Assessing sexual orientation in Britain

From the article regarding David Akinsanya, the BBC correspondent who is pursuing reorientation but also consulted Qazi Rahman, British researcher: “Akinsanya underwent a number of tests (at Rahman’s lab), including measurement of his response to sudden loud noises and assessment of such spatial skills as his ability to rotate cubes conceptually. Both types of tests differentiate strongly between heterosexual and homosexual subjects. Akinsanya says he came out as “gay, gay, gay!” in every test.”

Now I wonder if Dr. Rahman also felt the bumps on David’s head?

Print Friendly

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11205789 Nathan

    Thomas Kuhn talks about how science evolves in a sequence of paradigms. Scientific research done during that era unquestioningly uses the paradigm as a point of departure, and thus biases all scientific research done in that era.

    The paradigm in the past was that homosexuality was an illness. This was never questioned, and was simply accepted as Iron Law.

    Now, the new paradigm is precisely opposite of what is stated above. The new paradigm also states that homosexuality is biologically determined, and that gay people are a seperate “type” or “species” of people from straight people. Implicit within this belief is that one can tell the difference between gay and straight people using biological, neurological tests.

    However, no significant, consistent biological/neurological difference has ever been conclusively found. As far as I know, gay people are straight people aren’t as different as our culture may make them seem. And, it is my opinion that by artificially creating this difference, we are actually contributing to homophobia, by construing homosexuals as broken birth defects that are to be pitied.

    More food for thought: in all the research studies done thus far, there is always a significant portion of gay people who do not fit the supposed biological/neurological criteria for being gay. For instance, there is a significant number of gay men with mental faculties that are identical to that of straight men, and not of women, and who’s finger lengths, scalp whorls, blinking reflex and even early childhood behavior, were identical to that of straight men, and not that of women.

    Which begs the question…are these numerous *exceptions* (I happen to be one) lying about being gay?

    -Nathan

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11296471 grantdale

    Nathan, your understanding of complex biological traits (and what causes them) is far too simplistic.

    As for the current sound-bite nonsense about not finding “a gay gene” — why don’t you contact a genetic researcher and ask them if they’ve even had the tools to do so until recent times. What will you suggest next — that atoms didn’t exist before Thompson and Rutherford?

    Besides people aren’t looking for a gay gene. What they are looking for are GENES. Plural. Each of which may or may not operate independently to others, and each of which is subject to genetic penetrance. It is the subtle interaction that gives rise to complex traits, and to the multiple indicators of the traits. How an individual, or a society, views any particular trait is open to interpretation and change.

    So, as for interpreting the eventual finding of a genetic basis as “broken birth defects” — this how you could choose to see it. Personally I also do not regard tall, red-haired men as broken or as having a birth defect but who knows.

    (Something to ponder: why is it that nobody deems having MORE of a desireable trait as a defect when having more probably has exactly the same basis as having less?)

    People come in all shapes, sizes, abilities… being different and unique is what’s normal. Comformity is not. Think of us all as snowflakes :)

    (And while Kuhn is interesting when considering fads in research efforts, many of which indeed prove dead ends, ultimately it is knowledge that prevails and not the paradigm. 1+1 still equals 2.)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11296471 grantdale

    Warren,

    Did Dr. Rahman research a strong correlation between sexuality and bumps on a person’s head? I must have missed that paper.

    I realise you’re being flippant, but that was a cheap shot at a well-regarded researcher. And coming from a psychologist no less…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/1543020 Peter

    The guy who is involved in the documentary was on the radio here this morning in the UK (I’ll post a URL to the recording as soon as I have it). The interesting thing was that he was adamant that the fact that gay helplines had pushed him into homosexuality was part of the reason 20 years later he felt trapped.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11296471 grantdale

    Peter, The Voice also profiled Akinsanya. It sounds as if ringing a gay-help line was the last of the pressures on him.

    The little snippet about “electric shock treatment in a psychiatric unit to cure his homosexuality” 25? years ago, for one.

    And I hadn’t heard this said so bluntly in other forums: “…he has always been attracted to women, too.”. Oh.

    The quote about how it would have been easier if he’d been white and gay also made me wince. Thankfully nobody tried to change that about him.

    Link to The Voice, Akinsanya from 15 Mar 05

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/1543020 Peter
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11521656 "they do exist"

    I listened to the radio piece & felt so bad for Akinsanya. I can see how this happened to him, because without the proper therapy, a young person questioning these feelings, will accept whatever a group tells them. There are therapists out there that will help you and NOT brainwash you. There are books out there that will help you. My message to Akinsanya “continue to follow your heart, don’t give up. You are a heterosexual man.” Leanne Payne has excellent books to help you,”Crisis In Masculinity” & “The Broken Image” are just 2 of many. Also, I found Alan Medinger’s “Growth Into Manhood” to be very helpful. Our young people today are at such a disadvantage. Society and the media continue to glamorize the gay lifestyle. Schools are also being forced to provide misinformation. When will it end.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11205789 Nathan

    “Nathan, your understanding of complex biological traits (and what causes them) is far too simplistic.

    As for the current sound-bite nonsense about not finding “a gay gene” — why don’t you contact a genetic researcher and ask them if they’ve even had the tools to do so until recent times. What will you suggest next — that atoms didn’t exist before Thompson and Rutherford?”

    I’m sorry, you missed the point completely.

    My original point was that if being gay can be so easily ascertained on the basis of biological/neurological criteria as set forth by some professionals (like the one mentioned in Warren’s post), why are there a lot of gay people who do not “fit the bill,” so to speak? That is all. Furthermore, I’m going against this idea that a gay person is a different type of species of man. I’m sorry, but having an inclination for penises over vaginas is not the same thing as having red hair.

    Sexual orientation is biologically influenced, that I do not deny. However, to say that it is biologically determined is a different matter. No serious researcher would conclude that. Not even Simon Levay or Dean Hamar would. In fact, Levay once said that people who WOULD say that tend to be people who feel strongly about gay rights.

    Dean Hamar’s latest research failed to isolate a set of gay genes. I’m not surprised. His actual results fell short of the media portrayal of them.

    Both APA’s conclude that sexual orientation is due to a complex interaction of bio-psycho-social factors.

    I think they are right on.

    Nathan

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11205789 Nathan

    “Did Dr. Rahman research a strong correlation between sexuality and bumps on a person’s head? I must have missed that paper.

    I realise you’re being flippant, but that was a cheap shot at a well-regarded researcher. And coming from a psychologist no less… ”

    Ouch. Grantdale, you ought to have a better sense of humor about these sorts of things.

    I thought it was pretty funny, actually.

    So maybe I AM flippant…

    Nathan

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11296471 grantdale

    Nathan,

    No, I didn’t miss the point. I’m glad you’re so confident before the work has been done, I’m not.

    If due to multiple genetic CAUSE (I’m going to stop using ‘influence’ in some quarters because it clearly gets mistaken) then some of the tests for the markers may very well appear weak (or not at all). That doesn’t make someone a different species, nor does whatever judgement you place on a trait bother those researchers who are merely looking to describe something.

    Sexual orientation covers a wide range of issues — the attraction, the social context in which sexual behaviour occurs… hence the catch-all “bio-psycho-social”.

    While psych professionals can illuminate why a person might embrace or reject their sexuality (of any sort), what they have been dreadful at is explaining why two IDENTICALLY raised and socialised young men could have two completely different sexual attractions. To be simple: I don’t fit any psych. explantion, yet I’m gay. The only guys that I know that do fit one, are straight. Something else is quite obviously at work under the surface, and it is that alone which makes the difference.

    And maybe you missed the humour I put into that last comment to Warren. It was rather droll, I admit, but a research paper on head bumps? (at least not since the 1860′s I hope) And then a swipe at the psych. professions that have long been notorious for adopting untested “theories” that look absurd and later prove embarrassing?

    [You do realise the the "head bumps" nonsense that Warren mentioned started in his profession pre-Freud as an explanation for insanity and criminality? The Victorian era books are a scream.]

    Oh well, maybe next time it’s pie-in-the-face slapstick for you!

    Giving up.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11205789 Nathan

    “While psych professionals can illuminate why a person might embrace or reject their sexuality (of any sort), what they have been dreadful at is explaining why two IDENTICALLY raised and socialised young men could have two completely different sexual attractions. To be simple: I don’t fit any psych. explantion, yet I’m gay. The only guys that I know that do fit one, are straight. Something else is quite obviously at work under the surface, and it is that alone which makes the difference.”

    I do fit the psychological profile, and working off the profile has had some profound benefits for me. So from my limited perspective, there appears to be a lot more at work than merely being born a certain way with a different biological make up. You yourself may feel that you became the way that you did because of biology, but again, like me, you are looking at things from a limited perspective.

    As for the twin studies you mentioned, epigenetics may serve to be a plausible explanation for the disparities (all epigenetics researchers admit that psycho-social factors cannot be ruled out, and that early powerful emotional influences may lead to the expression of vastly different phenotypes).

    The difference seems to be that you believe that sexual orientation is biologically determined, but psycho-social factors determine whether they stay in the closet.

    I on the other hand, believe that psycho-social factors may actually strongly shape the orientation, at least for some people.

    What I will admit is that perhaps for some, biology plays such a strong role that it may be a good approximation to say that their condition is congenital.

    Nathan

    PS: the sarcasm in his statement was what got me.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10337165 Throckmorton

    Lively discussion here, good to read it tonight. You know I think there is something to the research that finds differences between straight and gay men. I tend to agree with Bem on this. Some same sex attractions may relate to finding the same gender, “exotic.” He posits that gender atypicality in a child is related to genetically mediated temperaments that lead to gender atypical preferences that then lead to a person finding the same sex looking like the opposite sex. I do not think all homosexuality is due to this pathway but I think at least some is.

    Having said that, I think it is huge leap to turn these research protocols into tests of sexual orientation. Way scary if that is what he is doing.

    I think there are a variety of factors that could lead a person to be attracted to the same sex. I will not say though that there are discernable factors in every case. Can’t be dogmatic here; wouldn’t be prudent.

  • kaiwai

    RE: Nathan

    True; There have been tests here there, claiming, that if you’re this way, here are the results.

    Its like the anti-gay Christian fundamentalists who claim that homosexuality is caused by sexual abuse, distant relationship with a father or over bearing mother.

    For everyone of these old wives tales, there will be atleast 9 who grew up in a regular household, with mum, dad, a cat, dog and maybe some siblings.

    Personally, I think the issue needs to be looked at that we’re all inviduals, and that it is unrealistic to lay claim that there every heterosexual or homosexual thinks or acts in a certain way.

    For me, regarding the ‘sissy boy’ issue – I was never ‘one of the boys’- I admit it, I was a girly boy but one thing is for sure, it definately wouldn’t come from nuturing, because all things being equal, by brother would be the same way – the fact is, he is 120% heterosexual – we’re nothing alike.

    Just as a side issue – if one dictates their sexual orientation based on whether they’re feminine or masculine, then there are some real problems.

    Mind you, one thing I did notice, was that gay males tended to be closer, in regards to thinking, to either their sister or mother – maybe its just me? oh well, the endless and fruitless search for the meaning of something, that in the end, doesn’t actually matter.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11205789 Nathan

    Regarding Bem’s theory, I believe that it is the only theory which attempts to explain exactly how nature and nurture interact, with respect to sexual orientation.

    He admits that biological/genetic substrates are definitely at play, but they have more a predisposing role, that is, one’s biology does not inevitably make one gay, in the same way that having genes for red hair would inevitably make one have red hair.

    I believe that the so called “Sissy Boy” syndrome (gender atypical behavior) is probably more biological than psychological, since most boys exhibit cross gender behavior early on in life. Social constructionists like Bem would argue that it is the gender atypicality that predisposes one to future homosexuality, whereas biological essentialists would argue that the gender atypicality is a RESULT of an inborn, homosexual condition.

    I lean more towards Bem’s theory because I can relate to it, and I believe that it is true for my life, at least.

    In fact, the cause of homosexuality, like any other complex behavior, is perhaps much too complicated to reduce down into a simple formula or explanation, and it IS different for different people. In fact, homosexuals and heterosexuals are a diverse group, and not everyone is hetero or homo in the same way.

    -Nathan

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11296471 grantdale

    Now — there we go…

    No qualms about thinking childhood gender atypical behaviour is biological — but will/cannot extend the analogy!

    Given that only a minority of gay men showed gender atypical characteristics in childhood (and given that most ‘grow out of them’), it would be more plausible to see this as a parallel but different traint in a smaller number of men (who, need I remind, may be heterosexual). It doesn’t explain homosexuality.

    (And, face it, Bem’s proposed pathways are simply that. They’ve never been tested, and can easily be called post hoc reasoning).

    Which raises an interesting point. Nathan, did you search for an explanation — discarding all those that didn’t fit UNTIL someone described your life. And since they did, da-da!, they know what they are talking about?

    Urgh, no… That is also how fortune tellers work. Visit enough, and one of them is eventually going to describe yourself. Nostradamus works the same way. Can they predict the future, or is that just how coincedence works?

    If you do fit the “classic” profile, then seeing a therapist may well be a good idea; but not for what many claim to be able to do (change your sexual orientation). I’d suggest the same to adult heterosexuals who still held the unreasonable expectation that all parents but their own were perfect.

    Given I’ve notice you refer to Kuhn on a number of occassions, I find it odd that you haven’t also realised the most obvious part of his work : psych professionals look for pysch-based explanations and use psych-based solutions.

    And the fact they’ve ALL been abject failures about sexual orientation itself, and not developed a unified theory … well, let’s just ignore the past, and move on to a new untested explanation… until that one also proves a deadend.

    As for the rest

    The difference seems to be that you believe that sexual orientation is biologically determined, but psycho-social factors determine whether they stay in the closet

    You have my permission to stop referring to this a belief. I’m a person of little faith, on this and much else :0

    Because I want a unified theory — and not a collection of annocdotes from individuals – biology seems the most plausible explanation and the best line of investigation for the underlying sexual orientation; regardless of how, when and with whom this expressed. These last three are where I do think the psych professionals will contribute to the eventual understanding.

  • kaiwai

    I’ll bog the whole reply into one post:

    RE: Nathan

    Re: Kaiwai

    “Personally, I think the issue needs to be looked at that we’re all inviduals, and that it is unrealistic to lay claim that there every heterosexual or homosexual thinks or acts in a certain way.”

    Well said. I absolutely agree That’s what my re-orientation therapist told me the first day we met.

    Was he really a reorientation therapist, or did he merely help you work through your emotions, and help you come to your own conclusion? A good therapist will never give you an answer themselves, the idea is to get you to uncover those issues, to probe and prod.

    Regarding your orientation, maybe you have a more fluid orientation? I don’t know, we’re all different, but for me, I have close friendly relationships with females, but anything more than friendship, its just doesn’t feel ‘right’ just as for a straight male, he can have male friends, but anything more than that they would consider ‘weird’ or ‘not right’.

    Whether or not orientation can change is a big issue, but I think what the needs to be pushed, by the likes of Throckmorton is the idea that sexuality CAN be fluid in some people – which means that reorientation doesn’t *always* work, the second part is the acceptance that those who have a homosexual orientation, that they should be treated with the same due respect as heterosexuals, and deserve the same protections and rights as heterosexuals as well.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11205789 Nathan

    “Given that only a minority of gay men showed gender atypical characteristics in childhood (and given that most ‘grow out of them’), it would be more plausible to see this as a parallel but different traint in a smaller number of men (who, need I remind, may be heterosexual). It doesn’t explain homosexuality.”

    This is not true. It has been shown over and over again that a significant number of gay men and women do experience gender atypical behavior ( See the work of Green and Zucker.). The correlation is quite strong, but it says nothing about causation (not that I needed to tell you that).

    Also, I never said that Bem’s theory explains all forms of homosexuality. What I did say was that it seems to explain mine in the sense that when I put it to use, I get good results. In fact, by combining Bem’s theory and the reparative theories posited by your hated foes, I get good results in terms of decreasing homosexual feelings and increasing heterosexual feelings. I also know a lot of people who have tried all the reparative stuff and have failed to change.

    All I can say is that it works for me.

    And I can’t argue with the results.

    And no, I’m neither a) lying, nor b) bisexual. Nor am I c) really a straight man to begin with who only had a temporary love affair with another man’s penis. =)

    “Because I want a unified theory –and not a collection of annocdotes from individuals – biology seems the most plausible explanation and the best line of investigation for the underlying sexual orientation; regardless of how, when and with whom this expressed. These last three are where I do think the psych professionals will contribute to the eventual understanding.”

    Sure, biology is the next frontier, but before we actually find anything significant, to conclude that biology completely determines a complex phenomena such as same sex attraction is poor judgment.

    The psycho social factors have never been negated. They have been negated in terms of being the SOLE cause of orientation, but most (reasonable, non politically motivated) researchers agree that they have their place, working in concert with biology. Of course, the relative contributions of biology and psycho-social factors are most likely different for different people, and psycho-social factors may play a significant role in the orientation of women, given that it is well established in the literature that women tend to have more of a fluid, changeable orientation (see Lisa Diamond’s latest work).

    It just may be that one man’s orientation may be due more to psychological factors (me, possibly?), whereas another man’s may be due more to biology, and hence impossible to change.

    Nathan

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11205789 Nathan

    Re: Kaiwai

    “Personally, I think the issue needs to be looked at that we’re all inviduals, and that it is unrealistic to lay claim that there every heterosexual or homosexual thinks or acts in a certain way.”

    Well said. I absolutely agree That’s what my re-orientation therapist told me the first day we met.

    cheers,

    Nathan.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11205789 Nathan

    Re: Kaiwai (again)

    “Its like the anti-gay Christian fundamentalists who claim that homosexuality is caused by sexual abuse, distant relationship with a father or over bearing mother.”

    The problem is when people attempt to generalize to large group of people.

    Case in point: I’ve met gay people who had perfectly normal and healthy upbringings. There was nothing “classical” about how they were raised, yet they still had strong attractions to men and no attraction to women. Like you said, They obviously did not fit the stereotyped upbringings.

    And yes, they do tend to think like their mothers, as you said.

    I was talking to my mom the other day, and she realized how similar we were. I really think that it is because I’ve lived under her shadow for most of my life. I practically didn’t have a father, as she would keep me away from him, using me as leverage in their struggles.

    But no, I do not believe that the above was the SOLE cause of my orientation. That would be naive. However, what I will say is that because my orientation seems to be more changeable than the average gay man’s, this familial factor may have played a significant role in the formation of my orientation.

    I think there is some truth in all of the theories regarding sexual orientation. The distant father theory may play a role for some people, whereas for others, biology may have such an overwhelming influence that even with a normal upbringing, the propensity for turning out gay is quite high. In the end, it still seems safer to say that sexual orientation is formed by bio-psycho-social factors coming together early in life, as this does a better job of taking into consideration the tremendous diversity one finds in human sexual orientation.

    But you are right, in the end, it doesn’t matter. We are all human.

    Regarding these sorts of discussions: it’s easy to think oneself into an intellectual knot. When this happens, I turn off the computer, and go out into the real world.

    Nathan

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11296471 grantdale

    Nathan,

    You do realise that Green and Zucker were working with smallish number of kids with gender atypical behaviour — not gay men as a group?

    Most of those GAB kids did indeed “turn out gay”. This says nothing about the childhood histories of all other gay men. It does, possibly, show an intersection of sexual orientation and gender. That I said.

    (I’ll ignore that you missed me saying “minority” but then used “a significant number”. Same, no?)

    I think the closest you’ll get to the claim you’re making is Bailey in a non-academic book about transexuals. In reading it, it did seem he read too much into the drunken tales of a few Chicago barflies; interpreting personal histories as gender atypical and forgetting that what defines that is open to a wide range of behaviours. When I think of my University mates, as example, they could also be described as displaying gender atypical behaviour in childhood — such as enjoying reading, not being too sports minded, some even musical. They’re all very straight. It’s why they ended up at University.

    (And please do not tell me those characteristics are not used to signify “gender confusion” within exgay circles. They are. Read Nicolosi, Exodus, Satinover etc etc.)

    Note: “most plausible… best line of investigation” means exactly that. No conclusion, but a judgement of where to spend the resources looking. I glad to see you have describe the field as “the next frountier” — meaning, I presume, you disagree with the position that “no gay gene has ever been found, therefore it must be about nurture”.

    As for short statements about yourself, I really would prefer to hold comment unless I knew a great deal more. Without wishing to disparage your statements, I have heard them all before and later heard the backpeddling and the retractions.

    There are any number of alternate interpretations — such as, simply maturing into ones own sexuality or perhaps getting over a phobia that blocked access to ones full capacity — that needs no discussion about homosexuality or heterosexuality per se. Who knows, so no personal comment from me.

    I also have an interest in Diamond’s work: 1) I’m not a woman and they are different, you know 2) She’s had some very caustic comments about the simplistic nature of exgay/reorientation “theories”. 3) She doesn’t buy the baggage that seems to go along with it. 4) She appears to be a very modest academic, something this field often lacks.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11205789 Nathan

    Kaiwai,

    “Was he really a reorientation therapist, or did he merely help you work through your emotions, and help you come to your own conclusion? A good therapist will never give you an answer themselves, the idea is to get you to uncover those issues, to probe and prod.”

    He is a member of NARTH. He’s not a self proclaimed reparative therapist. Rather, he is a George Kelly Personal Construct Psychotherapist. He agrees with NARTH that sexual orientation can be changed in SOME people (which you yourself seem to agree with), and that it is worth exploring if a patient really wants it. But he basically disagrees with their pathologizing view of homosexuality–he views both hetero and homosexuality as two parallel life adaptations. Any talk of “disease” or “disorder,” in my therapist’s opinion, is meaningless and misses the point.

    In fact, you may be surprised to hear that he has been helping me get over my internalized homophobia, and paradoxically, this has helped me tremendously towards my stated therapeutic goal. I had a lot of unconscious homophobic beliefs and attitudes that he helped me untangle. The desire to understand one’s self, thus gaining inner peace, is central to any sort of therapy, whether re-orientational or gay-affirmative. Any therapist who deviates from that, I cross off my list.

    In fact, the insights I gained in therapy do seem to cause some degree of change in terms of fantasy and arousal. For instance, not to get too graphic, but before therapy, I couldn’t masturbate to fantasies of women. It just didn’t turn me on. Only men got me off. But now I enjoy masturbating to fantasies of women, and I no longer think of men that much. Of course, I’m not going to lie and say that I’ve completely changed, but only that significant change has occured. Not only did the behavior change, but some gradual inner change happened as well. Some may choose to dismiss my claims, but I don’t care. I have nothing to prove politically, but I will extend a hand to others in my situation and tell them what has worked for me, which MAY or MAY NOT work for them.

    Perhaps I do have a more fluid orientation, but this would not be bisexuality, since I distinctly recall times in my life when all I could think about was men, with thoughts of women not doing anything for me, whereas if I was bisexual, I’d be able to get off to both to some degree.

    When I tell people this, especially open and out gays, I often get slammed. If not slammed, they try to rationalize it away. And I’m not even a conservative Christian–quite the opposite, actually.

    Nathan

    PS: I’m sure Warren would agree that homosexuality is not a mental disorder that *needs* to be treated. His opposition towards gay marriage is due more to philosophical, religious reasons, beliefs which do not necessarily make him a homophobic villain.

    As for having the same rights as straight people in terms of job protection, and all that other stuff, I have no idea where he stands.

    I for one will say: “sure! why not?”

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11205789 Nathan

    “Whether or not orientation can change is a big issue, but I think what the needs to be pushed, by the likes of Throckmorton is the idea that sexuality CAN be fluid in some people – which means that reorientation doesn’t *always* work, the second part is the acceptance that those who have a homosexual orientation, that they should be treated with the same due respect as heterosexuals, and deserve the same protections and rights as heterosexuals as well. ”

    This is what I believe too. I think it is a perfectly reasonable position, based on all the available evidence.

    -Nathan

  • kaiwai

    RE: Nathan

    Its good to hear that not all people are like NARTH – maybe Warren and a number of collegues can setup a counter to NARTH and the likes – setup group that actually is willing to put religious dogma aside and look at the issue in a critical way; maybe once that is done, the damage that is done by unqualified people under the guise of ministry work, can be exposed for it truely is rather than it being tollerated as merely a company selling dodgy, and potential dangerous products.

    I’m sure Warren would agree that homosexuality is not a mental disorder that *needs* to be treated. His opposition towards gay marriage is due more to philosophical, religious reasons, beliefs which do not necessarily make him a homophobic villain.

    Well, I don’t agree with legal marriage at all, be it same sex or heterosexual – for me, I have a bit of a libertarian/anarchist bent :-)

    Personally, the government should remove all preferential treatments for couples, and simply leave marriage to be an issue for the church – in the governments eyes, when delivering services or collecting tax, whether a person is married or not shouldn’t even enter the equation.

    As for having the same rights as straight people in terms of job protection, and all that other stuff, I have no idea where he stands.

    I for one will say: “sure! why not?”

    Well, we’re lucky down in New Zealand in that we have the human rights act, which forbids descrimination – which actually inclides descrimination based on *perceived* sexual orientation – for example, you may be femmy but straight – it would be illegal to descriminate based on the preconceived notion that you maybe gay.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11296471 grantdale

    Umm, kaiwai…

    You are aware that Warren has presented at NARTH conferences etc, yes? I’m staring right at one from 2002 that — sorry Warren — is surely the best satire I’ve read all afternoon.

    Warren, are you actually a member? (of NARTH, I mean).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11205789 Nathan

    Hi Kaiwai,

    I understand where you are coming from. NARTH does appear to have a very negative stance towards homosexuality that harkens back to the mid twentieth century psychoanalytic era.

    However, If you talk to individuals within NARTH as I have, you’d be surprised at the amount of diversity among them as a group. It is unfortunate that the leader of the group, Dr. Nicolosi, happens to have the negative beliefs that he does towards homosexuality. It is also unfortunate that some of the other alternative voices within NARTH aren’t heard, giving people the impression that NARTH is a monolithic group who are all neo-Freudian conservative Christians who think the same way.

    When a therapist tells me he’s a member of NARTH, I do not automatically assume the worst. Instead, I will talk with him for awhile and probe him. If the therapist indicates that he would be willing to help a gay person develop his gay identity, then this is a sign that the therapist really is working from a neutral stance, and has respect for client neutrality. That’s why I feel safe with the person I’m working with now–he has another patient with whom he is doing gay affirmative work.

    As for Warren being an official member of NARTH, I don’t know. You’d have to ask him. Last I heard, I didn’t find his name on the the member roster.

    Nathan.

  • kaiwai

    RE: Nathan

    So, from the sounds of it, they aren’t re-orientation counsellors, but actually sexual orientation therapists who help people come to grips with their sexual orientation, be it gay, straight or what ever – if that *IS* the case – the maybe those in NARTH should move and form their own organisation, believe me, if I were in that position, I wouldn’t want my message of moderation and respect be highjacked by religious extremists and those with simplistic mindsets.

    Regarding those who wish to go from gay to straight – I think what needs to be pushed to counsellors is this; a person desire isn’t always their own desire – it can be a fusion of the desire by them to live up to the expectations of those around them, that is, those people in their religious community.

    Those desires, then end up over taking their own desires to a point where their own desire vs the desires of others fuse to a point where they *think* that if they become straight, they’ll be happy, when in reality, all they are doing is changing themselves to meet other peoples expectations of them – so that even after the ‘change’ they’ll never be happy because their desire to be straight was never theres to begin with – it was something manifested out of the environment they were bought up in and lived in.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11205789 Nathan

    “So, from the sounds of it, they aren’t re-orientation counsellors, but actually sexual orientation therapists who help people come to grips with their sexual orientation, be it gay, straight or what ever – if that *IS* the case”

    They are therapists that help a person look at his life so that he can learn more about himself,and enhance his potential and achieve what he wants out of life, whether it be wanting to enhance a gay identity or exploring the potential for developing a heterosexual identity.

    “Regarding those who wish to go from gay to straight – I think what needs to be pushed to counsellors is this; a person desire isn’t always their own desire – it can be a fusion of the desire by them to live up to the expectations of those around them, that is, those people in their religious community.”

    This is kind of tricky, because most people who seek out therapy of ANY KIND do so because of a fusion of someone else’s desires and their own. It is rare to have someone seek out therapy completely on one’s own accord and free will. Not that it never happens, but it is rare. That is why the success rate of ANY SORT of therapy is relatively low (30%), which MAY be because most of the time, the desire for therapy is not 100% their own.

    But I do agree that for homosexuality, there tends to be more pressure of a negative type to undergo therapy, as compared to a condition like stuttering.

    The decision to want to go from gay to straight is best made by an adult who has had a lot of life experience, and who can appreciate the subtleties and complexities life often brings.

    Nathan

  • kaiwai

    This is kind of tricky, because most people who seek out therapy of ANY KIND do so because of a fusion of someone else’s desires and their own. It is rare to have someone seek out therapy completely on one’s own accord and free will. Not that it never happens, but it is rare. That is why the success rate of ANY SORT of therapy is relatively low (30%), which MAY be because most of the time, the desire for therapy is not 100% their own.

    Which is where the therapist must sit down and work through, with the client, those desires – delve into the background and childhood experiences.

    If they were bought up in a home where they had preachers dance around stage screaming about the evils of homosexuality – then little wonder that they have low self esteme and a warped sense that if they change, they’ll spontaneously become happy.

    Unless they, themselves, feel unfortable with their sexual orientation, they’ve got a high chance of failure when it comes to trying develop and act on heterosexual impulses.

    The decision to want to go from gay to straight is best made by an adult who has had a lot of life experience, and who can appreciate the subtleties and complexities life often brings.

    That, and the realisation that *THEY* want to make the change and at the same time, if it doesn’t work out, accept the cards they’ve been delt – that they are actually gay, and that they need to work together with the therapist towards accepting their homosexuality.

    As for homosexuality and religion, I think people get wrapped up in the two; I was raised a Catholic, but I think for me, I wished to maintain a spiritual dimension in my life – something as a ‘guiding force’ – having wrestled with my homosexual attraction and religious teachings, I think what needs to be understood is that sexuality isn’t the zenith, the centre piece of religion that the fundamentalists would love to make it out as, and that, at the core of every religion is pretty much a basic set of rules that transcends all religions.

    I think alot of the failures are also spawned when people who seek counselling because something or someone is bullying them into it – be it the family, religious organisation. It would be like me pushing a person to get a sex change – unless they feel really uncomfortable in the body they’re in, they simply shouldn’t get a sex change simply to satisfy the desires of those around themselves.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11205789 Nathan

    “That, and the realisation that *THEY* want to make the change and at the same time, if it doesn’t work out, accept the cards they’ve been delt – that they are actually gay, and that they need to work together with the therapist towards accepting their homosexuality.”

    I agree. Pretty reasonable statement here. I’m sure Warren would agree to some extent. See, though I’m ex-gay in a literal sense (not in a religious political sense), we seem to agree on some basic principles that are actually just plain common sense.

    I’m not religious, so I do not really have a grasp of how difficult it must be for some people. I almost feel lucky because I have it pretty easy. I simply made the decision to explore a heterosexual identity and ended up making good progress. No one really coerced me into it.

    Just some food for thought: another NARTH psychologist said to me in an email, that re-orientation only seems to work for people who are mixed orientation. And I do not mean bisexual, since mixed orientation may mean 70% gay, 30% straight, which is basically weighted heavily on the gay side. He also made the cautious statement that those who want it must only want it for themselves. Though I am not bisexual, I do have some moderate attraction to women, attraction which I’ve been able to build upon and increase, while decreasing my homosexual attraction.

    If somebody had 0% attraction to women and 100% attraction to men (as some of my close friends do), I would not recommend re-orientation therapy to him. Since this would seem to indicate a fixed, rather than fluid orientation.

    -Nathan

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10337165 Throckmorton

    To answer the question re: NARTH: No I am not a member. I do present at their conferences because it a place where people are free to explore non-essentialist views of sexuality. I considered joining and still do now and then. I do not because 1) I do not want to feel any pressure to become involved on committees or do association work and 2) because I am not a reparative therapist in the narrow sense of the word. Don’t get me wrong, I am not dissing NARTH members. Some of my good friends belong and I am friendly with Joe Nicolosi and others on the NARTH board. It just does not seem to fit me at this point.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11296471 grantdale

    Now you see Nathan — even we are in agreement.

    Not on the terminology, which I’ll get to, but at least on a basic premise about “change”. Hey, it’s a start!

    I had not read you mention that you are, in fact, sexually attracted to both men and women. I you had said that at the start, we’d have not clogged Warren’s blog up :-)

    For the definition: attraction to both men and women is bisexuality. I know some argue that only someone with equal attraction is a “true” bisexual (that is, a Kinsey3, in shorthand for our convenience). But in following that rule we would consider only a K0 as a “true heterosexual” and a K6 as a “true homosexual”. What happens to the K1, K2, K4 and K5? (let alone a K0.2 or a K5.8…) Who, or what, are they?

    I suspect we’d both agree that someone who is nearly all-straight (perhaps a K1) shouldn’t be described as homosexual. I’ll even go further and say these people “are not really gay”, regardless. If I was to struggle for a less ambiguous category, I’d probably describe them as “experimental” or something. (in Australian gay argot, we’d call them “straight trade” — an accurate term for us, but not a term in more widespread use). And yes, straight trade appears in gay bars etc with surprising frequency (not individually frequent perhaps, but there’s a lot of them out there so it’s possible to run into at least one of them quite often.)

    I’d do the mirror for a K5. By elimination, we haven’t got a term for the remainder — so they must be those bisexuals… or what? In my view, people who are a 30/70 (to use your example) tend to use short-hard descriptions in everyday use — based on their current relationships — but in more candid conversation describe themselves as bisexual.

    My point, and I do have one, is that the inaccuracy inherent in short-hand causes the “debate”. To say “I’ve changed” when the person was (from above) bisexual all along misleads others into thinking something that is not true — that a K6 (or a K0, let’s not forget) is also open to “change”, or that sexual orientation itself can change.

    (Why a person who are attracted to both sexes pursue either sex at some point in their life, who knows? And I’ve already mentioned a number of reasons for why the underlying sexual orientation may not be insync with current sexual behaviors etc when I didn’t wish to discuss your own situation. ).

    If I read all this correctly, you are using “fluid” and “fixed” to describe much the same concept. What you call fluid, I would call bisexuality. What you call fixed, I would term gay or straight (to use the vernacular). Hence, “people who change” are not people who have changed their sexual orientation. They may change any number of things — including how they describe themselves — but not that.

    If, and assume here that I’m a therapist who would do such a thing, a 30/70 appeared in my office and said “You know doc, I really do want to settle down with a woman and have some children some day. But I keep getting side-tracked by these other attractions. Is there something we can do to help me focus, or help me commit to a longer-term effort of finding a suitable woman and getting married etc?”

    My answer? “Sure. There are a lot of techniques we can try that may help you focus on that goal. Perhaps, for a beginning, we can explore why you find yourself drunk in a gay bar every other night….” (Actually, I’d suggest that for anyone!)

    I’d also offer the same service to a 70/30 gay man who found himself waking up next to a woman every other night.

    ————————————-

    Also for Warren — thanks for the clarification. I had thought so, given the way NARTH describes or introduces you, but nothing like hearing it straight from the horse’s mouth; so to speak.

    Might I also suggest 1) “Thank-you, but I’m not interested.” and 2) you need not be. All you really need be is in agreement with the statement “dedicated to affirming a complementary, male-female model of gender and sexuality.” Which, of course, is code for “I am anti-gay” :-)

    (Another possiblity also exists, I guess: similar to a non-racist that wanted to join the KKK)

    Jeepers, this post is looooong in a narrow column format!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11205789 Nathan

    Grantdale…I’ve changed my fantasy life and arousal patterns. Whether you choose to view this as a change in orientation is up to you, though if you don’t, then I think you are defining orientation as something murky. Most would agree that increasing arousal to women and decreasing arousal to men (going from 30/70 to 80/20) would constitute some sort of change in orientation.

    Rationalize my experience in whatever way makes you feel better, but it seems that your essentialist beliefs commit you to certain premises that would be a waste of time for me to argue against.

    Again, feel free to criticize/rationalize in a way that allows you to feel better. It doesn’t affect me.

    Cheers,

    nathan

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11296471 grantdale

    The point is Nathan, you ARE bisexual. You said so.

    And that took some time to come out — like nearly all of these testimonials I hear, we begin with “gay to straight” and then the real stuff begins to emerge. Do you have any other revelations for us, or is that it?

    What will you say tomorrow, should you allow it, when The Guy walks into your life and suddenly that 70/30 to 20/80 now appears its 0/100 because he’s all you think of?

    Have you changed your sexual orientation. No, I don’t think you have. You are responding in a way you are quite capable of; possibly always have been capable of.

    And the next week/year/20years when The Girl walks into your gay life? Expect 0/100 to appear to be 100/0.

    If you are determined to think “well, that’s cured and done with” all I can suggest is that you are setting yourself up for disappointment sometime in the future. Who you are with in the meantime doesn’t bother me in the slightest.

    You’re also entitled to call yourself Father Xmas if that floats your boat. It’s just a label, remember.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11205789 Nathan

    Then according to your (ridiculous) criteria of bisexuality, a lot of gay men I know aren’t really gay, and a lot of straight I know aren’t really straight. The 80/20 “gay” men would all be bisexual, yet be quite insulted if you were to call them that. In fact, most people would be bisexual, with only a few being true hets or true homos.

    Perhaps less insulted if called Father X-mas.

    Nathan

    PS: I never said I was “cured.” The concept of “cure” vs. “disease” no longer has a place in my life.

  • kaiwai

    RE: Nathan

    This is a question I going to ask you; lets say this stunning young man enters your life; he basically knocks your socks off, he has a great personality, you have common interests and you find yourself slowly becoming attracted to him, do you:

    1) Run off screaming with your arms waving in the air wildly claiming, “I’m not gay!” whilst falling to your needs and do the typical stare up to heaven looking for the holy spook to ‘heal you’

    2) Go along with the attraction and see where it goes.

    The reason why I ask is this; are you going to go through your whole life, blocking off emotions, even though you might actually, had you followed them, fall into a stable and loving relationship? you’d rather allow your dogma to jump in the way of happiness rather than embrace the person who ‘made himself available’ for you?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11296471 grantdale

    Why is that ridiculous?

    I’m not the one trying to work with only three points on a scale — 100% homosexual, 100% heterosexual and equal-attracted bisexuality. I’d suggest that it is your forcing of everyone into these three narrow points, and ignoring the rest, that is ridiculous. What about all the people who do not fit in those narrow categories — how would you describe them? I’m open to suggestion, but your terminology is essentially meaningless unless it covers all people.

    Perhaps the people you know are too insecure to talk honestly about their attractions, I don’t know. The men we know, and there are many, are not. Many men living as gay do acknowledge some sexual attraction to women, as do many men living as straight acknowledge some sexual attraction to other men. Regardless of the label they use or their current behaviour, in public or in private, their underlying sexuality is bisexuality. What else would it be? I also do not like your suggestion that having some attraction to women and acknowledging that fact is now an “insult” — it isn’t.

    And yes, on that measure many people are not 0/100 or 100/0 or 50/50. That much is plainly obvious, and I cannot see your problem with acknowledging it.

    Actually, I do understand one of the practical reasons. For a gay man to say he is 90/10 is to invite anti-gay people telling him he should force himself to live by the 10% — because “he could change, if he really tried”. I believe this is a matter for him; and whether his behaviour is 0/100 or 100/0 at any moment in time, his underlying sexuality is still 90/10.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11205789 Nathan

    Grantdale,

    “I also do not like your suggestion that having some attraction to women and acknowledging that fact is now an “insult” — it isn’t.”

    You must be living under a rock. Most self identified gays loathe the “bisexual” label. A lot of gay men say that just because you have some attraction to women, this does not make you bisexual. Not that I’m arguing with them, but if they choose the label “gay,” I acknowledge them as that. Also, more importantly, part of having a fully formed bisexual orientation, according to some researchers (Klein), is bisexual self-labelling. So in a sense, subjective self labelling IS a component of the orientation itself. If the person’s attraction to women is un-important and doe not drive him to seek out love with women, and if he himself rejects the label, there’s no point in trying to speak of who he “really” is, which seems to be motivated by a very particular, essentialist worldview.

    This discussion is going no where. Perhaps it is time to stop.

    Bye.

    Kaiwai,

    No I would not. That is my choice and mine alone. If that makes me less in your eyes, feel free to judge/criticize me accordingly. It means nothing to me =).

    Nathan

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10337165 Throckmorton

    Been away for a couple of days…looks like a spirited discussion. These discussions are important and reflect the fuzziness surrounding the concept of sexual orientation. Since there is no way to assess sexual orientation in some objective manner, then self report must be a part of it and taken seriously.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11296471 grantdale

    Warren,

    I would agree that individual measures for sexual orientation are inexact, particularly if trying to determine if someone is a K2 or a K3, or a K4 or a K5. However, I think we’re all fairly clear on K0 vs K3 vs K6.

    More the point, simply because the fractions along that famous scale (or name any other) are fuzzy one increment to the next, it does not follow that sexual orientation can be changed or that self-reported orientation is any better a measure. Which is where most of this claim that “sexual orientation cannot be measured” really is intending to go, IME.

    But honestly, what is oen to make of someone who insists that others use a label that is utterly inaccurate to any objective outsider. “I’m attracted to both men and women, but that doesn’t make me bisexual.” — oh, sure dear, whatever you say…

    Ok….

    Warren, I’m heterosexual. I know I’m livin’ and lovin’ the same guy of 14 years and that’s not going to change, and I have no intrest in being with a woman, but I insist that I really am straight. I am. I am. I-insist-that-I-am.

    No, don’t laugh. That’s disrespectful. You must take me and my self-report seriously.

    I sometimes wonder, at such moments, what dear old Doctor F. would make of some of his profession — starting from a concept that repression was at the root of sexually troubled minds, and now a notion that therapy instead provide clients with the raison déte for repression.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10337165 Throckmorton

    Grantdale:

    I think change is interesting whether it is from K5 to K1 or from K6 to K0. It may mean something different to an essentialist than to a constructionist but it is still change.

    Do you consider sexual orientation to be a discrete or continuous variable?

  • kaiwai

    No I would not. That is my choice and mine alone. If that makes me less in your eyes, feel free to judge/criticize me accordingly. It means nothing to me =).

    So you’d rather be misserable than find possible happiness?

    I don’t care if you go one way or another, but if you’re into that sort of self inflicted S&M, then so be it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11205789 Nathan

    Kaiwai,

    This self inflicted SM makes me happy and I am living a good life.

    If this comes across as surprising to you, that is your own problem.

    Nathan

    PS: I never bothered to criticize your chosen path in life, but if you are happy then all the better.

  • kaiwai

    RE: Nathan

    PS: I never bothered to criticize your chosen path in life, but if you are happy then all the better.

    I *NEVER* chose this ‘path’, but at the same time, I don’t complain about the cards fait has assigned me; for the perceived downside (from your point of view) of being gay, I can point to plenty of positive things that have occured in my life and the interesting people I have met.

    I’ve accepted who I am, don’t feel the inclination to change, because unlike those who seek change, if one needs to get ‘theological’, I don’t feel the desire to throw gods gift back in his/her/its face – god has blessed me with this life, and obviously he has made me gay, along with the many talents I’ve been assigned with.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11205789 Nathan

    Kaiwai,

    You are being quite over-reactive. Just to clarify, I never said you chose to have same sex attractions (which is outside of your control) but you chose to integrate them into a fully formed gay identity. That was your choice, whether you like it or not.

    I’m making a choice different from yours simply because I CAN–my sexuality is fluid enough. If I couldn’t, I would’ve made a similar choice as yours.

    As mentioned, you seemed a little over reactionary when you started talking about your gifts, and how good you were as a person.

    But you don’t need to do that, I’m sure you are a good person who’s gifted. Keep in mind that my rejection of a gay identity should not affect you in a negative manner, or make you question your worth as a human. Just try to acknowledge that I’m walking another road that works for me, and while I’m walking this road, I’ve experienced all the good things you’ve experienced while walking your road.

    Okay?

    Nathan

  • kaiwai

    RE: Nathan

    You are being quite over-reactive. Just to clarify, I never said you chose to have same sex attractions (which is outside of your control) but you chose to integrate them into a fully formed gay identity. That was your choice, whether you like it or not.

    Gay identity – there is a concept, what constitutes a ‘gay identity’? kinda like the mythical ‘gay agenda’ and ‘gay lifestyle’?

    I’m making a choice different from yours simply because I CAN–my sexuality is fluid enough. If I couldn’t, I would’ve made a similar choice as yours.

    Just because it is fluid, doesn’t mean that you’ll spotaneously lose your same sex attraction – you’ve simply opened another door in your life; thats all you’ve done; you’ve still got the same sex attractions, side by side with attractions to the opposit sex – I wouldn’t use the term bisexual as it seems to indicate perfect 50/50 split between same and opposit sex attraction – so I’ll class you as ‘both-o-sexual’, attraction to both sexes – not necessarily in an even, or perfect-all-the-time percentage, but attraction to both sexes, none the eless.

    As for the ‘rejection of your gay indentity’, I don’t see why you *need* to reject it in the first place; why not just admit you have attractions to both sexes, but at this moment in time, you feel more comfortable with females than males? that females are able to meet your intellectual, physical, emotional and spiritual needs?

    The problem I have is this instant black or white paradigm you seem to have stuck yourself into – for me, I’ve never closed by door to opposit sex attractions, I never know, maybe, one day I just might meet that female who will knock my socks off, but for now, my intellectual, physical, emotional and spiritual needs are met by members of the same sex.

    Its not about whether you’re straight or gay, my issue is this stance where you think there must be a definate black/white, yes/no paradigm, where as I am saying, open yourself up to the two sides – if a great guy or girl comes along, why reject them, simply to suite your particular dogma? it makes no logical sense.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11296471 grantdale

    Kaiwai!

    “Both-o-sexual” — priceless. This you must place copyright on.

    Only one problem though, it gives me creepy thoughts of a tubby all-rounder from the 1980′s. Ick! Double ick!!

    For nathan: I personally don’t have any issue with you deciding, now, or whenever, to pursue only a particular aspect of your sexuality (nor would I if you went the other way). It’s your call; and you are able to change your mind, should you wish. As if I could do anything to stop you anyway :-P

    What I do mind is that in limiting your engagement to only one aspect you seem also to expect me to forget about the other side. You are both-o-sexual, and calling yourself only gay or only straight doesn’t alter that.

    I, for one, don’t have your sort of “luxury”.

    When talking about yourself, please don’t forget others…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10337165 Throckmorton

    GLBTQIBo?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11296471 grantdale

    Oh spare me!

    I’m not adding any more blinkin’ letters. I’m reverting to GAY for any and all.

    cringe. I just realised that a gathering including exgays would now expand that to GLBTQIBoX

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10337165 Throckmorton

    Its the price you pay for inclusion I guess :)


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X