Archived Story

Alcorn: ‘Choice’ to be gay may affect others

Published 11:17am Monday, October 29, 2012

The woman very angrily attacked the human rights commission, “Do you think I would choose to live the way I am having to live?” Hers was an outburst against a fellow commissioner who, rather in passing and intending to be polite, referred to “choice of lifestyle.” The woman then testified to incidents of prejudice, discrimination and persecution because she is, she insisted, lesbian.

Although I find it tenuous to presume homosexuality is a conscious choice, yet recent anecdotal evidence strongly suggests choice is a factor and, in some instances, even the decisive factor.

This was not always so clear, but both culture and society have changed since I researched the nature and cause of homosexuality as part of my doctoral work at New York University almost 40 years ago. I was required to study all current biological, psychological and social scholarly literature but also to conduct extensive personal interviews with self-identified gays and lesbians and with therapists who work with them.

To put it as simply as I can, the most typical occasion for a male feeling homosexual and acting upon his feeling (the research was delimited to males) was this: He spent his childhood in a home setting without a strong male with whom to identify and upon whom he could model his own identity and with a very strongly influential male-like mother with whom he did identify with the consequence of role diffusion and confusion. Even more strongly determinative was the physical presence but emotional absence of his father, a father who was either emotionally distant or subservient to the mother or both. My findings were adjudicated by scholars in several university departments and its schools of medicine and law and judged to be valid. Accordingly, the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” at the time classified homosexuality a mental disorder.

Mind you, this was long ago and many changes have occurred not only among homosexuals but in the thinking of many who work with them. The gay community itself has since (with self-serving convenience) produced a survey that reports instances of twins reared separately but both being homosexual, suggesting genetic rather than social cause. What was not reported is that this phenomenon was not present in the majority of instances, thus rendering the conclusion invalid.

More impressive is the research that has identified what it calls a biological propensity toward homosexuality, but none establishes a cause-effect connection. That a person sustains homosexual feelings does not require him or her to be homosexual. The possibility and option of choice enters here.

As to the DSM, the current edition no longer categorizes. When I learned this and inquired of professionals in the field, they reported it was the intimidation of political correctness that forced the change and not conclusive clinical research.

The biggest change in society is also political. Whereas forty years ago they were often unfairly denied employment, they have since achieved special status toward employment. Indeed, there are places where reverse discrimination prevails, i.e., gays receive preference over non-gays. It used to be many hid their behaviors in shame (which, of course, is not healthy), but now most are open and even boastful. In point of fact, it has become fashionable and advantageous to become gay, act as if one is, or at least actively advocate for those who are.

I have listened to university students who are put upon for not being gay or, at least, not engaging in such behavior. I have listened to young people in the arts who are marginalized for not being gay and persecuted for just saying so. Of course, the woman who testified before our commission would not choose to be mistreated and persecuted for this specific reason. But she may have chosen her sexual orientation, considering such a trade-off. There are people suffering from persecution complexes or masochist tendencies everywhere, and at least some are within the gay community. Such, at least, have made choices without being conscious of them.

That a same-sex couple has chosen homosexual behavior and domestic partnership does not earn or merit legal marital status. They have made their choices, and their choices are tolerated. It is both illegal and unethical to demand society change its choices to suit theirs.


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