In recent decades, American perceptions of homosexuality have changed significantly, largely because of the questionable concept of the homosexual orientation: a genetic or biological, rather than a behavioral, etiology. These newer beliefs greatly influence how its morbidity, mortality, and social impact are seen, often causing us to overlook how the gay male lifestyle significantly increases the incidence of infectious disease and shortens life expectancy by about 20 years.
Morbidity, Mortality, and Morality: the Social Impact of Homosexuality
A striking but little-discussed aspect of homosexual activity today is its associated reduction in behavioral control.We all have forbidden sexual drives that we restrain, but for those engaging in homosexual behavior, that restraint seems much reduced. One result has been blatant promiscuity among homosexuals. A 1978 study reported that 75 percent of male homosexuals had been with 100 or more partners; 28 percent, the largest subcategory, reported more than 1,000 partners; 79 percent said more than half their partners were strangers; and 79 percent said more than half their partners were men with whom they had sex only once. Another survey 16 years later found that while 67.6 percent of men and 75.5 percent of women had only one sex partner in the previous year, only 2.6 percent of men and 1.2 percent of women engaging in same-sex relationships had thus limited themselves. Supporters of homosexuality, and advocates of gay marriage, rarely acknowledge the many partners gays have including those living together as couples.
The medical dangers of homosexuality are also under emphasized. Its devotees show much higher rates of sexually
transmitted disease, substance abuse, and mental illness. While they comprise only about 2 percent of the population, homosexuals represented 21 percent of hepatitis B cases in 1988, and 44 percent of new human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) cases between 2000 and 2003. They contract syphilis at a rate three to four times higher than non-homosexuals. Anal intercourse causes hemorrhoids, anal fissures, anorectal trauma, and retained foreign bodies, and creates high risk for anal cancer. Among male homosexuals engaging in oral-to-anal contact, an extremely high rate of parasitic and other intestinal infections exists. Homosexuality is also associated with higher mortality. A major Canadian medical center found the life expectancy at age 20 years for gay and bisexual men was 8 to 20 years less than that for all men. It further estimated that nearly half of todays gay and bisexual 20-year-olds would not reach their 65th birthday.
American concepts and attitudes about homosexuality have changed significantly in recent decades. Most of society and the medical profession now view it as an acceptable alternate lifestyle: a biologically determined, permanent orientation, rather than a learned, experiential, and often changeable choice. The concept of homosexuality as a permanent orientation is, however, without scientific validation; the notion is entirely politically grounded. One effect of this new view has been to understate the medical and societal harm produced by the promiscuous sexual practices typically associated with homosexuality.
Redefining Homosexuality in America Today
In the United States, homosexuality was considered an illness or perversion until 1973, when the American Psychiatric Association decided to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders, without morally judging it as sin or crime. Thus, homosexuality could be seen as an acceptable alternate lifestyle. The definitional change helped to make homosexuality, once a felony, respectable.
The APA vote to normalize homosexuality was driven by politics, not science. Even sympathizers acknowledge this. The process began in 1970 with a systematic effort by a homosexual faction within the APA to disrupt its annual meetings. After several years of intimidation, the efforts finally succeeded. In 1973, when the faction met formally with the APA Committee on Nomenclature to discuss removing homosexuality from the list, the outcome had already been arranged behind closed doors.
When the APA membership was then polled on the question, the faction sent a letter to more than 30,000 memberssecretly paid for by the National Gay Task Forceurging them to retain the nomenclature change. A third of the membership responded to the poll and a majority of them supported the change. The result was not a conclusion based upon an approximation of the scientific truth as dictated by reason, but was instead an action demanded by the ideological temper of the times.
If a vote by this professional organization is all that is needed to normalize homosexuality, could the same faction-driven process occur with other behavior now considered aberrant, such as pederasty, once a critical mass of politically active practitioners has been reached?
Changing American Attitudes
A change in the attitude of the medical profession accompanied the change in definition, as seen in the American Medical Associations and in its official statement on homosexuality. The former says that even though some religious groups condemn homosexuality as morally perverse, it is, rather, a normal sexual orientation, not a disorder or a sign of a disorder. The latter endorses the physicians nonjudgmental recognition of sexual orientation and behavior.
The attitude of the public has been greatly affected by the major media, in which the homosexual movement has great influence. In April 2000, for example, Richard Berke of The New York Times, then its national political, correspondent told the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, literally three-quarters of the
people deciding whats on the front page are not-so-closeted homosexuals a real cry from what it was like not so long ago.
The Question of Sexual Orientation
The concept of a permanent sexual orientation is a major reason for todays widespread acceptance of homosexuality.
Although many people believe that sexual orientation is a concept well understood by science this is not the case. The term itself is relatively new, having replaced the term sexual preference in common usage in the late 1970s. Preference implies current choice, and thus personal responsibility, while orientation suggests something more fixed, and even inborn.
But sexual orientation, so often seen as an essential human quality, actually has no means of being objectively determined. There is no test, no procedure, experimental or otherwise, that can determine ones sexual orientation. The only means of understanding sexual orientation is through self-declaration. But, being gay, lesbian, or bisexual means different things to different people. Some define their sexual orientation by their behavior or attractions or fantasies, or some combination of each dimension. To most people, sexual orientation is a stable part of themselves and central to their identity, while others find their sexual orientation to be a more fluid identity.
Ambiguity about who is homosexual, and changes in sexual attraction over time, comprise two refutations to the alleged permanence and irreversibility of a homosexual orientation.
Who Is Currently Homosexual?
Is anyone who ever experienced homosexual feelings gay? If so, almost all of us are, since anyone can have such feelingsfor example, after viewing the homosexual videos shown in many college sex education courses.
Should the term include anyone who has ever engaged in same-sex relationships? Or only those currently involved? After actress Anne Heches well-publicized three-year lesbian relationship with comedian Ellen DeGeneres ended, she married and now has a baby. Is she gay, ex-gay, bisexual, or simply sexually confused? Has her supposedly fixed sexual orientation changed between then and now?
Other public figures have also described changes in attractions. Some married men, even with children, engage, like the ancient Greeks, in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships. Almost all those calling themselves homosexual have had sex with the opposite sex, and perhaps a third are or have been married. Are they gay Americans, as former New Jersey Governor James McGreevey proclaimed himself, or merely bisexually promiscuous?
Changes in Orientation over Time
Diamond found that over a five-year period, 48 percent of a group of 80 lesbians changed their sexual identity and attractions. Others have also given evidence of the changeability of various aspects of sexual orientation and identity. PFOX, Parents of Gays and Ex-Gays, is a growing organization publishing information about homosexuality and seeking for ex-gayswhose very existence gays often denythe public recognition gays already have.
Despite gay political groups successful insistence before courts and legislatures that homosexuals are a permanent legal class, their members have long recognized the instability of sexual attraction. In 1996, a London clinic worker reported, 25 percent of its lesbian clients had had sex with a man in the last six months. A writer in an American gay newspaper insisted that for the majority of us, lesbian and gay are not biological identities. Biologically, most of us are bisexual. What they are, are political identities that often, but not always, describe the relationships we currently
choose. Being gay is a choice, but its a great choice. Their rarely acknowledged basic choice is, of course, for unmarried bisexual promiscuity over conjugal heterosexual fidelity.
After examining the difficulties of defining the term scientifically, Gonsiorek et al. concluded that there is serious
doubt whether sexual orientation is a valid concept at all.
Nevertheless, the concept is widely accepted, as is the idea that it is inborn, largely owing to frequent repetition.
Anal intercourse causes hemorrhoids, anal fissures, anorectal trauma, and retained foreign bodies, and creates high risk for anal cancer. Among male homosexuals engaging in oral-to-anal contact, an extremely high rate of parasitic and other intestinal infections exists. Homosexuality is also associated with higher mortality. A major Canadian medical center found the life expectancy at age 20 years for gay and bisexual men was 8 to 20 years less than that for all men. It further estimated that nearly half of todays gay and bisexual 20-year-olds would not reach their 65th birthday.