NARTH reviews Finnish study on parenting and sexual orientation

Dr. Joseph Nicolosi often tells his audiences that, in essence, homosexuality in males derives from lack of bonding with the father. In this YouTube video, he describes several factors which he believes could be important in the development of male homosexuality, including a masculine, sports-minded older brother, peer rejection and sexual abuse. However, referring to these hypothetical factors, Nicolosi says

…but none of these are as important as the early relationship with the father, because if he has a solid relationship with the father, then he’s not going to be too damaged by his older brother, he’s not going to be too damaged by his peers, he’s not even going to be damaged by same-sex abuse from an older man, if he has a solid relationship with his father.

Last year, at a London conference, Nicolosi said,

I advise fathers, ‘if you don’t hug your sons, some other man will.’

Thus, fathering is the lynchpin of the reparative theory of male homosexuality. Most older studies of parenting examining sexual orientation find modest differences between gay and straight groups. However, there is often much overlap between the two groups, meaning that many gay males recall warm, accepting relationships with their fathers and many straights recall distant, unaccepting fathers.

Given that detachment from the father is theorized to occur before age 5, the potent experience is difficult to test directly. Researchers try to get at this indirectly via surveys of how gay males recall the relationship with the father. A finding that gay males and straight males recalled their fathers similarly would be evidence against the theory.

Thus, I was surprised recently to find a review of a Finnish study of sexual orientation, parental relationships and gender atypical behavior reviewed on the NARTH (National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality) website. Reviewed by Robert Vazzo, the study also provides evidence which addresses NARTH’s view of homosexuality and pathology. I summarized this report last year when it came out, but I want to provide another look in light of Vazzo’s review. First, the abstract (after the break):

Alanko K, Santtila P, Witting K, Varjonen M, Jern P, Johansson A, von der Pahlen B, Kenneth Sandnabba N., Psychiatric Symptoms and Same-Sex Sexual Attraction and Behavior in Light of Childhood Gender Atypical Behavior and Parental Relationships, J Sex Res. 2009 Apr 2:1-11. [Epub ahead of print]

This study explores the relation between the level of current symptoms of depression and anxiety and recalled childhood gender atypical behavior (GAB), and quality of relationships with parents among men and women who reported same-sex sexual attraction or engaged in same-sex sexual behavior and men and women who did not. Matched pairs, 79 men (n = 158) and 148 women (n = 296), with equal levels of GAB were created of Finnish participants with either same-sex sexual attraction or behavior and participants without. The measures used were retrospective questionnaires. Ratings of maternal and paternal over-control and coldness differed as a function of same-sex sexual attraction or behavior. Childhood GAB was correlated with negative ratings of parental relationships. Both same-sex sexual attraction or behavior and a history of childhood GAB affected the reported levels of current depression and anxiety. Only gender typical participants with no same-sex sexual attraction or behavior reported significantly lower levels of symptoms. The findings suggest that childhood GAB is related to later distress both among hetero- and homosexual individuals. The elevated level of psychological distress among homosexual individuals, reported in several studies, might-to some extent be caused by their generally higher levels of childhood GAB as opposed to a homosexual orientation per se.

The study investigated 3 hypotheses. They were:

  1. Childhood GAB is related to a negative parent-child relationship.
  2. Homosexual orientation is related to a negative parent-child relationship.
  3. Childhood GAB, more than current sexual orientation, predicts the level of current psychiatric symptoms. 

The researchers found (with statistics removed):

Hypothesis 1. Results related to childhood GAB were relatively clear-cut. There was a significant difference between gender atypical and typical participants on both coldness and over-control dimensions describing parenting. In each instance, participants who reported childhood GAB described the parenting practices of their fathers and mothers in more negative terms.

Hypothesis 2. Heterosexual men described their fathers as colder compared to gay men, whereas heterosexual women described their fathers as less cold compared to lesbian women. A similar interaction affected the descriptions of the coldness of the mothers. Again, heterosexual men described their mothers as colder compared to gay men, whereas heterosexual women described their mothers as less cold than lesbian women. (emphasis mine)

Hypothesis 3. As can be seen from Figure 1, the gender atypical heterosexual participants had approximately the same level of psychiatric symptoms as gay men and lesbian women. The only group with a clearly lower level of psychiatric symptoms was the gender typical heterosexual group.

 

How does Mr. Vazzo describe the results? Mostly, he summarizes the report accurately. He even points out that gay males described warmer relationships with their fathers than straight males. Given that a cardinal doctrine of reparative drive theory is that gay males had poor bonding with their fathers, this should be more than surprising. It is a disconfirming finding to the prime theory promoted by the organization.

Gay males described a scenario where they had warm relationships with both mother and father. Mother was described as somewhat more controlling but in “a loving way.” Without the distant, non-affirming father sending the scared pre-reparative boy to mother’s apron strings, this finding is a problem for the reparative theory and the hugging advice (don’t get me wrong, you should hug your sons for reasons unrelated to their sexuality).

Also in Vazzo’s review, there is some speculation which I believe is unwarranted. For instance, he says about the second hypothesis:

Results of the study also confirmed the authors’ second hypothesis. The data showed that participants’ negative descriptions about their mothers’ overcontrolling behavior was related to a homosexual orientation. Homosexually oriented men and women in the study reported their mothers as more overcontrolling than did heterosexual participants. Surprisingly, however, heterosexual men described their fathers and mothers as slightly colder than did the homosexual men. On the contrary, lesbian women described both their fathers and mothers as colder than the heterosexual women did. These results support the popular belief that homosexual women and men have had serious relational problems with their parents. (emphasis mine)

Lesbian women describe a emotionally colder parenting environment as compared to straight women. However, nothing in these results supports Vazzo’s characterization of “serious relational problems” for homosexual women or men. To be consistent, if these results signify “serious relationship problems,” then Vazzo would have to assume straights have them too.

Regarding parenting and sexual orientation, Alanko et al write:

Gay men and lesbians reported more maternal overcontrol than heterosexual men and women. Heterosexual men, more than gay men, and lesbian women, more than heterosexual women, reported parental coldness. A distant (cold) relationship with the father of gay men was expected on the basis of previous studies; however, in this study, gay men reported warmer paternal, as well as maternal, relationships than heterosexual men did. Mothers of the gay men in this sample seem to need to control their boys, although they do it lovingly. The relationship to the father was hypothesized to differ between heterosexual and lesbian women, so that lesbians would report more distant relationships than heterosexual women. The hypothesis was confirmed; however, not only the paternal but also the maternal relationship was rated colder by lesbians than by heterosexual women.

Mothers might try to over-control the openly gender atypical behavior of their offspring, as reflected by their over-controlling parenting style. It is interesting to note that lesbian women seem to have the least affectionate relationship with their parents, maybe reflecting a certain degree of autonomy and distance from the parents of the tomboyish girl. Clearly, however, differences in the way parents handle children that seem to be associated with their future sexual orientation exist. Special features of these children, possibly of the same origin as their adult sexual orientation, may influence the style of parenting.

It was also found that negative parenting, irrespective of any interactions with other variables, was significantly related to symptoms of depression and anxiety in the participants, confirming our second hypothesis. This means that parenting, overall, is important for the mental health of the offspring, and that this effect was found irrespective of any effects of childhood.

Much of the rest of Vazzo’s article is a summary of the results of the Alanko et al study. However, Vazzo does not stop there. Out of left field, he says:

A more complete and plausible explanation from both a psychodynamic and family systems perspective is that the children’s gender atypical behavior is a defense mechanism designed to protect them from the anxiety that they experience as the result of difficulties in the parental relationship.  

There is no evidence given for the defense mechanism hypothesis about GAB. There are parental difficulties reported but these may be a function of the GAB and not the cause. Nothing in the study renders the defense mechanism theory more plausible or complete. A more comprehensive view would be that GAB could be either a cause of parenting problems or the result of them with different outcomes arising from different situations. Alanko et al quote a 1990 Bradley and Zucker suggesting that in “extreme cases” of GAB, the behavior might be in reaction to parental incompetence and stress and indeed that could be true at the extremes. However, this study does not offer a direct test of that hypothesis.

Even with these criticisms of Vazzo’s summary, I commend him for placing this research in front of NARTH readers for at least two reasons. One, this study undermines reparative drive theory, although one would need to be relatively familiar with the theory to know it. Other studies which do this have not appeared there. Two, the study undermines NARTH’s focus on homosexual orientation per se as pathology. On the relationship between pathology and orientation, Alanko et al say:

In summary, the findings suggest that gender atypicality in childhood is related to later distress both among hetero- and homosexual individuals. It therefore seems that the elevated level of psychological distress among homosexual individuals reported in several studies is to some extent caused by their generally higher levels of childhood GAB as opposed to a homosexual orientation per se. In fact, heterosexual participants who reported childhood GAB also suffered from elevated levels of psychological distress to the same extent as the homosexual participants. Support for parents in the process of accepting a gender nonconforming child, who might or might not become homosexual, is especially important when considering the results of this study.

Whereas NARTH and many conservatives assume that the elevated levels of distress found among homosexuals is due solely to their same-sex attractions and associated behavior, this study finds evidence that GAB, admittedly more prevalent among gays, may be one underlying culprit. GAB in both straights and gays associates with psychological distress (see the bar graphs). The source of distress for gender typical gays is not so clear and may relate to issues related to negative experiences with parents. This research adds to a growing body of evidence that suggests one factor contributing to the elevated psychological distress of GLB people is related to stress of growing in a gender atypical manner.

……………………….

For another study which finds this link see Skidmore, W. Christopher; Linsenmeier, Joan A. W.; Bailey, J. Michael. Archives of Sexual Behavior. Vol 35(6), Dec 2006, 685-697.

Some lesbians and gay men tend to be more gender nonconforming, on average and for certain traits, than their heterosexual counterparts. Gender nonconformity in childhood has also been linked to adult homosexuality. Studies of both lesbians and gay men also find elevated rates of psychological distress. We hypothesized that these facts may be related. Individuals who violate social norms for gender-appropriate behavior may suffer from stigmatization by both heterosexual and homosexual people, leading to higher levels of psychological distress. We examined whether several measures of gender nonconformity were related to psychological distress in a community-based sample of gay men and lesbians. These included self-reports of childhood and adulthood gender nonconformity, as well as observer ratings of current behavior. Several measures of gender nonconformity were related to each other for both lesbians and gay men. In addition, gender nonconformity was related to psychological distress, but only for gay men. Finally, both lesbian and gay male participants reported more positive attitudes towards gender conformity than nonconformity, although the pattern was somewhat different for each group. We discuss the implications of these results for future studies of gender nonconformity and for the promotion of psychological health in lesbians and gay men.

  • David Blakeslee

    Is it fair to say, Warren, that “cold” parents do not wound Gender Typical Heterosexual Males?

    Is if fair to say, Warren, that “warm” parents harm Gender Atypical Males and Females?

    This is an interesting set of circumstances…

    Isn’t it possible that social nonconformity interferes with self soothing (I am like you, making me feel safer)….rather than this being an issue of stigmatization (I am not like you, making me feel less close–comforted).

  • David Blakeslee

    Mother was described as somewhat more controlling but in “a loving way.”

    How is this quantified?

    Engulfing mothers, according to the theory, might not be bluntly confronted by a “warm father” (possibly passive)…not cold.

  • David Blakeslee

    From Vazzo:

    To support this finding, the authors note that heterosexually oriented men with a history of GAB had almost the same level of psychological distress as homosexually oriented men with a history of GAB, and that the heterosexual participants without a history of GAB had a significantly lower level of psychological distress.

    Psychotherapy associated with GAB in heterosexual and homosexual men is indicated….

    This may be why some heterosexual men (prior GAB) with significant psychiatric symptoms become sexually compulsive (both same gender and opposite gender)…self-soothing….to manage clinically significant anxiety.

  • David

    Dr. Throckmorton:

    Since NARTH’s reigning theory posits that the paternal bond either is established or fails to establish itself within the first 5 years of life, and since (as you say) it is hard to rely upon memories and perceptions from that early in life recounted years or decades later, wouldn’t it make sense to focus on objective circumstances, such as where the father is deceased or completely absent? Rather than ask people whether their fathers were “cold” or “warm” to them 15, 20, 30, or 40 years ago, why not focus on whether there is a statistical relationship b/t gay male children and fathers who were absent/deceased w/in the first 5 years of the gay male’s life? Have there been any such studies?

  • Ann

    David,

    I am not sure but don’t think it is whether the father is absent or distand or cold, rather, it is the little boy’s perception of that circumstance that he absorbs. Also, if his mother offers a positive environment in response to the absence, etc., then I would think the child would feel that and be resilient – on the other hand if the mother/caretaker uses the child as a sounding board to vent about the negative circumstance, the child could absorb that and take on the feelings of the mother which any way one looks at it is unhealthy.

  • Sue

    So what are you trying to say here? To me, a mother of a homosexual son who is involved with men who are older than his father, YOU are all hogwash! You are totally missing the point and the purpose of why we are here in the first place! I am tired of hearing all of your rhetoric of the reasons for homosexuality. I don’t believe God would condone something that is harmful to our children. I am tired of people like you pussing- footing around this subject. Biologically speaking, homosexuality just doesn’t fit! Sorry if this statement isn’t to your liking. But please tell me how you can justify that a man’s penis would naturally fit into a man’s anus. Even if you didn’t believe in a God who created man and woman who amazingly fit together physically, how can you explain the differences in the male and female body in the first place? I do know that my son was exposed to internet pornography at an early age. I do know that my husband and I were naive about who he spent the night with as an adolescent. I do know that my son had a youth minister that turned out to be a sexual predator. And I know that my son who happens to be #3 in the birth order did not get all the attention from is father that he deserved. I also can tell you that this man is indeed a masculine man who is very athletic and an artistic individual just like his father. And yes I was one of those controlling mothers only because I was taught as a child that I was unique and that I was a child of God and that my role of a mother was to be my most important identity that God would give me. Did I misunderstand? Of course, I did. My role was to serve God only, and I regret that I did not do it well. I did not marry a man of my own likeness. GO FIGURE! He came from an introverted Swedish heritage (Sorry for the reference to culture), I also have a great deal of HOPE that this lifestyle that my son is in in is not to be in his entire lifespan! Yes, we have learned MUCH about the “Gay” community. And I am angry that a word that my grandmother used in a beautiful poem is used to describe a population that is anything but gay! Our son has a family who loves him dearly and unconditionally! And with the support of friends who are all Godly people, he is going to come out of this. Do you know why or even understand why this will happen? It is all for God’s GLORY! So please stop all your willy nilly around in trying to justify the homosexual lifestyle, but teach people (parents) how to love their children from the moment they are conceived! That’s what it’s all about. Thanks for letting me share!

    Love, MOM

    P.S. Please can’t we all go back to simpler times when all that matter was to honor God and each other??

  • Sue

    So what are you trying to say here? To me, a mother of a homosexual son who is involved with men who are older than his father, YOU are all hogwash! You are totally missing the point and the purpose of why we are here in the first place! I am tired of hearing all of your rhetoric of the reasons for homosexuality. I don’t believe God would condone something that is harmful to our children. I am tired of people like you pussing- footing around this subject. Biologically speaking, homosexuality just doesn’t fit! Sorry if this statement isn’t to your liking. But please tell me how you can justify that a man’s penis would naturally fit into a man’s anus. Even if you didn’t believe in a God who created man and woman who amazingly fit together physically, how can you explain the differences in the male and female body in the first place? I do know that my son was exposed to internet pornography at an early age. I do know that my husband and I were naive about who he spent the night with as an adolescent. I do know that my son had a youth minister that turned out to be a sexual predator. And I know that my son who happens to be #3 in the birth order did not get all the attention from his father that he deserved. I also can tell you that this man is indeed a masculine man who is very athletic and an artistic individual just like his father. And yes I was one of those controlling mothers only because I was taught as a child that I was unique and that I was a child of God and that my role of a mother was to be my most important identity that God would give me. Did I misunderstand? Of course, I did. My role was to serve God only, and I regret that I did not do it well. I did not marry a man of my own likeness. GO FIGURE! He came from an introverted Swedish heritage (Sorry for the reference to culture), I also have a great deal of HOPE that this lifestyle that my son is in in is not to be in his entire lifespan! Yes, we have learned MUCH about the “Gay” community. And I am angry that a word that my grandmother used in a beautiful poem is used to describe a population that is anything but gay! Our son has a family who loves him dearly and unconditionally! And with the support of friends who are all Godly people, he is going to come out of this. Do you know why or even understand why this will happen? It is all for God’s GLORY! So please stop all your willy nilly around in trying to justify the homosexual lifestyle, but teach people (parents) how to love their children from the moment they are conceived! That’s what it’s all about. Thanks for letting me share!

    Love, MOM

    P.S. Please can’t we all go back to simpler times when all that matter was to honor God and each other??

  • Sue

    Apologies for submitting this 2x. I saw a typo, and thought I needed to correct it , thus a double entry. Please delete first one. Thank you!

    also, Dr. Throckmorton, why are you so against NARTH? or am I wrong in assuming this? Thanks and Good Night!

  • David Blakeslee

    @ Sue…welcome.

    Thanks for sharing, I can see in fragments, your developing story of loving your sons and your husband and your God.

    We look into origins, here, to a large degree, because so much energy is put into the topic scientifically, socially and politically. That energy exaggerates some information, minimizes other information and downright deceives at times…

    I think Warren and others who visit this site are trying to get at what can be called “essential facts” in the phenomenon of SSA…and thereby be a resource to families and individuals who are trying to understand this in an honorable manner.

    Most of us here would agree with your goal, to love God and our neighbor (and our children) and leave the outcome to God.

    …again welcome.

  • Ann

    What role, if any, does instinct play in human sexuality?

  • Mary

    Sue,

    I get tired of it, too.

  • David

    @Ann:

    I know that it ultimately comes down to the self-perception of the pre-homosexual boy. My point is that, since we are dealing with such an early point in life, memories of how things were perceived fade and get distorted. By looking at populations where the father was physically absent or deceased, we can, it seems to me, reduce reliance on subjective and ancient memories. Of course, there would still be the issue of the maternal relationship, but at the very least, we would have taken out half of the memory problem. Also, as I understand it, NARTH places much less emphasis on the maternal relationship, since they believe that no maternal relationship can replace or compensate for a dysfunctional paternal relationship.

    @ Sue:

    I am sure that your son is thrilled to have a judgmental, hectoring woman in his corner, offering faux “support”. Your post is so filled with fallacies that it is hard to know where to begin. Perhaps we can start with your theory that your son is gay b/c he was “exposed” to internet pornography. Unless the porn was hidden in a mislabeled email attachment that he innocently opened up, he wasn’t “exposed”. He went out and searched for it. If he was looking for gay porn online, that probably defeats your theory that the porn caused his gayness.

    Second, your quaint notion that homosexuality is wrong b/c the penis doesn’t fit into the anus, in contrast to the perfect fit of a penis in a vagina is ridiculous. Lesbians don’t engage in anal sex and a good portion of gay men don’t either. A sizeable portion of heteros do engage in it. But whatever the percentages, the practice would not be so widespread and would not have existed through all of human history if the parts didn’t fit. As for vaginal intercourse, how can you recommend a practice that intentionally destroys the God-created hymen, causes bleeding, and pain?

    I appreciate your frequent references to God. But a true Christian would follow the clear mandate of the Bible (“he shall surely be put to death”), pick up a heavy stone and kill the sodomite. Why are you not carrying out God’s mandate?

  • Mary

    Sue,

    I did not read your post as anything other than being that of a frustrated mom. For those of us who walk away from the gay life – at times – it can be as frustrating. Sometimes, I just want the world to stop, the rhetoric to stop, and just be a plain old person again – go to church, have dinner and go for a walk in the evening without any problems.

  • Mary

    And I don’t think my parents plotted to have children and then proceed to screw up our lives as best they could. We all do the best we can with the knowledge and means we have available at the time and sometimes the results still are not what we planned on. It just is. And we go on with it – whatever it is.

  • Eddy

    I appreciate your frequent references to God. But a true Christian would follow the clear mandate of the Bible (“he shall surely be put to death”), pick up a heavy stone and kill the sodomite. Why are you not carrying out God’s mandate?

    David–

    Wondering what makes you an expert on ‘True Christianity’. It seems that ‘the wages of sin is death’…but the whole point of the sinless Christ coming to Earth and suffering the death penalty was that HE was paying the death penalty for us. Further, when people actually brought an adulterous woman to Him, citing that the law said she should be stoned, Jesus admonished the accusers and told the woman that He didn’t condemn her and ‘go and sin no more’. A ‘true Christian’ tries to incorporate these truths into their lives and dealings.

  • William

    @ David:

    I refer to your reply to Sue on the subject of her son’s sexual orientation being supposedly caused by his being “exposed” to internet pornography.

    Unless the porn was hidden in a mislabeled email attachment that he innocently opened up, he wasn’t “exposed”. He went out and searched for it. If he was looking for gay porn online, that probably defeats your theory that the porn caused his gayness.

    Well said.

    Parents of her way of thinking simply can’t or won’t accept that their son simply is gay and that that’s why he went online searching for gay pornography; they have to find someone or something that did this to their son. A recent survey in the UK found that the vast majority of all British teenagers have seen internet pornography, and I expect that the same is probably true of American teenagers, but no-one, however much they may disapprove of pornography, has suggested that viewing such material is the cause of anyone’s heterosexuality.

    It’s a bit like the popular seduction theory. I’m not suggesting that seduction (heterosexual or homosexual, as the case may be) never occurs, nor that it may not have harmful effects, but I have heard both homosexual persons who cannot accept themselves and non-accepting parents of homosexual persons refer to those persons’ first gay sexual experience as a “seduction” which “led them into homosexuality”, when it’s patently clear from their account of it that the experience occurred or started in a gay venue or other location where they knew perfectly well in advance that they were likely to be picked up, and where they had willingly and deliberately gone for that very purpose.

    Even though people may, of course, regret their first sexual experience for all sorts of reasons – e.g. too soon, wrong time, with the wrong person, wrong circumstances etc. – I have never yet heard anyone’s first heterosexual experience, even if they do regret it for whatever reason, described as a “seduction” which “led them into heterosexuality”.

  • Sue

    Mary – Thanks for your comment. We are just a family trying to put the pieces together.

    David Blakeslee – thanks for your warm welcome and more understanding about this site. I most likely will not post again.

    David – I’m sorry my post upset you. I’m not sure you read it in it’s entirety. You took the parts that seemed to hurt you personally and I apologize for that. And how would you know vaginal intercourse is painful? Just wondering!

    Also to quote Andrew Marin who quoted Billy Graham “Let the Holy Spirit convict, God judge, and we’re to love as Jesus did”. We’re doing our best!

    We don’t approve of the homosexual lifestyle as we have come to know it. A young friend wrote some wise words on his blog that I will share with you now:

    “Approval sedates the mind and inures us to archaic prejudices, or a life we weren’t called to live. A re-examination of conclusions formed earlier is essential to learning and education”. Of course this quote could be taken on both sides of this issue.

    Blessings to All

    Sue

  • Ann

    Parents of her way of thinking simply can’t or won’t accept that their son simply is gay and that that’s why he went online searching for gay pornography;

    William,

    What is so simple about accepting what is so unacceptable to a parent or loved one?

  • Eddy

    Let’s not overlook that adolescents are very curious about sexuality and that males, in particular, are easily aroused. A young male might start looking at naked male images in an attempt to see how he measures up. If his own body responds, he might misinterpret that response as desire. Couple that with the strong emotions of shame, guilt and fear that an adolescent is likely to feel for cruising ANY sexual images and you compound the entire situation. Diagnosing this as ‘searching for homosexual images’ without knowing more about why the youth started looking seems a bit rash.

  • William

    What is so simple about accepting what is so unacceptable to a parent or loved one?

    Yes, you’re right, Ann. Some can’t simply accept it because they insist that it’s a priori unacceptable. It’s an awful pity, because such parents cause themselves and their offspring untold, unnecessary and futile heart-ache. Some, of course, come round to facing reality sooner, some later. Some, however, come round later still – when it’s too late – and others never; what a terrible tragedy for the entire family!

  • Eddy

    because such parents cause themselves and their offspring untold, unnecessary and futile heart-ache.

    It’s only ‘unnecessary and futile’ if God has no opinion on the matter.

    Some, of course, come round to facing reality sooner, some later.

    Is the ‘reality’ spoken of here the yet unproven assumption that people are ‘born gay’?

    I’m really not trying to start up that debate once again but just reminding us that we all speak and act from what we believe.

  • Mary

    It is tragic that “some” won’t let “some” live a life according to their principles and beliefs. Gays who are just as stuck as conservatives in the “my way or the highway” program are in the same boat.

  • Ann

    Yes, you’re right, Ann. Some can’t simply accept it because they insist that it’s a priori unacceptable. It’s an awful pity, because such parents cause themselves and their offspring untold, unnecessary and futile heart-ache. Some, of course, come round to facing reality sooner, some later. Some, however, come round later still – when it’s too late – and others never; what a terrible tragedy for the entire family!

    William,

    Not sure what I am right about – I don’t need to be right about anything, just well informed. My question to you was in response to your comment that some parents simply cannot or will not accept homosexuality in their children. Some, because of their common sense or other beliefs, do not see this part of their child or loved one as the final chapter for their life. Some even have this belief because their child or loved one has expressed to them that these feelings are unwanted and yet are at a loss as how to respond to them. Here is my question again – what is so simple about accepting this if it is unacceptable to another?

  • William

    Yes, Ann, I agree; there are people whose “common sense or other beliefs” will not allow them to accept reality. I can only pity them, since they make themselves and their loved ones unhappy for no good reason. I don’t know how one can help such people.

  • Ann

    Yes, Ann, I agree; there are people whose “common sense or other beliefs” will not allow them to accept reality. I can only pity them, since they make themselves and their loved ones unhappy for no good reason. I don’t know how one can help such people.

    William,

    Common sense and other beliefs are a blessing because they can put most life situations into perspective so they can be reasoned them out. Accepting the unacceptable for many is, well, just unacceptable including those who choose not to act on their same gender attractions/temptations. Reality is a very subjective thing. When a person with anorexia looks in the mirror, they think they are overweight. Your reality about who you are might not be the same for another with the same orientation because the responses to it are different. Therefore, I submit that there is nothing simple about homosexuality, how we individually respond to it, etc. – when feelings are disregarded or discounted as in “for no good reason”, then the issue goes beyond homosexuality and into selfishness.

  • William

    Ann, there are all sorts of things that we may initially regard as unacceptable, but unless we are living in some sort of fantasy world we have to accept them eventually, because no amount of non-acceptance is going to change them. Insistence that reality is “unacceptable” is not a blessing but a curse, even if one wishes to re-name it “common sense”, and it is liable to lead to the very selfishness that you decry. As a result of being obstinately enamoured of one’s own “common sense”, one can end up playing some very cruel games with other people’s lives.

    Yes, I know that there are people whose same-sex orientation is unwanted by them; in fact I think it’s probably correct to say that this is most gay people’s reaction on first becoming aware of their orientation, which commonly happens at the very age at which the desire to be exactly like everyone else – especially one’s peers – and the dread of being different are at their height. However, people who continue to refuse to accept their natural sexuality, instead of coming to terms with it, usually end up treating both themselves and others badly, and that goes also for family members who refuse to accept it, even if their refusal is in the name of “common sense” or of “other beliefs”. The following advice from Weinberg and Williams (Male Homosexuals: Their Problems and Adaptations, 1974) remains as valid and as valuable as when they first wrote it more than a quarter of a century ago:

    The homosexual should try to rid himself of notions that homosexuality is “sick” and that he would necessarily be better off if he were heterosexual. If he seeks counseling, he should try to avoid practitioners who subscribe to these views.

  • Ann

    William,

    Thanks for your response and I have carefully considered all of what you have said. After doing so, I still maintain my belief that there is nothing simplistic about asking, or coercing anyone to accept that, which to them, is unacceptable.

  • David Blakeslee

    The human condition, acceptance and change:

    @ William…It is too simplistic to the human condition in general to conclude that any one sensation should be accepted over another (i.e. Same Sex Attractions should determine identity over cultural, personal or biological design values). And that identifying with one’s Same Sex Attractions (or their religion for that matter) will bring harmony and mental health.

    …it is also too simplistic to assert that acceptance is the restorative process necessary for family healing and harmony.

    …you seem to speak in well worn Judgments of Sue and well worn Cliches about those who practice religion (neither assertions not rooted in scientific thought).

    …there are some who assert that Acceptance is the same as Endorsement. I can accept you without endorsing your assertions, about yourself, your attractions or your perceptions of others.

  • David Blakeslee

    neither assertions not rooted in scientific thought).

    double negative, should read: neither assertion is rooted in scientific thought.

  • William

    @Ann:

    I suggest that you read Prayers for Bobby: A Mother’s Coming to Terms with the Suicide of Her Gay Son by Leroy Aarons and The Slow Miracle of Transformation by Mary Lou Wallner – if you haven’t already read them. Those books describe the kind of heart-rending tragedies that those unfortunate mothers’ “common sense” and “other beliefs” led to. You might also find the following article informative:

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-sexual-continuum/200901/surprise-families-matter

    @Sue:

    As life slowly slips away, we can find ourselves looking back and thinking about things that we should have done. We can even find ourselves shedding tears over the fact that we can’t now go back and do them. Let not failure to accept your gay son for who and what he is be one of the things over which you shed tears in years to come.

  • Eddy

    Gee, from the Psychology Today article it would seem that parents should hold to a double standard. A Christian parent would be encouraging their teen heterosexual children to refrain from sex but with the gay child…refrain from offering such negative messages. I imagine that a parent of heterosexual children would further advise them not to engage in random sex, experimental sex, and sex outside of a committed relationship; the article doesn’t discuss how to address these matters with the gay-identified teen.

    And I like what David Blakeslee had to say re ‘acceptance’:

    …there are some who assert that Acceptance is the same as Endorsement. I can accept you without endorsing your assertions, about yourself, your attractions or your perceptions of others.

  • William

    Eddy, the Psychology Today article does not discuss the attitude of parents to their gay offspring’s sexual behaviour or absence of it. It doesn’t address that question at all.

    Presumably Christian parents, however disapproving they might be of a son’s or daughter’s irresponsible heterosexual behaviour, would not reject their heterosexual orientation or try to get them to change it. The same should be true with regard to a son’s or daughter’s homosexual orientation.

  • Mary

    William,

    You are assuming the orientation is fixed and predetermined?

  • Mary

    Also, are you assuming that all parents want their children to “change” or refrain from homosexuality?

  • William

    Mary, I am assuming that a homosexual orientation is as likely or unlikely to be fixed and pre-determined as a heterosexual one. And whether or not it is fixed or pre-determined, I strongly disapprove of attempts to tamper with it. If it changes by itself, then of course that’s fine.

    Also, are you assuming that all parents want their children to “change” or refrain from homosexuality?

    Change what? Change from homosexuality to heterosexuality? Some do, but the more enlightened ones don’t, and they are the lucky ones, because those who do seldom, if ever, get their wish. As for “refraining from homosexuality”, I don’t see that it makes any sense to speak of “refraining from” an orientation.

  • Mary

    Then what is the problem with a person choosing not to express that part of themself that they do not feel comfortable with.

    It is almost as if your asr sayin “Yes, yes, you must do the thing that makes you uncomforatble with yourself and yor God”

    That does not make sense in any reality – does it?

  • William

    Whether and how people choose to express their sexuality is a matter for them to determine, and I emphasize them not someone else.

    If someone decides to lead a life of perpetual sexual abstinence, then that is their decision; it is not one that anyone else has a right to make for them, and I am against any attempt on the part of anyone else to exercise pressure – moral, psychological or otherwise – to impose such a “decision” on them.

  • David Blakeslee

    William,

    You may be interested in this recent human interest story on Bryant Gumbel’s show “Real Sports”

    http://www.hbo.com/real-sports-with-bryant-gumbel/episodes/0/156-march-16-2010/synopsis.html

    He interviews transgendered sportswriters…and drops a statistic: 1/3 of those who transition commit suicide.

    He implies this is due to stigma and other difficulties which may be true.

    If you are a family member up close to this development…it would be difficult to not bring equal parts of acceptance and worry…

    Interesting that Gumbel discovers that most transexual’s hope to stay in thier previously identified primary couple relationship, which usually ends.

    One interviewee said, quite clearly, had she known that she would lose her marriage she never would have transitioned.

    There are many reasons why people choose to identify as they do…acceptance of their choices is a very reasonable request; endorsement can be withheld; and worry, no matter what is not optional.

  • William

    @ David Blakeslee:

    Thank you for that. “Transgendered” is often bracketed with homosexuality and bi-sexuality as in “GLBT”, but it is certainly not the same thing. During the last quarter of the 20th century the Spada Report did a survey of ordinary gay men, and one of the questions was “Do you ever feel that you would like to change your sex?” I think it was 98.7% of the men (anyway it 98 point something) that answered “No”. Of the small minority who answered “Yes”, some interesting reasons were given, such as that they had at one time regarded their homosexuality as a problem and had imagined that a “sex change” would solve it, but they no longer thought in this way.

    I have negligible experience of the transsexual phenomenon, and zero understanding of it, so I don’t feel that I can make any other useful comment.

  • Eddy

    William,

    I’m glad that you were able to sort out the ‘transgendered’ from ‘ordinary homosexual men’. Perhaps we all missed something in Sue’s comments…her son isn’t involved with just one man…he’s sexually involved with ‘men’ plural AND these men are older than his father. Must she accept AND endorse this? Is this ‘ordinary’ homosexuality?

  • William

    Well, it doesn’t sound like a good idea to me. Whether or not you call it “ordinary” it certainly isn’t average. But one of my best friends at college married a man who was at least as old as her father, and while some people – including myself – felt uneasy about it, no-one suggested that it was unacceptable in principle.

    Obviously , I don’t know the circumstances, but I’m inclined to guess that he’d probably be better off with someone nearer his own age. If he’s sexually involved with several men, then I don’t think that’s a good idea either.

    The trouble is that, if his mother demands something that is highly unlikely ever to happen, viz. a change in his orientation from gay to straight, that’s going to get in the way of the aim for a more realistic hope of change, such as a committed relationship with a guy in his own age-group.

  • Ann

    suggest that you read Prayers for Bobby: A Mother’s Coming to Terms with the Suicide of Her Gay Son by Leroy Aarons and The Slow Miracle of Transformation by Mary Lou Wallner – if you haven’t already read them. Those books describe the kind of heart-rending tragedies that those unfortunate mothers’ “common sense” and “other beliefs” led to. You might also find the following article informative:

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-sexual-continuum/200901/surprise-families-matter

    William,

    Thank you for the suggestions – not sure why you directed me to them though. Books and articles merely depict the author’s point of view, which is subjective. While I understand and respect how another can have a different perspective and/or life experience, it does not change what I know and have seen and experienced in my own life to be true.

  • Ann

    If someone decides to lead a life of perpetual sexual abstinence, then that is their decision; it is not one that anyone else has a right to make for them, and I am against any attempt on the part of anyone else to exercise pressure – moral, psychological or otherwise – to impose such a “decision” on them.

    William,

    This applies to not only sexuality but all areas of life – think about it. You have no right telling anyone else how to think or feel either.

  • Mary

    Well, you know, Ann. The double standard doesn’t apply if you have what is considered a liberal outlook on things (that is reality). LOL!!!!

  • Ann

    Mary,

    :-)

  • David Blakeslee

    @ William,

    My reference to the transgendered presentation by Gumbel was not at attempt to imply that that their were obvious similarities between GLB and T.

    It was meant to highlight that suicidal risk in a population can be high (or mental illness for that matter) and that giving acceptance of the person is no guarantee that the risk will be lowered…

    …as the reason for the suicidal risk or mental illness is multifaceted.

    Hence…acceptance with or without endorsement by family members may be related to how adaptive or healthy the overall decision turns out to be.

    That brings us back to our topic…remember it?

    GAB is a better indicator of mental illness than identification with SSA and

    Gay men and lesbians reported more maternal overcontrol than heterosexual men and women. Heterosexual men, more than gay men, and lesbian women, more than heterosexual women, reported parental coldness.

  • Eddy

    We will grudgingly admit that the young man’s penchant for multiple partners and for partners a generation older than he is off-kilter but political correctness prohibits us from labeling it as ‘wrong’, ‘unnatural’, ‘broken’, ‘fallen’, ‘sinful’…we must carefully say that ideally we hope he’d find happiness with a partner closer to his own age.

    Further, in our refusal to acknowledge that there is something disordered about having multiple partners older than one’s own parent, we conclude that nothing else has gone wrong in the young man’s sexual ‘wiring’…we conclude that he merely needs to accept his ‘natural’ homosexuality and find a same-sex partner his own age.

    I find these presuppositions rather baffling.

    In wanting to straighten out Ann’s thinking, William has also side-stepped the comments David B. made re the distinction between acceptance and tolerance while this situation provides clear grounds for seeing that distinction. William seems to agree that the behaviors are slightly less than ‘acceptable’–why else would he suggest that the young man find more ‘normal’ behaviors. How does William’s judgement of ‘unacceptable’ differ from Sue’s? Would William’s branding of ‘unacceptable’ also be the type of intolerance that would be the motivation for suicide?

  • David Blakeslee

    From the study:

    H1: Childhood GAB is Related to a Negative Parent-Child Relationship

    H2: Homosexual Orientation is Related to a Negative Parent-Child Relationship

    H3: Childhood GAB, More Than Current Sexual Orientation, Predicts the Level of Current Psychiatric Symptoms

    @ Warren…what to you mean “with the statistics removed”? doesn’t that make your statements scientifically useless?

    Actual study now found here?:

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2372/is_5_46/ai_n42266959/?tag=content;col1

    Why doesn’t cold parenting effect non-GAB heterosexuals by increasing mental illness?

  • David Blakeslee

    Gender did not have a main effect on psychiatric symptoms; therefore, subsequent analyses were conducted across both genders.

    Interesting, as mental illness generally has a higher referral rate for woman than for men….

  • David

    @ Sue:

    I did real your whole post. What I was trying to convey is that your son will be carefully assessing your reaction to him. You can mouth the right platitudes about love and support. But if that is followed by conspiracy theories about sexual predators and sexual orientation-creating porno and a host of other negative comments, it will completely undermine the credibility of your statement of support. I would add to that the use of the term “lifestyle,” which hasn’t been used by gay people in about 35 years and is today used by anti-gay activists who want to trivialize sexual orientation and thus take it outside the ambit of anti-discrimination legislation.

    I am not suggesting that you need to lie or pretend that you feel differently than you do. I am suggesting that you and your son would be much better off if you showed some tact, tried to listen to what he says about his sexual orientation and how it came to be and don’t try to come off like you know more about his sexuality than he does. Because you don’t.

    Second, as to pain in vaginal intercourse: virgins regularly bleed and non-virgins can experience pain, um, let’s just say the when the farmer starts to plow fields that are not properly watered. That is definitely all I am going to say about vaginal intercourse.

  • Mary

    Interesting, as mental illness generally has a higher referral rate for woman than for men

    referral rate does not equal occurence raqte

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

    David B asked: @ Warren…what to you mean “with the statistics removed”? doesn’t that make your statements scientifically useless?

    I just meant that the means and other stats were removed from the quotes. Most reading here would be distracted by them. Now that you have the article you can see the stats for yourself. The quotes are from the article.

    RE: cold parenting and mental illness. I think being gender typical elicits a more positive reaction from people and might be a buffer against the corrosive effect of less engaged parents. Social acceptance is a big deal in my opinion and can offset feel less accepted or wanted at home. Being gender typical opens your social world to more potential friends and reduces the chances of social problems.

    I really think people who are straight and gender typical have a hard time getting what it must be like to grow up being afraid people would find out what you are going through and then if you compound that with obvious differences which attend to gender atypical interests and reactions, I think you have a difficult social situation to overcome.

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

    Sue – Glad you popped in. My relationship with NARTH has a history and it is about many things. Mostly, I dislike how they spin studies to suit their theoretical purposes. Actually, in this case, I was mildly positive given that the study undermines the reparative drive and they allowed to be presented.

  • David Blakeslee

    @ Warren,

    Thanks….

    The study does seem to support a broader psycho-dynamic model that parent-child interactions are correlated with mental illness…

    and also that GAB women and lesbians share a common factor of dissatisfying interactions with their mothers…

    NARTH is overdeveloped in its psycho-dynamic understanding of male homosexuality and this article provides necessary correction.

    But I think the article provides important information in GAB in women, that NARTH could profit from applying to a comprehensive model of SSA in women (an area of weakness for NARTH).

    I think the overcontrolling mother (engulfing in psychodynamic terms) is a reasonable area of exploration to look into; it is a complex variable which can superficially appear warm and engaged, but undermines the child’s autonomy.

    Finally, Warren, is it your read that the article says heterosexual men have “cold” relationships with their fathers…or COLDER relationships with their father compared to homosexual and GAB men? There is a big difference here.

  • Ann

    I think the overcontrolling mother (engulfing in psychodynamic terms) is a reasonable area of exploration to look into; it is a complex variable which can superficially appear warm and engaged, but undermines the child’s autonomy.

    David Blakeslee,

    An overcontrolling mother would not have such a negative effect on a sensitive child IF there was a balance with another family member to help put things into perspective. An involved and invested father could temper many incidents in many ways that could balance out a child’s perspective. It does not have to be done in a way that would undermine the mother, rather, done in a way that would teach/show the child they could think of the situation differently that would create resilliance. For example – if the dad makes a funny comment about how the mom is reacting, it would make the child smile and allow them to understand they can see it in a different way – if there were not this simple intervention, the unlearned child could absorb the behavior, take on the blame or feelings of the mom, relate to her (losing autonomy) and allow it to affect them in untold negative ways.

  • David Blakeslee

    @ Ann,

    That seems very reasonable to me…an active engaged parent allows for cognitive flexibility and autonomy to develop in the maturing child.

  • William

    @ Eddy

    “…we must carefully say that ideally we hope he’d find happiness with a partner closer to his own age.

    Further, in our refusal to acknowledge that there is something disordered about having multiple partners older than one’s own parent, we conclude that nothing else has gone wrong in the young man’s sexual ‘wiring’…we conclude that he merely needs to accept his ‘natural’ homosexuality and find a same-sex partner his own age.

    I find these presuppositions rather baffling.”

    If the young man had been sexually involved with multiple female partners older than his mother, or if it had been the case of a young woman sexually involved with multiple male partners older than her father, and I’d made analogous suggestions, I don’t think that you’d have batted an eyelid.

    I venture now on a bold prediction. I predict that a century from now, if not before, social historians will look back on the anti-family theories which attempted to “explain” homosexuality in terms of poor family relationships with a mixture of amusement, contempt and horror: amusement at the sheer fancifulness of those theories; contempt at the way in which their proponents clung to them with such arrogant tenacity; horror at how those theories were used to make parents of non-heterosexual children feel like failures, to fracture their families, and to justify inflicting all kinds of psychological, emotional and spiritual abuse on those children, e.g. pressurizing them into submitting to “ex-gay” programs or “reparative therapy” and using moral bullying to prevent them from forming appropriate same-sex relationships.

    Thank God, we are already moving decisively and rapidly in that direction.

  • Eddy

    If the young man had been sexually involved with multiple female partners older than his mother, or if it had been the case of a young woman sexually involved with multiple male partners older than her father, and I’d made analogous suggestions, I don’t think that you’d have batted an eyelid.

    Sorry, William, you made a supposition and it was hopelessly offbase. Those who already blog here KNOW that my eyelids do indeed flutter regarding these other sexual sins. Your attempt to paint me as a hypocrite is lame and unfounded.

    One story from the ‘Eddy Archives’ that I’ve shared here a time or two: Parents came to me for advice regarding their gay son. It seems that Thanksgiving was coming; they wanted to be ‘open’ to their gay son and had invited both him and his partner to join in the festivities. The son wanted to stay in their house and sleep in the same bed as his partner and this was too much for them. What advice did I have for them?

    Well, it seems they had two other children who were also coming home. I inquired about them. One was coming with his girlfriend. ‘And where will she be sleeping?’ I asked. I didn’t need to say another word…I had zeroed in on some hidden hypocrisy in an instant.

    Just yesterday, I was riding with one of my brothers and he suggested a drive through town where there’d likely be some ‘babes’ to scope out. I openly questioned the ethics of taking a detour just to get some sexual eye-candy.

    So, would you like to apologize and retract your unfounded assumption?

  • William

    No, Eddy, I was not accusing you of hypocrisy. I was pointing out that in an analagous case of inappropriate heterosexual behaviour you presumably would not call the heterosexual orientation into question. If that presumption was incorrect, then for that I do apologise.

  • Eddy

    I don’t buy into the concept of ‘orientation’…it comes with too much unproven baggage.

    But, apart from that, you are correct that I would not question the heterosexual direction of their urges while I would question the promiscuity, the age difference, and any parts that seemed to be sex apart from love.

    And yes, I would question the general homosexual direction of this young man’s attractions. I would not demand that they ‘go straight’, however, just as I wouldn’t demand that they abandon promiscuity or the age fetish. I would present heterosexuality as the norm and I would express my belief that it is God’s intent. From there, though, it would be up to what the individual believed about God and his intent.

    I realize that it is difficult for you to grasp that you can indeed have such a strong difference of opinion and still be accepting but I maintain that it is possible. My best friend isn’t just gay; he’s an ex-ex-gay. While we disagree on whether the Bible deems homosexual behavior to be sin, we manage to have a very strong friendship. Yes, it’s occasionally uncomfortable. We don’t have that many models for such. I am fascinated by the marriage of James Carville and Mary Matalin for this reason.

  • Ann

    William,

    Your prediction might be right – I just cannot guess what God has planned for all of us. If your bold prediction is right, it sure would be bode well, at least for a time, for those individuals who are content with their same gender identity, attractions and relationships. My intuition tells me that even if your predicition is right, it will not be enough. Peace in one’s heart comes from within regardless of the circumstance and is not dependant on anyone else. The greatest confidence one can have is a clear conscience – it eliminates struggle or any moral dilemma we want to rationalize as right. It tempers what we do and what we say and allows us to function at a high level and be happy. Something to ponder.

    Back to your prediction – while it might bode well for some people, it certainly will have no effect on others who, regardless of how accepting society is, will never value their same gender attractions/desires the way you do. They choose not to respond to them in a way that would compromise that, or those, which they value. For these individuals, there must also be consideration and respect and understanding.

  • Mary

    The greatest confidence one can have is a clear conscience – it eliminates struggle or any moral dilemma we want to rationalize as right. It tempers what we do and what we say and allows us to function at a high level and be happy.

    So true!

  • Evan

    William wrote that one century from now on or less people will look back in horror at how some folks used moral judgement to ..

    Yo, William, what if I tell you that moral compass is inborn like you believe sexual orientation is? Sounds crazy to you? Check this out.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1262074/Scientists-discover-moral-compass-brain-controlled-magnets.html

    So your prediction might’ve been right if you didn’t use double standards for change of mind and lack of change for orientation. It looks like people make moral judgements based on something which is not learned, but could have more to do with some biologically formed brains chunks, just like you say sexual orientation is. Conclusion? You can’t change people’s attitude to something they have moral judgements on just by preaching them. It’s in their brains, just like sexual orientation.

  • Mary

    William wrote that one century from now on or less people will look back in horror at how some folks used moral judgement to

    I’m certain they will. I wonder which choices they will be most horrified at.

  • Evan

    More to the issue: All this stuff was discussed before. There was a topic where I wrote about this type of interaction, when I said both father and son were “lame” and Warren was like “What?”.

    Here’s that topic: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2009/05/18/parenting-homosexuality-and-gender-atypical-behavior/

    Back then I wrote (or I thought when I wrote the idea) that this is the reason why they find these counterintuitive facts: recalling the relation as warm doesn’t say anything about it as long as you don’t measure the parent’s own personality, the attachment style in the kid and the kid himself. The son could remember the father as warm because of his own personality or because both were connected by similar traits. I have wrote before that when a father made great efforts to hide his own past atypicality, it is likely to treat the atypical boy either with rejection or with indulgence. Neither provide the atypical kid with adaptive means. Many different types of interactions and pathways can result because of this with both parents and peers. The study didn’t measure that.

    I can understand the researchers because they worked with adults and ratings from recalled experience. But they could have marched on to get the whole thing, much like this kind of studies, but including GAB

    -doi:10.1016/j.paid.2008.10.011

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2174268/

    Once they’ll do this sort of studies, they can start making connections by checking:

    - early gender behaviour

    - parents’ personalities and their interaction with the kid’s personality

    - attachment styles

    - early social interaction with other types of personality in peers (and feedback with the home environment, how it is supportive or not),

    etc.

    On the gender behaviour there are tons of research. More recently an interesting one says that both boys and girls prefer dolls to cars at 12-months (10.1007/s10508-010-9618-z). As they get closer to detail, gender differences seem to be learned or influenced by the environment. More to come on that.

    The personality probing is highly relevant here because a great number of good studies found that personality dimensions correlate significantly with adult outcomes in mental health. There’s also a great deal of intersection with this region of studies on gender differences and sexual orientation:

    *basic differences

    - the sexually dimorphic stress response (typically, men = fight or flight, women=tend and befriend)

    - the differences in aggresiveness levels (between genders and sexual orientations)

    *specific ones

    - attachment anxiety, gender nonconformity and peer rejection: the Landolt et al study @ http://www.springerlink.com/content/g2k8r548n3575422/

    - the interesting finding that neuroticism and psychoticism are higher in non-heteros than in heteros of both sexes – the study by Zietsch and colleagues.

    As these studies show parenting affects dimensions of personality and these dimensions are correlated with many outcomes from mental health to sexuality. This newly published paper (http://www.springerlink.com/content/0m435j76mh175837/) found significant association between personality dimensions and sexual (risky) behaviour.

    It seems to me that parenting affects some personality dimensions in kids that filter their future adult emotional functioning, which includes mental health outcomes and adult sexual behaviours. What remains to be seen is if these dimensions orient sexual feelings to different sexes if levels variate in both sexes, or if they only correlate with sexual atypicality.

  • Evan

    Don’t have the time to write on this much, but I’d like to bring to commenters’ attention another line of research which focused on attractiveness and sex tipicality:

    I’m sure everyone remembers some discussions on how men find certain types of women attractive and women like some types of men? It’s all based on traits, like physical beauty for women and ability to get resources and healthy physical appearance to men. The more a trait makes a sex more different than the other it can bring some advantages in mating. Different sexes have different traits which are advantageous to mating and the same trait may be advantageous to a sex and negative to the other.

    For example: For females, a high degree of attractiveness shows a high degree of sex typicality too, which is an advantage both when they’re girls and women.

    The same trait works differently for males, who may be favoured by parents during childhood because of their attractiveness, but are disadvantaged by the trait when they become adults. This must be inserted in the same context of debate on atypicality during childhood and adulthood and how perception of difference can lead to difference in treatment and difference in outcomes. So it’s not just the “psychological” traits which make kids and parents treat differently a boy or a girl, it’s also their physical looks. This is likely to affect how they develop and how they later are perceived as adults. Just remember the popular conception that men who are too attractive must be gay and women who look masculine must be lesbian, but there is also research on “gaydar” which showed that people’s ratings tend to match the sexual orientation of those whom they perceive to be straight or gay. So what makes adults and children treat differently attractive kids may also make them develop atypically which will create atypical adults that are perceived as atypical. But there may also be adult men who have the trait and women who lack the trait and may have developed typically (but this must be studied).

  • Evan

    @commenters:

    Among the results, the relation between maternal neuroticism and overprotective parenting style increased among parents of shyer children. As well, maternal agreeableness was more strongly (negatively) associated with the use of a harsh/coercive parenting style among parents of more emotionally-dysregulated children.

    This is from the study I mentioned above. Just think about this and look at the other studies on neuroticism, sexual orientation and sexual behaviour. It’s a common element.;)

    Imagine the possibilities, if you introduce other factors in the equation, like attractiveness.

  • William

    William, what if I tell you that moral compass is inborn like you believe sexual orientation is?

    I haven’t actually said that I believe sexual orientation to be inborn, but I may as well come clean and state that I do believe that it probably is. But that’s only what I believe; I can’t state it as a fact. That some people’s orientation appears to be fluid doesn’t contradict this, since I see no a priori reason why a fluid orientation couldn’t be just as inborn as a fixed one.

    The concept of an inborn moral compass seems perfectly plausible to me, but I see no reason to suspect that opposition to homosexuality is a manifestation of it. Indeed, the appalling ways in which that opposition has so frequently manifested itself afford a very strong presumption to the contrary. There are some very unpleasant and undesirable traits which are common in human nature, and the desire to stigmatize and to discriminate against those who are different from the majority is one of these.

  • Ann

    Evan,

    I know this is off topic but are you the same Evan who lives in Europe that used to post here?

  • Evan

    Yes, Ann. It’s me.

  • Ann

    Yes, Ann. It’s me.

    Oh, this makes me so happy :-) :-) :-)

  • Evan

    OK :-)

    Haven’t been around for awhile here. Nice to see you still remember me.

  • Israel

    I find it both alluring and disturbing that so many people feel the need to diagnose and find causation for human behavior. While I understand you attempt to discourage misinformation and false politically influenced ideology, as a gay male; whom has two loving parents who do not support his sexuality but support everything else…. I am disgusted.

    I love my parents deeply, and I love God, whether or not a two thousand year old book tells me I go to hell ( after all, test all things, keep that which is good, its in there people).

    My life is good, and I still am uncomonly disturbed by the need to discect homosexuals as though we are zoo animals. Whether you do it in the spirit of comparison, comprehending, defense, or attack; still, you discect.

    Now, this is what I have to ask you; why?

    Why is it dso disturbing for people to recognize a difference among them? Are we so theologically entranced that love thy neighbor and give freely to thine enemies no longer applies?

    See, I was raised religiously, in private school, and then later in public school. I have seen both sides of the proverbial coin so to speak.

    But you all sit here and just go on and on. Who cares?

    If one is unhappy with their sexuality, it is because of causation of environmental factors in their life, ie feeling unaccepted, or being unable to accept themselves. Either they learn to, they struggle all their days, or they work against it actively.

    The results are going to be on an individual basis the same as the individuals approach to the problem; and their grasp of their own situation.

    Will their ever be a day when people simply stop caring too much?

    I would rather see a world in which people are unable to recognize sexuality than this inscect-like approach to the arcan art of psycho-analytical culture.

    People, are ever fools, that much is for certain, but whos fool will you be?

    I would rather step out of this stupidity and go on living my life happily; and like the rest of you, with a few issues for tissues along the way.

    Ignorance is not a crime, only willing ignorance of common-place intelligence. Take a leaf out of my book, and just stop caring about it. It is never and will never be important. Sexuality simply is, as it is; leave it there people

    ~Will

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