Are homosexuals born that way?
For a comprehensive account of the contribution of genes, hormones, brain microstructure, intersex conditions and environment to homosexu-ality see My Genes Made Me Do It! - a scientific look at Sexual Orientation, Neil and Briar Whitehead, Huntington House, 1999.
Researchers have tried for decades to identify a biomedical basis
to homosexuality, but haven’t yet succeeded. Hormones Numerous studies have shown that the blood levels of hormones are the same in heterosexuals and homosexuals. The only effect hormonal tests have had on gay or lesbian behaviour is to raise or lower sex drive towards the same sex. Prenatal exposure of girls to excess synthetic estrogens and androgens has been shown not to determine female sexual orienta-tion. Hormonal abnormalities have had no effect on sexual orientation: men who lose their testicular function and experience a dramatic fall in testosterone levels; women treated with androgens because of breast cancer, have not undergone a shift in sexual orientation. “It has never been reported that sexual orientation underwent a shift induced by the change of levels of androgens and estrogens,” says Louis Gooren in a 1989 paper critically examining biomedical theories of sexual orienta-tion. One study has showed slightly raised testosterone levels in one third of a group of lesbians, but the study was ruled inconclusive, given that such levels could be consequent on homosexual behaviour, not causative.
Neurobiology In 1991 LeVay, a gay researcher at the Salk Institute in California, found a part of the hypothalamus in the brain involved in controlling sexual behaviour was twice as large in heterosexual as in homosexual men, sug-gesting a neuroanatomic link. As LeVay himself said, the finding raised more questions than it answered, among them: is the difference a result of homosexual behaviour or a cause. The study is inconclusive. Another, since then, has been unable to replicate LeVay’s findings.
The most recent studies suggesting neurobiological links are also
tentative and raise more questions than they answer. In 1992 researchers apparently found that the anterior commissure - a bundle of nerve fibres connecting the right and left cerebral hemispheres of the brain - was bigger on average in homosexual men than heterosexual. But another study showed the opposite. Though attempts have been made to link male homosexual orientation to a “female”-sized corpus callosum (the largest cable of fibres linking both hemispheres of the brain) 23 studies attempting to find even male-female differences have yielded conflict-ing results. Tests looking for a correlation between homosexuality and left-handedness, lesbianism and “masculine” finger length ratios, are all inconclusive. Heterosexual women with “masculine” finger length ratios outnumber lesbians 60 to one, and only about 3.5% of left-handed people are homosexual and lesbian. Even sympathetic critics still concede things need a lot more sorting out before any correlations are solid - and that even then correlation does not necessarily imply causality.
GeneticsBecause gays say they have “felt this way” for as long as they can re-member, there has been some speculation that there may be a genetic content to homosexuality. The best indicator of genetic causality is studies of genetically identical twins in which one twin is gay. Several of these studies have been undertaken and in no case do they show the other twin is inevitably gay if one is. The studies are contradictory and consistent with anything from a 10% to 50% genetic contribu-tion. But if the genetic component were determinative all would have been gay. Nor do studies of family trees show homosexuality appear-ing in any identifiably genetic pattern through the family lineage.
The search for a biological link is often politically motivated. As
LeVay said when he announced his results: “This is one more nail in the coffin of critics who argue that homosexuality is a choice and thus
immoral.” But the evidence is not mounting on the side of the “born-gay” theorists.
A biological link may yet be discovered but most researchers doubt
it will be determinative. Anatomy is not destiny - it can have an indirect influence, but never determines.
Given the absence of any established links between biology and
homosexuality we return to the psychologists. What do they say about homosexuality? Especially what do they say about the claim that homo-sexuals can change?
Psychiatry, homosexuality and change
In 1999 the Board of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) offi-cially opposed reparative therapy for homosexuals, saying that there was no scientific evidence that reparative therapy was effective in changing a person’s sexual orientation. The statement is a continuation of a line that started in 1973 when 34% of APA members voted to remove homosexu-ality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Disorders (DSM-11). It is no secret that the vote was taken after months of harass-ment by gay activists who disrupted scientific research and conferences, forged credentials and physically intimidated psychiatrists. It also gath-ered up a growing sentiment among psychiatrists that homosexual people did not deserve the stigma that came from being classified as mentally ill. But the effect of the vote was to put an end to professional discussion and on-going scientific research on homosexuality as a disorder, liberal-ise student training programmes and in an age of democratic freedoms and minority rights make reparative therapy a politically incorrect, dis-criminatory act, not the educated and popular thing to do. No medical judgment was ever made by the APA about homosexuality, but gradually pro-homosexual values were mandated for the mental health profession by small but powerful lobby groups particularly within the American Psychological Association - until the “no-change” policy prevailed.
The climate may be changing, however, with the recent reversal
of stance by Professor Robert Spitzer, who studied 200 individuals who claimed to have changed their sexual orientation. It left Dr Spitzer, a psychiatrist and prime mover in the 1973 APA decision, saying that he now believed some homosexuals could change their orientation, when he formerly believed none could. His report, predictably, met a hostile reception from gay activism.
Spitzer’s study is not the only one giving evidence of substantial
orientation change. In 1997 the California-based National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) released the results of a study of 860 homosexual individuals seeking a heterosexual identity and more than 200 professionals treating them. It showed a large shift in sexual orientation. Before treatment 68% of respondents viewed themselves as exclusively or almost entirely homosexual but after treat-ment only 13% still put themselves in that category.
The debate goes on today within the heath professions between
officials mandating the politically correct line and those making the scientific case that change is possible and not harmful.
Before the 1973 APA vote many psychiatrists were on record
reporting significant changes in sexual orientation using a number of models.
Dr Reuben Fine, Director of the New York Centre for Psychoana-
lytic training wrote: “if patients are motivated to change a considerable percentage of overt homosexuals (become) heterosexuals. The misin-formation. that homosexuality is untreatable by psychotherapy does incalculable harm to thousands of men and women.” Dr Edmund Bergler concluded after analysis and consultations with 600 homosexuals over 30 years: “homosexuality has an excellent prognosis in psychiatric-psychoan-alytic treatment of one to two years duration, with a minimum of three ap-pointments each week - provided the patient really wishes to change. Cure denotes not bisexuality but real and unfaked heterosexuality.” Twenty years after a comparative study of homosexuals and heterosexuals Dr Irv-ing Bieber wrote: “reversals (homosexual to heterosexual) estimates now range from 30% to an optimistic 50%. Pro-gay scientists, Masters and Johnson, after work with 67 homosexuals and 14 lesbians who wanted to develop heterosexually, remarked, “No longer should the qualified psycho-therapist avoid the responsibility of either accepting the homosexual client in treatment or. referring him or her to an acceptable treatment source.”
Dr Robert Kronemeyer, clinical psychologist:
I firmly believe that homosexuality is a learned response to early painful experiences and that it can be unlearned. About 80% of homosexual men and women in syntonic therapy have been able to free themselves, and achieve a healthy and satisfying heterosexual adjustment.
Dr E Mansell Pattison “8 of our 11 subjects amply demonstrated a
‘cure’. The remaining three subjects had a major behavioural and intra-psychic shift to heterosexual behaviour.” Dr Gerard van den Aardweg, after 20 years research into treatment of homosexuality: “two thirds reached a stage where homosexual feelings were occasional impulses at most, or completely absent.”1
“The homosexual’s real enemy,” says Dr Bergler, “is his ignorance
of the possibility that he can be helped.”
The influence of the landmark 1973 APA decision created a
negative spiral: professionals backed away from treating homosexuality (it was no longer a disorder), so people seeking sexual re-orientation received no assistance, so no significant data stacked up showing sexual re-orientation was possible, so no-one knew it was possible, so no-one sought help. But the stance of the professional organisations is now under challenge. Why do homosexuals resist change?
• Because they don’t know they can change and they don’t know how.
The homosexual orientation feels so deeply ingrained it is as if they were born that way. Earliest memories are of feeling “different” (gender non-conformity) and it seems it will always be that way. “But many gays would get out, if only they knew how,” says Frank Worthen.
• Talk of change only throws up bitter memories of long, futile, guilt-
plagued struggles to resist the relentless onset of homosexuality, and threatens another struggle equally as futile. Says Frank:
There have been years of torment, they have fought a fierce battle against the identity of being homosexual, but for the sake of sanity and peace of mind, finally given up the battle and accepted what they thought they were. Then they are asked to dump the identity that came at such a high cost and since they don’t believe they can change they think they are being asked to return to those hard years of indecision and struggle. There is no-one in the lifestyle who cannot make the change - but many will be too fearful to seek it.
• Once a “closet” homosexual “comes out” he trades the rejection of the
straight community and the tension of the double life for the acceptance and understanding of the gay community. It’s like a new beginning. He has found himself, is captivated with his new lover or searching for his dream man. He is fulfilling his fantasy. He can immerse him-
self in a completely gay world: do business with gay doctors, dentists, lawyers, business men, travel agents, find a gay-friendly church. The inevitable disillusionment is a long way down the track. He’s having a great time. Why on earth would he want to change?
• The sexual high has become too addictive to give up. It’s now insepa-
rable from his needs for male love. The adrenaline rush associated with forbidden excitement is also addictive.
• Change is associated with judgmental Christianity. After all, homosexu-
ality is “sin.” “Church!” exploded Sy Rogers when he was first asked to come along after years as a practising homosexual, “Isn’t that where God hates me!” The conservative church is where homosexuals take a vow of silence never to let any Christians know they are homosexual. God “hates” homosexuality and has ignored their desperate prayers for help.
• Change is too much hard work. “A lot of people still in the lifestyle say
they would love to change if there was a pill they could take that would transform them overnight,” says Dr Moberly. “They’re not motivated to spend several years in personal growth. It’s easier to stay the way they are.”
• Gay propaganda. Gay activists have constructed an elaborate justifica-
tion of homosexuality, and are crusading for recognised legal status as a legitimate minority group and getting it. Activist gays have to fight the idea of change. Change attacks a foundation of the gay rights agenda: a “minority” that can change doesn’t need special protections and rights. The gay lobby has to say that anyone who claims he has changed is lying or was never homosexual in the first place, though it can get ridiculous, as one woman said who was told she had obviously never been gay in the first place. “I broke up a woman’s marriage, then lived with her for seven years. How long do you have to live with a woman and how many times do you have to make love to her before they’ll let you say you were gay?” Among those thousands who are somewhere on the growth curve into heterosexuality are a fair share of gays who were once deeply erotically attracted to others of the same sex, and often promiscuous, committed, long-term advocates of the homosexual lifestyle.
But for all their resistance to change gays are not happy. Most
surveys have shown that gays do not want their children to be gay. Four independent surveys over the years 1998 to 2001 show homosexuals and bisexuals are at least twice as likely to be alcohol-dependent than
heterosexuals. In spite of more gay rights homosexual men are still three times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual men – a figure confirmed by numerous recent studies that has remained unchanged since 1978. Gays still characteristically blame these indicators of unhap-piness on society’s rejection. But compulsive gamblers are also six times more likely to commit suicide and societal rejection doesn’t appear to be a major factor. It is true that some societies can be harsh towards homosexuality, but that is not the chief cause of gay unhappiness. The homosexual has gender needs that he is trying to meet erotically: that is the problem. Sy Rogers says nine of every ten homosexuals who write to him want to change, not because of public rejection, or even hostility, but because of an inner realisation that what they are doing is not yielding the promised satisfaction.
Homosexuality is not a choice
In this age of freedom and rights some homosexuals parade with placards saying Gay is My Choice, but unless a person has decided to experiment briefly with same sex sex , no-one chooses to become homosexual. The vast majority did not ask for the orientation or want it. Most men went through misery as they slowly discovered they were not like the other guys and did not share their growing interest in women. They heard all the jokes and snide remarks about gays and knew that they had to hide what they were at all costs. They tried to date women but it didn’t work. They longed for male acceptance, and envied the guys who looked and acted the way they wanted to. They found himselves eroticising their longing to belong and needs for closeness and connection and panicked. They tried to deny it, struggled hopelessly against it, but slowly came to accept the inevitable “truth”.
If they had had the courage to open up to someone they may have
found help. But the chances are they wouldn’t have. (I generalise to make the point.) Mental health professionals and social workers would have told them they couldn’t change, and tried to help them accept their sexuality so the could resolve their conflict; the church would have looked at them sideways in distaste or confusion, or welcomed them with open arms and encouraged them to rejoice in their sexuality: God’s beautiful gift. Their parents may have erupted in hurt and anger and accusations, or avoided the issue, or languished in self-blame, or told them to get deliverance. Their friends would have backed away. In their isolation and pain there would have been one voice they did hear: the warm, comforting, non-
judgmental words of the Master Seducer: “Come to me all you that labour and are heavy-laden and I will show you other gays who will understand you and help you discover and accept who you really are.” And the gay community really will embrace them, and for the first time the young person with same-sex attraction will feel he really belongs. Lies, damned lies and Kinsey Just how many homosexuals are there?It’s because of Dr Alfred Kinsey that gay activism has argued for so long that one person in ten is homosexual - a high proportion that has lent considerable force to the campaign for gay rights.
In 1948 Dr Alfred Kinsey, the founder of the Kinsey Institute for
Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction, bowled the west over with his “scientific” study showing Americans were far more sexually permissive than anyone had believed. Among his “findings” this one: 13% of men are more or less homosexual for “at least three years between the ages of 16 and 55.” Kinsey said his figures reflected homosexual orientation: “psychologic reactions and overt experience”, that is, fantasy about male sex and actual homosexual acts. When his female study was released in 1953 the comparable figure for lesbianism was 7%. Gays averaged out the two figures at 10%.
Kinsey also drew a diagram that has become popularly known
as the Kinsey continuum (Fig. 2).2 The continuum is visually decep-tive. It appears to spread people evenly over a sexual orientation con-tinuum, one that has now found its way into full-page reproduction in educational materials for schools. What the continuum says to students and many who see it, is: whereever you find yourself in the bisexual or homosexual parts of the continuum that is your normal sexuality, rejoice and be glad in it, along with the many oth-ers who are like you. Which is exactly what Dr Kinsey wanted.
But the most recent data on homosexual incidence from the Kinsey
Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction presents quite a different picture (Fig. 3). It shows there is a very clear clustering of the great majority of the population near the heterosexual end of the continuum.3
Who was Dr Kinsey?
Dr Alfred Kinsey was a professor of zoology who wanted to establish himself as the world’s foremost sex researcher. But that was only his second objective. His first was to change society’s view of what normal human sexuality was. His speciality before he turned to human sexuality was gall wasps, on which he became the world’s leading expert. He was an avid and painstaking collector of statistics.
Kinsey’s findings have been challenged before, but only piecemeal:
the overwhelming, voluminous nature of his research, the plethora of figures, tables, graphs, defied analysis. It took 40 years for the first com-prehensive critique of Kinsey’s 1948 survey to appear: Kinsey, Sex and Fraud, by Reisman and Eichel in 1990. Forty years too long.
Quoting extensively from Kinsey himself, his co-author, Wardell
Pomeroy, and a biographer, the authors argue that Kinsey knew exactly what he wanted to say before he started his research. “His co-workers were chosen for their bias. Kinsey was a man on the way to a scientific conclusion regardless of the evidence,” say Reisman and Eichel.
His aim was “to show that heterosexuality was not the norm, and
to establish bisexuality as the “‘balanced’ sexual orientation for normal uninhibited people, in effect .(to) encourage heterosexuals to have ho-mosexual experiences”. Kinsey himself was bisexual. Kinsey advocated involvement in all types of sexual activity: incest, sex with children and animals not excluded. He wanted to create a society in which children would be instructed in early peer sex and sex with adults. He was indig-nant about cultural and religious restrictions on sexuality.
Kinsey’s “normal” research sample of 5300 men was deliberately
and heavily biased - which is why his homosexual figures were so high. Kinsey “clearly set out to obtain - or did not try to avoid - a high percent-age of sexually promiscuous persons in his sample”: several hundred male prostitutes, 1200 convicted sex offenders, 300 students from a high school renowned for its “aberrant” (homosexual) sexuality, inappropriately high numbers of pedophiles and exhibitionists, prison inmates, known to be highly disproportionately homosexual in activity, and calculated to be possibly a quarter of the total sample; and several hundred infants and children from two months to 15 years of age who were “criminally” manually and orally masturbated to “orgasm” by workers.
The authors say Kinsey’s findings are “the most egregious exam-
ple of scientific deception this century.If even some of the information we now have of Kinsey’s research methods had come out 40 years ago,
the Kinsey team would have been scientific pariahs instead of instant celebrities.”
The Sex Research Institute Kinsey founded published another
tome in 1989, Sex and Morality in the US, written around another com-prehensive survey of sexuality undertaken in 1970. The Institute is at pains in this volume to put some distance between itself and its founder and clear this survey of impropriety. It has met with a hugely better re-ception from the scientific community. That and further studies in the nineties, on well randomised samples in the U.S., U.K. and some other European countries put the grand average of exclusive homosexuals and bisexuals for both sexes at 2.2%, a long way short of Kinsey’s 10%. (See My Genes Made Me Do It!) According to one recent study these figures have risen slightly to about 3.5% (see Chapter 13)
Even at 2.2% of the population the number of homosexuals in
the western world is still huge - at least 35 million people - thousands of them in the church.
1. From a paper compiled by Sy Rogers and Alan Medinger. 2. Alfred C Kinsey, Wardell B Pomeroy and Clyde E Martin, Sexual Behaviour in the Human Male (W B Saunders Co: Philadelphia and London, 1948), p 638. Reproduced by permission of The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction, Inc.
3. Compiled from statistics drawn from Sex and Morality in the US, copyright 1989
by the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction.
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