|Posted on June 14, 2016 at 2:10 PM|
Sad to see how many people abuse of the drama in Orlando to push their own agenda. While faking emotions, all they seem to have in mind is what else they can wring out of that situation. Shame on you and shame on those who buy that obvious agenda!
|Posted on January 11, 2016 at 8:35 AM|
THE RAINBOW CONNECTION - THE TRUTH ABOUT HOMOSEXUALITY
It started simply enough. She was my friend.
Me, I was shy and very conservative. I was too shy for boys and didn't have any real close girlfriends. I wanted to have a special friend, one in whom I could confide my deepest darkest secrets.
I wasn't a tomboy or a geek. I wasn't ugly or fat or disgusting. I was just me. "Plain old Wonder White Bread," not very interesting, not very exciting. I dated a few guys, but never made that "love connection" like so many other girls that I knew had. I often wondered what was wrong with me, why didn't I feel like other girls? I certainly couldn't have approached my mother with such questions. And, I felt so odd, so different; I certainly couldn't ask any of my casual girlfriends.
When I entered college, I was full of hope and promise. This was the moment I had daydreamed about since the sixth grade. I was going to be just like my favorite teacher. How I admired her. She had long, elegant legs that I often watched and admired. Her makeup was always perfect and she drove the cutest little Mustang. As an adult now, I tried to emulate her, right down to the Mustang I drove.
I secured a full time job that accommodated my class schedule. It was easy, relatively speaking, but the best part of the job was my social interaction: I had found a friend. She was so understanding, attractive and outgoing: everything that I was not. She was tall, had long legs, was blessed with generous endowments. Her manner and dress were well-polished. She was the epitome of class, I revered her and she could do nothing wrong.
When I was in the office, we often spent our breaks together. Sometimes she paid, sometimes I paid; as friends, we didn't need to keep track. She was interested in me; it was so easy to talk to her. It seemed as though she understood everything about me. All of a sudden, I didn't feel so different anymore. I felt accepted and understood. My life was changing, although not for the better. I was too wrapped up in the ecstasy of finally belonging and finally being understood that I couldn't see it.
Then one Friday, she suggested that we go to dinner and a movie, I was so excited that she wanted to be my friend outside of work that I could hardly contain myself. Even though I put in really long hours that week, I looked forward to going out on Saturday night, exhausted, but energized.
She had made all the arrangements. We went to a marvelous movie and even if it weren't, I don't think I would have thought otherwise. I was giddy with glee at actually going out with a friend. I was wanted, I was accepted and I was understood! Finally!
She had chosen quite an expensive restaurant for dinner. Awash in candlelight and expensive food, we had a wonderful dinner, fantastic and interesting conversation and even splurged on souffle for dessert.We had just finished dessert. When I reached for my wallet to pay my share, she put her hand on mine and told me that she would take care of it. While grateful for her generosity, there was something about the look on her face, gentle touch and tone of her voice that just wasn't right. A small alarm went off in my head, but was quickly quieted by the rationalization that as friends, we really didn't keep track and besides, she did choose the place and she did make a lot more money than me.
Basking in the glow of a wonderful evening, my mind barely registered what she was saying to me. She started out by telling me what a wonderful friend I was and how grateful she was that I was a part of her life. She told me that she had never felt such a connection to another woman before, and I was just such an interesting person and so much fun to be around. She then told me that she loved me. This being the 70's, where everybody was telling everybody that they loved them, I responded that I loved her too! After all, she was my best friend and confidant.
And then it happened. She took my hand in hers and looked into my eyes and told me that she knew I felt that way about her, too. It wasn't registering in my brain quite yet, but as she continued talking, my mind began to swirl. I started to lose my breath, and the room began to spin out of control. The words became disjointed, she mentioned dating, love, ecstasy, and the wonderful life we were to share. I needed air! And I needed it fast! I fled the table, but she found me. She was confused about my actions. Didn't I say I loved her too? Wasn't she my type? She thought I was a lesbian! How could she possibly think that? What on earth was she talking about? She tried to persuade me that I was a lesbian by taking everything I had confided in her and turned it around.
First, she talked about how I felt different. Then, she took my admiration of my sixth grade teacher and told me it was sexual attraction. Then, she used my lack of dating and not being sexually active with men to mean that I was not sexually attracted to men. She told me that being a lesbian was natural. And she used what I thought was a great friendship with her to say that I was really in love with her. Then she told me that if we became lovers a whole new world of excitement and sexual fulfillment would open up that I would never otherwise know. I asked her to take me home and told her I'd call her later.
I was dazed and confused. I tried to sleep, but couldn't. I didn't want to think, yet my mind was racing. Maybe she was right, some of the things she said did make sense. Maybe if I gave over to her desires, I would be fulfilled. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad and after I had tried it, if I didn't like it, I could just stop. If I did try it, then maybe it wouldn't repulse me anymore. I fell asleep on the couch.
It seemed that I was not asleep for so long. But when I woke, it was still dark. In reality, it wasn't "still" dark, it was dark "again." I had slept the day away. Fixing myself a snack, I sat down at my desk to work but I found myself unable to concentrate on anything other than the previous night.
I listed on a piece of paper everything she had said that indicated that I was a lesbian. The first thing she said was that I felt different. Yes, I had always felt different. But what did that have to do with sex? Wasn't feeling different a normal feeling? Being different had nothing to do with sexuality. The next thing she said was that I admired my sixth grade teacher because I was sexually attracted to her. Then I thought about what it was that I admired in her. In reality, I admired in her what I myself did not possess.
Thinking about others I admired, I found it was for the same reason, for they all, male and female, had qualities that I wished I had. Then she talked about my lack of dating. I had dated some boys, but it wasn't that I wasn't sexually attracted to boys, it was that I wasn't ready for a sexual relationship. I was still under 20, I was in school, I was working, I didn't have the time, much less the energy for a relationship serious enough to warrant sex.
It finally dawned on me that I was not a lesbian. The lack of close friendships with members of my own sex was my own fault. I didn't allow myself to become a good, close friend. The things I felt and my lack of a sexual relationship with boys were entirely normal. Rather, those who focused their youthful lives on such sex were the abnormal ones, especially since my faith taught that any form of pre-marital sex was wrong; it was a sin. The fact that I didn't date much was my own fault. I didn't make the time to date. Any free time I had, I used on me. And, who on this planet has the right to take a position that the lack of sexual involvement with a man meant I was a lesbian?! After all, no two people develop in the exact same way in the exact same time, not even twins! So my slow development was not caused by my sexuality, it was caused by me.
And then, the reality hit me, and made me sick. This woman, who I considered my friend, had taken everything I had told her and twisted it to meet her personal agenda. Not only did I feel betrayed by that duplicity, but I also recognized that she had used the same techniques on me that cults used to recruit new members.
She preyed on a shy, lonely, impressionable young woman. She took me into her confidence. She took my deepest secrets that I had shared with her and used them to meet her own agenda, all the while preaching unconditional love. She preached that I would find love, acceptance and satisfaction in her lifestyle. I also hadn't realized it, but she had been methodically separating me from the other workers in our office. She was cutting me off from the others who would or could have voiced their opinion had I asked. She attempted to make me emotionally dependent upon her.
The reality was that I was not a lesbian. I was just me. I quit that job immediately and changed my phone number. Two years later, I met the man of my dreams and was married shortly thereafter. I'm 30 years older now and looking back, I can see what could have happened to my life had I believed the messages she and the society around me were giving to me.
I am now active in a homosexual crisis ministry. I see, over and over again, the fraud of the homosexual community. I see young and old, men and women, many of whom are religiously observant, all conflicted in their homosexual lifestyle. I feel their pain and heartbreak at being torn between the only world they know and the world they know that G-d has planned for them. I see time and time again how much they struggle to leave their homosexual lifestyle, only to have their lover use their family and faith against them.
But, I tell my clients, "you have a choice." I came to a fork in the road and fortunately chose the path that has given me a completion and a happiness that is truly consistent with G-d's plan of creation. Based upon my experience, it is clear you do not have to be a homosexual. You were not born a homosexual nor do you need to live as a homosexual and, certainly, do not need to die a homosexual. Through faith, prayer, and the help provided by gender affirming ministries representing different faiths, be it JONAH, Living Stones or others, there is hope and life.
Adapted from the first chapter of an upcoming book: The Rainbow Connection-The Truth About Homosexuality, by Kaelly Langston, which also appeared in a slightly different format in the March 2003 "Bridge Builder," a publication of Living Stones Ministries.
|Posted on January 10, 2016 at 2:40 PM|
Mr. Rondeau has been a senior sales and marketing management professional with industry leaders for over 25 years; MA Management with a specialty in persuasive communication, Regent University; BA Marketing Management, Concordia University. Currently, he is a doctoral student in communications studies with a focus in rhetoric and persuasion and works as Director of Development for Regent University.
"[I]nstitutional sites from which discourse proceeds must be identified . . . . [D]iscourse is power itself, and the power to control discourse is thus the master power in any society." 1
"Truth is not the issue. The issue is power."2
Among America's culture wars, one of today's most intense controversies rages around the issue alternatively identified, depending on one's point of view, as "normalizing homosexuality" or "accepting gayness." The debate is truly a social-ethical-moral conceptual war that transcends both the scientific and legal, though science and law most often are the weapons of choice. The ammunition for these weapons, however, is persuasion.
This article explores how gay rights 3 activists use rhetoric, psychology, social psychology, and the media–all the elements of modern marketing–to position homosexuality in order to frame what is discussed in the public arena and how it is discussed. In essence, when it comes to homosexuality, activists want to shape "what everyone knows" and "what everyone takes for granted" even if everyone does not really know and even if it should not be taken for granted. 4
The first strategy of persuasion is to establish a favorable climate for your message so that the communicator (marketer) can influence the future decision without even appearing to be persuading. Pratkanis and Aronson refer to this as pre-selling. 5 This is at the heart of the homosexual campaign: to get consent via social construct today to determine whose idea of personal freedoms will prevail in our legal codes tomorrow.
Part II of this article provides a brief overview of the social climate and politics that ultimately led to the American Psychiatric Association's (APA) imprimatur of homosexual behavior. The declassification of homosexuality as a disorder by the APA provides context for the propaganda war proposed by Kirk and Madsen's homosexual manifesto fifteen years later. The section ends by reviewing the main elements of the campaign including the call to specifically discredit, intimidate, and silence opponents with particular attention paid to conservative Christians.
Part III presents the connection between persuasion and democratic processes. Rhetoric, persuasive communication, propaganda, and social psychology theories are foundational to the concept of selling homosexuality as presented in this article. The purpose of this section is to provide a greater understanding of why persuasion works in order to strengthen the later discussion of how it is applied in the mass persuasion techniques evidenced in today's "gay rights"-style marketing.
Part IV moves to the "4-P's" of the traditional marketing paradigm–Product, Price, Place, and Promotion–to deconstruct and to illustrate how homosexuality is packaged and sold as a competitive product in the marketplace often through education 6 and through positive media coverage. "What is pitched is different–a product brand versus an issue–but the method is the same. In each case, the critical thing is not to let the public know how it is done," 7 states Tammy Bruce, a self-described lesbian feminist and ex-president of the Los Angles chapter of the National Organization for Women. 8
Part V presents several real examples of how this strategy is employed in five important markets of social influence. The areas examined, which touch every citizen in America, are government, education, organized religion, the media, and the workplace.
Part VI concludes by recapping some achievements of the gay rights campaign and discussing what these may portend for their opponents and American society in the future.
II. GETTING HERE FROM THERE
A. Kinsey to the APA Victory of 1973
A basic understanding of how the social definition of homosexuality has seen change over the course of this century is important. Homosexuality was considered criminal under the law and evil by the church. Homosexuals were rescued by the medical establishment when the condition was "medicalized" early in the 1900s and redefined as a pathological condition, a disease. Then, beginning in the 1950s, scientific and political forces converged. 9
Until Alfred Kinsey claimed that the large majority of Americans had homosexual interests and John D. Rockefeller's empire marketed Kinsey's voluminous Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948) and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (1953) studies 10 five decades ago, few ever spoke of homosexuality in public let alone as a public possibility. It certainly was not "O.K. to be gay" openly in America.
Even so, several years after the Kinsey bombshells, the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry (GAP), an organization of esteemed physicians founded by the noted psychiatrist William C. Menninger, still defined homosexuality as a treatable disease, a sexual perversion, and as psychological (not biological) in nature. 11
As late as 1960, all fifty states maintained laws criminalizing sodomy. In 1963 the New York Academy of Medicine Committee on Public Health, restated that not only was homosexuality a disease (disorder), "some homosexuals have gone beyond the plane of defensiveness and now argue that deviancy is a 'desirable, noble, preferable way of life.'" 12 In 1970, it was estimated that 84% of Americans agreed homosexuality was a "social corruption." 13 In fact, far from homosexuality being considered just a social aberration, it was still officially defined by the American Psychiatric Association as a mental disorder.
Years of disruptive homosexual protests at APA annual conferences, some openly backed by the Gay Liberation Front, and aggressive internal homosexual activism finally changed all that in 1973. 14 This political and non-scientific decision was "simply the opening phase of a war with normality. It was part of a two-phase sexual radicalization, the second phase being the raising of homosexuality to the level of an alternative lifestyle." 15 It appears that this war analogy is justified. The success of the effort to neutralize the APA's disapproval gave the homosexual movement just the weapon they needed for the campaign we see today.
B. Sans Facts, Logic, or Proof
1. The Need for War
"In February 1988, a 'war conference' of 175 leading gay activists, representing organizations from across the land, convened in Warrenton, Virginia, (near Washington, D.C.) to establish a four-point agenda for the gay movement." 16 After that meeting, Harvard-trained social scientists and homosexual activists Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen wrote a homosexual manifesto that proposed "[d]ismissing the movement's outworn techniques in favor of carefully calculated public relations propaganda . . . . lay[ing] groundwork for the next stage of the gay revolution, and its ultimate victory over bigotry." 17
The strategies they promulgated are best understood by peering into the authors' shared fundamental belief: "Any society that flatly denies the fact that one or two citizens in every ten have strong homosexual interests, and structures its laws and values around this denial, is, to this extent, seriously ill." 18 Driven by a worldview of victimization, the need for revolution and the establishment of a cultural identity, their strategy was unabashed and blunt: manipulate and control public discourse in order to unite and legitimate one group even at the expense of others.
The war goal was to force acceptance of homosexual culture into the mainstream, to silence opposition, and ultimately to convert American society. This "stunningly systematic and controversial blueprint . . . of carefully calculated public relations propaganda," 19 has value as a template to guide discussion of how the homosexual movement 20 hopes to achieve social power and codify homosexual behavior as a right.
Warfare-type tactics are espoused to counter such evils as "homohatred" from being induced in children at an early age, even children who later turn out to be homosexual. People who dissent based on faith are defined as religious homohaters. Heterosexuals and even homosexuals who do not tow the gay rights line are also the enemy. Both are labeled as gay homophobes 21 who place "the needs of their own cowardice above the reputations and even the lives of millions of others, a failing of the ethical test of life so great that if the [Christian] fundamentalists are even half right they'll go straight to hell." 22
2. Desensitize, Jam, and Convert
The extensive three-stage strategy to Desensitize, Jam and Convert the American public is reminiscent of George Orwell's premise of goodthink and badthink in 1984. 23 As Kirk and Madsen put it, "To one extent or another, the separability–and manipulability–of the verbal label is the basis for all the abstract principles underlying our proposed campaign." 24
Desensitization is described as inundating the public in a "continuous flood of gay-related advertising, presented in the least offensive fashion possible. If straights can't shut off the shower, they may at least eventually get used to being wet." 25 But, the activists did not mean advertising in the usual marketing context but, rather, quite a different approach: "The main thing is to talk about gayness until the issue becomes thoroughly tiresome." 26 They add, "[S]eek desensitization and nothing more. . . . [I]f you can get [straights] to think [homosexuality] is just another thing–meriting no more than a shrug of the shoulders–then your battle for legal and social rights is virtually won." 27 This planned hegemony is a variant of the type that Michael Warren describes in Seeing Through the Media where it "is not raw overt coercion; it is one group's covert orchestration of compliance by another group through structuring the consciousness of the second group." 28
Jamming makes use of the rules of Associative Conditioning . . . and Direct Emotional Modeling.
. . . .
. . . [T]he bigot need not actually be made to believe . . . that others will now despise him . . . [r]ather, our effect is achieved without reference to facts, logic, or proof. . . . [W]hether he is conscious of the attack or not. Indeed, the more he [the bigot] is distracted by any incidental, even specious, surface arguments, the less conscious he'll be of the true nature of the process–which is all to the good. 29
Jamming is psychological terrorism meant to silence expression of or even support for dissenting opinion. According to one knowledgeable source, "Dr. Laura is only the most visible victim of this new assault on free speech and thought." 30
The final stage, Conversion, means the "conversion of the average American's emotions, mind, and will, through a planned psychological attack, in the form of propaganda fed to the nation via the media." With Conversion, the bigot is shown images of "his crowd actually associating with gays in good fellowship." 31 The alleged bigot "is repeatedly exposed to literal picture/label pairs . . . of gays . . . carefully selected to look either like the bigot and his friends, or like any one of his other stereotypes of all right guys." 32
Another tactic is to claim that famous historical figures were homosexual. This associates homosexuals with positive images (symbols) just like advertisers use celebrity endorsements.
Famous historical figures are considered especially useful to us for two reasons: first, they are invariably dead as a doornail, hence in no position to deny the truth and sue for libel. Second, and more serious, the virtues and accomplishments that make these historic gay figures admirable cannot be gain said or dismissed by the public, since high school history textbooks have already set them in incontrovertible cement. 33
The negative variant is to portray all detractors as victimizers by pairing them with negative images (symbols) of "[k]lansmen demanding that gays be slaughtered[,] . . . [h]ysterical backwoods preachers[,] . . . [m]enacing punks[,] . . . [and a] tour of Nazi concentration camps where homosexuals were tortured and gassed." [34 In essence, they use positive or negative icons (symbols) and not the actual words for their persuasive message. 35
3. Dust Off the Unholy Alliance
Perhaps the most menacing focus of the campaign is the special treatment reserved for the religious dissenters. The strategy is to "[j]am homohatred by linking it to Nazi horror." 36
Most contemporary hate groups on the Religious Right will bitterly resent the implied connection between homohatred and Nazi fascism. But since they can't defend the latter, they'll end up having to distance themselves by insisting that they would never go to such extremes. Such declarations of civility toward gays, of course, set our worst detractors on the slippery slope toward recognition of fundamental gay rights. 37
. . . [Furthermore] gays can undermine the moral authority of homohating churches over less fervent adherents by portraying . . . [them] as antiquated backwaters, badly out of step . . . with the latest findings of psychology. Against the atavistic tug of Old Time Religion one must set the mightier pull of Science and Public Opinion . . . . Such an 'unholy' alliance has already worked well in America against the churches, on such topics as divorce and abortion. . . . [T]hat alliance can work for gays. 38
Although some might label such virulent persuasion tactics as antisocial, the form of government that we enjoy has persuasion at its roots.
III. PERSUASION, SOCIETY, AND DEMOCRACY
The ancient civilizations of Greece and Rome are often considered the cradle of modern Western democracies. In Greece, a direct democracy, decisions were made through serious public discussion and open debate. Hence, the ability to personally persuade others to accept one's point of view was an essential skill. The Sophists filled the demand (marketplace) for the teaching of this public speaking skill called rhetoric. 39
When Rome later arose as a representative republic, 40 "[p]ower was very often exercised not through bottom line legalities but through the persuasiveness and force of argument of particular office holders or assemblies." 41 The Roman marketplace now required not only teachers but also professional persuaders for hire. Sophists were reborn as lawyers and lawmakers.
Modern America is very much like the Roman Republic. Romans were primarily interested in the practical uses of the art of persuasion just as Americans are immersed in advertising and spin doctoring–"[l]ess interested in . . . absolute truth and more interested in what 'works.'" 42 Therefore, those that most influence society today, from lawyers to lawmakers, lobbyists to marketers, descend from the sophists, the experts in rhetoric and the artists of persuasion.
Modern rhetorician Richard M. Weaver "was a champion of conservative . . . ideas." 43 "One of the mainstays of conservative thought is a concern for values. Weaver felt that American culture was losing many values worth preserving." 44 These very same concepts underlie the resistance by society at large to affirmation of the homosexual community. The homosexual movement is formed and driven in that conflict.
Weaver's book, Ideas Have Consequences, has been described as "a profound diagnosis of the sickness of our culture." 45 Certainly, this diagnosis is a common argument in opposition to homosexuality. Weaver's defense of language as the touchstone to enduring human values and universal truths is recurring and central to the conception of the role of rhetoric.
Weaver describes four ways to interpret a subject rhetorically: "define its nature"; "place it in a cause-and-effect relationship"; interpret it "in terms of relationship of similarity and dissimilarity"; or interpret it "by credit of testimony or authority." 46
The gay rights movement draws upon this strategy in the hope of reshaping American society and laws. Recall Kirk and Madsen's candid admission that, "[T]he separability–and manipulability–of the verbal label is the basis for all the abstract principles underlying our proposed campaign." 47
The current debate, then, is framed differently by both sides. Is homosexual behavior normal or abnormal? Are the maladies commonly associated with the homosexual condition (depression, AIDS, suicide, cancer) caused by the behavior itself or society's reaction to it? Are homosexuals just the same as heterosexuals? Should science or society determine the acceptability of "gayness"?
If history repeats itself, the point of view that holds sway in America's courts will first hold sway in the minds and hearts of individual citizens, judges, and lawmakers. And the heart and mind of society is the target market that the gay rights campaign means to capture in order to win the courts.
B. Modern Persuasion Theory: The Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM)
1. Credibility of the ELM
"Persuasion is the essence of marketing . . ." 48 and the "Elaboration Likelihood Model of persuasion has emerged in the last decade as a central focus of research on communication and persuasion." 49 The ELM is the most comprehensive modern theory of how persuasion works. "For a given topic and setting, the ELM has the benefit of suggesting which kinds of source descriptions would or would not have effects similar to traditional message arguments." 50
2. To Think or Not to Think: Elaboration
Petty and Cacioppo theorized a framework for two relatively distinct routes to persuasion (i.e. attitude change) as the central route and the peripheral route. 51 These two routes are differentiated by the level of cognitive processing undertaken (i.e. amount of conscious examination or "elaboration" of the message) by a person exposed to persuasive communication. The central route is high level processing "based on a careful and thoughtful assessment . . . . [The low level peripheral route] is based on some cognitive, affective, or behavioral cue." 52 As underlying motivations on how each route is used, Petty and Cacioppo list seven postulates in the ELM:
1. People are motivated to hold correct attitudes.
2. Although people want to hold correct attitudes, the amount and nature of issue-relevant elaboration in which they are willing or able to engage to evaluate a message vary with individual and situational factors.
3. Variables can affect the amount and direction of attitude change by . . . affecting the extent or direction of issue and argument elaboration [i.e. cognitive effort to evaluate].
4. Variables . . . [have an affect] by either enhancing or reducing argument scrutiny.
5. Variables affecting message processing in a relatively biased manner can produce either a positive (favorable) or negative (unfavorable) motivational and/or ability bias to issue-relevant thoughts attempted.
6. As motivation and/or ability to process arguments is decreased, peripheral cues become relatively more important determinants of persuasion.
7. Attitude changes that result mostly from processing issue-relevant arguments (central route) will show greater temporal persistence, greater prediction of behavior, and greater resistance to counterpersuasion . . . . 53
Although the ELM is often graphically illustrated as two distinct routes, the theory actually describes a continuum bounded on one end by "a person's careful and thoughtful consideration of the merits of the information presented" (the central route) and on the other by no "scrutiny of the central merits of the issue-relevant information presented ([the] peripheral route)," 54 but rather a reliance on cues. Persuasive communications can move the recipient to arrive at a similar final attitude by either route or by something in between. 55
With the "mindless acceptance" 56 of cues at the end of the continuum bounded by the peripheral route, it is put forward that any attitude change achieved via this process is more transitory and subject to counterpersuasion and counterargument. At the opposite end, "attitudes formed or changed via . . . central route [processes are predicted to be more] persisten[t], [more] resistan[t], and [more] predict[ive] of behavior." 57 So, although Petty and Cacioppo believe central route attitude change is "quite desirable, the ELM makes it clear that this is a difficult persuasion strategy." 58 And, while they argue that "enhanced thinking produces persistence," they believe that "processing may proceed in either a relatively objective or a relatively biased manner." 59
Applied to this discussion of marketing the concept of gay rights, it is noteworthy that "in targeting an attitude for change, the ELM suggests that it is more important to know something about the underlying qualities of the attitude than simply knowing if a person has an attitude or not." 60 In short, knowing how to influence attitude is more important than knowing what attitude, opinion, or belief is held.
3. Which Thinking Route to Take: Variables and Moderators
Fleming and Petty make it clear that "many variables are capable of moderating the route to persuasion, either central or peripheral." 61 Petty explains that moderators influence the strength or direction of a relationship. The moderator variables in the ELM (e.g. issue involvement, distraction, and need for cognition) can serve as variables "that can moderate the route to persuasion." 62 For different topics, situations, and audiences the same communication sources can serve as central merits, bias the interpretation, or generate additional arguments to evaluate the persuasive communication. 63
Moderators can include speaker source or credibility, 64 distraction, 65 strength of argument, 66 personal relevance, 67 the recipient's mood, and the recipient's ability or motivation to process. 68 However, "[O]ne cannot place [these] variables into simple lists because, depending upon the meaning of the variable in the specific context, and the overall elaboration likelihood, variables can sometimes act as cues, sometimes act as arguments, and sometimes affect the extent or direction of elaboration." 69
Homosexual strategists want lasting attitude change in society toward their behavior, but know that many people see their arguments as weak, such that a successful appeal to the central route (high processing) is unlikely. Since ELM predicts that attitude changes via the peripheral route (using cues) are less durable, gay rights activists have a different answer as to how longer lasting attitude change can still be achieved–cognitive dissonance.
4. Control Behavior, Change Attitudes: Cognitive Dissonance
Another psychosocial concept is helpful in discussing the actual marketing of homosexuality. Leon Festinger, "one of social psychology's most important theorists," 70 theorized that people hold a multitude of cognitions: beliefs, pieces of knowledge held as appropriate or true, values, memories or emotions. 71 Most cognitions are irrelevant to others, such as liking the color blue but not liking hot dogs. Some are consonant, like believing in God and believing in honesty. However, an uncomfortable psychological state called cognitive dissonance sets in when people hold inconsistent (dissonant) ideas, beliefs, or opinions. 72
Dissonance is a conflict of inconsistent or "nonfitting" relations among cognitions. Consonance is consistency or balance between cognitions. The magnitude of pressure to change is relational to the importance of the dissonance. 73 Because there is a tendency among people to seek consistency between attitude and behavior, something must change in the case of a discrepancy to resolve the conflict and to eliminate the dissonance. There are three ways people resolve dissonance: (1) reduce the importance of the dissonant beliefs, (2) add more consonant beliefs to outweigh the dissonant beliefs, or (3) change the dissonant beliefs so they are no longer inconsistent with one another. 74
When it comes to mass persuasion in the name of gay rights, two particularly important concepts from Festinger's work are applicable. The first is threshold reward/punishment. The second concept is forced compliance. Maximum dissonance, the maximum psychological need to rationalize inconsistent beliefs or replace them with new beliefs, sets in if only just enough reward/punishment is used to gain public compliance. 75 Then, forced compliance occurs when, due to their environment, a person must exhibit overt behavior or the verbal expression of opinions that conflicts with privately held original beliefs. 76
Perhaps counterintuitively, attitude change often follows behavioral change and not vice-versa. This explains why the gay rights movement often focuses on negative labeling (bigot, ignorant, intolerant) in the marketplace of competing ideas; a social environment is created that is unfriendly to anti-homosexual speech. Like Chinese water torture rather than brute force, only socially enforced public compliance at a minimum level, through continued application, can ultimately change the privately held attitude or belief.
Thus, to psychologically propel societal attitude change regarding homosexuality, America is deluged with pro-homosexual messages, education campaigns, positive images, and sympathetic news in the media creating an antecedent condition that can be called societal dissonance. 77 "The existence of dissonance gives rise to pressures to reduce the dissonance . . . . Manifestations . . . of these pressures include behavior changes . . . and new opinions." 78
IV. MARKETING 101
A. Defining Marketing
1. Propaganda, Persuasion, Education and the 4 P's
It is not common practice to think of social movements in terms of marketing. Perhaps this is because using terms like "selling" or "marketing" seems to denigrate noble activities that usually portray themselves in terms of grass roots and the will of the people. 79 However, the American Marketing Association defines marketing as "the process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion, and distribution of ideas, goods and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organizational goals." 80
There are many variations of the definitions related to the theory of marketing but generically they all fall into one of four categories–the easy-to-remember 4-P's: product (conception), price, promotion (marketing communications), and place (distribution). Each is interrelated and each also has a persuasive function. 81
The concept of product is formally defined in marketing to include all "functional, social, and psychological utilities and benefits." 82 Ideas (as products) are defined as concepts, philosophies, images, or issues. 83
Pricing of a product has several functions. Price is a pre-persuader. It positions the product versus the competitor. For example, "good" perfumes are expected to be more expensive; whereas, generic brands are expected to sell for less. When pricing is related to policy issues, it is often framed in terms of competing interests: the cost to the environment in drilling in pristine wilderness versus the cost to America of remaining dependent on unreliable foreign energy.
A new pricing concept called exaction pricing is introduced in this article. Rather than the mutually satisfying exchange relationships proposed in marketing theory, exaction pricing is defined as the economic or emotional price that is exacted from targeted groups for not buying the gay rights idea.
Promotion includes the different methods for getting the persuasive message to the target audience: advertising (paid persuasive messages), personal selling (which would include lobbying), publicity (working the media for positive coverage), and direct inducements.
Place is shorthand for the distribution channel (place) where consumers can buy the product. 84
"Marketing communicators–as well as all persuaders (politicians, theologians, parents, teachers)–attempt to guide people toward the acceptance of some belief, attitude, or behavior by using reasoning or emotional appeals." 85 And, if education is learning new ideas and information, then "every time we turn on the radio or television, every time we open a book magazine or newspaper, someone is trying to educate us." 86 Therefore, marketing is rhetoric on steroids–the commercialized, technologized, and systematized application of persuasion, propaganda, or education (depending on who is doing the naming).
2. The Marketing Environment
There are five broad forces that often are considered uncontrollable: social, economic, technological, regulatory and competitive. 87 However, the gay rights movement seeks to change the social and regulatory, exploit the economic and technological, and silence or convert the competition. Therein lies the brilliance and power of their marketing campaign.
In this postmodern society "[t]ruth is not the issue. The issue is power. The new [social] model[ ] 'empower[s]' groups formerly excluded," 88 and "the power to control discourse is thus the master power." 89 By 1990, half of all marriages from twenty years earlier had ended in divorce, and the traditional family, and its values, did not look so traditional anymore. 90
The explosion of communications technology, including the advent of Internet, allowed the homosexual movement to exploit society's changing values. It enabled a disparate homosexual community representing "less than 3% (and perhaps less than 2%) of the population" 91 to act as a cohesive group to project persuasive power into society.
B. Conceptualizing the Product
1. Repackaging the Product: A New Identity for Homosexuality
In 1989 two strategies on how to totally repackage homosexual behavior as a rights issue were unveiled to the gay rights community.
[F]irst, you get your foot in the door, by being as similar as possible; then, and only then–when your one little difference [orientation] is finally accepted–can you start dragging in your other peculiarities, one by one. You hammer in the wedge narrow end first. As the saying goes, [a]llow the camel's nose beneath your tent, and his whole body will soon follow. 92
Pederasts, gender-benders, sado-masochists, and other minorities in the homosexual community with more extreme "peculiarities" would keep a low profile until homosexuality is in the tent. Also, common homosexual practices such as anal-oral sex, anal sex, fisting, and anonymous sex–that is to say what homosexuals actually do and with how many they do it–must never be a topic.
Rather, only strongly favorable images of homosexuals should be displayed, even "paint[ing] gay men and lesbians as superior–veritable pillars of society. . . . Famous historical figures are especially useful . . . for two reasons: first, they are invariably dead . . . hence in no position to deny the truth . . . [and] high school history textbooks have already set them in incontrovertible cement." 93
In other words, change the basic offer and do a marketing practitioner's job; only "provide positively valued information . . . that will increase the odds of [the consumer] ultimately choosing the marketer's offering over competitive options." 94 Both ELM and Weaver would refer to this as associating the right symbols with your communication.
The second strategy was even more powerful.
[T]he public should be persuaded that gays are victims of circumstance, that they no more chose their sexual orientation than . . . their height . . . . ([F]or all practical purposes, gays should be considered to have been born gay–even though sexual orientation, for most humans, seems to be the product of a complex interaction between innate predispositions and environmental factors during childhood and early adolescence.) To suggest in public that homosexuality might be chosen is to open the can of worms labeled 'moral choice and sin' and give the religious right Intransigents a stick to beat us with. 95
America takes pride in being a country where tolerance for others and individual freedom is held in high regard. It is both part of our laws and our culture. Today's homosexual marketer has properly recognized this environment and has aggressively followed these strategies in promoting the idea of "homosexuality" by directing the consumer away from the specifics of (especially male) homosexual behavior while also advertising that the choice to pursue such behavior is normal, innate, unchangeable, and prevalent. It is even healthy and desirable so it deserves protection as a right. What made such a campaign even thinkable was presaged more than fifteen years earlier.
2. Redefine Abnormal as Normal
In the early 1970s, homosexual activists unleashed a "violent and extortionary political campaign." 96 Homosexual activists reasoned that if the influential American Psychiatric Association (APA) were to redefine homosexuality, other professional guilds (like the several times larger American Psychological Association) and then the rest would follow.
|Posted on January 7, 2016 at 4:10 PM|
HOW THE GAY-RIGHTS MOVEMENT WON
[Note: This article appeared in the Commentary Magazine in November 1996 and JONAH received permission to post this article in 2001.]
A few years ago I listened in amazement as a friend of mine, a prominent social critic, told a group of his fellow conservatives who had gathered to talk about the gay-rights movement that "we're turning this thing around." Normally my friend was so astute an observer of the twists and turns in public opinion on the major issues of the day that I found it hard to understand how he could have gone so far wrong in judging the way this one was moving. Or was it perhaps I who had gone completely off the rails in believing that the great campaign to legitimize homosexuality and to establish it as a fully acceptable "alternative lifestyle" was succeeding beyond even its own wildest expectations? Was he crazy, or was I?
In the ensuing discussion, I based my argument on what seemed to me the almost complete triumph of the gay-rights agenda and its sustaining attitudes in all the institutions of the culture, from the universities and the arts to the media of information and entertainment and even to an incredible extent (considering that the Bible unequivocally prohibits homosexuality as an "abomination") in the churches. He then countered this sketch of the culture with evidence drawn from the polity. He pointed to the retreat that public opinion had forced upon President Clinton when he proposed to end all restrictions on gays in the military, and he also cited a number of recent local referenda in which homosexuals had been denied the protected status they sought through inclusion in antidiscrimination laws.
Those referenda would later be struck down by the courts-but that would neither have surprised my friend nor cut any ice with him. Thanks to their umbilical connection to the universities through the law schools, as well as their relative insulation from the pressures of majority sentiment, the courts in his scheme of things (and in mine, for that matter) were less a part of the polity than a part of the culture; and the culture, he readily stipulated, was for the time being a lost cause from the conservative point of view.
Neither of us, then, was crazy; we just had our eyes on different realities; and the debate was temporarily resolved by a reciprocal concession on my part that he was probably as right about the polity as he acknowledged I was about the culture. This, however, still left open the question of which realm would ultimately prove decisive, and on that question we continued to disagree. His bet was that in an increasingly conservative political climate, the culture would sooner or later either wind up following the election returns where homosexuality was concerned, just as it was already doing on other issues like the family, welfare, and crime; or, short of that, it would prove powerless to resist the pressures of majority sentiment. My guess was that in this area, if not necessarily in all others, the election returns would in the end largely be determined by the culture.
Not having checked back lately, I cannot say whether or not my friend has changed his mind about the balance of forces on this particular front of the ongoing war between the culture and the polity. But assuming that he still holds the same view, he could now justify himself by pointing to the overwhelming congressional vote cast this past September in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act (342-67 in the House and 85-14 in the Senate) and the even more powerful evidence of President Clinton's willingness to sign it. Designed mainly to enable individual state legislatures to outlaw same-sex marriages even if a court in another state sanctions such unions, this bill's passage represented a clear defeat of the culture by the polity. After all, gay marriage was a favorite cause with the institutions of the culture, and yet in this instance they were trumped by majority sentiment expressing itself through the democratically elected institutions of the polity.
My friend could also cite the Senate's rejection, on the very same day, of a bill that would have banned discrimination against homosexuals in the workplace. Even though the vote in this case was as close (50-49) as the other was lopsided, it still amounted to a defeat of the gay-rights movement within the political realm-and on an objective that was, if anything, even more enthusiastically endorsed by the culture than same-sex marriage.
Not having changed my mind either, I can argue that these victories over the gay-rights movement were less impressive than they seemed. Yes, the Defense of Marriage Act passed overwhelmingly, but it was a remarkably timid bill. As the syndicated columnist Maggie Gallagher observes:
It does not ban gay marriage. It doesn't even require that states that adopt gay marriage do so through democratic means. To the citizens of Hawaii, where a handful of lawyers appear poised to impose gay marriage on the majority, the federal government turns its back. . . .
Furthermore, this bill flies in the face of what the New York Times describes as "an accelerating trend among companies and local governments to extend health benefits to employees' gay partners"-that is, to treat them as though they were legally married couples. Thus far, such policies have been adopted by 36 cities, 12 counties, and 4 states. They have also been instituted voluntarily by 313 companies, the largest of which, IBM, ironically extends spousal benefits only to cohabiting homosexual couples, and refuses to accord the same privileges to heterosexual couples living together without benefit of clergy. It is also worth noting that at least two of these companies were founded and until quite recently headed by men closely identified with conservative causes-Coors and Disney. (The latter, following through on the logic of its stand on spousal benefits, also permits special Gay Days at Disney World which are promoted by their sponsors with posters depicting Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck as a hand-holding couple.)
As for the antidiscrimination bill, in falling short by only one vote, it presages the almost inevitable addition, and soon, of homosexuals to the already rather long list of minorities in a position to demand not only freedom from discrimination but the kind of preferential treatment euphemistically known as affirmative action. "Strategically," writes the executive director of the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, "gay people have found far more success in the courts than in Congress," but the closeness of the vote in the Senate on the antidiscrimination bill indicates that Congress is now starting to catch up.
There are other bits of evidence suggesting even more strongly that the polity is now following the culture on the question of homosexuality. Consider, to begin with, the following item, which was published in the New York Times only a day after the two votes in the Senate:
Not so long ago, an openly gay candidate running for office in the Bible Belt or any rural area could expect to end up as political road kill. Times may be changing. In Oklahoma, the Democrats have nominated Paul Barby . . . to face Frank D. Lucas, the incumbent in the Sixth Congressional District. Just before Mr. Barby announced his candidacy, he told Democrats by letter that he is a homosexual. The district is largely rural, taking up the western half of the state, and is full of socially conservative Southern Baptists. But, to the surprise of many of Mr. Barby's supporters, no one has made an issue of his sexual orientation. And Mr. Lucas says he will not make any fuss over it.
This was not liberal Massachusetts, where Congressman Barney Frank managed to win reelection even after the discovery that his Washington residence had been used as a base of operations by a gay prostitute, and where his colleague, Congressman Gerry Studds, also survived politically even after it was revealed that he had been involved sexually with a young boy working as a Senate page. This was Oklahoma, a state where, as the Times reminds us, David L. Boren, running for the Senate in 1978, "felt compelled to swear on a Bible that he was heterosexual" after rumors to the contrary had been brought up by his opponent.
Nor was the new trend confined to Democrats. A day or two after the story about Paul Barby was published in the Times, a leading Republican political consultant in New York was "outed," and when interviewed by a New York Post reporter, nonchalantly confirmed the report with the comment: "Please, I don't want to be rude, but let me stifle a yawn." In a similar vein, one of his clients, Governor George Pataki, remarked: "Somebody must be getting desperate if they think this is a story." And another client, Senator Alfonse D'Amato, asked: "Are we for real here? Please."
A dismissive response like this was perhaps to be expected in New York, even among conservative Republicans. But as the Times also informed us, everything's up to date in Arizona, too. In that traditionally conservative stronghold, there has been no great talk-radio clamor or stump-speech vitriol directed at a six-term Congressman, Jim Kolbe, since he acknowledged a few weeks ago that he is homosexual. Mr. Kolbe, a Republican, . . . now has a wide lead in general-election polls . . . and his decision spurred another Arizona officeholder, Neil Giuliano, the Republican Mayor of Tempe, to announce late last month that he too is gay.
Then there is Congressman Steve Gunderson, who was reelected (albeit with some difficulty) by the people of his rural Wisconsin district even after being outed as a homosexual. Not only that, but Newt Gingrich-whose reputation for homophobia yields nothing to Pat Robertson's or Pat Buchanan's-emphatically turned down Gunderson's offer to resign from the Republican leadership in the House ("I would never ask you to resign over that nonsense"), and later topped things off by putting him in charge of a task force to reform the schools of Washington, D.C. Now Gingrich has also given a blurb to House and Home, the treacly book Gunderson has written with his lover, Rob Morris, about "the political and personal journey of a gay Republican Congressman and the man with whom he created a family."(1)
What all these examples demonstrate is that little by little, but with increasing momentum, the approving attitude of the culture toward homosexuality is overcoming the resistance of majority sentiment as reflected in the polity. To anyone who remembers how different it used to be, this is bound to seem a truly astonishing development. For not so long ago, and even within the most advanced sectors of the culture, it was still taken pretty much for granted that homosexuality was, quite simply, a perversion.
Certainly this was true of the sector I knew best, the literary world. In that world, male homosexuls (but not, so far as one could tell, lesbians) were very prominent, and yet they mostly seemed to share in the almost universally held assumption that there was something wrong with homosexuality.
To be sure, very few literary people, whether straight or gay, thought that it was morally wrong (although some undoubtedly did, in spite of themselves); they saw it, rather, as the symptom of an illness, the product of a neurotic disorder which could in certain cases be cured by psychoanalysis but which in most others was probably beyond the reach of treatment. I cannot recall any speculation such as has become common lately about a "gay gene," but there was a kind of commonsense recognition that some homosexuals were just born that way, and that little or nothing could be done about it. They might, for one reason or another, decide to get married and have children, but their true sexual desires would remain focused on men, and it was with men that they would commit adultery if (or more likely when) they did. We were all familiar with such cases, especially among our friends and counterparts in England. Many of them had been initiated into homosexuality in boarding school and they then, as it were, paid their debt to society by marrying and raising families while continuing to depend for sexual satisfaction on other men, usually the younger and more lower-class the better.
To say, however, that homosexuality was generally regarded as a perversion is to tell only one part of the story. The other part had to do with the striking fact that so many artists past and present-poets, novelists, composers, painters, and sculptors, as well as actors and dancers and instrumentalists and impresarios-were homosexual. Even homosexuals who were not themselves important artists tended to be great appreciators of art. They also tended to be amusing companions, much given to gossip as catty as it was witty and only slightly spoiled by the hearer's strong suspicion that he himself would become its object as soon as he was out of earshot.
It was, then, a complicated attitude: the recognition that homosexuality bred a special talent for what, in that world, was the most highly valued of all human activities coexisted with the belief that it was a perversion. Another complication was that even many of the homosexuals who went along with this latter view of their own erotic appetites simultaneously thought, or professed to think, that all men shared in those appetites if they but knew it. "Try it, you'll like it," they would flirtatiously say in a camp adaptation of a popular advertising slogan of the day. Along the same lines, they would attribute what would later be called homophobia (a word that did not then exist) to "HP" (homosexual panic) or "HD" (homosexual dread)-that is, a defense against the temptation to engage in homosexual activity.
Nowadays the radicals within the gay community, and the professors who teach Gay and Lesbian Studies in the universities, like to call themselves "queer." Whatever this may inadvertently reveal, it is intended as a piece of in-your-face bravado, a declaration that homosexuals are rebels against a repressive society, not an admission that homosexuality is a perversion. Two recent cases in point are the books Midlife Queer by Martin Duberman and The MaterialQueer, edited by Donald Morton. There is also Beyond Queer, an anthology edited by Bruce Bawer whose purpose is to challenge the "Gay Left Orthodoxy" represented by the term queer. (Bawer also helped Gunderson and Morris write their book.) Indeed, no homosexual today would be caught dead agreeing that homosexuality is a perversion, or even an illness, and almost the only heterosexuals with the nerve openly to endorse such a retrograde view are conservative Christians.
What set the process in motion through which homosexuality would eventually be legitimated in every sense was its transformation from a private condition into a political movement. The first effort to accomplish this was made in the early 1950's with the founding of the Mattachine Society by a radical leftist named Harry Hay. Will Roscoe, the editor of Radically Gay, a collection of Hay's papers,(2) credits him with originating the idea that "Lesbians and gay men differ from heterosexuals much as African-Americans, Latinos, Japanese-Americans, and other ethnic groups differ from Euro-Americans," and that homosexuals could and should overcome their self-hatred and their shame and take pride in their "lovely sexuality." Around the same time, the same idea was expressed by Donald Webster Cory in The Homosexual in America:
We who are homosexual are a minority, not only numerically, but also as a result of a caste-like status in society. . . . Our minority status is similar, in a variety of respects, to that of national, religious, and other ethnic groups: in the denial of civil liberties; in the legal, extra-legal, and quasi-legal discrimination; in the assignment of an inferior social position; in the exclusion from the mainstream of life and culture.
It would be impossible to exaggerate the importance of this idea to the changes that lay ahead, but it turned out to be premature. In those days, very few people, whether gay or straight, were prepared to see homosexuality as comparable to race or ethnicity, or as something in which to take pride, and so the Mattachine Society soon faded away.
It was only in the late 60's that its animating idea really took hold among homosexuals, and by that time the activists among them could draw on the experience of the various protest movements of the decade just past. Borrowing tactics from the New Left and the counterculture that were, to quote Francis Mark Mondimore in A Natural History of Homosexuality,(3) "aggressive and confrontational," they began by staging boisterous demonstrations against obvious targets like police harassment. But then, Mondimore writes:
Emboldened by their successes in opposing police harassment, gay-liberation activists turned their attention to another historical opponent: the psychiatric profession. In 1970, gay activists stormed the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, confronted psychoanalyst Irving Bieber during a panel discussion on homosexuality, and called him a "motherfucker" in front of his shocked colleagues.
To this the APA responded exactly as the universities had done earlier when they were attacked by student activists: it capitulated. Rather than expressing outrage, "sympathetic psychiatrists" immediately joined the gay liberationists in demanding that the APA's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual be revised to eliminate homosexuality from the list of mental disorders on which it had long been included. Within three years, they got their wish, and in short order the American Psychological Association and the National Association of Social Workers followed suit.
In altering its long-held view of homosexuality as a mental disorder, of course, the APA claimed that it was bowing to the weight of scientific evidence. But such "evidence" had been available for a long time, and it was only when political pressure was exerted that the APA suddenly found it persuasive. Moreover, much of it was drawn from the data compiled by Alfred Kinsey, and yet when his estimate of the incidence of male homosexuality (10 percent) would later be exposed as wildly overblown by a much more rigorous study conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago (which arrived at a figure of 2.6 percent), and by the even more definitive Sex in America (2.8 percent), the APA would make no move to reverse itself again. Clearly it was politics, not science, that drove homosexuality off the association's list of mental disorders, and it is politics, not science, that keeps it off.
With homosexuality officially certified as a perfectly healthy form of sexual expression, the next step was to get it defined as inborn. Gone were the days when any homosexual would dare attribute homophobia to HD or HP, with the underlying assumption that anyone was capable of becoming homosexual. According to the new party line, homosexuality was in no degree a matter of choice; it was always and entirely an involuntary condition. As such, it was beyond the reach of moral judgment, for how could a person be judged for acting in accordance with his true nature or, as religiously inclined homosexuals would put it, in accordance with the way God created him? (Congressman Gunderson: "I suddenly heard a strong and compassionate voice speak to me. 'Why are you so unaccepting of the person I made you to be?' the voice asked. 'Why, if it's okay with me, isn't it okay with you?'")
Never mind that the same logic would confer moral legitimation on pedophiles, who also could and did claim that they were made that way and were therefore unable to help themselves. This did not prevent the argument from working in connection with homosexuals, just as it simultaneously served to get homosexuals included in the category of oppressed minority groups by defining their condition as no more a matter of choice than race or ethnicity. Thus, in explaining why he meant to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act, Senator Charles Robb of Virginia could bring the two themes of genetic programming and race neatly together:
If homosexuality is an inalienable characteristic, which cannot be altered by counseling or willpower, then moral objections to gay marriage do not appear to differ significantly from moral objections to interracial marriages.
This new definition of homosexuality carried yet another advantage-it meant that children were not at risk of being seduced into homosexuality by homosexual teachers or encouraged into it by homosexual propaganda in the schools. On the contrary: children born straight would be taught tolerance of their naturally homosexual classmates who, instead of being forced as in the benighted past to struggle against their true sexual nature, would learn to accept and live happily with it.
As the psychiatrists were coerced into lending the authority of "science" to the claim that homosexuality was as natural and healthy as heterosexuality, so the biologists and the geneticists now came under pressure to provide scientific proof that homosexuals were all born and not made. Biology and genetics being much harder sciences than psychiatry, a quick and decisive victory on this front such as had been achieved over the APA could not be expected. Besides, it was considered virtually criminal to bring up genes in the case of intelligence-anyone who needed reminding on that score would soon get it in the form of the assault on Charles Murray and Richard J. Herrnstein for emphasizing the role of inheritance in IQ in their book The Bell Curve. So how could the gay-rights movement expect the same idea to be sympathetically received in the case of homosexuality?
The answer, as it turned out, was that in the liberal culture, genetic explanations were considered good or bad not on the basis of their scientific merits, but only on the basis of whether they were deemed to be helpful or harmful to the group in question. No matter how much evidence might be amassed to demonstrate the heritability of intelligence, ways had to be found to discredit that evidence because it was considered bad for blacks. Conversely, however, the scantiest evidence for the existence of a "gay gene" was enthusiastically seized upon because it was thought to be good for homosexuals.
Admittedly, there was also strong resistance to the idea of a gay gene. Plenty of scientists remained unpersuaded by the evidence and said so. Nor did every supporter of the gay-rights movement agree that the discovery of a gay gene would be good for homosexuals. Some worried that it might lead to the aborting of fetuses carrying the gene, or that it could create a demand for genetic surgery to eliminate it in adults. Nevertheless, as can be seen from the breathless account given by Chandler Burr in A Separate Creation: The Search for the Biological Origins of Sexual Orientation,(4) the general disposition was to welcome this research as a hopeful development, and to look forward to the day when the hard sciences would lend their imprimatur to the new party line.
In the meantime, personal testimony was summoned to carry the main burden of persuading the world that homosexuals were born and not made. As more and more homosexuals propelled or found themselves pushed out of the fabled closet in which so many had once concealed their "orientation," novel after novel, play after play, and memoir after memoir poured from the presses, and with few exceptions the authors of these confessionals proclaimed that they had been attracted to other men from as far back as they could remember. Many told harrowing stories of the shame they had felt and the consequent anguish they had gone through in fighting against their own sexual appetites. Many had contemplated suicide (and others they knew had actually committed it). Many had tried various forms of therapy in the hope of being cured. Many had married and fathered children. All in vain. The only hope, and the only salvation, lay in the recognition that there was nothing whatsoever wrong with homosexuality, or with the uninhibited pursuit of happiness through sex with other men.(5)
Before 1980, in the decade or so immediately preceding the outbreak of AIDS, much of this literature was defiant in tone and suffused by the radical spirit of the liberationist 60's. It celebrated "the joys of gay sex" and the promiscuity almost invariably associated with it as superior to the pale and timid pleasures available to the monogamous middle-class couple. And it did this in spite of the fact that even before AIDS had made its appearance, lesser venereal diseases were already spreading at a very rapid rate among homosexuals as a result of promiscuous anal and oral intercourse.
A grim account was given by Randy Shilts, the gay journalist who in And the Band Played On produced the most authoritative early book on the AIDS epidemic (and who would later die of the disease himself). On the eve of its outbreak, Shilts wrote, gay men were being washed by tide after tide of increasingly serious infections. First it was syphilis and gonorrhea. Gay men made up about 80 percent of the 70,000 annual patients to [San Francisco's] VD clinics. Easy treatment had imbued them with such a cavalier attitude toward venereal diseases that many gay men saved their waiting-line numbers, like little tokens of desirability, and the clinic was considered an easy place to pick up both a shot and a date.
None of this deterred a gay paper from running an article in praise of "rimming" (oral-anal sex) as a "revolutionary act." Along the same lines, Edmund White, the co-author of The Joy of Gay Sex, even proposed at a public meeting that "gay men should wear their sexually transmitted diseases like red badges of courage in a war against a sex-negative society." A young homosexual named Michael Callen, who was present at that meeting, who had already had 3,000 sexual partners, and who (like White himself) would eventually come down with AIDS, remembered thinking: "Every time I get the clap I'm striking a blow for the sexual revolution."
Today, by sharp contrast, we have a flood of articles and books whose purpose is to show that homosexuals like White are untypical and that they do not really speak for the gay community. These writers tell us that homosexuality is no more significant than (to cite a much-invoked image) left-handedness; that most homosexuals are ordinary, decent people who differ from heterosexuals only in their manner of expressing love; and that they aspire to nothing more than ordinary decent middle-class lives. Far from being sexual revolutionaries ideologically committed to promiscuity, they are great believers in "family values" and would settle down and enter into loving long-term monogamous relationships if society would but let them. Indeed, we are now told, the radicalism preached and the promiscuity practiced by self-described "queer" theorists and activists are themselves products of social oppression, and upon social acceptance will eventually disappear.(6)
In a recent article in New York magazine, Daniel Mendelsohn laments the trend exemplified by this literature as the "heterosexualization of gay culture." Gay books and plays, he complains, "are less likely to celebrate the initiation into a world of avid sexuality . . . than they are to emphasize the importance of (who knew?) family ties." Even Michelangelo Signorile, who became famous for outing closeted celebrities, has grown tame, Mendelsohn reports: "Recent columns [by Signorile] include thirtysomething meditations on the paradoxes of monogamy ('Sex and the Not-So-Single Guy') and the difficulties of reconciling a gay lifestyle with traditional family life (inevitably, 'Homo for the Holidays')." And, casting an interesting light on the issue of how much choice is involved in homosexuality, Mendelsohn asks: "If you look straight, act straight, and think straight, why bother being gay?"
But even Mendelsohn acknowledges the political benefits that have come from the new party line, which originally emerged in response to the appearance of AIDS. Fearing, reasonably enough, that this horrendous disease-intimately tied as it was to promiscuous anal intercourse and other joys of gay sex-would be a political disaster, gay activists advised (in the words of one handbook) that "In any campaign to win over the public, gays must be portrayed as victims. . . . Persons featured in the media campaign should be indistinguishable from the straights we'd like to reach." These tactics have succeeded brilliantly. Instead of turning homosexuals once again into pariahs, AIDS confirmed and reconfirmed their status as victims, thereby enhancing their claim to be considered an oppressed minority while also guaranteeing them additional sympathy and increasing their political clout.
Nothing seemed to interfere with the progress of this astonishing development. At first it chugged along steadily under the aegis of the dogma (bolstered by the politically manipulated statistics of public-health agencies and the propaganda of the AIDS establishment) that heterosexuals were just as much at risk as homosexuals. But then it flourished equally well when, after a while, most people, just by looking around them, quietly came to the conclusion that insofar as AIDS was a sexually transmitted disease (though it could also be transmitted through the shared needles of drug addicts or through blood transfusions, and though the situation might for some reason be different in Africa or India), in America it was overwhelmingly confined to homosexuals.
Nor did the AIDS epidemic lead to a condemnation of the sexual acts that were a prime cause of it. On the contrary, these acts were now represented as perfectly proper so long as they were practiced "safely" (i.e., with a condom or a dental dam). And most incredible of all, children in the early grades of primary school were even given lessons in the correct techniques.
Finally, there was the effect of AIDS on the idea that homosexuality was an inborn, involuntary condition. Congressman Gunderson once delivered a passionate little lecture on the subject to Newt Gingrich:
"Newt," I said, "you've got to understand that . . . [California Congressman William] Dannemeyer and the far Right are just plain wrong when they say that being gay is a choice. You've got to know that I spent years desperately trying to change my orientation. I don't know a single person who would choose to go through the hell of being a gay person in a society that despises you."
AIDS also gave a great a-fortiori boost to this argument: who would choose the risk of dying an early death in so horrible a manner?
So there, more or less, is where we now are. It is a place in which homosexuality is already so widely accepted that not even the knowledge of its connection with AIDS can tarnish or compromise its new reputation as a normal and healthy "orientation." A few holdouts among the psychoanalysts and psychiatrists still insist that it is a neurotic disorder, and most religious conservatives, whether Christian, Jewish, or Muslim, continue to stigmatize it as a perversion. There is, for example, Jeffrey Satinover, a psychiatrist who writes from a religious perspective. In Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth,(7) Satinover has produced a powerful polemic maintaining that homosexuality is simultaneously a kind of addiction and a sin. Like other addictions, he says, it is treatable if the addict wishes to free himself of it (which to Satinover is the same thing as saying that, like other sins, it can be successfully overcome if the sinner repents).
But the holdouts are all very much on the defensive, and the moral and intellectual confidence they once enjoyed seems to be oozing out of them as the surrounding culture pounds away at and stigmatizes their assumptions and beliefs. Religious opponents of the gay-rights agenda are treated as troglodytes and a menace to liberty; the Supreme Court has found a special "animus" behind an amendment to the Colorado state constitution declining to afford homosexuality the same civil-rights status as race and religion; and gay activists in the APA have been trying to get "homophobia" recognized as a "psychological abnormality." This same group within the APA has also charged that psychiatrists who treat homosexuals wishing to become heterosexuals are "unethical" and guilty of "an abuse or misuse of psychiatry."
The holdouts know full well that the drive to legalize same-sex marriage is mainly aimed at getting the law to make what Andrew Sullivan, one of this campaign's leading proponents, calls "a fundamental statement that our loves are as good as anybody else's." But how long can they resist even this final closing of the gap between the culture and the polity?
In short, I believe even less than I did a few years ago that "we are turning this thing around," and I do not believe that we are likely to do so in the foreseeable future.
Yet for whatever it may be worth-and I fully realize how little it may be worth-I for one will go on withholding my assent from this triumphant march. Though there is nothing I can do to stop or even to slow it down, it will have to proceed on its way without my approval or support. Let me try to explain why.
Having known many homosexuals personally, and having done a good deal of reading on the subject, I do not doubt that some young boys are so driven by the lust for other men, and so erotically repelled by women, that for all practical purposes the only choice they have is between homosexuality and chastity. Nor do I doubt that a biological or genetic factor is at work here. Of course it does not follow from this that homosexuality is healthy; after all, many disabilities, diseases, and self-destructive tendencies are genetically transmitted. Still less does it follow that there is no room for free will, as witness the many people (including those with powerful homosexual inclinations) who have successfully struggled against inborn predispositions.
Yet if I do not doubt that some young boys are in effect doomed from the beginning to a choice between homosexuality and chastity, neither do I doubt that other young boys are what E.L. Pattullo has characterized as "waverers" who are capable of going either way.(8) They can yield to the temptation of homosexuality if they are encouraged or seduced into it-and, pace Congressman Gunderson, in this day and age when feminism has made girls even more formidably intimidating than they have always been to young boys, and especially to young boys of uncertain sexual formation, getting entangled with women can actually seem more frightening even than AIDS. Such boys, however, are no longer helped by the world around them to resist the homosexual temptation and to overcome their fears of a normal life. They are instead being abandoned to the ministrations of a culture that not only legitimizes homosexuality but glorifies and glamorizes it, even to the point of representing those who die of AIDS as martyrs and heroes and even as angels.
I do not regard homosexuals, not even those who fall victim to AIDS, as martyrs and heroes, let alone as angels. Nevertheless my heart goes out to all of them because I believe that-even aside from AIDS-the life they live is not as good as the life available to men who make their beds with women.
The reason is that men tend by nature to be promiscuous, and they only become monogamous when women force them to "settle down" in exchange for the comforts and pleasures of a stable home and the delights and the troubles, the challenges and the anxieties, that together constitute the rich fascination of fathering and raising children. It is because homosexuals have no women to restrain them that they are generally so promiscuous (whereas lesbians, being women, do tend toward monogamy); and because they are so promiscuous they are doomed to an endless series of anonymous and loveless encounters-not to mention the risk of disease and early death.
Homosexuals of a conservative disposition have come to acknowledge this, and they hope to cure it through the legalization of same-sex marriage. Here is an unusually succinct statement of their hope, taken from the jacket of William N. Eskridge, Jr.'s The Case for Same-Sex Marriage(9):
Whether because of the biology of masculinity or the furtiveness of illegality, gay men have been known for their promiscuous subcultures. Promiscuity has encouraged a cult of youth worship and has contributed to the stereotype of homosexuals as people who lack a serious approach to life. It is time for gay America to mature, and there can be no more effective path to maturity than marriage.
And yet Andrew Sullivan, who in his book Virtually Normal makes much the same argument as Eskridge, qualifies it with the proviso that the need for "extramarital outlets" should be recognized by both parties in a same-sex marriage. Why, he asks, should the "varied and complicated lives" of gay men be constrained by a "single, moralistic model"?(10)
It would seem, then (with all individual exceptions noted and acknowledged, here as elsewhere), that it still takes a woman to domesticate a man, not another man. This means that same-sex marriage will in all probability not spell an end to promiscuity and an embrace of fidelity even among those homosexuals who will avail themselves of the right (and by all indications, they are likely to be few in number). After all, as Mark Steyn remarks in a brilliant little piece about Sullivan's book in the American Spectator, "a grisly plague has not furthered the cause of homosexual monogamy, so why should a permit from the town clerk?"
One might add that this grisly plague has not even furthered the cause of avoiding death at its hands. There was a period during which the fear of AIDS seems to have reduced the number of partners among homosexuals from the formerly not uncommon hundreds or even thousands per year-yes, hundreds or even thousands-to an average of eight per year; and during the same period condoms were evidently used in many of these encounters. All this slowed the progress of the epidemic within the gay community. By 1991, however, writes Jesse Green in an article in the New York Times Sunday magazine as highly sympathetic to homosexuality as we would expect from anything appearing in that publication, "it was common knowledge that men who had been safe for at least six years were slipping more and more often, and that many men who had never been safe saw no point in starting now." The result is that, if current trends continue, "more than half of the nation's twenty-year-old gay men will contract HIV during their lifetime." And in San Francisco alone, the rate "even among the population of older, white gay men . . . has nearly doubled in just the last six years." (According to a still appalling but less drastic estimate cited by Satinover, only "30 percent of all twenty-year-old homosexual males will be HIV positive or dead of AIDS by the time they are thirty.")
When Green tells us that homosexuals are "returning to the unsafe practices of the past," he means not only that they are discarding condoms but that (contrary to the new anti-"queer" party line) they are reverting to a life of unrestrained promiscuity. As in the early days of the epidemic, the subject of promiscuity is once more becoming "taboo," and (again contrary to the new party line) anyone who raises it, whether straight or gay, is accused of homophobia. "Why," asks Green, contemplating this bewildering situation, "are gay men-ordinary gay men, who appear to function normally and enjoy the pleasures of life-systematically killing themselves?"
He comes up with no definitive answer. But surely the answer lies in the very fact that so many homosexuals (including Andrew Sullivan himself, as we learned when he announced upon resigning from the editorship of the New Republic that he had contracted the AIDS virus) are willing to court death rather than give up being promiscuous. Surely this fact powerfully suggests that promiscuity is an intrinsic and all but inescapable component of male homosexuality. And surely the same fact also gives the lie to the idea that homosexual promiscuity is the product of social and legal oppression, since the near-disappearance of such oppression seems only to have made matters worse.
George Orwell said that we live in a time when the obvious needs constantly to be restated, and so, to restate what was once self-evident to everyone, including most homosexuals themselves: men using one another as women constitutes a perversion. To my unreconstructed mind, this is as true as ever; and so far as I am concerned, it would still be true even if gay sex no longer entailed the danger of infection and even if everything about it were legalized by all 50 states and ratified by all nine Justices of the Supreme Court.
If that should ever happen, and if I am still around when it does, I hope I will still have the strength to hold on to my own sense of the fundamental realities of life against the terrible distortions that have been introduced into the general understanding of those realities by the gay-rights movement and its supporters. For it is this that is mainly at stake here, and it is this that explains why the issue of homosexuality is of such great moment not just to the proportionately small number of practicing homosexuals, but to all the rest of us as well.
1 Dutton, 327 pp., $24.95.
2 Beacon Press, 366 pp., $27.50.
3 Johns Hopkins University Press, 275 pp., $35.00.
4 Hyperion, 354 pp., $24.95.
5 As will already have been evident, I have been talking all along only about male homosexuality. Lesbianism is now invariably linked with male homosexuality in public discourse, but in my opinion it demands to be treated as a separate phenomenon. Since I cannot do that here, I will restrict myself to observing that lesbianism has achieved perhaps an even greater degree of acceptance than male homosexuality. One sign is the swelling volume of academic studies and popular reports trying to demonstrate that children raised by lesbian couples turn out as well as, or even better than, children in normal families. Recently, in the space of a few short weeks, we had at least one book (In the Name of the Family by Judith Stacey), a long article in U.S. News & World Report, and a network television drama "based on a true story" ("She's fallen in love with another woman. Does that give her mother the right to take her child away?") trying to sell us this highly implausible thesis. Another sign is the appearance of a satirical book by Helen Eisenbach entitled Lesbianism Made Easy ("Some people are born lesbians, some achieve lesbianism, and some have lesbianism thrust upon them."); it seems doubtful that a book taking this tone about male homosexuality would be published today.
6 In the past few months alone, we have had, in addition to those already mentioned above, the following books devoted to making these points (and this is by no means a complete list): Farm Boys: Lives of Gay Men from the Rural Midwest by Will Fellows; A Boy Named Phyllis: A Suburban Memoir by Frank DeCaro; Gay Olympian: The Life and Death of Dr. Tom Waddell by Tom Waddell and Dick Schaap; Becoming Gay: The Journey to Self-Acceptance by Richard A. Isay, M.D.; and American Gay by Stephen O. Murray. Under the heading, "Gay and Lesbian Books for Fall," Publishers Weekly (September 30) lists a "selection" of no fewer than 123 new titles.
7 Baker Books, 266 pp., $17.99.
8 "Straight Talk About Gays," Commentary, December 1992.
9 Free Press, 296 pp., $25.00.
10 For a discussion of Sullivan's book, see James Q.Wilson, "Against Homosexual Marriage," Commentary, March 1996.
Norman Podhoretz, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, was the editor-in-chief of Commentary for 35 years and is now its editor-at-large.
|Posted on January 7, 2016 at 12:20 AM|
Why Gays Cannot Speak for Ex-Gays
Written By: Joseph Nicolosi, Ph.D.
(Posted April 2014)
This summer, a British television network called to interview me for a show about efforts toward sexual-orientation change. The host of the show, they informed me, was a gay man. I declined the invitation, stating that the host’s gay identity would disqualify him from a fair evaluation of the ex-gay experience.
To refuse participation because the host is gay may seem unreasonable, until we recognize that the adoption of a gay identity typically prevents someone from honestly assessing the experience of the other man who has taken a different developmental route-- i.e., the ex-gay person.
Why would this be true? Let me explain.
According to the literature, the “coming out of the closet” process begins in early adolescence with the discovery of same-sex attraction. The teenager then usually rejects his homosexual feelings because of the negative social values around him. His painful and lonely efforts to suppress, repress and deny his feelings result in guilt and shame, which eventually culminates in self-loathing.
But shortly thereafter, this teenager discovers that there are others like him, and often through the support and encouragement of a gay counselor, coach, teacher or religious leader, he decides that gay is “who he is.” The adoption of this gay identity necessitates the abandonment of any hope that he could ever modify his unwanted feelings and develop his heterosexual potential. He must surrender his earlier wish that he could have a conventional marriage and family. So in order to internalize this gay identity he must mourn the possibility of ever resolving his unwanted homosexuality; i.e., he must grieve the loss of what he yearned for.
It is this process of grieving his own hopes and mourning his own dreams which prevents the person who later identifies as gay from believing that change is possible for others: “If I myself could not change, how could they?” Perhaps on a deeper level, this thought is also rooted in anger: “If I cannot have what I wanted for my own life, neither should they.”
Explaining this inherent bias of the gay-identified person against the ex-gay person’s experience, an Orthodox Jewish friend of mine commented: “It would be like a group of rabbis deciding that they themselves would determine if Jesus really was God.” “Worse,” I responded. “It would be more like a person desperately trying to find God in his life, abandoning the hope and adopting atheism, then setting himself up as the person who determines the reality of God in the lives of others.”
And it is that grieving process, that painful letting-go of one’s dreams, that has biased the gay person’s evaluation of the ex-gay experience.
However, public-policy decisions on homosexual issues are, in fact, typically determined by gay activists who carry this intrinsic prejudice. It is gay teachers who determine policy for homosexual students; gay librarians who determine what books are permitted on the library shelves; and gay mental-health professionals who get to tell the world whether any sort of sexual-orientation modification is possible. For example, anyone who has a comment or question about APA (American Psychological Association) policy is referred to the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns, which does not recognize ex-gays or the concerns of people struggling to change. In fact, the most grievous and damaging example of this prejudice is the recent APA Task Force Report on the treatment of homosexuality, written by a panel that consisted entirely of gay mental-health practitioners -- all of whom admitted, at the start, to being opposed to reorientation therapy. No reorientation therapists who applied to be a part of the Task Force--and there were several distinguished and scholarly psychologists who did apply-- were permitted to join the committee.
This dominance of gay-identified homosexuals on panels that determine policy for non-gay homosexuals is due, in large part, to the larger community’s intimidation and subsequent avoidance of the whole polarizing issue. Faced with policy decisions, the straight person, ignorant of the fact that gay-identified homosexuals are a category that is quite distinct from non-gay homosexuals, readily relinquishes his authority to a gay co-worker, and takes the easy way out. “I don’t know about such things myself, of course; but Steven is gay-- he’ll know the best policy for the library collection.” (Needless to stay, “Stephen” is all too ready to comply.)
An additional result of gay activism’s power to determine public policy is the fact that ex-gays are then marginalized and intimidated into silence. Gays see them as “gays-in-process,” or gays with a small “g,” and not entitled to claim a valid identity in their own right. Ex-gays, they believe, are merely gays who have not yet come out of the closet; they are simply “inhibited by their own homophobia.”
But the emergence of the ex-gay person can change this balance of power. Despite the intimidating influence of gay activism, society is beginning to recognize the ex-gay person’s existence, as ex-gay men and women are telling us about their lives. Further, there is an impressive group of ex-gay websites, such as peoplecanchange.com, restoredhopenetwork.com, and voices-of-change.org, where ex-gay men and women tell their stories.
People Can Change continues to offer its JIM (Journey Into Manhood) Weekends, scheduled in 2013 for several locations in the U.S., as well as one in Israel. The ex-gay person was also recently legally acknowledged by Washington D.C. as a distinct sexual minority. And soon, we will see the first- ever Ex-Gay Pride March in our nation’s capital (scheduled for Summer 2013).
The new support group Restored Hope Network has also emerged, vibrant and powerfully committed, to replace the faltering Exodus Ministries (which recently closed down). Further, the Executive Director of HA (Homosexuals Anonymous), Dr. Douglas McIntyre, is launching a 10-day tour this summer to lobby for freedom of choice for youth to pursue counseling for unwanted homosexuality.
Every social movement has used as a tool toward its success, the shaming and intimidating of others who do not agree with them. Those who disagree with them are stigmatized and excluded from the cultural discourse. As time goes by, I believe this swing to extremism will ultimately right itself. But in the meanwhile, we must look to that core of committed individuals who understand that our bodies tell us who we are-- that humanity was designed and created for heterosexuality, and we must support those men and women who are brave enough to speak out and say, “We have changed.”
|Posted on January 6, 2016 at 2:50 PM|
What Really Motivates The Ex-ex-gay Movement
Written By: Phelim McIntyre
(Posted August 2014)
In recent months the ex-gay movement has, prematurely, been declared by the secular media as dead by emphasizing the shift in position of Alan Chambers of Exodus International and the self-publicity of John Paulk. Alongside this we can see the ongoing campaigns of groups like Ex-gay Watch, Southern Poverty Law Center and others to attack the ex-gay movement whenever they can, aided and abetted by the Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues. But what motivates their bile and anger towards the ex-gay movement?
There is not one single issue that causes these people to be part of the anti-ex-gay movement. While some of these issues may have legitimate roots, that does not mean that the actions that emanate from those root issues are to be sanctioned; however, many of these root issues are not legitimate. So what are these issues?
Firstly, there is the misunderstanding of the nature of what homosexuality is. Recently I had a stand for my counselling life coaching and work at a Christian expo. I had three main reactions to my exhibit. It covered not just my ex-gay work but also the work I do with those addicted to pornography, BDSM and other issues.
The first reaction was a relief that someone in the community was actually talking about these things.
The second, especially about pornography, was an ostrich mentality of "we do not have a problem with this in our church/youth group" -- if only that were true!
The third was the claim that people choose to be gay (I only had a few people who took the "born gay" position. All these souls needed to do was repent of their behaviour.) No, people do not choose to be gay. However, this does not mean that people are born gay - something even the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the World Health Organisation will agree with. What it does mean is that homosexual feelings develop as a result of societal, psychological and sociological factors affecting an individual. Personal choice does not come into it. "Choice" is involved when we speak of two other factors relevant to homosexuality: behaviour and identity. The feelings come about involuntarily but whether one wishes to act upon those feelings or to create a sexual identity as a homosexual, those are choices. Yet this is not what most people hear when listening to the ex-gay message. Because we say (and science backs us up), that there is no evidence indicating that people are born gay (though most of us accept that biological factors such as "sensitivity" influence our feelings), people assume that we are saying that homosexuality is a choice. They confuse the issues of feelings, behaviour, or identity and merge them together.
On the other hand, many so-called "evangelicals" (by this I mean very ultra-conservative churches and some which are more right-wing in their attitude to people) also confuse and merge the questions of feelings, behaviour or identity. They dismiss the ex-gay movement as ubber liberals because we say people can refrain from both a homosexual behaviour and a gay identity and in some cases can overcome the feelings. Thus, over simplistically, we choose to not be "gay". Hopefully, they recognize the concept of "repentance", that those with a homosexual past (as a separate group to those who openly embrace what we see as the sinful behaviour of the homosexual lifestyle) will go to heaven. To summarize this first issue: there is a significant misunderstanding of what the ex-gay message actually is.
The second issue involves the question of harm. In a small number of cases - legitimate hurt may be experienced as part of the therapy or discipleship process. Yes, some people have been hurt, but this is true of all therapy. During therapy, one's feelings can opened up. If the person prematurely abandons his therapy, the open wound may not be healed. The question of alleged "harm" has been over emphasized by the various pro-gay professional bodies. They uncritically use studies like Shidlo and Schroeder (who stated that their study should not be used to ban sexual orientation change efforts) as well as more recent studies that unfairly claim that sexual orientation change efforts carry an excessive risk of harm.
I have posted elsewhere on my blog how Shidlo and Schroeder advertised specifically for those who had been harmed - but nevertheless reported that over two thirds of those who responded to their study benefited from the therapy. However, there are three newer studies who are less honest than Shidlo and Schroeder about their statistics.
Flentje, Heck, & Cochran (2013) used listservs to specifically identify ex-ex-gays. In this study, over half of those who went through the ex-gay process (56.1%) received help from "pastoral counsellors". Often these are church leaders with little or no training beyond a session in theological college or are counsellors from a specific "religious" school of thought -- that can range from Nouthetic (also known as True Biblical Counselling) through inner healing/prayer counselling methods such as Theophostics through Gary Collins "Christian Counseling" to the "Biblical Counseling" of Larry Crabb (also the core of the training offered in the UK by CWR and others), and that's just the Christian ones -- some of which are counselling in name only with others offering no training on the underlying psychological issues around sexuality, whether the presenting issue be pornography or same sex attraction. We have no way of knowing what the qualifications, if any, of these pastoral counsellors are/were of if they were actually involved with any ex-gay groups.
Another 16.8% saw peer counsellors, suggestive of self-help groups. However once again we have no indication of what groups these were, or the level of training available to the leaders (some are much better than others) amongst other problematic issues.
This leaves only 34.6% who went to mental health professionals. There are major problems with this study, (which also exists in the Shidlo and Schroeder study). (1) We do not know whether these people actually went through therapy, (2) as to those who went through therapy or attended a support group, we have no idea how many sessions they went to, and (3) we do not know whether they believed the therapy was effective or not after finishing counselling with the mental health professional.
Why are these major questions? Because of the outright falsifications and misrepresentations of many of those who subsequently identify as gay. A few examples will illustrate this point. In New Jersey, a witness for the effort to ban sexual orientation change efforts for minors, whose fraudulent testimony was initially exposed by the ex-gay movement called "Voice of the Voiceless", falsely testified before a legislative body. He claimed he had been sent to a conversion camp which did not exist. His testimony was actually the script of a 1999 RuPaul movie called "But I'm a Cheerleader." No records existed for any aspect of his false testimony after they were checked with state, local, and church officials who were allegedly involved.
Are there other false testimonies out there? Absolutely. In the recent action filed against the ex-gay group, JONAH, one of the plaintiffs erratically attended four sessions with his licensed therapist to whom he was referred by JONAH. Nevertheless, he claimed that neither JONAH nor the referral counsellor was able to help him change his sexual orientation. As all therapists know, such a paltry number of sessions, done erratically, is not a prescription for healing. Another plaintiff, whose attendance was likewise erratic, expressed himself to several witnesses as being satisfied about the counselling he received. He continued to do so for approximately 18 months after he dropped out of his therapy sessions. However, after being recruited to bring a lawsuit, he totally changed his story in the complaint for the court action. In both the Shidlo and Schroeder and Flentje, Heck, & Cochran studies, there is no mention of how many sessions the person attended or whether they actually attended, or even if they regularly attended any therapy sessions or support groups.
Another study, Dehlin, Galliher, Bradshaw, Hyde, & Crowell (2014), looked at individuals who were past members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS). Here again, most bishops in the Mormon Church are layman. They receive little or no psychological or pastoral care training. This takes us back to the problem seen in the Shidlo and Schroeder and Flentje, Heck and Cochran studies. We do not know the qualifications of the pastoral counsellors or even the mental health professionals who may have been involved with the subjects. (I am a qualified therapist but there are issues -- such as PTSD -- that I do not handle as I am not trained to deal with them). Once again, the participants were not a representative sample; they were recruited through liberal sources. Neither the LDS Church, nor the LDS ex-gay group Northstar, nor NARTH or other more representative groups were contacted for participants. No adverts were put into the LDS press.
This last study (Dehlin, Galliher, Bradshaw, Hyde and Crowell (2014)) dismisses studies such as Jones and Yarhouse (2011) and the several studies of Nicolosi, Byrd et al. They also dismiss the landmark Spitzer study. Dr. Spitzer was the individual primarily responsible for removing homosexuality from the DSM and several years later looked at the question whether change of sexual orientation was possible and agreed that change was possible. Because of pressure from gay activists and his failing health, he ended up apologizing to homosexuals for having done the study that indicated change of sexual orientation was possible. The authors of the 2014 study failed to quote the editor of Archives of Sexual Behaviour (where Spitzer's study was published) who explained that Spitzer's study could not be retracted because his methodolgy was valid. They also neglected to report on the statements from Armelli, Moose, Paulk, and Phelan (2013) all of whom were subjects of the original study. They published a letter declaring that their change of sexual orientation was authentic and that they stand by what was reported by them to Spitzer. The authors further neglect to report on comments by Spitzer's wife concerning the bullying he received from the gay activists, despite his deteriorating physical and mental health (Spitzer is suffering from Parkinson’s disease). All of the above raises serious doubts about the veracity of his alleged retraction.
All the studies that claim to show a high level of harm fail because there is no evidence to prove that the participants actually went through any ex-gay programme. So what about those studies that show evidence of participants going through some form of ex-gay programme or therapy?
The Spitzer study showed little harm. So too does the Jones and Yarhouse study. The only study indicating a "significant" statistic is the study by Nicolosi, Byrd et al which reported a level of harm of 7%. This figure is well below the 10% number generally seen as the level of concern by the American Psychological Association, the British Psychological Society and other mental health organizations. (That is to say, that any therapy where more than 1 in 10 people are at risk of harm is to be used only with caution).
So back to the point of some having been harmed,... but clearly not as many as the ex-ex-gay movement and the pro-gay lobby would like to claim. Those who have been harmed have a legitimate concern - but what is not legitimate is to allow those concerns to be force-fed to the rest of the world as claimed by pro-gay advocates. This strategy comes with the mis-claim of the ex-ex-gay movement that sexual orientation change efforts claim to "cure" homosexuality and that they promise 100% change. This has never been the case! No guarantee of change has ever been provided. Desert Streams, First Stone Ministries, Mastering Life Ministries, True Freedom Trust, NARTH, JONAH and others have always been open and honest about the fact that not everyone will see the complete removal of homosexual feelings, that different people will see differing amounts of change, and that some will see little or no change. They have also been honest that they are not "curing" homosexuality and, despite the reporting of various media outlets, have been careful not to use the term "cure." So while the failure hurts, we must ask where the disappointment comes from? Are those who have been hurt wanting something that the ex-gay movement, and those who provide sexual orientation change efforts do not promise and are then disappointed when their unrealistic hopes are not met?
This leads me onto the third rationale used against the ex-gay movement. It is most often utilized by parents and the family of those who identify as same sex attracted. If people are "born gay", then no fault can be laid at the doorstep of these parents and friends. Stated another way, if people are not born gay then the argument goes that parents, siblings, family members and others must be at fault. But most people do not wish to feel "guilty" or to accept responsibility for the issue faced by a loved one. We see this attitude in ministries such as Canyon Walkers, PFLAG (Parents Friends and Families of Lesbians and Gays) as well as in the book Natures Choice. By accepting this rationale, the ex-gay movement is then seen by these people as blaming people. Yet, as the World Health Organisation is now admitting, upbringing plays a significant role in the development of same sex attraction. However, it is but one variable of many. For example, we have no idea of how an action as simple as leaving a new born child in a hospital too long may affect the child psychologically, which may lead to an infant's feelings of abandonment. To run away from a false guilt by clinging to the "born gay" lie does neither the family nor the individual good. As someone once said, feelings that are buried do not die - they just lie dormant waiting to explode at the most inopportune moment.
The fourth issue, and one I am seeing more and more, is that of narcissistic tendencies of the pro-gay advocates. Narcissism can be defined as "the pursuit of gratification from vanity, or egotistic admiration of one's own physical or mental attributes, that derive from arrogant pride". I see this is the behaviour of Michael Bussee, John Shmid, John Paulk and other ex-leaders of the ex-gay movement as well as"pro-gay activists" such as Wayne Besen and Patrick Strudwick. Those "leaders" have failed to be honest with themselves about their own issues, including for the ex-ex gay, why they failed to see the change they sought (were their expectations realistic?) and their motivations. They have been dishonest about the change seen in other people -- by denying change is possible. They also exhibit great inconsistency. For example, John Paulk calls his ex-wife a liar while at the same time he tells people on Facebook not to attack her. This is a very two-faced approach. Wayne Besen attacks the integrity of anyone with whom he disagrees, including those scientists who promote the fact that people are not born gay. Yet, as his latest website shows, he expects people to "Respect My Research" without question. To call his ministry "Truth Wins Out" while failing to quote research he does not like is dishonest. It is not truth. All this behaviour is classic narcissism - these people see themselves as somehow better than those who want to change but their vanity is so fragile they cannot cope with others who point out their failures. This narcissism recently seen in Paulk and Shmid and long term in Bussee and Peterson Toscano, drives such individuals to be in the public eye. Not only is embracing homosexuality easier (it takes hard work and dedication to overcome homosexual feelings, behaviour, or identity) it gives them the media opportunities to be in the spotlight that they crave as classic narcissists .
It is this narcissism that allows the legitimate hurt to become a rabid crusade,that allows the misunderstanding to become the root of the twisting of emotive terms such as homophobia.
In my dealings with both the ex-gay and ex-ex-gay movements (with the accompanying pro-gay "accepting evangelical" movement of Colin Coward and Changing Attitudes amongst others) through my past involvement with the Anglican Listening Process, I am yet to meet an ex-gay leader who enjoys the publicity, even from the sympathetic media such as Charisma Magazine, as the ex-ex-gay and pro-gay leaders do. The ex-ex-gay courts the media in a way that, at times is sycophantic. Someone once said that you can tell a true prophet because they do not want to be in the public eye and only accept being there because God has called them. This is the spirit that is missing in John Shmid, John Paulk, Michael Bussee, Peterson Toscano and too many others.
Those of us who, because of our testimony and life experiences, have been forced - unwillingly - into the spotlight have learned to live with the failures of former friends, colleagues and loved ones. Recognising the roots does not make it easier to cope with what can feel like betrayal - but it is a reminder of why we need to be true to our testimony and what we have been called to do by the God who heals, saves and restores.
|Posted on January 6, 2016 at 1:35 PM|
Why Many Homosexuals Hate Ex-Gays: Thoughts From A JONAH Member
Michael Shaw (Posted 2006)
Why Many Homosexuals Hate Ex-Gays: Thoughts From A JONAH Member
I recently came across a posting on message board on a politically-oriented Web site entitled "Why Do So Many Homosexuals Hate Ex-Gays?." The question made me stop and think.
I wouldn't say that all homosexuals hate ex-gays but I would say that homosexual rights activists don't care about the individual journeys and lives of people with homosexual feelings, they care about their political cause and nothing else.
How can it possibly be wrong for a young man who experiences homosexual feelings to seek ways to cope with and even overcome these feelings and learn to expand his range of sexual expression to include members of the opposite sex? How can it be wrong to offer such a young man help?
Here is my story: When I was college my best friend Alan defined himself as gay. I had certain sexual fantasies and feelings about men but wasn't so sure. Alan became politically active in the gay organizations on and off campus (with the support of liberal professors), dated men and believed that he was gay and that was it. Unfortunately, Alan was just in time to catch the AIDS virus before anyone knew what it was. Needless to say, he does not walk in any more gay rights marches.
At that age, you are very open and close in your friendships. I knew him like I have known few other friends in my life.
When I read his obituary, it shored up my resolve to take another path. I never acted on my homosexual feelings with another person and sought to know myself as honestly as I could. Now, I can't say life has been easy or perfect; I am who I am. But I have experienced incredible changes in my sexual fantasy life and arousal patterns. My homosexual attractions are a miniscule percentage of what they once were. I have experienced genuine sexual arousal from physical contact with a woman. These are not changes in behavior, these are changes in my core way of thinking, a reflection of a gradual process of attaining emotional maturity.
If political activist gays would tell the truth they would say it takes a lot of hurt to make a boy a homosexual. They would also say that the human mind can accomplish anything and that, whatever mistakes we make, change is always possible. These are subtle concepts and may never get play in the mass media.
But it is the truth.