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December 8th, 2013
The Persistence Of The Closet
by Bruce |
Via John Becker at Bilerico, I see this New York Times article on that age old preoccupation of the heterosexual majority, How Many American Men Are Gay?
What percent of American men are gay? This question is notoriously difficult to answer. Historical estimates range from about 2 percent to 10 percent. But somewhere in the exabytes of data that human beings create every day are answers to even the most challenging questions…
While none of these data sources are ideal, they combine to tell a consistent story.
This is probably where the answers come from, finally. Because it was true before Stonewall, it was true in the post Stonewall gay lib phase, and it’s still true now, that many gay people will simply not tell even anonymous surveys the truth about themselves, let alone tell themselves the truth…
Additional evidence that suggests that many gay men in intolerant states are deeply in the closet comes from a surprising source: the Google searches of married women. It turns out that wives suspect their husbands of being gay rather frequently. In the United States, of all Google searches that begin “Is my husband…,” the most common word to follow is “gay.” “Gay” is 10 percent more common in such searches than the second-place word, “cheating.” It is 8 times more common than “an alcoholic” and 10 times more common than “depressed.”
Searches questioning a husband’s sexuality are far more common in the least tolerant states…in fact, in 21 of the 25 states where this question is most frequently asked, support for gay marriage is lower than the national average.
This is unbearably sad. I’ve said before that for a lot of gay people in my generation it will always be a time before Stonewall. But it’s Still happening. And unsurprisingly, it’s happening where the ideal of married life is being systematically denied to gay people.
How I escaped this trap is part of the story I’m telling in A Coming Out Story. But I came out into a world where the soulmate, the beautiful lifelong love story, was almost impossible to find. I still haven’t found it and now I’m 60, and looking at the end of a lifetime of being alone, not having that intimate other. And that was not, as the stereotype would have you believe, because gay culture was and is obsessed with casual no-strings attachment free sex, but because so many gay men who would have been searching for the same things I was, were instead desperately searching for a way not to be gay.
We were taught…By The Righteous…to believe that homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex. And for many gay men as it also is for many heterosexual men, that’s just dandy. But for others it meant, and still means, “a huge amount of secret suffering”. We believed because we were taught…By The Good People, the Decent Upstanding Citizens we looked up to…that homosexuality was a tragic psychological perversion, a denial of normal healthy functioning heterosexuality. We were taught, not by gay culture but by heterosexual culture…that to be a homosexual was to be trapped in a hopeless cycle of empty sex searching for fulfillment we would never find. We were weak contemptible faggots, or we were dangerous sexual psychopaths. What we never were was people in love. The first crush, the first date, the prom, the Big Question. None of it was ours to have. Homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex.
For some people that life of casual sex and serial loves is just fine. They live, they love, they go their separate ways, they remember fondly and are remembered fondly. But other hearts have other needs. And for those, to be told that the One Love, the soulmate, the intimate other, is not possible, is a heartache that never heals. It is always there, just below the surface. You would do anything to make it not so. Because without that intimate other, life is so very very desperately lonely.
…in 21 of the 25 states where this question is most frequently asked, support for gay marriage is lower than the national average.
So many hearts that could have found their beloved other, instead locked themselves in the closet and watched their love lives wither away to graveyard dust all the same. But at least nobody knew their terrible secret…that their desires were foul, that they were unfit for love. So many hearts turned finally to stone, so the righteous could make their stepping stones to heaven out of our dreams of love.
November 8th, 2013
by Bruce |
This came across my Facebook stream just now…
At 16 I thought being attracted to guys was just a phase. By 18 I’d pretty much figured out that thinking it was a phase was the phase.
June 26th, 2013
Too Young To Know?
by Bruce |
This came across my news feed this morning…
Joshua’s mother, Beatrice Padilla, said, “I always knew in my heart he was going to grow up to be gay.” That didn’t mean, however, she was prepared to learn that day had arrived when her son was in just the fifth grade.
When the boy timidly asked, “Is there something wrong with me?” though, she rallied:
“You eat like everyone else, you sleep like everyone else, you go to school like everyone else. You’re no different,” she said.
He’s now 15 and says that while he never doubted his mother would be supportive, “I don’t think telling a parent at any age gets any easier.”
This is such an old story and I have heard it told and retold among gay people ever since I can remember: I knew I was different in some fundamental way even then, I just didn’t have the words to express it… I don’t think there is a single one of us who hasn’t heard it over and over and over. It’s my truth too. In first grade I knew I liked guys in some distinct way that set me apart from the others and that if I talked about it too much I would get in trouble.
But blabber mouth little young me couldn’t always keep it in. I remember being teased once by my other classmates about a girl and getting pissed off about it I blurted out that I didn’t like girls, and one of the girls said, “Oh, then you like boys I guess.” and everyone laughed.
I blushed. Fiercely. Which only made them laugh more. Everyone has these school days memories they would rather forget.
February 19th, 2013
You Keep Using That Word…
by Bruce |
“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
-Inigo Montoya, “The Princess Bride”
Here’s another word people keep using: Homosexual.
So I’m seeing the chatter about how this new Gallup poll (you know…the folks who did so well predicting the outcome of the last election…), gives us a more accurate figure for the percentage of gay people in America than Kinsey’s ten percent, and I can only conclude they aren’t paying attention to what they’re reading, don’t understand where that ten percent figure came from and/or what the Kinsey scale actually was.
Kinsey’s scale of zero through six, where zero (exclusively heterosexual) and six (exclusively homosexual) described the sexual behavior of his subjects over the previous three years of their lives, based on extensive face to face interviews with them. The report stated that ten percent of American males were “more or less exclusively homosexual for at least three years between the ages of 16 and 55″ by grouping the percentages of the five (Predominantly homosexual, only incidentally heterosexual) and six positions on the scale together to come up with that ten percent figure. Later gay rights activists used this to claim that ten percent of the population is homosexual.
That’s an arguable, but perfectly defensible claim based on Kinsey’s data which, again, came from subjects who were only asked about their actual sexual behavior for the previous three years. But it is measuring a different thing than Gallup asked, which was…
“Do you, personally, identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender?”
See the difference? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
The problem has always been the percentage of people who are homosexual you get in any given study depends on how the people who did the study define what “homosexual” is. It seems so clear cut and obvious on the surface of it and yet different people, even in all intellectual honesty about it, have different definitions…let alone those who want to marginalize us when it’s convenient (their numbers are too small for society to cater to their whims), and exaggerate our numbers when convenient (nearly all child molesters are homosexuals…it’s how they perpetuate themselves since they can’t reproduce…).
At this stage in my life, after all I’ve seen of this world, I am still comfortable with that ten percent figure. But I’m calling it desire, not necessarily how someone behaves or how they self identify. I Know people, and so do many of us who are gay, who would fit comfortably in either that Kinsey five or six position and yet would nonetheless have assured Gallup that they were heterosexual. It’s called “The Closet” and a lot of people are still in it….some still in denial, some not. In my generation and earlier especially, you see a lot of gay men who married young, as a way of turning themselves straight. Some of these have remained in those marriages, living behind that mask still, after all that has passed by them in the struggle, and I can’t find it in my heart to blame them for that. They love their wives very much. Add to that those of us who are out in various stages, even out to everyone they know and work with, and who would be unwilling to answer that question from a stranger.
I still think ten percent is probably right. But even those of us who are militantly out and proud don’t always seem so to the passing stranger. There is no gay lifestyle. You likely won’t know unless you are close enough to a person to know, and even then you might not. And still, even today, many people simply don’t want to know it about themselves. It does not surprise me either that perhaps only three to four percent rather than ten are willing to live openly just as they are, and fight the fight for our human dignity that still needs fighting.
“Do you, personally, identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender”, is a question worth asking of course, and maybe someday better researchers than the louts at Gallup will ask that question. But it’s really not the point. The word does not mean that.
April 6th, 2012
Today In News You Probably Didn’t Know Was Old News
by Bruce |
I am reminded of a colleague who reiterated, “all my homosexual patients
are quite sick”, to which I finally replied “so are all my heterosexual patients.”
-Ernest van den Haag, psychotherapist
There is nothing wrong with homosexuals. That is a simple statement of fact. Not opinion. Fact. Well researched, well established, scientific fact. And it has been well established fact for quite a very long time. If you were born in the 1960s or later, then this fact is older then you are.
Jim Burroway over at Box Turtle Bulletin writes…
Study of 100 Homosexuals: 1957. There had been a string of high profile arrests of very prominent and well-known men in Britain in the early 1950s, including Lord Montagu, his cousin, Maj. Michael Pitt-Rivers, and journalist Peter Wildeblood, all of whom had been charged and convicted of homosexual offenses. Their arrests opened the debate over whether homosexual acts between consenting adults should remain criminalized.
So in 1954 a study was convened under the leadership of Lord Wolfenden whose name would later be attached to a report recommending the complete decriminalization of homosexual relationships among consenting adults in Britain. And how did they come to this conclusion? Well they didn’t consult the bible, and they didn’t ask the prejudices of their day. They did something positively unique for that day when it came to the subject of homosexuality.
They looked for evidence.
One problem with the published research on gay men was that virtually all of it was based on clinical or criminal populations, which Curran and Parr acknowledged would not necessarily be representative of the general population of gay men. In their report, they acknowledged that their sample would likely exhibit higher rates of psychiatric problems or criminal recidivism. But when they looked into the files of these 100 men who had been referred to their practice, the authors observed:
…[I]n spite of the probability that any group of homosexuals referred to a psychiatrist might be expected to be heavily weighted in the direction of psychiatric abnormality, no fewer than 51 % were considered to be free from gross personality disorder, neurosis, or psychosis during their adult lives. Only one was certifiably defective and none certifiably insane. They included a number of important and talented individuals of high integrity, successful, efficient, and respected members of the community. Only two had been on any criminal charge other than homosexuality. Very few showed the traditional “pansy” picture of homosexuals; indeed, only 21 were noted to have at all obvious homosexual personality traits, only one of these being a paedophiliac.
So in spite of their having difficulty recruiting a completely representative sample of gay men, in spite of their sample being weighted toward mental patents and criminals, they found less mental aberration then they would have otherwise expected. In fact slightly better then half their sample showed no signs of gross mental illness at all.
Only half the patients showed significant psychiatric abnormality other than their sexual deviation, and such associated abnormalities were often slight. Moreover, many of these abnormalities were explicable as a reaction to the difficulties of being homosexual. Symptomatic homosexuality was rare.
And then it gets down to brass tacks. Is homosexuality a disease? Is this even a problem?
If homosexuality is a disease (as has often been suggested), it is in a vast number of cases monosymptomatic, non-progressive, and compatible with subjective well-being and objective efficiency. In our series, both practicing and non-practicing homosexuals were on the whole successful and valuable members of society, quite unlike the popular conception of such persons as vicious, criminal, effete, or depraved. Only one-fifth were at all obviously ” pansy,” and we found no reason to regard most of the patients as physically, intellectually, or emotionally immature (unless the basic criterion for ” immaturity” is that of being homosexual-a circular argument).
What they’re saying here is that if homosexuality is a disease then its one that has only one symptom (homosexuality) does not get worse if untreated, and does not negatively impact the overall health and well being of the individual who has it. Really…can you even call it a disease in that case?
This is similar to what American researcher Evelyn Hooker in her 1957 paper The Adjustment of the Male Overt Homosexual found: well adjusted homosexuals are clinically indistinguishable from well adjusted heterosexuals. From her Wiki entry…
She gathered two groups of men: one group would be exclusively homosexual, the other exclusively heterosexual. She contacted the Mattachine Society to find homosexual men. She had greater difficulty finding heterosexual men. She also had to use her home to conduct the interview to protect people’s anonymity…
Hooker realized that all extant science on homosexuality consisted of studies conducted on homosexual men who had already been committed to mental institutions or imprisoned for sexual offenses. Her experiment was simple and elegant and beautiful in the way all great science is simple and elegant and beautiful.
She recruited two groups of sexually active young men, one gay and one straight. From both groups she eliminated anyone who had ever been in therapy or trouble with the law. Then she gave each group a battery of what were then standard clinical psychiatric tests…
Hooker used three different psychological tests for her study: the TAT, the Make-a-Picture-Story test (MAPS test), and the Rorschach inkblot test.
She used trained professionals who were skilled in administering each of the tests. The testers did not know whether they were testing a homosexual man or a heterosexual. When she got the results back she further anonymized them so nobody looking at the tests could tell who administered the test. Standard double-blind technique.
Then she did something simple and beautiful…
After a year of work, Hooker presented a team of 3 expert evaluators with 60 unmarked psychological profiles.
…she passed the results out to the experts and asked them if they could identify the homosexuals.
No one could.
First, she contacted Bruno Klopfer, an expert on Rorschach tests to see if he would be able to identify the sexual orientation of people through their results at those tests. His ability to differentiate was no better than chance.
Then Edwin Shneidman, creator of the MAPS test, also analyzed the 60 profiles. It took him six months and he too found that both groups were highly similar in their psychological make-up.
The third expert was Dr Mortimer Mayer who was so certain he would be able to tell the two groups apart that he went through the process twice.
The three evaluators agreed that in terms of adjustment, there were no differences between the members of each group
Well adjusted homosexuals are clinically indistinguishable from well adjusted heterosexuals. This was what the Wolfsden researchers also found. And this is what everyone who objectively studies gay people has found ever since.
The experiment, which other researchers subsequently repeated, demonstrates that most self-identified homosexuals are no worse in social adjustment than the general population
When you study sick homosexuals, people who have already been committed to mental institutions or sent to jail for sex crimes, then what you find are sick homosexuals. But if you did the same thing with heterosexuals, only studying those in mental institutions or jail, you would also conclude the same about heterosexuals and nobody does that. The Christianist web site Lifesite tries to downplay Hooker’s study thusly…
Despite the fact that the purpose of the study was ostensibly to examine the possibility of mental instability in homosexuals, individuals who showed signs of mental instability were removed from the groups, which further predetermined the study’s conclusion.
But that was the point. If homosexuality was the result of mental dysfunction, as NARTH and their companions in the anti-gay industrial complex insist, then removing the individuals who showed signs of mental instability would have made not a whit of difference in the outcome. The experts Hooker contacted to evaluate her test results would have still been able to identify the homosexuals because homosexuals are mentally unstable, whether they show it outwardly or not. That the experts could not identify the homosexuals with those mentally unstable individuals removed proved decisively that the old models of homosexuality were wrong.
I am reminded of a colleague who reiterated, “all my homosexual patients are quite sick”, to which I finally replied “so are all my heterosexual patients”…
“If homosexuality is a disease (as has often been suggested), it is in a vast number of cases monosymptomatic, non-progressive, and compatible with subjective well-being and objective efficiency. In our series, both practicing and non-practicing homosexuals were on the whole successful and valuable members of society, quite unlike the popular conception of such persons as vicious, criminal, effete, or depraved”…
“The three evaluators agreed that in terms of adjustment, there were no differences between the members of each group”…
Understand this if you understand nothing else about the anti-gay industrial complex: this is knowledge that is over a half century old now. There is nothing new here. Most of the people reading this post will have been born after modern science clearly and unambiguously established this fact: there is nothing wrong with homosexuals. This has been understood in the science for over half a century.
November 14th, 2011
Choice: Six Of One, Half Dozen Of The Other
by Bruce |
On Towleroad today I see that James Hormel has a new book out about his time as ambassador, and he’s apparently making the TV rounds promoting it. I also see that he’s making the same mistake a lot of very well meaning people make when it comes to the nature of bigotry…
James Hormel, who was appointed United States Ambassador to Luxembourg by President Bill Clinton in 1999, and was the first openly gay ambassador ever to serve, spoke with ABC News about his new book Fit to Serve, as well as DOMA, and what he sees as the #1 problem for LGBT rights today.
Says Hormel: “The number one problem today as I see it is that people think that being gay is a matter of choice, and they somehow distinguish gay people as having made a choice to be tormented by their society.”
Hormel calls DOMA “the most heinous piece of civil rights legislation in a century.”
Yes about DOMA, no about whether people think being gay is a choice. Look…nobody questions the fact that race isn’t a choice and that has never made racists question their racism as far as I can tell. Hell…they have their own junk science industry proving that blacks are genetically inferior so prejudice against them is morally justified…
When the New Republic devoted almost an entire issue (10/31/94) to a debate with the authors of The Bell Curve, editor Andrew Sullivan justified the decision by writing, “The notion that there might be resilient ethnic differences in intelligence is not, we believe, an inherently racist belief.”
In fact, the idea that some races are inherently inferior to others is the definition of racism. What the New Republic was saying–along with other media outlets that prominently and respectfully considered the thesis of Charles Murray and the late Richard Herrnstein’s book–is that racism is a respectable intellectual position, and has a legitimate place in the national debate on race.
-FAIR, Racism Resurgent, January/February 1995
When the day comes that sexual orientation is generally seen as biologically innate, the homophobes will simply shift gears and start babbling about how homosexuality is a genetic deficiency that makes us unfit for…well…everything. The nature verses nurture argument is a distraction. The reason some people are homosexual does not matter to bigots. They just hate us. That hate is what comes first. The justification for it comes later, and takes whatever shape the bigot needs it to have to justify that preexisting hate.
All everyone else needs to see about our lives is that we are as human as they. That we love, we cherish, we long and we need, just as they do. Once they see that, once they can look at a same-sex couple and see in that couple’s happiness their own, it won’t matter to them why we mate to our own instead of the opposite sex. That’s the problem. Not the Nature verses Nurture debate, but the lie that homosexuals don’t love, they just have sex. That is what we have to kill. And we do it by living our lives openly, by resisting the pressure hate brings to bear upon our lives to stay hidden. Bigots we will never change. But every moment we live our lives openly so that we can be seen as neighbors and not some strange alien other, we defeat hate.
October 12th, 2011
Just A Thought…
by Bruce |
If you really think having sex is like farting, might I suggest you’re doing it wrong.
October 11th, 2011
I Was Not Put On This Earth To Live Anyone’s Life But My Own
by Bruce |
October 10th, 2011
Conversation With A Happily Married Man
by Bruce |
The Scene: A table in an upscale restaurant located in a trendy vacation resort. Two old friends are sitting across from each other. One openly gay since he was seventeen, the other a Happily Married Man having long since overcome the unwanted same-sex attractions of his youth. They are discussing Openly Gay Friend’s problems finding someone to love and settle down with. Happily Married Man is finding it hard to believe that Openly Gay Friend has been single and struggling all these years.
Happily Married Man: Don’t you have any gay friends?
Openly Gay Friend: Oh yes. About half my friends are gay. I have a regular Happy Hour crowd I try to go out with every Friday. It gets me out of the house.
Happily Married Man: How long have you known them?
Openly Gay Friend: Oh, most of them since the mid-eighties…
Happily Married Man: Wow…I can’t believe they haven’t tried to hook you up. Didn’t they ever even try?
Openly Gay Friend: Oh get me started…there was this one time…
Happily Married Man: You need to get some better friends!
Openly Gay Friend: They’re nice people. I think they just don’t get me…they just don’t get romantic types. They think I should just go get laid and that’ll make me feel better. They don’t get how random loveless sex might make someone like me feel a whole lot worse afterward, not better.
Happily Married Man: You need to get some better friends!
Openly Gay Friend: I want you to understand something…that isn’t just a gay thing. If I was straight and my happy hour group was a bunch of other straight guys I’d be getting the same advice. Just go get laid and you’ll be fine. The cure for every lonely heart is to just get laid. The popular culture pays a bunch of lip service to the idea of love and romance, but it’s all about just having sex in the straight scene too.
Happily Married Man: Sex is overrated…
Openly Gay Friend: I’m not saying that…
Happily Married Man: It’s just a bodily function.
Openly Gay Friend: Uhm…
Happily Married Man (emphatically): When you’re on your death bed it won’t be the times you had sex you’ll be remembering, but all the people you loved.
Openly Gay Friend: Yes…absolutely! That is so very true. But I would want my last memory to be the times I spent laying down with the one I loved. That one special body and soul relationship…that’s what you would be remembering. At least I would…if I’d ever had that. (looks wistfully at Happily Married Man, then looks away) But your life is what it is…
Happily Married Man (rolling his eyes): Stop whining….
Openly Gay Friend: I’m not whining…
Happily Married Man: You’re whining. You have to work with what you’ve got to work with and accept that. Stop thinking about what ifs. Sex is overrated…
Openly Gay Friend: Well yes, I agree completely that it isn’t all there is to life, but it’s still important…
Happily Married Man: It’s like a fart.
Openly Gay Friend: I’m sorry?
Happily Married Man: This may sound strange but think about it. It stinks for a little while, and then it’s gone.
(Openly Gay Friend looks blankly back at Happily Married Man)
Happily Married Man: Sex is like that.
Openly Gay Friend: Uhm…it helps if you’re having sex with a person you’re sexually attracted to. (ironically) Then it’s actually a lot of fun…more engaging…more satisfying…(looks Happily Married Man in the eyes) and it makes a whole lot more sense that way. You kinda understand then why everyone else is so into it.
Happily Married Man: You’re a piece of work…you know that? Well it’s getting late and I have to go home now. I’m a happily married man.
Openly Gay Friend (unhappily): So I see. And I’m still single and unhappy. And for gay men of our generation it will always be a time before Stonewall won’t it?
Happily Married Man: Stonewall?
(This was mostly a real conversation. Some lines were edited for brevity, and Openly Gay Friend didn’t actually say his last two lines to Happily Married Man because just then his head was spinning. But now he wishes he had.)
June 8th, 2011
Born In The Blood Of Innocents
by Bruce |
I just have one comment to make on the unfolding story of Kirk Murphy. This can’t be shouted out loudly enough: The subject of this study, which formed much of the basis for the ex-gay movement’s claim to scientific legitimacy, killed himself and his therapy so deeply wounded his family they are still, decades later, suffering from it.
The Ex-Gay movement was born in the blood of innocents. In his book, Anything But Straight, Wayne talks about the formation of the very first ex-gay ministry, Love In Action, its first clients, and how one of them, Jack McIntyre, chose to end his life rather then keep failing at becoming heterosexual.
In 1973 John Evans, who is gay, and Rev. Kent Philpott, who is heterosexual, co-founded the original “ex-gay” ministry, Love In Action on the outskirts of San Francisco. Philpott soon wrote The Third Sex?, the first ever “ex-gay” book which touted six people who supposedly converted to heterosexuality through prayer.
Although time eventually revealed no one in his book actually had changed, the people reading it had no idea the stories were fallacious. As far as they knew, there was a magical place in California that had figured out the secret for making gays into straights. Inspired by his book, a few enthusiastic individuals spontaneously began their own “ex-gay” ministries.
Evans, however, denounced the program he co-founded after his best friend Jack McIntyre committed suicide in despair over not being able to “change”…
McIntyre wrote a suicide note. If the ex-gay movement could be said to have a heart and soul, here it is:
TO: Those left with the question, why did he do it?
I loved life and all that it had to offer to me each day.
I loved my job and my clients.
I loved my friends and thank God for each one of them.
I loved my little house and would not have wanted to live anywhere else.
All this looks like the perfect life. Yet, I must not let this shadow the problem that I have in my life. At one time, not to long ago, that was all that really mattered in my life. What pleased me and how it affected me. Now that I have turned my life over to the Lord and the changes came one by one, the above statements mean much more to me. I am pleased that I can say those statements with all the truth and honesty that is within me.
However, to make this short, I must confess that there were things in my life that I could not gain control, no matter how much I prayed and tried to avoid the temptation, I continually failed.
It is this constant failure that has made me make the decision to terminate my life here on earth. I do this with the complete understanding that life is not mine to take. I know that it is against the teachings of our Creator. No man is without sin, this I realise. I will cleanse myself of all sin as taught to me by His word. Yet, I must face my Lord with the sin of murder. I believe that Jesus died and paid the price for that sin too. I know that I shall have everlasting life with Him by departing this world now, no matter how much I love it, my friends, my family. If I remain it could possibly allow the devil the opportunity to lead me away from the Lord. I love life, but my love for the Lord is so much greater, the choice is simple.
I am not asking you to sanction my actions. That is not the purpose of my writing this at all. It is for the express purpose of allowing each one who will read this to know how I weighed things in my own mind. I don’t want you to think that, ‘I alone,’ should have been the perfect person, without sin. That would be ridiculous! It is the continuing lack of strength and/or obedience and/or will power to cast aside certain sins. To continually go before God and ask forgiveness and make promises you know you can’t keep is more than I can take. I feel it is making a mockery of God and all He stands for in my life.
Please know that I am extremely happy to be going to the Lord. He knows my heart and knows how much I love life and and all that it has to offer. But, He knows that I love Him more. That is why I believe that I will be with Him in Paradise.
I regret if I bring sorrow to those that are left behind. If you get your hearts in tune with the word of God you will be as happy about my ‘transfer’ as I am. I also hope that this answers sufficiently the question, why?
May God Have Mercy On My Soul.
A Brother & A Friend.
And as Wayne writes…
Still, Love in Action survived because many people who read The Third Sex? came to California in hopes of changing.
And George Rekers was still citing his success at fixing Kirk years after Kirk had taken his own life. When reporters caught up with him recently Rekers dismissed the idea that Kirk’s suicide could have had anything to do with the experimental gender identity therapy he’d inflicted upon the child. Oh no…that was years ago…
“That’s a long time ago, and to hypothesize, you have a hypothesis that positive treatment back in the 1970s has something to do with something happening decades later. That would, that hypothesis would need a lot of scientific investigation to see if it’s valid…”
More apparently, then the initial therapy got according to Jim Burroway who writes of his surprise that there was little to no independent verification of Reker’s claims. But according to his family Kirk was a troubled soul the rest of his life, though he had moments when it seemed he had made peace with himself. And it bears noting that the therapy deeply disturbed then, and continues to this day to disturb, his mother and his straight older brother, his sister being too young at the time to remember any of what happened.
“I do grieve for the parents now that you’ve told me that news. I think that’s very sad.” – George Rekers
Look carefully at this: Kirk was the patient who made Rekers’ career and he only just now learns of his suicide when CNN reporter tracked him down? Yes. Of course. He never stayed in touch, clearly and sickeningly never felt the slightest curiosity about how his most famous patient was doing. This is not science, it is politics. The client is not important. The client’s family is not important. It’s the message, that that there is no such thing as a homosexual only broken heterosexuals, that is important. Because inside that message is another: that homosexuals bring their own persecution upon themselves, since they can choose whenever they want to not be homosexual.
…no matter how much I prayed and tried to avoid the temptation, I continually failed… The Ex-Gay movement was born in the blood of innocents. It continues to destroy lives and wreak families with no more tangible regard from its leadership for the human toll now then in the moment of its birth. Their allegiance is to a higher agency. No…not God. The culture war. Failure is not a bug, it’s a feature. The scapegoat must hate themselves too.
August 6th, 2008
You Know…My Gaydar Maybe Wasn’t All That Bad After All…
by Bruce |
Misadventures in Atlanta
A Dating Scene Blog
Excuse me ma’am, but your husband is gay
When I moved to the South, I thought I lost an important tool: my gaydar. I routinely met men I believed were gay, only to discover they either only dated women or were married to them.
I mourned the loss of my sixth sense, but then a co-worker clued me in: Blanca, if you think they are gay, it’s likely because they Are.
Obviously this isn’t always true, but I’ve since learned that some of the couplings I questioned were indeed what I suspected.
As we all know, Atlanta has an expansive, vibrant and seemingly supportive gay community, but some men (and women) instead choose a traditional partnership with someone of the opposite sex. In some cases, their spouse knows, while in others it can either be a lifelong secret or a Jerry Springer episode…
In the case of people who go into these gay-straight marriages knowing what they’re doing, as opposed to being in denial about their sexual orientation, I’m willing to bet that it’s mostly a generational thing, with more older gay folk doing this then younger, and that it’s also mostly a bible-belt thing.
As I said in a previous post, I’ve had this track record in my dating life of falling for guys who later claimed to be completely, perfectly, absolutely heterosexual. Yet my shyness when it comes to dating nearly immobilizes me, and I am not one of those who likes to hit on straight guys by any means. And yes, there are gay guys like that. Think of it as the gay male version of a straight guy who thinks lesbians are hot. I am not anything like that guy. I need someone who is on the same page as me. Very much so. And between that and my shyness I have never, Never approached any guy who wasn’t pinging my gaydar pretty solidly…or so I thought at the time.
Yet I seemed to keep making the same mistake over and over again. So over the years I came to think that the problem is I have lousy gaydar. I began making jokes about how bad my it is. But now I look back over the course of my adult life and I realize that I have spent most of the waking hours in a week in the workplace with tons of heterosexuals. And when I look at how those heterosexuals relate to each other, verses the ersatz straight guys in my life, I have to wonder. Anyone who thinks that gay people, gay men in particular, are way more preoccupied with sex then heterosexuals are, is living in Fantasyland. The subtext between them is always there, just as it is between gay guys or lesbians…
Harry Burns: You realize of course that we could never be friends.
Sally Albright: Why not?
Harry Burns: What I’m saying is – and this is not a come-on in any way, shape or form – is that men and women can’t be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.
Sally Albright: That’s not true. I have a number of men friends and there is no sex involved.
Harry Burns: No you don’t.
Sally Albright: Yes I do.
Harry Burns: No you don’t.
Sally Albright: Yes I do.
Harry Burns: You only think you do.
Sally Albright: You say I’m having sex with these men without my knowledge?
Harry Burns: No, what I’m saying is they all WANT to have sex with you.
Sally Albright: They do not.
Harry Burns: Do too.
Sally Albright: They do not.
Harry Burns: Do too.
Sally Albright: How do you know?
Harry Burns: Because no man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive. He always wants to have sex with her.
Sally Albright: So, you’re saying that a man can be friends with a woman he finds unattractive?
Harry Burns: No. You pretty much want to nail ‘em too.
Sally Albright: What if THEY don’t want to have sex with YOU?
Harry Burns: Doesn’t matter because the sex thing is already out there so the friendship is ultimately doomed and that is the end of the story.
Sally Albright: Well, I guess we’re not going to be friends then.
Harry Burns: I guess not.
Sally Albright: That’s too bad. You were the only person I knew in New York.
-When Harry Met Sally
And it’s exactly that subtext, which I see all the time when I’m in a mixed company of straight men and women, that I just never pick up on in certain other contexts. Just as there is a difference between acting gay and being gay…
…there is a difference between acting and being straight.
Was I really mistaken about the sexual orientation of those guys I tried to date once upon a time? Or was it the nobility I thought I saw within them that I was mistaken about?
July 24th, 2008
The Difference Between Helping Children And Kicking Them In The Face
by Bruce |
PFOX, (Parents and Friends of eX-Gays), would have you believe it’s different from P-FLAG, (Parents and Friends of Gays), in that PFOX supports people who are "struggling with homosexuality" and P-FLAG does not. But that’s not it.
Here’s the difference:
Anti-Gay Distortions of Research
Take a look at this story at OneNewsNow, which begins:
Quoting a recent study, Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX) is warning of the increased risk of suicide that is linked with young people who identify themselves as homosexuals before achieving full maturity — a process encouraged by many homosexual high school clubs.
The study in question, as it turns out, is a seventeen year old work published in the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, back in June 1991. Not exactly recent…but never mind. What PFOX is saying there is that supporting gay teens as they come out to themselves puts them at risk of suicide. Their solution?
Schools should not be encouraging teens to self-identify as gays, bisexuals or transgendered persons before they have matured. Sexual attractions are fluid and do not take on permanence until early adulthood. Rather than affirming teenagers as ‘gay’ through self-labeling, educators should affirm them as people worthy of respect and encourage teens to wait until adulthood before making choices about their sexuality. If teens are encouraged to believe that they are permanently ‘gay’ before they have had a chance to reach adulthood, their life choices are severely restricted and can result in depression.
So says PFOX Executive Director Regina Griggs. Note the doublespeak there about affirming them as "people worthy of respect". But how much respect is it, to tell a kid gay kid they don’t have to be gay if they don’t want to? Look again, at what came slyly out of the other side of her mouth there…
Sexual attractions are fluid and do not take on permanence until early adulthood.
Thats religious rightspeak for There Is No Such Thing As A Homosexual. Don’t believe me? Look again…
If teens are encouraged to believe that they are permanently ‘gay’ before they have had a chance to reach adulthood, their life choices are severely restricted and can result in depression.
Permanently ‘gay’. Note both the quotes around the word gay and the word permanently preceding it. You don’t have to be gay if you don’t want to. Change is possible. This is what PFOX wants teachers to tell the gay kids that come out to them, and/or to their peers. Griggs is sliding that under the radar their, in a cotton candy cloud of PFAUX respect. But in today’s hostile school environment, where the word Gay has itself become a generic put-down among school kids, a kid who comes out, almost certainly already knows how impossible change actually is for them.
And that has consequences.
But leaving aside the fact that a 17 year old study was cited as "recent" and was cited as evidence against the existence of GSA clubs, which didn’t exist at the time of the study, this argument also makes a causal claim that can’t be justified by the study itself (see the full text of the study here).
First of all, they make no distinction at all between correlation and causation. If a higher percentage of those who self-identify as gay or bisexual early attempt suicide compared to those who self-identify later, is that a causal relationship or might both factors be effects of some other cause? Griggs makes no attempt to analyze this, it is enough for her that there is a correlation.
It never occurs to Griggs that those who attempt suicide soon after self-identifying as gay do so because that is when they first become aware that their identity is in such stark conflict with societal expectations. As any gay person can tell you, the initial coming out period is the most difficult because it often leads to serious conflicts with friends and family (and that was even more true in 1991 than it is today). She also ignores all of the other far more important risk factors that are obviously more likely to be causal. The study notes:
In 44% of cases, subjects attributed suicide attempts to "family problems," including conflict with family members and parents’ marital discord, divorce, or alcoholism. One third of attempts were related to personal or interpersonal turmoil regarding homosexuality. Almost one third of subjects made their first suicide attempt in the same year that they identified themselves as bisexual or homosexual. Overall, three fourths of all first attempts temporally followed self-labeling. Other common precipitants were depression (30%), conflict with peers (22%), problems in a romantic relationship (19%), and dysphoria associated with personal substance abuse (15%).
There are far more serious risk factors for suicide in the study, all of which are ignored by Griggs and PFOX. For instance, 61% of those who attempt suicide were sexually abused, while only 29% of those who did not attempt suicide were sexually abused. There’s an obvious causal factor. Those who attempted suicide also reported much higher rates of friendship loss due to being gay, drug use and having been arrested. Again, these are far more rationally viewed as causal factors in suicide than the age at which one self-identifies. Griggs ignores all of this because it doesn’t fit her ideological preferences.
But to call it ‘ideological’ ennobles it. This isn’t ideology, it’s hate. A hate so bottomless it will cheerfully let children kill themselves rather then allow them to have the support they need at that critical moment in their lives. What Griggs is saying there to kids, stripped of its PFAUX respect, is that thinking you are gay will make you kill yourself. That is, seriously, the message they want kids who are just coming into puberty and feeling same sex desire for the first time in their lives to hear, and internalize. These feelings are going to make me kill myself. And when they can’t stop themselves from having those feelings, feelings they’ve never had before, feelings that seem to come out of nowhere whenever an attractive classmate walks by, feelings that they have no control over whatsoever, what do you think is going to happen?
Here’s what: Griggs will cheerfully blame those of us who want gay kids to feel good about themselves when those kids take Griggs message, that thinking you are gay makes you want to kill yourself, to heart and actually do it.
And there is the essential difference between P-FLAG and PFOX. One group supports gay people. The other, ex-gays. And it doesn’t get any more ex then dead.
[Edited a tad for clarity...]
September 5th, 2007
by Bruce |
I always knew this…
Sexual Orientation Revealed by Body Type and Motion, Study Suggests
An individual’s body motion and body type can offer subtle cues about their sexual orientation, but casual observers seem better able to read those cues in gay men than in lesbians, according to a new study in the September issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
"We already know that men and women are built differently and walk differently from each other and that casual observers use this information as clues in making a range of social judgments," said lead author Kerri Johnson, UCLA assistant professor of communication studies. "Now we’ve found that casual observers can use gait and body shape to judge whether a stranger is gay or straight with a small but perceptible amount of accuracy."
Johnson and colleagues at New York University and Texas A&M measured the hips, waists and shoulders of eight male and eight female volunteers, half of whom were gay and half straight. The volunteers then walked on a treadmill for two minutes as a three-dimensional motion-capture system similar to those used by the movie industry to create animated figures from living models made measurements of the their motions, allowing researchers to track the precise amount of shoulder swagger and hip sway in their gaits.
Based on these measurements, the researchers determined that the gay subjects tended to have more gender-incongruent body types than their straight counterparts (hourglass figures for men, tubular bodies for women) and body motions (hip-swaying for men, shoulder-swaggering for women) than their straight counterparts.
In addition, 112 undergraduate observers were shown videos of the backsides of the volunteers as they walked at various speeds on the treadmill. The observers were able to determine the volunteers’ sexual orientation with an overall rate of accuracy that exceeded chance, even though they could not see the volunteers’ faces or the details of their clothing. Interestingly, the casual observers were much more accurate in judging the orientation of males than females; they correctly categorized the sexual orientation of men with more than 60 percent accuracy, but their categorization of women did not exceeded chance.
Emphasis mine. Why am I not asked to participate in experiments like these? This is the one area where my weak gaydar seems to work most reliably. I love to watch beautiful guys walk. There’s just something about the sight of the male body in motion. And in the gait, sometimes, I can just see it. Some guys just have a more beautiful, or at least a more attractive to my my eye, gait then others. The gay ones. Makes my heart beat.
There’s this Bob Segar song… I realize that, according to the story, he’s singing about about a specific person…but ever since it started playing on the radio, whenever I hear it I just mentally flip a pronoun and rock to it…
But oh, they love to watch him strut…
The play on words about how they all respect her, but…doesn’t quite work with the male pronoun so I end up mentally adjusting the lyrics further as the song goes on. But I seldom pay that much attention to the lyrics of a rock song anyway…it’s about the music, and the music of that particular song is just about right for watching beautiful guys walking. And sometimes you just find yourself following along…er…you know…to the rhythm of it…
But there’s a disquieting side to all this, that you also need to pay attention to…
The findings build on recent research that shows that casual observers can often correctly identify sexual orientation with very limited information. A 1999 Harvard study, for example, found that just by looking at the photographs of seated strangers, college undergraduates were able to judge sexual orientation accurately 55 percent of the time.
"Studies like ours are raising questions about the value of the military’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy," Johnson said. "If casual observers can determine sexual orientation with minimal information, then the value in concealing this information certainly appears questionable. Given that we all appear to be able to deduce this information to some degree with just a glance, more comprehensive policies may be required to protect gays against discrimination based on their sexual orientation."
The findings also are part of mounting evidence suggesting that sexual orientation may actually be what social scientists call a "master status category," or a defining characteristic that observers cannot help but notice and which has been scientifically shown to color all subsequent social dealings with others.
"Once you know a person’s sexual orientation, the fact has consequences for all subsequent interactions, and our findings suggest that this category of information can be deduced from subtle clues in body movement," Johnson said.
A lot of gay guys,,,myself included…just assume most of the time that we’re not really all that "obvious". In particular, those of us who grew up being fed a lot of stereotypes about swishing and limp wrists and lisping and that kind of crap, tend to assume that to the degree we don’t fit the stereotype, we’re probably passing. Well guys…it looks like they can see right through us anyway.
And in a world that’s been so relentlessly polarized, gays so relentlessly demonized by this kind of republican party crap…
…that can have, as the article points out, consequences.
Have you ever had a business interaction that all of a sudden just turned negative and you couldn’t quite put your finger on why? You’re talking to a clerk at a store somewhere, or trying to arrange to have some professional come and do some work on your house, or your car, or whatever, and suddenly they turn all cold and contemptuous and suddenly find a million excuses why they can’t sell you what you were looking for, or do the work for you that you need done? I’ve had that happen over and over again and usually I put it down to being a longhair in bluejeans and sneakers, and the lingering resentment some folks still feel toward the 60s counter-culture. But what if it really is homophobia?
It’s all too easy to fall into the suffocating trap of putting every negative reaction down to prejudice against gay people. But there’s another side to that coin and it’s called denial. I don’t think I have any obvious effeminacy to me, I’m no macho guy by any means, but I’ve always pictured myself internally as pretty much an average middle class, suburban American guy. Okay…so I don’t much care for sports. I love fast cars, firecrackers, and hard rock. I am a stereotypical male in so many ways, some pretty embarrassing. No…I don’t ask for directions. I hate shopping for clothes. Weekends when I’m cleaning house, I am always scolding myself for not picking up after myself like I should.
But maybe none of that matters anyway. Maybe none of it ever mattered. The clues are subtler, and they’re hard wired into us. The way we talk, the way we move, even according to this 60 minutes article, the way we sit…
Bailey and his colleagues set up a series of experiments in his lab at Northwestern University. In one study, researcher Gerulf Rieger videotaped gay and straight people sitting in a chair, talking. He then reduced them visually to silent black and white outlined figures and asked volunteers to see if they could tell gay from straight. The idea was to find out if certain stereotypes were real and observable.
Based on physical movement and gestures of the figures, more often than not, the volunteers in the study could tell a difference.
You can be flaming and you can be quiet and reserved and it doesn’t matter. You can be fabulous and you can be a geek whose clothes never seem to fit quite right and it doesn’t matter. The people we interact with on a daily basis may never even be aware consciously what it is they’re picking up on. They just know, somehow, that they’re dealing with a homosexual. And that can have consequences. Especially after so many elections where gay people were painted as the demons who were going to take over America, prey on children, spread AIDS and destroy marriage and family if the democrats won.
July 25th, 2007
Trapped In The Left-Handed Lifestyle
by Bruce |
Historically and linguistically, being left-handed has long been associated with the mark of the devil. In Latin, the word "sinister" means "left." In French, it is "gauche" – a far worse sin in France than being sinister, no doubt.
There is the left-handed compliment, which is no compliment at all; the bad guy was made to sit at the left hand of God; and there has been a higher than average number of left-handed, insane villains like Jack the Ripper and the Boston Strangler.
-Beth Quinn – Good News From The Left-Handed Liberation Front
Sin. Sinister. Left-Handed. We don’t have to imagine a religion that regards left handedness as a mark of the devil, because it existed. Perhaps in some corners of the human world, it still exists. And some of us of my generation don’t have to imagine what reparative therapy for left-handedness would look like, because we have seen it with our own eyes.
The myths and superstitions surrounding left handedness were almost completely dead, at least in the United States, when I entered grade school back in 1959. But they hadn’t died out completely. I’m old enough to remember watching two teachers tie a classmate’s left arm to his side after he was caught writing something with his left hand.
They did it at the kid’s parent’s request, and they were not brutal about it. It wasn’t like they were binding him tightly or anything. The thinking was that if you just train a kid to use their right hand early enough, it would take and they wouldn’t be left handed anymore. It was a bit like putting something bitter on the thumb of a small child that won’t stop sucking their thumb. They just lightly tied a small strap around the kid’s waste and left arm, to prevent him from reflexively using his left hand to write with. The kid did not resist, he just sat there crying, humiliated, because he knew he’d done something wrong.
Except…he hadn’t. Put aside for a moment that their model of how handedness works was all wrong. That it was something like a bad habit which, if caught early enough, you could correct. Even if handedness was a completely chosen thing, there is nothing wrong or evil or harmful about using your left hand over your right. Unless that is, you believe that it’s a sin. Left-handed. Sinister. Sin. Or you believed the few remaining mental health professionals of the day who said that left-handedness leads to a host of mental and psychological problems. Didn’t you know that a higher then average number of serial killers are left handed?
It isn’t hard to picture how an ex-leftie ministry might work to suck the pride and joy and love of life out of a young guy, a kid maybe who keeps having these…urges…to use their left hand. Every time he gets that urge he believes he is being unfaithful to God. He believes this, because his church is telling him this. The Devil baptizes his followers with his left hand… His peers either ridicule him, or bath him in suffocating patronization. He has this…condition. He can’t help himself. There is something tragically wrong with him. His parents are profoundly ashamed that their son uses his left hand. The kid is deeply ashamed of himself. And every time he feels the urge to use his left hand, the shame deepens.
But there is one final hope. Reparative therapy. Thousands have found freedom from left-handedness. Question left-handedness. There are stories of hope and redemption. This one has been living as a right handed man for over a decade, and is now a successful painter who, he says, never feels the urge to use his left hand to pick up a brush. That one has been in a successful relationship with another ex-leftie and they are raising a healthy, godly family of right handed children. This one has been freed from left-handedness through the power of faith. That one abandoned the left-handed lifestyle, and all its self destructiveness, the drugs, the booze, the litany of health problems, and has been living a clean and sober life ever since.
So he checks himself in for a round of ex-leftie therapy. Perhaps he misses the fine print on the form that says he will never be completely cured of this left-handed urges. Perhaps it is not in the fine print. Perhaps, full of all the stories of hope and cure and…redemption…he decides not to notice.
So he spends months…then years…and thousands of dollars in the ex-leftie world. He abandons school, career, the life he had, the life he could have had, on his quest to rid himself of his urge to use his left hand. But he can’t. He’s left handed. After a long struggle he eventually becomes adept at using his right hand to do simple chores. He can write…sort of. An accomplishment he’s proud of. Now he can write with a fountain pen and not smear the ink. He can use scissors with his right hand. He can pitch a ball with his right hand…sort of. But the urges never go away, and maddeningly after years of adapting to a right handed life, he…falls…again and again.
Sometimes its unexpected, like when his neighbor’s kid playfully tosses a ball at him and he catches it in his left hand. Sometimes it happens when he lets his guard down, and he catches himself doodling something with the pen in his left land. It seems the devil won’t let go of him. But it’s not the devil. It’s just his biology. The model of handedness he’s been fed is all wrong, and no amount of sincerely held religious belief can change that any more then it could change the fact hundreds of years ago, that Galileo and Copernicus were right. And yet, it moves.
All his life this left handed man has been fighting his nature. And…for what? To please a lot of right handed people who have bought into, for whatever reason, a model of handedness that is not true, and which…surely only coincidentally…elevates them above their left handed neighbors. His own nature has been used against him since childhood, to implant shame, self loathing, disgust. To make him accept his lowly status. He has been denied a wholesome and nurturing spiritual life, being made to feel himself alienated from God Every Time He Gets An Urge To Use His Left Hand. Which he keeps getting, Because He’s Left Handed.
He is either condemned, or at best, patronizingly offered help for his…condition. When he is not being told that his sin is the worst sin of all, he’s being patronizingly told that well…we’re all sinners in the eyes of the Lord. But this sin seems woven into his very being, like a taint on his very soul. He just can’t stop the urges. His body fights him every time he picks up a pencil or pen. It reminds him constantly that, somehow, he is fundamentally wicked, in a way no one else seems to be. No one else except other devil marked lefties.
He has been denied wholesome and nurturing relationships with his peers, with his community, with his family, because every time he catches himself using his left hand for something, or even feeling the urge to, he is ashamed, and so he withdraws, feeling ashamed, unclean, unworthy. He has been denied the career he might have had, the friends he might have made, and all the joy and fulfillment they might have brought.
Who knows…perhaps he was even denied the love of his life, because he was taught from such an early age, that there was something innately unclean about him. A feeling of shame and despair that was reenforced, again and again within him, every time he had that perfectly natural urge to use his left hand. Sin. Sinister. Left-handed.
The devil baptizes his own with his left hand… He sees himself as someone profoundly, horribly tainted. Unworthy. He gets on his knees nightly and begs God, tearfully, to take the urges away from him. But they don’t go away. He’s Left Handed. It isn’t something you can pray away.
He pays therapists thousands of dollars to talk him into being right handed. Perhaps it was an overly dominant mother. Perhaps when a boy uses his left hand to write with, he is subconsciously rebelling against his manhood. Left is associated with the feminine isn’t it? Whereas right is associated with the masculine. Perhaps his father was too distant. Perhaps he isn’t getting enough masculine activity. But therapy doesn’t work either. He’s Left Handed. You can’t psychoanalyze it away. It wasn’t his mother. It wasn’t his father. It’s his biology. It’s perfectly normal. Not average. Not common. But nonetheless, normal.
But he is never told that. There are nights when he wonders why God even allowed him to be born.
There is nothing wrong with him. Nothing. He’s just left-handed. It neither harms him, nor his neighbors, that he uses his left hand. And it doesn’t separate him from God, because if God is the creator then God made him that way. If anything, it is trying not to be what he so clearly is, that is separating him from God. It is also separating him from his family, and from his community. It has separated him from the whole life he could have had.
Reality matters. Existence exists. When the bird and the bird book disagree, believe the bird. You would think that someone of a deeply religious nature, wishing to be faithful and devoted to God almighty would instinctively grasp how the hand of the creator has the final, absolute say over all our human pretensions. However we might wish reality to be, reality is what it is. There is a lesson on standing humbly before the Creator in that, which you’d think the religious conservative would find completely agreeable. You’d think. But if that were so, then there wouldn’t be a movement to teach creationism to school kids, let alone a movement to teach homosexuals to hate themselves, and to teach their peers, their neighbors, their country, to treat them with contempt. The problem with standing humbly before the creator, is that its…well…humbling.
June 28th, 2007
Beware The Hidden Assumptions
by Bruce |
That’s something I was taught to consider in a structured analysis and design class I attended once and it’s the kind of thinking that we should all practice. You really need sometimes to look critically at the obvious, the taken-for-granted, those "everyone knows such-and-such is true" truths. They can be delicate, nearly invisible curtains hiding from your eyes the reality that’s staring you back in the face.
Via aTypical Joe, comes this story of 81 words that were once in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), and how they were there in the first place, simply because everyone just assumed they were true. And this particular assumption got its first really critical looking at, when Evelyn Hooker, a psychologist at UCLA, met Sam From, a student…
Evelyn was a psychologist at UCLA and Sam was her student. He was also a homosexual. They started spending time together in the mid 1940s and Sam introduced Evelyn to his group of friends most of whom, like Sam, were gay.
Now, as I said, everyone in this group was homosexual but curiously, none was in therapy. They were all well-adjusted young men who utterly failed to conform to the traditional psychiatric image of the tortured, disturbed homosexual.
This, naturally, got Evelyn thinking.
Now, prior to Evelyn Hooker, all of the research on homosexuality – all of it – was done on people who were already under serious psychiatric treatment. Let me repeat that: In the history of psychiatric research, no one had ever conducted a study on a homosexual population that wasn’t either in therapy, in prison, a mental hospital, or the disciplinary barracks of the armed services.
Evelyn thought about this and decided that this kind of research was distorting psychiatry’s conclusions about homosexual populations. To test her theory, Evelyn came up with an experiment. Through her former student she located 30 homosexuals who had never sought therapy in their lives and matched those homosexuals with a group of heterosexuals of comparable age, IQ and education.
Evelyn then put both groups through a battery of psychological tests including a Rorschach Test, the famous ink-blot test. After disguising her subjects, Evelyn gave the results to three experienced psychiatrists and asked them to identify the homosexuals. She figured that if homosexuals were inherently pathological, the psychiatrists would be able to pick them out easily. But the judges were completely unable to distinguish the homos from the hets.
Equally important was the fact that the judges categorized two thirds of the homosexuals and the heterosexuals as perfectly well-adjusted normally functioning human beings.
Hooker’s study challenged the idea that homosexuality was a pathology in the first place, and in doing this it not only called into question an entire generation of research on homosexuality, it also challenged psychiatry’s basic concept of disease. If you believed Hooker’s data the only conclusion you could come to was that psychiatry was deciding that certain behaviors were diseases, not out of any sort of scientific proof, but based on their own prejudices.
Beside Evelyn Hooker, psychiatrists who wanted to change the DSM really had only one other scientific study on their side: Alfred Kinsey’s famous 1948 sex survey which found that a whopping 37% of all men had had physical contact to the point of orgasm with other men, a finding which – besides shocking the hell out of 63% of the American public – seemed to suggest that homosexual acts were too common to be considered a disease.
In spite of all this work, psychiatry continued to maintain that the homos were sick and steadfastly refused to reevaluate the DSM. And then luck, or maybe fate, intervened.
This is but a small excerpt from a really good This American Life broadcast, which originally aired in January 2002. It’s available for listening at the link above. If you have iTunes it can also be purchased for ninty-five cents. I highly recommend it. The broadcast is the story of the DSM change as told by Alix Spiegel, the granddaughter of the man who was the president elect of the APA when the change occurred. Like many profound historical events, this one is something more, and something less, then the mythologies that have grown up around it. It involved political theater, and behind the scenes activism. It involved many diverse people from many diverse backgrounds…most of them heterosexual, some of them gay. Most of the gays in the APA at that time were in fact, deeply, deeply closeted, and what is probably a striking thing for modern ears to hear is how many of them accepted the prevailing assumptions about the pathology of homosexuality.
But if the internal behind the scenes politics, and the external pressure of gay activists accomplished anything, it was to hasten what the science would eventually compel them to do anyway. That is not to ether dismiss, nor exaggerate the impact of the activism. There is a scene near the end of Alix Spiegel’s story that needs to be in any film or TV recreation of these events, and it is that moment when Robert Spitzer is brought by one of the activists who had been protesting the APA’s categorizing of homosexuality as an illness, uninvited, to a gathering of the closeted gay professionals, and he sees how many distinguished and successful people of his profession are homosexual, people he would never have suspected, people whose accomplishments were considerable, people who would, every one of them, have been drummed out of their profession had their sexual orientation become known then. For Spitzer, it is a profound revelation. And then…a young man in uniform walks in the door.
You should listen to this episode. It’s nearly an hour long but well worth it, to get to that scene. There is a historian toward the end who says that questions of disease and pathology ultimately resolve down to moral questions, not scientific ones. I disagree. Science can certainly tell us whether or not something is or is not harmful to us mentally and physically. And the moral question was answered millenia ago: First Do No Harm… But there is a profound moral question at the bottom of every scientific one and that is the question of truthfulness and letting the evidence speak for itself. Even if means you have to discard a cherished assumption you’ve held on to for years. Even if that assumption has given you the recognition of your peers, fame, and made you a pretty good living.
Robert Spitzer has taken a lot of justly deserved criticism for his so-called study of clients of ex-gay ministries, but you have to give the man credit for that one dazzling moment near the end of this report, when he let the evidence he could clearly see with his own two eyes, finally, speak for itself. Charles Socrades comes off by contrast, as a man so blinded by dogma that he’s even willing to regard himself as a parental failure to his own gay son. But as he says, his business was booming. He speaks with pride toward the end about some parents who took their 16 year old gay son to one psychiatrist after another, only to be told there was nothing wrong with the boy…until they met him.
And now you know what happens to a soul that stops asking questions.
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