The Prequel to the Equality Ride: Asuza Pacific University

The Soulforce Equality Ride cometh.

Asuza Pacific Univ. scheduled a prequel to their upcoming visit by the Soulforce crew on March 1, 2006 to coincide with their annual common day of learning. I was originally scheduled to go but had a conflict here and had to back out. Randy Thomas gives a report

Peter Tatchell: Genetic explanations of homosexuality don’t add up

A commenter requested that I have a look at this article by British gay activist, Peter Tatchell. I had seen it before but it is worth reviewing.

I agree with most of it and certainly agree that whether someone is born gay is a separate question from public policy or even whether to suppress or repress feelings. This is a matter of free will.

I do not think the examples he gives for environment fatally discounts the possibility that there might be a very small number of people who find no flexibility in their homosexual desires. However, there is no proof that requires a belief in genetic determinism of sexuality either.

In general, I agree when he says: The truth is that nurture appears to be more important than nature when it comes to the formation of sexual orientation. Most studies indicate that genetic factors, while not unimportant, are of secondary significance compared to social influences, such as the relationship between a child and its parents, formative childhood experiences, cultural mores and peer pressure.

This could have come right out of I Do Exist.

Tatchell places the solidification of sexual orientation at 5 or 6, which might be an influence of psychoanalytic thinking. I would place it later and at varying ages for different people. Further, I think for some, I would say varying degrees of change could occur spontaneously much later in life. In fact, Tatchell describes situations like that.

This article is consistent with my impression that European gays have not banked their political aspirations on the born gay argument as in America.

Name the heterosexual

Among the following brief vignettes, choose the person you think identifies as heterosexual. If you are of the reparative school, you can guess who you think is a “heterosexual with a homosexual problem.” Or you can say who you think might experience same-sex attraction, whatever the person’s label. Guess by leaving a comment. Assume no child abuse, mental illness, or substance abuse unless specified.

James cannot remember ever hearing his father saying “I love you.” His mother had three children by three different fathers, James being the oldest brother of two younger sisters. James’s father traveled frequently on business and did not attend any of James school activities. James’ mother was an unhappy woman who frequently criticized James and the men who were fathers of her children. James became his mother’s main source of emotional support through high school. He did not excel in school but rather worked many jobs to help for his sisters and mother. James had a hard time breaking away from home and lives now just a few miles from his mother.

Dallas was the oldest of two boys growing up in an urban area. His father was a mechanic who came home every day from the shop in time to have supper with his family. The family attended church regularly and was active in the local sports programs. Dallas enjoyed sports but was a better student than an athlete, earning entrance into a selective private college. His parents never divorced but they did not seem emotionally or physically close. Dallas still has notes from his father telling him how much Dallas is loved. Dallas has expressed a desire to enter the pastorate.

John is a pastor’s son, the youngest of two boys and an older sister. John moved a lot with his family due to frequent pastoral changes. John was a good student and athlete. He played linebacker for the high school football team and was popular in school. He calls his dad “my hero” because he is so bold in defense of his faith. Furthermore his dad was his chosen accountability partner as he entered college. John’s mother is a real estate agent part-time and busy pastor’s wife. John remembered fighting a lot with his older sister because she was rebellious in high school. John’s brother is more bookish but John describes him as a good friend.

Gareth was the youngest of four boys. As a child he felt different from others, both in his childhood play and his interests. A shy, studious and unathletic boy, he was teased quite a bit by his male peers and lived a fairly isolated childhood. Gareth’s brothers were much older, not kind and so did not play or interact with him. His father traveled frequently as a physician and businessman. Gareth’s mother was very strict religiously and did not allow card playing, dancing or the wearing of bright colors.

Gender atypical stuff

I recently posted this at Exgay Watch:

Regarding the reasonableness of cross-sex-typed behavior being related to homosexual orientation, I submit:

In a recent meta-analysis of the retrospective literature, Bailey and Zucker (1995) [6] showed a very strong relationship between extent of childhood cross-gender behavior and a later homosexual sexual orientation for both men and women. However, despite this strong relationship, a proportion of youngsters in Green’s (1987) [35] follow-up and in the early follow-up results from our clinic (and some other smaller samples) identify as heterosexual. Similarly, in the retrospective literature, not all individuals who later self-identify as homosexual recall a history of cross-gender behavior.

This quote comes from a review article by Bradley and Zucker in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 1997. The Bailey & Zucker meta-analysis from Dev. Psych, 1995, provides support for the relationship between gender atypical behavior and homosexuality (they predict that 51% of gender atypical boys will become homosexual).

Here is a quote from biological determinist Qazi Rahman allowing that perhaps he could be wrong:

An alternative hypothesis follows the line of Bem’s (1996) developmental model of sexual orientation, and posits an interaction between neuroendocrine prenatal events and postnatal psychosocial influences. Genetic contributors may produce sex-atypical neural differentiation that manifests behaviorally as childhood gender-nonconforming behaviors (which are significantly predictive of adult homosexuality [Bailey and Zucker, 1995]). Differential reinforcements from inputs in the psychosocial milieu to these sex-atypical behaviors makes the “pre-homosexual child” view the same sex as “exotic” (i.e., different from one’s self), which later in puberty becomes the object of eroticization (the “exotic becomes erotic” being Bem’s key theoretical notion). The activational actions of gonadal hormones at puberty may further reinforce this eroticization by fixing key neural substrates in sex-atypical directions, ultimately manifesting in adult homosexual orientation.

To conclude, it is important to illustrate that neurobiological differences between homosexuals and heterosexuals are by no means decisive. Nonetheless, the several independent findings of neuroanatomical differences in sex-atypical directions are not easily refutable. The most plausible explanation for such differences lies in hypotheses implicating sex-atypical neurohormonal differentiation. Unfortunately, evidence currently available is limited and largely correlational in nature. Owing to this, it is not possible for alternative developmental processes associated with sexual orientation to be excluded.

My own belief is that there are people who owe SSA to a Bemian model; some who are youngest sons who as Rahman says, owe the SSA to sex atypical neurohormonal differentiation thus leading to gender atypical phenotype, some people with SSA may experience more social/environmental deficits and so on. None of the evidence explains it all but it all explains something. I am not troubled by alternative pathways to SSA (nor do I think it must be a final destination, ala OSA) because I believe the brain is pretty plastic (retains capacity for differentiation through the lifespan).