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Nature, nurture, or nudge: Who cares?

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
May 9, 2001


"But you are Blanche. But you are." — Bette Davis

Last week, Robert L. Spitzer, a psychiatry professor at Columbia University released a study that claimed some highly motivated gay people can turn to heterosexuality. The study relied on 45 minute phone conversations with 200 people, claiming to have changed their orientation from gay to straight. Spitzer concluded that 66% of the men and 44% of the women had arrived at what he called "good heterosexual functioning." How's that for a ringing endorsement?

It should be noted that those in the phone survey had all been referred to the study by Christian ex-gay ministries and the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality. I'm sorry, but how sound is the science when all of it's sources have already declared themselves to be of closed mind by clinging to the outdated notion of homosexuality being a development disorder. Can you say foregone conclusion?

Spitzer's research team defined "good heterosexual functioning." as being in a sustained heterosexual relationship within the past year, having satisfying heterosexual sex at least once a month, and never or rarely thinking of somebody of the same sex during heterosexual sex. Yes ladies and gentlemen, rarely was an option. Excuse me but when did thinking of John while doing Jane ever rate as good heterosexual functioning.

Subjected more to behavior modification than sexual reorientation the people interviewed were individuals involved in deep spiritual, if not cultural, battles of conscience. Which I guess is a good thing. But it is important to note that it is Christian doctrine that tells them they are some how wrong. And as we all know if something is broken it must be fixed. But just as an alcoholic is still an alcoholic long after he takes his last drink, ex-gays are only men and women who have cut themselves off from past behaviors. Nothing more.

Another study presented at last week's meeting of the American Psychiatric Association(APA), which in 1973 removed homosexuality from it's list of disorders, refuted Spitzer. According to Jerrold Polansky, a psychiatrist and member of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, Spitzer's limited contact with his subjects called the findings into question. "The so-called study has no longitudinal follow-up, and instead relies on a moment in time interview process." Ironically it was Spitzer who authored the 1973 delisting argument. If you ask me Professor Spitzer is lacking attention or financing, and probably both.

To be fair, it would be wrong not to draw attention to the other side of the coin. Whereas there may not be an official ex-straight ministry, a long held gospel in the gay community is that the only difference between a heterosexual man and a gay one is a six pack of beer. But as I have yet to see the peer review research done on that topic, this ranks up there with the recent work of Mr. Spitzer, and should be dismissed as just another urban legend.

I would also like to go on record stating that I think everyone has the right to live their life as they see fit. And if that means trading a gay lifestyle for a heterosexual one I say more power to them. God knows that for every gay man or woman who goes strait there are ten straight men or women who adopt a gay or lesbian lifestyle. And again I say, it's all good.

All anthropocentrism aside homosexuality is hardly reserved for human beings. Sea Gulls, giraffes, dolphins, chimpanzees are just a few species that regularly engage in homosexual liaisons. In the case of Argentinian gulls, females will mate for life, copulating only with males as to ensure breeding, a not a moment longer. Coincidence? I think not.

In a world of 7 billion people, and a shrinking natural resource base, I think homosexuality is just nature's way of saying enough is enough. And if those that condemn homosexuals, for something that has absolutely nothing to do with them, would just open their narrow little minds, they would see that the less people making babies, means more room for their own offspring.

The burning question is why does this even matter. Gay or straight we all pay taxes. We are all expected to work for a living. Drive on the right side of the road, and not open fire on neighbors and co-workers. Besides there are advantages to both lifestyles. If it wasn't for heterosexuals, homosexuals wouldn't exist. And without homosexuals, heterosexuals would have one less reason to feel superior. See everybody wins.

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