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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Homsexuality a disease? How APA changed the DSM (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Homsexuality a disease? How APA changed the DSM
Beren One Hand
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From NPR's "This Amerncain Life":

quote:
In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) declared that homosexuality was not a disease, by changing the 81-word definition of sexual deviance in its own reference manual.

It was a change that attracted a lot of attention at the time, but the story of what led up to that change is one that we hear today, from reporter Alix Spiegel.

Part one of Alix's story details the activities of a closeted group of gay psychiatrists within the APA who met in secret and called themselves the GAYPA... and another, even more secret group of gay psychiatrists among the political echelons of the APA. Alix's own grandfather was among these psychiatrists, and the President-elect of the APA at the time of the change.

This is one of the most interesting episodes of "This American Life" I have ever heard. The description above doesn't really do the story justice.

This piece is filled with fascinating interviews and background stories on the principal players responsible for the change.

Has anyone heard this piece before? How accurate is it? Do you think both sides were making decisions based on non-scientific considerations?

If you believe this story is terribly one-sided (which is very possible given that the reporter is the granddaughter of one of the supporters of the DSM change) I would love to hear your side of the story.

Alix Spiegel claimed that before the DSM change, most of the scientific data supporting the categorization of homosexuality as a disease were dubious, because the population of the homosexuals studied were those already seeking psychiatric help.

As OSC once said, in a slightly different context regarding studies of whether childrens of homsexual parents are more likely to be gay, that he'll pit his "studies" against those of his critics and see who can outvague the other. I therefore wonder if there are more current studies which take random samples of gay and straight people and compare whether either group is more prone to psychological disorders.

Streaming real audio link to the story.

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ClaudiaTherese
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I am delighted to claim as a member of my family the psychiatrist who first "came out" (although unidentifiably) at an APA meeting as gay -- John Fryer, under the pseudonym "Dr. H. Anonymous.". He was my favorite aunt's brother. He died just a few years ago.
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Beren One Hand
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CT, the story above did a pretty substantial segment on John!

Alix Spiegel discussed how John really wanted to teach but was unable to due to the prejudices against homosexuals. John testified under disguise (a tux, a disfigured Nixon mask, and a wig) at the APA and received a standing ovation for his speech--a remarkable performance considering that just a few feet away sat another psychiatrist who had recently fired John for being gay.

CT, you never cease to amaze me. [Hat]

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Sopwith
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Boy, this is a charged topic. To even touch on it is a bit like tap-dancing in a minefield.

Before I go in, I would like to say that I have friends and family members that I love dearly who are openly gay. I love them for who they are, all of who they are, and not in spite of that particular part of their life.

I have wondered, however, if homosexuality may have its roots in a psychological disorder. Please, don't let me offend, I have only wondered about it, not espoused that as my viewpoint or the truth.

Part of that wondering has been that with the general acceptance of homosexuality, have we moved the topic away from the possibility that it may be purely psychologically created? Clinically speaking, does it still fit the definitions of deviant behaviour?

Or have we found that deviant behaviour should have a new definition?

One could point to the growing acceptance of homosexuality beginning in the late 1970s and continuing through today with the acceptance of psychology in general society.

Whereas once upon a time a person with bipolar disorders or extreme phobias was shunned or unknown by most people in society, how common is it to know someone being treated for such things today? We accept people with these disorders, and others (and rightly so) within our society and our lives.

As we accept and acknowledge those mental illnesses and they become commonplace in our society, have we also possibly kicked homosexuality out as what we consider as a mental illness? And perhaps wrongly so?

I know how I feel about it, but I'm no one with the knowledge to decide.

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ClaudiaTherese
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quote:
CT, you never cease to amaze me.
Ah, I just grew up with cool people. [Smile]

He was my father's brother-in-law, the brother of my favorite Aunt Kathy. She was married to my father's younger brother.

I had the pleasure of attending a Fryer family reunion with John and Kathy. He got a real kick out of flying around on the tractor with a bunch of kids strapped down next to him. He loved his dogs -- their caretaker for when he was away was a woman who was somewhat eccentric and erratic. I think John was a little scared of her, but the dogs loved her, so she got anything she wanted. *grin

He always had medical students staying with him in his big old creaky house. What a marvelous, kind, and generous man. He was also a good physician -- he diagnosed my Uncle David with an infected gall bladder over the phone, after it was missed by someone in person.

I was pretty lucky to know him.

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mothertree
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The new testament makes it pretty clear that homosexuality is natural and understandable, but still wrong. Just like overeating or cheating on your taxes. But I love people who do all three. I don't know if I know any one person who does all three at the same time, though. Boy, now I've opened Pandora's box...
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Enigmatic
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Is it bad that my first thought upon reading the title was "Homosexuality is a disease, and I'M THE CURE!" being said by someone like, say, the biker from the Village People?

--Enigmatic

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Beren One Hand
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quote:
Clinically speaking, does it still fit the definitions of deviant behaviour?
Interesting question Sopwith. If the definition of deviance is based on social acceptance, then are we saying that whatever we accept as a society is no longer deviant? But of course, there are other standards of deviance which relies on other criterias like religion or biology. Whether those standards of deviance are also as subjective as the social standards is debatable.

CT, I'm glad to hear that John lived out his dream of becoming a professor at a university. [Smile]

Pooka, I have to disagree. I can never love someone who cheats on their taxes. [Razz]

Yes, Enigmatic, you are a deviant.

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mothertree
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My dad would boast about cheating on his taxes. But he would use his "I'm so sneaky" voice.

My point is that it was never theologically sound to consider homosexuality a mental illness. Not that the APA ever worked too hard to be theologically sound.

Now I know I've done a 180 on the naturalness of homosexuality in my time here at hatrack, just in case anyone remembered what I used to say.

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ClaudiaTherese
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There is a picture of John in his obituary in the British Medical Journal. You can see a bit of the twinkle there. [Smile]

There was also a good obituary in the NYTimes, but that link is a pay-per-view.

Did you know that John was one of the founding members of Ars Morendi, the "Art of Dying?" Along with Elizabeth Kubler-Ross (who first described the stages of grief) and Dame Cicely (the founder of the first modern hospice, St. Christopher's in England), he and others from around the world met on a regular basis to help train physicians to deal more compassionately and authentically with the deaths of their patients.

He saw a lot of his patients through to the end.
quote:
They remained in close touch and in 1980-1, at Dame Cicely's invitation, Fryer took a year-long sabbatical from his post as professor of psychiatry at Temple University in Philadelphia to help restructure the education department at St Christopher's. "He was very definite about our priorities. He wanted to teach the teachers that death is a time of great potential and that we should give the patient as much control as possible," Dame Cicely said.

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Tante Shvester
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It is not a disease. It is not deviant. It is not a black-and-white dichotomy with heterosexual on one end and homosexual on the other. There is a continuum of sexuality, and people fall at all points along the continuum. That certainly doesn't mean that the straightest ones on the far end of the continuum are more mentally healthy than the people who fall more towards the center or at the other, gayer, end of the continuum.

People are gay, or straight, or somewhere in between, because that's they way they are, either because G'd made them that way, or they were just formed that way.

I don't believe that straight people "turn gay" because they were corrupted or recruited. I do believe that many gay people are in denial about their own sexuality, because their societal and religious beliefs teach them that homosexuality is wrong. Eventually denial may be overcome, either through an internal soul-searching, or because of a strong and undeniable attraction to someone. That a gay person comes to terms and accepts herself or himself as gay, does not mean that he or she was turned from straight to gay.

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ClaudiaTherese
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Link to PDF file of NYT obituary -- includes pictures of John both with and without the mask.

It's a large file. He was a large guy. *grin

(Okay, I'll step back and let the conversation roll on now. I just admired him so much, and I'm so glad you got to know him a bit, too, Beren.)

[ August 11, 2005, 10:12 PM: Message edited by: ClaudiaTherese ]

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ClaudiaTherese
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quote:
Now I know I've done a 180 on the naturalness of homosexuality in my time here at hatrack, just in case anyone remembered what I used to say.
*pipes back up

One last question: mothertree, were the discussions on Hatrack influential in this change, or was it mostly other sources? It's unusual to change your mind so much, I think, and I was just curious.

(Discussions with other people were what changed my mind. This was before I knew about John Fryer's connection to the history of it -- he was someone I didn't meet until I was in my late twenties, and I didn't know his family, other than for Aunt Kathy.)

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Tresopax
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What makes something a "disease" in psychology? I'm not sure. But if it is something that is both deviant and harmful to the person who is has it, then I think you'd have to classify homosexuality as a disease. It is deviant because it is uncommon and considered against the norm. It is harmful because it provokes a lot of disruption in the lives of those who are homosexual, mainly because of conflict with the expectations of society at large.

I think it shouldn't be a disease though - therefore it must take more to be a disease than being deviant and harmful.

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Tante Shvester
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Tresopax,

Back up. You think that homosexuality qualifies as a disease because it is uncommon? Like, left-handedness? Or because people are bigotted against homosexuals?

I really know homosexuals who are happy, well-adjusted, who live lives no more disrupted than their straight friends and family.

I personally know homosexuals who are as normal and un-diseased as people can be. "Society" has a problem with that? That doesn't make them sick.

[/rant. for now]

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Sopwith
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To throw a further monkey wrench in, there are actual traumatic disorders, generally stemming from sexual abuse during childhood that do create sexual confusion and an acquired homosexuality in some cases.

Please note the use of the word "acquired" above as this is generally considered something different from what we accept as true homosexuality. In this case it would be a reaction to past trauma bringing that person back to the same situation. It would be the same as a woman who had been abused by her father subconsiously seeking out and establishing relationships with abusive men.

It's just one facet in a very large question of what makes us tick and how much control we ourselves have over how our own internal clocks get wound.

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Beren One Hand
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Thanks for sharing that CT. You come from good peoples. [Smile]

From the obit:

quote:
Psychiatrists were not used to hearing from homosexuals who felt sane and normal. When Dr. Fryer slipped through a side curtain at the convention appearing as Dr. H. Anonymous and announcing, "I am a homosexual, I am a psychiatrist," fellow therapists were riveted.

More than 100 gay psychitrist were at the convention, Dr. Fryer told the audience, "and several of us feel that it is time that real flesh and blood stand up before you and ask to be listened to and understood, insofar as that is possible."

What amazing courage! I tried googling for the full speech but couldn't find it. I hope the full text of the speech is preserved somewhere. [Frown]

Here's a reprint of the NYT obit at the Houston Psychiatric Society.

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Tresopax
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quote:
Back up. You think that homosexuality qualifies as a disease because it is uncommon? Like, left-handedness? Or because people are bigotted against homosexuals?
Actually, I think being uncommon and harmful to oneself is not enough to qualify for being a disease, precisely because if that were true then homosexuality would be a disease, at least in those for whom it causes great problems and conflict with society at large.

However, it does seem like some things are called diseases just for that reason.

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Bob_Scopatz
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It's an interesting question: is homosexuality a disease? Or "deviant." Or a "sin."

I'm fairly certain that 99.9% of the answers people give to this are intensely personal and not really based on facts or "research."

I'm going to leave the sin one alone and hope that we don't have to go down the scriptural dissertation path that we've already traveled so well here at Hatrack.

As someone on the periphery of clinical Psychology -- I studied general Psychology at the graduate level and so know more than the average lay person, but would not and could not pass myself off as a practicing clinician (unlike Dr. Joyce Brothers who has exactly the same degree I have from exactly the same school, but acts as if she knows something about personality & abnormal Psych. -- she's a criminal IMHO).

So...there's a bit of context that should be absorbed along with this story, I think. The context is a revision in how Psychologists view mental illness. The watchword if "functional" and whether the supposed "illness" is causing the person to be unable to function satisfactorily in their daily life. It is a move toward subjective definitions of "functional level" for all but the most seriously affected and delusional "patients."

In other words, if you can do your job and meet your social needs/obligations to your satisfaction, and you aren't suffering from major delusions about these issues, you're not "sick." Period.

That change is important. It means that LOTS of things that were considered mental illnesses in the old days are simply viewed as part of the human continuum of behavior today.

That includes many sexual behaviors that prior to DSM III would've been labeled deviant.

Homosexuality, of course, gets press. And the fight against the obvious irrationality of institutionally marginalizing intelligent articulate people who happen to be attracted to members of the same sex makes for exciting times in any fields, not just Psychology.

I'd also like to point out that the banner carriers in every field that has had to deal with this issue publicly have been those with the most at stake. So, while it could be slanted to portray them as "meeting in secret" and "planning an attack" or what have you, the basic facts are that gays and lesbians are going to be the ones most concerned with the issue, and to express that concern most cogently and at the earliest possible time. That they might want to band together to strategize seems not so sinister when one considers how a minority opinion is fostered in ANY organization.

Right?

So...what we really have to ask ourselves from a modern Psychiatric perspective is whether there's any reason to believe that homosexuals are delusional to the point of simply missing how miserable and dysfunctional they truly are.

I submit the answer to this is an obvious and emphatic "no!" But then, what have I got to go on there but my own knowledge of homosexuals as friends and acquaintances, and as a casual outside observer in certain settings (such as mistakenly walking into a restroom frequented by a subgroup of gay males who engage in public sex acts, or in being propositioned at various points in my life before I became the gorgeous, yet unapproachable, hunk I am today).

Something tells me that if my experiences of gay males were only of the "bathroom" variety, I'd judge them to be pretty deviant as a group. Or, if all I knew of gay males was the kind of guy who hit on me when I was 16, I might think of the entire group as nothing but pederasts.

But the real truth is that I have known gay males who are far more competent than I even aspire to be in careers that I couldn't even begin to train for. And they seem to be well adjusted to their lives and not miserable over the fact that they aren't attracted to women.

I've known relatively fewer lesbians, and that only later in life, and, as a consequence, I ONLY know lesbians who are career persons or parents. And they seem to be well adjusted to their chosen lives and not pining over a lack of intimate relationships with men.

So. not sick by modern standards.


Deviant. Not a term that holds much meaning any more for Psychology or Psychiatry. Again, how deviant? Deviant to the point of dysfunction or not? Deviant to the point of personal unhappiness about it?

I think not. Not as a general categorization of "all homosexuals are deviant."


by the way, my understanding of scripture and tradition can be informed by my experience and my reasoning. (Wesley's quadrilateral if one wants to put a name to it.) It is from this that I can determine that perhaps scripture needs careful reading and interpretion on the subject of homosexuality, and that tradition may need some reexamination both for what is good and what is simply tradition because we never thought of it any other way...

I suspect that in the long run, what will happen is that the general view of homosexuality will move further and further away from the thought that it is deviant or immoral, per se. But a completely natural, though low-frequency, aspect of human sexuality. As such, and again, eventually, I think the prevailing attitude will become one of "who cares?" Ultimately, the only people to have a serious problem with it will be those who decide that they cannot reconcile acceptance of it with either their religion or their personal experience with people who actually were/are deviant (i.e., destructive) and happened to also be homosexuals.

I can't actually gainsay either of those. I can only say that I hope there's room for change in both. I know I personally despised the "idea" of homosexuality when all I knew of it was that I had to deal with unwanted propositions and I had to avoid the bathroom nearest my lab as an undergraduate. That seriously ticked me off. But I didn't actually know anyone who was openly homosexual, or even a closet homosexual. I learned later on. And I'm happy I have a different perspective than what my early experiences would've supported.

but I can totally understand if someone's only experiences were early and negative, how the generalization about homosexuality could be difficult to overcome by reason alone.

I also understand that faith in a church's teachings or in one's interpretation of scripture can make it very difficult to go so far as to accept homosexuality as normal or, if it's "normal" to accept it as proper behavior. I don't see these as necessary to a Christian faith, however. And, in some ways, I see the attitude as directly contrary to a Christian faith. But then, that's MY Christian faith. I don't consciously teach it or share it. It just is. It colors how I see the world and how I react to the things I see around me. When it's working right. I suspect anyone who claims to have faith would say the same about their thoughts and perceptions.

And yet we may disagree.

In a sense, what that really means is that Christianity, as it is actually practiced, is relatively neutral on this question. Some of us say it's a sin. Some of us say it's "natural, but not acceptable." Some of us say "who cares? -- not us."

If calling homosexuality a sin was a litmus test for being a Christian, I'd probably have serious qualms about identifying myself as a disciple of Christ. As it is, I don't have that problem. And I'm glad.

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Beren One Hand
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Amazing post, Bob. [Smile]

quote:
So...there's a bit of context that should be absorbed along with this story, I think. The context is a revision in how Psychologists view mental illness. The watchword if "functional" and whether the supposed "illness" is causing the person to be unable to function satisfactorily in their daily life. It is a move toward subjective definitions of "functional level" for all but the most seriously affected and delusional "patients."
Thanks for fleshing that out. The American Life story only touched on this and did not explain it fully. I'm learning so much from this thread. [Smile]
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Tante Shvester
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Bob,
I swoon.

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Enigmatic
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Gotta love when Bob pulls one of his "and now here's a few words from someone who actually knows something about the subject" posts.

And keep yer swooning to yerself, lass, he's married!

--Enigmatic
(suddenly a pirate or something at the end there)

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Tante Shvester
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Nevertheless.
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Dan_raven
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How come its not Neverthemore? Its never Neverthemore. Why is that?

Is homosexuality deviant? Statistically speaking, yes. Its behavior that deviates from the norm. The numbers make it equivelant statistically to being a farmer (about 10% of the population) to being a professional sports player (way less than 1%, but a very glamorized, publicized, romanticized and well paid 1%.)

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Kwea
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Ahh...just for the record, there have been many questions raised about that 10% figure, it is pretty well disputed.


Bob, I know what you mean about the types of encounters a person has with homosexuals coloring their views on this issue. When I was younger I was pretty even minded, race issues and gender issues didn't really affect me. I was pretty open minded, and I always got offended when someone made a racist remark, or a sexist one...I didn't like people who judged others based on things beyond their control...with one exception.

I didn't like gay people. I never hated them, and I knew one or two of them personally who were OK people, and had I seen anyone committing violence or anything of the sort against someone because they were gay I would have tried to stop it....but I wasn't comfortable with them around for the most part, and avoided them when possible.


I had had some very bad experiences with gay guys, either hitting on me or just being complete assholes, so my experiences led me to believe that a lot of the stereotypes about their deviances were true.

As I grew older I began to notice my prejudices, and to actively fight against them at times. I didn't like being that judgmental about people I didn't know, although I couldn't seem to help it. Then I met a friend in college who was cool...and gay. He was "out" but not flamboyant, and he had no interest in me at all. As a matter of fact once I found out he was gay I was surprised...not just at the fact that he was gay, but at the fact that knowing that didn't bother me at all.

And as I met more people who happened to be gay I found another thing...some of them I liked, and some of them I didn't...adn the reasons for both of those had little or nothing to do with their sexual preferences. I found out that a lot of the probelm had been with me, not with them.


I still feel a little uncomfortable around some types of gay men, and some gay women as well....but my problem with them seems to be more about they way they act in public rather than them being gay. I have heterosexual friends that act obscenely in public with women (or men), and that bothers me just as much. [Big Grin] I went to a gay night once with a friend (he had to pick up his check, as he worked there on the non-gay nights) and I left the room and waited outside...and my friend had a problem with that at first....

Until I explained that I would have been just as uncomfortable walking in on him and his girlfriend doing what I had seen two men in the corner of the bar doing. I didn't care for it because it was crude, and had any of my friends done that in public I would have left the room as well....regardless of who they were doing it with. [Big Grin] It was "their" night, so who the hell was I to tell anyone how to act. Being uncomfortable was MY issue, so rather than be an ass about it I went outside. [Big Grin]


I don't like anyone who feels the need to shove their views about anything down my throat, be it sexual orientation, religion, or politics....


I have met some really cool people, some of whom happen to be gay. I am just glad that my parents taught me to examine my own feelings and views about other people, and to be brave enough to change my views when I feel it is approreate. I think that if most people knew the gay people I know they would be a lot less worried about these same sex marriages than they are now, and that it would be a lot harder to deny them the right to marry the person they love....even if that makes us a little uncomfortable at times. [Big Grin]

And Hatrack has helped this view as well, reinforcing that I was right to change my opinions on a lot of these issues.


Kwea

[ August 12, 2005, 01:35 AM: Message edited by: Kwea ]

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Lisa
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quote:
Originally posted by Dan_raven:
How come its not Neverthemore? Its never Neverthemore. Why is that?

Is homosexuality deviant? Statistically speaking, yes. Its behavior that deviates from the norm.

That's not what the word means. "Deviant" has a connotation of something wrong. No one would call left-handedness "deviant", even though it's a minority trait.

quote:
Originally posted by Dan_raven:
The numbers make it equivelant statistically to being a farmer (about 10% of the population) to being a professional sports player (way less than 1%, but a very glamorized, publicized, romanticized and well paid 1%.)

And yet, no one would call farming "deviant behavior".
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Belle
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quote:
Interesting question Sopwith. If the definition of deviance is based on social acceptance, then are we saying that whatever we accept as a society is no longer deviant? But of course, there are other standards of deviance which relies on other criterias like religion or biology. Whether those standards of deviance are also as subjective as the social standards is debatable.

Excellent questions indeed, and I hope we can discuss them without going down paths which, as Bob points out, have already been travelled.

The 10% figure is now considered incorrect, if I'm not mistaken. I used to have quotes from studies that invalidated it, but I changed computers and can't find that file. I think the more accepted figure is 3-5%, but that's memory only, so I'll defer to anyone who might have actual stats from reputable sources.

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Belle
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Okay, did some digging, found the following:

quote:
In their book, Kinsey, Sex and Fraud, (Lochinvar-Huntington House pub., 1990) Reisman and Eichel point out that Kinsey's data base was clearly skewed by his choice to include a high percentage of prison inmates and known sex offenders. (Convicted criminals comprised a full 25% of Kinsey's male sample, though they made up less than 1% of the total U.S. population.) Both practice homosexual behavior much more frequently than individuals in the general population.

Tom W. Smith's much more recent study, Adult Sexual Behavior in 1989: Numbers of Partners, Frequency and Risk, conducted among a full probability sample of the adult U.S. household population, reported that "Overall... less than 1% [of the study population] has been exclusively homosexual."

Jeffrey Vitale, President of Overlooked Opinions (op. cit.), which "is compiling the results of an ongoing national survey of a panel of about 20,000 homosexuals" estimates that "even in California and New York, two well-known [gay] havens, the gay population is less than 8 percent" (American Marketplace, "Gay Community Looks for Strength in `Numbers,'" Vol. 12, No. 14, July 4, 1991, p. 131).

Recent national surveys of about 10,000 subjects conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control report less than 3% of men as saying they have had sex with another man "at some time since 1977, even one time ("AIDS Knowledge and Attitudes for January-March, 1990, Provisional Data From the National Health Interview Survey," Deborah Dawson; Joseph E. Fitti and Marcie Cynamon, op. cit. for April-June, 1990; Pamela F. Adams and Ann M. Hardy, op. cit. for July-September, 1990, in Advance Data, #s 193,195,198, National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control, Public Health Service, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, p. 11 in all three documents).

The September 2, 1992, Dallas Morning Times (pg. 4C) reported on a "University of Chicago study aimed to be the most significant study [on American sexuality] since Mr. Kinsey's" and a related study by the National Opinion Research Center. The findings:


"...An estimated 3 percent of the population claimed at least one act of homosexual sex during 1991. Over the respondents' lifetime, 4.5 percent claim some such sex... The final conclusions from the University of Chicago's study may confirm a figure far lower than Mr. Kinsey's. They may also show that American sexual behavior is quite conservative. The mean number of sexual partners over an individual's lifetime is probably around six or seven" ("Study of U.S. sex habits may contain surprises").
Science magazine, July 3, 1992, reports a very recent French study that found only 4.1% of men and 2.6% of women said they'd had homosexual intercourse at least once in their lives. Only 1.1% of men and 0.3% of women said they'd had homosexual intercourse in the past 12 months (as reported in "Homosexual figures grossly exaggerated," AFA Journal, September, 1992, pg. 9).
"The London Daily Mail released last week what it calls `the most exhaustive survey ever conducted into British sexual habits.' The most stunning finding was that only 1.1 percent of British men said they were active homosexuals, a figure similar to the most recent American polls" (World magazine, Jan. 29, 1994, p. 9).



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kojabu
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quote:
It is harmful because it provokes a lot of disruption in the lives of those who are homosexual, mainly because of conflict with the expectations of society at large.
Here's my two cents. If you were to remove any social stigma from being queer, whatever it may be, and being queer was actually an accepted form of lifestyle, would it still be a disease? Is it still harmful? Many of the problems stem from the fact that it is not socially acceptable and queers get harrassed, killed, and told that they are sinners and aren't worthy of being human.

quote:
Whereas once upon a time a person with bipolar disorders or extreme phobias was shunned or unknown by most people in society, how common is it to know someone being treated for such things today? We accept people with these disorders, and others (and rightly so) within our society and our lives.
Ok, so social stigmas have been removed, but the condition still existed and still causes a lot of pain for the people who have these disorders.

I feel like if the social stigma was removed from being queer, much of the pain would be removed as well. Just because it's accepted that everyone and their brother is now on some form of anti-depressant doesn't mean that the chemical imbalances are going to go away.

I don't know whether or not being straight, gay, anything in between is related to having any other kind of psychological disorder, but is it still "harmful" if it is accepted?


A note on my use of the word queer: A lot of people have make comments about this so I figured I would explain. Unbeknownst to me when I first started using it, it's still a word that a lot of people consider to be derogatory. I would consider homosexual to be much more derogatory than queer, therefore I don't use that word. Because it's scientific, it almost carries a stigma. I would never choose to identify as being a "homosexual" whereas I would lovingly embrace the word queer.

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Tante Shvester
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quote:
A note on my use of the word queer: A lot of people have make comments about this so I figured I would explain. Unbeknownst to me when I first started using it, it's still a word that a lot of people consider to be derogatory. I would consider homosexual to be much more derogatory than queer, therefore I don't use that word. Because it's scientific, it almost carries a stigma. I would never choose to identify as being a "homosexual" whereas I would lovingly embrace the word queer.
How about "Gay" or "Gay and Lesbian"? Are those terms more value-neutral?
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kojabu
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Yes, thanks for asking. [Smile]
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The Pixiest
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kojabu:

I believe that in the context you used "queer" (ie: You were supporting LBGs) no one would take offence.

"Queer" is used quite a bit in the LBG community.

Pix

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kojabu
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Oh I know. But even when I've used it to identify myself as being queer, people have asked me about it.
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KarlEd
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I don't like to use the words "queer" or "fag", though both are used frequently in the gay community. I don't really like to hear them used outside the gay community because most of the time they are used with hatred towards gays. Because of this, I find it jarring to read in posts on Hatrack and have to stop and consider the poster and the context before deciding whether it is something worth being offended about.

Perhaps if it were used more frequently in civil discourse it would lose its negative connotation somewhat, but I don't think so.

I prefer "gay", but will use "homosexual" and "homosexuality" when I am speaking specifically about subjects where the sexual activity is the primary issue.

This is not to even attempt to dictate the language anyone on this board chooses to use. It is more to clarify at least one person's point of view and how I, personally react to certain words. [Smile]

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KarlEd
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That said, I really dislike the word "deviant" applied to homosexuality. As was pointed out before, dictionary definitions aside, the word has a very palpable negative connotation far removed from "deviates from the norm". It has a long history of being the equal of "pervert", and especially when applied to homosexuals. In non-scientific or mathematical discourse it is rarely used without full knowledge and intent of this negative connotation.

quote:
And yet, no one would call farming "deviant behavior".
Exactly! (or being a sports figure or movie star or Nobel Prize winner, all of which are far more statistically "deviant" than being gay.)
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Lisa
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quote:
Originally posted by The Pixiest:
kojabu:

I believe that in the context you used "queer" (ie: You were supporting LBGs) no one would take offence.

"Queer" is used quite a bit in the LBG community.

Pix

Despite its use in the GLBT community, I detest the word and find it offensive.

And, just for the record, because maybe people don't realize it, but the "GLBT community" doesn't represent all people who are GLBT. I am a lesbian, but I have very little in common with that community. I'm an Orthodox Jew, and beyond libertarian in my politics. My values are not theirs, and if they want to "reclaim" the word "queer", well, bully for them, but I still think it's offensive.

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Tante Shvester
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Lisa,
I swoon.

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Bob_Scopatz
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Man, it's a good thing there aren't any gay or lesbian team mascots...
or are there?

<insert -- Sorry I couldn't resist>

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Tante Shvester
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I've heard that between 1% and 10% of them (depending on where you get your statistics) ARE gay.
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Bob_Scopatz
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[ROFL]
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Synesthesia
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Belle, I do not trust those statistics. Mainly because of a book called Anything but Straight in Which this writer discussed just how distorted a lot of statistics are when it comes to gay people, such as one guy stating that most gay men don't live past 40, when really he was just looking through the obituaries.
But, it really doesn't matter how many gay people there are.
I rather like the phrase "queer". Mainly because a friend of mine liked it and it's a rather nice phrase for all sorts of difference.

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Belle
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Syn, I think it does matter, because when we're talking about things we should have the most accurate facts available.

My question to you would be how many reliable, reputable studies exist that show the 10% number is accurate? Most people who quote the 10% number are doing so based on the Kinsey study which has been found to have many flaws.

It's one thing to point out specific flaws in specific studies, but what you're saying is a blanket "Oh, I don't trust those because one guy did a study wrong."

People do things wrong - so did Kinsey. So if you don't believe the studies that say it's much less than 10%, then at least give us some links to studies that verify Kinsey's data.

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fugu13
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Yep, Kinsey did tons wrong, but for largely understandable reasons, relating to societal stigma against the sorts of studies he did and the complete lack of any established procedures or data to determine good procedures for the situation.

Its perfectly reasonable to assail Kinsey's studies, but to assail Kinsey as a bad scientist isn't. He was a good scientist doing the best he could in a constricted situation.

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Bob_Scopatz
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Does justice depend on percentages? The 10% figure was interesting and useful because it tended to "shock" people into realizing that they probably knew and were friends with people who are gay.

As it stands now, while that figure is probably not correct, the way in which it was used probably is. Most people know or are related to someone who is gay. In many cases they DON'T know it, and that's the point. That gay people are people first and the fact that their sexual orientation isn't a topic of frequent discussion means, in all probability, they aren't part of some vast conspiracy to undermine our society...

There's value in getting the facts straight, to be sure, but I think it's even more important to frame the discussion in terms of social justice and not worry too much about whether it's justice for 10% of or .05% of us. It's still justice.

Or lack thereof.

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fugu13
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Oh, and I notice one big red flag in the studies you've mentioned talking about a lesser percentage: the attempt to measure people who've exclusively engaged in homosexual activity. By far most, and possibly all, people I know who would definitely identify as homosexual and have no particular attraction to people of the opposite sex have had at least a little heterosexual activity because they hadn't yet discovered their sexuality and were under considerable societal pressure to act "normal". Therefore I bet any study which rules such people out of being homosexual will massively underreport homosexuality.
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TomDavidson
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Why not split the difference and go with 5%? Seems safe, either way, and it's almost certainly closer to the real percentage.
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Tante Shvester
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Fine with me, Tom. Can I quote you?

"According to my research, the Davidson Hypothesis puts the number of homosexuals at 5%"

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Bob_Scopatz
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Hmm...I think we need a bit more precision. How about 5.0% +/- .2

It's much more scientific sounding.

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Tante Shvester
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"According to my research, the Scopatz Corollary to the Davidson Hypothesis puts the number of homosexuals at 5% +/- 0.2%"

Now who could argue with THAT?

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kojabu
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What's the p-value?
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