Michael Hamar

The Only "Choice": Coming Out of "Situational Heterosexuality"

Filed By Michael Hamar | April 07, 2010 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Marriage Equality, Politics, Politics
Tags: Arthur Abba Goldberg, chosen family, ENDA, ex-gay doesn't work, NARTH, repressed sexual orientation, self acceptance

Withfacts_about_lies.jpg the far right and the professional Christian set all in a dither about the possible upcoming vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act ("ENDA") in the U.S. House of Representatives, I guess it is no surprise that the faux experts at the American College of Pediatricians ("ACP") - a Christian right affiliate intended to dupe the unwary - are stepping up a new campaign based on the old "choice myth" as I call it. Desperate to convince voters - and more members of Congress - that sexual orientation is a choice and changeable, a new webpage with purported "facts" has been trotted out that regurgitates the same old worn out lies. In a letter to school superintendents, ACP endeavors to frighten school administrators into resisting any sort of gay affirming policies or programs. The propaganda piece starts out in part as follows:

We are increasingly concerned, however, that in many cases efforts to help students who exhibit same sex attractions and/or gender confusion are based on incomplete or inaccurate information. To correct this and assist you in establishing the optimal school environment, a Web resource, www.FactsAboutYouth.com (Facts), has been created to provide important factual information about healthful approaches to students experiencing sexual orientation and gender identity confusion.

Interestingly enough, among the members of Pediatric Psychosocial Development Committee is Arthur Abba Goldberg who was recently exposed by Wayne Besen and others (I assisted in the investigation) to be none other than a former Wall Street "guru" who was convicted of securities fraud, went to prison, and lost his law license. After exiting prison, Goldberg got into the "ex-gay" business which in my view is equally fraudulent as his bogus bond deals were in the opinion of the SEC. The truth is that gays cannot change as now recognized by the American Psychological Association. All they can do is come out of self-denial and self-hate and and accept who they really are.

In this regard, former "ex-gay" evangelical minister Anthony Venn-Brown calls it like it is. Brown, now one of Australia's leading LGBT activists, has a much more honest approach to the issue of changing one's sexual orientation. Namely, that it is immpossible unless one is engaged in "situational heterosexuality" which he equates with gay men in heterosexual marriages. The phenomenon is the opposite of the situational homosexuality found in prisons and other all same gender settings.

Having been in a heterosexual marriage myself for 24 years , I think that Venn-Brown is definitely on to something. Those of us gays who married and tried to do "what was expected" by family, society and/or our religious upbringings in effect engaged in straight relationships even thought that was not our true sexual orientation. We either did not know what else to do, wanted to have children, or simply could not admit to ourselves who we really were. Thus, you try to make it work even though in your heart you know its not complete and you continue to suffer from those pesky attractions to others of the same gender. You become the actor on the stage playing a role until the point comes where you simply no longer have the energy to keep up the performance either inwardly or outwardly. Here are some of Venn-Brown's comments on the phenomenon:

"'Situational heterosexuality' is a term I've used for several years when people have asked how I could have been married for so many years and yet be gay. This term has also helped people gain a clearer understanding of what really happens when someone who is homosexual marries someone of the opposite sex and claims change. Confusion about what really happens in these situations still exists and often wrongly reinforces the 'homosexuality is a choice' and 'homosexuals can change' concept.

"How often have you heard someone say something like this 'They couldn't be gay, they're married'. When someone says that to me, I just remain silent for a while with a smile on my face (having been a gay man in a heterosexual marriage) and wait for what I'm actually thinking to sink into the consciousness of the person who made the naive statement."

As much the ACP may make false claims and and as "ex-gays" may seek to deny it - even to themselves - they have not changed their sexual orientation. Instead they have suppressed it at least for a time. That does not equate to permanent change. It certainly does not justify a vote against ENDA in Congress.


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thanks for your additional observations Michael.....well said.

Thank you for this article. As a physician--not a pediatrician, mind you, I never have heard of the American College of Pediatricians (likely taking advanatage of the reputation of the respected American College of Physicians (ACP). I suppose this is one of the crazy christian fringe groups in medicine who practice "therapeutic prayer" or whatever. I'm surprised they have not been denounced or censored by the mainstream professional group of pediatricians, the American Academy of Pediatrics. This is disappointing.

rapid butterfly | April 8, 2010 8:19 AM

Michael, thanks for your thoughts, which are as usual interesting and well-expressed.

I will say that while I think sexual orientation as well as gender identity are not changeable for most or at least many of us (neither were or are for me), I do think it is a mistake to think that LGBT rights should stand or fall on the mutability / changeability issue. Religion is mutable / changeable, clearly a "lifestyle choice," yet is protected.

To me the mutability issue is an utter red herring and it would be a serious mistake to frame the debate in those terms.

very respectfully,
~mina

Of course, these people, after marching all weekend for a freedom from the Marxist/Nazi/Kenyan government, want the government to force people into extreme quackery to change their sexual orientation. These people... consistent isn't the word.

jami_bantry jami_bantry | April 10, 2010 5:47 PM

Well, one only has to visit the website of "ACP" - actually ACPEDS, to see who their allies are:

Focus on Family
National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH)

and who they cite as "Professional" resources/ authors:

Joseph Nicolosi, Ph.D
Kenneth J. Zucker
S. J. Bradley
Bailey, JM

http://www.americancollegeofpediatricians.org/

"Professional" associations and "Professionals" who are not, in the LEAST bit, biased. Hmmmm

jami

jami_bantry jami_bantry | April 10, 2010 5:58 PM

Well, one only has to visit the website of "ACP" - actually ACPEDS, to see who their allies are:

Focus on Family
National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH)

and who they cite as "Professional" resources/ authors:

Joseph Nicolosi, Ph.D
Kenneth J. Zucker
S. J. Bradley
Bailey, JM

http://www.americancollegeofpediatricians.org/

"Professional" associations and "Professionals" who are not, in the LEAST bit, biased. Hmmmm

jami

Don Adams | May 20, 2010 4:56 AM

I was quite conscious of my sexuality at the time that I met the woman who eventually became my wife for 31 years. I came to believe that the deepest connection between people was spiritual, not superficially physical. This carried us a very long way. I came to believe I was truly bisexual, though it seemed strange to me that I was perceived by others, because of my long-term, monogamous, heterosexual marriage as being "straight," when my own attractions and interests were not. This seemed a social limitation, however, rather than something that characterized my own identity.

Ultimately, however, especially as my wife aged and grew less self-assured in her own identity as a sexually desirable woman, she wanted more from me: she wanted me to express a physically based, erotic desire for her as a woman that I did not feel. My soulful connection to her was undiminished, and yet I could not find in myself the kind of lustful, animal attraction she came to want from me.

Finally, she left me a year ago. I felt abandoned, betrayed; and yet it now also seems evident that my belief that soulful connection overrides physical lust was naive.

Had she not taken the position that the dynamics of our relationship had to change -- that I needed to become a pursuing, more typically "male" aggressor -- my own primary commitment would have remained to sustain our relationship. Once she left me, though, I saw that all the effort I had expended to be a "better partner" -- more openly desirous, as she longed for me to be -- would not have been necessary had she been a man: the "only problem" in what otherwise seemed a perfect match in spiritual and psychological terms.

Even in physical, sexual terms: the quality of sexual experience I enjoyed with her surpassed what I had experienced with the dozen-or-so men with whom I'd had relationships with before she and I met. Finally, though, it was in the erotic dimension that my true nature caused me to disappoint her. Since we've separated, I have come to understand that the effort I expended to create the kind of erotic charge she wanted was one that violated my nature.

Now I question the notion that there is a deeper, spiritual love that transcends "superficial" physical attraction. I don't need books about erotic fantasy to fill some gap in my sexual imagination, if the object of my desire is a man -- however much of a jerk he might be in spiritual and psychological terms.

But so far, I've found all the actually-existing men I've encountered to fall short of the soulful character of my ex-wife: I see that I may never encounter anyone who combines both that more superficial physical attractiveness and the depth of and quality of character that I require. I could very well live the rest of my life alone. Is that an improvement? I don't know.