Evangelicals Fight Over Therapy To ‘Cure’ Gays : NPR

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Supporters call it “conversion therapy.” Critics call it “praying away the gay.” Whatever name you use, it’s creating a ruckus in Christian circles about whether a person can change his or her sexual orientation. And now the largest “ex-gay ministry” is rejecting the approach.


Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International, sits with his wife, Leslie, in their home in Winter Park, Fla., in 2006. Chambers recently announced his group will no longer associate with or promote therapy that focuses on changing sexual attraction.

 

John Smid was 25 when he came out as gay. Three years later, he found religion — specifically, evangelical Christianity. He says the message was clear: You can’t be a Christian and engage in homosexual behavior. So he joined Exodus International, the largest ministry that tried to “cure” people of same-sex attractions.

“I followed everything they told me to follow,” Smid says. “I became one of the best ex-gays anyone could become.”

Smid married and eventually became the executive director of Love in Action, another ex-gay ministry. For years, Smid underwent conversion or reparative therapy, in which he analyzed his childhood wounds and learned to forgive, heal and move on.

“That was a good thing for me to do,” he says. “But it was taught that those kinds of things would heal the roots of the homosexuality, that it would change the homosexuality.”

But, Smid says, nothing worked.

“I found after 24 years that the changes that I had hoped for, or that I had prayed for, actually never occurred,” he says.

New Studies Find No Quick Fixes

Warren Throckmorton, a psychologist and professor at the evangelical Grove City College, has heard this before. He recently surveyed 239 men in “mixed-orientation marriages,” in which the husband is attracted to other men and the wife is heterosexual. About half the men had been through some conversion therapy.

Over the course of their marriage, the men’s “attractions to the same sex … increased” and “the attractions to their spouse decreased,” according to Throckmorton.

Another study by Mark Yarhouse, a researcher at Regent University — which was founded by Pat Robertson — came to the same conclusion. Throckmorton says the research by evangelical and secular scientists puts ex-gay ministries and conversion therapy on the defensive.

“They’re not finding support within the professional community. That’s for certain,” he says. “And they’re losing support within the evangelical community.”

Written By: Barbara Bradley Hagerty
continue to source article at npr.org

52 COMMENTS

  1. There’s a very good way to resolve the tensions caused by being both gay and a suppurating evangelical bigot. Stop being a suppurating evangelical bigot.

    Yes, there is a vague humour to the suggestion. But there really shouldn’t be. Why don’t the real psychiatrists and counsellors and other mental health professionals seriously advise these people to give up the nasty religion? Surely that would be the most obvious and sensible therapy, given that religion does nothing good for them at all. Yet again we see an institutional reticence to criticise and oppose religious prejudice.

  2. The religious extremist will always have a belief that unless you follow our “ways” you are guaranteed eternal damnation and therefore there must always be a belief that the “sick” can be cured  this only goes to show the crass stupidity of these people.

  3. But, Smid says, nothing worked. -  “I found after 24 years that the changes that I had hoped for, or that I had prayed for, actually never occurred,” he says.

    Those of us with clear minds, scientific thinking, and no theist mind-blockage, can usually get the point in less than 24 years.

  4. When a child on a Texas farm, hoeing weeds in a corn field on a 100 plus degree day, I would pray for rain or, even a cloud (yes, it was that hot). My dad, father of ten who liked to work his boys would notice and say: “I see you are praying for rain again.”
    Then he would offer his regular wisdom, “Well, pray in one  hand and poop (different word) in the other and see which fills the fastest! Hoe faster and get out of the hear sooner.”
    I finally learned a simple lesson about the power of prayer on planet earth — it’s imaginary.

  5. “I believe we’ve been hypocritical,” he says. “I believe that we have
    looked at the issue of same-sex attraction differently than we look at
    anything else.”

    Not only hypocritical but also horrifyingly ungrammatical.

  6. “The problem is, you can’t assure people that are engaged in serial, unrepentant sin of an egregious sort that they’re going to be in heaven,” Gagnon says.

    Yeah, yep, uhum, r-i-i-i-i-ght. I can see how that might be a problem. It’s like trying to assure someone who is engaged in serial, irrational, superstitious bigotry that they’re not going to heaven either, because there’s no such place. 

  7. Hi, QuestioningKat

    This is strange. I have not used this site for a while now it seems that what I recently posted cannot be seen on in this thread. Does this mean that if I post a reply, instead of adding a comment, it will not be seen within the thread by everyone?

    I feel lazy now as haven’t saved what I wrote and I really don’t want to retype it again. Can you repost what I wrote on the thread, that is if you can find it. Or send it to me, so I can repost it again. Thanks.

  8. OKAY. Let me try this again:

    For those who want to know more about what currently are the best practice guidelines amongst psychologists and psychiatrists, I refer you to these three reports:

    Report of the APA [American Psychological Association] Task Force on Gender Identity and Gender Variance (2008): http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/res

    Report of the APA [American Psychological Association] Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation (2009):
    http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/...

    Report of the APA [American PSYCHIATRIC Association] Task Force on Treatment of Gender Identity Disorder
    http://www.springerlink.com/co

    If you read the reports, the American Psychological Association presents a more proactive approach against conversion therapy.

    Humans are unusual in that most of us have a stable sexual orientation. This is actually not the case in most animals that show same-sex sexual behavior–same-sex behavior is especially more common in old world primates. The norm seems to veer on bisexuality rather than on a stable same-sex orientation amongst majority of animals observed. While there is strong evidence for a stable sexual orientation among us humans — especially for males — it isn’t exactly conclusive as a few exceptions do exist. We also have enough historical and anthropological evidence to show that same-sex sexual behavior are sometimes promoted/enforced via sociocultural factors. Changes in contemporary society and culture have eliminated most of these factors, or have inhibited same-sex sexual behaviors by ‘straights’ in majority of nations altogether. But as always, a few exceptions to these social barriers/inhibitions still exist today e.g. prison population.

    As to the necessity of changing a person’s sexual orientation, such no longer holds interest among majority of the therapy professions. The most controversy arises from people who are gender variant, intersexed, transgendered, or transexual. Arriving at the clinic, how should they be treated or cared for?

    What  are we supposed to do with people like this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v

    more recently transformed or reverted behaviorally to this (such reversal resolution appears to be the norm of those who undergo gender identity confusion/non-conformity in childhood/adolescence):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v

    but to a lesser extent some do resolve their gender identity issues by finally deciding to live the opposite way:

    http://www.tulsaworld.com/spec

    Moreover, for everyone else who have issues in between and beyond, how can therapists assist?

    Think about it. The fact is, many psychologists and psychiatrists who specialize on these fields still have a lot of things to argue about, research, and resolve. Many religious people, on the other hand, think that they know what they’re talking about or believe on sexual issues when, to begin with, they probably don’t know much at all. It’s sad and frustrating to listen to religious leaders pontificate about matters they obviously don’t have much of a clue about.

  9. Additional updated APA guideline information:

    http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/res

    Again, it is indeed the case that psychological associations, in contrast to the field of psychiatry, have a  much clearer (and positive) stance on sexual minority issues. I suspect this might have something to do with power and control issues, among other things.

  10.  “looks” gay?-

    a lot of gays look masculine and a lot of heteros look effeminate.
    I was teased my whole childhood because of my “looks” (I’m hetero).

    None of that means that he’s not a guilt ridden gay man trying to deal with it by focusing on it, though.

  11. Ernest S, I just viewed the two linked videos that you provided. My guess is that you were the one person that “liked” my post. Am I correct?

    If the guy on those two tapes is not gay, I should contribute all my savings, investments and belongings to a fundamentalist church! If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, acts like a duck, looks like a duck, swims like a duck….It’s a duck. Maybe Alan chambers needs to view his video alongside other “duck” videos and he will have more compassion for himself. I cannot blame him for his warped perception of himself, he is a product of religion…and my guess…parents who were warped by religion. Watch the video I posted on a previous comment and see if you agree. If you disagree, I’d really like to know why.

  12.  It is indeed but passing strange why so many evangelicals  that rant & rave against homosexuality are themselves more then passing acquaintances with that sexuality.

    How sad and twisted is a life that constantly every waking moment has to hate itself to the point of  condemning oneself to some fictitious hell in front of folks that themselves have absolutely no idea what homosexuality is..a vague and usually sensationalized version from media,  entertainment and evangelical circles is I suggest not the best source of forming an evidenced opinion, yet unfortunately that is the measure of the subject in the majority of the population.

    When that misinformation morphs into sheer hatred…then that society
    has psychological issues that diminish sanity to a narrow and garbled
    version we see here.

    That religion likes to pander to the superiority bone of folks that have really nothing to feel superior about is one thing, when they harness it into such a disgusting bitter and bigoted tactic of blaming and haranguing a section of society for all the ills and difficulties in life in order to manufacture a twisted consensus of the jeebus droolers…an uz’ against them scenario and the uz’ is the only hope for a Christian nation…it is but another version of Frankenstein and the pitch fork wielding fire brand waving villagers on a righteous mission  fuelled by fear and loathing induced by ignorance and frankenphobia.

    The dude is conflicted…not cured that much is obvious.
    But trapped…in a no win situation, primarily of his own volition.
    .

  13.  If only he had watched Thunderf00t’s video on religion as emotional porn. I think it’s the most powerful video on religion on youtube.

    It’s exactly why this guy became evangelical jesus-cultist.

  14.  If you reread the article above, it seems as if Alan chambers has been coming to the realization that homosexuality is not a choice. It seems as if self-acceptance is starting to settle in in his life somewhat. He now needs to reject what has caused him to hate himself in order to move on. He need to build relationships that value him the way he is.

    There is another victim in this situation. Take a look at the photo. Her marriage is a lie. She has probably given this relationship all she has and has settled for a man who probably lacks passion and the attention she deserves. (His love making is probably mechanical too.) She has probably had to force herself into denial and sugar coat a less than ideal situation. How did this happen? Because the big machine, religion, says that men must not lay down with other men.

  15.  Absolutely agree…in living the lie…and no doubt she is well aware of the lie…he has condemned her to a less then honest relationship.
    And probably a very uncomfortable one with family and what friends remain.

    And although ‘sunny jim’ has played martyr and hero in front of the ‘jeebus will be your judgement’ crew, I very much doubt they were truly accepted as full scale jeebus droolers, certainly as far as trust and top of the list invitees to major church functions…except when said functions were a thinly veiled yapp and bark and whine about them’s liberal homosexuals who will corrupt your sons and flout ya daughters !

    And where the ‘special ones’ that have apparently seen the errors of their ways are fawned over in front of a congregation to pretend their message of salvation through renouncement  of the devil is a bona fide!…then forgotten, and tut tutted over as soon as their back was turned.

    Those were xians in the audience after all…low attention span and bigotry never relinquished whatever the evidence.

    Doubt the marriage is a particularly warm one…and doubt there is any real happiness in that home…not a good place to raise children I would wager!
    But I bet she would if he obliged…she needs someone to dote over, doubt if he would appreciate the male/female intimacy whatever.

  16.  

    If a sexual trauma can result in a newly-developed psychological
    aversion to heterosexual sex, how can it be argued that no voluntary
    therapeutic intervention could psychologically mimic that same outcome?

    Are you suggesting that all homosexuality is the result of sexual trauma early in life?
    What kind of sexual trauma would it require to form an aversion to heterosexuality?

  17. @rdfrs-deacea4ba7109e04d519d19fa2d0c8a1:disqus

    Actually I might have pressed the wrong button? ;-) I don’t remember. In my original reply (failed to post), I said Alan Chambers was indeed gay, and still is actually by his own admission.

  18.  I think IRC Lion…or something…is a fairly prodigious troll with xian sympathies.
    I seem to recall that moniker appearing several times on Pharyngula.
    I also think he was dungeonized there so I presume he has been similarly  vaulted through the cyber whirlpool to obscurity here…just a guess!

  19. It is almost impossible to validate retrospective case studies that affirm the hypothesis. Although majority of those who were sexually abused early in life do not develop an aversion to heterosexuality per se, you cannot rule out the possibility that a few may in fact have developed aversion through trauma. A small number of LGBTs do claim of having gone through such a process, albeit ‘retrospectively’. I’d say the evidence is very weak; but if you want conclusive evidence, you’d have to conduct unethical long-term experiments on humans. That’s not gonna happen.

  20. Besides religious zealotry, I believe one of the greatest roadblocks to accepting sexual minorities inclusively as equals has to do with the fact that people (yes, other therapists and even psychiatrists sometimes, too) have a poor understanding of two basic concepts: functional and dysfunctional. Moreover, a lot of religious people equate functional with normal or sometimes even moral; dysfunctional with abnormal or even immoral.

    One of the best discussions I’ve read of the subject was covered Anders Agmo in his book: “Functional and Dysfunctional Sexual Behavior: A Synthesis of Neuroscience and Comparative Psychology” (2007)

    The following are a few excerpts from chapters 8-10:

    [On the sexual behaviors of mice, and animals generally]

    The time has arrived to move away from these expressions [e.g. homosexual, homotypical, heterotypical] and stick to terms describing the behaviours themselves without adding any value-laden labels.

    ….

    Freud’s visionary notion of a fundamental, universal bisexuality has received so much empirical support in empirical studies of non-human animals that the concept of dimorphisms in sexual behaviors is, as I have argued for a couple of paragraphs by now, not really meaningful anymore. With the demise of that concept, terms like homotypical, and heterotypical must also disappear … subsequent papers, it was shown that the external stimuli determining the occurrence of female mounting were similar to those controlling mounting in males (Afonso et al., 2006a, 2006b). This series of studies suggests that Beach’s (1979) refusal to put a label on the behavior shown by a female mounting a male was unwarranted. There is no reason why it should not be called mounting. The addition of the adjective heterosexual to the noun mounting does not seem to add any further information. Moreover, the results of the studies from the Pfaus group certainly reinforce the notion I have already put forth several times, namely that neither mounting nor lordosis should be considered as sexually dimorphic behaviors.

    The notion of normal versus abnormal

    The noun ‘normal’ is often understood as meaning ‘habitual’, ‘common’, ‘regular’ or ‘typical’. Although rarely defined in the clinical literature, the habitual meaning of ‘normal’ seems to be ‘close to average’. Anything far from the average is correspondingly called ‘deviant’. One of those believing that others believed in this conception of normality was Kinsey. He was convinced that when people learned how common homosexuality or extramarital sex was, they should immediately stop considering these behaviors as deviant and instead accept them as normal. In retrospect, it may perhaps be ascertained that he was right, although the instantaneous change in attitude he expected in reality required several decades to appear.

    Sexual function and dysfunction

    The expression ‘functional’ can be given an understandable sense without too much effort. However, first we must eliminate the biological sense of ‘functional’ from our discussion. To a biologist, a functional sexual behavior means that it leads to fertilization. This notion is completely unacceptable when analyzing sexuality from a behavioral point of view, as noted already in Chapter 1. An example of the uselessness of the biological sense can be taken from the preceding chapter: homosexuality is dysfunctional to a biologist since it cannot be associated with fertilization. So is cunnilingus, fellatio, penile–vaginal intercourse between individuals using contraceptives, and so forth. In fact, the biological sense of ‘functional’ makes most human sexual behaviors dysfunctional.

    After having established the inutility of the biological sense of the concepts of function and dysfunction, we need to find a convincing replacement. I suggest that we tentatively define ‘functional sexual behaviors’ as any behavior pattern involving genital stimulation and leading to sexual reward for the individual executing the behavior or for the partner. This definition is almost identical to the one I proposed for sexual behavior in the introduction to Chapter 1. It is not complete, though. Rape, copulatory behavior with an infant and extreme sadism would all be included in this definition and most sensate people would not consider such behaviors as functional. In the sense of the definition they are functional for the rapist, the pedophile and the sadist, because they probably obtain sexual reward from these activities. It appears that we need to add something to the definition of functional and, after adding that something, it would be like this: Any socially accepted behavior pattern in response to socially accepted incentives involving genital stimulation and leading to sexual reward for the individual executing the behavior or for the partner. We see immediately that the addition of ‘socially accepted’ excludes the rapist, the pedophile, the sadist and all others showing socially repulsive sexual behaviors. The only problem with this definition is that ‘socially accepted’ is an arbitrary concept. A few years ago, homosexuality or fellatio would have been dysfunctional according to this definition.

    Furthermore, the acceptability of specific sexual behaviors and sexual incentives may vary from one subculture to another or from a geographical location to another within the same society. In addition, there may be large variations between societies at a given time and between different time points within a given society. An ideal definition should have universal validity and temporal stability. Considering that, the definition proposed above has a serious deficiency. By the way, we recognize these arguments from our discussion of normality. Nevertheless, I have tried to  figure out a scientifically sound definition not including arbitrary elements but, despite having spent many sleepless nights thinking about it, I have not succeeded.

    Perhaps we have no choice but to accept that the meaning of ‘functional sexual behavior’ is unclear.

    I also think that the concept of sexual dysfunction inevitably must contain arbitrary elements. Some years ago, masturbation was regarded as a very dangerous sexual perversion (the label dysfunction had not become popular at that time) and so was homosexuality. Indulgence in the former led to mental retardation, general weakness and eventually to a premature death, while the latter was the cause of long post-mortem visits to hell and, if it occurred within the British Empire, to immediate hanging. Likewise, the notion of a female sexual hypoactive desire disorder would have been ludicrous only a few decades ago and still is in many circles. Within a few years some new, presently unheard of, sexual dysfunctions will appear and some of the now popular will have disappeared in the oblivion of history. It is probable that the arbitrariness inherent in the definition I proposed above, and still propose, is a significant advantage rather than a deficiency. A fundamentally arbitrary concept should not be made look like an absolute truth by providing an impeccable definition.

    Having said all that, it can probably be concluded that the terms ‘functional’ and ‘dysfunctional’ are no better than the terms ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’. None of these expressions can be given a meaningful, universally acceptable empirical content. In connection with some future language reform they could just as well be thrown into the garbage can.

    The arbitrariness of the existence of diagnostic categories becomes still more evident when we turn to the paraphilias. As was mentioned, some social groups suggest that some of the paraphilias on the official diagnostic lists should be removed, for example fetishism, sadism and masochism. This will certainly occur sooner or later, in the same way as homosexuality was removed from the list when society was ripe for that move. New diagnoses will be added, just as hyperactive sexual desire disorder was added a couple of years ago. All diagnostic categories of sexual dysfunctions, perhaps except the arousal disorders, anorgasmia and premature ejaculation, are social constructions and not entities of nature.

  21. Certainly seems a very weak and unevidenced claim whatever.
    Used as a major bullet point in the anti-gay camp it would be somewhat scraping the barrel for a smidgeon of righteous comfort for their ‘theory’
    They just think they can get away with it.

    It seems that certain parties have a vested interest in not accepting a genetic, nature nature link much preferring to keep a lucrative side show of ‘pray away the gay’.

    Typical xian dumbfuckery never so blatant.
    Because , as you point out, there are no conclusive statistics and getting them would be, if not difficult probably, impossible.

    The damage they do  is not a care to them, and they do damage, and inflict a lot of unnecessary misery without compunction.

    Disgusting and petty, they really should be so ashamed of themselves.

  22.  Actually ernest there was a post with a view trying to show that some gay people can be deconverted and offered the view that molestation can cause homosexuality. Several  “studies” were sited and I didn’t get a chance but to partially read one.

    Anyway, the video I found is telling. Is he still married to his wife?

  23.  

    Q2. Rape trauma is frequently associated with inability to maintain
    previously accepted sexual relationships, questioning one’s sexual
    identity or sexual orientation, survivors often report inability to
    re-establish normal sexual relations.

    What on earth has rape got to do with homosexuality?
    You seem to be suggesting that every homosexual relationship is due to one raping the other!
    Are you really equating rapists with homosexual urges?
    What percentage?

    Your hyperbola is thus noted!
    Citations would be …interesting!
    But only as long as they are independent of any xian hysterical ministerial missions spouting their brain dead propaganda.
    You might well be persuaded by fatuous bollix but not everyone has a reality by-pass!

  24. It was from an evidence-based scientific article being paraphrased by
    that well-known ”hysterical Christian ministry” called Wikipedia.

     Well it must be right then…!

    So you think that homosexual relationships are based on rape?

  25.  I do not go to other boards to discuss what is here. I unfortunately barely got through one article. I would be interested in reading them. I would consider submitting a topic for discussion and seeing if it moves forward or try posting the articles without further explanation and maybe I’ll catch it.

    Chambers commented that the molestation did not cause his homosexuality. If you view the video I provided, it is clear that he is a gay man just by his mannerisms, facial expression, facial structure – yes I stand by this, and even what he had explained. He is identifiable by a simple photograph – yes I stand by this also. Watch the other two videos. What I am saying is quite obvious. I do not understand how some people cannot see what is sooooo obvious. Really!

     You cannot rehabilitate someone or change someone into something that they are not. You cannot turn a duck into an eagle, nor can you change someone gay into someone straight. If you take a prisoner out of a stressful situation in which he engaged in gay sex, it is shown that he maintains whatever sexual identity he had prior to incarceration.

  26.  Let’s get right to the point Lion,

    1. Are you saying that conversion therapy or “praying away the gay” is possible or not?
    1a.. Is it possible for a church led deconversion group to end someone’s homosexuality?

    2. Are you denying that homosexuality is biologically based?

    3. Are you denying that homosexual children exist?

  27. From what I’ve read, to what extent being gay is biological is still very much an open question. IMO, like most complex human behaviours it is probably some combination of nature and nurture. Nature tends to set the parameters and nurture tends to influence where you end up falling within those parameters.

    BTW, if (as I expect is the case) it turns out that environmental factors play some role in determining sexuality that doesn’t mean “its a choice” IMO. My guess is the environmental factors won’t be the Freudian nonsense that unfortunately many people still believe in but experiences in very early childhood.

    Also, I think the whole issue of whether or not being gay is a choice is for the most part the wrong argument to have. Even if it WERE a choice (not saying it is) what difference should that make? People should be free to choose to love whomever they want. Because of some issues with US law, its easier to argue in the courts for gay rights by saying its not a choice and to the extent things need to be framed that way I understand, but we shouldn’t let the law influence our scientific objectivity.

  28. “I found after 24 years that the changes that I had hoped for, or that I had prayed for, actually never occurred.” – John Smid

    Who knew the power of prayer could be so impotent?

    Seriously, the last thing religion needs to have its nefarious and archaic influence on is the mental health of people. The health of the patient should be the one and only priority, not the subservience to nescient dogma.

  29. Back in the 1990s Terry Winter a moderate evangelist sent me three books on “curing” gays.

    The books were about bisexual men, who white knuckled avoiding sex with men.  In the process they put their wives through hell with infidelity.  The wives felt extremely rejected, that their husbands preferred a male to them. Some men could go for a month.  

    This is using will power to control behaviour. The men were even more attracted to fellow males than ever.  They call this curing gays. But homosexuality is a sexual orientation. They did not make even the tiniest dent in that.

  30.  You’re correct Red Dog. If someone straight wants to have a gay encounter or relationship and everyone involved is in agreement, they have the right to do so. The issue is that the religious has made a rule over this matter and they have no right to intrude into the freedoms of another person.

    I have absolutely no doubt that some percentage and I would dare say a majority of homosexuality is biologically based. Think about it…gay people possess desires that are typical of people of the opposite sex  If gaydar has been studied and shown to positively exist that means that
    some people who are observant enough to analyze the differences
    (sometimes very subtle) are picking up on the clues/cues. Gay people, at
    times, can be positively identified from a photo, phone call, a video
    clip most effectively by other people who are gay or who have been
    exposed to or know many gay people. With many openly gay people
    regularly appearing on TV and the media, many middle American people are
    also noting the characteristics.

    Some people even think of sexuality as a continuum. Think of a gradation or scale. At one end is 100% straight and at the other end is 100% gay. Most if any people are actually not at either end. In the middle is bisexuality. Someone who is say at the 35% mark, closer to straight. May consider themselves straight, but have had an attraction to the same sex. Depending on the situation and circumstances, they may have varying preferences at different times depending on their choice of partner. At times this person may consider themselves to be gay, but actually have desires towards the opposite sex. Sexuality is complex because people tend to define themselves partially by their circumstances or relationships.Emotional issues also arise. Someone who is gay and married to someone of the opposite sex may actually love that person and feel a genuine fondness. They see marriage as a partnership which is more than just sex. Yet, if sex was not THE primary issue, we would be marrying our dogs, cats, and best friends. I think emotional issues cause the person to latch onto the illusion that they are heterosexual.

    Unfortunately, since sexuality is on a continuum, I think it would be difficult to develop some sort of test. It would also depend upon a group honestly assessing the variances of their own sexuality in order to be a standard for comparison (if that makes sense.)

  31. @rdfrs-deacea4ba7109e04d519d19fa2d0c8a1:disqus

    I really do not know if Chambers is still married to his wife. Not really interested in his personal affairs…

    @rdfrs-e9b12266fbcd4cb0aba357533a2b1dc5:disqus

    If you break down someone’s ‘sexuality’ into its elements, it would be easier to separate what is mostly biological as to what is only vaguely biological.

    I hate to say this but arguments usually arise because of not defining our use of words clearly enough.

    ‘Sexual orientation’ is largely biological. Sure, stresses in early life may play a contributive factor, but we can expect that the association is going to be very weak. Likewise, we might not be able to impute which genes cause us to feel aversion towards having sexual intercourse with other species, but we can still be certain that’s largely because our own evolutionary heritage i.e. biological programming. Other elements of sexuality including gender identity and gender expression are situated somewhere along a social-biological continuum. Certain sexual behaviors can be largely attributed to psychosocial influence e.g. shoe and leather fetishes, sadomasochistic love-affairs. Human pedophiles, while shown to have unusual brains using fMRI scans, may not be pedophiles only because of biological propensities. For example, among Melanesians who ritualize homosexuality, the few who remain homosexually-oriented toward adulthood express pedophilic preferences. Here we can impute early psychosocial factors (enforced homosexual behavior before puberty and up to a decade after) as a major contributor to their development of pedophilic preferences or tendencies. To be clear, it is not readily apparent that they became homosexual because of the ritualization of homosexuality in their society, rather what is apparent is that they developed pedophilic tendencies as they went into adulthood because of their unusually prolonged and enforced early sexual experiences with other boys. How can we be certain that homosexuality was not conditioned by its ritualization? Well, only an estimated 2 to 3 percent of Sambian men continue to express a homosexual orientation into adulthood. That’s just about the same percentage worldwide. We know that majority of homosexuals worldwide were certainly not coerced into ritualized homosexuality.

    @Strangestbrew:disqus

    Major stresses experienced in a person’s life, especially sexual trauma in early development, will clearly have an impact over one’s sexuality as an adult. How strong of an impact it will have on sexual orientation, looking at the evidence, is probably low, although certainly not conclusively zero.

    I think you’ll find satisfactory enough answers in the section ‘Sexual segregation in primates’ from Aldo Poiani’s book on “Animal Homosexuality” (2010).

    After an analysis of the evidence, he concludes: ” … although homosexual behaviour is a common occurrence in the context of sexual segregation in prison in humans, it is not always coercive and, above all, it does not seem to be able to change the participants’ sexual orientation.

  32. BTW, why I say gender identity and expression exists in a social-biological continuum can be better understood by reading Ramachandran and McGeoch’s study: Phantom Penises in Transsexuals: Evidence of an Innate Gender-Specific Body Image in the Brain (2008). Many transexuals (transgendered [gender-variant] persons who identify as truly female ‘inside their heads’) appear to have brains that distinctly lack an anatomical map for their penis. Even as children, they see the organ as something foreign to their body.

    But there is also evidence that many transgendered individuals in Thailand, (some even undergo sex-change surgery) were strongly influenced to take on a ‘transgendered role’ by their culture. Some, professing an innate gender identity that of either male or mostly male with a homosexual orientation, will still take on the more culturally acceptable transgendered role behaviorally. It can be argued that were these individuals born in the U.S., they probably would have developed a ‘male gender role’ instead. Likewise, I hypothesize that certain homosexually-oriented American men — who identify as males but act/appear behaviorally transgendered to an extent — were they to be born and raised in Thailand, would possibly develop feminine transgender roles as adults. At least in such ELEMENTS of human sexuality, which are expressed behaviorally, culture plausibly trumps biological sexual orientation.

  33. “I have absolutely no doubt that some percentage and I would dare say a majority of homosexuality is biologically based…”

    If you are talking about intuitions, gut feelings, then I absolutely agree with you. My gut feelings correspond to your gut feelings. However, if we are talking about what can actually be known scientifically then like Carl Sagan I don’t like to think with my gut. My original point was that as far as the science is concerned, at least from what I’ve seen, there is no conclusive evidence as to what percentage of sexuality is determined by our genes. If you want to disagree with that then please present me with some scientific evidence that conclusively shows that the majority of our sexual preferences is determined by our genes. I’m not being facetious, I would sincerely be interested in such data. Until I see it I will continue to have doubt and an open mind. And just to reiterate to avoid any confusion none of this has anything to do with whether my many gay friends and loved ones deserve the same rights to love and marry whomever they choose.

  34. How I would love to have easy answers myself. It can be argued that human sexuality is overly complex partly because of our huge brains. Besides genes, developmental neuroendocrinology is another major factor that  contributes to sexual orientation (see: The Biology of Homosexuality by Jacques Balthazart [2012].). I mentioned transsexuals before… well there is a subtype that are self-confessed ‘non-homosexuals’, presumably lumped sometimes unto the category of ‘autogynephilic transexuals’. They do not have a homosexual orientation [do not feel any desire to have sex with men], but still prefer to imagine and see themselves as women, even going to the extreme of getting a sex-change. I cannot imagine anyone finding contributive gene(s) for that condition. It certainly is possible, but there you get but one more current scientific impasse that may never be completely resolved. At least in my understanding, non-homosexual transexuals may suffer from mental health-related problems, especially if autogynephilia is present, that would certainly require some help. Although, I am uncertain whether automatically assigning to them a generalizable diagnostic criteria for mental pathology would be helpful or fair at all (see: Journal of Homosexuality Vol. 57, 6 – Blanchard’s Autogynephilia Theory: A Critique. Moser, Charles). Yes, hard to believe as it is, there are ‘straight’ men in this universe, who would go to whatever extremes to have sex reassignment surgery to physically become women. The word sexual-ity is so loaded we need entire library of new words just to accurately describe and scientifically study the subject nowadays. The common person’s idea of ‘homosexuality’ or ‘gay’ is just the tip the iceberg.

  35. To make my last point more believable here’s one clip of a nonhomosexual transexual (BTW, youtube is simply amazing — beyond specialized academic papers and books, actual video case examples are now readily available):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v

    As far as I can tell from the interviews and articles, he/she does not appear to suffer from any obvious organic mental pathology.  Unlike the prison psychiatrist Theodore Dalyrymple (http://richarddawkins.net/arti…, I personally a have neutral to positive attitude towards transexuals and transgendered persons because of my own experiences with them. Troubled though SOME of them are, they also have some of the biggest hearts that I know. Little piece of anecdote: I was rescued by a beautiful, long black-haired tranny when I was a kid.

    Veering somewhat off-topic now: what about ‘genuine’ asexuals? Should they be pathologized as well? Hmmm… or, at the other extreme, worshiped as saints?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v

    Interestingly enough: A-sexual and A-theist. Former appears to be a genuine sexual orientation in a (admittedly) rare number of people; the latter is a consciously thought out choice.

  36.  Hi QK,

    I do not understand how some people cannot see what is sooooo
    obvious. Really!

    Sometimes on TV ‘discussion’ shows like Jeremy Kyle or Jerry the Springer!

    A ‘boyfriend’ decides to impart his secret which invariably turns out that he is gay…the ‘girlfriend’ apparently had not a clue that was so!

    One look at the ‘boyfriend’ as he sashay’s onto the stage at the beginning is more then enough to understand the plot…not a word need be spoken!

    Problem with xians.,..they do not have A) a quick mind or B) any analytical skill whatsoever!

    I look at  American TV evangelists and electoral candidates and quite a few incumbent bunnies are…screaming… I would say, sooooo obvious, but the nasty kind.
    Into young men and sleazy hotel rooms and pay off’s and seedy to the core.
    All married and mostly rich and not a ethic or moral they would not discard for a vote.
    And every single one of them terrified the media will sniff them out sooner or later!

    UK politicians and those in the public eye tend not to give two shakes of a coconut tree about their sexuality…they just are and as far as I am aware that attitude has never caused a problem…except to the religiously bigoted!

  37.  

    Red Dog
    “I have absolutely no doubt that some percentage and I would dare say a majority of homosexuality is biologically based…”  .. .. …
     My original point was that as far as the science is concerned, at least
    from what I’ve seen, there is no conclusive evidence as to what
    percentage of sexuality is determined by our genes.

    This is not a subject I have studied much, but mammals are descended from reptiles and reptiles such a crocodiles have their sex determined by environmental effects (ie temperature) while they are in the egg, rather than by sex chromosomes as in humans.  There may well be underlying effects in gene expression which have not yet been discovered.

    Crocodile embryos do not have sex chromosomes, and unlike humans, sex is not determined genetically. Sex is determined by temperature, with males produced at around 31.6 °C (89 °F),
    and females produced at slightly lower and higher temperatures. The
    average incubation period is around 80 days, and also is dependent on
    temperature. – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C

    Natural sex change is also found in some fish: –

    Some species exhibit sequential hermaphroditism.
    In these species, such as many species of coral reef fishes, sex change is a normal anatomical process.
    Clownfish, wrasses, moray eels and other fish species are known to change sex including reproductive functions.
    A school of clownfish is always built into a hierarchy with a Female fish at the top. When she dies, the most dominant male changes sex and takes her place.

    In the wrasses (Family Labridae),
    sex change is from female to male, with the largest female of the harem
    changing into a male and taking over the harem upon his disappearance. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S… –

    There are all sorts of sexual features from the evolutionary past in animal populations.

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