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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Discussions About Orson Scott Card » Is the "dark secret of homosexuality" legit?

   
Author Topic: Is the "dark secret of homosexuality" legit?
Imlekk
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First, let me just say that I'm a huge fan of Mr. Card's writings. He is one of my all-time favourite authors, and I pretty much read everything he writes.

Recently, there has been quite a bit of noise around his expressed opinions regarding homosexual marriage in relation to the Superman comic he was supposed to write.

So I've tried to read up on the subject. There's one thing I am wondering about.

In his essay "Homosexual "Marriage" and Civilization" (February 2004), Mr. Card writes the following;

quote:
The dark secret of homosexual society -- the one that dares not speak its name -- is how many homosexuals first entered into that world through a disturbing seduction or rape or molestation or abuse, and how many of them yearn to get out of the homosexual community and live normally.
Is there any serious scientific studies regarding this subject? Anything that either confirms or denies this, apart from anecdotal evidence?

I don't really have strong opinions on this subject, and it's not something I'm overly concerned about. Here in Norway we have had homosexual marriage for a while, without me really noticing.

However, I find it to be an interesting... shall we call it hypothesis? And I genuinely believe that it would be interesting to see it receive scientific scrutiny.

Obviously, it is a controversial topic - at least over there in the States - and studies instigated or supported by someone lacking objectivity (such as Mr. Card) would lack legitimacy. On the other hand, I'm sure it could be handled in some way - I'm not too familiar with the grant process, but making it clear that no further funding will be received regardless of the conclusion of the study might be a way to go.

Such a study (or studies, perhaps) would have to be carefully designed in order to see whether there is a larger correlation between e.g. abuse and homosexuality than between abuse and heterosexuality. And other concerns.

This got a bit rant-y, but I hope my point got through.

Sincerely,
Imlekk

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C3PO the Dragon Slayer
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I'm treading on thin ice posting anything about this topic, but I would like to make several points regarding your question.

The first is that in my limited, but not negligible experience, I have no substantive reason to believe that any of the (openly) gay people I have known were ever abused. This, I admit, is anecdotal evidence and doesn't really help argue any way.

The second is that if a study was conducted on this subject, it will INEVITABLY be biased by the political affiliations of the researchers. I have rarely seen a study on homosexuality that wasn't blatantly trying to prove or disprove that homosexuality is "natural" (whatever that means) or draw an absurdly broad conclusion about either the homosexual demographic or the homophobic demographic. Even the ones that find interesting facts with hard data often go far beyond those data when drawing their conclusions.

The third is that even if by some miracle a truly impartial scientist wants to conduct a study on this question, there really isn't a reasonable way to get reliable results. What are you going to do, ask "1) Were you abused as a child? 2) If yes, did that make you gay?" on a survey? How would you determine the sample? Would you focus on openly-gay individuals (who would probably never insinuate that their sexual orientation derives from a troubled childhood), or try to get a random sample of the population (though even closeted gay individuals who WERE abused may be uncomfortable admitting it, even on an anonymous survey)? There are too many confounding variables; if the questions posed too obviously juxtapose the ideas of abuse and homosexuality, participants could easily and correctly guess the motive of the study and let their personal views affect their answers.

The fourth is that I really hope that OSC is wrong on this "hypothesis," since I have too much faith in humanity to readily believe that child molestation is prevalent enough to produce a significant portion of the gay community. But that's my own bias, which of course has no place in scientific inquiry.

If you want to look at actual peer-reviewed studies, though, you can always use Google Scholar. I did a cursory perusal of studies regarding the etiology of homosexuality, and among the documents that didn't have a clear agenda, the most prevalent theory is that homosexuality is caused by prenatal hormone variations, though some studies mention, but don't endorse, competing theories about "unresolved Oedipal complexes."

If you want to look at these studies more deeply than I had time for, then great. But pay attention to the methodology of research; a lot of studies are done on samples consisting of nothing but a couple dozen college students, for example, which may cause unexpected biases in the data. A lot of the studies I saw exclude bisexuals altogether from their samples, which means that the data they gather aren't really complete. But maybe you can find something that satisfactorily answers your question.

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Synesthesia
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Uh, do you realize how many children are abused? The statistics are depressing. If so many kids are abused, you would have a lot more gay people. In fact, it's a bit insulting for him to insinuate that homosexuality is so abnormal and abhorrent it's caused by abuse and that it's not its own form of normal.

Never, ever, ever listen to OSC when it comes to gay issues. Dude does NOT know what he is talking about. He spouts out the same sort of outdated crap you get from NARTH and James Dobson.

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Samprimary
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virtually all statistics and data agrees that girls are extraordinarily more likely to be sexually abused in childhood than boys are. Yet proportionately more men identify as gay than women identify as lesbians. Any theory that wants to posit that there is a causal relationship wherein childhood abuse creates homosexuality and that a significant percentage of gays are gay because they were abused in their childhood (and OSC is unambiguously claiming this) would probably* have to account for this remarkable gender-based difference in vulnerability to having gay inflicted on you by abusers!

*depending on how significant the rates of Gay By Abuse are claimed to be as a total percentage of homosexuality overall, usually enough to demand attention to this issue

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Kelly1101
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quote:
Originally posted by Imlekk:
Here in Norway we have had homosexual marriage for a while, without me really noticing.

LMAO.

Wait, you mean it didn't destroy your own relationships or cause your society to disintegrate?

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C3PO the Dragon Slayer
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
virtually all statistics and data agrees that girls are extraordinarily more likely to be sexually abused in childhood than boys are. Yet proportionately more men identify as gay than women identify as lesbians.

I was not aware of either of these statistics. In my community, I know of significantly more open lesbians than openly gay men. I also only know of one person (in my circle of friends/acquaintances, not counting friends of friends and whatever tales I've heard from unreliable gossip) who I know was abused as a child, and he's male (and straight). I guess that goes to show how unreliable anecdotal evidence is. Do you have a link where I could read more?
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Yozhik
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In response to Samprimary: if it's possible for sexual abuse in childhood to "reprogram" somebody's orientation, then the gender of the abuser (as well as that of the abused child) has to be taken into account. Many more children are sexually abused by men than by women. It's conceivable that, in some cases, being abused by a man could affect a boy differently than it affects a girl. I don't know. I do know that a lot of people used to think this -- I believe there was even a long running plot line about it back on Homicide: Life on the Street back in the 90s. Most gay people were as far as we know born that way, but I wouldn't completely rule out the possibility that sexual abuse MIGHT possibly affect the orientation of specific individuals. It's known to be a factor in some of the harmful orientations, so it might be a factor in a non harmful one as well.


But C3PO is right - how in the world you could ever objectively study it I don't know.

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Samprimary
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http://igfculturewatch.com/1999/11/30/more-gays-than-lesbians/

http://www.unh.edu/ccrc/factsheet/pdf/CSA-FS20.pdf

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by C3PO the Dragon Slayer:
I
have rarely seen a study on homosexuality that wasn't blatantly trying to prove or disprove that homosexuality is "natural" (whatever that means) or draw an absurdly broad conclusion about either the homosexual demographic or the homophobic demographic. Even the ones that find interesting facts with hard data often go far beyond those data when drawing their conclusions.

This is beyond silly. A properly conducted "study." does not *try* to prove anything. However, a successful study *does* prove things. In the sense that they make conclusions about what is "natural," (and you helpfully make the appeal to ignorance about what "natural" mean), the perameters for such a label would have to be clearly detailed in the conclusions of the report itself ie: "Given that the following conditions qualify a phenomenon as natural, and the following situations A B and C meet those conditions, A B and C are natural phenomena."

In the sense that studies, properly conducted and properly analyzed, are meant to give us proof of things. That we may already suspect these conclusions are true for other reasons does not, in itself, invalidate scientific research.

Honestly, I'm not even grousing with you personally, I just sometimes can't fathom how people expect the scientific process to work. Do you think real scientists don't pay attention to research outside their own fields? Do you think research is done on topics wherein the researcher has *no* idea what the results will probably be? What could you possible find significant about a study that *makes* conclusions? And why on Earth would you think that a scientific

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Stone_Wolf_
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quote:
Originally posted by Yozhik:
In response to Samprimary: if it's possible for sexual abuse in childhood to "reprogram" somebody's orientation, then the gender of the abuser (as well as that of the abused child) has to be taken into account. Many more children are sexually abused by men than by women. It's conceivable that, in some cases, being abused by a man could affect a boy differently than it affects a girl.

This was my thought too...

And even -if- abuse leads to homosexuality, that doesn't exclude the possibility that many gays were just simply born that way and never abused at all.

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Marcoudesept
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Reguardless to whether it is chosen or genetics. The author has boldly stated his bias and likewise worded his beliefs as if they were fact. If there were studies any quick google search would provide 10,000 hits in there reference. I think its more likely that the abused become advocates against gay rights rather then becoming gay themselves. Infact, I can telk you with absolute certainty, a young, same sex abused victim will obsess over proving they are not gay themselves before they hopefully are able to regain a balanced emotional state without influence from the traumatic event of there past.
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Marcoudesept
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Furthermore, I have ave no problem with his certainty that his bias veiw is a fact (also known as faith) all that is well and good as long as no one attempts to command that I agree and must believe the same by law.
Im on the fence on the whole thing. I've seen people who have "chosen" to be gay. Normally affluent white males wishing to be part of some oppressed culture to gain attention and victimization status. But I've also seen people who dont act gay (flamboyant) and just seem to be a normal male like any other that are only happy living with another man. If it is genetic, and i dont yet disagree that it is, then unfortunately the "posers" make it hard to prove. If it was less of a "hot topic" it would be practically invisable to society like in foreign countries.

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Stone_Wolf_:

And even -if- abuse leads to homosexuality, that doesn't exclude the possibility that many gays were just simply born that way and never abused at all.

And research has consistently proven that homosexuality is genetic, and begins at least at birth.
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Aris Katsaris
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quote:
And research has consistently proven that homosexuality is genetic, and begins at least at birth.
Would it change anything in your political positions regarding homosexuality if it wasn't genetic, and if it began at puberty?

I don't see in what way it would change anything in mine. I would still e.g. be in favour of same-sex marriage, I would still oppose both heterosexual and homosexual abuse in all its forms.

As such I can only be frustrated at how much people care about such a triviality about whether homosexuality is genetic or not. It might be an interesting medical question, but it shouldn't really matter politically.

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Marcoudesept
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I belive the issue is that if it's a natural genetic mutation then it's technically caused by God. But if it's choice religious politics can judge it a "sin"
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Samprimary
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Anyway the punchline is that pretty much nothing in the orthodoxy of folk who assert that we know that a significant number of gay people were made gay by sexual abuse in their childhood accounts for how if this was true —

(barring some unknown and culturally universalized gendered divide in psychological response to early life trauma that would doubtlessly shock the science world)

— we would have a greatly larger number of gay females to gay males

yet we don't, sooo

many questions

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Aris Katsaris
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quote:
"— we would have a greatly larger number of gay females to gay males

yet we don't, sooo"

Eh, I was under the impression that we do have a far greater larger number of gay females to gay males, at least if one includes bisexuals with gays:

"In a study from New Zealand, 16.4% of young women identified as lesbian or bisexual, compared with 5.6% of men who identified as gay or bisexual"
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sax-sex/201004/why-are-so-many-girls-lesbian-or-bisexual?page=2

That's 3 times the number of lesbian or bi females, to the number of gay or bi males.

(Of course it may alternatively just be that lesbian or bi females are 3 times as willing to self-identify as such than gay or bi males -- or a combination of greater true proportion and greater willingness to self-identity)

Anyway, do you know of some other study that indicates more equal proportions?

[ April 11, 2013, 07:11 AM: Message edited by: Aris Katsaris ]

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Yozhik
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You're ignoring the fact that males do most of the molesting.
It wouldn't be an issue of a "gendered divide in response to early psychological trauma" in general, it would be a gendered divide in response to molestation / inappropriate seduction by a male. (Which wouldn't explain how lesbians fit into the picture, but whatever.) Maybe being molested by a person of the same sex could produce a different effect than being molested by a person of the opposite sex, and since most molesters are of the male sex... don't know if there could be some impact there somewhere or not.

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Yozhik
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Anyway, a course of action everyone can agree on is that child molestation should be stopped.
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Yozhik
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Also, I'm currently wondering if just about everybody is bisexual to some degree.
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TomDavidson
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If one of those degrees is "zero degrees, i.e. not at all," that's probably true.
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Kelly1101
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I have to say that I do know lesbians with histories of rape and molestation (three of them out of the five that I know closely), and none of the gay men that I know closely (three) have been molested.
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Scooter
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Yes, it is legit. He doesn't claim a certain number for each pattern, but both exist, and both sets of voices are stifled. He suggests the numbers are substantial. Anecdotes can't support or debunk the claim completely, but doing some research, observing how political correctness works, and putting two and two together will show his claims are not crazy by any stretch--only when someone stretches the claims to say something he didn't say.
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Amka
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A way to have a study: Ask a large number of relatively unrelated questions, with the important questions being hidden by a majority of questions which have to do with something other than sexuality regarding the abuse. Also, it might be wise to separate the questions by both method and time. Use large numbers of people.

Don't ask if they are gay, ask in interview format about their relationship with their partner.

It may be something we need patience with, such as a 20-40 year study following about 10,000 children regarding their relationships in general and how their childhood relationships affect their adult relationships. This could get rid of the problem of trying to remember things way back and self reporting, as well as shed light an many other aspects of social development.

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scifibum
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OSC's belief is not based on science. It's an example of confirmation bias.

When you start out thinking that something went wrong (rather than simply went different) then you will be inclined to assign blame to a factor, once you find it, that also seems wrong.

So as someone who thinks homosexuality is a sort of defect or sin (or even a particularly difficult challenge) learns, one way or another, about abuse that happened to gay people they know or have heard about, they are inclined to think "aha! so that's what went wrong". And when they learn about similar things that happened to straight people, they will be likely to think "so that's why you're emotionally unstable" or "so that's why you listen to such depressing music" or whatever other negative trait their pattern seeking brain wants to assign to a cause.

The crux, of course, is in thinking of homosexuality as a defect. Defects mean something went wrong, so it seems reasonable to look for the source in some trauma or deficiency. I can understand why this is an attractive belief - it's less difficult to think of homosexuality as a problem with a few people that causes them to fail to have correct desires or behaviors and thus explain any difficulty they face as a result, than it is to re-evaluate your beliefs enough to see those difficulties as problems with how your society has reacted to and accommodated their existence.

I actually don't know whether sexual abuse makes any difference in the likelihood of being gay, or whether it's been studied adequately to know with any confidence. I based the above on the fact that OSC doesn't seem to know either; he based his "dark secret" on anecdotal evidence that only seemed compelling due to confirmation bias. It doesn't seem completely implausible, but I can't say how much of that seeming plausibility is rooted in (very difficult to eradicate) prejudices that I was inculcated in which were based on premises I have since rejected. I think it would take careful, objective study to determine such a thing, but I don't think we really need to worry about it much. I don't think being gay is a bad thing (to the extent it's a difficult thing I think prejudice on the part of others is to blame). Abuse is a bad thing REGARDLESS of whether it has any connection to sexual orientation. So: try to reduce abuse, right? If someone wants to study the topic I won't begrudge them, as long as their motives aren't hateful, but it's not particularly important to figure it out.

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Stone_Wolf_
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You know, part of this is mistaking -a- goodness for -the one and only- goodness. Yes, making a family with your wife (husband if you are female) is a wonderful thing! I have two small children and am happily married and I never could have imagined the depth and completeness of the joy and contentment my family has brought to me. But I do not imagine for a single second that my happiness is the only one to be had, or that mine is the "moral" happiness and all others are somehow "immoral".

OSC is right on that building a family and being a part of a community is a great goodness. It is. OSC is wrong that it is the only goodness, the only "right" goodness, the only "moral" goodness.

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