed, and they try to impose their values on [gay men and lesbians], which is inappropriate,’ said Daniel Borenstein, association president and a psychiatrist at the University of California at Los Angeles. “Since 1973, when the association reversed its position that homosexuality was a mental disorder, all major medical groups have advised against attempts to persuade gay men and lesbians to seek treatment, noting that such attempts can be psychologically damaging. But some religious groups have waged a campaign over the past three years to convert gays to heterosexuality through counseling.
“Advocates of conversion therapy seized on the findings of Spitzer, who helped the psychiatric association end the classification of homosexuality as a mental disorder.
“‘The very guy who had homosexuality removed from the list of mental disorders concluded that some individuals who participate in sexual reorientation therapy make sustained changes,’ said Janet Folger of the Center for Reclaiming America.
“Phil Hobizal, director of Portland Fellowship, an Oregon counseling group for gay men and lesbians who are unhappy with their sexual orientation, disputed the suggestion that such counseling causes harm. “There are those people who did not find our program helpful and have chosen to embrace their homosexuality, and we say they have the freedom to do that,” he said.
“Scientists at the psychiatric meeting questioned Spitzer’s conclusions and the manner in which his study was conducted. They noted that it did not follow patients over time, relying instead on their memories.
“‘Many of the people were referred by therapists who gave the names to Spitzer, and so the whole way in which these people were found is problematic,’ said Marshall Forstein, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School. ‘Is there a cohort of people who were not referred because the treatment failed?’
“Gay rights advocates said that attempts to change gays’ sexual orientation have been rejected by the majority of Americans. ‘It’s simplistic and insulting to someone’s intelligence to say you can be completely straight or completely gay,’ said Cathy Renna, a spokeswoman for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. ‘So many factors come into who we are as individuals.‘”
D. Anecdotal secular challenges to “born that way”
1.Newspapers and Periodicals
· The Advocate (“Gay periodical”): “I am increasingly Impatient with the old chestnut that our movement for public acceptance has not increased and will not increase the number of gay men and lesbians in existence. ‘There are more of us than there used to be,’ historian John D’Elmilio has written… We have been on the defensive far too long… Remember that most of the line about homosex [sic] being one’s nature, not a choice, was articulated as a response to brutal repression. ‘It’s not our fault!’ gay activists began to declaim a century ago, when queers first began to organize in Germany and England. ‘We didn’t choose this, so don’t punish us for it!’ One hundred years later, it’s time for us to abandon this defensive posture and walk upright on the earth. Maybe you didn’t choose to be gay – that’s fine. But I did.”
Editorial by Donna Minkowitz, The Advocate, December 29, 1992 (The Advocate is a gay publication)
· Off Our Backs (Feminist periodical): “Biology is evoked all the time to explain or justify human choices and social patterns. There is a long history of using biology to justify inequality as inevitable due to the genetic characteristics of women or people of color. In general, biological explanations serve to delude people into believing that they can’t help their choices; that it can be no other way; that their actions are not borne out of human volition or choice but rather inborn inescapable drives. But while the idea that if gays can’t help it because they are born that way seemingly might arrive at our acceptance into society, it also diminishes us as thinking purposeful beings.
“Conclusion: I think that using the biological explanation is a poor strategy for several reasons. First, it maintains the current social order (the way heterosexuality is socially constructed currently) as stable and only gives individual escape hatches to a small number of people. Calling it biology is a neat way of sidestepping any critique of patriarchy or gender relations by attributing rebellion against the current structure to biology rather than dissatisfaction. Secondly, it does not allow people to think very deeply about why they choose one thing or another and so helps maintain the status quo of heterosexual relations. If people could say, heterosexuality sucks, and that’s why I’m gay, then we could begin to see more clearly that patriarchy sucks, that male-female gender relations suck, that marriage sucks, etc. Third, it inhibits agency among gay people. Rather than being responsible for and proud of our choices, it makes us seem we are helpless pawns reacting to our biology. Fourth, it keeps others who are dissatisfied with patriarchy or gender relations from making the choice to become gay. We ought to recruit–we don’t have much of a movement if we restrict new members only to those “born” to be gay. And finally, it is an exceptionally inadequate defense against the religious rights assertions that we can change. We would do better to say of course we could change if we wanted to, but we don’t want to, because it is better to be gay.”
“Off Our Backs: A Woman’s Newsjournal“, Aug./Sept. 1998 — Volume xxviii, number 8: “Biology, my ass” by karla mantilla
· Dallas Morning News column: ” . . . .I was the only man in a gathering of 20 mostly middle-aged women. I tried to blend as we munched our Caesar salads, but reactions to me seemed to range from wary to tense to hostile.
“The mystery is one we have pondered here many times before – that of homosexuality. But this particular group represents a more particular puzzlement – one of those riddles wrapped in a mystery. They call themselves Late Bloomers. They are women who discovered themselves to be lesbians late in life.
“Hello! It’s hard to imagine a more shocking realization. And it’s one that seems to defy
much of what the gay and lesbian community has tried to teach us about homosexuality in recent years.
A matter of choice
“We have learned that homosexuality is a deep-seated biological and/or psychological orientation, not a mere lifestyle decision. Yet here were women using the verboten word: choice.
“‘I realized one day I had a choice. It was very liberating,’ said Lee, a mother, randmother and twice former wife.
“Another woman, a first-time visitor to the group, confessed that she had no real attraction toward women but was considering it out of sheer disgust with men. Even other group members seemed unsure what to make of her.
“For years, most gays and lesbians have said they knew since childhood that they were “different.” Yet here were women saying they had no inkling of a homosexual orientation until it hit them one day like a bolt from the blue.
. . . .”In a way, these Late Bloomers shake the foundations for all of us. We certainly think we know what our sexual orientation is – and that of our partners. But . . .
“The hardest part in all of this is the pain it has caused my family,” said a woman who was married 35 years before suddenly feeling an overwhelming affection for a female friend.
“My husband was devastated. He made the statement: ‘If this can happen, anything can happen.’ And my grown son said, ‘Does this mean the woman I marry may one day decide she’s a lesbian?’ Those are difficult things to deal with.”
So what could account for such dramatic shifts? A couple of theories were advanced.
Pat Stone is the organizer of Late Bloomers (972-503-2210). She thinks this is a phenomenon that happens almost exclusively to women.
“Most of the men tell us they knew they were gay all along,” she said. But many women – herself included – buy into cultural images of romance as little girls and bury away any feelings in conflict with that.
Pat was engaged at 16 and married at 18. “I had never even heard the word lesbian. If I’d had Ellen back in the ’60s, things might have been very different.”
Another woman spoke up, “It made all the difference for me.” “Me, too,” said another. “I came out right with Ellen.” [Question: Did they “bury feelings” or did they simply not have any same-sex sexual feelings at all?]
Ann offered me another theory. “I did a lot of reading after I began wrestling with these feelings,” she said. “And I read that people’s sexuality lies along a spectrum – with exclusively heterosexual people at one end and exclusively homosexual people at the other end and many, many people somewhere in between.” [NOTE: Kinsey influence!]
“Ann said being “in between” might explain why she felt some attraction for men, yet never had a satisfying relationship. Now she is in her first lesbian relationship – “and I have never been happier in my whole life.”
“Of course, lots of folks would rather not think about any of this. But like it or not, our society is clearly in flux, sorting out its attitudes and understanding of homosexuality.
“Where will it end? That’s part of the mystery.”
7/22/98 The Dallas Morning News: Metropolitan Section, “Late Bloomers shake sexual foundations” by Steve Blow
· Utne Reader: “For years, lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals repeated like wind-up dolls: “Love is love, no matter what body it comes in, and we deserve equal rights.”But the new “fluidity” of sexual identity leaves us in a state of linguistic confusion. Should an out, gay man who turns around and marries a woman continue to call himself gay? Should an out lesbian who turns around and marries a man continue to call herself a lesbian? This new breed of queer people struggle with what to call themselves, and the gay and lesbian community has strong reactions, no matter what label they end up taking on. As Sabrina Margarita Alcantara-Tan writes of her own shift from kick-ass queer to married-to-a-man in Bamboo Girl (No. 8, 1999), “What does this mean? Am I still queer?”
As psychotherapist Bret Johnson explains [“In the Family,” July 1998] that, gays and lesbians often go through a second coming out, from lesbian or gay to bisexual—sometimes decades after their first coming out. “Back in the 1960s and 1970s, coming out meant making a break from heterosexuality,” he writes. “But in the late 1990s, we are witnessing a break from gayness and lesbianism.”
But, he adds, “the new wave of coming out almost looks like going back in. . . .It’s as if we’re seeing a challenge to the old, modernist way of thinking ‘This is who I am, period’ and a movement toward a postmodern version, ‘This is who I am right now.’ “
Utne Reader Sept/October 2000 “A Different Kind of Queer Marriage: Suddenly gays and lesbians are wedding partners of the opposite sex” by Linda Markowitz
Utne Reader: “But overall, coming out may not be as traumatic these days, thanks in part to—gasp!—television, movies, and other forms of popular culture. Cornell’s Savin-Williams notes that the increasing visibility of gay men and lesbians in the mainstream media provides examples of positive queer lifestyles for the first time. This makes coming out less of a big deal than it used to be. “Now you have a whole host of positive role models like Ellen Degeneres and Melissa Etheridge and Greg Louganis,” he says. “Kids are learning that they can be gay and be happy, too.”
“They’re also learning that sexual identity can be fluid. “To many young people, if a person says she’s a lesbian and then later decides she wants to see men, too, that’s OK,” explains Mariner. “It’s not so absolute. On college campuses we’re starting to hear the terms queer or genderqueer. This means rejecting the labels of male and female. If you erase those lines, then the whole thing changes.”
“If we’re on the cusp of a new sexual revolution, then it’s only logical that the movement’s leaders may all be younger than the kid who bagged your groceries last weekend. Remember David Grossman, the 13-year-old who threw himself a coming-out party? A couple of years later, he’s now, along with James Bradach, one of the wise elders of youthresource.com. They occasionally volunteer on the site, providing support for younger kids struggling to define their sexual identity. “These kids,” Bradach explains, “need to talk to somebody who’s been there.”
Utne Reader, March 2001, “Out Early: Gay and Lesbian teens are shaping a new sexual revolution By Andy Steiner
2. Internet site
· NARTH: Many people are born with genetic predispositions that we clearly recognize as problems. An alcoholism gene–an obesity gene–and a gene for shyness, violence, hyperactivity, or short temper are recognized as setting the stage for a lifetime of challenges. The same would be true of a gene for near-sightedness, mental retardation, or attention-deficit disorder. And there are also prenatally induced, non-genetic conditions that we recognize as problems, such as fetal alcohol syndrome and fetal cocaine addiction. All of the affected persons must struggle to adjust in life.
But we do not respond to such conditions by assuring the person, “You were born that way, so this is who you are.”
The crux of the issue is as much philosophical as scientific: “What is human design and purpose?” The answer to the question will tell us whether we were merely “born that way,” or in fact “designed that way.” We would not conclude that homosexuality is a normal variant if we held to this simple definition, offered by a clinician more than fifty years ago: Normality is “that which functions in accordance with its design.”
Does “Born That Way” Mean “Designed That Way”? by Linda Nicholosi [http://www.narth.com/docs/bornthatway.html]
3. Personal comments
· David French, Tufts Christian Fellowship attorney “said it is important to understand the Christian worldview held by TCF as well as its beliefs against homosexual conduct. ‘However fallen we are,’ he explained, ‘there is an ideal behavior our creator intends us to try to achieve, and human beings function best when they try to live that ideal.'”
· Chai Feldblum, a gay activist and law professor at Georgetown Law Center, believes otherwise. “If your worldview is different, as in fact is my worldview — which is that sexuality is a wonderful thing and can best be expressed with a person of the same gender — that is the reality for the individual,” she said. “So it all depends on the initial world view of sexuality.”
June 13 for a symposium at the George Washington University Law School to hear a panel of lawyers and scholars wrestle with the constitutional and moral issues implicit in the Tufts controversy.
IV. Current Options & Possibilities: Change/Cure, Relapse and Recovery
· Other counseling/therapy–Counseling centers
· Christian support groups–Exodus-national affiliates, Living Hope (Dallas) etc.
· Relapse and continued recovery are a normal part of any process involving change. Why should same-sex sexual desires/feelings or behaviors be any different?
V. Conclusions and Summary
Change and choice have both been witnessed to and experienced by members of the self-identified “homosexual community” and by ex-gays from many diverse secular and religious backgrounds. Therefore, it seems reasonable to conclude that both choice and change are not only possible but also true. Neither modern psychiatry and psychology or scientific research and personal experience contradict the veracity of this claim.
For this reason, those having same-sex sexual attractions and behavior and/or practicing same-sex sexual behavior can, if they so choose, experience change both in their feelings and behavior.
However, just because change is possible, this should not make us either angry or smug. We must never forget we are talking about real people with real feelings and people are important and to be valued.
But why? We have ample illustration from history and even from the 911 that this is not universally held. The question really is: Do all people have a personal and individual dignity and are they to be valued and accorded respect? If so, why? It is obvious that those who flew the jetliners into the WTC and into the Pentagon did not believe that. And, to the extent that we are engaged in bombing Afghanistan, we too, make certain exceptions.
Was what happened on 911 really evil and morally wrong? The Taliban, certain Muslim factions and those belonging to al-Queda don’t believe it. In fact, they have said it was an honorable thing? Are we simply talking about differing individual beliefs or are we really asking the question, “Is there anything in the universe that is really True for all of us in the area of morals whether it is believed or not?”
While much different issue, the questions regarding sexual morality and sexual behavior are much the same. Is there anything that is really True, whether we believe it or not or practice it or not?
Now, I am going to get into trouble and welcome your critique, criticism and even possibly civil rage. It seems to me that the Judeo-Christian perspective alone gives a reasonable explanation and justification for valuing all humankind. The Judeo-Christian tradition holds that each of us, fallen as we are, have been created by God who has both revealed Himself and who can be known, and we bear the image of God, with the result that all human beings are His offspring, as the Apostle Paul noted in Acts 17. Only within the Judeo-Christian tradition, is it God Himself who redeems. This is because though created in His image, we are fallen creatures in need of salvation. Other religions have neither this concept of our fallenness together with a common dignity and worth before God as the foundation of their beliefs. And, this brings us back to worldview and individual beliefs. I welcome your questions.
A great many of those who ‘debunk’ traditional…values have in the background values of their own which they believe to be immune from the debunking process.”
–C. S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man