How to become heterosexual.
May 9, 2001 6:03 AM   Subscribe

How to become heterosexual.
Dr. Spitzer, "a Jewish, atheist, secular humanist" and psychiatrist, has found that it is possible to change sexual orientation.
Question #1
Would it also be possible to make straight people gay?
Question #2
"...11 percent of men and 37 percent of women reported a complete absence of homosexual indicators"
Homosexual indicators? Such as ..........?
Question #3
...... oh never mind.......
posted by nonharmful (108 comments total)
I don't really know whether all the people in this study are fooling themselves. Sexual orientation is not binary; it's considerably more complex than gay/straight or even gay/straight/bi. It may be possible for some people in the middle of that continuum who had been pursuing a gay lifestyle to pursue a straight lifestyle. And if that's what they want, then fine.

But let's not forget about the much larger number of gay men and women who can't change our sexuality and who would be irreparably harmed by trying to do so. It is pointless and cruel to tell us that we've chosen to be homosexual and that we should fix ourselves.

I think the article does a pretty good job of raising the flaws in this research (although I'd point out that saying having sex "at least once a month" is a pretty low bar for claiming a successful relationship), so I won't go any further into that. Let me, instead talk about my own experience, which I have learned is not uncommon.

I was raised in a very strict household where sex was not at all discussed at all. As far as homosexuality goes, I'm not sure that my parents were even aware that it existed until the Anita Bryant crusade, but it was certainly not discussed. The assumption for all us kids was that we would get married and have children. When I was in high school, I did some experimentation with my best friend, and I certainly enjoyed it, but I also enjoyed kissing girls. Still, if I'd been more aware, I might have figured out earlier that I was gay.

Anyway, I went off to college, and I didn't have sex with anyone until I met my wife, and we had sex a lot, and I enjoyed it a lot. At least for a number of years.

Trying to be straight put a heavy burden on me. Sexuality is at the core of a person's being, and trying to convince myself that I was someone who I'm not was devastating. For years, if I saw a cute guy on the street, I couldn't look at him, because a straight guy wouldn't do that. And I couldn't have close male friends, because that wasn't safe. None of these was a conscious decision. It was something I did unconsciously to protect my sense of who I was.

But trying to fool yourself about who you are requires constant vigilance and an immense amount of energy, energy that could otherwise be spent living your life. I became very depressed over time.

At some point, and I don't know exactly when, I started to notice things. I noticed that whenever I masturbated (which happened frequently, since my wife and I were having less and less sex) I was thinking about men. And with my defenses lowered, I started to notice just how cute a lot of guys were. But I wasn't acting on it, and so I started to think that I must be bisexual. I even told my wife that, and she accepted it, so long as I agreed to remain monogamous.

When my second daughter was born, I stopped working to stay home with the kids. My older daughter was in school, and my younger daughter slept a lot, and I found myself more and more on the Internet. At first I looked at a lot of gay porn, and then I found gay chat sites and started talking with men and fantasizing. It became clear to me that I was really gay.

Making that admission, first to myself and then to my wife, brought about an almost unimaginable amount of relief. Suddenly, I was free. Yes, I went through a very messy and expensive divorce, but I was able to be who I am. When I finally did decide to have sex with a man (after we had decided to divorce), it was unbelievable. The first time I kissed him, it was as if the scales had fallen from my eyes. I liken the entire experience to Plato's cave analogy. Sex with my wife was like a poorly projected shadow. Sex with men is the real thing. There is simply no comparison, and there is no going back.

There may be men who can go back. But the overwhelming majority of men who have issues with their sexuality (and that's a lot of guys) would be much better served by joining a group that teaches them to accept who they are than by joining a ministry that teaches them to be who they are not.
posted by anapestic at 6:35 AM on May 9, 2001

> But trying to fool yourself about who you are requires
> constant vigilance and an immense amount of energy,
> energy that could otherwise be spent living your life.

Question 1) Is there a difference between "trying to fool yourself about who you are," on the one hand, and trying to be different from and better than what you happen to be right now, which also takes constant vigilance and much energy and may never succeed?

Question 2) what is this "living your life," that's somehow not the same as "doing whatever you did during the time you had (which may have included devoting time and energy to self-deception?)"
posted by jfuller at 7:00 AM on May 9, 2001

It's an unpublished study. Translation: It's not peer-reviewed. Doesn't publicity of research usually coincide with the research being published in a scientific journal? Why is this news article citing a study "not yet been published," instead of a study "appearing in Journal XYZ this month."

"Haldeman noted that some 43 percent of those sampled were by religious groups that condemn homosexuality."

HA! HA! HA! So why do we give this report even a minute of our time?
posted by fleener at 7:05 AM on May 9, 2001

anapestic, I applaud you. That was perhaps the best post I have read in a week.
I am heterosexual, and was raised by parents who never let it be known that homosexuality even existed. Then I got out of the house, and moved to LA.
The best neighborhood to me was a little place called Boys Town.
I didn't know, I was only 18....
While I was there, I worked within the community and got the chance to make some great friends. The burden that society places on gay men and women is far greater than anything that most of us have to face, and I admire the courage of anyone who has the guts to stand up and defend their sexuality.... as if they have to anyway.
If only this guy would just set down and watch an episode of Will and Grace, I am sure everything would be okay.
posted by bradth27 at 7:11 AM on May 9, 2001

Homosexuality should be outlawed.

The burden that society places on gay men and women is far greater than anything that most of us have to face

...and quite rightly so.
posted by timbooker at 7:17 AM on May 9, 2001

jfuller, I'm perfectly willing to answer your questions, but first I need to understand the premises that underlie them. Are you implying that I would necessarily be better than who I am now if I were living a heterosexual lifestyle?
posted by anapestic at 7:23 AM on May 9, 2001

timbooker, perhaps you'd care to share with the rest of us why you feel justified in condemning and outlawing an aspect of an individual's behavior that is, quite literally, personal and none of your fucking business?
posted by m.polo at 7:27 AM on May 9, 2001

Ignore him. He's a troll who also apparently likes to post his URL in his longer posts.
posted by starvingartist at 7:34 AM on May 9, 2001

I've wondered about #2 (can a straight person be made gay as well?) myself. It's implicit in these sorts of studies that the goal of research is to "fix" homosexuals. I wonder why this study is even being reported where lots of similar ones were (rightly) laughed at.
posted by Gilbert at 7:40 AM on May 9, 2001

Ignoring the troll...I'm hoping that's what it was...

Thanks anapestic. Your story is remarkably similar to what happened to my Dad. My parents divorced when I was eight because my father realized he is gay. I have met quite a few people who have had similar experiences. Unfortunately in our case his leaving was the turning point for my mother's spiral into alcoholism, subsequent near-fatal car accident, and therefore lack of a whole lot of fun in my childhood. Although I was angry for a long time afterwards, I don't blame my father anymore. What I do blame is society trying to push gay people into a straight lifestyle when this is completely unneccessary and so obviously, obviously bad for families. Not that I'm saying gay people shouldn't have families, should anyone misunderstand. I wouldn't trade my Dad for any other. But what should happen is that people should feel free to experiment with their sexuality in order to figure out what kind of lifestyle is right for them before going ahead with the marriage and kids thing because it's the only acceptable option.

The article is simply a rehashing of inane moral policing by religious extremists. It's not worth our time.
posted by hazyjane at 7:40 AM on May 9, 2001

I object to being called a troll. Is the purpose of this forum not to express one's opinion?
posted by timbooker at 7:50 AM on May 9, 2001

Yes, but when you express your opinion in such an aggressive, argumentative, not-really-lending-to-the-discussion sort of way that looks like it's only meant to provoke the rest of us to anger, I think you should expect to be called a troll. How about, instead of blankly stating "Homosexuality should be outlawed", you give your (well-argued) opinion why it should be outlawed, and then I'll take back the troll statement?
posted by starvingartist at 7:52 AM on May 9, 2001

We should all take a page from Romania, kill all those that are different. I mean, sure we could just outlaw homosexuality, but that wouldn't be any fun, we'll probably have to setup some kind of a beating routine, 'beat the guy right outta 'em", right tim?
posted by tiaka at 7:59 AM on May 9, 2001

I object to being called a troll. Is the purpose of this forum not to express one's opinion?

I object to you your not answering the direct question I posed to you. I - of all people - know that around here it's OK to have opinions that are different from everybody else's, but you'd better fucking back it up with something substantive, or you are the MeFi troll. Goodbye.
posted by m.polo at 8:02 AM on May 9, 2001

What is frightening (to me) is that I first saw this story this morning on CNN Headline News -- it was the LEAD story! Granted, it appears as though it has been pulled already (or at least pushed back some), but how can credible news sources treat this "study" as objective or newsworthy? No peer review, a tainted sampling pool...OK, I just checked, it's still one of the lead stories...what the hell?

Kudos to anapestic as well -- it was refreshing to read such an honest post after reading that article.
posted by kphaley454 at 8:04 AM on May 9, 2001

Everyone here is welcome to express his or her opinion, but taking a pot shot with a single outrageous sentence, then running away is not "expressing one's opinion". It's being a coward and, indeed, a troll.

Contribute to the discussion intelligently, no matter which "side" you take, or piss off.
posted by jpoulos at 8:05 AM on May 9, 2001

Why can't people just be bi-sexual and cover all the bases? If a gay guy becomes straight, will he then be able to serve as a Boy Scout leader or will they fear there might be a relapse?
posted by Postroad at 8:06 AM on May 9, 2001

Yes, timbooker, outlaw homosexuality. Send all the homos to prison. That will put an end to all that nasty anal sex...
posted by bondcliff at 8:06 AM on May 9, 2001

We've seen it all. We've witnessed the miracle "cures" for homosexuality, we've watched as our brothers and sisters were stricken down in the streets, strung up on fences... We've watched as our activities-of-the-bedroom were made public knowledge, as though if you're gay, then you're clearly having sex...

I've watched as people have distanced themselves from me. I've listened as my parents priests have shared with me some religious diatribes (in the best of faith, no harm intended). I've felt it as I've been physically attacked because of something so personal...

...Makes me almost want to get this new "cure." It might just be easier than dealing with the ignorance of the world, which I love so much.
posted by vandoren at 8:08 AM on May 9, 2001

Nothing like an unpublished study of a ridiculously small, skewed-selection sample with questionable success criteria to really get the blood flowing, is there?

This article doesn't go much into the source of the data -- who actually did the "reparative therapy" for these 200 people? I assume it was the anti-gay religious groups, who passed the 'successful' cases on to this psychiatrist for interviews, as an attempt to give themselves some credibility.

Sure, I'll buy the idea that a religious group was able to convince 200 people to be "bothered only slightly by their homosexual feelings". Religious groups have also convinced people to enter into mass arranged marriages, drink poison kool-aid, and wear matching Nike sneakers for the UFOs, though; as far as I'm concerned, reparative therapy falls in to much the same league.
posted by ook at 8:11 AM on May 9, 2001

Anapestic - What you've said is really great. Recently, I've been questioning my own sexuality. The difficulty that I'm having is that I'm going through a lot of the same things that you did - I don't have any close friendships with guys (Maybe that has more to do with the fact that I don't like beer, football, hunting, or pickup trucks, but that's a side issue...), I haven't been able to have any really good relationships with girls, with one or three very small exceptions... No sex in college rings a real big bell... and now I've got a couple of friends who have, without talking to each other, decided that I'm gay.

Unfortunately, I still don't enjoy looking at men. I just... don't. Girls are where it's at for me, sexually. I've got lots of really close female friends, but they're just friends, and none of them are willing to become girlfriends. Single women don't like me for some reason.

Actually, I take a bit of that back. There are guys who I think are attractive, but in a "gee, I wish I looked like him." way, not a "Wow, I want to jump his bones" way.

I just don't want to go a little later in life, meet someone amazing and get married to them, and then find out I'm gay. What Lance has said about how he figured things out rings a bell, as well.

So what do you do when you're a gay man who's not attracted to guys?
posted by SpecialK at 8:20 AM on May 9, 2001

Ah, I understand. Sweeping statements are fine, as long as they follow the general direction of the discussion.

The purpose of sex is to reproduce, and for humanity to continue. Homosexuality, however, has no natural purpose, and has been considered, even since old testament times, to be wrong and despicable. Only in today's perverse world are people talking about homosexuality as if it has it's place in society.

I think this thread has turned a bit backward. Straight people should not have to explain why homosexuality is wrong. Gay people have to justify why they think it should be allowed.
posted by timbooker at 8:24 AM on May 9, 2001

> Are you implying that I would necessarily be better than
> who I am now if I were living a heterosexual lifestyle?

No, not necessarily. I ask because of the number of people I've heard telling themselves some Dr. Feelgood variation on "I'm learning to be happy with who I am," when they actually mean "I'm giving up on trying to be X, which I used to want, because it turns out to require constant vigilance and energy input and I'm not making any obvious progress."

To be more specific about what sort of answer I'm fishing for, I wonder if you can point to anything that distinguishes a personal characteristic you should learn to be content with from a personal goal you should cling to with both hands, both feet and your teeth -- other than that reaching the goal calls for vigilance and energy and self-control and it's so much simpler just to let it go with a Dr.-Feelgood-certified excuse
posted by jfuller at 8:27 AM on May 9, 2001

SpecialK -- please don't take me wrong, but I'm very confused by your post...

You say you're not attracted to guys, and that women are where it's at for you sexually... but then, based apparently on the facts that no girls are interested in you at the moment and that some of your friends have decided it must be so, you say you're gay.

I didn't have much sex in college either, and I don't like football or hunting, and I'm occasionally mistaken for a gay (probably because many of my friends are gay or bi, and I tend to move in some circles where a speculative pass isn't out of the question)... but I'm straight. Tried it, liked it, that's what I am.

This is going to sound oh-so-pop-psychology... but what the hell: don't define yourself by what others think of you, define yourself by what you think of yourself. Put that in a nice brush-script text over a sunset photo and hang it on the wall next to the "footprints in the sand" plaque, okay, but I think it's true.
posted by ook at 8:35 AM on May 9, 2001

I think this thread has turned a bit backward. Straight people should not have to explain why homosexuality is wrong. Gay people have to justify why they think it should be allowed.

And next we must leap through what hoops to get your acceptance? I'm sorry that your (clearly) relgious commentary is so fueled on the idealogical belief that attacking "sinners" is okay, just so long as you say they're sinners before you hit them.

Sex for reproduction, eh? HMm.. Welcome to the 2000s, bub. It's not about reproduction. If it were, there'd be no room left for you. We would've run out a long time ago.
posted by vandoren at 8:35 AM on May 9, 2001

I'm not gay, timbooker, But I'll tell you why it should be allowed... because its none of your business. We live in a , for the most part, free society. If a guy prefers sex with another guy, why should we concern ourselves with it? If both are consenting adults, I see no problem with any sexual acts under taken by said couple. I prefer to keep foreign objects out of my rectum but not everyone has that preference. That's their perogative. Its not our place to tell them any different. How do you justify birth control for heterosexuals? isn't that against the 'natural purpose'?
posted by srw12 at 8:41 AM on May 9, 2001

I think I will stay out of this discussion from now on. Looks like someone will pull out the baseball bats soon.....
posted by bradth27 at 8:45 AM on May 9, 2001

Ah, I understand. Sweeping statements are fine, as long as they follow the general direction of the discussion.

Um, yeah. I didn't say you were wrong, per se (although I believe you are), I said you were a troll because you made a sweeping statement which I deemed to be intentionally provoking, and then didn't come back with any kind of intelligent argument for over an hour.

And in my opinion, you are still a troll, because I don't accept your argument as particularly well thought out. Yes, the main purpose of sex is to reproduce, but the main purpose of personal relationships is not sex. Being gay is not just about fucking someone of the same sex as you. It's about personal relationship, sharing your life with someone, all the crap that comes with any personal relationship, only that person happens to be of your own sex.

As for the despicable part and being condemned by religion. Well, a lot of us don't give a damn about religion. Also, most major religions look upon sex as a dirty thing, only meant for reproduction. As far as I can tell, you're not supposed to enjoy it, and you're certainly not supposed to engage in it outside of marriage. And really, any sex can be messy and disgusting - if you're doing it right, anyway. So in that respect, sex in general can be looked upon as despicable.

People are finally talking about acceptance of homosexuality in society today because we've evolved to a point in society where most of us know it's wrong to physically attack and usually kill someone for a different belief system. I'm sure in the past homosexuals were petrified to come out of the closet for fear of certain physical harm. Today's modern world is also working towards equality for women, fighting world hunger, curing diseases (remember the pox? the plague? they were great, eh? let's go back to the old days)... What was so great about the past?

Sorry, timbooker, your arguments don't work for me. Come back again sometime.
posted by starvingartist at 8:51 AM on May 9, 2001

timbooker -- okay, I'll bite.

Much human behavior -- including philosophy, mathematics, sports, websurfing, and pretty much anything else besides eating, sleeping, and excreting -- has no "natural purpose". Should we abandon all those practices?

Homosexuality has been considered "immoral" by several cultures at various points in history, true. It has also been considered perfectly natural by just as many cultures: the ancient Greeks are the most obvious example, but there are many others. Ideals of what constitute moral behavior vary widely throughout history and in the present day. Even the old-testament christian tradition you cite can be interpreted in many different ways... it's ridiculous for you to quote one biased historical viewpoint and expect everyone to toe that particular line.

As for justifying why homosexuality should be allowed, as opposed to why it shouldn't be disallowed... well, the way I see it, what people do on their own time in their own homes is nobody's business but their own. You may not choose to engage in it or approve of it, and that's fine; but you've no right to restrict the behavior of others when what they're doing has no effect on you whatsoever.
posted by ook at 8:56 AM on May 9, 2001

>The purpose of sex is to reproduce, and for humanity to continue. Homosexuality, however, has no natural purpose, and has been considered, even since old testament times, to be wrong and despicable. Only in today's perverse world are people talking about homosexuality as if it has it's place in society.

(Sad, heavy sigh.) Oh. That tripe again. Looks like somebody's led a bit of a sheltered life and needs a little information. Well, I'll make a small effort.

As for homosexuality not being "natural" one might start here: Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity by Bruce Bagemihl.

"Bagemihl begins with an overview of same-sex activity in animals, carefully defining courtship patterns, affectionate behaviors, sexual techniques, mating and pair-bonding, and same-sex parenting. He firmly dispels the prevailing notion that homosexuality is uniquely human and only occurs in "unnatural" circumstances. "

In other words: yes, it does exist in numerous species, for whatever "purpose" it may serve - science has just been too blindered by Judeo-Christian morality to discuss it.

And speaking of morality, your statement that it has "even since old testament times" been considered "wrong and despicable" ignores the existence of other cultures, such as most Native American Indian tribes, where it is considered natural. Indeed, such people were often considered holy, as shamans and medicine men. (See Spirit and the Flesh: Sexual Diversity in American Indian Culture by Walter L. Williams.)

But let me add, even after all that, that nobody needs to "justify why homosexuality is ok" - Because basically it's none of your business who anyone else loves or has sex with, or what type of sex they have. You simply don't have the right to judge that or outlaw that.
posted by dnash at 8:58 AM on May 9, 2001

I like Gore Vidal's take on it - there are no homosexual people, only homosexual acts. I think it works the other way around too - no heterosexual people, etc. It's a quote that speaks volumes - don't define people by their sexuality, don't define yourself that way.

I don't know. Instinctively, it makes sense to me.
posted by annathea at 9:07 AM on May 9, 2001

Ok, now that I have clarification.

Question 1) Is there a difference between "trying to fool yourself about who you are," on the one hand, and trying to be different from and better than what you happen to be right now, which also takes constant vigilance and much energy and may never succeed?

I'm grappling with the way you framed the question because I don't think the two options you've given are mutually exclusive. You should never try to fool yourself about who you are. If you don't know where you're starting from, then you won't have any idea how to get where you want to be. That said, whether you accept who you are or whether you try to change is a factor of morality and practicality. That is 1) is who I am a bad thing and 2) how hard will it be to change.

I think it would be impossible for me to really become a straight man. I could, under duress, stop leading a homosexual life; that is, if I needed to, I could stop having sex with men. I simply don't see anything wrong with being homosexual. I'm not hurting anyone. I still meet all my responsibilities; I'm a good father to my children. So why should I purposefully subject myself to the pain of trying to change myself when there's nothing wrong with who I am?

On the other hand, some people are pedophiles and prey on young children. From what I've read, this behavior is also extremely difficult to change, but it's morally indefensible and extremely harmful. It's much better to be constantly vigilant than to ruin the lives of children.

Question 2) what is this "living your life," that's somehow not the same as "doing whatever you did during the time you had (which may have included devoting time and energy to self-deception?)"

I'm going to guess here that you've never experienced a prolonged period of clinical depression. It impairs your ability to sleep and your ability to concentrate as well as your mood. That in turn affects your ability to interact with people and to do your job. I suppose that I mostly meant that I would have been living a happier life.

But of course, it's complicated. I do have two amazing daughters from the marriage, and we have a terrific relationship. If I had known all along that I was gay, I would certainly not have married, and I wouldn't have the girls. If someone came up to me today and offered me a ride in the wayback machine to do it all over, I'd refuse.
posted by anapestic at 9:10 AM on May 9, 2001

SpecialK: what's the problem, really? Just hang around; don't get married until you're enjoying sex. When you are, turn the light on and you'll probably be able to work out whether you're gay or not...
posted by andrew cooke at 9:10 AM on May 9, 2001

> The purpose of sex is to reproduce, and for humanity to
> continue. Homosexuality, however, has no natural
> purpose, and has been considered, even since old
> testament times, to be wrong and despicable.

Okay, completely aside from your beliefs, timbooker, how can you categorically say this? Is reproduction the ONLY purpose for sexuality existing? Do you try to conceive a child every time you have sex?

Sex is also for expression and reinforcement of feelings, and people have had sex for purposes other than reproduction even since old testament times. If you're going to try to use some "natural law" argument to support your claim, at least come up with a better one than that.

Either that or fess up and say "I don't like homosexuality. I find it repugnant." That's fine. You're entitled to your opinion. Personally, I find PR repugnant, but I'm not going to quote the Bible to back up my feelings.
posted by dammitjim at 9:14 AM on May 9, 2001

It's a point that's been brought up before in this thread, but I think it bears repeating. timbooker's comments show what's wrong with most arguments against homosexuality (a weird phrase). By most, um, "opponents'" definition, homosexuality = having sex with the same gender. Just sex. There's no kind of interpersonal relationship there. Those are reserved for boy-girl couples.

While I'll grant that there are plenty of manwhores out there, there are plenty of committed, healthy relationships too. The only difference? You're not gonna get a baby the fun way.

Anyway, it's all a moot point, since (like everyone else has said), it's nobody's business but mine and the other person(s).
posted by billybunny at 9:21 AM on May 9, 2001

> The purpose of sex is to reproduce, and for humanity to
> continue.

I don't buy this. The purpose of sex is to experience physical pleasure (the dopamine release, for starters). A side effect is continued human existance; if reproduction were the primary purpose it wouldn't need inducement of pleasure to be performed, and wouldn't be pleasureable outside of the purpose.

> Homosexuality, however, has no natural
> purpose, and has been considered, even since old
> testament times, to be wrong and despicable.

Scientifically, homosexuality has the purpose of allowing sexual congress with no chance of increasing population, and is found in many groups of animals suffering overpopulation. That's just one purpose; there may be others.

Of course, if we could just figure out how to get women to reabsorb growing foeti (ala rabbits) without any of the psychological trauma of not having a baby, we'd be set. Seems our genetics were geared towards making women happy first, rather than reproduction.

Makes me wonder, again, about the "Is God a Woman" question.
posted by dwivian at 9:29 AM on May 9, 2001

anapest: thanks for considered responses. Fuller tips hat.
posted by jfuller at 9:29 AM on May 9, 2001

SpecialK, one other possibility for your uncertainty re: your sexuality is possible. It could be (standard "I am not a doctor" disclaimers apply) a symptom of depression. It's often common for people suffering from slight-to-moderate depression to have radical reductions in their sexual desire.

I know that, since being treated for depression myself, my libidio has gone back to its normal levels. Which, being a guy, means they border on obsessive during the springtime. Anybody attractive will get me going. Especially that timbooker. *Smooooch*
posted by anildash at 9:31 AM on May 9, 2001

SpecialK: So what do you do when you're a gay man who's not attracted to guys?

If my experience is any guide, you get asked out by me. [Sigh.]

If sex is only intended for reproduction, and I'm gay and I'm sterile...well, I'm pretty much (pardon the expression) fucked, aren't I?

Besides, anyone who thinks gays don't reproduce has never been at a Kinko's Copies shop the night before a Pride festival.
posted by bradlands at 9:36 AM on May 9, 2001

*rimshot!* Well done, bradlands. We needed a little comedy here to lighten things up.
posted by starvingartist at 9:42 AM on May 9, 2001

?If my experience is any guide, you get asked out by me. [Sigh.]

posted by andrew cooke at 9:44 AM on May 9, 2001

timbooker won't be back. But if he does come back, he'll demonstrate, again, that he can only think in fragmentary clich├ęs. None of us should wait around for him to assemble an argument with any coherent basis.
posted by argybarg at 9:46 AM on May 9, 2001

Our closest living relatives are Bonobos chimps, and among them everyone of both sexes is bisexual, relating equally to everyone else.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 9:47 AM on May 9, 2001

I am getting such an education today. All this is fantastic stuff for me to use the next time I have to argue this particular topic IRL. Thanks, everyone! Oh, and I second anildash. Timbooker - *Smoooooch* ;-)
posted by starvingartist at 9:51 AM on May 9, 2001

SpecialK, you aren't alone in wondering exactly how you know. Sexuality's a confusing thing, and as gets bandied about so often, there's no absolutes. I can't give you a definite answer, but if you are lucky enough to find that special someone, regardless of gender, don't hold back because you don't want to find out 10 years down the line you made a mistake.

Read what anapestic's said especially: No matter what, he wouldn't give it up. It may have been the greatest mistake in his life (though I don't know your life anapestic, and I don't mean to take too many liberties, I'm truly sorry if I am) but he'd do it again.

I think the worst possible thing you can do is constantly question your actions. Inaction due to constant self-questioning is probably a bigger mistake than anything that you'd decide to do. At least if you do make a choice you know that it was your choice, and circumstances didn't force you into it.
posted by cCranium at 9:54 AM on May 9, 2001

Lots of people misunderstand the differences between trolling and flame baiting...

Trolls are intentionally wrong. Someone who troll is a trickster and a liar (in a good way). They're sarcastic. They point out how ridiculous you are in ways you've never noticed before.

Bondcliff's comment is kinda trollish. It's obviously untrue, but if you aren't paying attention you might take the bait instead of smiling and rolling your eyes.

It's the whole "baiting" issue that confuses people, I think. Flame baiters say obnoxious things (usually) just to piss people off or disrupt a conversation. Sometimes they're serious, sometimes they're not, but they're never interested in contributing to a discourse.

There's humor in trolling, and a good troller rarely responds, except maybe with another troll. Flame baiting is just tedious and unenlightening. You need not comment on either, but a troll is to be appreciated... flame bait is to be ignored.

I've talked about this before, and I have a feeling I'll be spending some time developing these ideas of mine regarding the definition of trolling. I guess it's a fairly subtle distinction and unimportant to most people...
posted by techgnollogic at 10:05 AM on May 9, 2001

Yeah? Well, you're a gnoll. So there.
posted by starvingartist at 10:09 AM on May 9, 2001

It may have been the greatest mistake in his life (though I don't know your life anapestic, and I don't mean to take too many liberties, I'm truly sorry if I am) but he'd do it again.

cCranium, you've misinterpreted me slightly, but I can understand why you'd think that.

I would NOT do it again. If fifteen years ago I had known that I was gay and someone had shown me what would happen if I were to do what I ended up doing, I would have changed my behavior. Too many people got hurt, including me but more to the point my daughters. What I said was that I would not, having gotten to where I am now, undo what I've done.

I really feel for what SpecialK is going through, and I don't have any idea whether he's gay, but he should really figure that out before he goes and marries someone. I've known a number of men who got married knowing that they were gay. In most cases, it was because they wanted children. But someone always suffers, and nowadays if I meet someone who's gay and is thinking of getting married, I lay out for them the consequences they're likely to face. Which are not pretty.

On another topic:

bradlands, you're my hero. How's that redesign coming?
posted by anapestic at 10:17 AM on May 9, 2001

Tired of it.

I think so many of our problems are box-based. If you have homo and hetero and bi, you have boxes. You then wish to put people in boxes. Because people are what they are, they think some boxes are better than other boxes (the whole a-list thing reveals that). Unfortunately some people get killed for being in the unfashionable box.

My senior year in high school a teacher was killed for being in the gay part of Des Moines. The thing that angered me at that time was that everyone was saying: "it's such a tragedy-- he wasn't even gay! he just lived near there!" Kee-rist, it was a tragedy: someone was killed. Who really cares why. If he was straight it was a tragedy, if he was gay it was a tragedy, if he was a nympho who fucked everything that would let him it was a tragedy.

How about this: it is difficult to find someone you are attracted to. It's still more difficult to find someone you can stay attracted to after talking to them. It is a blessed joyous miracle to find someone you can love. How can you stop someone from experiencing that miracle? I'm recently married and I can't express the overwhelming joy I felt at that moment: head spinning, knees shaking, heart beating so fast, weeping with euphoria... I will never deny anyone that joy. Boy-boy, girl-girl, boy-girl, girl-boy-girl... go for it. Ask permission first and go for it.

There are no sides. The boxes aren't real, they are just inventions as much as the metafilter a-list is. Gay and straight has just been around a tad longer.

There are only people trying to make some sense out of the most important most confusing thing in the universe-- the cure for loneliness. I'm not going to tell anyone who has found that cure that they can't have it.

Love makes you generous, I guess. Lack of it makes you greedy and grasping and judgmental.
posted by christina at 11:04 AM on May 9, 2001

anapestic: Okay, I see what you mean now, and it really does make a lot of sense.

I will refine my point to suggest that there's no use in not living your life because you're worried you aren't doing it properly.
posted by cCranium at 11:15 AM on May 9, 2001

I want to play for christina's team.
posted by argybarg at 11:16 AM on May 9, 2001

Although not too many people know it, there is a subset of the "reparative" movement which is actually quite honest and accurate about what they are doing.

* They freely concede that sexual attraction to people of the same sex is something by and large cannot be removed, or even significantly altered

--> this is the common point of view among people on all sides of the issue.

* They honestly believe that homosexual acts are morally wrong, and should not be engaged in by anyone regardless of their attraction, and that those with the inclination should attempt to resist it.

--> Whether or not one agrees with this moral assessment, it is hard to argue that it is an unreasonable interpretation of traditional Christian, Jewish, and Muslim moral law, and, it is hardly a worthy stance to say that someone is not free to live (and preach) their own faith.

* They believe that a person who is sexually attracted to people of the same sex can nevertheless have a committed relationship with someone of the opposite sex, particularly if that relationship is a marriage in which each party considers themselves morally bound to fidelity and mutual support, and raise children therein.

--> this is a surprisingly non-controversial stance, on its face. There are many marriages which persist long beyond the moment of mutual sexual attraction, and for every narrative of a miserable closeted marriage, there is a narrative of a marriage which was perfectly satisfactory in many respects, but which the homosexually-inclined member left because they chose to pursue their attractions.

Bottom line: if people choose out of their own religion not to engage in a certain sexual behavior, who are we to say that they don't have the right to that choice, or that co-religionist don't have the right to promote or foster such choice-making?
posted by MattD at 11:42 AM on May 9, 2001

So, in response to the statement:

I think this thread has turned a bit backward. Straight people should not have to explain why homosexuality is wrong. Gay people have to justify why they think it should be allowed.

The general reaction seems to be that it's none of my fucking business.

If this is the case, then perhaps someone could explain to me why all of you homosexual people find it necessary to advertise it on this public forum. How can you present the argument that it's up to you what you do in your own home, when you've contradicted that argument directly by discussing it here.
posted by timbooker at 11:44 AM on May 9, 2001

So once someone discusses their private life, it's your business?
posted by argybarg at 11:48 AM on May 9, 2001

I was simply replying to the attitude that "if it happens in my own home, you have no right to an opinion on the subject". Quite obviously, if homosexuals insist on discussing the subject in public, then I am perfectly entitled to have an opinion.

Therefore, the none of your fucking business argument holds no water whatsoever.
posted by timbooker at 12:01 PM on May 9, 2001

If this is the case, then perhaps someone could explain to me why all of you homosexual people find it necessary to advertise it on this public forum.

You're assuming that everyone here who is defending homosexuality is a homosexual. Probably not true. Also, we are not discussing our own personal lives. Where did any of us, with the possible exception of anapestic, go into detail about our sex lives and what we like to do when we fuck? We were discussing the ridiculousness of these "conversion groups" and the question of whether homosexuality is an incontrovertible facet of your personality which is determined at birth or whether it's something you can change. You can defend homosexuality regarding that topic and still be heterosexual.

You came in, without basis and without a care for the bulk of the discussion, and said homosexuality should be outlawed. Then you followed it up with any empty, illogical argument. And like so many people have said before, you cannot outlaw it - it's none of your business. You can decry homosexualtiy all day long if you want, but I think you're in the definite minority here.
posted by starvingartist at 12:03 PM on May 9, 2001

The problem, MattD, is that too many people want to preach about not only how they themselves should live, but how you should live too. If all the religious anti-homosexualists were Moral Relativists, then maybe everything would be just a tad less oppressive to some, but they're not, and I think they'd have to completely reinterpret their religious texts to even approach such a position -- not that that is a justification.
posted by techgnollogic at 12:04 PM on May 9, 2001

Tim, right now most of the people who have commented in this thread are pretty much in agreement that you're an ignorant hatemonger who refuses to back up an argument.

Rather than defend yourself, or proove the above sentiment wrong, you've chosen instead to ignore all of the thoughtful posts directed at you by people that really are curious why you think the way you do.

Why not address some of the comments about love being love, about bonobo chimps being bisexual (which directly addresses your claim of homosexuality being against nature) or any of the other many comments that aren't around to dismiss you.

Suprisingly enough, we're open to viewpoints and genuinely curious about what makes you think the way you do. If your opinion is grounded in fact it should be rather simple for you to address the counter-points, proove us all wrong and convert the potentially thousands of people reading this to a life of sex for breeding purposes only, shouldn't it?
posted by cCranium at 12:06 PM on May 9, 2001

And your original claim, tim, was that homosexuality should be outlawed. Care to elaborate, or was that just flame bait?
posted by argybarg at 12:09 PM on May 9, 2001

timmy, timmy, timmy.... For many of the people that have have outed themselves in this discussion, it's the first I've seen of it from any of them. And, they are giving their arguments from their viewpoint, which, by stating their preference, lends credibility... wish we could say the same for you.
posted by tj at 12:10 PM on May 9, 2001

"if homosexuals insist on discussing the subject in public..."

Well, gee, Tim, why do you insist on discussing your heterosexuality in public?

Come to think of it, are you really sure you're straight? I mean, have you ever had a sexual experience with someone of the same sex? If you haven't, how do you really know?

How did you become heterosexual, anyway? Was it something your parents did, or were you born that way?
posted by dnash at 12:20 PM on May 9, 2001

Episode 4F11
Homer: You know, Bart, maybe it's the concussion talking, but any way you choose to live your life is okay with me.
Everybody Dance Now
posted by brian at 12:27 PM on May 9, 2001

Surprisingly enough, we're open to viewpoints and genuinely curious about what makes you think the way you do.

cCranium: in fact, I don't think that most people on this thread are open to viewpoints. My first post on the subject is my viewpoint. I have since attempted to back up my statement, and, as a result, been ridiculed by a group of angry homosexuals.

One of the serious problems, I think, within the MetaFilter community is this: whenever anyone cares to make a comment which conflicts with the viewpoint of certain members, they are branded a troll, a flamer, or an ignorant hatemonger.

I would, perhaps, have given more of my afternoon away to responding to the thoughtful posts which were directed at me, but instead I had to spend all my free time attempting to avoid the calls of troll!
posted by timbooker at 12:44 PM on May 9, 2001

...instead I had to spend all my free time...

Instead you chose to spend all your free time in that way. Unless, of course, you have a genetic predisposition towards counter-flames.
posted by harmful at 12:48 PM on May 9, 2001

All right, timbooker, since you ignored the request before, I will reiterate it for you, without accusing you of being a small, hairy creature hiding under a bridge: share with us under what basis you feel it is your right and obligation to legislate the personal and private behavior of others with whom you happen to disagree. You will note, that I am not asking for nor am I interested even tangentially in an interpretation of your religion; I am asking under what basis you have concluded that you and your religious viewpoint have been selected to make that decision for others. Ready... GO...
posted by m.polo at 12:57 PM on May 9, 2001

Timbooker, if you feel you have been ridiculed, and had to defend yourself against name-calling, I think you would be more sympathetic towards those for whom that nature of attack is common. You have told many of those "ridiculing" you here that they should be imprisoned (their behavior should be outlawed). The only question worth answering at this point is WHY should they suffer that ridicule on a legal basis?
posted by Wulfgar! at 1:10 PM on May 9, 2001

Bigotry and intolerance should be outlawed.

"Only in today's ..... world are people talking about homosexuality as if it has it's place in society."

...and quite rightly so
posted by y6y6y6 at 1:14 PM on May 9, 2001

Okay, Tim, allow me to rephrase then. I am interested in your viewpoint, because I quite honestly can't fathom how anyone can think like you do. I'd like to get around that mental block because I quite simply want to be able to understand people.

they are branded a troll, a flamer, or an ignorant hatemonger

I agree that this is a problem, Tim, but you read parts of MetaFilter before making your post, did you not? You knew that this was a problem, and you knew that you hold an unpopular viewpoint, and rather than expressing it with any kind of logical support, you just lobbed it out there.

I just can't understand why you would do that.

Now, to tackle your original post, you think homosexuality should be outlawed. I'd like a little refinement. Do you think that homosexuality itself should be outlawed, or do you think that "the act of homosexuality" should be outlawed?

If you think that homosexuality itself should be outlawed, I'm greatly interested in learning how exactly you would identify homosexuality. I'd love to see a report that identifies the gene responsible for homosexuality. Or perhaps the protein combination. The chemical balance in the brain maybe?

If you aren't in a nation whose law dictates that burden of proof is on the prosecution then I apologise for the assumption that you are, but how exactly do you proove that someone is homosexual? I mean, Brad's apparently not getting any but he claims to be gay. How do you proove that?

Is it when a man kisses a man? Because jeepers, I'd hate to think that I can't kiss my dad goodbye, or if I'm ever a father to one, my son? My girlfriend kisses her mother goodbye, on the lips, every time they depart company.

Now, to take a different angle for a minute, laws are around because they theoretically protect society, no? They allow us to function as a state, or a country, or a city, or commuters, or as some group of people.

In what way, then, is outlawing homosexuality (either being or the "act of", however you choose to define it) beneficial to the functioning of society? What benefits does making gays and lesbians criminals bestow upon me? How does it protect me?

I would argue that making homosexuality (again, pick a definition, we'll use yours, just let me know what it is eventually) illegal is detrimental to me.

You think that homosexuality should be illegal. That's fine, it's an opinion, right? I think it's a bad opinion that originates from ignorance and hate, and I have no problems telling you that. Please, proove me wrong. PLEASE!

But you can't. You can dodge, and you can slink, and you whine about being called a troll and being called ignorant and how people hate you and it's oh-so-hard to be you, but you can never proove me wrong, because I'm not. You are.

note: Religious laws are not secular laws.
posted by cCranium at 1:20 PM on May 9, 2001

As a side note, I'll be happy to take no response as an indication of your acquiescence.
posted by cCranium at 1:23 PM on May 9, 2001

Bigotry and intolerance should be outlawed.

"Only in today's ..... world are people talking about homosexuality as if it has it's place in society."

...and quite rightly so

troll :-)
posted by starvingartist at 1:24 PM on May 9, 2001

Maybe Tim knows a little bit about what it's like to be persecuted now.

OK, in all honesty, I think I was really the only one doing name-calling. Tim, I take back the troll comment. But I still think your arguments are completely unfounded, and I still think your true wish is simply to provoke the rest of us. Like cCcranium said, you must have known what was going to happen. And like several people have recently said, I too want desperately to know why you believe the way you do... but only if you back it up with an argument I can accept and understand.
posted by starvingartist at 1:32 PM on May 9, 2001

m.polo: To answer your question directly: I do not claim that I am able to make that decision on the behalf of others. My personal belief is that homosexuality should have no place in civilised society. It's a sad world we live in, if I'm in the minority with that belief.

You will already have read my posts in reply to your none of your fucking business statement.

(I would also like to point out that I have made no mention of religion, except to use the phrase old testement times, which I did in order to illustrate a point.)
posted by timbooker at 1:33 PM on May 9, 2001

I agree with Tim that in this forum it certainly *is* his business and we should all feel free to discuss it in an open and frank manner.

However, I think there is some confusion about the "It's none of your business" argument. The point was that it none of our business in the eyes of the law. So, yes it's none of your business, but we can still talk about it here if we want. Big difference.

As a straight man I find it ridiculous that you think a person's sexual behavior should be limited to that which is dictated by the church or the Bible.

Which church? Which Bible?

Are we to also "outlaw" any sex act not sanctioned by your chosen church? It seems to me that once we do that we're obligated to just put the church in charge of our whole judiciary and penal system.

Well this is the United States buddy. And around here we believe in democratic values and rights of the common man. That's the American way.

I will not stand by while you piss all over the Bill of Rights. If you want a country run by religion you'll have to head over to Libya.
posted by y6y6y6 at 1:34 PM on May 9, 2001

I don't think anyone thinks that you are capable of stopping others from being homosexual -- no one here thinks you're an all-powerful deity.

But you did argue that the government ought to use its powers to make that decision on behalf of others. You said homosexuality should be outlawed. The question is: Why should the government have the right to decide what sexuality is acceptable?
posted by argybarg at 1:37 PM on May 9, 2001

And once again, Tim, you have failed to give us reasons.
If it was simply your personal belief, why did you wait until now to say so?
If you weren't including religion in your argument, why use the term "old testament times"? Why not just use "long ago"? Why couch it in religious terms?
And again, why? Why do you believe it's wrong? Give us concrete reasons!
posted by starvingartist at 1:38 PM on May 9, 2001

cCranium: in fact, I don't think that most people on this thread are open to viewpoints. My first post on the subject is my viewpoint. I have since attempted to back up my statement, and, as a result, been ridiculed by a group of angry homosexuals.

1. Only some of the people in this thread are gay. And not all of them are angry (vide Brad).

2. However, as a general rule, people who are informed that they ought to be outlawed tend to get angry. I have never understood why someone is supposed to be civil in such circumstances.

3. Arguments from religious grounds are doomed to failure in pluralist contexts, since the truth or falsehood of the basic premises (God exists, the Bible is an inspired document, etc.) usually fail the other religion's own truth-criteria. And an atheist has no obligation to accept the validity of an argument based on divine authority. In any event, one might point out that most canonical religious texts either outlaw activities that we now find moral, or enjoin ones that we (including orthodox types) now find immoral.

4. Talking about one's own sexual orientation is a qualitatively different act than having sex.

Quite obviously, if homosexuals insist on discussing the subject in public, then I am perfectly entitled to have an opinion.

However, as I have to tell my students on a regular basis, all "opinions" are equal because subjective. The "angry homosexuals" are equally entitled to an opinion, ad infinitum. And they are just as entitled to make blanket statements ("you're a troll") as you are.

In any event, you are entitled to an opinion, but you may not be entitled to make a judgment.

5. Last time I checked, the "sex is for reproduction" argument failed to hold up even in non-humans. Non-reproductive sex seems to have other important functions, ranging from maintaining hierarchies to establishing allegiances to simple communication. However, that's just from my own occasional reading, so if there's a natural scientist lurking on MeFi...

In any event, that argument would mean that we would probably also have to outlaw not only masturbation, but also post-menopausal sex and, of course, sex between sterile people.

6. The "nature" argument has a considerable number of built-in fallacies, in any event. Aside from the genuine problem of identifying "the natural" in human beings--we can't control for nature/culture distinctions--societies and religions often valorize behaviors that could easily be classed as unnatural. Celibacy, for example, or asceticism. (Speaking of which, what might qualify one for sainthood in the Roman Catholic tradition is likely to get one condemned for sinful behavior in Judaism.) To make things worse, the philosophical meanings of "nature" keep shifting. For example, eighteenth-century arguments often class what we would call homosexuality as "natural," in the sense of being close to basic animal desires; in that argument, anyone could do anything with anybody--a version of our "continuum" theory--but male-female, monogamous relationships weren't natural. They were, rather, a product of highly civilized self-control. (Randolph Trumbach, an anti-Foucauldian historian of sexuality, has a lot of interesting things to say about such topics.)
posted by thomas j wise at 1:39 PM on May 9, 2001

In answer to cCranium:

You're asking me to disprove your opinion?

I can't.

It's your personal opinion. No one can disprove that, because it's opinion. Not fact which can be proved or disproved.

I'm not going to give you back what you've just given to me: call you ignorant and wrong. Because it's your own personal opinion, which I am not likely to change with argument.
posted by timbooker at 1:41 PM on May 9, 2001

People with no recourse in their arguments always fall back on the statement that "it's all just opinions; everyone's opinion is valid."

If all opinions are the same, then why do you want your opinion to become law?
posted by argybarg at 1:53 PM on May 9, 2001

I'm not going to give you back what you've just given to me: call you ignorant and wrong. Because it's your own personal opinion, which I am not likely to change with argument.

Translation: I don't have a good argument, and I don't like it when people disagree with me, so I'm taking my ball and bat and going home.

Oops. Now who's the troll in this thread?
posted by starvingartist at 1:54 PM on May 9, 2001

timbooker says: My personal belief is that homosexuality should have no place in civilised society.

Fair enough (not). The implication of this is that homosexuality is anti-civilisation. Now we have the beginning of an argument. That's not an opinion, it's a statement of belief. So I ask again, on what is that belief founded (oh please tell me its that oogy feeling you get when you think of two men kissing, 'cause then I can ask you why you spend your time thinking about it).
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:04 PM on May 9, 2001

My personal belief is that homosexuality should have no place in civilized society.

Um.. birthplace of civilization=Athens, Greece. The place where they valued man-man love over man-woman love because it was purer. It's all just cultural mores.

Let's not legislate morality... who will watch the watchmen? Should the government also legislate what churches you may worship in? You may not approve of homosexuality, but asking government to step in may also end up hurting you.

I purposely didn't say if I married a man or a woman in my earlier post, but it was a man. Putting me, I suppose, in the "straight people who defend a human's right to love whomever they chose, as long as it is consensual" camp.
posted by christina at 2:12 PM on May 9, 2001

Isn't *anyone* going to help Tim out here???

Surely out of the thousands of people reading this thread there are other people who feel that homosexuality has no place in a civilized society.

It's no fun seeing the guy beat up like this.

No? Oh well.....

Tim (can I call you Tim?) I think the main problem that people are having is that you won't tell us *why* it has no place in a civilized society.

We all accept that we can't change your mind, and you seem to understand that you probably won't change ours, but it would be nice if we could understand each other. I honestly want to understand why someone would think homosexuality (or even just gay sex) should be against the law. I can't even think of one good reason.

So (I'm trying to be polite here) please help me understand why you feel this way. In return I'll be happy to explain why I think homosexuality is just as harmless and healthy as heterosexuality.
posted by y6y6y6 at 2:29 PM on May 9, 2001

Tim said:
In answer to cCranium:

You're asking me to disprove your opinion?
No, and I'm sorry if I wasn't clear on what I was asking of you. I am asking two things of you:

1) I want you to prove your opinion is grounded in fact.

2) I want you to answer the questions I asked in my post. Just in case it's unclear, every sentence that ends in a question mark (?) is a question.
posted by cCranium at 2:31 PM on May 9, 2001

y6y6y6, I have tried to help Tim out, in the only way that makes sense. Since time is limited for me, I'll cut to the chase. Homophobia is just that, a phobia, an atavistic archetypal irrational fear. People who are afraid of spiders or snakes will try and justify the why, but there rarely is one. So let's us bring this home. Instead of spending research money and time attempting to cure people of a non-destructive sexual orientation, why don't we find psychologist who are willing to cure people of homophobia? We can help aclimate people to the presence of bugs, reptiles, and even clowns, but we're not going to stop the violence, distrust and anger inherent in homophobia until we all admit that its a psychological disorder similar to others we know how to treat. What say you, timbooker?
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:42 PM on May 9, 2001

Wulfgar, one can disapprove of homosexual behavior without being afraid of it. For example, a Christian might truly not care on a personal basis about what other people do in their bedrooms, but also truly feel that homosexuals are consigning themselves to Hell (or that God thinks homosexuality is a sin, the way, say, adultery is a sin). "All people who disapprove of homosexuality are homophobic" isn't any more true than "all homophobes are repressed homosexuals." It may well be true in the majority of cases, but it's not sufficient to base one's rebuttal on.

That said, Tim hasn't made any kind of argument that one can rebut; he's stated his opinion, and it's kind of hard to give counterpoints to "I think foos who bar should be ashamed."
posted by snarkout at 2:53 PM on May 9, 2001

But one can say "I think foos who bar should be outlawed" is wrong, and can be argued against. I want the goverment in my bedroom watching my sexual activity about as much as I want my grandmother to...

<shudder> just creeped myself out.
posted by christina at 2:58 PM on May 9, 2001

But one can say "I think foos who bar should be outlawed" is wrong, and can be argued against.

Fair enough, Christina. I just thought it was important to distinguish between arguing against that and arguing that Tim shouldn't feel that gays are immoral (or creepy, or whatever it is that he thinks). Tim's opinion is his opinion; whether his opinion should be reflected in the law is another question entirely (and one that I think most of us have an immediate answer to).

And I don't want to even think about that grandmother thing.
posted by snarkout at 3:05 PM on May 9, 2001

Wulfgar! - I think we're on the same page here, my tactics are just different.

I want Tim to confront his opinion. I want him to really think about it. That seems fair to everyone. If he spends the time to share with us why he feels it's a sad world where most people aren't willing to condemn homosexuality then I at least will have learned something. Chances are so will he. I think a contemplative life is a good thing.

The reasons I've heard for why homosexuality is bad all boil down to "God hates fags." I like to think that Tim has something more to offer.

As I said, he probably won't change my mind, but I am interested.
posted by y6y6y6 at 3:11 PM on May 9, 2001

Snarkout, I agree with you, and I was not attempting to generalize based solely on timbooker. But his total lack of viewpoint other than homosexuality is icky (uncivilised) leaves me with no other conclusion than that he needs help getting over his feelings. And my observation still stands: attempts are made to "cure" homosexuals, but those who are homophobic are accepted as being of a different viewpoint ... right up until they commit an act of violence. If you have strong feelings about something and you can't justify them, that's not a viewpoint, that's a candidacy for treatment.
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:13 PM on May 9, 2001

Good grief, this reads like Usenet! Can we return to the topic at hand for a moment? You know, Spitzer's study?

Questions for discussion:

1.) Consider all the PR that was sucked off Kinsey's questionable work decades ago -- and still is. Even if Spitzer is full of horseradish, isn't turnabout fair play?

2.) Didn't Spitzer helped get homosexuality off the AP mental health disorder list in the 1970s? Why would anybody consider him part of The Great Right Wing Intolerant Boogey Man Conspiracy?

3.) Is the morality and/or determinist nature of gay activity still an open question? Can people have an honest discussion and come to a conclusion which disagrees with GLAAD, the HRC or PlanetOut without being treated as a heretic? Or is everyone too tolerant to allow any contrarian or opposing views to exist in proper society?

My point: if you've got your paranoia beacon out scanning for raging homophobes, Dr. Spitzer is not your guy!
posted by Erendadus at 3:41 PM on May 9, 2001

Nobody said that Spitzer WAS part of TGRWIBMC. Nobody was scanning for raging homophobes and yet one popped up anyway. Note that Kinsey's work was published and reviewed which allows you to call it questionable. AS for number 3, that's already been addressed in this thread by persons more eloquent than I.
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:53 PM on May 9, 2001

The problem with 3 is it is rarely just a dissenting opinion. A dislike of homosexuality is often such an emotionaly charged dislike that it has a tendency to wander off into legislation, murder, beatings... so when someone condemns homosexuality, you have to wonder if they have a knife. I often condemn broccoli, but no one expects me to go out in my pickup and shoot broccoli eaters, or knock over their mailboxes (well, there was that once...)

Part of the vehemence may be a cry "please don't kill us" or in my case "please don't kill my friends." I joke a bit, but seriously, homophobia has tendancy to get folks killed.

As for 1 and 2... sure.
posted by christina at 4:04 PM on May 9, 2001

1) Only if you consider bad research rebutting bad research to be "fair play." I certainly don't.

2) After reading (and now rereading) the article he certainly sounds like part of TGRWIBMC. Or, at the very least, the author of some really bad research. Spitzer sounds like anything but a sceptic. But I don't really know. I've never met the guy. I'm just venting gas on this one.

3) Sure, bring on your dissenting opinions. I actually find that the more people talk about this, the more they realize that tolerance would be a good idea. This has stayed in the dark too long. Let's drag it (moral and immoral) out and have a look.

Tim? You first. Why is homosexuality immoral? [or will the off-topic police get mad at that?]
posted by y6y6y6 at 4:49 PM on May 9, 2001

Wulfgar! said:

Homophobia is just that, a phobia...


Although I have very strong opinions in this area that are neither of the anapestic (Anapestic: all this time I thought you were a woman... "Anna Pestic". Silly me! :) variety, nor of the timbooker sort (what on earth are you thinking!? If this is an important issue to you, don't alienate you're audience... vitriol changes no one's mind), I really don't want to jump into the fray; considered and articulate as some of your comments have been, I just can't imagine the whole story -- or even a respectable part of it -- can really be appreciated in this venue (oh man! I can't wait until MetaFocus!).

That said, Wulfgar!, what is this about homophobia? I mean, circular definition aside, what does a pathological disorder have to do with ignorance? Tim may be worthy of scorn... but bandying a phrase like "homophobe" about obscures meaningful dialogue.

"Homophobe" is too powerful a word, too rife with emotion and political undertones, to use casually. "Homophobe" is to the modern tolerance crowd what "Commie" was to civic minded folk of the atomic age -- it's inflammatory.
posted by silusGROK at 5:48 PM on May 9, 2001

I agree with Vis10n, but to address your point:

"And my observation still stands: attempts are made to 'cure' homosexuals, but those who are homophobic are accepted as being of a different viewpoint"

The problem with curing "homophobia" is that in many cases it would involve *curing* religious dogma or what many people (right or wrong) feel are important values.

It would be like curing republicanism. It's apples and oranges dude.
posted by y6y6y6 at 5:59 PM on May 9, 2001

Whether or not timbooker is a troll the effect he has had on this thread is the same as if he was a troll. A great deal of energy was wasted talking about his opinions.

On the other hand, I'm sorry, but I found "...and, as a result, been ridiculed by a group of angry homosexuals" the most entertaining and hilarious post in this thread.
posted by rdr at 6:59 PM on May 9, 2001

I think you both misunderstand me to some degree. Homophobia should not be a social battlecry, but a diagnosis, just as arachnaphobia, or agoraphobia. They are irrational fears that often the sufferer knows are irrational but still cannot deny or overcome without help. it is rather telling that the initial component of therapy for phobias is actually EDUCATION about that which is feared. I call it fear even though that itself is a mis-conotation. A phobia leaves one incapable of functioning in a socially normal manner regarding certain subjects. it is not always shaking fear at the sight of the phobic object, but often an irrational angst/anger at what the object represents. To answer an earlier observation, I do not think all homophobes are repressed homosexuals. I DO think they all feel (key word there for both myself and Tim) some personal state of anxiousness regarding the object of the phobia (spiders are going to crawl into my mouth, fags are going to lessen my ability to feel like a man). If you ask Jerry Falwell why he doesn't like Homosexuals he would give you enough Biblical quotes to keep a religious studies grad student busy for six months. Tim butted in with a bombastic statement of tripe and no defense for it other than homosexuality is uncivilised. I do not "accuse" him of homophobia lightly, nor do I have much respect for the PC disdain for the term. It is an emotional reaction to the stress of a reviled object and CAN BE TREATED the same as a fear of clowns.
We spend so much time trying to do the "right" thing, and God forbid we should deny personal freedoms. I am doing no such thing. I am only saying that, as a society, we are far too willing to cure the non-violent deviants and perverse Homos but we do nothing to cure those who suffer from a far more debilitating angst.
(For any who doubt that homophobia is debilitating, take a look at how tim was treated in this discussion, and his pathetic reaction to that treatment).
I am not homosexual (damn wouldn't my father disagree but that's another tale), and have never been the target of "gay-bashing". I have responded to gay-bashing with violence that, while effective, has left me somewhat scarred (I hate the fighting I have done) and I have learned as much as I can to avoid having to respond thus in the future. Education is the only key. Not a one of us will ever convince those who have reasoned (and they do exist) arguments against homosexuality. But we can do a great deal for those whose blindness to the humanity of a "fag" leads them to act stupidly if we only stop crouching behind the blind of "it's an opinion and viewpoint".
P.S. I am not a psychologist, but worse. I am the son of a psychologist and have studied it far too much. That just means that I know a whole bunch of shit that I never really wanted to know and don't really have a use for.
posted by Wulfgar! at 7:18 PM on May 9, 2001

Most of what is generally dismissed as "homophobia" is probably more accurately "heterosexism," i.e. the belief that heterosexuality is superior to other sexual orientations. The judges panel might also accept "heterocentric," although I've never heard the term used in conversation and may, in fact, have just now made it up.

(Heterosexuality is not "normal," it is merely common.)
posted by bradlands at 7:38 PM on May 9, 2001

"Homophobia should not be a social battlecry, but a diagnosis,....."

Sorry, now I really have to disagree with you. You're getting into thought police land there.

If you want to talk about reforming people who think it's okay to attack gays that's one thing, but saying that people who think homosexuality is wrong need to be treated by psychologists is just wrong. Wrong wrong wrong.

Tolerance goes both ways. A person's opinion about a moral issue is *not* a disease. Even if it makes them uncomfortable around certain people.

If you start policing people's opinions to this extreme then where do you (you) stop? Do all right-wing religious nut jobs need treatment? Many people are uncomfortable with polygamy. Do we hustle them into mental wards?

Who gets to make up the list of opinions we will lock you away for? Seriously.
posted by y6y6y6 at 7:40 PM on May 9, 2001

Read again, dude. I never say that people need treatment for their opinions. I said that they are candidates for treatment if they can't reconcile their feelings with the reality they live. The beautiful thing about America is that you can't be forced into treatment (in theory) unless you are a danger to others or yourself. I'm not saying that these people should be policed for thier opinions, but that we should quit confusing opinion for delusion. Opinions and beliefs are based on something. Blowing hot air and falling back on "that's just bad/disgusting/icky" is indicative of something worse; an atavistic fear that calls for action enforcable only within the parameters of American law. I repeat: homophobia should not be a social battle-cry but a diagnosis. It is not an opinion (my own opinion is that lots of gay men "queen out extreme" way too damn often) but a clinical look at how people see homosexuals as devient, perverse and THREATENING even though they have nothing to do with one's reality. I pointed out that those who have reasoned opinions are not the danger, but rather those who those who FEEL revulsion at gays for no reason other than its "just wrong". A person who thinks that homosexuality is wrong is the same as one who thinks that judiasm is wrong. If they think the belief is wrong and can state their point, no problem, (even if they're wrong). A person who feels that homos ought to be locked up because they are just "uncivilised" "icky" "perverse" corrupt" "gross" is suffering a delusion and deserves little intelligent respect.
posted by Wulfgar! at 8:24 PM on May 9, 2001

Wulfgar! Welcome to the pack. I noticed that you've just come on board, and I wanted to say that I applaud your comments. Very well thought out and executed - I wish I could write so well. I would have done this by email, but you didn't leave one in your profile.
posted by starvingartist at 9:01 PM on May 9, 2001

Tim - You are not alone. Keep up the faith, sis....uh, brother!

If you won't join 'em, beat 'em!

[notice: both Flash content and large .gif files linked above]

In a more serious vein, this is not the first time Spitzer has tried to bring this controversial subject to the table. Almost exactly a year ago, he tried to introduce this subject to the APA but was refused because the topic was "too political for scientific discussion."

The APA does monitor studies relating to fluid sexual identity and has even adopted guidelines for treatment of GLB clients. Spitzer's work seems to be much more fringe than serious, in this light.

Personally, I think that the Ex-Gay movement is a complete waste of time. Especially since the poster boy of the movement has a difficult time staying on the straight and narrow.
posted by avowel at 12:58 AM on May 10, 2001

Rubbing your bits on another isn't about sexual reproduction it's about personal freedom between consenting adults. I have picked nits out of a friend's hair (you know, for fun). I have slept with guys. I have also slept with girls. I have danced the blue monkey with another that hadn't quite perfected it yet and mocked them accordingly.
posted by holloway at 2:03 AM on May 10, 2001

I have danced the blue monkey with another that hadn't quite perfected it yet and mocked them accordingly

i have no idea what that means, but it sounds fun.

I just have a comment about the bi-sexual chimps as a proof of same-sex-attraction being natural...If someone is basing their opinions on a religous argument against it, then comparing people to chimps certainly isn't going to help since evolution is a tool of the devil, and atheists like Me. Excellent, well thought-out thread this...MetalFilter needs to start publishing Books containing the better threads.
posted by th3ph17 at 10:03 AM on May 10, 2001

MetalFilter [sic] needs to start publishing Books containing the better threads.

Would you settle for a magazine?
posted by anildash at 10:35 AM on May 10, 2001

th3ph17... not all theists consider evolution a tool of the devil. Many of us think that it's probably pretty close to the mark given the limited information available to us. That said, the chimp argument probably doesn't do much for anyone who thinks humans should strive to overcome our carnal/animal natures.
posted by silusGROK at 10:39 AM on May 10, 2001

anildash...thats what i get for not checking metatalk for a few days...Thanks.

Vis10n...there was just a little bit of sarcasm in my statement for flavor. Now concerning Carnal nature, why is a man wanting to have sex with a man any more carnal or animal than a man wanting to have sex with a woman? Wouldn't it be less carnal? [not to say that is what you meant] Less animal? more based on things other than some strange need to procreate?
posted by th3ph17 at 11:31 AM on May 10, 2001

th3ph17... my comment simply highlighted the fact that a study claiming that chimps have homo- and bi-sexual relations will not impress folks who think that people should behave "better" than animals.

The idea that homosexuality is more carnal that heterosexuality was not raised... and I don't know that I want to get into my beliefs on the matter here.

As for that "strange need to procreate"... there's nothing strange about it. : )

(And no fair, Anil... I brought up MetaFocus first.)
posted by silusGROK at 1:16 PM on May 10, 2001

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