Heterogeneity of Homosexuality on Slate

3 04 2009

An interesting article popped up on a google search this evening from Slate, talking about reparative therapy for homosexuality. Reparative therapy is the attempt by psychologist/medical professionals to somehow change someone’s sexual orientation, and they cite a British study that came out last week that demonstrated that 1 in 6 mental health professionals had attempted to help homosexuals change.

The article does, in fact, reinforce that just about every professional and professional body states that homosexuality is unchangeable and the treatment is ineffective and usually more damaging, but the conclusion is something to think about:

Sometimes, the substitution makes sense. When the patient is clearly gay, and when his discomfort with homosexuality isn’t fundamental to his personality, it’s logical to target the discomfort. But not every case is that simple. A friend once told me she was “primarily wired toward women.” She was my girlfriend for the next year and a half. Another friend told me he couldn’t countenance homosexuality because he was “obliged to believe it’s a mortal sin.” He came out of the closet a year later, but he never left Christianity or conservatism. Another friend lived as a gay man for years, then carried on a multiyear, monogamous relationship with a woman, then went back to the gay life.

“The evidence shows that you cannot change sexual orientation,” says King. But on the margins, I’ve seen it happen.

That’s the thing about therapy: It’s about real people, and they don’t necessarily fit your grand theory or mine. Conservative evangelists are arrogant and wrong to assume that therapy can alter a patient’s sexuality. Don’t repeat their mistake by insisting that it can’t.

I’m not arguing in favor of reparative therapy — god knows I can’t imagine suddenly being straight (not that there’s anything wrong with that), I am proudly and happily homosexual — but, in a movement where we are championing difference and spectrums of sexual/gender expression … maybe they aren’t all that far off base?

It certainly helps us make the argument against ex-gays. “I accept your sexual expression as your own,” as opposed to “you have been brainwashed.”

Even if that’s what we’re thinking.

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