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Thursday, July 30, 2015

How To Cure Homophobia






Whether you were sent this blog post by someone who loves you or you found it yourself, I’m assuming you’re troubled by the fact that there are gay people in your world and either wish that (a) they weren’t gay, (b) they’d hide their gayness the way they used to, (c) they’d change over to being straight, (e) they’d get out of your life, or (f) ____________ (fill in the blank).

It must be very frustrating to be labeled as a “homophobe,” a derogatory term, and one now used by a minority and pinned on those who were the majority of people on the planet (and probably still are). 



A phobia is a fear of something, and, most likely, you don’t fear gays, you just don’t like the idea of homosexuality, a different issue entirely.  Even worse “homophobe” is lumped in with ugly epitaphs such as “racist,” “sexist,” or “prejudiced,” and you are not any of those things.

Perhaps your religion condemns homosexuality and you are a very religious person.  The Quran does this, and the Bible has seven or eight references to the sinfulness of gay activity.  I wrote a blog post about the latter; see “Does the Bible Condemn Homosexuality and Gay Marriage?” June 29, 2014; http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2014/06/does-bible-condemn-homosexuality-and.html.  If your religion tells you that homosexuality is a sin, it’s very difficult for believers to come to a different conclusion, and quite cruel to call such godly people ungodly names like “homophobe.”

But, all that aside, to your annoyance you’re now being forced to deal with the fact that gays are largely accepted everywhere which encourages them to come out by the hundreds, the thousands, the millions, and suddenly—almost overnight—you are confronted by this phenomenon more or less on a daily basis.  If your reaction is negative and people notice it you will risk their disapproval and, in addition to the “HOMOPHOBE” branding iron being pressed to your forehead, you might lose the love and approval of people who are important to you, people in your family, workplace, neighborhood, or even church.  If you doubt that latter category is possible, I know of a judge who refused to grant gays civil rights in a jurisdiction where that was the correct current statutory result and then was astounded when the pastor of his own church, a progressive congregation, refused to speak to him.




With all this prejudice against you, how does a person who thinks homosexuality is wrong fight back?

One of the hardest things to do in life is to change one’s fundamental beliefs on any given subject.  It’s so hard that many people can’t do it unless boxed into a corner where that’s the only choice left.  But if you find yourself in that corner, depressed and confused, perhaps it’s time to take a deep breath and reconsider your position.  What follows are some of the reasons people dislike gays and then an exploration of the soundness of those conclusions.


1.  I Don’t Understand Why Gays Choose To Be Gay.

The answer is that they don’t.  Given the world gays are born into they’d have to be nuts to choose a life in which they would be shunned by most people who discover they are homosexual, thrown out of their own homes, bullied at school, physically attacked, denied employment, called sinners, thought of as sick, and even jailed in many parts of the world (where sometimes the penalty is an ugly death; see http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2015/06/atheists-and-gays-in-islamic-countries.html).  Do you think gay people are really that stupid?  My husband has a typical story: he didn’t fit the heterosexual stereotype when he was a small boy so he was called a “fag” all through grade school and high school, being subjected to daily insults, often including physical attacks, his life miserable.  He didn’t know what a “fag” was when this started and had done nothing to make anyone think he was gay except fit a certain image in the heterosexual mind.  His outraged parents complained to the Catholic schools he attended, but the nuns and priests did nothing to protect their son, sometimes even encouraging his attackers.  It turned out, however, that the bullies were right: when he matured he was interested in sex with men and only men, but it wasn’t something he chose.  It was just the card he was dealt.  


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Dr. Alfred Kinsey
Over and over again gays and lesbians will tell you variations on this same story.  Are they all lying or mistaken about what happened?  Research by experts confirms that homosexuality (and heterosexuality) are not choices.  People are born with the sexual orientation they will have all their lives, though for many people (I was one of them—as this blog attests I have a complicated story) it takes awhile to figure out what that is.  It’s important to understand that heterosexuality and homosexuality are not two mutually exclusive clubs.  Dr. Alfred Kinsey discovered this in the middle of the last century when his interviews with thousands of volunteers revealed that sexual orientation is much like skin color: some people get more pigmentation than others, but they don’t get to chose how dark their skin is—that’s genetic.  His famous “Kinsey Scale” goes from zero to six, with people who are exclusively heterosexual being given a zero, and those who are completely homosexual are given a six [I had a gay friend, a cop, who claimed that he was a “six headed for seven,” but he was clowning—six is the top number].  People who are predominantly straight but with some homosexual interests get a one, with the number rising as interest in homosexual activity increases.  True bisexuals would be a three.  Kinsey’s conclusion was that roughly ten percent of the male population falls into categories five (mostly gay, with some minor straight interests) and six, and this is where the popular figure “gays are ten percent of the population” originated.  The numbers are more complicated for women, and all of the above is a simplification of what Kinsey reported, but you’ll have to do the research yourself to see what I mean.  Kinsey’s statistics have been challenged but have stood the test of time; see “Are Gays Really Just 1.6% of the U.S. Population?” July 26, 2014; http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2014/07/are-gays-really-just-16-of-us-population.html

This means that people who are totally straight (“zeroes”), a large percentage of the population, will be puzzled by the supposed “choice” of homosexuality, but people who are not zeroes on the scale will have some sort of “choice” in that they have some gay urges, albeit very small for, say, “ones.”  People who are not zeroes might force themselves into a heterosexual lifestyle and put their homosexual desires (however strong) in a lock box, trying not to ever act upon them, nor admit their existence not even to themselves.  But sexual desires are strong, not easily caged and ignored.  Comes the night when the situation lines up the elements perfectly (the right amount of liquor, complete privacy, no chance of exposure, an eager and desirable partner) and suddenly the jail door opens, sex occurs, and remorse follows.  Many millions (billions?) of people have gone through their lives hiding their sexual inclinations toward the same sex only to be exposed and ruined when it all comes crashing down.  This leads to suicide, madness, broken homes, ruined careers.  Phrased another way: homophobia, as a societal norm, leads to all those things.  If there were no homophobia no one would be surprised (or care) that “straight” people sometimes had gay fun.






2.   Gays Should Change Their Sexuality Through Therapy or Religious Groups That Promise Conversion to Heterosexuality.

I wrote a blog post on this common assertion called “How To Change Gay People Into Straight People,” September 20, 2010; 
http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2010/09/how-to-change-gay-people-into-straight.html.  Here is the first paragraph of that post:

You can’t. During my gay rights activist days and right up until the current moment, I’ve had a standing offer about this. I will contribute $5000 to the charity of choice of an individual or organization that can produce five men who were once gay and are now straight. There are various conditions: (1) the men must have had significant gay experiences in their lives, (2) become straight through whatever process, and (3) for at least five years thereafter remained completely straight. Finally, they must not have ever been leaders or volunteer workers for ex-gay organizations (just, therefore, normal members) and pass rigorous tests to determine their current sexual orientation (see me for details—I am serious about this). Since ex-gay organizations have been around for over thirty years, you’d think they’d have thousands of former participants who’d easily meet my criteria, but so far no one has taken me up on this. Note that I’m not proposing a bet. If the person/organization can’t find five men who pass the tests, they lose nothing other than a creditability that is often widely touted, but is in tatters whenever considered objectively.  (I would require that if five converted straight men are not produced, the expenses of testing be paid for by the entity accepting my challenge.)

The history of organizations, whether religious or not, who try to change gays into straights is embarrassing in its exposure of fraudulent promises and practices and complete failure to produce the promised results.  The leading one of these, Exodus International, which had existed for many decades, finally folded in 2013 and admitted that in all of its years of operation it had never changed the sexual orientation of a single person; see http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2013/06/a-homophobic-organization-throws-in.html.  Nor has “reparative” therapy done any better, while charging thousands of wasted dollars to hapless patients who desperately want to change but get nothing but thinner wallets.  A number of states (led by California and New Jersey) have forbidden such therapy by law, and it’s roundly condemned by all the leading medical associations. 

No one who had studied the matter objectively disagrees with this statement: you cannot change gays into straights no matter how hard the individual wants to change, no matter which religion tries, no matter how much money is spent, and no matter how sincere the effort on the part of all involved.  It just doesn’t work.  Any temporary victories touted by the “cure” are found to have been failures when investigated a year or so later.

If you think I’m wrong about this, explore the issue yourself.  See if you can find someone who’ll take me up on my challenge.  Twenty years after I first made it not a single soul or organization has come forward to make the effort.  I’d love to test it—with lots of publicity for the winner.





3.  Frankly, I’m Disgusted By What Gays Do In Bed.


Oh?  Well I know some gays (not me—I always had a good time making love to women) who are disgusted by what heteros do in bed.  If such easily-shocked gays were in the majority would their revulsion be a legitimate ground for banning heterosexuality? 

The truth is that it’s hard to imagine any two people, straight or gay, who aren’t already sexy and beautiful, making love (say your own parents or your neighbors) without feeling some unease at the thought.

How about this: we vow to never decree public policy based on images of other people—no matter their orientation—making love.  We’ll all sleep better.


4.  My Religion, My Training, My History Makes Me Homophobic.

That’s true, very true, of many people, but it simply means that society has misunderstood the issue for centuries.  Must this misunderstanding continue to condemn perfectly good people to a life of shame?  And these days, as society begins to correct this ancient mistake, perhaps it’s time to ask yourself whether you have the ability to say to yourself, “I need to rethink this issue, and decide what’s fair and what’s not.”


5.  Conclusion.  

If you let it homophobia can take your life down sorry paths, destroy valuable relationships, and earn you a reputation no one would want.

One of my blog posts cautions parents that they are almost certain to regret condemning their children when they find out those children aren’t straight; see “Disowning Your Gay Children,” October 9, 2013, http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2013/10/disowning-your-gay-children.html

If what I’ve said above is true, your children haven’t done anything wrong when they finally trust you enough to tell you the big secret that’s been tearing them apart.  If you react badly you’ll never feel good about what you did, and—I call this the “Deathbed Test”—when you are very old and lying in your final bed about to die, you’ll almost certainly wish you could go back in time and say different words instead of the hateful ones that ruined everything.




The proper attitude towards gay people is simple.  It’s the same attitude you should have in judging anyone.  Don’t ask cultural or racial or ethnic or sexual orientation questions when making evaluations of worth; doing so will end up with ugly adjectives attached to your name.  Instead make a simple inquiry.  Is this a good person or a bad person?  

We all should have to answer that one.




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Related Posts:

“The Deathbed Test,” July 27, 2010; http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2010/07/deathbed-test.html
 
“How To Change Gay People Into Straight People,” September 20, 2010; 
http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2010/09/how-to-change-gay-people-into-straight.html.  

 “A Homophobic Organization Throws in the Towel: Goodbye to Exodus International,” June 21, 2013; http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2013/06/a-homophobic-organization-throws-in.html 

“Disowning Your Gay Children,” October 9, 2013, http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2013/10/disowning-your-gay-children.html

“Are Gays Really Just 1.6% of the U.S. Population?” July 26, 2014; http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2014/07/are-gays-really-just-16-of-us-population.html

“Atheists and Gays in Islamic Countries: Ugly Deaths,” June 18, 2015; http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2015/06/atheists-and-gays-in-islamic-countries.html
 
“Does the Bible Condemn Homosexuality and Gay Marriage?” June 29, 2014; http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2014/06/does-bible-condemn-homosexuality-and.html

“A Guide to the Best of My Blog,” April 29, 2013; http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2013/04/a-guide-to-best-of-my-blog.html

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