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The notion that same-sex attraction is inborn and unchangeable does not hold water, according to the American Psychological Association.
BY JANNEKE PIETERSREGISTER CORRESPONDENT
Twenty years ago, Greg Quinlan was living as a homosexual and was a
homosexual-rights grassroots lobbyist. He had no doubt he was born homosexual.
Advocacy groups like the Human
Rights Campaign, for which Quinlan worked, claim that homosexuals have the
right to marry and adopt children. These rights are presumably based on the
idea that sexual orientation cannot be changed.
“To whom one is drawn is a
fundamental aspect of who we are,” proclaims the Human Rights Campaign website.
Yet, scientific, medical and
professional groups increasingly acknowledge that the notion that same-sex
attraction is inborn and unchangeable does not hold water.
no clear-cut ‘gay gene’ has been found,” said Clinton Anderson, director
of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns Office at the American
Psychological Association, in an e-mail to the Register. This does not rule out
biological causality, he said. Last year, the APA changed its definition of
homosexuality to increase emphasis on environmental causality.
Not all agree. Dean Hamer, a
behavioral geneticist at the National Cancer Institute, published a
controversial study on male twins in 1993 that indicated a gene on the X
chromosome linked to male sexual orientation.
Hamer told the Register that “sexual
orientation has a very strong genetic and biological influence” from a
combination of “anywhere between a dozen to hundreds of genes” that scientists
have not identified. Hamer’s study has not been replicated.
Homosexuality is not genetically
“hardwired,” according to Dr. Francis Collins, who received the Presidential
Medal of Freedom for his work sequencing the human genetic code. Any genetic contribution
to male homosexuality represents a predisposition, not a predetermination, he
If genetics were determinative, then
identical twins should “virtually always” show the same pattern of same-sex
attraction, said the Catholic Medical Association. But a study of the
Australian Twin Registry cited by CMA showed that only 11% of identical twins
with same-sex attraction had a twin brother who also experienced it.
An Emotional Breach
The causes of same-sex attraction
are more complicated.
Quinlan recalls being physically
abused by his father as a child. “He was beating me and I remember yelling,
‘You hate me, don’t you?’ And my father yelled, ‘Yes, [expletive], I hate
Certain “family dynamics that are
scientifically validated” are at the root of same-sex attraction, psychologist
Joseph Nicolosi told the Register. Nicolosi is director of the National
Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality and treats clients with
unwanted same-sex attraction. Same-sex attraction, at its root, is not
biological but emotional, he said.
Male clients often report having “a
distant, detached, critical father and an over-involved, intrusive mother,”
said Nicolosi. Female same-sex attraction is more complex but follows a similar
pattern, he said.
Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons, a
psychiatrist with 30 years of clinical experience, has drawn similar
conclusions. Men with same-sex attraction demonstrate “weakness in male
confidence” resulting from “deficient bonding” with the father, Fitzgibbons
said, especially in boys with gender identity disorder. Same-sex attraction also arises from a “lack of healthy bonding with same-sex peers in early childhood and adolescence.” The result is a sexualized desire to bond with another male, which
therapists call the “reparative urge.”
Quinlan’s first sexual experience
occurred at age 11 with a male friend. “I got something I was missing,” he
recalled. “For the first time, I received approval, affirmation and affection
from a male.”
Both Nicolosi and Fitzgibbons have
seen reparative therapy work for their clients. Thirty percent return to normal
heterosexual attraction, 30% reduce same-sex attraction, and 30% show no
change. The latter usually have been coerced into therapy or have some
overriding psychological issue like addiction, said Nicolosi.
The APA plans to adopt a model for
reparative therapy based on forthcoming research.
In this light, the Catechism of the
Catholic Church’s teaching that the homosexual inclination is “objectively
disordered” and “constitutes a trial” for most of the men and women who
experience it takes on profounder meaning (see No. 2358).
Despite scientific and psychiatric
evidence to the contrary, the media, culture, government, schools and even some
in the Church perpetuate the myth that same-sex attraction is inborn. For that,
promoters of homosexuality can claim a victory.
Research used by homosexual
activists shows that public opinion regarding homosexuality will change if
people believe it is genetic. “To the extent people are not responsible,” said
Nicolosi, “their behavior will be tolerated.”
Friends and families of persons
struggling with same-sex attraction should provide them with the hope (and
resources) that they can change if they want to, said Regina Griggs, executive
director of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays.
“‘Gay’ is not an identity: It is a
feeling and a decision to act on those feelings,” said Griggs, whose son has
same-sex attraction. “It’s never a choice to have those feelings,” she added.
Quinlan made the decision to quit
the homosexual lifestyle cold turkey not because his feelings toward men
changed, but because he was deeply unhappy. “I was sick of it, and I knew what
I was doing was wrong,” he said.
He eventually deepened his
relationship with God, which led to forgiving his abusive father. That burden
released, his same-sex attraction diminished.
Today, Quinlan is a pro-family lobbyist.
“I am doing for the Lord what I used to do for the gay-rights movement,” he
says. “I hope I can make up for some of it.”
Pieters writes from
Catholic Medical Association
National Association for Research
and Therapy of Homosexuality
Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and