Thoughts on the status of the Reorientation Wars

So now that the dust has started to settle from the APA convention in Toronto, let’s review the status of the Reorientation Wars.

Does therapy change orientation?

In anticipation of the APA’s report, NARTH fired an opening salvo with their paper (What Research Shows…). Perhaps sensing, incorrectly as it turns out, that the APA would advocate a ban on reorientation therapy, NARTH tossed every positive reference to change they could find into the paper. They noted problems in defining sexual orientation but did little to distinguish the various definitions and their meaning in the many studies they cited. They concluded, of course, that therapy can change orientation.

The APA on the other hand, differentiated sexual orientation and sexual orientation identity. Sexual orientation for them is the biological responsiveness to one gender or both. According to their literature review, the evidence that therapy can change orientation is not sufficient to permit therapists to inform clients that therapy can change their orientation. However, sexual orientation identity (i.e., self-labeling) may shift and be responsive to a variety of factors, including religious mediation.

It seems to me that what NARTH is calling sexual orientation includes the APA’s sexual orientation identity. While this statement risks taking us into the “all or nothing” dead end discussion about change, I do not mean that one must change completely for change to be important and psychologically relevant. I suggest instead that what many studies measure is how people see themselves, even if their sexual responsiveness (orientation) has only shifted by a degree (e.g., an average of less than a point on the Kinsey scale in the Jones and Yarhouse study). Jones and Yarhouse suggest as much in their recent paper when they write:

There is also the question of sexual identity change versus sexual orientation change (see Worthington & Reynolds, 2009). Recent theoretical (e.g., Yarhouse, 2001) and empirical (e.g., Beckstead & Morrow, 2004; Yarhouse & Tan, 2004; Yarhouse, Tan & Pawlowski, 2005; Wolkomir, 2006) work on sexual identity among religious sexual minorities suggests that attributions and meaning are critical in the decision to integrate same-sex attractions into a gay identity or the decision to dis-identify with a gay identity and the persons and institutions that support a gay identity. In light of the role of attributions and meaning in sexual identity labeling, is it possible that some of what is reported in this study as change of orientation is more accurately understood as change in sexual identity?

I believe the answer to their question is that it is not only possible but probable that change in sexual identity is what is being reported. The distinction between orientation and identity (or attraction and identity as we often describe it here) is key, in my view, in order for us to understand the experience of those who say they have changed while at the same time experiencing same-sex attraction. I also believe that men and women are different and their change may be different. Women seem to describe less exclusivity than men. Fluidity may be more likely with complete shifts described. I think we need to accommodate atypical experiences such as men and women who completely shift for a time and then shift back. Whatever the pattern, I hope we can agree that sexual attraction patterns may be one thing while meaning making aspects may lead two people with the same attraction pattern to identity in disparate ways.

Is sexual reorientation harmful or beneficial?

NARTH says reorientation might harm some people but that for the most part it is not harmful. The APA says existing studies are not good enough to allow conclusions. Point for the APA here. All we can say is that some people report harm and some people report benefit. The APA notes that the benefits can occur in programs which promote congruence with religious faith. This is clear and the Jones and Yarhouse study demonstrate that health status improves modestly for those who remained in the study. However, I would say we do not yet know much about what the potent or beneficial elements of those programs are. The APA report identified some of those elements.

Homosexuality and pathology

NARTH says homosexuals have more pathology than any other group of similar size. The APA says homosexuality is normal. By this they mean that homosexuality is not a developmental disorder or indicator of a mental disorder. The two recent reports go off in different directions but some observations can be made.

The NARTH report spends lots of time reporting on greater levels of mental health and health problems among homosexuals as compared to heterosexuals. The APA report does not do this. However, I believe the point regarding different levels of symptoms would be stipulated by the APA. However, the APA raises the minority stress model as responsible for many difficulties faced by non-heterosexual people. The NARTH report discounts the role of stigma.

I doubt the APA would dispute the health status data for another reason: greater group pathology does not mean inherent disorder. The APA’s position is not that gays have equal health outcomes but rather that the unequal health outcomes do not imply inherent pathology – that SSA is not inherently the result of pathological development. This is of course in great contrast to the reparative therapists. Joseph Nicolosi says that the only way you get SSA is to traumatize a child.

The reparative impulse to find trauma behind every gay person is misguided I believe, conceptually and for sure empirically. Women have greater levels of mental health problems than men but we would not consider women inherently disordered. NARTH has chosen some good studies to cite in the section of their paper which relates to health status (as well as some really bad and irrelevant ones). However, I don’t think it really gets them where they want to go.

And where do they want to go? This is clear from their press release complaining about the APA task force report. They state:

Further, if some clients are dissatisfied with the therapeutic outcome [of reorientation therapy], as in therapy for other issues, the possibility for dissatisfaction appears to be outweighed by the potential gains. The possibility of dissatisfaction also seems insignificant when compared to the substantial medical, emotional, and physical risks associated with homosexual behavior.

NARTH would suggest that these medical and emotional risks, along with the incongruity of homosexual behavior with the personal and religious values of many people will continue to be the motivation for some individuals to seek assistance for their unwanted homosexual attraction.

According to NARTH, gays ought to seek reorientation therapy because being gay is a risky life, full of health and mental health disadvantages. Their hypothesis is implied but hard to miss: reduce the SSA and reduce the health risks. The assumption appears to be that ex-gays will have better health outcomes than gays. One problem with this line of thinking is that there is no empirical evidence for it and some evidence against it.*

One researcher quoted in the NARTH paper regarding health risks was New Zealand’s David Fergusson. Dr. Fergusson has done significant work in this field. I asked him to look at the section of the NARTH paper in which his work was quoted. Here is a statement he provided about it:

While the NARTH statement provides a comprehensive and accurate analysis of the linkages between sexual orientation and mental health, the paper falls far short of demonstrating that homosexuality should be classified as a psychiatric disorder that may be resolved by appropriate therapy. To demonstrate this thesis requires an in depth understanding of the biological and social pathways that explain the linkages between homosexual orientation and mental health. At present we lack that understanding. Furthermore it is potentially misleading to treat what may be a correlate of mental disorder as though it were a disorder in its own right.

Fergusson also told me that one would need to develop studies to demonstrate that any changes in orientation associate with improvements in health status. The Jones and Yarhouse study provide some very general assessment but many potential confounds are uncontrolled. For instance, it is not possible to say that the modest shifts on the Kinsey scale were responsible for the shifts in health status. These folks were quite religious and religion is associated with enhanced health status. I suspect religious gays have a better health status than non-religious gays, on average. The point is we do not have evidence that sexual orientation status per se is what leads to the differences in health status.

While I am on the subject of health status, I need to mention that there are other factors which NARTH ignored. One, gender non-conformity is strongly correlated with adult homosexuality and is also associated with poorer mental health. Two, homosexuals report higher levels of sexual victimization which is also associated with higher levels of mental health problems. And, three, no one can discount the possibility that biological factors which associate with the development of homosexuality may also influence the development of emotional problems (i.e., in the same way women are more likely to report depression than men).

So where are we? I hope we have a larger middle and smaller numbers of people at the opinion extremes. People on both sides can agree that erotic responsiveness is extremely durable for men and perhaps less so for women, but behavior and self-identity reflection is alterable. People on both sides agree that conclusions about benefit and harm are not possible in any general sense. Also, I hope we can agree that full informed consent should be conducted prior to engaging in counseling. Regarding health status, both sides can agree that homosexuals have higher levels of problems but there is little agreement about what the differences mean.

Those on the far sides of the continuum will continue to argue that change is possible or change is impossible, and/or that reorientation is always harmful or never harmful and/or that health status difference mean something vital or irrelevant about inherent pathology.

The wars will continue but perhaps fewer people will be engaged in them; now is the time rather to reason together.

*Nottebaum, L. J., Schaeffer, K. W., Rood, J., & Leffler, D. (2000). Sexual orientation—A comparison study. Manuscript submitted for publication. (Available from Kim Schaeffer, Department of Psychology, Point Loma Nazarene University, 3900 Lomaland Drive, San Diego, CA 92106) – In this study, the authors found that mental health was better among the gay sample than the Exodus sample.

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  • Ann

    The distinction between orientation and identity (or attraction and identity as we often describe it here) is key, in my view, in order for us to understand the experience of those who say they have changed while at the same time experiencing same-sex attraction.

    Very well said – thank you.

  • http://nojam75.blogspot.com Norm!

    Hi Warren:

    “…People on both sides agree that conclusions about benefit and harm are not possible in any general sense. Also, I hope we can agree that full informed consent should be conducted prior to engaging in counseling…”

    I assume you mean that there is no conclusive academic study confirming the benefit or harm of reorientation attempts. Those who have gone through some type of sexual reorientation attempt probably have strong opinions about the help or harm of their experiences.

    I’m not sure promoters and critics of sexual reorientation would agree that there is no conclusive evidence of the help or harm of sexual orientation efforts. While there may not be a specific academic study to cite, it’s clear that promoters and critics have plenty of anecdotal testimonies to support their positions. It’s hard to imagine a sexual reorientation counselor sincerely disclosing to their client that they are offering unproven, experimental counseling that may result in harm.

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Timothy Kincaid

    The National Post quoted Jones as saying

    “A typical hetero male finds himself attracted to a wide range of females. But among the successful people who reported conversion the typical response was I’m very happy with my sexual responses to my wife, but I don’t experience much hetero attraction to other women. Also, when asked and pressed about whether they still find attraction to men, they will say: ‘Yes, if I let my mind go in that direction.’ “

    This fits well, I think, with the discussions about “spousosexual” men.

    And if this were presented outside the context of a culture war with all of its implications for public policy and church policy, I think that this could be an acceptable statement for all parties. I don’t know of anyone, gay or straight, who thinks that “I’m happy with my sexual response to my wife” is anything other than a great place to be.

    The dissatisfaction comes in when:

    1. These individuals are classified as “heterosexual” and this is portrayed for political or religious purposes as being an evidence of the mutability of orientation. (For example, see the Olsen and Boies testimony currently being presented). This is basing public or church policy on falsities.

    2. This is portrayed as a likely outcome of Exodus participants. (Only 9% of the original J&Y prospective sample reported this position). This surely must be disheartening to participants when they do not experience this phenomenon or see it in many others.

    3. This is portrayed as stable. (Of the 11 who fit this category in the 2007 book – total prospective and retrospective – by the follow-up paper, one had renounced his claim, one lost the status and reverted to struggling without notable succes, and one dropped out without explanation). Insisting that such identities are stable only serves to invite complete dismissal when such claims are seen to be false.

    But for those individuals who are content in knowing that they are not ever going to be heterosexual and that it is rather unlikely that they will become spousosexual and yet still wish to live in congruence with their values, the possiblity of spousal attraction – however unlikely – must be a great comfort.

    I think it must be like playing the lottery. True it is unlikely you will be a big winner, but the dream is sustaining and in itself of value.

    And if one is not shooting for reorientation or spousosexuality, should it come then it is a bonus and delight.

  • Eddy

    I agree with Timothy that these people appear to fit that new term ‘spousosexual’ as opposed to ‘heterosexual’. My caution, though, would be that ‘spousosexual’ might have been the cultural norm at one time. When we think back to the times when marriages were arranged by the family, it seems clear that very much has changed in our societal view of ‘the norms of heterosexuality’.

    Most all of us who blog here have grown up in the age of the media and in the age of sexual liberation. We may never fully grasp how much of our sexuality, whether it be straight or gay, has been shaped/is being shaped by the media and by our daily doses of peer/societal and media influence.

    Anecdotally, I’ve always wondered about those Rubenesque paintings. Surely he painted images that would be considered attractive but, in our current culture, those ‘fat chicks’ might be subject to derision. Somehow, we learn what it is that we should be attracted to and it does seem to morph from generation to generation.

    I think what I’m getting at is that clinically, we seem to take heterosexuality for granted. It just is. And, if the expression of the heterosexuality stays within normative boundaries, we don’t question whether it’s an innate part of heterosexuality or whether it’s been learned.

    This might not seem like such a major issue but when you have people trying to find their way to heterosexuality, confusion over ‘what is the essence of heterosexuality’ is likely to become a major stumbling block. I recall clients who wondered if they should subscribe to Playboy in an attempt to cultivate heterosexuality. Yes, they were an extreme, but their dilemma was a real one. On one hand, they knew that porn posed problems but, on the other, heterosexuality was basically being defined as a ‘healthy lust for women’. How indeed does a sincere Christian endeavor to cultivate and learn lust?

    So, for most, they don’t. They learn an appreciation for the female form…it’s design and function but don’t get caught up in the objectification of the sexual parts themselves. So, yes, their heterosexuality is light years away from what we commonly think of as heterosexuality today but I’m not so sure that it differs significantly from the prevailing model from centuries ago.

  • concerned

    Eddy,

    And I am not so sure that lust over the opposite sex is necessarily the most healthy model for any relationship. Seems that if a spouse has sole attraction towards their partner they may infact be in a better position than the one who cannot keep their eyes from wondering. Besides is it only the physical attraction a husband has towards his wife that is important. It saddens me when I think that some wives feel their husbands no longer love them when the physical attraction may be decreased even though there is still a strong bond between them emotionally and hopefully spiritually.

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Timothy Kincaid

    Eddy,

    They learn an appreciation for the female form…it’s design and function but don’t get caught up in the objectification of the sexual parts themselves. So, yes, their heterosexuality is light years away from what we commonly think of as heterosexuality today but I’m not so sure that it differs significantly from the prevailing model from centuries ago.

    I don’t see in Jones’ comments where they learn an appreciation for the female form. In fact, he seems to say quite the opposite.

    They do not learn an appreciation for the female form – or no more than any gay man has for its clinical design and function – but instead are “happy with their sexual responses to their wife.” Or, at least, that is how Jones describes it.

  • Brian

    “The wars will continue but perhaps fewer people will be engaged in them; now is the time rather to reason together.”

    IMO, this is wrong. The wars will continue regardless of what the studies say because one side has a vested political interest in demonstrating mutability, which they believe to be a prerequisite for something they call “minority status”. They think that there is a game of “gotcha” going on, in which if they can demonstrate any degree of mutability, they will have destroyed the entire premise of the gay rights movement. None of this has any basis in civil rights law. It is a dramatic misunderstanding and distortion of a single factor given weight in *constitutional* analysis relating to the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. This is an entirely different analysis than applies when a legislature determines whether to enact anti-discrimination protections in employment, housing, or public accommodations.

    Virtually every anti-gay group that emphasizes sexual orientation conversion links it to this concept of immutability-as-requirement-for-minority-status. The pro-gay side seems to unthinkingly accept the erroneous premise and tries to assert the immutability of sexual orientation in order to win the argument. So long as both sides believe that [im]mutability is key to their political objectives, the war will continue with just as many soldiers.

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Timothy Kincaid

    Brian,

    You are correct as to some of the motivation behind the political arms of the ex-gay movement. They do see their efforts as beneficial to proving mutability and thus supporting the “they don’t have to be gay so they don’t deserve rights” argument.

    And you are correct that this is a specious argument when it comes to civil rights legislation and political equality. Just as religion is not inate and immutable and is protected, so too can other attributes.

    But where mutibility does come into play is in the judicial realm. One of the four questions asked when looking at scrutiny for a suspect class is immutability of the distinguishing characteristic. So, for example, the Olsen and Boies lawsuit seeking to overturn Prop 8 has to answer the question as to whether orientation is immutable.

    In the In Re Marriages case (the CA Supreme Court overturning of the ban on marriage), ex-gay groups testified on behalf of those seeking to keep gay marriage illegal.

  • Brian

    Tim:

    You are absolutely correct in everything you say. And the issue has come up in the briefing in the Prop 8 litigation. However, two important points should be noted. First, the equal protection clause issues in which mutability would be considered are extremely few. The vast bulk of the gay rights battlefield concerns legislative and public policy choices, not disputes over constitutional rights. The equal protection clause only comes up when government (not private actors) actively discriminates. That means DADT, marriage, gay-only sodomy laws, and Amendment 2-type laws. Of these 4 items, 2 (sodomy and Amendment 2) are dead issues, DADT is essentially a non-issue since the military is treated differently and the standard equal protection constitutional analysis would not apply, whether homosexuality were mutable or not. That leaves only marriage – and only in the constitutional context – as an area in which the mutability issue could properly arise. Everything else has nothing to do with mutability.

    The second key point is that mutability is only considered when determining whether a government law implicates a suspect class. You can win equal protection cases without suspect class status, and gays have.

    Further, you can have a suspect class even if the characteristic in question is mutable (ex. religion). And you can be denied suspect class status even if the characteristic in question is immutable. (ex. sex, permanent disability). It is a subfactor, not a determinant. Moreover, mutability is not a game of gotcha in which the state wins if it can show that a few people can achieve some change after years of religious conversion and/or psychotherapy. It is looked at more broadly to assess the character of the class affected.

    In sum, mutability has no bearing on something like 99% of the war over gay rights. On the 1% in which it has legal bearing, it is a subfactor of limited importance in any event, and would only have an impact on the analysis if mutability were fairly common and achieved at low cost to the class in question.

    I could go on and on about this since this is my area of professional expertise, but I’ll close by saying that it really pisses me off that gays, for reasons of ignorance or laziness, simply accept the assumption of the anti-gay side that this is a do-or-die issue. If we all realized that almost nothing about gay rights depends on the outcome of this question, we could let this issue revert to the personal/religious/scientific realm.

  • Eddy

    Timothy–

    It has been my experience: personally, in counseling ex-gay men and in conversations with gay men that feelings ranging from ambivalence to fear to abhorrence for the female form are rampant if not pervasive. Dealing with the ambivalent or negative feelings and developing an ‘appreciation’ is a significant step.

    Since the area of what is innate to heterosexual attraction has not been researched, it only stands to reason that Jones would not have couched his finding in those terms.

    I also agree with Brian but I feel that we wander into the realm of bias when we generalize that the ex-gays claims for reorientation are politically motivated and that they are the only ones guilty of this. The war against the ex-gays claims of change began long before the ex-gays were involved in the political fray. Although I wasn’t claiming heterosexuality (but, to be truthful, I was projecting expectations of it), my claims of being ‘ex-gay’ or ‘no longer gay’ made me an instant enemy of local gay activists in Minnesota. It seems they were sensitive to the potential political ramifications long before I was. All I’m saying is what Brian has suggested: It’s a two-way street and both sides feel they have much at stake.

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Timothy Kincaid

    Eddy,

    I don’t seek to deny or diminish your experiences or those of whom you counsel. But I think you are discovering things in the Jones and Yarhouse report and the words of Stanton Jones that are not present.

    He did not report that those persons established heterosexual attractions. In fact, the study found quite the opposite. Heterosexual attractions, in general, were not established.

    Nor did he express, insinuate, suggest, imply, or in any other way give any indication that those who find satisfying sex with their wives have developed any appreciation for the female form in general.

    You may wish that such appreciation be found, but you can’t rely on the J&Y Study to support any claim that it has. This seems to say that it hasn’t. Perhaps there are other reports that speak directly to female form appreciation that counter this study.

    But I do think that both you and Brian are correct in that claims about reorientation will continue to be a pawn in the culture war for some time to come. Some anti-gay activists will continue to insist, “you choose to stay that way” and some gay activists will continue to insist, “you really are just in denial, you haven’t changed at all, your marriage is a sham”.

    Let’s hope that some on both sides, however, can be content with a finding that seems to confirm both arguments. No, homosexual men do not appear to become heterosexuals. But it does seem that some (though not many) can find a life that is spiritually, emotionally, and even sexually fulfilling as same-sex attracted men in an opposite-sex realtionship.

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Timothy Kincaid

    … and others can find a life that is spiritually and emotionally fulfilling as same-sex attracted men living chastely in congruence with their values as do many many unmarried opposite-sex attracted men.

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    Timothy – Thanks for pointing out that quote from Jones. That is exactly what we are finding in our analysis of the survey data from the SSA hetero marriage study I am finishing up.

    Only a very few look anything like a typical straight male. Most are either bisexual in the usual sense or in the sense Jones describes (spousosexual). I think one may look to Lisa Diamond’s work for a better hypothesis about this than to look at reparative drive or reorientation.

  • Eddy

    Timothy–

    I’m not saying that I’m finding these things in the studies; that’s precisely my point. We appear to be measuring against some standard of ‘what it is to be heterosexual’ and I’m wondering who invented that ‘standard’ and how they justify it as ‘normative heterosexuality’. Actually, I’m also wondering what that standard is.

    The implication is that a true heterosexual (as opposed to a spousosexual) has a wandering eye, thinks and responds with his penis to a variety of objectified stimuli. In a theory that submits that at least part of our sexuality is learned and defined by culture, I wonder why we can’t break this down further. Ex-gays have not taken part in the learning defined by culture. At the age of ‘drooling over the opposite sex’, breast cleavage wasn’t in their scope…so they never learned to ‘drool appropriately’. They learned an appreciation for the female anatomy later…when they were older, more mature, had some life lessons under their belt, had pretty much mastered drooling in any sexual context…and some embraced a semblance of heterosexuality.

    I think we’d agree that ‘drooling’ over body parts isn’t the true measure of heterosexuality but I’m not sure that we have a consensus of what is the true measure…not here and not in the scientific community. My very biased hypothesis is that our culture for the past 50 to 75 years has been saturated with sexual imagery and preoccupation…so saturated that we aren’t even aware that we are indeed saturated. So, in an area pertaining to sexuality that hasn’t been studied, a scientist brings his own notions of what’s normal, of what’s going on, of what’s to be expected. For validation, he compares his notions with other scientists. Trouble is that the others have all been saturated as well.

    The power of a notion that saturates a culture is well established: The world is flat because it’s always been flat; that’s been my experience and my colleagues all concur, therefore it must be so. There is no need to look beyond the obvious; any fool can see that that’s the way it is.

  • Brian

    I like the term “spousosexual” since it is a nice reminder that this whole inquiry is largely contrived pseudoscience dressed up to seem scientific. It’s like the vaguely medical-sounding abbreviations like “SSA” that get thrown around on this blog. Why prove pathology empirically, when you can just invent a term that makes it sound like a disease?

    Anyway, assuming that the self-reports of spousosexuality from an undisclosed number of the 60-odd respondents can be taken as true, then why would that phenomenon be any different than situational homosexuality among males? For example, a straight male takes a male partner in prison, responds sexually to the male partner even while maintaining a heterosexual orientation, and reverts to heterosexual sex when released. The only difference is that the study respondents are the architects of their own prisons, the creators of their own situational heterosexuality.

  • Mary

    Yeah, I wonder what the standard heterosexual being is – really. Seems it changes with the times, the cultures, the technology and science.

  • David Blakeslee

    Interesting effort to compile the two reports.

    I always love the way you contact people quoted by NARTH to give them a chance to say what they really believe.

    I would like to add that although I wish being a Christian led to a healthier, better life; I am not sure we can prove it scientifically…and even if we could, I am not sure we should use it as an apologetic tool.

    Sometimes I wonder if what we are trying to prove is that Christianity is better than PROSAC…

    I still think the health concerns and distortions of the 80′s fueled a strong reaction against the APA’s stand on Same Sex Attraction (especially in men).

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    Norm! said:

    While there may not be a specific academic study to cite, it’s clear that promoters and critics have plenty of anecdotal testimonies to support their positions. It’s hard to imagine a sexual reorientation counselor sincerely disclosing to their client that they are offering unproven, experimental counseling that may result in harm.

    But they should disclose that. And if they practice in accord with the APA report and the SIT framework, they need to do it. Otherwise, if damage occurs, I think there may be liability concerns.

  • http://nojam75.blogspot.com Norm!

    Hi Warren,

    But they should disclose that. And if they practice in accord with the APA report and the SIT framework, they need to do it. Otherwise, if damage occurs, I think there may be liability concerns.

    I very much appreciate your position. I wish more counselors on the sexual reorientation side of the debate were as diligent. I would also hope counselors would practice full disclosure because they seek what is in the best interest of the client and not merely avoiding liability — otherwise, what’s the point?

    That said, I don’t know if full disclosure is really possible in many situations. Based on my own experience as a confused, desperate 19-year-old eons ago, I assume most people who seek sexual reorientation counseling do so because they are in the midst of deep internal conflict and desire a firm, definitive resolution. So, I’m not sure a client would really hear a counselor’s warning or disclaimer that sexual reorientation may not work or be harmful.

  • Lynn David

    So…. NARTH is defeated, it’s corpse of a ship settling into the sea of its own iniquity as tiny Switzerland waves it’s flag proudly? I guess we’ll have to get used to your cheese…..

  • Ann

    The only difference is that the study respondents are the architects of their own prisons, the creators of their own situational heterosexuality

    Brian,

    I can understand you using the word “prisons” because it defines your perspective, however, it is unfair to assume that those who are in relationships of their own choosing feel the same way. One does not have to be interested sexually in the opposite gender, as a whole, to be interested in the one they choose to be in a relationship with.

  • Ann

    But they should disclose that.

    Dr. Throckmorton,

    When a new or current client asks “what is the cause of my same gender attractions (or however they put it)” – what is the ethical answer for a therapist to give? Since no one knows for sure, I’m hoping that line of thinking would be followed in the answer. Wouldn’t that be a good foundation/basis to start from?

  • Eddy

    Okay, I’ll try this again without pontificating on the side:

    Warren, you said:

    Only a very few look anything like a typical straight male.

    What are the universal attributes of a ‘typical straight male’? Where does this standard description come from?

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    No sexual interest in men. General interest in women – typical straight male. Note I did not say this is necessarily a better or worse thing. Just typical.

  • Mary

    No offense Warren, but in my opinion, a typical straight guy is aroused easily by anything and has a preference for women. Only the over macho type will say he NO interest in anything other than women.

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Timothy Kincaid

    Mary,

    If men were aroused easily by anything and only have a preference for either women or men, then there would be no need for the existence of Exodus or other ex-gay minstries.

    I think that Warren’s definition more closely reflects reality.

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    I don’t take offense but you are wrong Mary. I can think of no research that would support what you say and a 30 years of experience counseling hundreds of men make your thesis a very strange one indeed.

    Rather, women are aroused more generally even when they report that they are not.

  • Mary

    Fair enough.

  • Mary

    Timothy – I didn’t say men per se – but typical striaght guy.

  • Mary

    Warren,

    I think we have a long ways to go on the self reporting of sexual arousal.

  • Michael Bussee

    Ann:

    When a new or current client asks “what is the cause of my same gender attractions (or however they put it)” – what is the ethical answer for a therapist to give?

    I think you already have the best answer. “No one knows for sure.” It’s ethical because it is true.

  • Michael Bussee

    Straight men, even the macho ones, are lying. They are all bisexual. So are gay men. Every man is. If they say they’re not, they’re lying.

    I think Mary is right.

  • Michael Bussee

    A typical straight guy is aroused easily by anything and has a preference for women. Only the over macho type will say he NO interest in anything other than women.

    “Aroused easily by anything…” Interesting. Besides other men, I am wondering what other things easily turn the typical straight guy on?

  • Evan

    Michael,

    Hard to believe, but google this doi:10.1016/S0005-7894(05)80039-5

  • Evan

    Michael,

    Your statement re bisexual men is very similar to that of an ancient Greek who said: All Cretans are liars. — He was a Cretan too.

    I think you said on this blog that “women do nothing for me”, yet you identify as gay (right?). Which of your statements is true?

  • Evan

    OK…

  • Michael Bussee

    Evan: I am gay. Have never had sexual interest in women. The curved female form may be beautiful on a purely aesthetic level, but breasts, vaginas and other female sexual characteristics don’t even get a wiggle on my richter scale.

    But I may not be a typical gay man — and I may be lying. :)

  • Michael Bussee

    For the “typical straight male”, anything will do: other men, stuffed animals, electrical appliances — a gentle breeze… They like it all.

    They only have a preference for women — as one might like all 31 flavors, but have a preference for pistachio ice cream.

    If they say they only like one kind, they are obviously hiding something.

  • Eddy

    Uh oh!! We seem to have a disagreement over what constitutes ‘a typical straight man’. I find it ironic that the goal that has been set for the ex-gays isn’t even a goal that is clearly defined.

    Warren’s definition is somewhat imprecise for a scientific discussion:

    No sexual interest in men. General interest in women – typical straight male.

    Michael has indicated that a typical straight male might even entertain the occasional bisexual thought. It’s also been suggested that even the typical straight male has likely engaged in some form of adolescent experimentation or perhaps participated in ‘a circle jerk’. This would mean that the ‘No’ of ‘no sexual interest in men’ requires a qualifier. Or is it ‘sexual interest’ that we’re redefining?

    ‘General interest in women’ doesn’t even speak to sexuality. Heck, even I, admittedly not reoriented, have a ‘general interest in women’. In fact, I’m usually one of the first to notice a new hairdo, a change in makeup, a weight loss.

    In the face of my challenge that this area of study has been overlooked, these atypical generalizations are rather telling, don’t you think?

    Psychology has invented the concept of ‘orientation’ but has not adequately defined the prevailing orientations. Many would suggest that there are two orientations: heterosexual and homosexual; others would include bisexual as another orientation. Those that don’t include bisexual tend to categorize the bisexual as homosexually oriented while there are some that say that it’s the measure of their bi-ness that determines if hetero or homo. Even there, some insert the variables of thought vs deed. If you think bi thoughts but don’t actually go there, then your orientation is the the one that you actually do.. (This plays both ways, BTW. A guy who only has sex with men is considered homosexual even if he does have thoughts of having sex with a woman.)

    In short, we really don’t know what in the hell we’re talking about! It’s all science, all talk about being precise, about measurements, etc. And then, we find the emperor has no clothes! We discuss orientation and reorientation as if we know what we’re talking about and discover that our terms have no scientific substance…no precise definitions…that they are based on ‘a general sense of how things appear to be’.

    I’m not saying that this makes the studies under discussion invalid. There is still much truth and insight to be gained. What I’m saying is that the psychological and scientific communities need to wake up and realize that they’ve tripped over/skipped over a very important step. This ought to come as no surprise. Historically, it seems that we leaped right from Victorian thinking into the age of ultra-permissiveness. Many psychologists were still very uncomfortable about talking about or thinking about sex in any detail and then suddenly ‘the era of enlightenment’ was upon us. There was a tremendous pressure to ‘get up to speed’. In the leap that happened, I firmly believe we failed to cover some essential groundwork. It’s unfortunate that happened but it is no tragedy; the tragedy would be if we continued to try to build our new understandings while blind to the fact that the foundation is so pathetically weak.

    Damn, I thought for sure I left that soapbox behind in Minnesota.

    Sincerely,

    EGANTRO

    (ex-gay admittedly not totally re-oriented)

  • Michael Bussee

    I take it all back. Nothing is typical. There is no such thing as “sexual orientation”. There is no “straight”, “bisexual” or “gay”. We should not generalize. Everyone is unique — and we should not impose labels or try to define other people. .

    That said, I get no erections thinking about women. I get them thinking about men. Men only. Not sure what to call that. My brother says he gets them only thinking about women. Women only. Not sure what to call that either.

    He’s not super macho, so, he’s probably lying anyway.

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    Eddy – I meant sexual interest in women in general.

  • Eddy

    Michael–

    You’ve got me a bit confused today. I’m not sure if your 10:08 comment is intended to be a sarcastic response to mine. My 9:48 comment was not a response to your two previous comments in any way. I took about 45 minutes to draft my post and yours didn’t exist when I started. Anyway, your 10:08 struck me as sarcastic but, as you’ve said before, ‘if only they could see my face while I’m typing’…so I’d really like to know.

    Another confusion was from your two posts where you indicated that you believed ‘a typical straight man’ did entertain bisexual thoughts. Yet, you’ve constantly presented the challenge that you’ve been searching for 30 years for that ex-gay who no longer had any homosexual thoughts or temptations. It would seem, from what you’ve posted today, that this would make them atypical straight men…that, despite the fact that they’ve had gay experience (or maybe because of it…you hold them to a standard where they can’t have a bisexual thought.

    And the final one is the conclusion that a ‘typical straight man’ is capable of being turned on by most anything…man, woman, animal, gadgets…but your ‘typical gay man’ isn’t quite as diverse. The ‘typical gay man’ won’t be turned on by a woman (and I suppose by a female animal). I tend to agree with you but I’m struck by the oddity of the straight man being capable of more diversity than the gay.

  • Michael Bussee

    I was being sarcastic. I do not believe, as Mary seems to, that the typical straight man is bisexual — or that he is turned on by “anything” — or that if he says otherwise he is not being truthful.

    Like Warren, I think that the “typical” “straight” man is “OSA” or “hetereosexual” — or as Warren has put it, has “sexual interest in women in general”

    Of course, then we have to define what we mean by “typical”, “straight”, “in general” and, I suppose even “man” and “woman”. Tomato, to-mah-to…

    Think I will stick to which gender I have sexual dreams about, which gender I fantasize about, and which gender causes me to have erections and orgasms. For me — it’s men ONLY. That’s why I think I’m gay. Of course, I could be mistaken.

    In terms of “terms”, it is probably futile to try to define anything — and I really don’t feel like going through all that again.

  • concerned

    Michael,

    I think it might be time for you to go visit Joe Korts blog site Straight Guise or look up some of the work being done by Robert Epstein. I think there is some research that has been done to indicate Marys hypothesis may not be as far fetched as you may think.

  • Mary

    Michael,

    I find it strange that you have noted body parts when talking about sexuality. As if that is all there is to it?

  • Michael Bussee

    I find it strange that you have noted body parts when talking about sexuality. As if that is all there is to it?

    Of course not. There a lot more to sexuality, love, bonding, affection, romance, commitment, tenderness, passion, caring, etc. But the following are facts:

    I have have no desire for and do not enyoy sex with women. I am not attracted to them romantically. I do desire and like sex with men. I am attracted to men romantically. What would a reasonable person call that?

    The way I see it. I am either a girl — or a gay boy.

  • Michael Bussee

    I think there is some research that has been done to indicate Mary’s hypothesis may not be as far fetched as you may think

    .

    Concerned, are you referring to her hypothesis that the “typical” “straight” man is attracted to “anything”, but prefers women? That one that syays most, if not all men, have some level of SSA and that those who say they don’t (with the possible exception of really macho types) are lying?

    That one?

  • Michael Bussee

    The “typical” straight man is:

    (1) bisexual to some extent — that is, he has some SSA,

    (2) is actually attracted to “anything”, but prefers women — and

    (3) if he says otherwise, he is not being truthful.

    Those were Mary’s main points, as I understood them. Dr Throckmorton seems to disagree with this idea. And I agree with the good doctor.

    So, if we surveyed say, a thousand men who self-identified as “straight” and asked them whether or not they agreed with points 2 and 3, I wonder what the typical response would be? How would it look statistically?

    I would suspect that the “typical”, self-identified “straight” response would be “NO”. That is just my opinion — and of course, those who disagree on points 1 and 2 may be liars.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    concerned said

    I think there is some research that has been done to indicate Mary’s hypothesis may not be as far fetched as you may think

    What research?

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Just commenting briefly to point out what I wish were more obvious, but somehow isn’t over here because of the fascination with scientific or pseudo-scientific analysis.

    As I said on the other thread, I have no beef with Warren’s analysis in this post, as far as it goes. When you read it simply as an assessment of the studies or frame it only in the therapeutic, his statements are accurate.

    Problem is, the overall discussion also has to touch on the spiritual aspects of the ministry approach, or the “religiously mediated” one, to use a term in the accepted vernacular. How do you compare therapy under the APA guidelines with a discipling approach in a faith-based setting? In reality, you don’t.

    How do you study or observe empirically the effects of prayer? How do you grasp what it is and what it means and how it works in an earthly sense? Likewise, how do we come to fully understand what “transformation” (the term used in the Exodus/Love won Out joining press release) means for an individual life? Transformation by the renewing of the mind is really what change means in the faith-based setting.

    I’ve simply come to see it as fruitless to keep on discussing the problem when it is framed only as it is here.

  • Ann

    While I hold men in the highest esteem and am intrigued by all of them, I also see a difference when it comes to “sexual opportunity” between homosexual and heterosexual orientations. I have keenly observed that most heterosexual men, especially those who are single, tend to be more open to sexual opportunities in a variety of ways and with a variety of people than the homosexual man who tends to be interested in only men.

  • Ann

    I think you already have the best answer. “No one knows for sure.” It’s ethical because it is true.

    Michael,

    Thanks – it seems to me that if a client/therapist relationship is grounded in the truth from the beginning then a lot can be accomplished. Would a therapist really put their ego ahead of their client’s well being by purporting to know answers that have no basis in truth?

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    Debbie – In this post, I did not touch on the spiritual component because it is hard to quantify and it may not relate to setting standards for practice in a professional setting. However, within the counseling or ministry much of a spiritual nature can take place.

    Jones and Yarhouse assessed Exodus ministries and presumably they incorporate spiritual activities. The change of orientation was modest and may indeed be sexual identity. Identity incorporates all of the spiritual relationship qualities you describe. However, since the study did not assess spiritual development, we do not get the full picture of the benefit to the person’s life. I recognize and I do not understand by now why this is not understood, that no change in sexual attraction may occur in Exodus programs but inasmuch as the person in the program benefits spiritually it is a successful experience.

  • Eddy

    Of course, then we have to define what we mean by “typical”, “straight”, “in general” and, I suppose even “man” and “woman”. Tomato, to-mah-to…

    In terms of “terms”, it is probably futile to try to define anything — and I really don’t feel like going through all that again.

    Thank you, Michael, I will consider my questions, my observations and myself, summarily dismissed.

    For the record, though, EVERY time I’ve brought up the notion that our concept of straightness or heterosexuality has been unduly impacted by the media and that the concept is somewhat blurred (something I learned when I first met people who were considering heterosexuality as a goal…and we could not find our way to this normal heterosexuality without taking the path of objectifying body parts)…anyway, EVERY time I’ve brought up these notions, my comments essentially get ignored or dismissed. I find that intriguing.

    Warren only answered as far as clarifying that he meant ‘sexual interest in women’ but ignored how we’d reclassify those things that are ‘sexual interests’ like adolescent experimentation, circle jerks, privately (or semi-publicly) comparing penis size, locker room looking, envy related to masculinity or sexual prowess. All are ‘sexual interests’. Some would say ‘it ought to be obvious that we’re talking about attraction to or about penile response‘ but, without clear definition, you have surveys that ask ‘do you still notice men sexually?’ Some who answer ‘yes’, if questioned further, would reveal that the ‘noticing’ is with regard to comparing penis size, locker room looking and/or envy related to masculinity or perceived prowess. If those areas are NOT a part of ‘sexual interests’ as in Warren’s statement which Michael endorsed of “NO sexual interest in men”, then efforts need to be made to weed them out of studies and surveys. (I had ‘a boatload’ of clients whose major ‘sexual preoccupation’ with men was envy rather than sexual attraction.)

    Michael dismisses my word wrangling here verbally while Warren dismisses it by not addressing it. I have said what I’ve said in this particular post NOT for the purpose of engaging either one of them further but rather to hopefully clarify this significant issue to others who can see it and to present my reasoning for leaving this discussion.

  • http://nojam75.blogspot.com Norm!

    Hi Debbie:

    …How do you compare therapy under the APA guidelines with a discipling approach in a faith-based setting? In reality, you don’t.

    How do you study or observe empirically the effects of prayer? How do you grasp what it is and what it means and how it works in an earthly sense? Likewise, how do we come to fully understand what “transformation” (the term used in the Exodus/Love won Out joining press release) means for an individual life? Transformation by the renewing of the mind is really what change means in the faith-based setting.

    I’ve simply come to see it as fruitless to keep on discussing the problem when it is framed only as it is here.

    So why did Exodus fund the Jones and Yarhouse study if the results of its faith-based ministry are not empirically measureable? It doesn’t seem Exodus shares your pessimism about the measureability of its ministry.

    Exodus/Love Won Out and most other faith-based groups that promote sexual reorientation do imply, if not promise, that their programs lead to a change in sexual orientation. Exodus/LWO cannot continue with their “Change Is Possible” billboards and claims of hundreds of thousands changed without some type of proof.

    But even if ex-gay groups were only about a discipling approach as you claim, are you saying that it is wrong for participants to expect some type of measureable change (whether it be a change in faith and/or sexual attractions)? What troubles me with this approach is that if participants follow faith-based ex-gay programs but don’t experience change or transformation, then the ex-gay programs claim no responsibility and participants are dismissed as lacking faith.

  • Mary

    Michael,

    You did misunderstand the point I was making. I will have to respond in detail later.

  • Mary

    Eddy,

    I am inclined to go along with you that the definition of heterosexual male is not so easily defined. It does not mean that all straight men have a bisexual side. Michael totally misconstrued what I said.

  • Ann

    For the record, though, EVERY time I’ve brought up the notion that our concept of straightness or heterosexuality has been unduly impacted by the media and that the concept is somewhat blurred (something I learned when I first met people who were considering heterosexuality as a goal…and we could not find our way to this normal heterosexuality without taking the path of objectifying body parts)…anyway, EVERY time I’ve brought up these notions, my comments essentially get ignored or dismissed. I find that intriguing

    Eddy,

    I think you make a very valid point. It is unfortunate that individuals are defined according to what the media or olthers portray them to be. Sometimes I think it is a matter of convenience or lack of critical thought. I honestly don’t think anyone would call into question the heterosexuality of a man who has returned from military service as a parapalegic and unable to get an erection no matter what he thinks about. I think too often we talk in terms that group people together rather than define them as individuals.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    I recognize and I do not understand by now why this is not understood, that no change in sexual attraction may occur in Exodus programs but inasmuch as the person in the program benefits spiritually it is a successful experience.

    Warren, I’m not sure if you are saying in the phrase, “I do not understand by now why this is not understood,” that you don’t understand why your realization is not understand or why the general concept is not understood, in general. At any rate, thanks for your comment.

    Norm, as to your comment, it is never wrong to keep hope in the equation. I am perfect;y willing to let the Holy Spirit work in people’s lives, whether or not the hope in them and the transformation they undergo leads to something that is measurable or quantifiable to the world. I like Oswald Chambers’ reference to the hilarity in situations we know only God can work in and change. Reminds me of Jesus thanking the Father that the truth is often hidden to the wise but revealed to those the world thinks unwise or simple.

    All the wrangling I see in this thread is silly in many ways.

    FYI, Andrew Marin has a relevant article in Relevant’s current Neue magazine. It can be Googled. I don’t have the link. I have not read it all yet as the digital edition seems a bit unwieldly to me. I know it will be interesting, though.

  • Eddy

    Ann,

    I live on the outskirts of Pennsylvania Dutch Country…home to many Amish and Mennonite folks. Their cultures shun much of the media influence. While some do wind up looking like or thinking like the ‘typical straight male’, many find the showing of too much skin repulsive and vulgar. They are no less heterosexual than the ‘typical straight male’ but they learned the wholeness of sexual response and were guarded from sexual objectification. Many are more heterosexually drawn to eyes, smiles, strength of body and character than they are to those attributes that would be the major attractions for your ‘typical straight male’. Yikes, I suppose we’d have to brand many of them as ‘spousosexual’ along with those ex-gays.

  • Ann

    They are no less heterosexual than the ‘typical straight male’ but they learned the wholeness of sexual response and were guarded from sexual objectification. Many are more heterosexually drawn to eyes, smiles, strength of body and character than they are to those attributes that would be the major attractions for your ‘typical straight male’.

    Eddy,

    I am very familiar with that part of PA. and the Amish community. Will be there next week :-) I also agree with your comments and observations.

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    Eddy – I didn’t go further due to time constraints more than anything. I think you raise some issues which I probably don’t think about much in adult orientation but rather the development of orientation. Michael Bailey divides the situation more – erotic orientation, sexual preference and sexual identity.

    There is some research on this point and it is not as clear cut as I indicated earlier. No doubt there are straight males who have some element of homoeroticism about them. I guess I would quarrel over the definition of typical more than straight. The highest percentage of the potential for straight identified males of engaging in homoerotic activities is 35%.

    This does have relevance for ministry and therapy since some clients think they are gay when their preferences for homoeroticism are related to porn or some relatively low level of sexual activity.

    Sorry to all if it seemed I was being flippant. More of a function of schedule than thinking there was nothing to discuss here.

    I am interested to know if this can be related to the topic of the post.

  • Eddy

    Ann–

    I don’t want to be forward but is there any chance of our getting to meet while you’re here? See if you can locate Chick’s Tavern on GoogleEarth or MapQuest. (Zip: 17036) Is that at all convenient to where your travels take you? (Chick’s is within a block of my one brother and it’s also where I’ll be singing karaoke on Thursday evening.)

  • Eddy

    I am interested to know if this can be related to the topic of the post.

    I think yes. We’re discussing reorientation. Are we clear of what we’re measuring the reorientation failures against? Are we clear on what the goal of reorientation is? Are we looking for blood surges to the penis in response to naked imagery or can we accommodate the heterosexuality that is not image driven or fixated? If we do accommodate this, are we merely playing games or are we honestly recognizing that the real base of heterosexuality goes beyond the ‘typical’wandering eyes?

    Yes, most definitely related to the topic!

  • Ann

    Eddy,

    Thank you for asking :-) Let me look this up and will write you privately later today or over the weekend – is that ok?

  • concerned

    Warren,

    I think 35% is a very large number when we consider the impact that 1-3% or the population who claim to be gay have had on us. I do not have any links to specific research regarding attraction in straight men, but I can tell you it is not that uncommon. I think there are a lot of gay men out there that depend on this in some straight men as it provides a challenge for them. I guess that is why I have such a difficult time with the idea that Michael so often brings up that there is no reported evidence of anyone going from 100% homosexual to 100% heterosexual, because I just do not think either of these boxes are that well represented in the general population. There is fluidity whether we will admitt it or not. That is why I find the work that Robert Epstein (I don’t have the link here, but it can easily be googled) is doing to be quite interesting and revealing, however, I do not know that he has published anything other than what he has looked at in The Science Mind magazine. He has tackled the reorientation issue there and I think he had tried to provide a balanced approach.

  • Eddy

    Ann–

    Sure thing! A lot will depend on which part of Amish Country you’re travelling to. If you’re on the Philadelphia or Lancaster side, I won’t be all that convenient. Chick’s (and my brother’s house) are about a mile to a mile and a half from HersheyPark or Milton Hershey Medical Center.

  • Michael Bussee

    Warren can’t make a reasonable, rather obvious statement about the typical straight man not weanting to have sex with other men without picking apart the word “typical”.

    When it comes to sexuality, nothing is typical. No generalizations can or should be made. Everyone is unique. Categories are meaningless. We should not try to define or label anyone.

    I can’t do this anymore. It makes my head throb. Not dismissing Eddy. Just backing out of this conversation. Have fun wrangling.

  • Michael Bussee

    Here is the point that Mary made, the one she feels I misunderstood:

    No offense Warren, but in my opinion, a typical straight guy is aroused easily by anything and has a preference for women. Only the over macho type will say he NO interest in anything other than women.

    Oh, I thought she said that

    (1) the typical straight guy is aroused easily by anything

    (2) has a preference for women and

    (3) that only the over macho type will say he has NO interest in anything other than women.

    My bad.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    Well, that is what I heard too.

    Just call me over macho…

  • Michael Bussee

    Some other words for “typical”: average, characteristic, common, commonplace, expected, general, in character, in keeping, normal, ordinary, prevalent, regular, representative, standard, unexceptional.

    As opposed to rare, unusal, etc.

    Lots more words to wrangle over if anyone is interested. I am not.

    I still think Warren’s simple explanation of the “typical straight man” (being very different from the SSA married men he is studying) makes sense:

    Eddy – I meant sexual interest in women in general.

  • Mary

    I think Eddy’s point that some young men partake of masturbation together (obviously no women involved), that there are other kinds of eroticism that aren’t really typically considered “straight” And that doe not neccesarily imply homosexuality or bisexuality. It just I think our limited version of “straight” man is very narrowly defined and that there is much more to the heterosexuality of straight men than just the obvious.

    Michale – Warren – you don’t have to get snarky to protect your sexuality or sense of sexuality. We get it. Warren is straight and Michael is gay. Your out sexuality is safe with us.

  • Ann

    I “think” what Mary is saying is, given the opportunity, heterosexual men are more open to various sexual activity and with various people, albeit might be a one time encounter, than a man with a homosexual orientation who is more apt to have no sexual encounter outside of one with their same gender. In other words, I think men of heterosexual orientation are less selective than men of homosexual orientation when it comes to an opportunity to have sex.

  • Ann

    Lots more words to wrangle over if anyone is interested. I am not.

    Michael,

    There is a lot of sensitivity regarding definitions because all of us have been labeled in some way and had it used against us, often in a very cruel way. I think we often are able to say things here, safely, that we have not been able to say outside. Things are being worked out and that is a good thing. Perhaps if we can reason our sensitivites out here, even though it can get exhausting, it will be better for all of us and the people we interact with outside of the blog. No one has been more patient than you and it has been very, very valuable to me.

  • Mary

    Ann,

    Yes. You are on target with what I am saying.

  • carole

    I am not taking exception to Warren’s generic definition of straight men. Made sense to me.

    However, in several posts in the past, not just in this one, Eddy has raised an interesting point/observation about how the times/culture influence what it is we find attractive. I admit that until now, I had not bothered to respond to his point although on another thread, one of his comments, articulately laid out, did cause me to give his points a lot of thought.

    I recall he once pointed to the Rubenesque chubby forms of women in paintings of the time. In contemporary American culture, most very young virile, straight men would regard those women as fat and far from attractive. Actually, the conception of beauty or the conception of what is alluring and erotic change from culture to culture as we well know. Native Hawaiian men would regard a Gwenith Paltrow sort as lacking in sexual attractiveness. It’s not presumptuous, I do believe, to say that African-American men seem to like women with some meat on them, as do Italian men. So, as groups, anyway, our concepts of beauty and sexiness are greatly influenced by our culture. (I’d just add a small note here: what we perceive as sexy may not coincide 100% with what we view as beautiful).

    So, I do agree with Eddy that an intriguing question for dialogue is “How much does the culture influence the individual–the child, especially–in the formation of his/her conception of not only beauty but desirability?

    I think on another thread, Eddy’s point was that if in another era straight men found a very different female form attractive from the one they find attractive today, then how might that relate to men finding other forms (like the forms of men) attractive and those of women unattractive?

    I have been on this blog long enough for most of you to know my basic belief about the etiology of preferential homosexuality–that its etiology is likely biological. However, Eddy’s point is worth discussing, I think.

    If our ideas of what is sexually a turn-on, what is alluring, what is beautiful can change from culture to culture, from age to age, from generation to generation, then in some people, at least, then can this also mean that in some people, at least, actual sexual orientation can be influenced to the point of development of SSA or the shunning of OSA?

    I suppose one reason we haven’t addresssed this is 1) our biases and 2) it’s so hard to know how a very, very young child, a two year old toddler, for example, perceives and translates the signals the culture is sending him. So far, there is no way to know, but it’s an interesting question, nonetheless.

    Maybe we can talk about it.

  • Ann

    Just call me over macho…

    I am not sure if macho is the distinguishing factor – I think opportunity is. Unless someone is grounded in their values and morals (yea), heterosexual men will consider, if not yield, to the sexual opportunity that presents itself (ugh). I think there is a joke about what happens to some men’s rational thinking when it comes to sexual opportunity :-)

  • Michael Bussee

    I just think we need to be able to say “heterosexual” or “typically heterosexual” and have some general understanfing of what that means.

    Do we really need to argue the the “typical straight” guy, when it comes to sex, has a general interest in women and that he does not typically have this same general sexual interest in men?

    Can we say at least that? Does hetereosexual have any meaning at all? Could we agree on this basic definition from Medicine.net

    Heterosexual: A person sexually attracted to persons of the opposite sex. Colloquially known as “straight.” The term “heterosexual” can also be an adjective.

    Or this one from Encarta:

    Desiring opposite sex: sexually attracted to members of the opposite sex

    Or this one from the Collin’s Dictionary of the English language:

    Noun: A person who is sexually attracted to members of the opposite sex, Adjective: (of a person) sexually attracted to members of the opposite sex.

    I agree that it is likely that men men who identify as straight have had some passing interest or curiousity towards other males, maybe some adolescent same-sex experiementation, etc.

    But Warren seems to be saying that the “typical” straight man — so far as his study is concerned — is one who reports “sexual interest in women in general” and that the SSA married men did not.

  • Michael Bussee

    Is that how you meant “typical straight male”, Warren?

  • Ann

    If our ideas of what is sexually a turn-on, what is alluring, what is beautiful can change from culture to culture, from age to age, from generation to generation, then in some people, at least, then can this also mean that in some people, at least, actual sexual orientation can be influenced to the point of development of SSA or the shunning of OSA?

    Carole,

    The first thing that came to mind when reading your post was how Chinese women would bind their little girl’s feet at the age of six. The purpose for doing this was to attract a future husband. The smaller and more deformed the feet looked, the better chance for a good marriage because this was what sexually turned men on back then and in that culture.

  • Mary

    Micahel,

    As much as you want it to be – it’s not so simple or balck and white. If you let go of your need to delineated hard lines of definition, I think your understanding of sexuality will broaden. It’s not just gays, straights and bisexuals of varying degrees. There’s so much more to sexuality than penises, vaginas and breasts. That’s why our ability to define and be attracted to others is continually under change throughout time and cultures. It is not easy to place in a confinement.

  • Ann

    Michael,

    The only reason I can think that those terms are easily definable to you and Dr. Throckmorton is because both of you do not struggle to define yourselves. Others do not want this kind of categorization because they are still defining themselves – I personally think that is very cool.

  • Eddy

    Michael–

    Yes, please, go rest your aching head. It’s got your perceptions all in a dither.

    Warren can’t make a reasonable, rather obvious statement about the typical straight man not weanting to have sex with other men without picking apart the word “typical”.

    If you’d really read for comprehension rather than to find things to pick at, you’d see that I went after the word ‘typical’ for it’s generalized qualities and that I was really going after the generalized usage of the word ‘sexual’ brought on by the coupling with the word ‘typical’.(See my comments re ENVY [non-sexual] as a cause for sexual preoccupation as opposed to ATTRACTION or SEXUAL DESIRE.)

    And if you’d speak to me, holding me responsible for my words only, you wouldn’t get so muddled by responding to my comments with your feelings towards Mary’s.

    And maybe, if Mary was offering a POV that she felt was in tandem to my comments, YOU wouldn’t feel like it was ‘all about you’.

    I realize that Mary’s statement of opinion about men being sexually responsive to most anything was not documented scientifically but it is something that has been suggested in a number of public dialogues (and certainly by popular female comedians). Although you made your rebuttal to that statement two or three times, you never backed your rebuttal up with anything more than “I am Michael and this is how I see it”. Laugh derisively at my blind stupidity if you care to, but I’m still not convinced that Mary’s statement is untrue. She didn’t document her point; you didn’t document your counterpoint. It’s one thing to question her point; it’s another to state an opposing point and expect it to be taken at face value simply because you regard it as ‘the popular point of view’. I’ll remind you again that a number of popular points of view have been proven wrong. (The earth is flat. Too much milk is bad for you. Pluto is a planet. An apple a day keeps the doctor away….)

    Since this is a group that has an insider’s take on sexual identity….a number of us here have grappled with the unique situation of identifying with more than one sexual orientation over the course of our lifetimes…it is entirely possible that our unique situation would lead to some sensitivities re semantics that could be quite revealing–perhaps eye-opening–just as it’s possible that some of the sensitivies are nothing more than hyper-sensitivity. I submit that I have the right to be heard and I further submit that you are not the only judge.

    Like I said in a previous post that you totally disregarded. At one time, it was a ‘reasonable, rather obvious statement’ that ‘the earth is flat.’. All I see is your opinion; I don’t see any credible support for your continued dismissal of my point. Simply, “I’m Michael and I don’t wanna go there”. Then DON’T!!! But don’t dismiss my point as invalid based on nothing other than your sacred opinion.

    If you sense a hint of anger, you are correct. The questions/points I am raising here are questions/points that I’ve nurtured for nearly 30 years. In most cases, simply never in the proper forum to ask them…but I do feel that this is the forum…and I do feel that they do fit in with the topic of reorientation. (Where else would they fit better?) I have been wrangled with over the meanings of ‘change’, ‘ex-gay’, ‘identity’ and likely a few other terms. In those instances, though, it was you and yours who wanted clarification…you and yours who felt the words were misleading. And round and round and round and round and round and round we went. And, surprise, surprise! When we got to the end where you finally understood, it turns out I wasn’t saying anything different than what I’d been saying all along. So, why don’t I deserve the courtesy of being heard and given consideration before being summarily dismissed? Heck, I think I might even be entitled to a little extra latitude.

  • Eddy

    I went to Collin’s Dictionary in an attempt to demonstrate how Michael had been judging Exodus for their use of the word ‘change’ and found that that simple, easily understood word had over two dozen definitions and nuances of usage.

    Oh, and their first definition for ‘ex’, although linked to finance, begins ‘not participating in’. An ex-gay would be ‘not participating in gay’. Wow, we were oh so close to an actual viable, ‘easily understood by anyone’ definition all along…well, anyone except those that wanted to construe it as misleading and had the wherewithal to pump their point of view.

    Carole,

    I appreciate your comments–and your retrieval abilities. I think the progress of this particular conversation is doomed but I do hope that these issues get raised again someday when we have grown to the point where we can speak of them without the need for rancor.

  • Michael Bussee

    I was wrong.

  • Michael Bussee

    Perhaps, it might be best if we did away with terms like straight, gay, homosexual, SSA, OSA, bisexual, etc. altogether. Or maybe not try to define them. Or maybe just let everyone define or not define them as they see fit.

    Perhaps all these terms are really meaningless or too loaded with possible meanings and so individual that they become pretty much useless in conversation. I only know what I mean by them — and that may have no bearing on what others understand them to mean. I will not ask that another person definre them. I will not challenge in any way the definition they give. If they choose to define them, they will do so.

    Sorry for going there.

  • Eddy

    Whatever–just so long as we can be sure that we’ll continue to miss my point.

  • concerned

    Eddy,

    I would add to your idea that if someone who has been living as a gay man comes to the conclusion that this is no longer healthy or fullfilling for him and that there must be something more, would it not make sense for that person to go to someone who no longer affirms the gayness in him, but rather begins to draw out the other qualities that were likely there all along, but being masked by the gay stereotypes. Such a person may benefit tremendously by finding a group of men that are firm in their own sexuality, but are not judgemental towards his feelings of difference or inadequacy. Perhaps in time he may find a more balanced way of looking at his own sexuality even though there may still be some desire to resort back to the old ingrained patterns. Ultimately for me the question is not whether he is now 100% OSA, but is he content with the new situation he has put himself into. Maybe he has discovered that living a chasted life is quite acceptable and far less complicated that looking for sexual partners. Would those who are still living the gay life, be able to accept and affirm his decision to move on? Probably not but that is their issue not his.

  • Eddy

    Concerned-

    I do believe that that is one valid way. It again throws me back to the early ministry days. Some guys envisioned that they needed to start going to football games or to sports bars in order to hang out with ‘real men’. Where did they get the concept that these were the ‘real men’ as opposed to say the men in their church? Many were surprised to learn 1) that church men also like football 2) that guy talk doesn’t always revolve around cars, sports and boobs. That’s part of my reason for objecting to that word ‘typical’ so much. With our varied cultures, varied races, varied religions and traditions, varied lifestyles (i.e. some people while not atheists NEVER step inside a church), varied ages even…the appeal to the ‘typical’ rings false.

  • Michael Bussee

    Whatever–just so long as we can be sure that we’ll continue to miss my point.

    I am sure I will. Seems I usually do. I should have stayed out of it and let Warren explain what he meant.

  • concerned

    Eddy,

    By “typical” do we really mean culturally acceptable norm. I believe that is generally the norm that is being cast on us by the popular media and advertising, not necessarily the normal that large numbers of people experience. This reminds me so much of what women have been complaining about for so long now. Culture pushes us one way or another and then tries to dictate to us whether we have any ability to change or not. I know when we try to live our lives outside of these “norms” it can be very difficult.

  • Michael Bussee

    And I will not ask anyone to define anything. I promise. Completely and totally pointless. No criticizing Exodus or ex-gays. I promise. No discussion of words or their meanings. Completely and totally pointless. Guess we can always talk about Karaoke.

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    Would that be “typical” Karaoke?

  • Eddy

    Michael–

    My brief post was rather snarky. My apologies. I was reacting to the fact that you seem to be reducing everything I’ve said today…in posts that combined represent at least an hour or two of my time…to a matter of definitions. It’s not about definitions…although we’re using words and–in the words of Gloria Estefan–’words get in the way’. It’s not about the act of labeling or about boxing someone into an identity. It goes beyond that. It goes to what are the basic/universal components of a heterosexual. Do we really understand what the true basics are when we conduct our studies or are we impacted by our own impressions of heterosexuality? How much have our own impressions been impacted by our own particular sub-culture or the media?

    Does every straight man get turned on at the sight of the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders? What’s normal–noticing? drooling? being incapable of looking away? Do some normal hetero men respond negatively to the ‘perfect’ look…to the ‘in your face’ sexuality? These nit-picky questions are important because there are some people who have never been heterosexual but they’re considering going there and they sure don’t want to waste a lot of time going to the wrong destination.

    So when we say ‘attracted to women’ or even ‘sexually attracted to women’, WHAT is that attraction? Surely we’re not talking about a blood surge to the penis so what are we saying in the word ‘sexually’–what is the essence? On “Little House”, when the boy gets awkward around the girl, and everyone else knows that he likes her…what IS the basic component there? It seems there’s a knowing that ‘someday I’m supposed to be with a woman’ and then the embarrassment of ‘yikes, this could be the one’. I daresay that even if there is some blood surge going on, the stuff that’s taking place in the brain is more significant. But, when we say ‘sexually attracted’, don’t most of us at least consider some physical sexual response? But, in reality, most of us got our male parts under control by our late teens or mid-twenties. Blood surges rarely happen anymore unless the brain signals that ‘sex is about to happen’.

    Warren/Michael–

    No, the karaoke is never quite typical if I’m involved. Last time out a young lady I didn’t know asked me to pick her next song because I ‘always sing interesting songs’. I shy away from the standard crowd pleasers and dig just a little deeper…a frequent response is ‘Damn, I haven’t heard that song in years! Thanks.”

    And not to be needlin’ but the show I attend is very atypical! At a ‘typical’ karaoke show, you get to sing between 3 to 5 times a night. At this show, my least has been 8 and my most has been 16! The place gets a crowd but it’s not a crowd of singers.

  • Mary

    Michael,

    No offense but don’t pout and act like a putz. If anything you should notice that there are several people who define things differently than you. Who cares if Warren agrees with you? He has never gone through any change process and you have been adamant that yours was not successful in the least. And yet, there are several people on this blog who seem to have a different experience and you want to continue to deny that our definitions are realistic or reasonable. Hmmm… sounds like they are reasonable for me and realistic for me? Fewer people go through any SOCE who get into it as many years as some of the people here and yet you want to pout about how you don’t get it? Well, you don’t. And niether does Warren. You guys haven’t really been there.

  • Michael Bussee

    Mary and Eddy: I am very sorry. I am wrong to try to define things. We have been down this road many, many times before — to no avail. Totally and completely pointless. I won’t do it again.

    We really have no real idea what heterosexuality or homosexuality are. I thought they had to do with which gender turned you on and which gender did not — but I realize that is way too simple.

    It’s just the way I learned the words — and most people I talk to seem to share the same general idea: Straight = OSA. Gay = SSA. But that is way too simple. The words probably don’t and can’t mean anything — except to the individual who uses them.

    At least the people who call themselves these things have some idea what they mean. The rest of us can only guess. We should not ask. We should not challenge another person’s definitions. Words mean whatever the speaker wants them to mean. Period.

    No generalizations can be made. There is no “typical”. There are no common patterns. Everyone is unique. It is wrong to try to define or label these things. Over and out. If we can’t use a common language with some common definitions, how can we communicate?

  • carole

    Sorry, I posted this, which offers a reference to an old thread, on the old thread itself instead of this one.

    **************************************

    The July 1, 2008 thread entitled “Multiple Factors involved in Sexual Orientation, Pt. 2 had lots of interesting, thought-provoking observations from many of you.

    I wonder if there will ever be a way to know what a toddler or a baby is thinking, what they are taking in? (Just read an article or two about that). People can talk about their earliest memories, but none can really remember being one or two, what they saw at that age, how they processed what they saw).

    I understand that now may not be the time to discuss this, but maybe on another thread we can.

    I have to admit, Michael, that your comment that at a very early age (I forget how young, but it WAS young) you put another boy’s penis in your mouth was on my mind as I thought about this. That still astounds me. You didn’t go for his big or little toe (or maybe you did, LOL) but his penis. I was left wondering what gave you , so young at that time, the interest, the urge to do that. (This is not at all a request for you to attempt to explain it since you already said you don’t know why you did it other than you put all kinds of things in your mouth and other than your earliest memories are those of loving the male body. For that matter, I recall eating mud!)

    My mention of your comment is only by way of illustrating that the exploration of attraction and our childhood is something worth discussing. Seems that whenever people like the NARTHIANS try to link childhood and sexuality, they try to link it to something bad, something traumatic.

    If there is a link (and I am not saying there is but it’s worth discussing) maybe the discussion should center on links to something perceived by the very young child as very attractive and pleasing.

  • Eddy

    If we can’t use a common language with some common definitions, how can we communicate?

    But we CAN use that common language…and even the common definitions. But we need to reckon that words often have multiple meanings and that context is everything. So when someone says “I think that the definition of ‘typical’ or ‘sexual’ you are using is generalized”…we dig a little deeper for words that might more accurately define what we mean. We actually give a little more thought to that concept we took for granted…we step outside of ourselves for just a bit and consider “what is it that I see so plainly that they do not see?” Then we might ask “are they saying something that goes beyond my understanding of the word?” or we might wonder “how can I say this another way so that will see what I see so plainly?” We do that instead of saying “What do you mean define them? Doesn’t anybody with half a brain know what they mean?”; we do that instead of sarcasm and dismissive talk that only detours or stalls the conversation.

    Perhaps we say “I don’t quite get what you’re saying, can you elaborate?” instead of going off on a rant about what we think they must be saying. And, sometimes, we accept the fact that we don’t understand–and quite possibly we won’t understand–and we do the unthinkable…we actually let the conversation proceed without our two cents. This doesn’t even mean that we have to leave the thread; it’s actually possible to carry on several conversations simultaneously on a thread…especially if you direct your comments to a specific individual. And we can continue to read the dialogue of those who are conversing (if we care to) to see if our comprehension improves…to see if they really are onto something. And, if we reach a point where we think we’re catching on, perhaps re-enter with a tentative clarifying question rather than a slam.

    Oh, and we try to stop posting ‘summary statements’ that are really just our POV once again…that appear to be agreement but come out sounding like capitulation…instead of “Okay, I get it, I see your point”, it comes across like “Okay, I give up, have it your way.”

    Those are my thoughts on how I think we can communicate.

  • Eddy

    Carole–

    If that ‘old thread’ accepted your post, then it hasn’t been ‘closed’ by Warren. It might just be the best place to explore those questions as opposed to here (since they go to orientation rather than reorientation) or waiting for some future thread.

    If the others are like me, we keep our ‘subscription notification’ open to threads we were involved in…and even when we don’t, Warren has the handy-dandy ‘recently commented’ sidebar.

  • Mary

    Michael,

    I am reluctant to use such a graphic example but for the sake of this conversation and to illustrate a point I am going to.

    Have you ever noticed how porn for straight men (we’re talking XXX) always uses men with larger than average penises? Why? It’s not because women are the target audience. And gay men are not the target audience either. Could it be that straight men sort of get excited at looking at a larger than average penis and a woman. I don’t think he is really interested in the penis but I really do think that the size of the penis excites him. And have you ever noticed that there are more shots of the penis doing something than just intricate shots of vaginas and breasts? I have noticed. I find it very interesting. As if men get excited by other men being excited over women. That is neither bisexual nor homosexual and certainly erotic to many, many men who view porn. There must be a reason – otherwise it would not exist in such abundance in porn.

    I apologize for being so graphic and no I do not look at porn. I have had friends who find it funny to share it with me, though. And at a time in my past, I was exposed to a lot of porn.

  • carole

    Eddy,

    I agree regarding the old thread.

  • Michael Bussee

    Again, I am sorry. I mean only to comment on Warren’s findings that the SSA men in his study did not resemble the “typical” straight male in that the SSA men did not report a “sexual interest in women in general” — something he felt the straight men did.

  • Michael Bussee

    Have you ever noticed how porn for straight men (we’re talking XXX) always uses men with larger than average penises?

    I suppose we would have to define “porn”, “straight” and “larger than average”. As I said, my head hurts.

  • Michael Bussee

    Could we say this? That it seems as though males who self-identify as “straight” tend to report a sexual interest in women in general — and that they tend (for whtever reason) not to report the same generalized sexual interest in other males?

  • Mary

    Nonetheless, you have chosen to avoid a direct example of what I am speaking about. Straight men who view straight XXX porn find other men’s penises exciting for some reason. Otherwise we wouldn’t see making so much money in the market place.

  • Michael Bussee

    Mary: I am not an expert on straight porn. I do not like watching women have sex. I have been homosexual all my life. I am no expert on straight men or what straight men like.

    I have no doubt that many men who identify themselves as “straight” may also have some degree of same sex attraction or curiousity — if that is what you are asking.

    Straight men who view straight XXX porn find other men’s penises exciting for some reason. Otherwise we wouldn’t see making so much money in the market place

    I cannot be certain, but I think that may have more to do with them liking to watch women get penetrated by men — and perhaps small penises are less impressive in that regard. Maybe they like to imagine that they are the man with the big penis.

    Other themes in straight porn seem to involve threesomes, watching lesbian sex, bondage and domination, large breasts and a myriad of fetishshes. I don’t think it’s large penises alone (or even mainly) that drive the straight porn market. Unlike gay porn, women seem to need to be involved somehow.

    Take the woman out of the movie — and just show large penises — and I suspect it would be gay men, not straight ones, who would be shelling out the money.

  • Jakk

    I watch straight porn but I wouldn’t mind if they piled up more girls! xDxD

    . Straight men who view straight XXX porn find other men’s penises exciting for some reason. Otherwise we wouldn’t see making so much money in the market place.

    Nope. Guys play a part in the movies becos it’s gotta have some story and play built into it to get the girls into action. No can do that with a dildo ..

  • Mary

    Mary: I am not an expert on straight porn. I do not like watching women have sex. I have been homosexual all my life. I am no expert on straight men or what straight men like

    Then defining typical straight male is not something you would be good at??

  • Mary

    MIchael,y

    Although a myriad of other fethishes are portrayed – the one that stays the same is the larger penis. Again – I don’t think straight men are attracted to that per se – but they are attracted by an erect penis doing something to women – save we would just have women in straight porn, or the images would focus mostly on the woman’s body parts (and show little of men’s genitals) As it is,,,, when you look at straight porn made for the target audience of straight men – you sure do see a lot of penises.

    It would be an interesting study to count the images and see just what is being portrayed and consumed in the market place.

  • Michael Bussee

    Then defining typical straight male is not something you would be good at??

    Nope. I was referring to Warren’s comment that the married SSA men he was studying did not resemble the “typical” straight man — in that the SSA men did not report a “sexual interest in women in general”, whereas the “typical” straight man did.

    They were Warren’s words, not mine. I was not trying to define the typical straight man. I may have wrongly assumed, since that is what I understood the word “straight” to mean, that straight men tend not to have SSA. I don’t know. What percentage do have SSA? And can we trust the self-reports?

    Regarding straight porn (and again I am neither straight nor an expert on straight porn) but I would assume that it is the “erect penis doing something to women” that turns straight men on, and not the large penis, per se, as you have mentioned

    My guess, and it is only my guess, is that straight men like the sight of heterosexual intercourse — showing both penis and vagina.

    I would also guess, and it is only my guess, that the sight is more impressive when a large one is “doing” the “something”. Maybe it is the penis. Maybe the typical straight man is turned on by the sight of large penises. Maybe straight men like looking at gay porn. How would I know?

    Ask me about gay porn and the “typical gay”. I am more qualified on that.

  • Eddy

    Michael–

    I’m done. It is clear that you will not let it go. You will continue to claim my objections are about definitions…you will continue to miss the point.: SCIENCE HAS NOT YET COME UP WITH THE UNIVERSAL BASE COMPONENTS OF HETEROSEXUAL ORIENTATION OR ATTRACTION. WE HAVE NOT YET COME UP WITH THE UNIVERSAL BASE COMPONENTS OF HETEROSEXUAL ORIENTATION OR ATTRACTION. NEITHER WE NOR SCIENCE HAVE YET COME UP WITH THE UNIVERSAL BASE COMPONENTS OF HETEROSEXUAL ORIENTATION OR ATTRACTION.

    I used the phrase ‘typical straight male’ as a springboard to get to the point that WE HAVE NOT YET COME UP WITH THE UNIVERSAL BASE COMPONENTS OF HETEROSEXUAL ORIENTATION OR ATTRACTION. You continue to talk about everything but that.

    I was trying to broaden the conversation…to explore something we hadn’t yet explored…the fact that WE HAVE NOT YET COME UP WITH THE UNIVERSAL BASE COMPONENTS OF HETEROSEXUAL ORIENTATION OR ATTRACTION…yet people are trying to go there…and we’re judging people on their success (or failure) in their attempts at making it there.

    I suggested hours ago that you give your poor head a rest but instead you stay and you keep trying to turn my words into a debate over definitions. For every time you’ve said that, I’ve tried to explain that it went beyond that. But here you are, still clinging to your stance that it’s about definitions and missing the fact that I’m trying to point out that WE HAVE NOT YET COME UP WITH THE UNIVERSAL BASE COMPONENTS OF HETEROSEXUAL ORIENTATION OR ATTRACTION and I really think we need to. Since you won’t quit, I will.

    Ann, Carole, Mary, concerned, Debbie–

    Please let it go. This angle of the conversation will not be tolerated by Michael and I don’t want to be drawn back in. I meant to quit long ago and then a comment by Ann followed by one from Warren drew me back in. Please let it go. The point will not be clarified and further round and round will only muddy the waters further. I’m afraid the notion is a bit too advanced for the polarized waters of this website. Please let it go. Please realize that since the conversation has not been permitted to advance, your conclusions might not be mine and some of your observations are actually side issues. (LOL. We’d have discussed that if we’d actually been allowed to discuss.) I’ve said it enough times and in enough ways, understanding will not be better served by trying again.

    Oh, and one last thing before I go: SCIENCE HAS NOT YET COME UP WITH THE UNIVERSAL BASE COMPONENTS OF HETEROSEXUAL ORIENTATION OR ATTRACTION–AND WE’RE BEING PREVENTED FROM TALKING ABOUT IT.

  • Mary

    I think Michael – you veered off to start describing that more about the “typical straight male” not being excited by anything but women. So…. the conversation took the direction that it did.

    And I demonstrated through the marketplace that straight men are indeed aroused by something other than just women.

    But hey, if you want to back up and claim you were talking about something else and not admit that the typical straight male is not as straight forward an understanding as you proposed earlier – then that is fine. I’ll let you off the hook.

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    Eddy – I am not asking this in jest or in order to get more caps. What does this mean?

    SCIENCE HAS NOT YET COME UP WITH THE UNIVERSAL BASE COMPONENTS OF HETEROSEXUAL ORIENTATION OR ATTRACTION.

    I think that the brain scan researchers would disagree with you when it comes to attraction. Orientation on the other hand is entirely dependent on whether it is defined as behavior, attraction and fantasy or identity. We have been over that.

    There are neuronal pathways in the brain that light up when a person is sexually aroused. The research on those pathways demonstrates that men most often respond to category specific images. Women on the other hand respond to all kinds of things (e.g., bonobos making love) no matter what they say they like or prefer to look at of do.

    No one is preventing you or anyone from discussing anything. I suspect I am thinking rather narrowly about this and trying to make sense of it within the neurological perspective.

  • Ann

    Michael,

    I know where you and Dr. Throckmorton are coming from with the description. Can’t help but wonder, though, how we would describe someone without including their sexual preferences, past or current. I’m not sure how important it is but I guess it would depend on the conversation.

  • Eddy

    Sorry, Warren–

    You’re way late. I’m done trying to talk about it. A point I thought I labored in my last post.

  • carole

    Mary,

    Regarding your point about straight porn and genital size. I think Michael was accurate when he said,

    Maybe they [straight men] like to imagine that they are the man with the big penis.

    From all I have heard and read, straight porn features an average-looking (and sometimes even homely) guy with a large penis because the casting is done so that the watcher feels as if he can identify with the guy “doing” the hot babe. The watcher is himself likely to look like a regular Joe, not the best looking guy in a crowd, not the Alpha male, just a guy who, for the time he spends watching the porn, can feel as if he can perform like that guy with the large genitals.

    Large penises are always more a concern for men than for women. It’s an adequacy thing no different than the adolescent girl who looks at her “A” cup and wonders if she’ll ever reach the “B.”

    So straight porn guys fit the bill–they look average (reality for most) and carry a big stick (fantasy for most).

  • Mary

    Nonetheless Carole – the idea that another man’s penis is causing arousal in a straight guy is the point I am trying to make. Not that the straight guy is attracted to the man in the film – but that the erect penis is causing him arousal.

    Whatever your assumptions or conclusions are – you and Michael make the point that the straight guy likes what he sees and it causes arousal. And it must include visuals of the penis otherwise there wouldn’t be any.

    Most people would not think that the typical straight guy would be this way – but he is. Another man’s penis is part of his arousal behavior. That was the point.

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    Saying this:

    Most people would not think that the typical straight guy would be this way – but he is. Another man’s penis is part of his arousal behavior. That was the point.

    …does not make it so. You still have no evidence for your claim.

  • carole

    Mary,

    I really don’t think it’s the guy’s penis that is causing the straight male watcher to become aroused–it’s the hot babes.

    I don’t think the straight watcher is turned on “by” the male porn star’s genitals. If that were so, then Bailey would have found an arousal pattern in straight men when they were shown pics/video of a man and his penis.

    It’s the gay men who show an arousal pattern when shown pics/video of a man’s penis.

  • Mary

    If it was just the babes – then that’s all we would see. Gay men show arousal – yes – but they are attracted to the penis and want to engage the man with the penis but not the woman also. Striaght men still have the goal of being with the woman – but you can’t deny if the penis was not part of the arousal factor – porn editors would not waste the film, or search for “talent”or spend any time focusing on the penis and would focus ONLY on the woman. There must be a reason.

    The dichotmous only thinking really seems to get in the way of thinking “outside” the box. Or in this case, like a porn producer who wants to make money – on the money shots. Why is the penis such a big issue in straight porn made for men? I’m not talking about the men and their looks or whatever. I’m talking about how the visual of the penis is needed for the whole effect and heightened arousal for the straight guy. If it didn’t add value – it wouldn’t be in the porn.

    Warren,

    My proof is in the pudding. The market holds this type of consumer. Sorry. It is what it is.

  • carole

    The watcher of the video is able to better place himself IN that video through the actor.

  • Mary

    Nonethless – he is aroused by the visual.

    Sorry Carole. This is my view. And yes, your assumption is valid but it does not negate what I am saying. Personally, I don’t know why the penis is exciting to the straight male viewer. But it is. Your assumption is as good as any. Sex is exciting and when we see others engaged in displays of affection – it can get us all going. I don’t know how it works exactly – but it works.

    I’ve heard it several times that even lesbians are excited by gay porn. It doesn’t seem to make sense. A die hard lesbian excited by gay porn? But it is a fact.

  • Lynn David

    carole…. Large penises are always more a concern for men than for women. It’s an adequacy thing no different than the adolescent girl who looks at her “A” cup and wonders if she’ll ever reach the “B.”

    Mary….. Nonetheless Carole – the idea that another man’s penis is causing arousal in a straight guy is the point I am trying to make. Not that the straight guy is attracted to the man in the film – but that the erect penis is causing him arousal.

    Warren…. …does not make it so. You still have no evidence for your claim.

    On the other hand it could be a cultural norm concerning arousal. I’ve read that in Japan (never been there) that the live sex shows are primarily about the male ‘star’ getting a large erection. Of course, there are females on stage also, but then it seems that Japan is phallic crazy as they also have fertility festivals highlighting oversized phalluses. Perhaps the American male isn’t all that different or if Dr T has his say, perhaps he is.

    .

    If it’s the homely guy they go for in straight porn, then I guess that was my problem with it. I’ve always been more interested in faces.

  • Ann

    There are neuronal pathways in the brain that light up when a person is sexually aroused. The research on those pathways demonstrates that men most often respond to category specific images.

    Are these images videos or still photos? There seems to be a difference when measuring attraction. I can look at a man’s picture and not think too much about it. If I see a man move his hands, watch his facial expressions, or open a jar of jelly than I cannot, it is a turn on. Movement matters. Still photos of pornography will be a turn on for men or women if they are specific to their orientation. Videos add a whole new dimension to either orientation – people who watch pornography get turned on by watching sex, regardless who is doing it or how they are doing it.

  • Michael Bussee

    SCIENCE HAS NOT YET COME UP WITH THE UNIVERSAL BASE COMPONENTS OF HETEROSEXUAL ORIENTATION OR ATTRACTION.

    I accept that science HAS NOT YET COME UP WITHTHE UNIVERSAL BASE COMPONENTS OF HETEROSEXUAL ORIENTATION OR ATTRACTION. I knew that even without all the CAPS.

    “Science” may not have, but meanwhile the rest of the population seems to get it — that straight guys like girls and gay guys like guys. Yes, I know that is very simplistic and that it ignores all the nuances.

    I also recognize that there are many variations and “components”. Human sexuality is an incredibly complex thing that we may never fully understand. It is also highly individual. Perhaps most of us have a combination of all of the various components — including some SSA in otherwise “straight” men — and some OSA in gay men.

    Langugage, also is very complex and very individual. It comes in many forms. There is sacred, spiritual, Biblical language. There is what we have fondly called “Christianese”. There is colorful slang and new words seem to be added to English every day — like “google” and “Ipod”.

    There is precise, scientifc or legal language — and there is common parlance, the jargon of the streets, the usual or “typical” understanding of common, everyday words and phrases.

    So, when I say “My brother is straight”, folks seem to understand, in the language of the streets, that he is not a homosexual — but is probably exclusively or nearly exclusively attracted to the opposite sex. It seems he has always been this way. (Whether or not he has any SSA I do not know.)

    And, when someone says, “Mike’s gay”, they seem to understand that women, in general, don’t turn me on — but men, in general, do.

  • Michael Bussee

    Back to the thread topic:

    So where are we? I hope we have a larger middle and smaller numbers of people at the extremes. People on both sides can agree that erotic responsiveness is extremely durable for men and perhaps less so for women, but behavior and self-identity reflection is alterable.

    People on both sides agree that conclusions about benefit and harm are not possible in any general sense. Also, I hope we can agree that full informed consent should be conducted prior to engaging in counseling.

    Regarding health status, both sides can agree that homosexuals have higher levels of problems but there is little agreement about what the differences mean.

    I agree with all of these statements made by Warren. Is there any serious disagreement on them? Is Warren correct? Can both sides agree?

  • Michael Bussee

    It just struck that it is kinda ironic that whether or not there is such a thing as a “typical” straight man is being discussed by two ex-gays and an ex-ex-gay. Maybe we should be asking straight guys instead. :)

  • Ann

    Michael,

    I heard the term “typical teenager” today and almost giggled.

  • Michael Bussee

    It just seems to me that if we can’t say something like “the typical straight male is sexually attracted to females in general, not to males in general” — if that is not a fair statement — then we really can’t say anything in general about heterosexuality.

    If hetereosexual (or straight) does not at least indicate primary or exclusive OSA, then what do these words mean? Are they completely useless terms?

  • Mary

    Michael,

    Yes, they are useless terms. I mean look at how long it took for you to understand that there is no such thing as typical ex gay?

  • Ann

    Michael,

    Ok, why is it so important to label someone according to their sexual preferences? Those people being labeled are really at the mercy of how that label will be interpreted, and more often than not, they are perceived in a stereotypical way which may or may not have anything to do with the truth.

  • Michael Bussee

    Yes, they are useless terms.

    Ok, why is it so important to label someone according to their sexual preferences?

    So, Mary and Ann, are you both arguing that terms like homosexual, heterosexual and bisexual are essentially meaningless? Useless? Nothing we can say, in a general sense, about what they might convey? Would that include gay? Straight? Ex-gay?

    No wonder I was having a hard time understanding what you were saying! I thought words meant something. Silly me. I thought that’s what dictionaries were about. I guess we can’t talk about any of this anymore since none of the words have any meaning.

    Beflaberskunk der whatsemblab, deg lubber spooch in zimbull poof.

  • Eddy

    Can anyone tell me why Michael is still ‘talking to my comments’? I left the conversation approx. 24 hours ago and I thought he said he wanted to move on. So, I’ve let it go: I stated quite clearly I was no longer going to pursue it…yet he’s still talking and most of it sounds like a repeat of yesterday’s crepe. What happened to ‘moving on’?

  • Michael Bussee

    And since the terms are “useless”, Mary’s comments about the “typical” straight man being turned on by anything also means nothing — and so does nearly all of the discussion we have had on this blog.

    Or as the old saying goes, “Ufpunderclump fer vagger blif”.

  • Michael Bussee

    I am moving on. I don’t know why I didn’t get this long ago. Words mean nothing here. Heterosexual, straight, homosexual, gay, ex-gay are all meaningless. Completely individual. Useless terms. At least on this blog.

    I can’t have a discussion where words mean nothing. Might as well be speaking in tongues with no interpreter. Going elsewhere where people, hopefully, still use dictionaries and still speak common English.

    Can gays change? Of course they can because “gay” is useless. And “change” can mean anything or nothing at all.

  • Mary

    Michael – I think the word I used was aroused – not necessarily turned on or attracted to. That the visual of a man’s penis causes arousal and readiness for sex (not necessarily readness for sex with another penis.

    I find it difficult when you do not read the complete post and begin interpreting your own assumptions into the post. And when you say typical straight guy – guess what – you and I see something very different. You think he is only aroused by women and women’s bodies.

  • Eddy

    “So there, Mary! Take that! How dare you have a position different than Michael’s! How dare you try to defend it when he’s told you the way it is!”

    Michael has taken the blogsite bully bull to a new low. He’s employed sarcasm intended to bite, demean, put down and shut down several times in this thread. If that isn’t addressed in the ‘guidelines for commenting’, it sure oughta be!

    I, for one, am going to hold him to his words. He has displayed outrageous contempt openly and he’s said that discussion with those who disagree with him about words is meaningless. So, why would/should we even bother? Even if it isn’t really as meaningless as he says, I say his spoken contempt is sufficient reason to not engage him.

    My recommendation is that when he attempts to interupt or interject himself into a conversation…or if he directs a question or comment to you…simply ignore him or say “To respond would be meaningless” and move on.

    Yours for a respectful, less childish blogsite!!

  • Michael Bussee

    Mary: Here is what I thought you said:

    No offense Warren, but in my opinion, a typical straight guy is aroused easily by anything and has a preference for women. Only the over macho type will say he NO interest in anything other than women.

    Did I get that right?

    You think he is only aroused by women and women’s bodies.

    No, I don’t. I think straight men are primarily attracted to the opposite sex. I think that statement is obvious. But here, “straight” is “useless” — so your comments and mine both mean nothing.

  • Michael Bussee

    Since there are no straight men, there can be no “typical” ones — and we cannot say anything in general about them — for example, whether they are or are not “aroused easily by anything”.

  • Michael Bussee

    I was stating that I thought the words meant something. Mary says they are useless.

    I was responding to Warren’s comment that the men in his study (the married SSA) ones were not like the “typical” straight man — in that the SSA men did not report a “sexual interest in women in general” like the “straight” men did.

    They were HIS words. NOT mine. Take it up with him.

  • Michael Bussee

    Michael has taken the blogsite bully bull to a new low. He’s employed sarcasm intended to bite, demean, put down and shut down several times in this thread. If that isn’t addressed in the ‘guidelines for commenting’, it sure oughta be!

    Warren? It’s your site. Have I done this?

  • Michael Bussee

    No need to ignore me. I will take my leave. I will be happy to talk with Warren, Debbie and Ann off the blog. You both have my email. Eddy is in charge here now.

  • Ann

    Michael,

    Do the words straight and gay have any other meaning than sexual preferences when describing a person? I “think” this might be where communication can get blurred. Am I right?

  • Ann

    Everyone,

    This is the 40th anniversary of Woodstock – does anyone remember the words to The Age of Aquarius?

    When the moon is in the Seventh House

    And Jupiter aligns with Mars

    Then peace will guide the planets

    And love will steer the stars

    This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius

    The Age of Aquarius

    Aquarius! Aquarius!

    Harmony and understanding

    Sympathy and trust abounding

    No more falsehoods or derisions

    Golden living dreams of visions

    Mystic crystal revelation

    And the mind’s true liberation

    Aquarius! Aquarius!

    Sorry, I know this is off topic but somehow seems timely.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    In my view, many of the comments regarding the theory involving straight males being aroused by men are pointless. Mary has offered no evidence for her view and even though there is plenty of evidence against it, it is not up to others to disprove something for which she has offered no evidence.

    It would be best ignored but instead it has destabilized a thread which I will now close and hope that the issues of common ground in the Reorientation Wars will get a better treatment the next time they come up.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    After a breather, I will open this back up for any additional thoughts/comments about the post.

  • Ann

    The distinction between orientation and identity (or attraction and identity as we often describe it here) is key, in my view, in order for us to understand the experience of those who say they have changed while at the same time experiencing same-sex attraction.

    As I commented earlier on this thread, the above statement by Dr. Throckmorton is well said. To understand the experience of those who say they have changed while at the same time experiencing same sex attraction is just as important as understanding the experience of those who say they have not or do not want to. Approval or disapproval or acceptance or unacceptance is not part of the equation. It is understanding and respecting the distinction that I believe will be a very good foundation for advancing common ground and narrowing the gap.

    I would be interested in any responses to the question I asked earlier, which I added to just a little, and is -

    Do the words or labels or terms straight and gay have any other meaning than sexual preferences when describing a person? I “think” this might be where communication can get blurred. Am I right?

  • Eddy

    Ann–

    If you go to your standard dictionary, straight and gay are very simple in terms of sexuality but, if you go to an encyclopedia, the plot thickens.

    Wikipedia doesn’t really explain ‘straight’ but rather refers you to ‘heterosexuality’ where it says:

    As a sexual orientation, heterosexuality refers to “an enduring pattern of or disposition to experience sexual, affectional, physical or romantic attractions primarily to “persons of the opposite sex”; it also refers to “an individual’s sense of personal and social identity based on those attractions, behaviors expressing them, and membership in a community of others who share them.

    Notice the portion I put in bold.

    Now with ‘gay’, Wiki also referred to ‘homosexuality’ but it also had a similar statement to the above in its reference to ‘gay’:

    “In modern English, gay has come to be used as an adjective, and occasionally as a noun, that refers to the people, practices, and culture associated with homosexuality.

    Again, note the part that I bolded.

    On another thread, I got into a bit of hot water for requesting elaboration on what is ‘a typical straight man’. My question was an attempt to sort out not only those things referenced in the italicized section above but also to find some sense of what we really mean by ‘sexual attraction’…can it be simply directional without being objectification? Does ‘heterosexual attraction’ always suggest a preoccupation with sexuality per se or can it be simply the desire for oneness, completion, for propagation. I realize that these things all wind up involving sex…and I do hope that the sex would be enjoyable…but what I’m wondering is whether that desire for oneness, completion and propagation isn’t the real essence but that the sex part has overshadowed that in our minds. (LOL. I feel this conversation is akin to trying to divide the atom…it does have several components but very difficult to divide without fear of an impending explosion.)

    Re the phrase I took exception to earlier. I mused earlier today on this example.

    Say I tell you that my dad was a construction worker. Simple and true statement. Now, let’s say I tell you that my dad was ‘a typical construction worker’. Do you see what just happened? That word ‘typical’ altered the picture, didn’t it? “Typical” more than likely took you to media images stored in your brain: blue jeans and hardhats on the jobsite, stopping off for a cold beer after work, coming home to a modest house and a home cooked meal, watching football games on TV…

    Warren, I’m hoping that I side-stepped the landmines. My questions did NOT go to the straight man’s capacity for same-sex arousal but rather to 1) is there more to our concept of the ‘typical straight man’ than sexual response 2) at the bottom line, how overtly sexual is ‘heterosexual response’.

    I’ll understand, though, if you opt not to let this through.

  • Michael Bussee

    To Warren:

    Since words like heterosexual, straight, etc. can refer either to orientation (the gender to which one is primarily attracted),to identity (how one sees oneself) (or both), could this be where some of the confusion arises? That it may be possible to be straight (in the sense of identifying as straight) without any sexual interest in the opposite sex, or with some sexual interest in both genders, or no interest in sex at all?

    I would still be interested in what you meant when you used the word “typical” in referring to straight men in your study. Were you referring to their orientation (in your words, “having sexual interest in women in general”), to their orientation — or to something else?

    As these discussions have shown, words can mean so many things. Some think they mean one thing, some think they mean something else — and some seem to see them as useless or unnecessary.

    I am just wondering what you intended to convey. I took you to mean “how all or nearly all of the men who identified as straight described their sexual attractions”. Did I understand you correctly?

  • Ann

    thanks Eddy – I understand. It has been my experience that the words straight and gay are used a lot to define more than a person’s sexual preferences. I never thought that was fair or accurate. That is where I believe so many of the misunderstandings come from. I think Dr. Throckmorton put it in very simple language that is understandable and agreeable. If we can distinguish the two then at least we will have a good starting point to come from.

  • Michael Bussee

    Warren: I guess a simpler way of asking is this: In your experience and study, do you find that men who self-identify as straight “typically” (the large majority of them, usually, most often, commonly, as a pattern. etc.) report sexual interest in women in general and not to men in general?

  • Ann

    Michael,

    When a person identifies themselves, there is nothing to dispute or assume. That is the best of all scenarios, however it has been my experience that misunderstandings happen when others attempt to describe another person. More often than not, that is not a problem either, however, for the small minority who are inbetween or searching or struggling or not sure yet how to describe themselves,or more importantly, wish not to be defined by a word that is assciated with a sexual preference, it is a highly sensitive issue. While it might not be easily understandable for most who are comfortable with an identity, ie gay or straight, I hope everyone can respect another person’s experience with the sensitivity and respect they deserve.

  • Michael Bussee

    To Warren: To put it another way, would you consider it “atypical” (ususual, unexpected, uncommon, rare, etc.) for a man who identifies as straight to report a sexual interest in men in general — or to both genders in general? I ask because I want to understand what you meant — not to impose my understanding upon your statement.

    To Ann:

    More often than not, that is not a problem either, however, for the small minority who are inbetween or searching or struggling or not sure yet how to describe themselves,or more importantly, wish not to be defined by a word that is assciated with a sexual preference, it is a highly sensitive issue.

    Thanks for not ignoring me. I know you, Ann. We have met, embraced, prayed and grieved together. I have only the highest regard for you. I have no wish to label or define you. You are a wonderfully complex and loving woman — and no word or combination of words would do you justice.

    I apologize if I have treated you with insensitivity or disrespect. I do understand that these issues can be highly sensitive — and that my frustration with linguistic ambiguity and my insistence that we “nail things down” with commonly used definitions can cross the line to disrespect. Please forgive me.

  • Ann

    Michael,

    You have done nothing wrong, therefore, no need to apologize – I know your heart we are all being guided and learning together. I value you and everything you say is important to me.

  • Michael Bussee

    My desire was to define words, not people. But since people (who are all unique) are the ones who use and define words, words become very individualistic, highly sensitive and deeply personal.

    I know it can be a daunting task to come to some common understanding of terms. What I may mean, what the dictionary might say — or even what most people might mean — is not the same as what each individual might mean. That is why I am still curious as to what Warren meant when he used the term “typical”.

  • Ann

    In an earlier comment, I made mention to videos vs still pictures regarding arousal. It was in response to images that Dr. Throckmorton referred to. I do not think men who have a heterosexual orientation are generally, or typically, aroused by looking at men in still photos or in general. I do think men of heterosexual orientation can be aroused by looking at sexual activity on a video, involving men and women. This, of course, would not be of interest to a man who’s moral code does not include pornography. Conversly, individuals with same gender attraction might not be at all interested, let alone aroused, by looking at either still pictures or videos of the opposite gender.

  • Eddy

    Warren–

    By all means, please entertain and answer Michael’s questions BUT please realize that, although they seem to be prompted by the same phrase, they are not the questions I am asking.

    I believe Michaels’ questions are valid…the only exception I take to them is that he seems to bring them up everytime I bring up my questions, which I feel are also valid. It has felt to me that, due to that timing and the fact that they are rooted in the statement that I was the first to question, that he is missing the legitmacy of my questions and is turning the conversation instead to his. I hope this blog is big enough to handle both his questions and mine.

    Note: If anyone else chooses to address Ann’s question, Michael’s questions or mine, please try to be clear what question or point you are addressing. That should help keep the conversations separate and focussed.

  • Eddy

    Earlier, Warren said:

    In my view, many of the comments regarding the theory involving straight males being aroused by men are pointless.

    It would be best ignored…

    Ann,

    I can’t envision any way of responding to your 3:18 PM post that would not revisit those murky waters. :-)

  • Ann

    That is why I am still curious as to what Warren meant when he used the term “typical”.

    I know this is for Warren so I hope it is ok that I comment – just want to say that I think he was using the word typical in a very typical way. We all do that and it is very acceptable when everyone is on the same page, which is most of the time. For instance, the other day one of my friends used the term “typical teenager” when referring to another friend’s daughter. We were all on the same page except the mother of the teen who was very sensitive about her daughter, who she was having a difficult time with. She became defensive and demanded to know what my friend meant by that term and how it applied to her daughter. She was being sensitive, whereas under better a better set of circumstances, she would have probably not even questioned it. I know it is a heavy burden to be cognizent when we use typical words like typical, however, if we can thoughtfully clarify what we meant, if questioned, then another advancement in communication has taken place. I’m always reminded of the Bible verse – To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven

  • Ann

    I can’t envision any way of responding to your 3:18 PM post that would not revisit those murky waters

    I know – and perhaps I should not ponder it any further. Sorry. I was initially asking for clarification from Dr. Throckmorton about the imagining he referred to – was it still pictures or videos.

  • Ann

    In my view, many of the comments regarding the theory involving straight males being aroused by men are pointless.

    It would be best ignored

    I just read this again and realized, that although this is not the point I was making in my comment, per se, I do not want to bring up anything that is not acceptable or unworthy of discussion. My apologies to Dr. Throckmorton or to anyone else – it is not, nor ever has been, my intention to post anything inappropriate on your blog.

  • Michael Bussee

    Warren: Not trying to steer the conversation my direction. I really want to know what you mean by typical. Perhaps if you could clarify what you originally meant by your statement, this conversation would feel less like a mine-field.

    That is where the conversation seemed to go off track. That, and the suggestion that the “typical” straight male is aroused by “anything” — including other males’ genitalia -an idea I should not have questioned.

    Did you mean to say that SSA married men you are studying did not report what the “typical” straight male reports — namely a “sexual interest in women in general”? DId I understand that correctly?

    I do not mean to imply that you should not answer Eddy’s questions or anyone else’s. I believe Eddy’s questions are very valid and deserve to be answered. He asked them first and therefore deserves to have his answered first.

    I will withdraw mine at this time so that you can respond to Eddy’s. Mine can wait until a later time. Perhaps we should take them in the order recieved. I believe his take precedence.

    My apologies for interupting.

  • Michael Bussee

    I also want to acknowledge that I understand and fully accept that “heterosexuality” or “straightness” has multiple layers of meaning. I understand that:

    heterosexuality refers to “an enduring pattern of or disposition to experience sexual, affectional, physical or romantic attractions primarily to “persons of the opposite sex”;

    And that it also refers to

    an individual’s sense of personal and social identity based on those attractions, behaviors expressing them, and membership in a community of others who share them.

    I did not mean to implay that it only referred to the first part of this definition, but that, at least, it is commonly held to convey the first part — that it has something to do with primary sexual, affectional, physical or romantic attraction to the opposite sex. I refer to myself as “homosexual” because mine are towards the same sex.

    I recognize that “sexual attraction to the opposite sex” is not ALL there is to being straight. It is much more complicated than that. But it is hard for me to imagine heterosexuality without it.

    Can we agree, at least, that it is a common understanding of the word that “heterosexuality” means (for many people) that one is attracted to the opposite sex, and not usually the same sex?

    I have to admit that I don’t know of any studies that look at how many people understand the word to mean “sexually attracted to the same sex” — but my guess is that most people use the term in this way — and that they use “homosexuality” to express its opposite.

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    Michael said:

    Did you mean to say that SSA married men you are studying did not report what the “typical” straight male reports — namely a “sexual interest in women in general”?

    That is true. We had a small straight comparison group. None of them reported any attraction or desire for the same sex. However, even those males who reported some generalized attraction to women did not lose their attraction to men. Well, there were two exceptions, one of whom said it was a miracle and not generalizable to others.

    Ann – I can’t see anything offbased that you posted.

    Eddy – I think I get it. In the sense that you are using typical, there may be no typical. I was referring to basic responsiveness sexually. It is was Ann (and possibly SSA males) do when they see Collective Soul videos I post on here. They will never do anything for me or everstraight het males at the level of brain. But they prob will spark something in a SSA male which can be resisted or even reframed. It is not a qualitative assessment either. It just is.

  • Michael Bussee

    Sorry. I meant to say…”I don’t know of any studies that look at how many people understand the word (heterosexuality) to mean “sexually attracted to the opposite sex…

    As I said, please put these questions aside and address Eddy’s first.

  • http://www.wthrockmorton.com Warren

    PS – Sorry if I missed someone or some aspect; I have changed my diet and my brain is sending out lots of signals to eat stuff that I have decided not to eat. What a pesky bully it is.

  • Michael Bussee

    My apologies to Dr. Throckmorton or to anyone else – it is not, nor ever has been, my intention to post anything inappropriate on your blog

    Me too Ann. It is Dr. Throckmorton’s site. I would suppose he would decide.

  • Michael Bussee

    I was referring to basic responsiveness sexually.

    Thanks, Warren. I thought that was what you meant. .

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Timothy Kincaid

    Warren,

    Perhaps you need a counselor (Jenny Craig, perhaps?) to help you live you diet in congruence with your health values.

    ;)

  • http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com Timothy Kincaid

    Ann,

    There was a study a few years back at the University of Minnesota in which nude images were subliminally shown to participants who were not consciously aware of them. You might find the results interesting:

    Four groups of 10 people – straight men, straight women, gay/bisexual men and gay/bisexual women – participated in the experiment.

    According to the study results, straight men’s attention was attracted to a space when shown an invisible image of a naked woman and repelled from a nude male image. Similarly, straight women were attracted to pictures of naked men, but they did not react strongly one way or the other when presented images of nude women.

    Gay men behaved similarly to straight women, he said. The study showed the responses of gay/bisexual women to be in between those of straight men and straight women.

  • Eddy

    Warren–

    For the third time, I think: ‘typical straight male’ was a springboard. It’s the kind of phrase that is atypical of you and it provoked in me a resurgence of my burning questions from years ago…that also happen to coincide with the point of the post.

    Okay…breathe, take another, nibble on something approved, breathe again, let that paragraph sink in. Wash the rest of my comments, Mary’s comments and Michael’s comments and Ann’s comments out of your mind. (You may retain Carole’s if you care to.) Okay, are we there yet? Good.

    Now,

    Can heterosexual attraction be simply directional without objectification? (Drawn to ‘the otherness’ without the preoccupation with the sexual body parts.)Does ‘heterosexual attraction’ always suggest a preoccupation with sexuality per se or can it be simply the desire for oneness, completion, for propagation?

    These questions go to my long-standing issue for those clients who were pursuing heterosexuality. Is what they should be attempting to cultivate a drooling for the scantily clad cheerleader? Is that what heterosexuality is?

    I’m not expecting a clear and defined answer. I maintain that it’s a question that we’ve never stopped to ask and so never stopped to answer. Knowing these men who aspired to heterosexuality, I also was stymied. My own thoughts, although the term had not yet been coined, was that ‘spousosexual’ was God’s intent for them. The ‘typical straight lust’ for the female form was NOT something to be cultivated but a normal, healthy attraction (no bad vibes or distaste) along with satisfying sexual relations was a reasonable (and Godly) goal. That, of course, led me to muse about the possibility that ‘spousosexual’ is actually God’s heterosexual intent for all.

  • Michael Bussee

    Is what they should be attempting to cultivate a drooling for the scantily clad cheerleader? Is that what heterosexuality is?

    God, I would hope not, but I guess it would be that for some. I don’t think the guys I counseled wanted that. They just wanted to be straight, not gay.

    They desired a healthy, normal, automatic, generalized, sexual and physical attraction to the opposite sex — not men. They were not hoping God would change them into some sort of objectifying animal — “drooling for the scantily clad cheerleader” or praying for “typical straight lust”.

    What about just finding women, not just their “body parts”, sexually, romantically and physically atttractive, exciting, alluring — on the level of the brain, with a built in, God-given responsiveness to females (not males) — as potential sweethearts or mates?

    Isn’t that what heterosexuality is?

  • Michael Bussee

    My own thoughts, although the term had not yet been coined, was that ’spousosexual’ was God’s intent for them.

    Attraction to just that woman, and no others? I don’t think so. I think He intended straight men to find many women attractive — but to fall in love and commit to the special one.

  • Michael Bussee

    Why does it have to be either/or? Spousal-sexual or drooling lust?

    Lust: the strong physical desire to have sex with somebody, usually without associated feelings of love or affection.

    Attraction: to appeal to people or awaken a response in them.

    The guys who came to Exodus were looking for a God-given, “normal”, “healthy” awakening of attraction to females — to respond naturally to women sexually, physically, and affectionally — not to men. They hoped to eventually find women, not men, physically and sexually appealing.

    They wanted holy heterosexuality. I can’t think of one of them who was praying to God to sexual preoccupation, objectification — or saliva.

  • Eddy

    Michael–

    I have not asked for your thoughts. Please ask yourself why you have attempted to dominate these questions of mine from the time I first asked them. 1) when I first asked them, you were a major player in derailing that conversation 2) when I re-entered the conversation this afternoon…you posted a half dozen times before Warren ever did and 3) now, right after I specifically addressed them to Warren and specifically asked him to ‘not consider what’s been said by….’ …And, lo and behold, there you are again inserting your point of view before Warren ever replied.

    I guess I made my request too politely in my last post so I’ll step it up one notch:

    Will you kindly butt out of this particular conversation? Your presence in it has been totally vexing and provoking to me. And you are simply not a voice I can trust…and you aren’t a voice I can hear clearly.

    May I remind you of your last post to me before this post got shut down???

    Michael Bussee ~ Aug 15, 2009 at 11:44 pm

    No need to ignore me. I will take my leave. I will be happy to talk with Warren, Debbie and Ann off the blog. You both have my email. Eddy is in charge here now.

    It’s possible that you and I may engage each other some other time but, for now, I’ve heard more than I ever care to about your opinions or answers to these questions of mine. I really crave other voices and other points of view. You’ve already given me more than my fair share.

    Please, just let it go. I’ve tried very hard not to lay any blame or accusation here; I have cited facts (that I may have misread) and my feelings. So, please, I don’t want to hear from you AT ALL…not an explanation, not an apology, not an “Eddy I was only trying to…”… I’d like you to just LET IT GO. Accept the fact that what has transpired between us in the past several days has brought us to this point. Neither of us has to say any more regarding that…our words are out there for anyone to assess the situation by. Honor the fact that I’ve endeavored very hard to have my questions heard and addressed. Respect the fact that I’ve addressed that post and those questions to Warren (although if David Blakeslee is out there, he might have some insight to offer, as well) and that I specifically requested that he (now they) try to shake the verbage of this conversation and treat the questions at face value. What I’m asking is simply that you address no further comments to me and that you don’t address my questions or the answers given. Feel free to have a side conversation about something else pertaining to the topic with anyone you choose but please…nothing further directed to me or my questions.

    Warren,

    Forgive me, I’m totally exasperated. I feel like I’m pulling teeth just trying to get some honest engagement on my questions. So I’m hoping you’ll consider them…and consider the history behind why I’m asking them. If the questions themselves seem unclear, I think the history suggests what I’m really trying to ask or discuss. I’m not going to rephrase them again. They are in my preceding post.

  • Michael Bussee

    To TImothy:

    According to the study results, straight men’s attention was attracted to a space when shown an invisible image of a naked woman and repelled from a nude male image.

    A response to an invisible image? Wow. This seems to indicate an unconscious, automatic, generalized, heterosexual response — an electric, involuntary “lighting up of the brain” to females in general. In this case, one would have no conscious choice, since the image was invisible.

    It seems to me that, by contrast, lust would be a conscious preoccupation, a desire, the deliberate will or hunger to objectify the woman for one’s own selfish pleasure — a sin — something we could choose not to do.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    Eddy wrote:

    Can heterosexual attraction be simply directional without objectification? (Drawn to ‘the otherness’ without the preoccupation with the sexual body parts.)Does ‘heterosexual attraction’ always suggest a preoccupation with sexuality per se or can it be simply the desire for oneness, completion, for propagation?

    These questions go to my long-standing issue for those clients who were pursuing heterosexuality. Is what they should be attempting to cultivate a drooling for the scantily clad cheerleader? Is that what heterosexuality is?

    I think I should make a post on this article by Lisa Diamond. It spells out much that I agree with regarding orientation. I believe she is correct that there are two independent neural systems which serve pair bonding – romantic love and sexual desire. Many ex-gay men feel the romance/emotional attraction first (in our survey, the differences are striking) before sexual attraction. The sexual attraction is secondary to the romance but it is still real and lively. However, it apparently for most ex-gay men does not generalize to other women – it being both emotional and sexual attraction. She really is the one for him. So to the question about oneness versus lust, I say the spousosexual guy wants both with his wife, neither with women in general and both (sometimes) with men in general.

    Nope, save the drool. It is probably not realistic nor desireable. The spouse can get that but developing it in general toward the opp sex is old skool. I also think you can’t make it happen, like you know, let’s have an ex-gay program where we import wives. It just happens I think when people seek quality relationships. I don’t get an impression that this kind of thing can be engineered.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    Timothy, Nutritional Identity Therapy. NIT. Or if weight control is an aspect of the program then Weight Identity Therapy. WIT.

    You do see where this is going…

  • carole

    We know that all kinds of research show that the brains of men and the brains of women are different. In general, men and women think and behave differently in large part because of these brain differences. (Yes, there is nurture as well).

    I wonder just how much the difference in the way men think and act (as opposed to the difference in how they look) is responsible for why we straight women find them attractive.

    So, Eddy, do you think an SSA man who may be ex-gay (or a spousosexual man) feels attraction for women for their difference in ways that do not pertain to the physical? Could that be a difference between a gay man and an ex-gay man–that neither may be strongly or at all attracted physically to a woman, but that the ex-gay or the spousosexual man might be attracted to a woman’s difference from him in many other ways. I don’t mean just an appreciation of those differences, but an actual attraction to those differences?

    In other words, while the sexes often find one another’s differences maddening, they also find those differences intriguing, exciting, alluring, mysterious, etc. When we women say, “I don’t understand how a man thinks” or “I just don’t ‘get’ why they do that” we are expression some frustration but we are also expressing wonder and that wonder is in large measure, very attractive and I think, a huge reason we find ourselves attracted to men.

    I know gays get frustrated when straights ask, “But how can you be attracted to someone who is so like yourself.” By that, we don’t mean alike in interests or alike in personality, but alike in the way we straights perceive men and women to think and respond differently to stimuli, life and life’s events.

    So, this may not be at all what Eddy was thinking, but could it explain how/why an SSA man finds women attractive, how he could view women w/out drooling like a straight man looking at the Dallas Cowboys’ cheerleader.

    I don’t know. Just asking.

  • Michael Bussee

    Many ex-gay men feel the romance/emotional attraction first (in our survey, the differences are striking) before sexual attraction.

    Warren, is this different in the straight men you studied? Does the sexual come first for them? Does their OSA (romantic and/or sexual) generalize to other women, not just their spouse?

    If ex-gay married men feel the romance first, the sexual secondary and the sexual only for their wives, then that would seem to be the Godly “ideal” straights should strive for — minus the “both (sometimes) with men in general”, of course…

  • Ann

    Michael and Timothy,

    I just made a special someone a delicious dinner and am now going to settle in for the evening – hope Dr. Throckmorton doesn’t put up any new videos of great looking guys in untucked shirts – just cannot be distracted tonight. I appreciate your notes and want to read them again tomorrow before responding.

  • Michael Bussee

    Enjoy dinner, Ann. Temper flared today. I am not proud of it. I will not defend it. But I certainly think and pray about it — and ask myself, “Why?” And then, “Who cares why?” — because, regardless of any excuse or apology I might offer, it is not in the Spirit of Christ. And He is the one whose respect I want most.

    Peaceful night to all who post here.

  • Ann

    This has really been an interesting thread – I hope it stays open because the subject is one that I can see as ongoing and, subject to new information and ideas, can be enlightening.

    Eddy,

    You ask important and valid questions – very thought provoking and I like that.

    Timothy,

    Thank you for the article. I had read it before and am glad I read it again. It clarified my question regarding what kind of images Dr. Throckmorton was referring to.

    Michael,

    It has been my observation and experience with SSA people I know that an emotional connection, followed by a deep friendship, that is grounded in truth and understanding, is a very good start. They are not necessarily attracted to the opposite gender, however, they find a connection with this particular person and they begin to value each other which deepens the relationship and can lead to romance and a commited and devoted love for each other.

  • Ann

    p.s. – just want to add that things are much different now than they were 20 or so years ago regarding information and truth about same gender attractions – we can now make decisions based on realities rather than hype.

    My heart really hurts for everyone who was affected by hype and exaggerated truths, and particularly, for those who were graded or measured by unrealistic expections or told they were not praying enough, etc. I like the way Dr. Throckmorton referred to this – something to the effect of – real hope begins with the truth.

  • Michael Bussee

    Ann, I have seen that too.

  • Eddy

    Thanks Warren. I appreciated your response…and the several day delay just enhanced the gratification. :-)

    Carole,

    I don’t really have any theories regarding response…I was honestly just trying to present a question. I think the two different neural pathways that Warren cited: romantic love and sexual desire…I think they provide a framework from which ex-gays can map out their journey.

    I believe that they would likely major on the romantic love aspect…and might, in fact, follow those pathways with a few women on their journey. That is to say that they’d sense a heightened attraction to one or more women and likely even entertain the possibility “this could be the one”. But they wouldn’t travel down the sexual desire pathway–or even aspire to–until they felt they’d found ‘the one’.

    I think that, for both the counselor and the individual, the understanding of the two pathways would be a tremendous asset. I’m sure there are areas where they likely overlap. I think of situations where an ex-gays response might not be sexual desire, per se, but would be a romantic attraction to parts that are perceived as ‘sexual’. I recall from my own experience with women I was attracted to or dating that it was usually something like ‘her eyes’, ‘her smile’, ‘her laugh’, or ‘her spirit’ that captured my attention and focus…that drew me to these women in a romantic way but I also recall two situations where their bodies factored into that attraction. But the feeling was, in fact, more romantic attraction than it was sexual desire. Something inside me said ‘this looks good; this would be a good fit for me’ and responded warmly and affectionately.(I won’t get graphic beyond saying that both the breasts and the hips were part of what looked good and triggered the thought ‘this would be a good fit’.) In fact, in both situations, it stirred a strong urge in me to want to provide and protect. These weren’t issues I’d been working on or even knew that I lacked, yet suddenly they were present and ‘in my face’. LOL. I recall, in fact, that it clashed with my cognizant views leftover from my women’s lib sensitivities. “But a woman doesn’t need you to provide for her or protect her; she is completely capable of both.” And yet, I couldn’t shake the feelings.

    I never did travel the sexual desire pathway. On one level, I didn’t have a clue how to cultivate it or, as I hinted earlier, WHAT to cultivate. I got as far as ‘pre-engaged’ twice…had the romantic attraction but not the sexual desire. I concluded that I wasn’t ready and ended both relationships. But even at that, I sensed that the sexual desire was being impeded not ‘because I was really gay to begin with’ but because I was coming to heterosexuality with adult Christian sensibilities. In previous posts on this thread, I used the word ‘objectification’ or a derivative numerous times. I didn’t know how to cultivate healthy sexual desire without using lasciviousness or lust as a tool. Some suggested that it was enough to go on the romantic attraction, especially with that awakened response to provide and protect, and trust that the sexual desire could and would be developed within the Bible-sanctioned confines of a marriage relationship. But I’d heard enough stories of those who had married with that expectation only to be disappointed and reacted strongly to the notion of taking anyone along on my reorientation gamble.

    But I’ve heard stories of successful spousosexual reorientation as well. My personal issue was the difficulty in understanding the two paths and the problems that presented with evaluating my own progress and/or readiness. LOL. Even this brief understanding of the two paths provided a path for my thoughts to sort themselves out.

    From my conservative Christian bias, I do tend to believe that ‘spousosexual’ is closer to God’s intent than the heterosexuality that most of us would envision. In that sense, perhaps the ex-gay and their partner are blessed. Like many here, I’ve always looked at the risks and the dangers…never took a good look at the benefits.

  • Michael Bussee

    Ann: I still am having trouble erasing the idea from my mind that hetereosexuals or straights typically report sexual attractions, not just affectional or romantic feelings, to the opposite sex.

    All the straight men I know say that women turn them on on a bio-chemical, hormonal type of level– not that they lust after them, just that they automatically turn their heads and get the hearts pumping. I see a difference between healthy sexual interest in the opposite sex — and lust. I wanted the former, not the latter.

    I had romantic/emotional feelings towards my wife, but no sexual ones. Maybe I was heterosexual or “straight” and didn’t know it. Maybe straight has nothing to do with sex. I thought hetereosexual or straight necessariy involved physical OSA. Maybe that’s where I went wrong. Maybe there is no such thing as “straight”.

    Maybe I was wrong to think that sexual feelings should, would or could be part of it. My wife seemed to have some. Maybe if I had waited a few more years, I would have developed some — or we might have gotten too old to care.

    All I know is the fact that I had none really hurt her. I think she was heterosexual in every sense of that word — emotional, romantic and sexual. And I was only the first two.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    Michael – I recommend you read the article by Diamond that I linked to in the comment at Aug 18, 2009 at 8:10 pm. It addresses the issues you are raising.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    Eddy – You are getting at why sexuality is more than the sexual desire pathway. Moral concerns can inhibit or free that pathway.

    I am not too keen just yet on trying to make clinical or ministry applications here. I don’t think this process can be manufactured. It seems to happen. I do think this knowledge can help people who are inclined in the spousosexual direction to understand better and appreciate their experience. At least I have seen that occur. And my survey results are telling me that religiosity influences perceptions of sexual attraction for spouse for men, and a decline in same-sex attraction for women. Unpacking all of that awaits the write up this study.

  • Michael Bussee

    Thanks Warren. I did read it. I hope that I have not given the impression that “sex” was all there was to “sexuality”.

    I understand, have always understood, that it is much more complex than that. Love, affection, romance, etc. The married gay men I have met all report that they love their wives — and that they felt these other components of sexuality.

    But, what to do when the OSA wife wants sex and the SSA husband does not — at least not with females? What then? Pray that her SSA goes away? Or that his OSA will someday come?

  • Eddy

    Warren–

    You are getting at why sexuality is more than the sexual desire pathway.

    Moral concerns can inhibit or free that pathway.

    I am not too keen just yet on trying to make clinical or ministry applications here.

    I don’t think this process can be manufactured.

    It seems to happen.

    I do think this knowledge can help people who are inclined in the spousosexual direction to understand better and appreciate their experience.

    I couldn’t agree more. Every sentence is ‘a keeper’ in itself worth pondering and careful consideration.

  • Michael Bussee

    Warren: Do you think terms like “straight” and “hetereosexual” should be replaced by OSA? OSA seems to arouse very little disagreement, whereas the other terms really seem to be hot buttons.

    As you know, I use the terms interchangeably — as synonyms — and have noticed lots of people do the same, to indicate that, in general, dudes dig chicks not other dudes.

  • Michael Bussee

    Moral concerns can inhibit or free that pathway.

    I am not sure what you mean by this. Could you explain more, Warren?

  • Michael Bussee

    …religiosity influences perceptions of sexual attraction for spouse for men, and a decline in same-sex attraction for women

    .

    Am not sure I understand this. Are you saying that religiousity seems not to result in a decline in SSA for men ? But just a change in the SSA man’s perception of sexual attraction?

    That last phrase intrigues and puzzles me — what would be an example of a “change in perception ot sexual attraction” for the spouse in an SSA married man? Do you mean an increase in OSA?

  • Michael Bussee

    And all of this leads me back to a very pragmatic question: What do do when the OSA wife wants sex and the SSA husband does not?

  • Ann

    What do do when the OSA wife wants sex and the SSA husband does not?

    Michael,

    This is something that I do not have the answer for. I believe these kinds of situations usually occur when there has not been a complete understanding at the beginning of the committed relationship or marriage. I have heard it usually happens when the sexual preferences or attractions have hot been discussed prior to making the decision to marry or be in a relationship. The successful relationships I have observed are when there are no secrets and all things are discussed and understood without unrealistic expectations from either person.

  • Eddy

    I gave some more ‘global’ thought to the ramifications of an understanding of the two pathways…particularly as they apply to ex-gays.

    It would seem that the healthiest, godliest goal for the ex-gay aspiring to heterosexuality would be spousosexual. This wouldn’t be a ‘just barely’ type of success in the sense of ‘well, they made it to a semblance of heterosexuality but it’s very marginal’. I’m guessing it certainly could be for some but that should not diminish the true success, the true reorientation of all who have achieved spousosexuality.

    It seems it would be important to reinforce this truth for the spousosexual. Since so much of our sexuality takes place in the brain, the notion that ‘this is only a begrudging success’ would/could be a real negative impactor.

    Another reason for reinforcing this truth is that external forces would continue to try to compare their spousosexuality to homosexual remembrance and any current temptations…with the natural focus being on the sexual desire pathway only. Even in situations where the ex-gay has real and healthy spousosexual desire, there would still be an attempt to diminish that desire because it focusses on only one whereas any homosexual desire seemed to have a broader focus…more objects of desire. (A new twist to ‘quality vs quantity’ perhaps.) So, it would seem that 1) a grasp that there are two neural pathways and 2) that spousosexual is an appropriate, worthy and godly goal that does not imply a ‘falling short’…it would seem that these would have signifcant impact for an individual who is involved in the reorientation process.

  • Ann

    Michael,

    I am on my way out in a minute and don’t want to be in a hurry when I respond to your post at 12:33. I want to answer it as thoughtfully as you wrote it. Straight or gay or whatever words mean, I just want to say now, before I leave, how much it means to see a man write so thoughtfully about a woman he was in a relationship with.

  • Michael Bussee

    Ann:

    I believe these kinds of situations usually occur when there has not been a complete understanding at the beginning of the committed relationship or marriage.

    Yes. That was certainly the case with us. With were both in our early 20′s. No one really knew what to advise us. EXIT had just started and Exodus was not created. And yet, ironically, we were the experts on change.

    I asked our elders what to do. They kept encouraging us to marry and trust God. We did. Now, I realize we should not have married until I had developed some OSA.

    I have heard it usually happens when the sexual preferences or attractions have hot been discussed prior to making the decision to marry or be in a relationship.

    In our realtionship, we discussed it a lot prior to our marriage. She knew of all of my SSA. We postponed the wedding several times.

    Then, we decided we needed to trust God — that He would bless the love we had for Him (and for each other) by creating some OSA or spousosexual feeling as we went along.

    So we married, believing that some OSA would develop. It did not. I never deevloped spousosexuality — although that would have been a tremendous blessing.

    Straight or gay or whatever words mean, I just want to say now, before I leave, how much it means to see a man write so thoughtfully about a woman he was in a relationship with.

    Thanks Ann. I did and do love her very much. I failed her and I failed God. I am glad that she is now happily remarried to a man who can meet all her needs. Please lkeep her in prayer as she is battling cancer. She is responding weel to the treatments and will return to teaching school this Fall.

  • Michael Bussee

    “No love, no friendship, can cross the path of our destiny without leaving some mark on it forever.” – Francois Mocuriac

    I have been truly blessed.

  • Ann

    I still am having trouble erasing the idea from my mind that hetereosexuals or straights typically report sexual attractions, not just affectional or romantic feelings, to the opposite sex.

    Michael,

    Yes, I believe this is true. For some, sex is the primary interest and the romance is brief and a necessary, if not always desired, component to having sex. For others (including SSA individuals) sex is not the primary interest, rather an emotional connection and love relationship is. I don’t think either scenario is out of the ordinary or should be held up for scrutiny – it is just what works for the people involved – this is where truth and mutual understanding pplays a vital role.

    All the straight men I know say that women turn them on on a bio-chemical, hormonal type of level– not that they lust after them, just that they automatically turn their heads and get the hearts pumping. I see a difference between healthy sexual interest in the opposite sex — and lust. I wanted the former, not the latter.

    Yes, this sounds right – healthy sexual interest and attraction is different from lust. I haven’t thought about it this way in awhile and glad you brought it up. The lust part is a self indulgence and not conducive to any sustaining relationship. The healthy sexual interest is. I know this is what you wanted with your wife. We know so much more now than 20 or so years ago. Back then it was an all or nothing hype that many believed. Now we know so much more and can make decisions based on truthss and reality and mutual understandings and two people can grow together rather than grow apart. Nothing is hidden.

    I had romantic/emotional feelings towards my wife, but no sexual ones. Maybe I was heterosexual or “straight” and didn’t know it. Maybe straight has nothing to do with sex. I thought hetereosexual or straight necessariy involved physical OSA. Maybe that’s where I went wrong. Maybe there is no such thing as “straight”.

    I know. I really admire your introspection. It says so much about the kind of man you are. I am not sure whether there are really any words that can describe how two people interact with each other. There are too many variables that can and do affect a couple – lots of seasons they go through and only they can decide how to respond to each one. Your intentions were honorable and in the right place. Had you known all the things you do now, I do not believe you would have been hurt like you both were.

    Maybe I was wrong to think that sexual feelings should, would or could be part of it. My wife seemed to have some. Maybe if I had waited a few more years, I would have developed some — or we might have gotten too old to care.

    I do not think you were wrong at all to believe that. It is what we were brought up to believe and it was reinforced by society. It comes easily to most and is the ideal scenario that most people look forward to.

    All I know is the fact that I had none really hurt her. I think she was heterosexual in every sense of that word — emotional, romantic and sexual. And I was only the first two.

    I understand. You were also being compared and measured to others and listened to a lot of unrealistic hype. None of this was realistic. You lost yourself trying to be someone else. I know you believed in change and wanted to have sexual feelings for her and to have your ssa eliminated. I can see how you could have felt very alone and very defeated when neither happend to the extent you believed it should. This is why I think the SIT framework and the truthful approach ministries, etc. are taking will be invaluable to help prevent this happening to others.

  • Ann

    “No love, no friendship, can cross the path of our destiny without leaving some mark on it forever.” – Francois Mocuriac

    Very, very true.

    I have been truly blessed.

    Yes, I know and my heart is glad because of it :-)

  • Michael Bussee

    None of this was realistic. You lost yourself trying to be someone else. I know you believed in change and wanted to have sexual feelings for her and to have your ssa eliminated. I can see how you could have felt very alone and very defeated when neither happend to the extent you believed it should.

    Yes, Ann. You hit the nail right on the head. Very alone and very defeated.

  • Michael Bussee

    Does therapy change orientation? It doesn’t seem to, although it may change other things — for the better.

    Is sexual reorientation harmful or beneficial? The jury is still out.

    Is homosexuality pathogical? Not necessarily. Gays may have more symtpoms, but women, also have greater levels of mental health problems than men — and we would not consider women inherently disordered.

    Warren said:

    Those on the far sides of the continuum will continue to argue that change is possible or change is impossible, and/or that reorientation is always harmful or never harmful and/or that health status difference mean something vital or irrelevant about inherent pathology.

    The wars will continue but perhaps fewer people will be engaged in them; now is the time rather to reason together

  • Eddy

    Did I miss something? I didn’t realize that we had come to any conclusion re Warren’s opening question…in fact, there was some discussion as to ‘spousosexual’ as a reorientation. So this statement puzzled me just a bit:

    Does therapy change orientation? It doesn’t seem to, although it may change other things — for the better.

    My apologies. I totally understand it as one person’s opinion (likely shared by very many) but I don’t get it as a summary of all the discussion that has transpired. I think we’d need to agree that the jury is still out on that question as well.

  • Ann

    Eddy,

    I hope this particular thread is allowed to stay open or be revisited often as new information and thoughts become available. I think this topic has been very valuable as things are being reasoned out and I see that as an ongoing experience that can bring understanding – perhaps not always agreement – that can narrow the gap. I am not sure anyone can make a definitive statement about any kind of conclusion as we are talking about the human experience and, as we know, that is ongoing and not always the same for each person.

  • Eddy

    Ann–

    I agree. I think in that long polarized battle over the word ‘change’, extreme talk and thinking was in evidence from both sides. I’m sure that battle still impacts our thinking and communicating and sometimes clouds it.

    But, if we can respect that fact that people are individuals and that one person’s experience doesn’t necessarily invalidate the experience of another (that goes both ways, by the way), reasoned dialogue can…and ought to…continue.

    I am intrigued by your suggestion that this is a thread we might revisit from time to time. Very plausible and an excellent suggestion.

  • concerned

    Michael,

    I wonder if the greater amount of mental health issues that you spoke of may have more to do with an overall greater sensitivity (highly sensitive people) represented in women and some who experience SSA. That sensitivity may leave them open to great stress as they may or may not be aware of the way they interpret the world around them. I believe this may be something to examine as some shamon (two spirited person) in the aboriginal culture were looked up to because of their ability to pick up on signs around them that others did not see.

  • Michael Bussee

    Warren, to kick off this thread, you originally asked:

    Does therapy change orientation?

    You said:

    They (NARTH) concluded, of course, that therapy can change orientation.

    You seemed to suggest that NARTH might be twisting the datd to reach that conclusion. You then said:

    The APA on the other hand, differentiated sexual orientation and sexual orientation identity….According to their literature review, the evidence that therapy can change orientation is not sufficient to permit therapists to inform clients that therapy can change their orientation. However, sexual orientation identity (i.e., self-labeling) may shift and be responsive to a variety of factors,

    You said: . The Yarhouse study seemed to suggest the same thing — namely a change in identity, not orientation:

    In light of the role of attributions and meaning in sexual identity labeling, is it possible that some of what is reported in this study as change of orientation is more accurately understood as change in sexual identity?

    You said:

    I believe the answer to their question is that it is not only possible but probable that change in sexual identity [not sexual orientation] is what is being reported.

    I understand that (1) some people still believe that sexual reorientation is possible, (2) that spousosexuality may be rightly thought of as a shift in sexual orientation and (3) that people’s individual experiences and stories should not be discounted.

    But you seemed to be suggesting, Warren, that the scientific evidence, so far, seems to suggest that idenity — and not orientation — is what is being changed through therapy. Is that the way you understood it, Warren?

  • Michael Bussee

    Michael, I wonder if the greater amount of mental health issues that you spoke of may have more to do with an overall greater sensitivity (highly sensitive people) represented in women and some who experience SSA.

    I think that is a very good question, Concerned. I wonder the same thing. Not that gays are inherently more pathological because they are gay, but that they experience more stress because of more sensitivity to cultural pressures, etc.

  • Eddy

    concerned–

    It has also been suggested that perhaps the sensitivity came first…that males who were ‘overly sensitive’ perceived that they were unlike other males in that regard…that some branded their sensitivity as ‘like a woman’…hence they identified themselves as ‘other’ from ‘normal males’ and that this thinking could have paved the way for adopting a homosexual identity.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    Michael – I think that a better case can be made sexual identity change than categorical sexual attraction (orientation) change. It probably has happened especially among women, but the research to date is insufficient to claim that therapy can accomplish it.

    When you break it down it is so obvious. The NARTH paper for instance says that behavioral, psychodynamic, bioenergetic, cognitive etc therapies all demonstrate some kind of change. Doesn’t that mean then that anything works with a small number of people? Maybe it isn’t about the therapy at all. Maybe two people should just talk about the weather for a couple of years and then see how many people say they have changed. There is nothing in the current literature that would allow a therapist to inform a client why sexual orientation might change and how likely it is for that person. O might change but there is insufficient evidence to allow therapists to assert anything specific to clients about the process. So dont tell them therapy can do it, but help them work out a life as close to what they want as possible within the givens they have.

  • Michael Bussee

    Concerned, at the beginning of this thread, Warren asked if homosexuality was pathological. He pointed out that several things might lead to a higher incidence of mental health problems for gays:

    One, gender non-conformity is strongly correlated with adult homosexuality and is also associated with poorer mental health.

    Two, homosexuals report higher levels of sexual victimization which is also associated with higher levels of mental health problems.

    And, three, no one can discount the possibility biological factors which associate with the development of homosexuality that may also influence the development of emotional problems (i.e., in the same way women are more likely to report depression than men).

    Some argue that homosexuality, per se, is pathological — and Warren seemed to suggest that some (like NARTH) tend to de-emphasize the role of social vicitimization in the development of mental health problems. DId I understand that correctly, Warren?

  • Michael Bussee

    There is nothing in the current literature that would allow a therapist to inform a client why sexual orientation might change and how likely it is for that person…there is insufficient evidence to allow therapists to assert anything specific to clients about the process. So dont tell them therapy can do it, but help them work out a life as close to what they want as possible within the givens they have.

    Thanks Warren, that helps my understanding. You asked: Does therapy change orientation? I summed up what I understood the research to show by saying, “It doesn’t seem to, although it may change other things — for the better.”

    I undertand that some shift in orientation may be possible for some people, that some seem to develop some OSA even though generalized SSA remains for nearly all, and that In the future, new scientific information may show that therapy can indeed change sexual orientation.

    But at the present time, the research seems to suggest that sexual reorientation change from SSA to OSA through therapy is not not supported by good scientific evidence. Would that be fair to say?

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    Eddy said – the jury is still out.

    I think that is what insufficient evidence means.

    Very pressed for time today but hope to comment more later…

  • carole

    On the subject of gay mental health as a function of sociocultural versus other factors, just a few weeks ago, Warren gave this on another thread and gave the link referenced–it’s Bailey’s latest work. http://www.springerlink.com/content/e56wr5723721186t/?p=db00a3c95d5a4434b39c7ff155c9de3f&pi=4

    They concluded:

    We found significant genetic correlation between sexual orientation and both Neuroticism and Psychoticism, but no corresponding environmental correlations, suggesting that if there is a common cause of both nonheterosexuality and psychiatric vulnerability it is likely to have a genetic basis rather than an environmental basis.

    That last clause contains a big “if.”

    Warren said that by the end of the summer he’d have more about this study and more correspondence with Bailey so if you’ve specific questions about the study perhaps you could email such questions to Warren and he can ask them of Bailey.

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/e56wr5723721186t/?p=db00a3c95d5a4434b39c7ff155c9de3f&pi=4

  • concerned

    Eddy,

    It has also been suggested that perhaps the sensitivity came first…that males who were ‘overly sensitive’ perceived that they were unlike other males in that regard…

    I think you are onto something here. Perhaps is is not the overly sensitive male that is abnormal, but the overly macho, masculine male image that is being pushed onto us by Hollywood (Rambo, etc.). Perhaps that is what is abnormal. On the other hand the effeminate male that is often protrayed to representing gay characters is also not normal for many sensitive men.

  • Eddy

    concerned–

    I agree–there is absolutely nothing wrong or pathological about sensitivity. In fact, I tend to prefer it in people, don’t you? But, as I’ve said when riding my favorite horse: society, culture and the media have given very strong messages that sensitivity in a man is ‘unmanly’, ‘girly’, ‘gay’, etc. It is to be shunned, supressed, demeaned.

    I feel that these pressures are strong enough and pervasive enough to push some into embracing a homosexual identity. I have some issues with the scenario that some others picture: that their homosexuality caused victimization and that led to the heightened sensitivity. One problem I have with that is that it feels like we’re crossing our definitions of ‘sensitivity’. One sense is of ‘being more aware and in tune particularly on an emotional level to what’s going on around you’ ‘; another sense is more akin to ‘touchy, vulnerable, easily hurt or wounded’. One meaning is definitely more outward directed than the other. She was sensitive to his sensitive areas.

    I have problems with seeing ‘being victimized’ as a major player in increasing someone’s overall outward sensitivity. The most obvious response to being victimized is to turn inwards…to become more aware and in tune to your own pain. But, it seems the sensitivity meaning that’s coming through is the sense that ‘gays are more sensitive’ outwardly. A predisposition to care-giving professions…is that a stereotype? I’m not so sure. Another reason I believe we are leaning toward that ‘outward’ usage is that there would be cries of protest and outrage if the generalization were that ‘gays and women tend to be more ‘touchy, vulnerable and easily hurt”.

    Branding ‘sensitivity’ as ‘effeminate’ is another issue that makes me want to hop right back up into that saddle. Outward sensitivity is HUMANE; outward sensitivity is even Godlike (as best exemplified in ‘For God so loved the world’). How many hours of counseling did I devote to unscrambling guys’ attempts to ‘go macho’ and to get them to embrace and accept their God-given sensitivity?! “Sensitivity isn’t your problem; society’s intolerance of it is!”

    And this hasn’t come up specifically but I want to clarify that I do not believe homosexuality, per se, is pathological. I’m not even sure that homosexuals as a group have more pathologies than straights–even if you went by percentage. If anyone has any relevant statistics, it would be helpful to hear them.

  • Michael Bussee

    Something just struck me. Warren might be talking about extremism.

    Those on the far sides of the continuum will continue to argue that change is possible or change is impossible, and/or that reorientation is always harmful or never harmful and/or that health status difference mean something vital or irrelevant about inherent pathology.

    “The far sides of the continuum…” Great phrase. Who would those be? The “far sides” — the extremists? Warren suggests that they are:

    1. Those who argue that change is possible ————-or change is impossible,

    2. Those who argue that reorientation is always harmful or —————never harmful,

    3. Those who argue that health status differene is something vital or —————- irrelevant with regards to inherent pathology.

    I found myself wondering to night — what would the middle look like? I ask beccause I fear I have been am extremist at times — insting that my view (and only my view) was right.

    I am wondering because I believe that the truth about these things is usually somewhere in the middle – althought I tend to express the extreme. So what would the middle be — the most reasonalbe?

    What’s in the middle, — reasonable and compassionate center — of “possible” and “impossible”? What is the middle of “”always harmful” and “never harmful”? What’s in the middle of “something vital” and “irrelevant”?

    Is this what you were asking us to do, Warrren? To try to find and express that middle — the place where the reality and respect is most likely to be found?

  • Lynn David

    Think Switzerland…

  • Michael Bussee

    I’m thinking.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    Warren recently used the phrase “to reason together.” That is what I took his statement to mean. The middle can be a place of reason or it can be a mushy, wimpy, undefined “lukewarm” place that is of no use to our Lord. Michael knows what it means to be possessed by Him, to be compelled as in a vise, same as I do. We may want to find the wiggle room, but God has a place for us that is clear. The individual conscience can seek and find that place. It is not hidden.

    “‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the LORD. ‘Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow’” (Isaiah 1:18).

    Isaiah spoke these words to a “sinful nation … weighed down with iniquity” … who had “abandoned the LORD.” A nation outwardly preoccupied with religion but inwardly dying.

    The “evil” that Isaiah prophesied about comes in many forms. It lives in extremism and religiosity on both sides, as well as in secular self-sufficiency. If there is one thing I have learned in my more recent visits to this blog, it is the futility in extremism. “Bridging the gap” may mean different things to different people, but to me it means “reasoning together” with God in the equation.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    Ricola!!!

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

    I am not looking for the middle of extremes for the sake of finding a middle. If the extreme position is correct then I would go with that. However, on this topic, we just don’t know much. What we do know leads me toward what is the middle of many extremes.

    The impulse of an advocate is to find what proves the point. Rather, I want to know what is, even if it is inconvenient to my assumptions or the assumptions of those I agree with on other issues.

  • http://theformers.wordpress.com Debbie Thurman

    However, on this topic, we just don’t know much.

    I think we know more than many want to admit. And you know enough, Warren, to be in great demand as a media guest right now. It doesn’t appear the press see you as the expert in “We don’t know much.” :)

  • Michael Bussee

    I am not looking for the middle of extremes for the sake of finding a middle. If the extreme position is correct then I would go with that. However, on this topic, we just don’t know much.

    Well said, Warren. I feel the same way. Neither extreme can prove that it is correct. And simply looking for the middle for the sake of finding a middle can lead to what Debbie spoke of:

    The middle can be a place of reason or it can be a mushy, wimpy, undefined “lukewarm” place that is of no use to our Lord.

    But, I think we do know enough at present to make some meaningful statements about what the middle might be.

    Is change possible or impossible? That seems to depend largely on what kind of change we are referring to.

    Orientation? Identity? Lifestyle? Certainly, the last two change — and some do report some shift in orientation — although almost all report that some SSA remains. Based of what we do know at present, complete change from SSA-only to OSA-only does not seem likely. If it were, one would expect some solid, weel-documented evidence of it by now.

    Is therapy to change orientation always harmful? Never harmful? Where is the middle? Probably sometimes helpful and sometimes harmful. We have many folks who have gone through change programs who report both. And both should be taken seriously.

    Is health status difference something vital or irrelevant with regards to inherent pathology? Probably important to some degree. Perhaps being gay does predispose some folks so suffer more. Does this prove that gayness is inherently pathological in some way? Probably not, but who really knows for sure?

  • Eddy

    Warren, I also agree with what you’ve said.

    I believe that we shouldn’t we be hasty to define the middle or to box it up in any way. For the time being, it is enough to suggest that there is indeed a middle and to recognize the impact that extremism has had on obscuring the middle.

    The great polarization has had far reaching impact on all of us, and I believe, on the scientific and psychological community as well. It has impacted self-report and has impacted how we’ve chosen to interpret self report. It has impacted research and the lack thereof and how we’ve interpreted the research and the lack thereof. It has impacted discussion, questioning, and reasoning.

    We’ve had some success in recognizing the great polarization but, IMHO, have only taken baby steps in having any discussion not seriously hindered by it. And that’s just here on this blogsite…one of the most likely places for the reduced polarization to exhibit itself.

    So, by all means, let’s reason together. Let’s recognize our own capacity for extremism and for being a ‘carrier’ of the great polarization. Let’s create an environment where the middle ground can be explored and developed before we actually map it out and start staking claims to the turf.

  • Michael Bussee

    Warren: Even though it may be too early to say anything definitive, would the following statements seem reasonable to you at this time, based on current research? Do they seem extreme?

    (1) Sexual re-orientation of some kind may be possible.

    (2) Sexual reorientation therapy may harm some and help others.

    (3) Something may be inherently pathological about gayness.

    For what it is worth — not much probably — I have offered some of my thoughts, based on what I understand the current research to show. Much more is to be learned is to be learned. And, the middle, where the truth most likely is, of course, belongs to everyone.

  • Michael Bussee

    Thank you, Warren, in advance for considering my questions. No pressure to respond to them right away. I know you are a busy man and other commenters may have questions. Have a great day.

  • Eddy

    A few posts ago, I said:

    And this hasn’t come up specifically but I want to clarify that I do not believe homosexuality, per se, is pathological. I’m not even sure that homosexuals as a group have more pathologies than straights–even if you went by percentage. If anyone has any relevant statistics, it would be helpful to hear them.

    So, if there is any research out there that supports Michael’s 3rd statement for consideration:

    (3) Something may be inherently pathological about gayness.

    Anyway, if there is any current research out there that supports this, I’m going to be a bit ticked at blog contributers (including Warren) who didn’t respond to my request as quoted above.

  • Michael Bussee

    Warren:

    However, on this topic, we just don’t know much.

    I know we are only talking opinions here and not established fatcs, but yo you have an opinion you would like to offer about the 3 extremes?

    Do you think change is possible, impossible — or something in between?

    Do you believe that reorientation therapy is never harmful, always harmful — or something in between?

    Do you believe that increased mental health problems among gays is vitally important, irrelevant — or something in between — with regards to whether or not homosexuality, per se, is inherently pathological?

    Here is what I believe, for what it might be worth:

    On change: Lots of changes for gays are possible. Sexual behavior and sexuality identity seem to be more flesxible than sexual orientation. Change from SSA-only to OSA only, if it happens at all, is extremely rare.

    On reoriention therapy: Very postive experience for some, very harmful experience for othes. Ex-ex-gays I have talked to report both — they were helped in some ways and harmed in others.

    On inherent pathology : No. I do not believe that there is anythinig inherently pathological about gayness. I think it is possible that gays are more vulnerable and may therefore suffer more.

    I would be interested in your thoughts, Warren, when you have time. As I said, please attend to other commenters first.

  • Eddy

    On change: Lots of changes for gays are possible. Sexual behavior and sexuality identity seem to be more flesxible than sexual orientation. Change from SSA-only to OSA only, if it happens at all, is extremely rare.

    I realize that this was directed to Warren but I’ve been mulling over it for the past hour. I’ve been wracking my brain trying to come up with some parallel in the world of psychology where we define ‘change’ as the complete and absolute change of not only behavior but attraction? Smoking cessation doesn’t discount their success by occasional desires to smoke. Overeating? Gambling? Compulsive lying?

    In the phrase “Change from SSA-only to OSA only”, I hear absolutes. That the ‘change from’ means “none, nada, zilch” attractions to the same gender..and that the ‘change to’ means a generalized attraction to all of the opposite gender.

    The former discounts occasional temptation or remembrance (suggestive of amnesia)…even if quantified to less than 10%; the latter seems to discount true spousosexuality in favor of a more generalized attraction…even if that wasn’t the goal of the individual or their therapist. Am I right or am I reading into this statement.

    1) Is this the new definition of ‘change’ that we’re all agreed on? Is this the ‘change’ that psychology is trying to measure? Is this their definition?

    2) Are their other areas of therapy that are similar in this ‘absoluteness’? That judge not only change in behavior but absolute 360% change in attraction on an ‘all or nothing’ scale?

    I dunno….it sounds extreme to me.

  • Michael Bussee

    Warren, Even though I am asking what you think the middle might be, I think I should have said that I realize the extremes are possible, too, and may be true.

    Change in orientation from homosexuality to heterosexuality may be possible or impossible. Reorientation therapy may harm no one or everyone. Gayness may be inherently pathological or completely healthy.

    I tend towards some of the extremes on some of these, as you well know.

  • Michael Bussee

    Warren, I also want to acknowledge that “sexual reorientation” might need to be broadened to include some degree of change from gay to straight — or vice versa, the lessening or increas of one attraction or the other, etc.

    Some change is still change. It doesn’t have to be complete to be real or significant.

    Some people do report some shift in sexaual orientation, including the development of sexual feelings for their spouse, for example. This is very noteworthy and suggests need for more study.

    I have also heard a few stories of complete transtormation from gay to straight — and even though these are rare, they ought to be taken seriously

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  • Tom

    Wow, I read the author’s blog entry, and far too many of the responses. And all I can think of is …are you all just complete imbeciles?

    I’ve been straight for some 20 years. Started reorienting myself at 23. Was so gay I at times wished I was a woman so my desires and actions would be acceptable. And now, what do you know… I’m straight. Not some idiot saying they are straight when they have no lusts for women. Straight as in I love T&A and marriage seems a drag because I see women I’d like to have sex with numerous times a week. Sometimes several times a day.

    Wake up, if the course you are taking or the psychologist or analysts you are working with aren’t facilitating change – then fire them, they have proven themselves to be blithering idiots… Then find a different direction.

    But no, here I read this theoretical position, or that theoretical position, or that hypothetical or this hypothetical. If you want to never change, or for the shrinks … if you want to never be capable of facilitating change, then you’re on the right track here. I didn’t read all the comments but of the tremendous number I did, it’s apparent no common sense abounds here.

    It’s simple people. Work your issues. Question your beliefs. Get in touch with all the enormity that is you. Get in touch with the conflict, the dichotomies. Hear your internal dialogue if you can. Be present to everything that has happened to you. Cry, Rage, Laugh …. you can’t help but change. But if some idiot shrink isn’t sure you can change, then the odds of them being able to help you change aren’t very good are they? If you don’t believe you can change, the odds of you changing are pretty low. And if all you want to do is deal with the issue on some surface level doing mental masturbation, instead of genuine emotive work … then prepare to go nowhere ….. work your issues, change of sexuality is a by product.

  • Mary

    It’s simple people. Work your issues. Question your beliefs. Get in touch with all the enormity that is you. Get in touch with the conflict, the dichotomies. Hear your internal dialogue if you can. Be present to everything that has happened to you. Cry, Rage, Laugh …. you can’t help but change. But if some idiot shrink isn’t sure you can change, then the odds of them being able to help you change aren’t very good are they? If you don’t believe you can change, the odds of you changing are pretty low. And if all you want to do is deal with the issue on some surface level doing mental masturbation, instead of genuine emotive work … then prepare to go nowhere ….. work your issues, change of sexuality is a by product

    Thank you for posting. I am a believer in change. The mantra of fixed sexuality has been devasting to many people. We don’t have to accept homosexuality OR heterosexuality as being “it”.

  • Lynn David

    Work what issues, Tom? I had no issues to work save that I am definitely oriented to men not just sexually but romantically. I started trying to change that at the age of 20 with a psychologist. It didn’t work then or when I tried again at 25. Why? Because there was no issue other than my sexuality.

    .

    You seem to have found one or two or more, or at least made one up to fool yourself into believing you could change. I wouldn’t be so blunt but you’ve been pretty sure of yourself to call those such as me names like an “imbeciles.” I have known a few ex-gays and most all have not exhibited the lack of understanding that you have. Ok, there was the one guy who claimed to be ex-gay and that the Toronto Blessing (laughing and carrying on) had cured him. But then he claimed all gay men were child molesters, so I just had to ask him how many he had molested while gay. It’s just that you remind me of him.

  • Mary

    Work what issues, Tom? I had no issues to work save that I am definitely oriented to men not just sexually but romantically. I started trying to change that at the age of 20 with a psychologist. It didn’t work then or when I tried again at 25. Why? Because there was no issue other than my sexuality.

    LD, if you went into therapy because of pressure from someone other than yourself then I can understand your anger. Obviously, Tom should not be calling people imbeciles. However, just as his circumstance should not dictate yours neither should your circumstance dictate another persons. Some people really do change and some people really do have issues that contribute to their sexual dissatisfaction. You are not one of them.

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  • Marlene

    I am someone who is exclusively a Lesbian (and have been all of my life). People who appear to change their sexual orientation after ‘therapy’ are bisexual. Bisexuals mislabel themselves all the time. The ‘therapy’ only appears to ‘work’ with them.

    The “Fluidly” argument of ‘now I’m Gay’, ‘now I am Straight’ makes all LGBT sound crazy and sexually confused. It gives religious fanatics all the ammunition it needs against the LGBT community.

    It is also bull shit. If you are sexually attracted to both genders to any degree — you are bisexual. And therapy or misidentification can not change that

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