Commonly Asked Questions and Answers about Homosexuality
Vern L. Bullough, Ph.D., Barry M. Dank, M.A.,
Howard E. Fradkin, Ph.D., James L. Kepner, Jr.,
W. Dorr Legg, M.L.D., and Robert E. Newton, B.S.
Magazine articles, books, news reporting, movies and public discussions of
Homosexual are so plentiful today as to indicate a genuine public concern about the subject and a desire to better understand it. However, the layman has difficulty in finding simple, straightforward answers to many of his questions readily available in convenient form.
To help fill this need, a pamphlet (reprinted here) has been prepared by a panel of highly qualified social scientists and specialists, each of whom has studies gays/lesbian extensively and at least one of whom is himself Gay. In addition to his study, each of the panelists has done much interviewing and counseling work with
Homosexual, gaining thereby a broad insight into the attitudes and behavior patterns of several thousand such persons.
The aim of this publication is to replace misconceptions and
fears about Homosexual with a better understanding of the subject. It is hoped that this will result in improved and more humane attitudes toward those men and women for whom
Homosexual is their way of life and effect a better integration into society of such individuals, many of whom are worthwhile and useful people. Such a goal would seem to be preferable to
the traditional practice of alienating them and increasing the numbers of individuals who are a burden upon society.
What does it mean to be Homosexual?
It is the condition of being sexually attracted and drawn to members of one's own sex.
Who is Homosexual?
The only basis for deciding whether one is or is not Homosexual is a continuing erotic preference for partners of the same sex.
Does a Homosexual act make one a homosexual?
No. Many boys and girls during early childhood and adolescence have homosexual experiences without lasting effects. Also, under special circumstances, such as military service and prison life, homosexual behavior sometimes occurs on a temporary basis.
How many Homosexuals are there?
No one really knows. However, several authorities have estimated that perhaps one out of every ten adults could be so classified. Therefore, the number would total many millions.
Can Homosexuals be easily identified?
Contrary to popular belief, most Homosexual are indistinguishable in appearance from other people. They are found in all walks of life, at all social and economic levels and
among all cultural groups. Homosexual tastes and personalities vary as widely as do heterosexual. Some male homosexuals are feminine in manner and appearance and some female Lesbians seem masculine. Transvestites, those who prefer the clothing of
the opposite sex, and transsexuals, those who feel they are trapped in the body of the wrong sex and therefore seek surgery, usually have a psychological make up quite different from that of most
Is homosexuality unnatural?
From a scientific point of view it is not. It would seem to be one of the natural variations of human sexuality which some societies are more willing to accept than are others. Endocrinologist
Harry Benjamin, M.D., has written, "Do we know what 'normal' means? I don't know. I believe that we only know what is customary."
Are Homosexuals mentally ill?
No. To label homosexuality as a mental illness reflects a
value judgment based on social and religious attitudes, rather
than on scientific evidence. Some Homosexuals, like some heterosexuals, do indeed suffer from anxiety or other psychological difficulties. Quite often this has been brought
on by pressures from a society which is intolerant and
uninformed concerning homosexuality.
Are Homosexuals criminals?
Homosexuals are no more nor less law-abiding than the rest of the population. However, the laws of most states against oral- genital, anal and masturbatory behavior do label homosexual acts as criminal. The majority of heterosexuals would likewise be designated criminals were such laws enforced.
Are children seduced into homosexuality?
Homosexual seduction is no more common than is heterosexual seduction. Numerically it is much less frequent because there are fewer
Homosexuals. Several surveys have shown that most persons who engaged in homosexuality during their adolescent years did so with those of approximately their own ages.
Schofield reports that of one group of students, about three-fourths "had started homosexual activity with other boys before the age of seventeen; only a few were initiated by adults."
What causes homosexuality?
It is not yet known what causes either heterosexuality or homosexuality. It has been held that heterosexuals may be hormonally, genetically and biologically different from
Homosexuals. Others have argued that a young child's emotional relationships with his parents and those near to him
will determine his sexual pattern in adulthood. Much further research will be needed before a definite answer can be given.
Can homosexuality be cured?
Since homosexuality is merely one of the variations of sexual behavior and has been considered to be quite normal in some societies during various periods in history, a better question
might be "Should homosexuals change? If so, why?" Available
statistics indicate that large numbers of Homosexuals see no reasons for wanting to change. Many of those who have tried to change have found treatment to be both long term and expensive with results often unsatisfactory. Many therapists now favor helping individuals to accept their homosexuality, rather than
to seek change.
Is homosexuality necessarily a handicap?
No one's sexual orientation need be a handicap. Homosexuals and heterosexuals alike can lead happy, productive lives, provided they come to terms with their sexuality. For some persons, however, the social sanctions and public prejudice against homosexuality may create special problems and unhappiness.
Is there a homosexual personality?
None has so far been identified. Scientifically administered personality tests have not revealed any clear-cut distinctions between heterosexuals and
Homosexuals, other than that of their sexual preference.
What kind of jobs do Homosexuals hold?
Like other minority groups, they have tended to take those jobs having the fewest barriers. Thus, they are no more inclined to be hair dresses than Negroes are to be janitors. Surveys have shown that
Homosexuals can be found in every occupational grouping from the ministry to professional athletics and police forces. However, the vast majority of
Homosexuals must take great pains not to reveal their gays/lesbian inclinations on their jobs, for their efficient and effective job performance is often no protection to them if homosexuality is suspected.
Are Homosexuals child molesters
The overwhelming majority of Homosexuals have no interest in preadolescent children. Their interest in adolescents is no greater or more significant than that of heterosexuals. Pedophiles, those adults who do seek sexual contacts with young children, present a difficult and often tragic problem, but this should be clearly
distinguished from homosexuality. According to studies of such offenders in prisons, the majority of pedophiles are, or have been, married men.
Are Homosexuals as promiscuous as claimed?
Not necessarily. However, because of the nature of the
social pressures they face, it is more difficult for Homosexuals
to establish long-term, stable relationships than it is for
heterosexual couples. Research indicates that there are
many long-term homosexual relationships sometimes referred
to as "marriages."
Will having heterosexual relations solve anything?
The Homosexual who has already identified himself as such
is seldom swayed by having some heterosexual experiences, particularly if they are sought out of desperation or anxiety.
Homosexuals who try marriage as a way out usually end up
by making not only themselves miserable but the spouse as well. Children of such marriages are also caught up in the tragedy.
Should Homosexuals try to resist their sex urges?
It would be as unrealistic to expect Homosexuals to practice complete sexual abstinence as to expect heterosexuals to do the same. Undoubtedly some
Homosexuals manage, as do some heterosexuals, to remain celibate throughout their lives, but most people would find this not only impossible but undesirable.
Will close personal relationships between adolescents and adults of the same sex lead to homosexuality?
This fear of intimate friendships, particularly between males, has had negative effects on the mental well-being and normal relationships of men to each other in the estimation of many researchers. It is perfectly natural for an adult male to express love and affection for another man or for an adolescent without being homosexual. Displays of affection between males are commonplace in many countries of the world, and even in the United States it is not considered inappropriate for women to show warm affection for each other. Male fear of establishing intimate relationships seems due to the prevailing tremendous misunderstandings about what homosexuality actually means.
What dangers do homosexuals encounter?
One of the consequences of being a member of a disdained minority group is that
Homosexuals are frequently victimized by blackmailers and unscrupulous police. Since known
Homosexuals are excluded generally from employment by government agencies and from membership in the armed forces, blackmailers may threaten them with exposure. Some
Homosexuals would rather pay money to such persons than to lose their jobs. Entrapment procedures are often used against
Homosexuals; that is, in order to make an arrest the police sometimes encourage
Homosexuals or even make advances to them. Such abuses would be eliminated if the so-called sex laws were changed?
If the social and legal sanctions against homosexuality were removed, would it increase?
Social and legal equality for Homosexuals would undoubtedly lead to more openness about homosexuality. This might lead some people to think there had been an increase. It is also likely that some "borderline" cases, those who might have been trying to seek a heterosexual adjustment, would be less willing to do so. However, since homosexual tendencies are not usually acquired by choice, the state of law would be unlikely to make any difference in the number of homosexuals. The vast majority of people would remain heterosexual as at present. In countries having had legal freedom for homosexual behavior for many years, this has apparently been the usual result.
Does homosexuality cause societies to decline?
A careful study of history would tend to indicate that there is no discernible connection between the state of a nation's fortunes and its attitude toward homosexual behavior. The decline of Rome, for example, was due to many social and economic factors, including an inability to successfully transfer power from one ruler to another. Homosexuality in itself was not a factor.
Will public discussion of homosexuality lead to its increase?
One of the best ways to reduce misinformation, misconceptions and myths about sex is to openly discuss such matters with young people at a time when they are most interested in the topic.
The notion that the way to protect young people from something
is to keep them in ignorance of it betrays not only a strange lack of confidence in the good sense of the younger generation but also goes contrary to what we know about the learning process.
Should parents discuss homosexuality with their children?
There should be frank discussion of this and other subjects
if young people are to be helped in working through their adolescent difficulties over sex orientation. Also, parents, teachers, athletic coaches and all others who deal with
young people need to clarify their own attitudes concerning homosexuality. Rejection of a young person will not help
him and may do incalculable harm.