Sexual orientation theorizing: Is change possible?

I post often about causal factors in sexuality; such factors are puzzle pieces that interest me (along with other human traits and variations). In addition, the intersection of personal values and sexuality ratchets up the interest level. Thus, the recent article, “Respecting Ex-gays”by John Corvino is a must read.

Corvino wants to take a live-and-let-live approach. He ends his piece with a familiar, but altered soundbite:

So when ex-gays announce, from billboards and magazine ads, that “Change is possible,” I say: Possible? Maybe. Likely? No. Desirable? Not for me, thanks.

He is fine with being gay and wants ex-gays to respect him in the same way he wants to respect their right and responsibility to steward their lives according to conscience.

He notes three problems he perceives among ex-gay ministries in general that will lead me to the next part of this post. First is “their tendency to promote myths about the so-called “homosexual lifestyle” by generalizing from some people’s unfortunate personal experiences.” He notes that testimonies of promiscuity and unhappiness do not describe his life and should not be taken as true of all same-sex attracted people.  Next, he laments “the ex-gay ministries’ abuse of science” saying, “Ex-gay ministries tend to lean on discredited etiological theories—domineering mothers, absent fathers, and that sort of thing.” Finally, he says, “The third and related problem is that many ex-gay ministries promote not merely a ‘change,’ but a ‘cure.’ ‘Cure’ implies ‘disease,’ which homosexuality is not.

Although I might quarrel with degrees, I essentially agree with Corvino’s assessment here. Along with the recent shifts in Exodus away from promoting public policy stances, I am hopeful that the issues of research and use of science will be vigorously addressed as well.

On the point of shifts in views of causation, Dean Byrd at NARTH has an article on the NARTH website giving some cautious kudos to the APA for a revised pamphlet regarding sexual orientation. The subtitle of his article is “The APA has now begun to acknowledge what most scientists have long known: that a bio-psycho-social model of causation best fits the data.”

Contrasting the original edition of the pamphlet with the new one, Byrd believes the current statement is more accurate. The new statement reads,

What causes a person to have a particular sexual orientation?

There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay, or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles; most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.

In response, Byrd opines:

Although there is no mention of the research that influenced this new position statement, it is clear that efforts to “prove” that homosexuality is simply a biological fait accompli have failed. The activist researchers themselves have reluctantly reached that conclusion. There is no gay gene. There is no simple biological pathway to homosexuality. Byne and Parsons, and Friedman and Downey, were correct: a bio-psycho-social model best fits the data (italics in the original).

My first thought after reading this paragraph was that those I know who are researching pre-natal factors have not concluded any such thing, reluctantly or not. Furthermore, the lack of current evidence for biological theories does not disprove a potential, now-unknown biological influence, nor does lack of strong evidence for general inborn factors prove true a bio-psycho-social model. Next, I wondered what that model looked like. As far as I can discern, all bio-psycho-social really means is that there are many factors and we do not know how they interact to yield adult sexual orientation.

Then I wondered when NARTH would make an APA-like statement about theorized environmental factors such as child abuse and same-sex parenting deficits. What if NARTH acknowledged “what most scientists have long known: that a bio-psycho-social model of causation best fits the data?” Wouldn’t there be a need for a statement cautioning readers of their materials that evidence for parenting playing a large or determining role is meager? Paralleling Dr. Byrd’s assessment of the APA pamphlet, shouldn’t NARTH say with italics, “There is no homogenic family. There is no simple familial pathway to homosexuality.” Appeals to those theories criticized by Corvino would be less frequent, right? Hey, changes are happening all over, why not this?

I wrote Dean and asked him about NARTH’s stance. He answered for himself by saying,

I think that the bio-psycho-social model of causation makes it clear that there is neither a simple biological or environmental pathway to homosexuality.

While I think NARTH should go much further, this statement may be the start of a more nuanced position from them. I would not go so far as Corvino did and say that familial factors have been discredited. On point, this is not what the APA said at all. What we should be saying is that there are many lines of research open with many factors under investigation. It appears pre-natal and post-natal factors play different roles for different people. Beyond that, the subject is still under study.

Would this change be so hard?

217 thoughts on “Sexual orientation theorizing: Is change possible?”

  1. Eddy,

    I know our online “relationship” is a terrible one, and this might be the worst possible time to say something like this in the midst of our snarky posts – but whether you believe it or not I have learned many things from you – about ex-gay issues and about myself – some of it has been very humbling, but it has been good. I’m not gonna pretend that we’re going to ever have a good online relationship, I’ve sort of given up on that, but for what its worth (and in your eyes that may be little – and I’d understand that) you have enlightened me. 🙂 In fact, there are only a few people on here that I haven’t learned something positive or worthwhile from. I’m opinionated, sometimes too set in my ways, but am painfully aware I am far from being perfect, and that there is always room for improvement.

  2. Don’t know what I did to make it all come out in a block like that…thankfully it’s brief enough that the message will still get through.

    Can’t play anymore right now. Perhaps I’ll come back when there are people discussing.

  3. Jayhuck–

    Oh Eddy I knew who you were referring to

    So then, the purpose of your statement was…….hmmm, let’s consider the possibilities.

    Don’t flatter me by suggesting I’ve enlightened you; I’ve accepted that as an impossible task and I know my limitations.

  4. Oh Eddy I knew who you were referring to 😉 As for things that I don’t personally experience still existing – I had no idea, but appreciate you enlightening me 😉

  5. Jayhuck–

    Re ‘therapize”….I believe you were the scoundrel.

    Re your attempts at zingers….they’re coming across rather weak…especially since I just cited an occasion in a previous post (the one about Alan’s thread on XGW) where I did support Michael. Shall I link it or quote it for you or can you find your way there? I’m not sure you blogged in that thread but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Things that you don’t personally experience often still exist on another plane.

  6. On occasion, I continue to challenge…

    And that, Eddy, is MY biggest chuckle of the day 🙂

  7. A few days ago on the previous thread when I called on Alan to make a front page statement and to consider having Wendy draft it, Michael was totally with me because I supported his agenda. Today, I’m a villain because I reacted to his taking my words out of context and suggested that perhaps he’d done that all along. I’d have to do some digging here on the blogsite, but I know that I confronted Michael about using my words out of context and promised that I would be quick to challenge when and if he did.

    Naturally, Jayhuck was there to jump in saying “that Eddy likes to blame others”. Considering the source, that was my best chuckle of the day. (BTW: Jayhuck, even though I like the name “Jay”–it’s my middle name–I refer to you as Jayhuck because you do. In a later post, you referred to me as “Ed”; it was probably just a slip, but please let’s stick with “Eddy”.)

    On occasion, I continue to challenge Michael especially when he’s pointing out the inconsistencies in other people’s words because, as Concerned pointed out, Michael wasn’t exactly the model of consistency. He was already married to a woman while Exodus was still trying to figure out what it wanted to be. He was one of the founders, one of the leaders. It would seem that at least some of the notions he blames Exodus for were notions he adopted prior to Exodus’ influence. To top that off, and I’m not revealing any secrets here, that while a leader and while a married man, he began his relationship with Gary…I can’t seem to get the timeline nailed down. But it doesn’t seem that he left either the ministry or the marriage right away. This suggests he was leading a ‘double life’ and was capable, for a time at least, of deceiving Exodus, Exit and his wife.

    If he and Gary had put their budding relationship on hold until they found a way to step out of the ministry and Michael’s marriage (I don’t remember if Gary was married or not.) then I’d trust him a bit more.

    Finally, consider all the posts recently that we had where we wanted to question or ‘therapize’ those with unwanted SSA…justifying this because they might have come to this conclusion out of weakness or a response to church or societal pressure. If we can see that potential for a person to be self-deceived, why don’t we recognize that getting saved, baptized in the Holy Spirit, getting married, becoming a minister, having a child, embarking on a relationship with a fellow minister, –and then leaving all but the latter all in the course of a few years–why can’t we acknowledge that those circumstances would or could cloud a man’s perceptions?

  8. I strongly object to Alan, as EXODUS’s leader, calling himself a “former homosexual” — because it gives the (false) impression that he is now “straight” — and that that is what EXODUS can deliver

    These are two separate issues and they are being combined. As a public figure representating an organization, Alan can refer to himself anyway he wants as long as his representation has integrity with how he lives. As to what Exodus can deliver to each person and their individual set of circumstances is a whole different issue – and one that should be articulated in the most cautionary manner. I think probably the most important thing to realize for their members (not sure if this is the correct term) is that SSA does not have to equate to same gender sexual relationships if the person doesn’t want them to. Their story can and will unfold from there.

  9. I guess I could say “EXODUS leadership” and not mention “him” by name. Would that be better?

    Michael,

    Mentioning his name and putting responsibility on him as the leader of Exodus is all very fair – resorting to how he defines himself and being sarcastic about it at his expense is not only irresponsible but diminishes the very important things you want to say.

    Remember, when you said in another post on this thread in referring to what Alan/Exodus should do – “it is the Christian thing to do”? I responded by saying “God has provided everyone with the ability to do the right thing – I don’t think it is exclusively “the Christian thing to do”. Being cognizent of doing the right thing, regardless if the other person is or not, is indeed impressive and does not need a label or word or term – it just speaks for itself and people will notice.

  10. Ann: “Uncool” or not, I strongly object to Alan, as EXODUS’s leader, calling himself a “former homosexual” — because it gives the (false) impression that he is now “straight” — and that that is what EXODUS can deliver.

    I object to Alan using “former homosexual” for the very same reasons I object to “ex-gay” — a term that even Alan admits has been misleading. What’s the difference between an “ex-gay” and a “former homosexual”?

    I also object strongly to Alan making a very public announcement that EXODUS is getting “out” of politics and then announcing that he and EXODUS will continue to be members of a very political group. He has not explained the apparent contradiction. By using “former” in a different way, and “out” in a different way, he gives the impression of lying. Until he clears things up, my criticism of him, as EXODUS’s leader, stands.

  11. I suggest to all that the reason the definitions are different to us is because we have all had differing experiences is our lives. Some may have positive experiences with their acceptance of their homosexuality while others may have had very negative experiences. Some may look at the positive side of a gay life and ignore the negative characteristics and effects while for others they may be focusing on all of the hurts and deception they have seen presented in the one aspect of the gay life. Is one wrong and one right? Who is telling the truth and who can best judge what that truth is? Is it you Michael? What you have been telling us here has not been my own experience. Am I wrong or are you?

    Our view of God likely differs in a similar way. For some we find that God offers us love and encouragement, while others may see God as judging and harsh. Why the difference, is there not just one God? My experience of God is that he loves me more than I can imagine as a human person, however, he knows that there are things that I can do to myself that can be extremely damaging to me. Is this God still loving towards me if he fails to warn me of the potential harm that I may be doing to myself. In any case it is still up to me to decide to follow his direction or ignore it or say it is not relevant to me. I suspect in time the relevance will be revealed whether I am ready to accept it or not.

  12. Maybe, according to his own personal definitions of the words, he really thinks EXODUS is “out” of politics in the same way that he is a “former” homosexual.

    Michael,

    The first part of this sentence is about how Alan oversees Exodus which may require constructive criticism – the second part is attacking him on a very personal level – Very uncool.

  13. Alan is EXODUS — in the sense that he, as its president, has a responsiblity to very clear in his public discourse and to actually keep the promises he makes. I guess I could say “EXODUS leadership” and not mention “him” by name. Would that be better?

    You are right Michael, and you’re not the only one that has problems with Exodus or Alan – gay people, straight people and ex-gay people have criticized Alan for being misleading on several occasions. He absolutely needs to – in fact he has a responsibility to – make himself clear – for the good of the organization he helps lead and for the good of anyone who might want to join.

  14. Ann: I am not attacking Alan on a personal level or rationalizing. I am sure he is a good husband and father, that he really wants to help people and that he truly loves the Lord. But, how can I “attack the problem” — the pervasive perception that EXODUS is lying to the public — without mentioning the person that I think is most responsible for that problem and perception? How can one criticize the current administration without mentioning Bush?

    Alan is EXODUS — in the sense that he, as its president, has a responsiblity to very clear in his public discourse and to actually keep the promises he makes. I guess I could say “EXODUS leadership” and not mention “him” by name. Would that be better?

  15. Michael,

    You can rationalize it any way you want, however it was still very uncool – if attacking someone on a personal level instead of attacking the problem satiates you, then do what you need to – it would seem your heart would be a little unsettled for doing so though.

  16. Mary: I have said this many times over, but will say it again. I am strongly opinionated, but I am not trying to mandate or impose my definitions on others. I know that people have their own individual definitions — and that language is very personal. That’s fine. I am not insisting that everyone mean the same thing when they use the same word.

    I am just asking that people on all sides of this very important issue explain what they mean — particularly if they are using a word in a way that is different from the standard definition or the way most folks understand a term. Otherwise, you might as well be speaking Russian while I am speaking Spanish. We are back at Babel and the Humpty Dumpty dilemna.

    And as for “Gays having their definitions of things” — I can tell you that gays are just as apt to misunderstand each other as anyone else. We are human. We often have to explain what we mean, too.

  17. I am upset with Alan because he often seems to say one thing and do another. That may be uncool to say, but it’s true. You can’t separate a criticism of EXODUS from a criticism of its leaders. As its leader, Alan speaks for EXODUS. Everytime he flip-flops on an issue, or gives the impression of lying, he makes EXODUS look very uncool. Leaders need to communicate clearly. Leaders need to be held accountable. Leaders need keep their word.

  18. Maybe, according to his own personal definitions of the words, he really thinks EXODUS is “out” of politics in the same way that he is a “former” homosexual.

    Michael,

    Ouch – the criticism on Exodus might be warranted, however the personal attack on Alan was very uncool.

  19. Michael,

    Gays have their definitions of things. I don’t see sexuality is the same sense as many gay people. I don’t use the term in the same way. It is very difficult to take a religious organization and use the same words in the same way in a different setting. God does not mean God to the same groups of people. It will always be a semantical (?) challenge.

    Demanding that someone be on the same page with you is different than demanding they mean the same thing as you do when you use the same words. That is always a challenge no matter where you go the world over. But allowing others to have their meaning and you have yours and agreeing that they won’t always mean the samething is a step in a positive direction.

    I remember being very specific about myself and yet you interpreted that to mean something else. We all do that. But it is just a matter of keeping on and understanding that sexuality, homosexuality, etc… will have different meanings to people.

  20. Just wish EXODUS would use the same English as the rest of us — where “out” actually means out, “former” actually means former, etc.

    I addition to the pervasive perception that EXODUS does not keep its promises, this stubborn insistance upon using “Christianese” and redefining everyday words to suit its pleasure is, more than any other factor, why people like me don’t trust EXODUS.

  21. Jayhuck: You are right. “MIsleading” may be better. Maybe, according to his own personal definitions of the words, he really thinks EXODUS is “out” of politics in the same way that he is a “former” homosexual. Could be. Remember Humpty Dumpty?

  22. I was going to suggest “misleading” Michael – I’ve used it before – it may be an unconscious thing – I can’t know if he is doing it intentionally or not, but it is misleading nonetheless – and it happens far too often.

  23. Maybe “lying” is too harsh. I only know that he said he would get EXODUS out of politics and then said that EXODUS will remain a member of the very political Arlington Group. The two are incompatible. Can you suggest another word? Maybe he “mis-spoke”. Or maybe he has a different definition for “out” of politics as he seems to have a different definition for “former” homosexual.

    Regarding your suggestion that “perhaps Exodus is “lying”, Michael Bussee, in the same way that you “lied” by establishing a ministry and then abandoning it?” No. I lied by calling myself an “ex-gay” when I was still gay. I left because I didn’t want to decieve myself or others. I was tired of that. I have been completely honest (some would say too honest) about why I helped start EXODUS and about why I left. Leaving EXODUS was not the lie. Staying in was.

  24. I knew what you meant Ann – if its any consolation (and it may not be considering I rarely proofread posts and tend to write on the fly) I hadn’t noticed it until you brought it up 🙂

  25. Perhaps Exodus is “lying”, Michael Bussee, in the same way that you “lied” by establishing a ministry and then abandoning it?

    I will not dig into that, but it’s worth noting since what’s evidently happening is Alan is exploring what best do to with his ministry and – I wouldn’t be surprised – how he is to think as a person (re: terminology). Thought I’d bring that up sine “lying” is a pretty drastic accusation.

  26. Sure Michael – I’m not sure why I never considered doing that before – I guess its because I know he watches this blog and just assumed he knew my stance on the organization. An email sure couldn’t hurt though 🙂

  27. Jayhuck: You said: “The primary reason I won’t attend a local Exodus group is because of their involvement in politics. I wish I could because it would make my life easier “

    If I may, would you please consider emailing Alan Chambers and telling him this? I think he needs to hear and understand that it is not only me that wants to see a politically neutral EXODUS and a more honest EXODUS. Lots of people do, including people like Wendy Gritter and Dr. Throckmorton.

    Back to terms and definitions, here is what I would like to see: a “Frequently Asked Questions” pull-down menu on the EXODUS home page — addressing such questions as: What does EXODUS mean by “change”? What about terms like “ex-gay” and “former homosexual?” What does EXODUS mean when it uses such language?

    Is EXODUS a political organization? If not, is it closely affiliated with any politcal organizations — like the Arlington Group or Lou Sheldon’s Traditional Family Values Coalition? What is EXODUS’s stand on Hate Crimes? It’s stance on homophobia, bullying, hatred and violence?

    No one should have to wonder. It should be clearly laid out and easily accessible. No one should have to sift through endless archives — or Alan’s personal blog — to find this information. It should hit them in the face. EXODUS, not “gay activists”, are responsible for the confusion and mistrust — and only EXODUS can change that.

  28. Jayhuck,

    Let me answer your hypothetical scenario in this way –

    If you were a public figure representing others or in an organization or ministry representing others, I sincerely believe you would have to integrate what you say and what you do. That is where the word integrity comes from. It would be your responsibility to live the life you represent, whatever that is and to whatever degree, as an example for others to aspire to. This has to come from a place of truth and honesty and without mis-representation.

    If you are a private person, with no representation of others, then it would be a personal matter for those who know you to determine how to understand and interact with you. Someone who is anorexic sees themselves as very overweight – I see them as very underweight. If I feel they are on the verge of needing medical intervention, I would contact a professional or family member to intervene. Otherwise, I would make an observation and not a judgement on how they represent themselves.

    Using your hypothetical scenario – If it is important for Jayhuck to call himself heterosexual, and yet live as a homosexual man, that is for you to decide. Jim McGreevy and Ted Haggart did it and so have others. I don’t think I would indulge myself with the thought I had the right to tell you otherwise – nor would I be pre-occupied with the desire to do so either. I mean in the grand scheme of things there are children who are starving and illerate – I would rather put my energies there instead.

  29. Michael,

    I want many of the same things Wend Gritter of EXODUS wants:

    For EXODUS to make a “clean break” from politics. For EXODUS to de-emphasize change in orientation and focus ONLY on discipleship. For EXODUS to take responsibility (as Wendy did) and apologize for the harm it may have caused to those who didn’t or couldn’t “change”……..

    Amen!!!!! The primary reason I won’t attend a local Exodus group is because of their involvement in politics. I wish I could because it would make my life easier – they are fairly ubiquitous. I’ve been working with Disputed Mutability to find a suitable alternative but it is difficult.

  30. Ann,

    As an addition – I think the discussion could also have entailed which words need to have definitions and which don’t. There are MANY other questions I could have foreseen being discussed but we never got there. So let’s just allow the topic to die – and maybe, one day, if we ever meet in person, we can continue the discussion 🙂

  31. Ann,

    Thanks 🙂 Actually, the conversation was much broader than that. I think what Michael was trying to discuss had to do with the importance of definitions – and this had to do with any words. I’m trying not to bring Ed’s wrath back down on me by starting up the conversation again though, so, just know that the conversation – from my perspective anyway – was just meant to be a big one on the need for common definitions in order to have discussions, to understand each other, to build bridges, to ward off being offensive, etc 🙂

    Its not really any on person’s fault Ann – I’m just thinking its not a discussion that can be had online 🙂

  32. As per usual I type before I think.

    I used love as an example that certain things can be TWO things.

    Sexual orientation is two things

    A feeling and an action

    Sometimes they match, sometimes they don’t.

    What I meant there was that sometimes feelings and actions don’t match up.

  33. OK, I Figured It Out!

    Love is two things

    A feeling and an action

    Sexual orientation is two things

    A feeling and an action

    Sometimes they match, sometimes they don’t.

  34. Ann,

    just got back – before I answer your question, can you clairfy if the hypothetical Jayhuck is a public figure or someone representing an organization/ministry or a private citizen? Thanks –

    Jayhuck is just a regular, private citizen.

  35. I’m doing such a bad job of it

    Jayhuck,

    Please don’t say this – perhaps it is me too.

    Can I understand it this way – it is very important to you, for purposes of discussion, that we concur on a specific definition and description of what a homosexual, heterosexual, and bi-sexual person is? If this is the case, I will try to tailor my responses to you in a way that will accommodate this and not take away from my personal belief as well. Is that ok?

  36. For the record, I certainly do not blame you for anything EXODUS has done

    Michael,

    Thank you – I know you don’t blame me for what they have done, however, sometimes I feel like those who do not always hold the same view as others on this blog are automatically clumped into the catagory as being “ant-gay”, etc. It is a defensive technique – I understand that – but it is also very ineffective and closes down further discussion. I have been the victim of this kind of cruelty from other posters on this blog and while it was dis-heartening at first, it became very revealing as to the character of the individuals doing it. I am past it now but wanted to bring it to your attention as you have been exceptionally cordial and intelligent and easy to talk with and I have learned a lot – mostly from my heart from all the things you have posted over the years. Just like Dr. Throckmorton, who does not always share the same views as others, wants to be distinguished from a reparative therapist, I and others, want to be distinguished from those people who have been hurtful as well. A difference of opinion does not always have to conclude with sarcasm, immature remarks, name calling, assumptions, inaccurate accusations, threats, dillussions of superiority, etc. – instead it can be a stepping stone to ongoing, healthy dialogue that can bring at the very least an understanding of how another person feels and at best, facilitate further ongoing discussions that might have infinite value to all of us.

  37. Ann,

    Just to be clear – the discussion I was referring to above was Michael’s original discussion about needing to have clear definitions on things in order to be able to have a conversation – that was it. 🙂

  38. Ann,

    I’m listening – please tell me how you would like me to understand the words “homosexual, ex-gay, ex-ex-gay, straight, heterosexual, bi-sexual, preferences, orientation”.

    The discussion wasn’t about me telling anyone how to understand certain words – I’m really sorry if that’s how i cam across to you. I don’t think we can have this discussion anymore – its just too difficult – online – to try and do this. My fingers are sore from typing and I really don’t know how to get across what was so important about what Michael said. I’m doing such a bad job of it 🙂

  39. Michael,

    Do you feel that Exodus or other ministries are as effective as a skilled therapist who follows the SIT guidelines?

  40. Ann: For the record, I certainly do not blame you for anything EXODUS has done. When I complain about EXODUS, I am complaining about EXODUS leadership. And it’s not about how EXODUS may or may not have harmed me. I accept responsibility for my own actions.

    I am more concerned about others (Ex-gay survivors) who are still struggling with feelings of failure, guilt, anger, betrayal and regret — and especially those who may have abandoned their faith or doubted God’s love for them because they didn’t “change”.

    I know many, including Eddy, will probably find this very hard to believe, but I really don’t want to discredit EXODUS. In a way, my name’s on it. I helped create it. It truly hurts everytime EXODUS lies. I want the public to see it as something positive — another option for those who are struggling with issues of sexuality and spirituality. The truth is, I want many of the same things Wend Gritter of EXODUS wants:

    For EXODUS to make a “clean break” from politics. For EXODUS to de-emphasize change in orientation and focus ONLY on discipleship. For EXODUS to take responsibility (as Wendy did) and apologize for the harm it may have caused to those who didn’t or couldn’t “change”

    For EXODUS to really address (with compassion and candidness) the concerns of Ex-gay Survivors. For EXODUS (in Wendy Gritter’s words) to “deal humbly and transparently with the impression that we have lied.” For EXODUS to clean up the “language problem” once and for all.

    I would actually love to lay off EXODUS. True, I wish there were no need for a group like EXODUS, I wish people could be at peace with their homosexual feelings, and accept that they are “gay” or “homosexual” — but some just can’t. I get that. For them, a group like EXODUS could be a real help in coming to terms with their ongoing attractions. As I have said before, I have absolutely NO problem with people trying to live in accordance with their deeply held values and beliefs. Since it won’t go away, I just want a more honest, non-poltical EXODUS. That’s all.

  41. I only hammer away on the “word” and “definitions” issue because EXODUS repeatedly lies.

    Michael,

    I am glad you explained it this way – I understand now why it is so important to you. I don’t know too much about Exodus but see how they have affected you.

    It would mean a lot to me, when we are communicating, that you do not hold me responsible for what Exodus has done.

    It’s the Christian thing to do.

    Newsflash 🙂 God has provided everyone with the ability to do the right thing – I

    don’t think it is exclusively “the Christian thing to do”.

  42. Well, Eddy seems intent on blaming me for the confusion that EXODUS has created over the years and continues to create. It’s called “blame shifting”. I only hammer away on the “word” and “definitions” issue because EXODUS repeatedly lies.

    Great example: Alan Chambers announcement that he wanted to “officially retire” the term “ex-gay” — now backpeddling on that — and continuing to use the even more deceptive “former homosexual”. Now, EXODUS’s dishonest announcement about getting out of politics. It’s a matter of character and public trust. EXODUS must say what it means — and then do what it says. It’s the Christian thing to do.

  43. A Data Point: Sexuality before and after Male-to-Female Sex Reassignment Surgery (PDF) – HTML version here.

    Basically, about a third of MtoF transsexual women report a change of sexual orientation after surgery. Before surgery, 2/3 are lesbian, 1/3 straight. After surgery, 2/3 are straight, 1/3 are lesbian.

    I can report from personal experience – though I’m Intersexed not just TS – that to have something as fundamental to one’s personality change from neural re-wiring caused by hormonal changes is extremely disorientating. You never think it will happen to you.

    In 1985 I was diagnosed via some very basic tests at a fertility clinic as a mildly Intersexed male. This was consistent with my appearance at the time. In 2005, after a whole battery of tests, MRI, Ultrasound, Karyotype (chromosome testing) and examination by an expert panel, this diagnosis was changed to “severely Intersexed female”, which was consistent with my appearance after some really unusual and spectacular changes.

    I’d just about gotten my head around the fact that I’d always been lesbian, rather than a straight male, when that changed. From being almost asexual, I acquired a normal libido too. Things have settled down now, and I’m just a middle-aged woman with an unusual medical history.

    It does lead me to believe that sexual orientation is a function of biology, not psychology. And that it can only be changed in rare cases, involving Intersex conditions. People do not “decide to be straight”, they’re born that way. Usually.

  44. Night Eddy! And i agree with you. My sisters are an example – same home – different response to the environment. But if they were to tell me everything was hunky dory in our home- I’d scoff at them, too. (BTW, they wouldn’t)

  45. Ann-

    Re 92095:

    Yikes! That means we’ll be discussing definitions for another day!

    Warren, have you got any new and exciting topics you’ve been wanting to post?

    Night all. It was bedtime a few minutes ago.

    (Ann–Thanks for the compliment. Sometimes I think I’m the abrasive that’s tearing things apart. I think I was involved in every thread where people ‘left the room’. None troubled me as much as JAG though. I really miss her and it hurts to think I may have offended her.)

  46. Some people are completely missing the point of the definitions discussion that Michael tried to start earlier.

    Jayhuck,

    I’m listening – please tell me how you would like me to understand the words “homosexual, ex-gay, ex-ex-gay, straight, heterosexual, bi-sexual, preferences, orientation”. 🙂

  47. Re: poor parenting and/or abuse:

    We do need to be careful with this type of thinking though. We don’t have percentages and, as Warren stated in his comments on reparative therapy, there is a tendency to force someone into the mold. (If counselor is convinced that it’s gotta be either a smothering mother or a distant father, he or she might misinterpret even the most basic answers. “Well, were you closer to your father or your mother?” seems like an innocent question but if the questioner has a preconceived notion filter in operation, they could easily misinterpret the answer.)

    The fact is, that even in the best of homes, a child is likely to favor one parent over the other…it doesn’t suggest that one parent was smothering and the other distant.

    Not everyone who comes from a bad home or from an abusive background turns out gay and, conversely, many people from bad homes and abusive backgrounds turn out straight….usually with other problems resulting from their backgrounds.

    I’m not discounting these factors in any way. I’ve met people who I firmly believe had their SSA rooted in such; I’m simply saying (in the week before Easter) that we shouldn’t put all of our eggs in one basket. 🙂

  48. I believe we can have productive conversations without agreeing on definitions.

    Eddy,

    Sometimes I think you are the glue that holds us together. I really don’t know of anyone who agrees on all definitions – it is what expands our minds to think outside of ourselves and understand others.

    I am still trying to understand what Elliott Spitzer means by the word “marriage” and “malfeasance” – seems like they could possibly differ than how I see them.

  49. Thank you, Ann. And I have seen SSA in foster care, homeless children/teens without parents. I have a tendency to question people who have only a euphoric recall of their childhood, though. No one – gay, straight or otherwise is that lucky!

  50. I don’t know any per centages but I have seen a lot of people who have SSA issues who do come from very poor family settings and who have also experience some kind of sexual abuse in their past. My experience has been that it is more common than not. I guess this is one of the main reasons why I find it so difficult to ignore this as a possible cause for SSA even though it may not be the only cause

    Concerned,

    I have seen quite a bit of SSA issues in foster care facilities –

  51. Suffice to say, a person defines themself. If you want to know what they mean – you ask them and work in that framework.

    Mary,

    Very, very well said – to do otherwise would be generalizing or assuming – neither one very cool!

  52. Jayhuck,

    I just got back – before I answer your question, can you clairfy if the hypothetical Jayhuck is a public figure or someone representing an organization/ministry or a private citizen? Thanks –

  53. Thank will do. There are things I think we can glean from eachother. (Well, things I can learn from you!!! LOL!)

  54. Mary,

    I’d like that if Warren’s okay with it. It is a shame that as the token “as yet unnamed condition” folks, we can’t communicate other than out here in front of “God and everybody”. I do think we have some support and understanding that we can offer each other in our respective journeys.

    Or contact Dan, the director of Outpost Ministries, and tell him you’re trying to reach me. He won’t give out my address but he would forward yours to me.

  55. Eddy,

    Can you give your e-mail to Warren to give to me? I would very much like to say something but not in public. Only if you want. Or Warren, I give you permission to share mine with Eddy. Thanks.

  56. I have this obsession about letting unfounded statements sit there like they might actually be true.

    Wow Eddy – something else that you and I both desire 😉

  57. Sorry Eddy – I had to respond to that example – you can probably say rightly so now that I brought the conversation back to definitions, but that wasn’t my primary motivation – I just wanted to respond to that statement. I want to say, before I’m done, that I’m NOT disagreeing that people have different experiences. I’m done now – I’ll leave the definition thing behind. I was hoping to follow this up with a more appropriate response regarding the original post, but I think I’m done – unless someone want to respond to something else I’ve just said 🙂 These types of conversations, because they are SO COMPLICATED and require SO much discussion, are very difficult to have online – that’s just starting to sink in

  58. Re 92059:

    Yes, we agree on some basic definitions. Maybe that’s the problem. This blog represents a lot of people who are trying to go beyond the basics and some who refuse to accept that there are actually people here who don’t fit those basic definitions. And, we aren’t the only ones.

  59. Jayhuck–

    Actually, it only looks like I’m talking to you. I’m extremely aware that while you aren’t grasping what I’m saying, others are. I have this obsession about letting unfounded statements sit there like they might actually be true.

  60. Regarding the temperature example – Just because people in different parts of the country/world have adapted to different temperatures and environments and might see warmth slightly differently, DOES NOT mean they don’t agree on the basic definition of warmth. One might feel warm in 90 degree weather, and one might feel warm in 50 degree weather, but the point is the both feel WARM. One group didn’t make up a new word or use a different word because the term “warmth” didn’t fit their understanding! Hot and warm and cold might be understood in different ways, but the basic definitions of these terms doesn’t change. Much in the same way that the terms heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual have different meanings for different people – but we all still seem to understand the basic definition of each.

  61. Eddy,

    What was the point of your multi-paragraph post on definitions – were YOU trying to bring us back into this discussion?

  62. Eddy,

    And yet again, I will tell you, I was responding to ANN’s QUESTION TO ME – Ann brought it up – she asked me a question – and I responded to it. That last comment I made was actually directed to YOU and a few others when YOU started talking about definitions again. I wasn’t trying to restart the conversation, I was lamenting the fact that Michael’s original discussion never got off the ground – rather that it got twisted into the discussion we DID have

  63. Jayhuck–

    I did debate about getting back into this discussion–particularly with you–but I opted into it–and with you posting as much as you did and all the interactions there was no way to leave you out.

    In response to your itemized list re your posts, I double-checked and I was responding to the correct thread. It was your exchanges with Mary that prompted me to re-enter the conversation and it was this comment that I saw as an attempt to get us back into discussing definitions:

    Ann,

    But we can talk about a frame only as long as we agree on the definition – this is what I’ve been trying, unsuccessfully, to say. We agree on the term for frame – I assume – and on what 4 x 6 means. The word frame and the dimensions you gave are just words used to describe something – in the same way that the words bisexual, homosexual and heterosexual are. Even Warren said above that he and his colleagues had to agree on operational definitions in order to have discussions – in the same way we do to. If we don’t have good common definitions we can’t talk about certain things. Which leads me to my question I asked you above and which I will repeat for you here – please just answer when you have time:

    This is just a hypothetical situation – but let’s say I want to be identified as a heterosexual – I only have attractions to the same sex, I only date people of the same sex, I plan to marry someone of the same sex very soon and have a family, but I WANT other people to recognize me as a heterosexual. Would you support the label I have given myself and wish others to adopt towards me? As long as that it what I wish, would you support my use of the term heterosexual for myself?

    What did “We can talk about a frame only as long as we agree on a definition…” mean to you? What did your follow-up question to Ann, the person posting who is strongest in their objection to labeling, mean when you set up a hypothetical situation and then asked her if she’d support the label “heterosexual” for that circumstance? Forgive me, it sure looked like you were going to definitions.

    And then, your comment re Michael’s post:

    Some people are completely missing the point of the definitions discussion that Michael tried to start earlier. Instead, people seem to be assigning to the discussion their own assumptions/presumptions and running in whichever direction they see fit.

    What was your point if it wasn’t that we need to agree on definitions?

  64. Warren,

    Thank you for that description of Bisexuality. It is a term that is wide and varied and means many things to different people – although that’s true of other terms as well.

  65. Otherwise, I’m just Eddy…Eddy at work, Eddy singing, Eddy on a hike, Eddy talking to a neighbor.

    Well – said, and once again – something we agree on. I think, because of the continuing acceptance in society, gay people are able now, more than in the past, to just think of themselves as people, and not define themselves by their sexuality. When we all don’t have to fight anymore because of who we are (gay, ex-gay) – when we can let our guard down and just be without worrying about our sexuality – what an amazing time that will be. I think it may have to do with age, but I rarely think of myself in terms of my sexuality anymore – its a GOOD THING (HT to Martha) – LOL 😉

  66. Mary–

    I agree that some of the ex-gay ministries do focus on the bad aspects of being gay but a part of that is due to the fact that try NOT to define the person by their sexuality. It may be hard to explain.

    I had clients who so identified with gay that they saw every aspect of themselves through a gay filter. I’m more sensitive than most males. So? I tend to think intuitively rather than abstractly. So? I don’t like sports. So? I actually find photos of naked women somewhat repulsive. So? I like to read…to sing. So? Those attitudes are neither straight nor gay but I was always amazed at the things people ascribed to ‘their gay side’.

    The real problem comes in when the ministry focusses more on the ‘gay stuff’ and fails to confront these deceptions. In confronting them as deceptions, they can actually build on a person’s self-esteem. “God appreciates your sensitivity.” “Your intuitive nature may not be the most common male trait but it also is a gift that you can use both in your own journey and as an aid to others.” “I’ve never seen one picture or heard one story of Jesus playing football.” “Part of your repulsive response to naked women might be gay but is that really all that’s going on? Were you also upset because it stripped sex of love? because it objectified a person? because deep down you think sex ought to be a very private and personal thing?” “Many straight males like to read and sing…it should help with your Bible study and maybe you want to join the choir.”

    This separation has been criticized by many but I see it as totally valid. I only think of myself in terms of ‘ex-gay’ when I’m in a discussion on related topics or if I happen to see someone who I find attractive. Otherwise, I’m just Eddy…Eddy at work, Eddy singing, Eddy on a hike, Eddy talking to a neighbor.

    LOL! Even when I’m talking to gay people, I realize (a lot of the time) that they are gay but–if we’re not sitting in a gay bar, scoping out hot men together, or talking about how to achieve a gay fantasy–then we’re just people talking. (It’s the reality behind the phrase ‘Love the sinner, hate the sin’…there’s more to each one of us than our sexuality. See each person. Value their worth.

  67. Eddy,

    To directly answer that question about what Warren posted – when it comes to Sexual Orientation, itself? – Yes, I absolutely agree with him. And perhaps we are at the agree to disagree point and just need to move on? 🙂

  68. Concerned,

    Thank you for your post – I appreciate the explanations you gave and it all makes sense to me – a LOT. When I was struggling with an issue a long time ago and was continually frustrated because the feelings would not go away, someone very wise said to me “it is like learning a new language – yes, you will learn the language in time and also more than likely still have an accent that will become less as time goes on. It made all the difference to me and allowed me to be patient with myself and move through and beyond what I was struggling so much with. I learned to go slowly and stopped the negative messages and accepted the feelings for what they were and amazingly that helped me transcend them.

    Dr. Throckmorton,

    I really appreciate the explanations you gave – thank you. While I have read bits and pieces of these explanations before, this post was particularly helpful as it specifically addressed the questions. I can see how reparative therapy, especially in the wrong hands, can be devastating. The client already has a sense of frustration with personal efforts that have not worked and then if a therapist puts further onus on them, coupled with expectations, that is purely irresponsible. I am perplexed as to why therapists would bring their ego into such a sensitive issue like this – what good does it do to be so limited in their thinking to surmise that only certain methods work while leaving out something as important as a person’s religious values or a combination of methods? Are they lazy or not interested in ongoing research or just ego driven? Regarding those clients who will benefit because of difficult life circumstances – I guess this is the situation that has always been held out as the example of success. It is very disconcerting that so many others are put into this category due to the incompetence of the therapist and then blamed when they have not progressed as expected. This could send a client back a lot and for a long time and that to me is unconscionable.

    As to your question –

    Shouldn’t NARTH do the same?

    Yes, and they will be negligent if they don’t.

  69. Eddy – We can measure temperature but the experience of the same temp (say 45 degrees) will be different. I think you venture into subjective experience of objective reality is valuable. “It is warm I tell you!” says the Canadian while the Floridian says, “You are bending warm beyond any experience I know.”

    When we get a measure of sexual orientation that is like temp, we can talk about this in a different way. Now, it is probably mainly accurate at the extremes. A 100% straight or gay person can say something clearer about him/herself than someone who has a more variable experience. Personally, I think this is what the fuss is mostly about – trying to define something fluid (for some) with discreet terminology.

    You might remember the heekak that developed when Michael Bailey’s research team suggested that bisexuals had no distinctive arousal pattern in the lab. Bisexuals were not impressed since their sexuality does not seem to fit categories well. In my own research now, I am finding lots of variation in self-description among people who consider themselves bisexual. Sometimes they are all straight, sometimes they are all gay and sometimes they are both. Trying to make them take a label or saying they are in denial doesn’t advance understanding very far.

  70. Oh yeah – not to mention all my posts to Mary that didnt’ have anything to do with definitions 🙂

  71. Eddy,

    I thought you were done talking to me?

    I’m very aware that Warren posted several times today. My issues were never with the definition of sexual orientation per se, first of all. Second, I’m not sure we’re talking about the same thread. After reviewing the thread above, here are the messages I posted – along with a few other people’s posts – after Warren’s post to us that you quoted:

    – A post where I thanked him

    – My response to Exodus and Dogma post

    – My post regarding the harm of Reparative Therapy

    – Warren leaves a post talking about my question on definitions

    – My post on the APA resolution

    – My question to Warren trying to get clarification on his definition statement

    – ANN posts a question TO ME regarding definitions

    – I respond to Ann’s question

    – My posts re: SSAs and life difficulties

    I don’t see where it was I who tried to bring the conversation BACK to definitions – I asked for clarification from Warren and I responded to Ann – I’d hardly call that trying to bring the conversation BACK to that subject.

    I agree with Warren when he says that definitions and agreeing on them are important – He couldn’t work at all with his colleagues if they didn’t agree on definitions and I think that’s important to consider. Are there different definitions to words – yes, we’ve established that. Do we all pick and choose which definition of a word applies to us – Yeah, we do that too.

    I also don’t remember Warren suggesting we talk about “experience” in this thread – not that he wouldn’t or that it isn’t valuable to discuss these things, but what he DID say was:

    “Might be best to stick to specific aspects. If you want to argue for instance whether sexual fantasies can ever change, then this would be specific enough to permit such a conversation.”

  72. Mary–

    I’ll still talk to you! 🙂

    Jayhuck, if you’re going to say you agree with Warren, please realize that he has posted several times today and it’s quite clear that you don’t agree with all of it. He actually suggested that we move on by discussing experience rather than definitions and it was only several posts later that you tried to bring the conversation back to definitions—and then again in the post where you cited that Michael was trying to take us there. Did you agree with the part where he said:

    I submit that the arguments here are unlikely to get closure in the current environment where we have no scientific reference point. Further, we do not have consensus about the factors that should compose sexual orientation. Should brain reactions be enough? Should we only look at behavior? What about situations when behavior and desire are incongruous? It is easy to see how we can quickly get into value judgments regarding how we define a term.

    in short, go easy on each other regarding the matter of defining sexual orientation. For those who say they know what it is or how it should be defined, I would suggest you review the science on the subject. Otherwise agree to disagree and move on.

    I see a new post has come in but am afraid to lose this one. Will post this and see what’s up.

  73. I would agree with Corvino on two of his statment that ex gay ministries focus on the bad things about being gay and about the word cure. I honestly don’t think being gay is something people need to be cured of. However, if a person wants to change – that is possible- and however that may be described will more than likely be different for each person.

    I’m glad someone wrote an article about respecting ex gays. I don’t expect people to have my experience and I do expect some reciprocity of respect.

  74. Some people are completely missing the point of the definitions discussion that Michael tried to start earlier. Instead, people seem to be assigning to the discussion their own assumptions/presumptions and running in whichever direction they see fit.

    Mary,

    I really just don’t want to talk to you anymore right now. I’ve done absolutely everything I can think of to have a civil online relationship with you and its not working, so let’s just take a break, ok? I don’t think Warren wants his thread full of our current squabble with each other.

  75. Mary,

    I have repeatedly acknowledged that other people think differently than I – I just said in a post above that you and I don’t agree on many things. Yet I have done everything in my power to be nice to you and I still get the back of your hand – If you aren’t going to listen to what I”M saying Mary, then I don’t see the point in us having a discussion anymore – at least until one or the other of us calm down a bit. Did you ever think that maybe YOU are jumping too conclusions? Did you every stop and think that maybe YOU are part of the problem we are having? I doubt it, since you keep pointing the finger at me regardless of what it is I do

  76. Mary,

    If you had READ my responses to your dictionary definitions posts, you would have seen that I WASN”T disagreeing with them – NOR was I reading anything into them. I said they weren’t complete. I was getting ready to post 3 sites to more in-depth definitions to those terms and then just stopped thinking we were going to go around and around on this – and here we are.

    Mary – Please give me one example of where I have overlooked other people’s experiences – Just one, and then we can go from there. I’m willing to admit I may have done this, but I don’t remember it. I do remember THANKING you for many of your posts and your own experiences, but it seems the only things you remember, Mary, are those things that are bad.

    Eddy said something about definitions – I TOO agree with Warren. Warren acknowledged that for he and his colleagues to have any kind of meaningful discussion, they had to agree on definitions – I believe he called them operational definitions. Sharing experiences of terms only works if the words that are being used to describe those experiences have definitions that are shared between the people in the discussions. Warren had it right when he gave the operational definitions example.

  77. Jayhuck,

    Did it ever occur to you that you read into other people’s writing (and dictionary definitions) just what you want to hear and not what they are saying? Did it also ever cross your mind that what you think may not be the truth for other people? You continue to argue your perspective without realizing that people accept that you have that perspective but that they do not hold it for themselves. And then you accuse them of not understanding you?

    That is offensive to most people. I am tired of your reading habits and your continual overlooking of other people’s experiences and understandings. You have your opinion and think it should be so for other people, too!! Not so. Believe it or not – people do think differently than you and they do live differently than you and they do feel differently than you. Hence – they will have a different understanding – I am sorry you will never accept that idea.

  78. Warren–

    Thanks for stepping in. Greatly appreciated.

    Some have taken exception to your advice saying that we can’t have productive discussion until we agree on definitions. I agree with you. Last week when the temperature here went up to 33 degrees, I remarked to my California friends how warm it felt. To them, 33 degrees is cold! (To me, in October, 33 degrees feels cold; by January, it feels warm…and in August, 33 degrees would feel frigid.) So, do we have to establish what temperature defines ‘cold’ before we can discuss our responses to cold (or warmth). My friends and I didn’t have to.

    In a more ‘clinical’ setting, a common definition might be required. (Setting your house thermostat to 68 degrees, for example.) Anything lower generally feels cold to most everyone. (And, ironically, if it was even 45 degrees outside today, people in Minnesota would be out in short sleeve shirts and shorts.) The definition wavers all over the place and yet we do manage to discuss the weather with people who live in other climates.

    Biggest difference that I see is that they actually try to understand what I mean by cold or warm rather than force their definition on me and I, conversely, try to understand their experience of cold (whatever it might mean to them). And although our definitions of cold may differ, we can discuss our responses to the sensations of cold or warmth as we experience them. It is possible to have productive conversations without agreeing on a definition.

    When my California friend visited here last October, I realized that I would likely be comfortable in a lightweight jacket and a sweater but I suggested to her that she either bring a medium weight coat or allow for layering. (LOL! We even experienced the exact same temperatures for a week–to me it was warm and pleasant, to her the wind had a ‘bite’ to it and she felt cold.) I believe we can have productive conversations without agreeing on definitions.

  79. Concerned,

    SSA issues who do come from very poor family settings and who have also experience some kind of sexual abuse in their past. My experience has been that it is more common than not. I

    That wasn’t really my issue. Sure gay people have had bad family settings – so have straight people. Our experiences differ then, because I currently know more gay people with good family experiences than not.

  80. I absolutely did NOT mean to offend you Mary – I’m not sure where you got that. Is it the way I’m phrasing my questions to you? What about what I said was so offensive. ? Please let me know so I can change what I’m doing that offends you. Sure we don’t agree on things, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have conversations, does it? Last time we had this discussion I asked you what I could do to improve our online relationship – you told me and since then I have not made the same error. I don’t understand what I’m doing NOW that is continuing to upset you.

  81. Jayhuck,

    I don’t know any per centages but I have seen a lot of people who have SSA issues who do come from very poor family settings and who have also experience some kind of sexual abuse in their past. My experience has been that it is more common than not. I guess this is one of the main reasons why I find it so difficult to ignore this as a possible cause for SSA even though it may not be the only cause.

  82. Mary,

    I am so sorry you this need to feel that every time I talk to you I’m out to offend you. You don’t even seem to read my posts anymore – you just see your name in my posts and automatically get offended. I’ve agreed with you on numerous occasions, thanked you, apologized to you, asked you how *I* could interact better with you so we could have a good online relationship, but all I’m getting are constant accusations. If you don’t want to talk to me Mary then don’t – I’m ok with that, but I’m a little tired of all the defensiveness.

  83. Jayhuck,

    Offense intended – you don’t like the idea of people defining themselves, you don’t like the dictionary definition. You only want your interpretation and it seems no one else’s is good enough for you and you are intent on arguing that to no end.

    Suffice to say, a person defines themself. If you want to know what they mean – you ask them and work in that framework.

  84. Mary,

    My apologies – I think you said what you said about the J&Y study because you are not a part of Exodus – is that right?

  85. Warren,

    There is some percentage of people who come to SSA via difficult life circumstances.

    Is there some proof of this Warren – beyond people’s claims, or are you just assuming here? Some gay people do have difficult life experiences but so do many heterosexuals – I don’t remember seeing any evidence out there that a certain percentage come to SSA via difficult life experiences. I’m absolutely willing to admit I may have missed something though.

  86. Mary,

    A therapist may have adequate knowledge but not adequate relationship with the client.

    I couldn’t agree more with this statement. A person HAS to find, above all else, a therapist with whom they are comfortable and have a good relationship.

  87. Mary,

    I’m confused – why, in the J&Y study, do you think you wouldn’t have been considered someone who changed. My understanding of the study is that all people who reported change were shown in that 15%

  88. Ann,

    But we can talk about a frame only as long as we agree on the definition – this is what I’ve been trying, unsuccessfully, to say. We agree on the term for frame – I assume – and on what 4 x 6 means. The word frame and the dimensions you gave are just words used to describe something – in the same way that the words bisexual, homosexual and heterosexual are. Even Warren said above that he and his colleagues had to agree on operational definitions in order to have discussions – in the same way we do to. If we don’t have good common definitions we can’t talk about certain things. Which leads me to my question I asked you above and which I will repeat for you here – please just answer when you have time:

    This is just a hypothetical situation – but let’s say I want to be identified as a heterosexual – I only have attractions to the same sex, I only date people of the same sex, I plan to marry someone of the same sex very soon and have a family, but I WANT other people to recognize me as a heterosexual. Would you support the label I have given myself and wish others to adopt towards me? As long as that it what I wish, would you support my use of the term heterosexual for myself?

  89. Warren,

    I think the match of client with the right therapist is very important. A therapist may have adequate knowledge but not adequate relationship with the client. As a woman, I have found this most important.

    I wonder the very same thing on the J&Y study. Had I been in that group – I might have been one of those who did not show change because of the very therapy being applied.

    What seems detrimental is having a preconcieved idea of who your client is and the proceeding to tell them. That’s dictation and nothing more. And some of us don’t take dictation.

  90. Ann – The reparative therapists tend to put the onus on the client for not having sufficient motivation or just that it is hard to overcome what they consider to be a developmental wound. As for me, I think it is due to the mismatch of intervention and need of the client. There is some percentage of people who come to SSA via difficult life circumstances. Those people may find some benefit from reconstructive work in therapy and may even experience some change in their attachment patterns. However, when someone who has a close relationship with mom AND dad is told that mom was a smother mother and dad was distant and uninvolved or worse, the mismatch is great and consequential.

    Jones and Yarhouse found a low percentage of changers in their research (15%, I recall). I wonder if those 15% were more likely to have developmental issues that were addressed by your typical Exodus ministry. In the Bell and Weinberg study in the 80s, a relationship was found between being in therapy and reporting more parental problems.

    Bottom line, NARTH has a responsibility to provide clarity on these issues and in my view, the organization has failed to do this. The APA has likewise over the years shaded things a bit and now I am glad to see this group better reflect the current research.

    Shouldn’t NARTH do the same?

  91. Warren,

    I agree with you, but it is equally destructive for some to be saying that no one can change or that ones sexaul practices cannot be repair in a way that allows for a more fullfilling life outside of acceptance that homosexuality is always a good thing. Once again it is an issue of accepting the extremes. When NARTH implies that change is always possible they do harm, no debate there. When the APA says that no one can change this is also harmful, and I would have to say it is not true.

    What it boils down to is letting the individual decide what they would like to embrace for themselves and being available to give them the support to deal with the issues that come up as a result, without judgement.

    Ann, you also ask some very important questions. I believe much of the problem with reparative therapy is that we have been led to believe that the change should occur instantly or have been given the idea that it will when in fact the habits related to this have taken years to form, so why should we expect them to be gone in an instant. My own experience has been that it is a very slow process, even though the decision to begin making the change may be instant . New habits need to be established to replace the need for the old way of thinking. I think any reparative ministry in a church that focuses on instant change is being misleading and risks doing much damage, however, I do not believe that this is the way all therapists work. I also feel that for some it may never work and these clients need to know they are supported also. This, to me is what the Christian message is all about.

  92. Dr. Throckmorton,

    Is there any concensus as to why reparative therapy works for some people and causes such devastation for others? Is it in the techniques used or the therapist or that a client is going out of free will or being forced to go? In reparative therapy is there an impatience from the client or therapist if there is no shift within a time frame they originally wanted?

  93. That is the crux of the problem though – if we cannot come to agreement on the definitions of words, we cannot have a productive discussion, and it will only cause rifts to grow among different groups who define the same words in different ways.

    Jayhuck,

    The things we are talking about are not tangible – they are human experiences. If I were describing a picture frame and said it was 4″x6″, you and I would probably agree that it meant the same thing. When we talk about individual experiences, they can often mean different things to different people. I know it is important for you to have a word to describe people and their sexuality – I understand – I just don’t thnk it is fair to other people.

    If we say the words “same gender sex” – I think we can agree what that means, if we talk about it, then the door is wide open for a individual thoughts that could very well be varied. I see that as very healthy.

  94. Thanks Warren! Does that mean terms such as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual are probably best not discussed at present?

  95. Warren,

    The APA resolution, while great, only seem to be iterating things I thought would be understood – am I wrong? Is it a movement for the APA or just a declaration of belief?

    One quote from the Resolution struck me though – and its something I’ve tried to discuss with others on this thread:

    Psychology has no legitimate function in arbitrating matters of faith and theology; and faith traditions have no legitimate place arbitrating behavioral or other sciences. While both traditions may arrive at public policy perspectives operating out of their own traditions, the bases for these perspectives are substantially different.

  96. jayhuck – Having common meanings is important, but I do not think we have them at present. The essentialists and the constructionists and the neurologists and the sociologists and the behaviorists advocate for different components to the definition of sexual orientation.

    Might be best to stick to specific aspects. If you want to argue for instance whether sexual fantasies can ever change, then this would be specific enough to permit such a conversation.

  97. Subsequently, their marriage, the relationship with the child in question and the religious faith involved suffered immensely. I cannot state the issues clearly without revealing more than I can about the situations but the pain was significant.

    This is something that gay people, gay families and families with gay children have known for decades – something that the gay community has consistently said about Reparative Therapy. Thanks for being another voice calling for an end to this. 🙂

  98. Warren,

    Likewise, I urge Exodus and related groups to review the resources offered and remove materials which are dogmatic regarding scientific issues which are not settled.

    This would definitely be a welcome step in the right direction! 🙂

  99. Concerned – Recently the APA passed a policy resolution (linked here) which makes religion a diversity variable on par with other such factors. The APA has moved on this point as research on the value of religion increases. Surely, a test will be the report of the APA Task Force on sexual orientation, now due out in September, but I see some movement.

    I see no significant movement at NARTH, save this very weak statement from Dean Byrd. And arguably the harm from NARTH’s singular devotion to reparative drive theory is as great as the APA flaws. Over the last month, I have spoken to three families who have had great heartache pursuing promises of reparation. The families have been torn up because the parents were told by their reparative therapists they must be at fault for their child’s homosexuality. Subsequently, their marriage, the relationship with the child in question and the religious faith involved suffered immensely. I cannot state the issues clearly without revealing more than I can about the situations but the pain was significant.

  100. in short, go easy on each other regarding the matter of defining sexual orientation. For those who say they know what it is or how it should be defined, I would suggest you review the science on the subject. Otherwise agree to disagree and move on.

    This is a good rule of thumb Warren, and a good foundation for discussion, but for the record, I never said I know the definition for sexual orientation – I’m just positive it isn’t something that is incredibly short-lived, as in the matter of seconds or hours. We can sometimes say what something is NOT even if we don’t know exactly what that something is. I think that’s called Via Negativa, isn’t it? 🙂

  101. Warren,

    That is the crux of the problem though – if we cannot come to agreement on the definitions of words, we cannot have a productive discussion, and it will only cause rifts to grow among different groups who define the same words in different ways.

  102. Warren,

    And the APA needs to move away from the position that it is a persons religious faith that gets in the way of there accepting that they are gay and that is what is best for them. I have heard over and over that people of faith are naive and uninformed. I have to say that some in the scientific community (biology and psychology) may be the ones who are really naive as they have closed their eyes to what faith in something greater than oneself really means. For years now there have been those who are trying to destroy peoples believe in there religions because they have convinced themselves that they have found a better way. I suggest that their better way has left us all in a much greater mess than when we started. Perhaps in time more and more people will come to understand that faith in God is not a weakness, but the greatest strength we can have. If an institution or individual is trying to destroy that for some it is only because they are looking of gain some kind of power that is not their to have.

    Having said all of this I also realize the danger of using ones religion to dictate what is right for every individual all of the time.

  103. I have just skimmed this thread and to my eye the usual disconnects revolve around words and their meanings. We have some wanting dictionary definitions, some scientific, and some want personal definitions.

    Currently, sexual orientation is a fuzzy term in science. We use operational definitions in research (a word means this in this study) but an operational definition is a convenience for communication and generalization of findings. The definition may or may not correspond to something in reality. In a recent conversation on a list serv of researchers I am on, the differences between sexual orientation and sexual preference were debated. This is still being debated and discussed in scientific circles. No wonder we get into trouble quickly here on the blog.

    Michael Bailey has advanced the argument that women do not have sexual orientation in the same way men do. Their sexual arousal patterns are not as defined as for men. He is an articulate defender of this idea but there are many good people who disagree. I mention this briefly to say the concept of sexual orientation is still looking for that consensus of definition and measurement which we are seeking here in language.

    I submit that the arguments here are unlikely to get closure in the current environment where we have no scientific reference point. Further, we do not have consensus about the factors that should compose sexual orientation. Should brain reactions be enough? Should we only look at behavior? What about situations when behavior and desire are incongruous? It is easy to see how we can quickly get into value judgments regarding how we define a term.

    in short, go easy on each other regarding the matter of defining sexual orientation. For those who say they know what it is or how it should be defined, I would suggest you review the science on the subject. Otherwise agree to disagree and move on.

    The real issue of this post is that the APA has moderated some and NARTH wants to say they have been there all along. I do not see it that way. I call on Dean Byrd and the NARTH board to correct the false impressions they continue to leave with the public that science is on the side of the developmentalists. It is just wrong to say that NARTH in its workshops, public writings and statements of its leaders have been working with a multidimensional model. Likewise, I urge Exodus and related groups to review the resources offered and remove materials which are dogmatic regarding scientific issues which are not settled.

  104. jayhuck

    I mean SSA/OSA that is strictly defined by the neurotransmitters or physical structures related to these traits.

    We can argue about who is gay or what someone else feels forever because it’s all based on self reporting.

    We need a strict, scientific definition so that we can measure it.

    I guess the closest we’ve got are Bailey’s brain imaging studies. We’ll be a lot further down the road once they isolate the neurotransmitters involved.

    Someday they’ll probably have a blood test to determine if someone is gay or straight. That will put a quick end to debates like this. 😎

    Recent Example:

    Mood Markers Isolated In Blood Open Informative Window Into Brain Functioning And Disease

  105. Ken

    so you think virgins have no sexual orientation? if 2 men, one who has always has sexual/emotional desires for women and one who has never had sexual/emotional desires for women, both marry, you think they should both be considered straight? That there should be no distinction between them?

    I can see from your response (and the 2nd half of this thread) that this topic is going to be a big grey area until we get a bulletproof technical/biological definition of what “gay” actually is. Until then orientation is going to be based on self-reporting and outward behavior.

    I mean, everyone on here knows what gay means, but who gets to define someone else based on their own subjective opinion?

  106. Did anyone on this blog read the word orientation in the defintions of bisexual provided by dictionary.com?

    Eddy? Ann? Ken? MIchael?

  107. You know what is interesting about this conversation, is that it, in a way, is very supportive of a post-modernist/relativist world view – where nothing is objective and everything depends upon the vantage point of the individual – everything is relative – something which is, at its heart, kind of anti-Christian. I’m as guilty of this thought process as anyone – but its kind of interesting to think about this in light of this conversation. And before anyone jumps to conclusions, I’m not saying that anyone on here is anti-Christian.

  108. Ken,

    Regarding #91858 –

    This is what I have been saying – no word or label is indicative of an accurate description of anything when it comes to the human experience – that is why listening to individual stories will give more meaning than assumptions from labels.

  109. Mary,

    I’ll agree with you though that bisexuality has different definitions. I understand the example you gave regarding your sister – I really do. People use words all the time improperly – in ways that perhaps they weren’t intended to be used. Would some people call a glancing or quick attraction to someone of the same sex bisexuality – maybe. Does that mean there isn’t a correct definition or set of definitions for bisexuality, no.

  110. By mere fact of this little exercise – even you need to be clear when you say bisexual because your definition is not found in the dictionary.

    Or maybe we should all bow to the definitions and world according to Jayhuck.

    Funny thing – you still have not heard that people disagree with you and you say your term is correct???

    Pulease!!

    (End of conversation on this topic with this person)

  111. Ann said in post 91850:

    You both gave me a different label for an attraction to sprinklers, indicating that labels have different meanings for different people.

    No it doesn’t indicate that at all. 1st, apparently you missed the smilely Jayhuck used to indicate he was being humorous. 2nd. different words can have the same meaning. And different labels could indicate different aspects of something. For example, what if you asked how you would label a man who has multiple male sexual partners every week. One person might say he is gay, other might say he is promiscuous. Both labels apply, they are simply focusing on different aspects of the description.

  112. Mary,

    But bisexuality is defined also as an orientation – and and orientation is neither quick nor glancing

  113. Ann, Mary–

    The irony is that almost everyone who’s been blogging here has agreed with your sentiments–and yet, when push comes to shove, they want to push the labels anyway. Look at all the talk re “you’re a bisexual”, “you’re not a heterosexual” even in this thread.

    We went from one thread where we were trying hard to divest ourselves of labels and all that needed to happen was for a new topic to be introduced—and it was almost like that other thread never happened.

    LOL! Everybody wants to be politically correct because it’s the ‘correct’ way to be but, deep down inside, we’re still label driven.

  114. Jayhuck,

    Regarding the hypothetical scenario you posed in # 91858 – it really wouldn’t matter to me how you chose to define yourself – you would always be Jayhuck to me first and that would supercede anything else. I really wouldn’t be pre-occupied with labeling you – I just don’t have that kind of need or motivation. If I was a therapist or a medical doctor and you were my client/patient, for medical or psychological purposes, I would define you according to how I diagnosed you for those purposes.

  115. The dictionary does not give definition to how quickly or prolonged an attraction must be to qualify as attraction to both sexes. It simply states attraction to both genders.

  116. The only true way is to ask and let them define themselves.

    Mary,

    Thank you – this has always been my position as well. Why settle for generalizations when we can know the truth?

  117. Mary,

    I’ve never seen a definition of the word bisexual in any dictionary that used the words glancing or quick.

  118. Mary,

    Michael said it above – if each of us gets to define our own words, there is no way we can ever have a meaningful discussion. We can listen, sure – we can find out what others mean by words – but we cannot have a productive discussion about things.

    Just look at us right now – we can talk because we have commonly accepted definitions for words such as: just, look, at, us, right, now, we, can, talk, because, etc…..

    Sure some words have multiple definitions, and we all add our own experiences to certain phrases – but if there wasn’t an underlying common and accepted definition for words, no one on this thread could ever talk to another. We don’t have to stop each time we say a word – any word – and ask the other person to define it in the way they understand it, do we?

  119. If one of my sister’s had a quick glancing feeling for another woman – I would not call my sister a bisexual. By the terms of many anti- ex gays – they would be calling me a liar, deciever, etc… But even most women by those standards would not call my sister bisexual.

    Just a thought.

  120. Eddy,

    I rarely use dictionary terms because of their colloquialism and ironically lack of timely relevance. In the midst of a few months word meanings change. What is political experience?? What does each candidate mean by that? What does giving birth mean – having children? or vaginal birth only? ETC….. you really cannot define for another person what they mean by using the dictionary or worse wikipedia. The only true way is to ask and let them define themselves.

  121. Because my mother raised me to be polite. If someone keeps talking to me, I feel its rude not to respond.

    Fair enough Eddy!!!

  122. Eddy,

    I respect your desire not to talk to me, but that will not stop me from addressing issues that you bring up. I will refrain from acting as if I’m speaking directly to you though.

  123. Because my mother raised me to be polite. If someone keeps talking to me, I feel its rude not to respond.

  124. Ann,

    I think this question will help me understand you better. This is just a hypothetical situation – but let’s say I want to be identified as a heterosexual – I only have attractions to the same sex, I only date people of the same sex, I plan to marry someone of the same sex very soon and have a family, but I WANT other people to recognize me as a heterosexual. Would you support the label I have given myself and wish others to adopt towards me?

  125. Jayhuck–

    Maybe there’s so much trouble understanding the meaning of people’s words because you keep thinking they’re saying something else. I’m using the dictionary definition of “through” when I say “I’m through discussing this with you.” Done, finished, completed, that’s all there is. If you know another meaning of ‘through’, I’m sorry about that.

    So, in case it’s not clear, please do not try to re-engage me in a conversation with you on this thread. We tried it, it didn’t work and I have no idea what to do to make it work so I’m respectfully asking you to let it go.

  126. Ann,

    We can give you any label we want to give you – you can give yourself any label you want, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t an appropriate and well-accepted text-book label out there for people with your condition. Does that make sense?

  127. Ken and Jayhuck,

    You both gave me a different label for an attraction to sprinklers, indicating that labels have different meanings for different people.

  128. Eddy,

    Please tell me what I’m not listening too. I’m willing to admit that maybe I’m missing something, but even if that’s the case, I don’t think I’m the only one doing a bad job of listening.

  129. Ken–

    Michael made that point already way up above. BTW: if we take more than a quick trip to that dictionary, we’ll see that bisexual also can mean ‘having the sexual characteristics of both genders’. Which only goes to prove my point–that it’s a word with several different definitions depending on their context. So, Exodus invented a new term that was intended to convey the unique and, at the time, pretty undefined experience. English language being what it is (it lives! it breathes! it changes!) the definition of that term seems to have gone awry. LOL! But we’re not discussing that. I think we’re discussing the hidden, deceptive motives behind everything that Exodus or ex-gays have ever said or done. Same topic as most every thread even when it isn’t the actual topic.

  130. Ann asked in post 91824:

    How would I be labeled if I was sexually attracted to my sprinkler and every time it “popped up”, I got a “freak on”?

    You would be called a fetishist

  131. Jayhuck–

    Like I said: you aren’t listening and I’m through conversing with you about this.

  132. Eddy said in post 91813:

    A quick trip to Google reveals that medicinenet defines it as “an individual who engages…

    and a quick trip to dictionary.com indicates that bisexual also refers to desires not actions. further, I suspect 30 years ago homosexual was assumed to mean something much different than it does now as well.

  133. Ann,

    We’ve been around and around why this is important. Many reasons have been presented why this is important. I think we’re all coming at this from different points and of view and with different presumptions, assumptions and ideas – I’m not sure if we can have a productive online discussion about this anymore.

  134. Drowsap asked in post 91735:

    Does that biological fact mean that monogomous males should be considered promiscuous because they lust in their hearts?

    No, because the definition of promiscuity requires them to act on their impulses, not just think about them.

    IMHO the only rational way to define someone is through their actions, not their feelings.

    so you think virgins have no sexual orientation? if 2 men, one who has always has sexual/emotional desires for women and one who has never had sexual/emotional desires for women, both marry, you think they should both be considered straight? That there should be no distinction between them?

    If straight men are biologically programmed to desire multitudes of women why not legalize polygamy?

    Because this argument ignores the desires of women and polygamy generally regulates women to being subservient to men.

  135. would it be fair then to describe people who don’t engage in sexual relations but are only attracted to members of the opposite sex as heterosexual? – especially when one definition of heterosexual involves having sex between members of the opposite sex?

    Why is is this so important? In referring to others, can’t we just say “I’m not sure how this person would like to be described, if at all, but this is where they are are in their life or journey”.

  136. Eddy and Jayhuck,

    How would I be labeled if I was sexually attracted to my sprinkler and every time it “popped up”, I got a “freak on”?

  137. Eddy,

    Let me ask you this – would it be fair then to describe people who don’t engage in sexual relations but are only attracted to members of the opposite sex as heterosexual? – especially when one definition of heterosexual involves having sex between members of the opposite sex?

  138. Eddy,

    Most words have MULTIPLE definitions. Ex-Gay is a great example of that. The fact that many ex-gay people ARE, by definition bisexual, doesn’t, I guess, mean they have to identify as such – but it also doesn’t take away from the fact that they are.

  139. Michael,

    Ok – here is what I think about definitions and words and how they can be different when perceived. I do acknowledge that hurt has been caused by preachers, ministers, activists, and various organizations when they make claims that sexuality and preferences can be erased or changed in a dramatic way and within a short time period. If that particular change is not experience then they have been accused of not trying or praying enough. I understand.

    I also know – first hand – that hurt has been caused by therapists, activists, ministers, friends, family and various organizations when they make claims that homosexuality must be accepted and embraced by an individual and that there is no choice to ever feel any differently – regardless of what the person wants. They say, just come out of the closet and live productively – all the while ignoring the needs of the person who does not feel the same way – their pleas are met with indifference. Try hearing that and it sends you on a downward, enless spiral.

    I guess what I have not made clear is that the people I know and have been associated with over a long period of time have not, nor ever will, be associated with an organization. They have quietly walked away from same gender sexual relationships and do not feel a need to give a speech, be part of a ministry, have their picture on a billboard, etc. – they want peace and to live quietly. We don’t hear about these people too much except when one of them pops in on this blog or Brothers Keepers online support group, etc. Some still have varying degrees of SSA while others do not – it is something from their past. They do not want to be labeled by others who think they should be called gay, ex-gay, etc. – there is no need to catagorize them at all – they don’t want it and I respect that.

    So, please forgive me if I broke my own rule and jumbled things up. I understand the need for a public organization or a person who makes themselves available to the public to have the highest integrity about what they are representing and to clearly define it as a personal experience that will vary from person to person and to always add the caveat that no one should expect any metamorphasis or transformation about their sexuality – all that needs to be understood is that SSA does not always equate or have to conclude in same gender sexual relations if that is not what they want.

  140. A quick trip to Google reveals that medicinenet defines it as “an individual who engages

    Medterms: “an individual who engages…”

    Bisexual FAQ: “anyone who has serious ongoing relationships with members of both….”

    And, from my experience some 30 years ago, it started as a politicized term. Psychology was still working through the ‘ego-dystonic’ thing with homosexuality and anyone who willingly took on the label ‘bi-sexual’ was usually trying to make a statement.

    But, believe what you will. And, please, continue to assume all the bad motives and purposeful deceptions that you will. I did happen to be there when terminology was being discussed and was as radical and rambunctious as I am today. The avoidance of that term was for the reasons I stated.

    Of the approximately 100 people at the second Exodus conference, Michael was the only one who had gotten married and–I can’t remember anyone who was even dating heterosexually. I believe by the third conference, Michael was already gone and his experience actually dampened the slim hopes that some held. I believe it was in the 5th year that we acquired a few married ex-gays.

    Things may have gone off course but, as long as I can see that you’re clearly wrong in your beliefs about the beginnings, I’ll continue to doubt your perceptions of the present.

  141. Eddy,

    So, the rest of Christianity can say “Jesus changed me” except the ex-gay because others have decided that it means “Jesus changed me from homosexual to heterosexual”.

    Its not because others decided it Eddy – I think its because Exodus used it in a misleading way so that people believed that was what was going on. At the very least, they have done LITTLE if anything to try and change that understanding in the past. I called for some Exodus literature 15 years ago when I was deciding if I wanted to join a local group – when I saw the words “gays can change” I immediately thought that what they meant was to being heterosexual – ESPECIALLY when those words were followed by quotes from others talking about how their SSAs had changed or diminished.

    Gays and Ex-Ex Gays and even some Ex-Gays have criticized Exodus repeatedly, and rightly so, for being misleading – that’s no way to run a Christian organization.

    common meaning of ‘bi-sexual’ is having or pursuing sexual relations with both genders.

    Common meaning for who? I’ve never understood it to mean that. Being gay/homosexual doesn’t mean you’re necessarily having sex with people of the same gender, so why should bisexual mean that you’re having sex.

    Personally, and this is just my opinion/perception, I think that Exodus members won’t use the term bisexual because it readily admits steady attraction to members of the same sex – in a way, still implying homosexuality of sorts. Even though they have these thoughts, many don’t seem to be willing to admit them. And if they do admit them, they darn sure work to downplay them.

  142. I’ll always have a hard time believing Michael wants an end to word confusion when he continues to use words of mine taken out of context from a discussion here. When I used the word ‘provoke’, it was clearly in the sense of “provoke the media to ask questions about what we meant by the new term”. But Michael has latched onto that word and seems to like his spin–without those clarifying words– better.

    I’ve often thought that Michael was largely responsible for blowing ‘change’ out of proportion. Everybody from my church testified week after week about how Jesus changed their lives. I suspect if I went back, they’d still be testifying about the ‘life-changing power of Jesus’. But only a very few of us were from a gay background. So, the rest of Christianity can say “Jesus changed me” except the ex-gay because others have decided that it means “Jesus changed me from homosexual to heterosexual”. Only a very, very few felt that they had been changed to heterosexual; most simply realized a very deep change. Change in values, change in the way we viewed other people, change in the way we responded to other people, change in who was running our lives, change in our behaviors, change in our response to our behaviors, change in the frequency and intensity of our homosexual desires…

    I respect dictionary definitions more than most people but I’m also aware that words take on colloquial usages and meanings. If most people accepted the dictionary definition of ‘bi-sexual’: simply having sexual attractions towards both genders–I’d have little trouble with defining as ‘bi-sexual’ but, colloquially, the common meaning of ‘bi-sexual’ is having or pursuing sexual relations with both genders. That’s not what we were about and we didn’t want to use a term who’s meaning had already been ‘tweaked’ by the masses. (Ironically, the main reason we objected to ‘bi-sexual’ was that most of us hadn’t yet experienced attractions to both genders…we felt it was dishonest because it suggested that God would hand you a bagful of heterosexual desires and feelings.)

  143. Ooops. Michael, no, I do not have attractions for women. Just to be clear. I do remember what it was that I was seeking when interested in women and I do not seek that any longer or have a need for that. (Honestly – whatever it was – I don’t have a word for it) I only have a memory of a feeling and a need that seemed unfulfilled and was met with women. Can’t really explain it. But that need/desire/want is not there today.

  144. Michael,

    As of this moment, no. That could change in the future – I don’t know. And just so you know – I remember what it is like to have those feelings and I have fond memories of people. It doesn’t mean I have forgotten or that I am disgusted with myself and must renounce my past. That was a time in my life when my outlook on relationships was very different.

    Today my view on my sexual experience, my development, etc… has changed a lot over the years. I don’t go guy crazy the way some women do. It’s not at the top of my list when I wake up in the morning. I never did that when I was interested in women either. And while I may look at a man and be impressed with his physique or atttractivness – I’m not the type to be sexually aroused just by looks.

    I don’t know how I answered in the past – but this is my answer today.

    There was a time when I was totally convinced that I was only attracted to women and nothing could have persuaded me otherwise. I’ve learned that things can change in some unexpected ways. So, I’m cautious when I answer. Who knows what is in the future, what experiences I might have that influence my thinking and feeling etc…? I do know this about myself – the brain does change over time.

  145. It is very important. I have used this quote from John Boswell before, but I think it bears repeating:

    Words are fundamental to Christianity. They are a basic means of expressing faith, and, as I pointed out, this is peculiarly characteristic of the Christian religion. You will now be able to see, if you think about it, that words can conceal as much as they reveal. In the Christian moral tradition, great difficulty has been occasioned by inattention to words and their precise meaning.”

    With it’s insistence on using “”Christianese” buzzwords, making “over-promises” about “change”, making up terms to provoke the media — and re-defining common words to suit their pleasure — EXODUS has been a big part of that “great difficulty”– as these ongoing discussions clearly show.

    Back to the original topic of this thread, it seems clear to me that the question “Can gays change?” depends entirely on what you mean by “gay” and what you mean by “change”. You can make anyone a “former homosexual” — just by re-defining the words.

  146. Michael,

    Excellent point about words. If we don’t agree on their meaning, we can’t have any kind of discussion. I KNOW we’ve had this talk before, but it keeps popping up – probably because its important 🙂

  147. Straight men are biologically programmed to desire sex with multitudes of women. Does that biological fact mean that monogomous males should be considered promiscuous because they lust in their hearts?

    I don’t think you can make this sweeping generalization. Many men DON’T desire to have sex with many women. Some women, however, desire to have sex with many men. I’m not disagreeing that there’s a biological drive there for men and women, but I DO think the media plays a big part in telling us what men are like – and sometimes should be like – instead of looking at how they really are. Are we buying into media-created stereotypes of men when we say things like this would be my question 🙂

  148. Michael,

    Ok, I do see what you mean by words and communication – let me think about what you said more and I will respond later.

    Regarding Exodus – I guess there is something I just don’t know than – I will read up more on it and respond to that later too.

  149. This is not for any of us to say or determine

    I respectfully disagree, Ann. It is for us to say. That’s what words are for. wWe have to be able to communicate with each other. If each person determines what words mean and don’t mean, then we are back to the Humpty-Dumpty dilemna.

    We need to strive towards a common language when we are talking about these important issues. Dialog can’t really take place if words are completely individualistic. This blog is proof. How could the two of us be discussing this if we didn’t agree on the meaning of some basic words?

    In terms of EXODUS making “some very substantial communications about how they are going to be conducting their ministry from now on” — I flat out don’t believe it. They frequently make promises they don’t keep — for example, “officially retiring” the word “ex-gay” or “getting out of politics.” They have to say what the mean and DO what they say if they want the public trust,

  150. I am only that they should be honest

    Michael,

    Honesty and how it is perceived by others is a very subjective matter – personal expectations of honesty from others cannot alway be fullfilling either. I wish it could though.

    I do understand what you are saying and the reasons you are saying it. Those things you have experienced were hurtful and cruel and left an impression that no one should have to feel. I am so sorry and if there is anything I can do right any of the wrongs you have felt in this regard, please let me – either personally or here on the blog.

    I am saying that they are not heterosexual in the classic, commonly understood, commonly used, dictionary definition of that word.

    This is not for any of us to say or determine. If a person wants to refer to themselves a certain way, then that is for them to decide – not us. While it might suit our personal need to catagorize someone doesn’t mean it is right.

    Because these words are commonly used to describe a multitude of people who have various experiences regarding their sexuality over a lifetime might just be the problem that causes so much contention and dissent.

    EXODUS likes to re-define words to suit their own purposes, to “vex and provoke” the media. That’s what really upsets me

    I think Exodus has made some very substantial communications about how they are going to be conducting their ministry from now on and I am looking forward to the blessing it will bring many. The words they use and how they apply them in conversation will be essential. I hope they are always cognizant of that and mindful of how their past words have hurt someone like yourself and how that must be avoided at all costs in the future.

  151. Ann asked : “Are you saying that their admission of still having attractions is indicitive of a certain identification you feel they should have and use – or is it ok to still have these attractions and choose not to have or use an identity attached to them?”

    No. I am only that they should be honest. I am saying that they are not heterosexual in the classic, commonly understood, commonly used, dictionary definition of that word. If they have both attractions, they are bisexual. That’s what “bisexual” means — having attractions to both sexes — as opposed to having attractions to only one. My sexual orientation (homosexual only) is not my “identity”. My identity is more more complex than that.

    EXODUS likes to re-define words to suit their own purposes, to “vex and provoke” the media. That’s what really upsets me. Frankly, I don’t care what “identity” they adopt. That’s a very personal matter and is entirely up to them. I only care when EXODUS gives the false impression of a “change” in sexual orientation from gay to straight — like their radio ads falsely promised — a “sudden, complete and radical” change. That’s a lie.

  152. Michael,

    At any given moment of any day, any of us can have sexual or romantic attractions to various people and scenarios. Why do people find themselves inexplicably attracted – who knows – it is what we do with this attraction that renews our commitment to what we value.

    The people you mentioned, Joe Dallas, etc. – are you saying that their admission of still having attractions is indicitive of a certain identification you feel they should have and use – or is it ok to still have these attractions and choose not to have or use an identity attached to them?

  153. Michael Bussee

    Just to play devil’s advocate

    Straight men are biologically programmed to desire sex with multitudes of women. Does that biological fact mean that monogomous males should be considered promiscuous because they lust in their hearts?

    IMHO the only rational way to define someone is through their actions, not their feelings. Feelings don’t have an I.Q. They merely offer information for our intellect to decypher.

    Side Question:

    If straight men are biologically programmed to desire multitudes of women why not legalize polygamy? This type of desire is a genuine part of the male, biological design.

  154. Mary: I think you may have answered this questrion previously, but do you still have sexual/romantic attractions to women — or just men? I ask respectfully, mindful that internal experiences, identity and self-concept are very individual and personal. I am trying to understand, not criticize or categorize

  155. Mary asked: “I consider myself straight. And since I am the one who operates this body and mind – should I allow someone other than me to define that?”

    There is no need to. Someone already has. English dictionaries define homosexuality as being attracted to the same sex, heterosexuality as being attracted to the opposite sex and bisexuality as being attracted to both.

    Using these defintions and their own personal testimonies, “ex-gays” are not straight. As Joe Dallas and Alan Chambers both admit, they still have attractions they wish they didn’t have. Randy Thomas “considers” himself “former homosexual” — but admits he has romantic, emotional, sexual, erotic — even “lustful” — attractions to both sexes. That’s not “former”, that’s now. When I pointed this out, Randy told me he meets the “secular defintion” of bisexual. Huh? Is there a sacred defintion of these terms that I don’t know about? Is their a “Christianese” dictionary somewherre?

    The point is, that if words mean whatever the individual speaker wants them to mean, then words become pretty much useless — unless you clearly define what you mean when you use them. This is especially important if you are using a commonly used word in an unusual, religious or very personal way.

    What if by “mile” I mean “an inch”? What if you mean something else? Without clear, commonly accepted definitions (not from me, but from well respected dictionaries of the English language) we both end up in Babel.

    It’s like what Humpty Dumpty told a very bewildered Alice in “Through The Looking Glass”: “‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,’ it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.’ In Humpty fashion, EXODUS often does the same thing — and you have seen the resulting contention and confusion.

    By asking for clear defintiions and descriptions of words, including words like “change”, I am not trying to deny or diminish an individual’s own internal experience of change. I am sure many folks have experienced very meaningful changes in their lives. I only want to make sure I understand what they are saying — and what those changes are. How do I know if I don’t ask?

  156. You know so many people use words to describe themselves and others and it would take a constant vigilence to see how accurate they are according to our own personal beliefs.

    For instance, Elliott Spitzer told everyone he was married – what did that mean?

    He also made a living probing into other’s financial malfeasance as well as other transgressions while he was doing the same thing.

    Someone else might say they are an alcoholic and yet haven’t drank any alcohol for 30 years.

    Julie Cypher identified herself as a lesbian, had two children with her partner and then after many years said she wasn’t a lesbian any longer.

    Jesse Jackson referred to himself as a “pastor” and was “counseling” the Clinton’s after the Monica Lewinsky revelation – all the while having his own affair with a member of his staff and fathering a child outside his “marriage”.

    My personal preference would be to form our own opinions based on character, evidenced on how one lives rather than how we want to catagorize them.

  157. Mary said in post 91587:

    I consider myself straight.

    By this statement Mary, are you say that you are sexually/emotionally attracted to members of the opposite sex?

  158. Eddy,

    No, no, no – that’s not what I meant at all. This is my fault for not fleshing out everything I was trying to say and for “thinking on the fly” as it were. I’m not trying to contradict myself or upset anyone here – or say that people should be made to go through some terrible interrogation process. I don’t have any answers for what I posted, just that there is an issue here, and the realization that there may be no solution – or at least no easy one. I DEFINITELY don’t want people to have to endure some terrible process of questioning

    My only point was to discuss people who lie – probably unconsciously. What effects would an ex-gay who is unaware of the fact that they are deluding themselves have on any ex-gay organization they belong to, and how would it affect other gay people and gay organizations – what if there was more than one of these people, what if they were politically active – what effects would their self-delusions have? Should the ex-gay organizations be the one to do a better job of both explaining change to its current and future members and help those people figure out what is really going on in their lives? I’m NOT talking about good, honest and self-aware ex-gay people here – I’m also not talking about my personal beliefs regarding clergy’s role in therapy – which I still believe should be paramount but acquiesce to the real possibility that therapists will be the ones play an ever-increasing role dealing with spiritual issues. What I’d like to see and what I think will happen are not always the same 🙂

    I see problems, have plenty of questions, but have absolutely no answers. I DO think ex-gay organizations are starting to get a taste of what happens when ex-gay people become ex-ex-gay, and I just wonder if there is a way to deal with and help those who are deluding themselves before harm comes to them or others.

  159. Jayhuck–

    I have major problems with all of the ‘intervention’ talk. (Yeah, nobody used the word but it is what you’re describing…someone needs to step in -for the good of all concerned- to confront the persons self-lies or delusions.)

    I wonder: how many times should they confront? should I submit to re-examination by every new person who doesn’t accept what I believe about myself? after how many months or years do I get to say “Enough, already!”? how unhealthy or damaging is it to a person who’s already been interrogated, who’s already had therapy…and yet people keep questioning their very personal decision?

    And, as to your closing question in the post to Mary: “Perhaps this is where a good therapist should/would step in to help the person out??”

    Have you changed your point of view? Haven’t you been saying for months that the good therapists should toe the scientific line and that those who have issues due to religious reasons should be content with the counseling services of their pastor? I don’t see how any ‘good therapist’ can help me out if he or she believes from the start that I’ve chosen the wrong path. (Now, there’s a playing field that favors the other team!)

    I tend to agree with Ann. I know a lot of people who believe a lot of lies. There’s the girl at work that thinks the world revolves around her; there’s quite a few who believe this week is the week they’re going to win big (in the lottery or at the casino); there’s the guy at karaoke who thinks he can sing…there’s a lot more but those are some starters. At what point do we determine that their self-delusions warrant intervention or therapy? It’s not the nebulous ‘potential for harm’ that we use a marker; it’s the harm itself. So, if Ann is saying that these people aren’t in fact hurting anyone else, why do we continue to question? Do we doubt Ann? Or do we somehow think this issue is bigger, more important, more significant, more predominant than those others?

  160. And these may very well be unconscious sorts of lies, but they could potentially affect a good number of people depending upon the person telling them.

    Jayhuck,

    In any given day, I am sure we hear people who tell untruths – I think it is up to us to determine how we feel about them and/or if they can affect us. Telling someone there is no hope to feel any other way and to embrace their homosexuality because they have no choice is one lie that was believed for a LONG time. When this comes from a therapist to a client who has expressly said they do not want this – well, it is devastating. If someone lies about their sexuality, I hardly think it is as harmful.

  161. Eddy,

    Ongoing indicates an “awareness” and “change” indicates there is no longer any need for an “awareness” – at least that is how I see it.

  162. Ann –

    If it affects someone else in a negative way, other than someone who is in an intimate relationship with the person, then it would seem that the person affected is the one in need of seeing a therapist to determine why.

    I agree with you to a point Ann – except that lies hardly ever just affect the person telling them. And these may very well be unconscious sorts of lies, but they could potentially affect a good number of people depending upon the person telling them.

  163. My point – is that people CAN define who they are, but sometimes (and I’m not talking about you here Mary) people lie – for any number of reasons, or they trick themselves into believing something about themselves that isn’t real or true.

    Jayhuck,

    If and when this happens, why would it be a concern to anyone other than the person lying? If it affects someone else in a negative way, other than someone who is in an intimate relationship with the person, then it would seem that the person affected is the one in need of seeing a therapist to determine why.

  164. Exodus invented the term ex-gay because even though its members had experienced significant change, most would not/could not say they were heterosexual. That pre-existing label did not fit. Neither did bi-sexual or celibate. (Each of these labels might fit some but none of them embraced the diversity of experience within Exodus.)

    On the one hand we question why the need for labels but, on the other, we say things like “but that does not mean they are now heterosexual”. So, are we for labels and searching for a good one or are we against labels–making this conversation a bit pointless?

    As for ‘change’, we seemed to reach an agreement that when Exodus used the term in the future they should elaborate on what that ‘change’ has meant in their own experience…how it played out. It seems we ought to let those who have experienced the ‘change’ define it rather than hypothesize from the sidelines.

    I find it a bit strange that people who are so vehement against the confusion inherent in the word ‘change’ don’t have the same problem with ‘ongoing’. That word implies no break, no adjustment, no diminishing, no reevaluating of homosexual feelings or actions. I honestly don’t see how it’s any more clear than ‘change’.

  165. Mary,

    And since I am the one who operates this body and mind – should I allow someone other than me to define that??

    I’m going to try and tread carefully here, because I really don’t want to upset or offend you. I support who you are and who and what you say you are – some of the things I am going to write don’t apply directly to you. I’m also going to ramble and do a lot of thinking on the fly, so forgive me for that.

    Should you be able to define who you are? YES – without a doubt you should. Should we also have some sort of objective measure for these things, I believe we should have that also. I’ve met so many people who believe or believed so many things about themselves that simply weren’t true that it can’t just be left up to the person themselves to make any sort of definitive statement in this regard. How should we deal with people who say they ARE something but may in fact not be – I’m not sure about that – but we DO have to listen and respect what people say – even if they may not be telling us the truth. By the same token, I think there are times that may call for us to dig a little deeper into what someone says about themselves in order to find out if what they are telling us is true.

    My point – is that people CAN define who they are, but sometimes (and I’m not talking about you here Mary) people lie – for any number of reasons, or they trick themselves into believing something about themselves that isn’t real or true. Perhaps this is where a good therapist should/would step in to help the person out??

  166. Michael,

    I think that for some “ex-gays” the attractions may indeed diminish over time. But, hey, that’s also true of heterosexuality, right?

    That’s absolutely true, Michael, and a very good point to bring up. One I don’t think we’ve discussed much here on this blog. Those people who, for religious reasons, have given up sex of any kind – usually heterosexual – often, over time, find that their sexual feelings diminish. I’ve talked to a few monks who have experienced this – it’s a long road to haul though 🙂

  167. I suspect that there are many who are happy living quietly without ever desiring to go back to acting on there same-sex attraction in a sexual way because they no longer have a need to do so.

    Concerned,

    What you suspect is very true 🙂

  168. Michael,

    Perhaps it is just an individual way of thinking and responding to attractions that many times make them seem as though they have lost the power they once had over us.

    The word “change” might not even be thought of or used to describe this. It is greater than that. Homosexuality to heterosexuality are just words – they cannot describe accurately the individual dynamic that occurs over time. It is important to distinguish certain expectations on web sites, literature, at conventions, etc. but never should they mandate or limit the extent of how an individual’s journey unfolds.

  169. Michael,

    It sounds to me that you want the sole responsibility to tell who is straight, who is bi- and who is gay or not gay. I do not believe that is for you to decide. I doubt you have met everyone who has struggled with their sexuality so I very much doubt that you can speak for everyone who has give over their homosexual struggle. I can appreciate that you may not have met anyone that has overcome these feelings completely, but that does not mean that there are not some who are much happier now that they no longer are acting on those feelings. I suspect that there are many who are happy living quietly without ever desiring to go back to acting on there same-sex attraction in a sexual way because they no longer have a need to do so. You may have met some and you may have influenced many to accept that accepting these feelings are all they can be, but I believe they are only a portion of the population that has struggles with their sexuality, so you cannot speak for all.

  170. Then, Michael, what does it mean?

    Could it be that your definition of sexuality is different from someone else’s? I consider myself straight. And since I am the one who operates this body and mind – should I allow someone other than me to define that?? From your stroies – it is clear you did not like that.

  171. By the way, I do not mean to minimize the internal experience of “change” in those who adapt, modify, accomodate or adjust to their ongoing homosexual attractions. The changes in behavior, lifestyle, attitude and “identity” may be so dramatic that the person truly feels “ex”, “post” or “former”. Of course, that does not mean that they are now heterosexual.

  172. Unfortunately, I think it is a normal human tendency. We think (wrongly) that if we label it or categorize it, that we “know it”. As in: “Oh, he’s Canadian.” or “Well, you know, she’s Presbyterian. bipolar, lesbian, black, Jewish, etc.” Once labeled and categorized, we don’t have to really think about it anymore.

    Michael,

    I’m not sure how many will agree with me but this is one of the most important things I have read on any subject on this blog. I wish we could put these words on a billboard and/or the Exodus and Ex-Gay Watch web sites. I really think it would make more people cognizant that their words can hurt and hinder others – often while it brings the person saying them a certain and temporary and artificial relief or resolution. I’m wondering what would happen if we chose to use critical thinking rather than the stale rhetoric – if we went deeper rather than stay shallow in our characterizations of people? I think it would make a huge difference and alleviate a lot of the contention that is so often demonstrated.

  173. Michael,

    No, I am not suggesting that SSA is deviant. I am suggesting that there is a majority of people who fall within a certain range of sexual excitement and experiences. Understanding sexuality on the whole and where it originates, how it develops, etc… will help criminalists. Just by studying sexuality we will learn. (I happen to be interested in the development of a criminal mind and so made the comment. Not putting homosexuality in the category of crime or deviance)

    For example, understanding certain aspects of psychology helps to solve crimes.

  174. When we speak of “changing” sexual orientation, I have suggested that the word adapt may more more accurate than change — since even “ex-gays” and “former homosexuals” admit that the homosexual feelings (temptations) persist and that one may never develop heterosexual attractions — no matter how strongly one believes, how deeply one wants it or how hard one tries..

    Are we really asking if gays (through EXODUS programs or psychotherapy) can become straight? It doesn’t seem so. I think we are talking, instead, about responding to ongoing same sex attractions in a different way.

    So, we might want to think in terms of adjustment to. modification of and accomodation to “SSA” — for those people “with homosexual tendencies who would rather not have” them. It’s more on point and less likely to give the misleading impression of some sort of “sudden, radical and complete” change from gay to straight.

  175. Ann asked: “Why do you think so many people discount this, or worse, don’t even consider it and put anyone with any form of SSA into a single catagory?”

    Unfortunately, I think it is a normal human tendency. We think (wrongly) that if we label it or categorize it, that we “know it”. As in: “Oh, he’s Canadian.” or “Well, you know, she’s Presbyterian. bipolar, lesbian, black, Jewish, etc.” Once labeled and categorized, we don’t have to really think about it anymore.

  176. I couldn’t possibly describe that internal reality in a way that would be “accurate for all who experience it”, since every person is unique. There are countless variations in the intensity and expression of those homosexual attractions.

    Michael,

    I really appreciate this – so much. Why do you think so many people discount this, or worse, don’t even consider it and put anyone with any form of SSA into a single catagory – one that has a myriad of interpretations and assumptions?

  177. Personally, I don’t really care for the phrase. It makes it sound like some sort of disorder. I would prefer the phrase having “homosexual attractions” — whether these are sexual, emotional, erotic, romantic — or some combination.

    Michael,

    I am so glad you said this – it is very much what I was thinking but wanted to take a little time to make sure. Thanks!

  178. Drowsap: Regarding that “cause”, why do we need to know it? I admit that it would be very interesting to know, But I am content that it just is.

    Mary: I am not sure what this has to do with it: “…criminalists who are looking for the cause of sexual deviance in crimes“. Are you suggesting that SSA is a deviation or somehow linked to crime?

  179. Mary

    As far as to who cares??? Well, I do for one. And I’m sure that alot of gay people do to. Not only that, but criminalists who are looking for the cause of sexual deviance in crimes. There is alot to garner from such research.

    I’ll just add that if scientists determine that homosexuality is the result of a healthy, normally expressing gene society is going to have a lot of rethinking to do.

    But if SSA is the result of something as stupid as an early life flu exposure we need to know that too.

  180. Ann asked: “Can you describe “homosexual tendency” in a way that will be accurate for all who experience it?”

    I don’t think so, Ann. Having “homosexual tendencies” was how Joe Dallas of EXODUS described “ex-gays” — admitting that “ex-gays” weren’t actually “straight”. Personally, I don’t really care for the phrase. It makes it sound like some sort of disorder. I would prefer the phrase having “homosexual attractions” — whether these are sexual, emotional, erotic, romantic — or some combination.

    I couldn’t possibly describe that internal reality in a way that would be “accurate for all who experience it”, since every person is unique. There are countless variations in the intensity and expression of those homosexual attractions. And, I also agree with Drowsap — I think that for some “ex-gays” the attractions may indeed diminish over time. But, hey, that’s also true of heterosexuality, right?

  181. Ann

    No limitations should EVER be put on the human capability.

    Yep, agreed. The human mind has enormous reserves that science may not fully understand for centuries to come.

  182. Maybe that’s what being ex-gay is like.

    Ex-gays will always have SSA but over a long period of time these feelings might diminish.

    Drowssap,

    It was one of the greatest movies ever made and I completely agree with your assessment. No limitations should EVER be put on the human capability.

  183. Michael,

    For some, same gender attractions become an “awareness” rather than anything else. It is acknowledged yet not acted upon for personal reasons.

  184. Michael Bussee

    Have you seen the movie, “A Beautiful Mind” ? I just saw it last week.

    The protagonist, Dr. Nash remained Schizophrenic for a lifetime but with the help of medicine he learned to ignore his symptoms. Gradually over time the intensity of his symptoms diminished. Maybe that’s what being ex-gay is like.

    Ex-gays will always have SSA but over a long period of time these feelings might diminish.

  185. Michael,

    Can you describe “homosexual tendency” in a way that will be accurate for all who experience it?

  186. Over the weekend, it occured to me that the question “Is change possible?” should actually be “Is adaptation possible?” It seems pretty clear that homosexuals do not lose their homosexuality and become heterosexual instead. A real “former homosexual” or “ex-gay”? I am still waiting to meet one . Last year, Alan Chambers told the L.A. Times that he didn’t think he had ever met one, either.

    What does seem to happen is that some people (like those in EXODUS) find ways to adapt to their ongoing emotional and erotic attraction to the same sex. “Ex-gays”, if they are honest, will tell you that they are still homosexually attracted (they call it “temptation”). But they adapt. Some become celibate, Some limit their homosexual behavior to masturbation. Some develop some straight feelings. Some already had attraction to both sexes. Some make major adaptations in lifestyle and attitude. etc. There are many possible variations…

    But they don’t actually “change” their sexual orientation. Instead, they make an adaptation that works for them. They are still, as Joe Dallas of EXODUS admits: “Christians with homosexual tendencies who would rather not have those tendencies…” So perhaps we should be asking: “For those who experience their “same sex attractions” as “unwanted”, what kinds of adaptations are possible?

  187. Jayhuck, you were right the first time. The unspoken assumption in all of this is that homosexuality requires an explanation but heterosexuality does not. That’s a pretty broad assumption and one that, so far as I know, has absolutely no evidence to back it up.

  188. Drowssap et al:

    What I think is interesting about all this research is, that if we ever do reach a point where we know, for the most part, what causes sexuality, we will probably have a good deal of insight into what causes/creates heterosexuality as well – and most likely, it will be a combination of biological and environmental factors 🙂

  189. No offense to anyone – but there are a lot of gay researchers and scientist out there looking for gay causes, too. So, it’s not just a heterosexualist point of view.

    As far as to who cares??? Well, I do for one. And I’m sure that alot of gay people do to. Not only that, but criminalists who are looking for the cause of sexual deviance in crimes. There is alot to garner from such research.

    I do wish that we could look at sexuality in a broader scope beyond – the gays and the right wingers. And stop seeing research as an us against them campaign.

  190. I think that what causes a particular sexual orientation is academically interesting but as a practical matter the answer is “who cares”. Why do I prefer a well done steak to sushi, whereas someone else loves sushi and rarely touches red meat? Why does my ideal Saturday afternoon consist of taking a long walk — alone — while somebody else prefers to be at a football game?

    Every day every person makes dozens if not hundreds of choices based entirely on personal preferences, and since most personal preferences don’t have well-organized and well-funded religious nuts telling them they’re sinful for having those preferences, most of the time nobody pays any attention. I prefer guys to women — how is that different from I prefer steak to sushi?

  191. Corvino’s article doesn’t claim that “all familial factors” have been discredited, merely the pseudo-Freudian “domineering mother / absent father” model favored by many ex-gay ministries.

  192. While I think NARTH should go much further, this statement may be the start of a more nuanced position from them.

    I believe the NARTH site says they support the notion that maternal hormone levels might be part of the equation for some people. I don’t know what NARTH was saying 10 years ago, but I think that today they support the notion that some physical differences may play SOME part in the genesis of SSA.

    If somebody had asked me 10 years ago I would have been strongly on the side that in some weird, but not understood way socialization was where the answer lies. Maybe orientation has some sort of flash point where it sets for a lifetime. Language works that way, so it makes sense.

    But… people who learn French over English aren’t more likely to be left handed. 😎

    That point argues that there is a strong biological component to SSA. What it is, I dunno but I have my suspicions.

  193. Michael Bussee

    Scientists don’t question the cause of OSA for a simple reason.

    Without OSA all higher life on Earth would perish within a few months. It is strongly built into the system at all levels.

    The fact that some men are exclusively gay for a liftime is an interesting scientific reality. This is particularly true because 2% to 4% of men (maybe more in some envirnoments) are exclusively gay. That is an enormous number of people. The more gay people there are, the more interesting SSA becomes.

  194. The big problem I have always had with questions of the “cause” of homosexuality is that such questions are generally asked by people who have already concluded that gayness is an aberration, sickness, sin or disorder that must be “caused” by something — and that once this “cause” is determined, that they will be able to “fix” it. That’s cultural/religious prejudice, not science.

    Yes, I know there are probably some exceptions, but the “what causes homosexuality” question is rarely asked with the same sort of detached, unbiased, scientific curiousity that might prompt a real scientist to ask, for example, “why are some butterflies yellow and some blue?”

    I have also noticed that the equally important and perplexing question — “what causes people to be heterosexual?” is rarely, if ever, asked. You’ll never hear a NARTHian “scientist” ask it, I’ll bet. Unlike legitimate researchers, they have already made up their minds that one is good and the other bad — and they have the theory to “prove” it.

    But the fact is, as the APA statement rightly points out, that “there is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay, or lesbian orientation.” All of these things remain largely mstyerious — and we may never really know. In the final analysis, does it matter?

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