19 August 2008

Innate and Immutable?

I have a major problem with the insistence that homosexuality is never changeable. Those who say so often entrench themselves in the stance to defend themselves and others. They think that somehow, if they insist vehemently enough that they didn't choose to be this way AND they cannot possibly be any other way, then they will be more respected, more accepted, more tolerated, more legally just. They often belittle and scorn the efforts of others to find the ability to happily function in the heterosexual lifestyle they envision as being the best long-term solution for themselves. They seem somehow threatened by the fact that there are homosexual people living apparently happily lives with their opposite-sex spouses and their children. The existence of such people somehow undermines their agenda to gain credibility and acceptance in society. They seem hellbent on discrediting those who dare to challenge and defy paradigms even while decrying the closed-minded conservativism of their supposed philosophical opponents.

I also have a major problem with the insistence that homosexuality is always changeable. Many think that because they feel a diminished drive to get it on with every person of the same sex and an increased curiosity about the opposite sex, everyone else can and should become "straight" like them. My skepticism is oozing quite deliberately here. It's because many of the people I've known who are most adamant about homosexuality being changeable are also very recently "converted" and often "backslide" or later say they weren't as converted as they thought. Others stay "converted" but are expending so much energy in their lives to maintain their hetero- functionality that most people who see what they're doing would not want to live that way at all. There may be some who claim to be completely "changed" and insist they never thought they could be either, but I've observed that most of those who so proclaim are also inextricably financially and/or religiously invested in maintaining that stance. Often, their entire reputation hinges on this unquantified insistence that they have changed from homosexual to heterosexual, something nobody can prove or disprove. I am, nevertheless, disinclined to insist they're not being truthful. I believe some of them are being quite truthful.

Look at me painting the groups in broad strokes and using "they" and "their" incessantly. It just feels that way a lot of the time. Like there's not really a middle ground, and those who sound moderate only sound so until you get to know them better, and it seems like they're just putting on facades of moderation to win more people over to their hidden extreme. Boo.

What do I think, then? Is homosexuality innate and immutable? Can a person go from homosexual to heterosexual, or vice versa? I don't know, and I frankly don't care much. I'm bored with and tired of the debate. I just think change/reorientation/conversion may be possible in at least some cases. Choices are most definitely changeable. Lifestyle is undoubtedly chosen. Attractions of a sexual or romantic nature can be directed in various ways, healthy or otherwise, and may be more fluid than many of us would care to admit, given enough desire to explore that fluidity. I mean, if some people learn to "love" farm animals, I can certainly be open to giving women a fair chance in the romantic/sexual arena. *tongue firmly in cheek*


Samantha said...

Yeah, as long as that farm animal comparison thing is comparable with your desire for women...I wouldn't. My experience is that women get a bit testy when they're herded and branded, and they like to have some say about when breeding takes place.

Just a thought.

Amber said...

I, for one, doubt that it would ever be possible for me to be sexually attracted to/aroused by/interested in women.

Dichotomy said...

I don't believe that orientation can be consciously changed. I think that people who believe they have changed their orientation either began from a point near the center of the scale (i.e. bisexual) or are simply adept at refocusing their sexual energy.

I don't think that denying that change is possible makes me one of the small-minded people you describe in your first few paragraphs. I've never had any physical relationship with a man. My wife and I are happy together and our love life is not something either of us would complain about.

I am not attracted to women. At all. But I love my wife and am able to direct and focus my sexual energy toward her when we are intimate. I don't think for a moment that this makes me a heterosexual, but if I wanted to claim that I had been "converted" I have enough evidence to support that claim.

I guess what it boils down to is that my behavior can be controlled and directed, but I don't believe that my core orientation can be moved in one direction or another.

The Impossible K said...

Sound analysis, but I'd agree with Samantha- your analogy is a bit troubling... ;-)
I don't think it's fair to make a call either way. Did we experience sexual attraction in the premortal existence? I highly doubt it. Every evidence you can find to confirm or deny your orientation is rooted in what you've experienced while in mortality. We're working with a limited, and highly biased, amount of information. Without the parting of the veil to illuminate our real selves, it's all a bunch of guesswork anyway. Isn't it?

Chedner said...

Yeah, glbt HQ has been pretty strict on who can change statuses, but I here they're trying to strike a deal/compromise with various religious organizations. I'm not sure what it entails, but I'm anxious to find out.


But, in all seriousness, I do not subscribe to Determinism in the least bit. If ever anyone comes to me for advice, I am careful to not project what has been working wonderfully in my life onto that person... because people are simply too different one from another.

Felicity said...

To continue the train of female commenters...I just appreciate that you laid out both sides. Because there are two sides. Everyone's unique even in the "same situation" and we'd all do well to chill and let peeps make their own decisions and respect them for it.

Ty Ray said...

One of the biggest problems in discussing the topic is first describing what "change" is. I don't believe in deterministic views relative to homosexual attraction, and yet, there are only a few types of "change" I feel are really important. If one person goes from loathing themselves to learning to love themselves, even if they choose not to adopt a gay identity or pursue a same-sex relationship, that's a change worth pursuing. And that change alone isn't always an easy process.

Learning to focus and channel sexual energy into an opposite-sex relationship, such as Dichotomy mentioned, is a "change." I used to not think that was a possibility for me. Now I believe it is. In a way, I've "changed." For some, that change isn't enough or isn't valuable. To me, it is.

Not feeling distress or shame, after feeling it for years, is a "change" I've made. The way I experience and process my attraction has changed. The fact that I view it as a blessing and not a curse has changed.

In a nutshell, there's all kinds of changes. I even thing that orientation itself change slowly change over time, though I'm not sure it necessarily needs to as long as we're growing toward greater feeling of wholeness and peace.

Original Mohomie said...

Thanks for the input, y'all.

I hope it was clear that I was presenting two fairly extreme sides of a debate and that "change" means different things to different people. I think that's apparent.

I do have to say, though, that it really irks me when I hear some guy talking about how he's "changed", but when someone asks, "So you no longer feel attraction of a sexual or romantic nature towards men, and you feel every bit as much of such attraction towards women?" and he says, "You're putting words into my mouth, shame on you!" and proceeds to qualify "change" as redirected feelings and a sense of peace, knowing damned well that--before such a clarification--most people, when they hear him talking about "change", are going to think he means change from homo- to heterosexuality. It's a mind game to win politics, and it's ridiculous. And yes, both "sides" do it.

Original Mohomie said...

Sorry, I thought I should just clarify that any frustration in my comment wasn't directed at you, my beloved readers, especially Mr. Ty (who expounded on the "change" semantic issue). Your points are well-taken and valid, and I can add my "amen". :-)

Ty Ray said...

I'm glad you clarified, jerk. I'm just sayin... :)

Original Mohomie said...

Due to geographical distance, in lieu of actually being able to kiss and make up, I'll just send you an affectionate e-nipple-twist.