I will be on the Michelangelo Signorile show today

Tune in Tuesday, July 24, at 4:30pm eastern time on Sirius Radio for this live interview. I suspect we will discuss many topics but focus on the sexual identity therapy framework and the work of the APA.

UPDATE – Well, hope springs eternal. I thought we might get some kind of real dialogue about the merits of sexual identity therapy as opposed to reparative therapy. However, this did not happen. He chose to focus on making me defend a client’s right to maintain a religious persuasion that Signorile obviously dislikes. It seems clear to me that he sees evangelicalism as inherently bigoted so there is no place for such beliefs in his view. So the choir was preached to but still remains ignorant of honest attempts to grapple with real human conflicts.

New York Magazine on married men who stray with men

The New York Magazine has a lengthy examination of a married man who seeks liaisons with men. The article by David Amsden provides an inside look at a man who remains anonymous but opens up a bit about his double life and is relevant to our recent discussions. Thanks to reader NickC for making me aware of the article.

Seems to me multiple “explanations” could be advanced for this situation. I found myself wondering what I might do with this man had he come in for counseling. His values were/are not religious but he seems as if he is intent on maintaining the duplicity. What are his values then? His marriage, his child, his social standing? I have worked with such folks; those who intently value their marriage look for a counselor who will assist them to remain married, even for reasons that are not religiously motivated. I am curious what readers think of counseling that collaborates with such men to maintain a marriage if that is indeed what they value most.

Queer theories for the straight guise

Now that’s a title with more than a double meaning.

Recently readers sent two websites to me to review. As I did I was struck by a similar reaction which I will explain shortly. The websites are Homosexuality 101 and Joe Kort’s new blog Straight Guise.

Let me take the second one first. Briefly:

Straight Guise will explore the many reasons men have sex with other men, only some of which have anything to do with homosexuality or bisexuality.

In a nutshell, he proposes that anytime someone says they have changed from gay to straight, if they are telling the truth, they were never really gay in the first place. He says:

If there are any success stories by someone practicing RT [reparative therapy] or helping someone stop same sex attractions, the individual was not gay from the start. In other words those who state they have helped someone go from gay to straight or be relieved or same sex attraction are simply describing someone who is heterosexual who may have been acting out homosexual behavior having nothing to do with their sexual orientation.

He lists a variety of ways that straight men can through trauma or emotional trouble come to a homosexual orientation. He sounds reparative in his descriptions of a couple of straight guise scenarios. For instance, he says abused men can reenact their abuse through gay sex and offers a very interesting case in point.

However, the most reparative scenario of all is…

Father Hunger: These are heterosexual men who crave affection and attention from their fathers and seek sex with men as a way of getting that male nurturance and acceptance.

In reading, one must keep in mind that Joe is explaining straights who act gay not gays who are really gay. So in the universe of father hungry men, I guess one might see gays who have father hunger who are really gay, straights with father hunger who are really straight but act gay, and straights with father hunger who are really straight. I wonder if there are real gays who have father hunger who act straight. Maybe they have mother hunger. Are bisexuals just hungry? The glass is half empty? What about lesbians? We’ll get to them in a minute (they always have to wait).

Speaking of father hungry gays, Julie Harren’s video Homosexuality 101 provides a quick course in reparative drive theory and at least for men, the hypothesis that perceptions of a disconnect with dad lead to homosexual behavior. Ironically, on at least the father hungry male, Mr. Kort and Dr. Harren may agree that such a father-deficient developmental history can lead to homosexual behavior. The difference of course is that Joe believes he is explaining a type of gay-acting straight man and Julie believes she is explaining almost all gay men.

She also has some thoughts about lesbians. Above the others, I was pretty stunned at the description of one type of lesbian. She says, “somewhere, maybe very early on, maybe even in infancy there was a break in the relationship with the mother.” As examples, she says that maybe the infant-lesbian-to-be was hospitalized or the mother was hospitalized or suffered depression, but whatever it was, something happened to impact the relationship at a critical period. In infancy? She then says, the mom and daughter may have gone on to have a pretty good relationship. If that is true, then how do you “fix” such a thing? Sounds like an argument for a critical period to me where once set, the picture cannot be altered. I doubt that is what she intended.

What is striking to me about both of these efforts is the how little research can be offered in support. These are theories but they are presented as fact. Joe offers some interesting and I think compelling vignettes and I am quite sure Julie could do so as well. In fact, they probably would look very similar working with a male client who had abuse or father deficits in the background. Both would likely work toward insight and provide support for the client’s values (as would I). However, they both begin with different presuppositions: Joe believes a priori that anyone who changes in some fashion was never gay and Julie assumes that the same-sex attracted person is not really gay but off-track developmentally. One point of this post is that clients may have similar therapeutic courses and outcomes working with therapists with very different worldviews.

Troubling to me about these theories is that they are not readily falsifiable. How can we tell who is correct here? Joe simply says, if you changed you weren’t gay (even if you thought you were) and reparative drive theory asserts that if you’re gay you had a disruption in your parenting (whether you know it or not).

Now for some discussion. Would we limit/ban either of these therapists from conducting their work based on their theories/methods and if so, why and if not, why not? Does Joe get a pass because even though he does the same thing as Julie, he says he is actually returning a person to his “true sexual orientation?” Would Julie say the same thing?

There may be a part two to this topic…

Edge Boston on ex-gays

The gay publication, Edge Boston, is in the midst of a 4 part series on ex-gays and religion. Today’s article recounts both ex-gay and ex-ex-gay narratives. The series covers some familiar ground but goes into depth with interviews of some people who also comment here.

UPDATE: 7/20/07 — The article originally stated that Michael Bussee and Gary Cooper were the founders of Exodus. Michael Bussee wrote to David Foucher at Edge to inform him of the complexity of the matter (multiple founders). The Edge then altered the story to correct the first impression.