NARTH releases journal

The National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality recently released a journal.

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release

June 10, 2009

Contact: David Pruden

Phone: (888) 364-4744

E-mail: dpruden@earthlink.net

New Scientific Research Refutes Unsubstantiated Claims Regarding Homosexuality

Encino, CA- A new report in this month’s edition of the peer-reviewed Journal of Human Sexuality finds that sexual orientation is not immutable and that psychological care for individuals with unwanted homosexual attractions is beneficial and poses no significant risk of harm. The study, What Research Shows: NARTH’s Response to the American Psychological Associations Claims on Homosexuality, examines over 100 years of professional and scientific literature as well as over 600 reports from clinicians, researchers, and former clients principally published in professional and peer-reviewed journals.

This research, assembled over a period of eighteen months by three of the leading academics and therapists in the field and under the direction of the NARTH Scientific Advisory Committee directly refutes unsubstantiated claims made by some factions of the American Psychological Association and several other professional mental health organizations. The study, conducted by the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, a network of professionals dedicated to upholding the rights of men and women dealing with unwanted homosexual attraction to receive effective psychological care, confirms the results of a 2007 longitudinal study conducted by researchers Stanton L. Jones and Mark Yarhouse that found that religiously mediated sexual orientation change is possible for some individuals and does not cause psychological harm on average.

“This research is a significant milestone when it comes to the scientific debate over the issue of homosexuality,” said NARTH president Dr. Julie Hamilton. “It also confirms what we have seen evidenced in hundreds of individuals who have benefited from the help of NARTH therapists. We believe that every person should have the right to independently determine their own course in life and for many that involves seeking counseling options that affirm their personal beliefs.”

In addition to What Research Shows, a collection of peer-reviewed scholarly and professional papers entitled Understanding, Preventing, and Treating Sexual Identity Confusion in Children and Adolescents, will be published in Volume II of the Journal of Human Sexuality.

Requests for copies or for a more detailed summary of the inaugural issue of the journal should be addressed to: Journal of Human Sexuality • 307 West 200 South, Suite 3001 • Salt Lake City, UT 84101. The journal can also be ordered by phone at 1-888-364-4744 or online at www.narth.com. A PDF summary of the journal may be downloaded at www.narth.com.

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NARTH is a professional, scientific organization that offers hope to those who struggle with unwanted homosexuality. As an organization, it disseminates educational information, conducts and collects scientific research, promotes effective therapeutic treatment, and provides referrals to those who seek assistance. NARTH upholds the rights of individuals with unwanted homosexual attraction to receive effective psychological care and the right of professionals to offer that care.

I have a copy of the report heading my way and will review it later this summer. For now, it is worth pointing out that there is no new research in the response to the APA, rather it is a review of literature. If the paper “confirms the results” of Jones and Yarhouse, does that mean that NARTH will scale back the claims about change to the 15% found by those authors? That result would require a change in rhetoric from NARTH leaders when on the stump.

In any event, this paper and the journal as an effort is likely a response to the APA Task Force which will probably report in August at the APA annual meeting.

Does homosexuality lead to fascism?

The Pink Swastika authors, Scott Lively and Kevin Abrams, would have us believe that homosexuality was the driving force behind the rise of Hitler’s Third Reich. Near the beginning of chapter three of The Pink Swastika, “The Homosexual Roots of Fascism,” Lively and Abrams state this thesis:

In seeking the roots of fascism we once again find a high correlation between homosexuality and a mode of thinking which we identify with Nazism.

The chapter then traces the roots of German fascism from Plato, through Frederick the Great, and Friedrich Nietzsche – all gay by the author’s reckoning. My point is not to contest this even though one could. For instance, historians and philosophers are divided about Nietzsche’s sexuality. Reading his works, I get the feeling Nietzsche was more of a schizoid personality, meaning that he required nor wanted human tenderness. Thus, for him, asexual might be a more apt description of his behavior. However, my point here is to propose a problem for the thesis that homosexuality and fascism have a necessary causal link of some kind.

In chapter three, Lively and Abrams guess at the sexuality of many Nazi and related people but with the following figure – Thomas Mann – they are probably accurate in their assessment. About Mann, they write:

Thomas Mann’s identification with Nietzsche may also have had some thing to do with the latter’s homosexuality. Among other works, Mann is famous for a 1912 novella called Der Tod in Venedig (“Death in Venice”), in which “an aging writer risks life and reputation in his attempts to gaze on the Apollonian beauty of the 14-year-old Tadzio” (Reiter in Grolier). Homosexualist historian A.L. Rowse called this novella “the most publicized homosexual story of the century” (Rowse:212). A recently published biography, Thomas Mann: A Life, by Donald Prater, establishes the novelist’s homosexuality. A review of this book in The San Francisco Examiner (December 23, 1995) states that the book is based in part on Mann’s private diaries, which reveal a “secret homoerotic life.”

Mann was married and had six children for whom he was “a remote and some times terrifying figure.” The article reveals that two of these children, Klaus and Michael, committed suicide. Two of his children became homosexuals (Rowse:212). Mann confesses in his diary that the character Tadzio, the 14-year-old boy in “A Death in Venice,” was actually modeled after a boy on whom Mann “developed a crush while holidaying in Venice.”

Now just as the uninformed reader might think that Lively and Abrams are about to suggest Mann’s positive relationship with Hitler and fascism, the authors write:

We must be clear, however, that Mann’s contribution to Nazism, his role in popularizing Nietzsche, was unintended. Mann was personally anti-Nazi, and was persona non grata with Hitler’s government.

Lively and Abrams vastly understate the case. Mann was openly anti-Nazi and while influenced as a writer by Nietzsche, did not come to the same political or personal conclusions. On the contrary, Mann actively opposed Hitler. He used his considerable popularity with the German people in a series of radio broadcasts designed to cause common Germans to question and oppose the regime. Here is an excerpt of one of Mann’s speeches to the German people, broadcast in July, 1942:

I know well that I don’t have to warn you against exuberance now that Hitler is once again winning and has conquered Rostov, the city on the Don, which he had conquered once before. It is well known that such things do not plunge you into exuberance, that the blare of radio trumpets which accompanies the announcement is odious to you, that you are by no means overjoyed. It is not necessary to dampen your enthusiasm; rather, you have to be consoled. Not we, out here, are in need of consolation when the war looks as it does at present. If you only knew how sure we are of our cause, which to begin with, and as premise for all that is to come, is the cause of destroying Hitler! His destruction is sealed, believe me and don’t be afraid! It is a world necessity, wholly inevitable, and will be accomplished one way or another; and because it is decided, the victories of that wretch are merely bloody nonsense. You are bewildered and depressed. You are thinking: “Will he triumph after all? And shall we never get rid of him? And will the world be German, in that desperate fashion in which we are now German?” Be of good cheer! Hitler’s victory is an empty word: there is no such thing – it is not within the realm of the acceptable, permissible, thinkable. It will be prevented; rather, he himself will always prevent it, the sorry scoundrel, because of himself, simply because of his nature, because of his impossible and hopelessly deranged disposition, which does not permit him to think, want, or do anything which is not false, mendacious, condemned beforehand. One speaks of the betrayed devil. But nobody betrays the devil; he is betrayed, because of himself and to begin with. Not with Faust’s soul, the soul of humanity, will this stupid Satan go down to hell, but alone.

From Thomas Mann, Listen Germany! Twenty-five Radio Messages to the German People Over BBC by Thomas Mann. New York, 1943, pp. 102-07.

Please read the entire address on the German Documents website.

First, it is worth noting how Lively and Abrams’ devotion to their thesis leads them to treat Thomas Mann. Apparently the primary reason he is mentioned at all is to make a stronger case that Nietzsche was homosexual. Mann was a great writer, one of the best fiction writers in modern history. He was a resolute opponent of Hitler and the Nazis. He left his homeland in service of his convictions and used his fame and gifts to try to bring down Hitler. In The Pink Swastika, his personal life is disparaged and he is discounted as an apologist for Nietzsche and thus an unwitting contributor to Nazism.

Lively and Abrams thesis collapses into absurdity when one considers the vigor of Mann’s opposition to Hitler’s fascism. People of all orientations and worldviews supported and opposed Hitler. The Nazis used anyone, gay or straight, religious or not, to get to power. And once they attained power, they systematically crushed opposition both gay and straight, religious and not.

To close this post, read the closing argument offered by Mann to the German people in his July, 1942 broadcast. Note his utter contempt for the intellectual foundations of Nazism. And then recall that the speaker was attracted to the same sex.

The end is near, Germans, believe me, and be of good cheer! Just at this moment I tell it to you when once again it looks like success and victory and conquest for you. The end is near – not yours, not Germany’s. The so-called destruction of Germany is as empty a word, as non-existent a thing, as the victory of Hitler. But the end is approaching; in fact, it will come soon – the end of the repulsive system, the robber, murder, and liar state of National Socialism. An end will be put to its trashy and disgraceful philosophy and all the acts of trash and disgrace which have sprung from it. Accounts will be settled, disastrously settled, with its bigwigs, its leaders and helpers, servants and beneficiaries, its generals, diplomats, and Gestapo hyenas. Accounts will also be settled with its intellectual trail-blazers and shield-bearers, the journalists and pseudo-philosophers who licked its boots, the geopoliticians, war geographers, teachers of “Wehrwissenschaft” and race professors. Germany will be cleansed of all that ever had anything to do with the filth of Hitlerism and all that made it possible. And a freedom will be established in Germany and in the world which believes in itself, respects itself, knows how to defend itself, and which takes not only the deed but, before that, the thoughts into the control of those ideas which connect man with God.

Those inclined to accept the thesis in The Pink Swastika might complain that one bisexual opponent to Hitler is not disruptive to Lively’s proposed link between fascism and homosexuality. However, I submit that Mann’s experience is one relevant response to the idea that there is something about same-sex attraction which necessarily leads to fascist beliefs and tactics.

In addition, in future posts, I will demonstrate that at least some of the formative figures Lively and Abrams assume are homosexual (e.g., Jorg Lanz von Liebenfels and Rudolf Hoess), were not homosexual or cannot be labeled so with any certainty.

Other posts in this series:

May 28 – Scott Lively wants off SPLC hate group list

May 31 – Eliminating homosexuality: Modern Uganda and Nazi Germany

June 3 – Before The Pink Swastika

June 4 – Kevin Abrams: The side of The Pink Swastika

June 8 – A historian’s analysis of The Pink Swastika, part 1

June 9 – A historian’s analysis of The Pink Swastika, part 2

June 11 – American Nazi movement and homosexuality: How pink is their swastika?

June 15 – Nazi movement rallies against gays in Springfield, MO

June 17 – Does homosexuality lead to fascism?

June 23 – The Pink Swastika and Friedrich Nietzsche

List of posts on Uganda and The Pink Swastika

Sexual abuse and the perception of children: Jerome Kagan and The Nature of the Child

In graduate school, I read and thoroughly enjoyed Jerome Kagan’s The Nature of the Child. I have excerpted the beginning of chapter 7 below as a means of continuing the conversation about the relevance of childhood events for sexuality. This chapter is titled, “The Role of the Family” and the excerpt comes from pages 240-242.

I have said little about the influence of experience on the child, especially the consequences of parental behavior. The most important reason for this omission is that the effects of most experiences are not fixed but depend upon the child’s interpretation. And the interpretation will vary with the child’s cognitive maturity, expectations, beliefs, and momentary feeling state. Seven-year-old boys who are part of a small isolated culture in the highlands of New
Guinea perform fellatio regularly on older adolescent males for about a half-dozen years; but this behavior is interpreted as part of a secret, sacred ritual that is necessary if the boy is to assume the adult male role and successfully impregnate a wife (Herdt, 1981). If an American boy performed fellatio on several older boys for a half-dozen years, he would regard himself as homosexual and pos­sess a fragile, rather than a substantial, sense of his maleness.
Children growing up in Brahmin families in the temple town of Bhubaneswar in India hear their mothers exclaim each month, “Don’t touch me, don’t touch me, I’m polluted.” These children do not feel rejected or unloved, because they know this command is a regular event that occurs during the mother’s menstrual period (Shweder, in press). And a small proportion of American children, whose affluent parents shower them with affection and gifts out of a desire to create in them feelings of confidence and self-worth, become apathetic, depressed adolescents because they do not believe they deserve such continuous privilege.
As these examples make clear, the child’s personal interpretation of experience, not the event recorded by camera or observer, is the essential basis for the formation of and change in beliefs, wishes, and actions. However, the psychologist can only guess at these interpretations, and the preoccupations and values of the culture in which the scholar works influence these guesses in a major way. For example, Erasmus (1530), who believed the child’s appearance reflected his character, told parents to train the child to hold his body in a controlled composure – no furrowing of brows, sagging of cheek, or biting of the lip, and especially no laughter without a very good cause.
Educated citizens in early sixteenth-century London, who were disturbed by the high rate of crime, begging, and vagrancy among children of the poor, blamed the loss of a parent, living with lazy parents, being one of many children, or a mental or physical handicap. These diagnoses ignored the possible influence of genetics, parental love, or social conditions existing outside the home. Two centuries later, a comparable group of English citizens concerned with identical social problems, but still without any sound facts, emphasized the influence of the love relation between mother and child (Pinchbeck and Hewitt, 1969 and 1973).
Many contemporary essays on the influence of family experience also originate in hunches, few of which are firmly supported by evidence. This is not surprising; the first empirical study to appear in a major American journal that attempted to relate family factors to a characteristic in the child was published less than sixty years ago in The Pedagogical Seminary (Sutherland, 1930). The fact that a hunch about the role of family originates in a society’s folk premises about human nature does not mean that it is incorrect. Eighteenth-century French physicians believed that a nursing mother should bathe the baby regularly and not drink too much wine – suggestions that have been validated by modern medicine. But those same doctors also believed – mistakenly, I suppose – that cold baths will ensure a tough character in the older child. The absence of conclusive evidence means that each theorist must be continually sensitive to the danger of trusting his or her hunches too completely, for at different times during the last few centuries of European and American history, the child has been seen as inherently evil, or as a blank tablet with no special predispositions, or, currently, as a reservoir of genetically determined psychological qualities. Modern Western society follows Rousseau in assuming that the infant is prepared to attach herself to her caregiver and to prefer love to hate, mastery to cooperation, autonomy to interdependence, personal freedom to bonds of obligation, and trust to suspicion. It is assumed that if the child develops the qualities implied by the undesirable members of those pairs, the practices of the family during the early years – especially parental neglect, indifference, restriction, and absence of joyful and playful interaction – are major culprits.
I cannot escape these beliefs which are so thoroughly threaded through the culture in which I was raised and trained. But having made that declaration, I believe it is useful to rely on selected elements in popular theory, on the few trustworthy facts, and on intuition in considering the family experiences that create different types of children, even if my suggestions are more valid for American youngsters than for those growing up in other cultures.

Kagan refers to Gilbert Herdt’s book, Guardians of the Flutes, published in 1981 which describes the masculinity rituals of the Sambian tribe (not the actual tribal name) in Papua New Guinea. Essentially the tribe “believes” boys become men by ingesting the semen (“male milk”) of older boys. And of course, by the teen years, it “works” and the boys attain manhood. At that point, the vast majority of males choose a female partner.
Kagan’s reference to this practice reminds us that these experiences are embedded in a culture. In our own, such experiences would not be normalized and contextualized as a contributing to masculinity but rather detracting from it.
I cannot improve on Kagan’s description of his thesis. He is a gifted writer. However, I will elaborate for sake of discussion. He proposes that perception drives the psychological impact of a given experience. How differing perceptions effect the development of sexuality seems to me to be highly individualistic. Thus, for some, sexual maltreatment might push an essentially heterosexual person toward same-sex preoccupations. For others, abuse might strengthen the budding heterosexual impulses toward heterosexual preoccupations. For others, the abusive events may have no effect on attractions but rather influence attachment security. My point here is not to describe all possible trajectories, but rather to illustrate the potential of many variations.
A related point made by Kagan is that our culture looks at parenting as causative of adult personality. I believe many people do not question this assumption. In the last several years, I have looked for data to support or contradict it. I find little support that individual personality traits or conditions are strongly related to particular family dynamics. However, some broad trends can be observed. Fatherlessness is associated with a variety of problems in children and society. However, not having a father around may be interpreted in different ways by different children. For some, having the wrong kind of father around might lead to anti-social behavior. Thus, simply isolating childhood variables and relating them to adult outcomes is insufficient. These points are often lost on reparative therapists and other advocates who want to reduce homosexuality to a set of family dynamics or childhood experiences. On the other hand, biological determinists err on the side of discounting these social experiences as potentially influential for some people.
A satisfying position to me is to consider homosexual behavior to be determined by different factors in different ways for different people. For some, there is a very early awareness of romantic and sexual attraction for the same-sex independent of any trauma or parenting actions. For others, trauma and poor parenting occur but the same-sex attractions appeared prior to these unhappy events. For yet others people, the unhappy experiences may serve to create a disconnect between impulse to same-sex behavior and internal desire and attraction which may be toward the opposite sex. While these complexities create PR problems for culture warriors on both sides, I believe we must recognize the existence of multiple pathways to adult sexuality if we are to be true to the data and experience.

Nazi movement rallies against gays in Springfield, MO

Yesterday, as planned, the National Socialist Movement (American Nazis) conducted a protest of gay pride in Springfield, MO.

springfieldnsm

According to video of the event, the National Socialist shouted “death to gays” at their rally.

A festival meant to celebrate the gay and lesbian communities in the Ozarks was met with mixed opinions Sunday afternoon.

The local chapter of the National Socialist Movement made their opnions (sic) heard at Pridefest.

Leaders with the Socialist movement say gays and lesbians are not welcome in Springfield.

The Minutemen United stood just to the side of the celebration.

They say they were praying for God to lift up the homosexual community.

The Minutemen United appear to be a Christian group who were there rallying against gay pride. It is not clear, but it does not appear that the MU were there to protest against the NSM.

The behavior of the NSM raises a significant challenge to the thesis of Kevin Abrams and Scott Lively about National Socialism and homosexuality. Abrams and Lively are founding members of the International Committee for Holocaust Truth. The first report from that small group proposed this thesis:

Hitler’s plans for a “1000 Year Reich,” is a “Homofascist” Conspiracy which still thrives today disguised as “gay” rights.

There is a problem with this thinking. The neo-Nazis in America yesterday shouted hatred at the same gay rights movement that Lively and Abrams consider the “homofascist conspiracy.” The NSM would like to implement “Hitler’s plans,” but this would mean “gays and lesbians are not welcome.” How can gays extend “Hitler’s plans” when they are not allowed in the Nazi movement? I really doubt the NSM would agree that the gay rights movement is true extention of “Hitler’s plans.”

(Here is a slideshow of the Pridefest and protests)

Update: The Minutemen United is a loosely organized bunch of men who are affiliated with Dave Daubenmire’s Pass the Salt ministry. On the front page of that organization’s website, there is a link to a podcast from Springfield, MO. There intent there was to do street preaching and evangelism at a gay bar and the Pridefest. According to this Springfield News-Leader report, some of the Christian groups, perhaps the MU included, also preached to the Nazis.

Prior posts in this series:

May 28 – Scott Lively wants off SPLC hate group list

May 31 – Eliminating homosexuality: Modern Uganda and Nazi Germany

June 3 – Before The Pink Swastika

June 4 – Kevin Abrams: The side of The Pink Swastika

June 8 – A historian’s analysis of The Pink Swastika, part 1

June 9 – A historian’s analysis of The Pink Swastika, part 2

June 11 – American Nazi movement and homosexuality: How pink is their swastika?

June 15 – Nazi movement rallies against gays in Springfield, MO

June 17 – Does homosexuality lead to fascism?

June 23 – The Pink Swastika and Friedrich Nietzsche

List of posts on Uganda and The Pink Swastika

Researchers question use of sexual abuse data

Today, researchers Ron Stall and Ron Valdiserri released a statement regarding use of their book, Unequal Opportunities: Health Disparities Affecting Gay and Bisexual Men in the United States by Focus on the Family writer Jeff Johnston.

The report they question was released recently by Focus and is titled: “Childhood Sexual Abuse and Male Homosexuality: Is there a link?” In that report, Johnston cites statistics from the book, along with quotes from other studies and an interview with Narth past-president Dean Byrd. Here are the relevant portions of the book edited by Stall, Valdiserri and colleague Richard Wolitski (all footnotes in this section are to the Unequal Opportunities book).

Many pro-gay researchers, activists and theorists deny that there could be a connection between child sexual abuse and adult homosexuality. Some possible reasons for denying this link are the stigma that surrounds sexual abuse; the fear of associating homosexuality with “recruitment” or pedophilia; and because so many gays continue to believe that homosexuality is inborn and immutable. In 2008, however, a group of researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a book that documented the high rates of sexual abuse among “men who have sex with men (MSM).”[6]

In a chapter titled, “Childhood Sexual Abuse Experienced by Gay and Bisexual Men: Understanding the Disparities and Interventions to Help Eliminate Them,” from the book Unequal Opportunity, researchers analyze and report on data from 17 different studies from the past 15 years.[7] They find the rates of childhood sexual abuse (which they abbreviate as CSA) for men who have sex with men range from 11.8% to 37.0%, and note that “the best-designed studies tend to converge on CSA prevalence of 15% to 25%.”[8]

While most of those who perpetrate sexual abuse are men, abusers are not necessarily homosexual or gay-identified,[9] and the authors note that “in studies focusing on MSM, the perpetrators are always at least 90% male.”[10] The range of abuse varies in the different studies depending on the definition of abuse and the sample method.[11]

The researchers report that the rates of child sexual abuse for gay- or bisexual-identified men are significantly higher than those found among heterosexually-identified men. They write that the rates for heterosexual men are usually “less than 10%,” and state that in five studies that compared the two groups, the men who have sex with men are “at least three times more likely to report CSA, however defined, than heterosexual men.”[12] This finding is reiterated in their conclusion: “Rates for MSM are 15% to 25% in the best designed studies, which is at least triple the rates reported among heterosexual men.”[13]

Consequences of Sexual abuse

Children are not equipped emotionally, physically, spiritually or psychologically to handle adult sexuality. Individual boys will handle sexual abuse in different ways: what leads to shame and guilt in one child might lead to self-questioning and gender confusion in another or to anger and acting out in a third. Each child is unique, grows up in a unique environment and will respond in an individual way to sexual abuse or early sexual encounters with the same sex.

There are, however, common themes and outcomes that consistently emerge in studies of men who were sexually abused as children. Two common outcomes of sexual abuse – out of the many possible – are that boys may question their identity and be confused about their sexuality.

The followin quotes may have generated the most concern by Stall and Valdiserri:

The authors in Unequal Opportunity are reluctant to say that childhood sexual abuse is one of the factors that leads to or contributes to the development of homosexuality, but they do speculate,

The fact that most childhood abusers of MSM were males suggests either an etiological link between CSA and adult sexual orientation, or the existence of childhood characteristics that are related to adult sexual orientation in men that increase vulnerability, or both.”[23]

And later, they say that these early sexual experiences “can be considered a form of sexual learning, even if that learning is involuntary and the results dysfunctional.”[24] They continue, “Sexual orientation and gender identity can be particularly confusing for men who experienced arousal during the abuse, and MSM who experienced abuse may continue to be aroused by circumstances that mirror the abusive situation.[25]

Drs. Stall and Valdeserri’s statement is as follows:

We want to respond to a recent Focus on the Family characterization of scientific findings reported in our book, Unequal Opportunities: Health Disparities Affecting Gay and Bisexual Men in the United States (Oxford University Press) that misrepresented findings in the book to suggest that childhood sexual abuse causes male homosexuality. The Focus on the Family description of the findings reported in Unequal Opportunities is inaccurate and, in our opinion, a distortion of the scientific literature.

Most basically, the Focus on the Family characterization of the literature on childhood sexual abuse among gay men represents a misunderstanding of scientific approaches to distinguishing between correlation and causation. The book chapter in question reports that gay men are more likely to report childhood sexual abuse by men than are heterosexual men. This correlation does not mean that the reported abuse caused the adult sexual orientation. If that were the case, then the fact that some heterosexual men report sexual abuse by women means that sexual abuse by women “causes” heterosexuality in men. It is also worth noting that the argument that childhood sexual abuse causes homosexuality in gay men is undermined by the fact that the vast majority of gay men are not sexually abused as children.

One potential partial explanation for this correlation, and one that makes the most sense when you consider people of all orientations, is that some youth, particularly post-pubertal youth (who still cannot legally consent to sexual activity) have sexual experiences with males or females, depending on their pre-existing orientation. Let’s be very clear that this does not mean that these experiences are appropriate or healthy. However, it also does not mean that these experiences

caused the sexual orientation of the youth. The development of a person’s sexual orientation is a complex and multifaceted process. The research into these processes has barely begun, and the development of sexuality is very difficult to study. Mischaracterizations of the scientific literature on the development of sexual orientation is not helpful to science.

Rather than mischaracterize these findings, we would like to point out the harm to health that can be caused by childhood sexual abuse among boys and girls of all sexual orientations. Childhood sexual abuse occurs to far too many young Americans and a large and growing literature supports that this abuse can cause lifelong damage to the physical and mental health and wellbeing of men and women of all sexual orientations. We suggest that Focus on the Family and

other concerned organizations focus on how to work to ensure that all of our children remain safe from unwanted sexual experiences– whether heterosexual or homosexual.

That said, we want to state clearly that the published research does not support the claim that the development of a homosexual orientation is caused by childhood sexual abuse. Furthermore, adult homosexual orientation is no longer considered a pathology or a maladjustment. We urge those who are interested in trying to better understand some of these complex issues from a scientific perspective to read the discussions in our book, as well as the scientific literature on childhood sexual abuse, and not rely on second-hand interpretations.

Ron Stall

Ron Valdiserri

Related post:

A major study of child abuse and homosexuality revisited

American Nazi movement and homosexuality: How pink is their swastika?

Scott Lively’s book The Pink Swastika purports to demonstrate a link between Nazi aggression and homosexuality. He also discusses other atrocities which he blames on homosexuality in that book as well as another titled, The Poisoned Stream. In that book, he says in the introduction that he has found gay fingerprints on

the Spanish Inquisition, the French “Reign of Terror,” the era of South African apartheid, and the two centuries of American slavery. My thoughts have increasingly turned toward writing a larger, more comprehensive analysis of homosexuality in history. I have come to believe, with Samuel Igra, that homosexuality has truly been a “poisoned stream” in human history.

He does not elaborate but says another book is coming where he reveals his evidence. Just one more: Recently, in a speech before the Temecula Republican Party, he linked the Columbine school massacre to imagined homosexuality of the shooters. I examined that proposed link here.

If homosexuality was so associated with National Socialist ideals and aims, then shouldn’t the current Nazis be dominated by homosexuals? Lively believes that the German Nazis were animated by homosexuality while publicly opposing it. So if the American Nazis are anti-gay that perhaps means that they really are gay rights activists after all. So expressing the opposite of what you really believe is what they do with gay stuff but not other things. Like really, they love the Jewish people…

Anyway, for the record, here is what the American Nazi movement (NSM = National Socialist Movement) says about homosexuality:

What is the NSM’s view on homosexuality and child pornography?

Homosexuality is not a genetic defect. It is a chosen lifestyle and a mental sickness. Homosexuality is a social degeneracy that must be expunged from our society.

We as a civilized people cannot fall trap to the political correctness and turn a blind eye to this perverted lifestyle. It is not normal nor is it acceptable, and it goes against the laws of nature.

Homosexuals serve no greater purpose other than that of their own selfish greed. They contribute nothing to the further survival of our race. Our children are being inundated with the false ideas that homosexuality is normal and acceptable. They see it out in the public, in their schools, and on the TV programs they watch.

With homosexuality comes the threat of our children being at increased risk of sexual pedophiles, kidnappings, rapes, and murders. Most crimes involving the kidnapping, violation, and/or murder of children, were acts committed by homosexual prone monsters.

We can see the evil effects of social liberal acceptance of homosexuality by the increased number of pedophiles, child pornography cases, and kidnapping of children (in which most cases once this perverted animal has had its way with these poor innocent and helpless children, the child is murdered).

In a National Socialist Society, these individuals would receive an instant death penalty.

Now if you are viewing Nazi beliefs and homosexuality as related in some vital way, this might be a bit hard to explain. Maybe, in a Spongebob Squarepants opposite day kind of way, it could make sense, but otherwise, I am not getting it.

On the front of the website, readers are invited to sign up, but not all are welcome.

The NSM, America’s National Socialist Party, is the largest and most active National Socialist political party in America.

The NSM’s core beliefs include: defending the rights of white people everywhere, preservation of our European culture and heritage, strengthening family values, economic self-sufficiency, and reform of illegal immigration policies, immediate withdrawal of our national military from an illegal Middle Eastern occupation and promotion of white separation.

Party Membership is open to non-Semitic heterosexuals’ of European Descent. If you really care for your heritage and for the future of your family, race and nation, fill out a Membership Application today.

If you are under the age of 18 please have your parents read about the Party Viking Youth Movement.

Gays need not apply. So disappointing. And then there is this article on the website of the California branch:

Better fascist than gay – Mussolini’s granddaughter

Thu Mar 9, 2006 8:05 PM GMT

ROME (Reuters) – The granddaughter of Italy’s wartime dictator Benito Mussolini has defended being a fascist by saying it was better than being a “faggot”.

Alessandra Mussolini’s televised derogatory remarks came less than a month after Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi welcomed her far-right political party into his coalition before a general election in April.

Mussolini, proud of her ancestral ties to “Il Duce”, had been criticised by a drag queen-turned-politician about being a fascist on Italian TV talk show Porta a Porta.

“I’m proud of it,” she snapped in comments due to be aired later on Thursday.

Vladimir Luxuria, who hopes to be Europe’s first “transgender” MP and is running with the Communist Refoundation party, then asked if Mussolini wanted to lock up homosexuals.

“Better to be a fascist than a faggot,” Mussolini said, using the highly offensive Italian word “frocio”, according to Porta a Porta’s press office.

It was not the first time one of Berlusconi’s allies publicly insulted homosexuals. Mirko Tremaglia, an outspoken right-wing minister for Italians living abroad, said in 2004 that Europe was ruled by “culattoni”.

The word derives from the Italian colloquial for bottom (culo) and refers to sodomists.

And then finally, there is this lovefest

planned for Springfield, MO on June 14.

NSM Springfield will hold a Protest Against Homosexuals

– ANNOUNCEMENT –

On June 14, 2009 Springfield, MO Unit will hold a Protest Against Homosexuals . This event is held every year on Commercial Street in downtown Springfield. The Glo Center sponsors this event and calls it family friendly, this means that there will be children attending. The Springfield Unit will be there along with other white nationalist and members of the community to let the homosexuals know that they are not welcome in our town and that we will not tolerate their “celebration”.

If you are interested in attending please contact nsm_springfield@yahoo.com for more information.

No pink swastikas here.

Prior posts in this series:

May 28 – Scott Lively wants off SPLC hate group list

May 31 – Eliminating homosexuality: Modern Uganda and Nazi Germany

June 3 – Before The Pink Swastika

June 4 – Kevin Abrams: The side of The Pink Swastika

June 8 – A historian’s analysis of The Pink Swastika, part 1

June 9 – A historian’s analysis of The Pink Swastika, part 2

June 11 – American Nazi movement and homosexuality: How pink is their swastika?

June 15 – Nazi movement rallies against gays in Springfield, MO

June 17 – Does homosexuality lead to fascism?

June 23 – The Pink Swastika and Friedrich Nietzsche

List of posts on Uganda and the Pink Swastika

A historian’s analysis of The Pink Swastika, part 2

(Editor’s note: Yesterday, historian Dr. Jon David Wyneken began a series regarding the book, The Pink Swastika by Scott Lively and Kevin Abrams. I asked Wyneken for his assessment of the book. Part one was posted yesterday and part two is posted today.)

Stein then reviews and analyzes The Pink Swastika. Now for her sections on Lively and Abrams and the elements of the Christian Right who embrace their arguments:

By the late 1980s and into the 1990s, a new Christian right cultural genre-books, videos, special reports, was specifically dedicated to identifying the gay threat and calling Christian believers to arms; dozens of conservative Christian organizations devoted themselves solely to antigay activities (Herman 1997), and anti-gay discourse came to encompass an attack on the status of homosexuals as a “minority” group deserving equal rights under the law. This marked a shift on the right from a focus on the immorality of homosexuality, to an attribution of superior power to gays. Gays were viewed as undeserving “special interest groups” which have won “special rights” by manipulating government corruption, gerrymandering elections, and appealing to a judicial system dominated by liberals, a powerful, morally corrupt school system, and a Congress that promotes the destruction of the family (Johnston 1994:7; Herman 1997) (Stein, 528-529).

During these initiative campaigns, the Christian right at times deployed rhetoric and imagery that echoed European anti-Semitism. The Oregon Citizens Alliance film, The Gay Agenda, closely resembled the 1940 Nazi propaganda film The Eternal Jew. Echoing traditional anti-Semitic propaganda which deliberately inflated the power of Jewish bankers, international Jewish conspiracies, and so forth, conservatives suggested that lesbians and gay men have higher incomes than others. A cartoon published by the Oregon Citizens Alliance showed a gay man manipulating the strings of the government and the economy. It was, one gay writer pointed out, ‘a virtual copy of a Nazi cartoon,’ one that replaced ‘the stooped, hooknosed puppeteer with a fresh-faced gym boy (Solomon 1997:7).’ At the same time, the OCA challenged the right of lesbians and gay men to align themselves with the victims of the Holocaust. In the 1994 campaign for ballot measure 13, which sought to deny civil rights to lesbians and gays, a rightwing group calling itself ‘Jews and Friends of Holocaust Victims’ purchased space in the Official Oregon Voters Pamphlet (1994:79) arguing in favor of the ballot measure:

Who’s a Nazi? Americans are watching history repeat as homosexuals promote the BIG LIE that everyone who opposes them is harmful to society. It’s nothing new. They used this tactic in Germany against the Jews…Don’t buy the BIG LIE. Opponents of minority status for homosexuals are not “Nazis” or “bigots”. And homosexuals aren’t “victims” of your common sense morality. Protect our children! (Stein, p. 529).

In the following passage, Stein correctly argues that Lively and his supporters attempt to flip the victimhood metaphor from gays to themselves. The Pink Swastika has been a key aspect of that effort.

The ‘true’ victims are the guardians of ‘common sense morality,’ the Christian right. As a leader of the Oregon Citizens Alliance suggests, “‘gay rights’ activists-not pro-family conservatives and OCA supporters-should be wearing the label of Nazi.” Homosexuality was a CENTRAL element of the fascist system, that the Nazi elite was rampant with homosexuality and pederasty, that Adolph Hitler intentionally surrounded himself with homosexuals during his entire adult life, and that the people most responsible for many Nazi atrocities were homosexual.9 This encapsulates the argument of The Pink Swastika (1995), authored by OCA activist Scott Lively, along with Kevin Abrams, who is identified as an Orthodox Jew residing in Israel. The book is a carefully constructed piece of political rhetoric, mixing serious scholarship with lies and outright distortions, truths with half-truths and falsehoods. The authors draw upon a variety of scholarly sources to make the argument that many, if not all, of the major leaders of the Nazi movement in Germany were homosexuals-including Hitler, Goebbels, Goering, Himmler, and Hess. While they do admit that homosexuals were persecuted by the Nazis, they suggest that homosexuals comprised the core of the Nazi Party. The Pink Swastika explains how homosexuals can be both Nazis and their victims. The authors contend that more masculine, “butch” homosexuals were responsible for building the Nazi party and creating the SA, or Brownshirts. Male homosexual “femmes” were persecuted by the Nazis, but largely escaped death…The Pink Swastika concludes with the claim that the contemporary gay rights movement, far from sharing a historical lineage with Holocaust ‘victims,’ actually has historical links to the Nazi perpetrators of genocide. (Stein, 530).

Stein then comes to a similar conclusion about the claims made by The Pink Swastika as I do when she writes:

Despite the claim of a direct link between Nazi ideology and homosexuality, historical evidence points to the opposite conclusion: that while the Nazis may have aestheticized homoerotism to a point, they identified homosexuality with the emasculation of men, which they saw as a threat to the traditional patriarchal, procreative family which they idealized. (Stein, 531).

Stein asserts that The Pink Swastika seeks to accomplish ends which serve political, not scholarly, purposes. As noted, the line of thinking employed in book seeks to flip the victim status from gays to conservative Christians. Furthermore, as Stein puts it, the book seeks to “pit two traditionally liberal constituencies, gays and Jews, against one another, thereby…drawing parallels between Jews and Christians” (Stein, 531).

Speaking about Christians who advance the rhetoric and argumentation of The Pink Swastika, Stein writes:

Christian conservatives have deliberately distorted Holocaust memories to deflect lesbian/gay victim claims, and to make moral claims of their own. In the process, they have degraded the memory of Holocaust victims and alleviated the burden on the perpetrators. (Stein, 535).

I generally agree with Stein’s conclusions here, and I ask all those reading this site, no matter their political beliefs, orientations, etc., to thoughtfully consider these conclusions, even though some of her criticisms of your various positions may challenge you.

I would go further, though, than Stein does in challenging the validity of Lively’s book as legitimate and responsible history. First, though Lively does use a number of secondary sources in his research (including scholarly books by Grau, Michael Burleigh, and others), he does no original research in primary archival documents; ; meaning, he has not examined the thousands of documents available on these subjects for himself. While certainly effective synthesis histories can be written from strictly secondary sources (and a number of high-quality historians have written such books), the most effective and legitimate ones are usually written by scholars who have done extensive primary archival research on those subjects in the past and have a mastery of the secondary literature as well. In my professional opinion, Lively does not fit either of these categories.

Second, responsible historians tend to cast a skeptical and cautious eye on any historical conclusions that appear reductionist, monocausal, and polemical in their conclusions. In particular, books that use historical topics to score contemporary political points are often dismissed by scholars out of hand as not dealing with the past honestly. Anachronism is not the historian’s goal or friend. While lessons can and should be drawn from history, these are not nearly as easy to arrive at as many (especially Lively, it seems) think.

Finally, in my opinion (and one that I would hazard a guess many other Christian and secular historians share), in any contemporary debates on ANY political / social subject, the arguments for and against certain positions should be made on the basis of the issues at hand, not on simplistic extrapolations from historical events, figures, and issues that were particular to their own contexts and time periods. Though certainly history can and should elucidate our understanding of the present as well as the past, using the past as a weapon in a contemporary political/social debate is inherently dangerous, for it risks obscuring more measured views of the past with hyperbole, confirmation bias, polemics, and (most importantly for me) historical inaccuracies that, through reductionism, view everything in history and in the present in overly simplistic terms. Doing so, in turn, does nothing to further either better historical inquiry or produce effective academic/political/social dialogue on vital contemporary issues (As an aside, I should also add that for Christians, I dare say, such reductionism is anathema to developing a stronger faith based on humility, prayer, theological study, contemplation, and intellectual honesty). But don’t just take my word for it. A number of excellent scholarly historical works—by both Christians and non-Christians—have been written about the nature of historical inquiry, research and writing, and the historical profession’s purpose(s) in explaining contemporary events and issues. In particular, the works of Richard J. Evans (In Defense of History), John Lewis Gaddis (Landscapes of History), Joyce Abbelby / Lynn Hunt / Margaret Jacob (Telling the Truth About History), and George Marsden (A Christian View of History? and The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship), David Hackett Fisher (Historians’ Fallacies) and Jacques Barzun (The Modern Researcher) all explain and defend various notions of historical inquiry and methodology much more effectively than I can here. All readers of this site, and especially current or aspiring writers, should examine such books in order to learn exactly what historical inquiry is and what it is not. In my mind, Lively’s book is an example of the latter. History is a complex and challenging and often humbling discipline for many reasons, something I ask all readers here to keep in mind as you continue to debate these very important issues.

Prior posts in this series:

May 28 – Scott Lively wants off SPLC hate group list

May 31 – Eliminating homosexuality: Modern Uganda and Nazi Germany

June 3 – Before The Pink Swastika

June 4 – Kevin Abrams: The other side of The Pink Swastika

June 8 – A historian’s analysis of The Pink Swastika, part 1

June 9 – A historian’s analysis of The Pink Swastika, part 2

June 11 – American Nazi movement and homosexuality: How pink is their swastika?

June 15 – Nazi movement rallies against gays in Springfield, MO

June 17 – Does homosexuality lead to fascism?

June 23 – The Pink Swastika and Friedrich Nietzsche

List of posts on Uganda and The Pink Swastika

A historian’s analysis of The Pink Swastika, part 1

(Editor’s note: This guest post is authored by Jon David Wyneken, Associate Professor of History at Grove City College.)

Back in March, Warren asked me (a colleague of his in the Department of History here at Grove City College) if I had any opinion on the validity of arguments made by Scott Lively and Kevin Abrams in their book The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party. I told Warren that the book had not been well-received by academic historians for a number of reasons, and at his request I did some research to illustrate this as clearly as I could. In the interest of full disclosure, the reader should know that I have a PhD in Modern German history with a focus on the period 1933-1955, so I have studied the Nazis extensively and am very familiar with their policies against those they considered “undesirables.” I have also done research and worked at seminars at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and have done research on the Nazis in numerous archives in Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

However, there are a number of scholars who have done more in-depth work on the issue of homosexuality in Nazi Germany than I have, so I looked into a some articles by such scholars that provide a number of effective and convincing counterarguments to Lively / Abrams. Historians like Geoffrey Giles and Gunter Grau have done a great deal of work on this (Lively does cite Grau a few times in The Pink Swastika, but I encourage readers here to examine Grau’s book of documents entitled The Hidden Holocaust? to see just how wrongly selective Lively was in his use of that text), and the most recent edition of Jeremy Noakes’ four-volume collection, Nazism: A Documentary Reader provides revealing material from Grau that Lively left out of his book. I have given Warren all of this material and I know he will be making use of it on this site. I know he will also provide the titles of complete articles/books that readers should examine, and I will continue to make Warren aware of any other materials I come across that will help him and readers better understand why Lively’s book is simply not good history and is, in fact, not really history at all. Instead, in my view, it is a book that uses history as a weapon in a contemporary political battle, completely outside the historical context of Nazi Germany.

Fortunately, there are other scholars who have made this point much better than I can here. In particular, Arlene Stein’s 1998 article from Sociological Perspectives (Vol. 41, No. 3 [1998], pp. 519-540) entitled “Whose Memories? Whose Victimhood? Contests for the Holocaust Frame in Recent Social Movement Discourse” makes a strong case against Lively and against all groups—whether Christian or secular, from the political Right or Left—who try to revise the historical record of the Holocaust for their own contemporary political (and hence, in my opinion, ahistorical) ends. Stein in my view rightly criticizes a number of groups and individuals in her article, and she is very careful and balanced in her conclusions. While I encourage all readers to read her entire article (those of you with JSTOR access can find a full-text copy there), I have provided below a few selections from her article that illustrate what she thinks (and I agree) is behind Lively’s book/arguments [in part two]. I have presented the quotes below sequentially as they appear in the article in order to give the reader a better sense of the entire piece. The first series of quotes present her arguments about how some gay/lesbian organizations have misused the history of the Holocaust for their own ends—I have done this so as to provide for the reader a more balanced view than is provided by Lively on these issues. First, Stein indicates two levels of appropriation:

Uses of Holocaust memory by those who lack a direct connection to the historical events are, in effect, acts of appropriation. But all acts of appropriation, I will argue, are not equivalent. Against the post-structuralist belief that texts, such as stories, take their meaning relationally within a global universe of interacting texts, an ethical approach to the appropriation of historical memories, particularly atrocity memories such as the Holocaust, distinguishes among claims on the basis of the social contexts within which texts are produced, and the uses to which they are put (Plummer 1995; Lamont 1997). Hence, I distinguish between two different types of appropriation: revisionism (efforts to rewrite the history of the Holocaust which make claims about a historical event) and metaphor creation (efforts to compare present events or experiences to those of the Holocaust). The distinction between these two rhetorical strategies, I will argue, is best understood in relation to the social contexts, such as contemporary social movements, in which Holocaust memories are deployed (Stein, 520-521).

Then she describes the type of appropriation by GLB groups:

The Holocaust frame appeared in lesbian/gay rhetoric at three different moments: the early 1970s, in relation to the rise of the gay liberation movement; the early to mid 1980s, in response to the twin threats of the New Right and the AIDS epidemic; and the 1990s, in response to anti-gay ballot measures sponsored by Christian conservative organizations in several states. Gay activists have sought to revise the historical record to reflect the extent of gay victimhood during the Nazi period; they have also used the Holocaust as metaphor, comparing the plight of homosexuals today to the plight of victimized minorities during the German Reich. Through the use of the Holocaust frame, lesbians and gay men have positioned themselves as victims and situated their opponents-garden variety homophobes, negligent AIDS bureaucrats, and Christian right anti-gay campaigners-as perpetrators. Invoking the history of the Third Reich, contemporary lesbian and gay activists recall that the Nazi Party sought to “cleanse” German society of those groups that violated the tenets of Aryan purity and that were believed to pose a threat to national unity: Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, communists, and the disabled. Though the “final solution” targeted Jews for annihilation above all else, other marginalized groups were caught in the frenzy of purification. Among them were homosexual men, who were seen as a threat to the patriarchal family idealized by Nazism. A 1928 Nazi Party statement proclaimed: ‘Anyone who thinks of homo-sexual love is our enemy. We therefore reject any form of lewdness, especially homosexuality, because it robs us of our last chance to free our people from the bondage which now enslaves it.’2 Between 1933 and 1945, tens of thousands of homosexual men were sent to concentration camps, and perhaps 10,000 of them perished.3 (Stein, 523)

In summary, the spectre of a Holocaust has been utilized by lesbians and gay men to dramatize their plight as an oppressed group in American society. Lesbians and gay men engaged in a form of revisionism, adjusting the historical record to reflect the historical oppression of homosexuals during the Nazi reign of terror. They also used the frame as metaphor, drawing parallels between contemporary homosexuals and the victims of Nazism fifty years earlier. In relation to the AIDS epidemic, lesbian and gay activists invoked the memory of the Holocaust to suggest that government inaction is tantamount to genocide. In response to the anti-gay campaigns of the Christian right, they suggested that homosexuals, a relatively powerless group, are being used as a convenient scapegoat for widespread social anxieties (Stein, 527).

Stein illustrates how a scholar approaches a topic. She is even handed and fair in her analysis. I encourage readers to carefully consider her points.

(Editor’s note – Due to length, I am dividing Dr. Wyneken’s analysis into two parts. Although readers might come to the conclusion that Drs. Stein and Wyneken have found some agreement with Lively and Abrams, this would not be an accurate perception. Tomorrow’s post will provide Stein’s assessment of The Pink Swastika and Dr. Wyneken’s reasons for agreeing with her significant criticisms of the book. Please look for the conclusion tomorrow.)

Other posts in this series:

May 28 – Scott Lively wants off SPLC hate group list

May 31 – Eliminating homosexuality: Modern Uganda and Nazi Germany

June 3 – Before the Pink Swastika

June 4 – Kevin Abrams: The side of The Pink Swastika

June 8 – A historian’s analysis of The Pink Swastika

June 9 – A historian’s analysis of The Pink Swastika, part 2

June 11 – American Nazi movement and homosexuality: How pink is their swastika?

June 15 – Nazi movement rallies against gays in Springfield, MO

June 17 – Does homosexuality lead to fascism?

June 23 – The Pink Swastika and Friedrich Nietzsche

June 29 – The Pink Swastika and the The Hidden Holocaust?

List of posts on Uganda and the Pink Swastika

A major study of child abuse and homosexuality revisited

The role of child sexual abuse in sexual orientation has received some attention lately. In January, of this year, a prospective study demonstrated that child sexual abuse was associated with ever engaging in adult homosexual behavior for males but not for females. The study by Widom and Wilson demonstrated that physical abuse or neglect did not associate with homosexuality, nor did sexual abuse predict same-sex cohabitation or current sexual partner. In other words, measures of behavior (living with a same-sex partner ever, or living with one in the last year) that would be more reflective of orientation were not associated with histories of child sexual abuse. For males, ever engaging in homosexual behavior, however, was associated with sexual abuse. Many observers are not surprised by this finding which indicates that sexual behavior is associated with past abuse but enduring orientation may not be.

Prospective studies are quite valuable since they help control for loss of memory, reconstructed memories, self-report issues relating to abuse and other sources of bias. This study used court records and followed up the abused persons 30 years after the fact.

In evangelical circles, sexual abuse is frequently offered as a major cause of homosexuality, if not the major cause. NARTH often points to the traumatic experience as an important factor. Recently, Focus on the Family promoted a paper by Jeff Johnston on the topic. Cited by Dean Byrd in that paper and often cited in this context is a study based on a 2000 doctoral dissertation by Marie Tomeo, titled “Sexual Orientation Development” and conducted at the California School of Professional Psychology. The journal article based on the dissertation was published by the Archives of Sexual Behavior in 2001 with the following reference:

Tomeo, M. E., Templer, D. L., Anderson, S., & Kotler, D. (2001). Comparative data of childhood adolescence molestation in heterosexual and homosexual persons. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 30, 535–541.

The study compared people at a gay pride parade with a straight sample drawn primarily from a university. The abstract reports the highlights:

In research with 942 nonclinical adult participants, gay men and lesbian women reported a significantly higher rate of childhood molestation than did heterosexual men and women. Forty-six percent of the homosexual men in contrast to 7% of the heterosexual men reported homosexual molestation. Twenty-two percent of lesbian women in contrast to 1% of heterosexual women reported homosexual molestation. This research is apparently the first survey that has reported substantial homosexual molestation of girls. Suggestions for future research were offered.

Demonstrating a difference between gay and straight groups on sexual abuse is not novel. Numerous studies have reported at least some difference with only a few reporting no difference in abuse frequency between groups. However, Tomeo did something that was relevant to her overall dissertation topic. She was interested in exploring sexual abuse as a potential causal factor. Tomeo’s prime research hypothesis was that homosexuals would report more sexual abuse than heterosexuals. She also wanted to know when a person identified as gay and when the abuse occurred. This is an important question for studies which seek to attribute cause to abuse. With some people being aware of same-sex attraction at very early ages, one cannot say any subsequent abuse caused their SSA. Simply finding a significant difference between gay and straight groups cannot tell you anything definitive about cause. Here are the first nine questions Tomeo asked her participants:

1. Do you regard yourself as predominantly a heterosexual person or predominantly a gay/lesbian person?

2. If predominantly of heterosexual orientation, at what age did you begin to regard yourself as heterosexual?

3. If predominantly of homosexual orientation, at what age did you begin to regard yourself as homosexual?

4. Before you were 16 years old, did you ever have sexual contact with a woman or girl 5 or more years older than yourself and at least 16 years of age? (YES NO)

5. IF YES, at what age did this first occur?

6. What was your relationship to the person with whom this sexual contact occurred?

7. Before you were 16 years old, did you ever have sexual contact with a man or boy 5 or more years older than yourself and at least 16 years of age? (YES NO)

8. IF YES, at what age did this first occur?

9. What was your relationship to the person with whom this sexual contact occurred?

For a study of causation, these questions clearly have their limitations. For one thing, when one regards oneself as homosexual probably occurs later (sometimes much later) than awareness of same-sex attraction. Perhaps one could offer a theory of identity formation which includes sexual abuse but such a theory would not of necessity be a theory of how one’s attractions take the direction they do.

In Tomeo’s reporting of her study in both the dissertation and the journal article, however, there is a much larger concern. There are contradictions in the paper and the dissertation between the results sections and the discussion sections. A crucial problem is the inability to be certain about when the abuse occurred – before or after awareness of same-sex attraction. In the Archives of Sexual Behavior article, the following statement is made on pages 540-541 (this same statement is identical to her closing discussion in the dissertation):

Sixty-eight percent of the present homosexual male participants and 38% of the present homosexual female participants (68 and 36%, respectively, if including just the homosexual fair participants) did not identify as homosexual until after the molestation. This suggests that if molestation resulted in homosexuality, this phenomenon occurs in a greater proportion of male homosexuals. It may not, however, be a casual factor in either gender. Perhaps children or adolescents with a higher potential for homosexual behavior are more likely to enter a situation that leads to same-sex molestation. It must also be borne in mind that the present homosexual participants may not be representative of homosexual persons. The overwhelming preponderance of homosexual participants was in the gay pride group. There were only three homosexual men and seven homosexual women in the college group.

The clear implication in this discussion section is that the frequency of homosexual identification was a consequence of the abuse. However, in the table which reported the data regarding timing of identification, the authors report the same percentage of males who reported identification as gay before the abuse. Table II on page 538 reports (click the link for a clearer view):

Tomeo et al 2001

Something is not right here. The numbers for females add up to 100% but the male numbers are contradictory. If the table is correct, then the case for causation from this study is somewhat compromised. The table indicates that 68% of men identified as homosexual before their molestation experience.

My colleague Gary Welton and I first discovered this discrepancy nearly three years ago while preparing a scholarly article on the effects sizes of various suggested correlates of homosexuality (one which will be published later this year or early next year). At that time, I contacted Donald Templer, one of the co-authors and advisor to first author Marie Tomeo. I then contacted him again recently in preparation for this post. He has been unable to locate Dr. Tomeo to get clarification. I hope Dr. Tomeo can at some point clarify these matters.

Recently, I ordered the dissertation to check the original study. However, there are discrepancies in this document as well. First, here are the relevant research questions with results.

From page 36 of Marie Tomeo’s dissertation:

The 10th research question addressed, of homosexual women who were molested, what percentage were molested before self-identification as a homosexual woman and what percentage were molested after self-identification as a homosexual woman? Of homosexual women who were molested, 62% were molested before self-identification as a homosexual woman, and 38% were molested after self-identification as a homosexual woman.

On page 37, the other relevant result relates to men.

The 13th research question addressed, of homosexual men who have been molested, what percentage were molested before self-identification as homosexual men, and what percentage were molested after self-identification as homosexual? Of homosexual men who were molested, 68% were molested before self-identification as homosexual, and 32% were molested after self-identification as homosexual.

These results are at odds with the discussion sections of the dissertation and the journal. They are also at odds with the Table from the journal article. For what its worth, Dr. Templer thinks the correct data are in the Table from the journal article.

The bottom line is that the study should not be cited until a follow up correction can be made. The main results — gays report more abuse than straights — may indeed be correct, given the similarity to past studies. However, I do not believe any inferences about causation should be made. Without the actual surveys, there is no way a reader can figure out the results from the journal article and/or the dissertation.

One final thought, the research on sexual abuse among GLBT populations is often misused to make inferences about causation. There are many reasons why this line of research is important but causation is not at the top. Sexual abuse is a profoundly disruptive experience for many people and may contribute to a variety of negative outcomes in adulthood. Finding appropriate clinical and ministry responses may be clouded by focusing on the trauma as a cause of same-sex attraction.