After posting the review of Bieber, I ran across a link to the following excerpt of a book by Michael Quinn which raises strong doubts about how poor father-son relationships could cause homosexuality.
He notes that fathers and sons in our culture have historically had “issues.”
For sixty years, various studies have demonstrated that a significant percentage, perhaps a majority, of American males have always felt estranged from the fathers who raised them. As early as 1928, Meyer F. Nimkoff found that 60 percent of the 1,336 males he studied (average age twenty-two) did not feel close enough to their fathers to confide in them, and the father-son relationship was distant in other significant ways. He concluded: “If sons withhold trust from their fathers, it appears they deny his leadership and limit association with him, also.” Researchers have also noted that one-third to one-half of American teenage boys and adult men regard their fathers as “distant,” unaccepting, “cold or indifferent.” The psychiatrist Irving Bieber found that 37 percent of the heterosexual males he studied even said they “hated” their fathers, which was paralleled by a study that 21 percent of male heterosexuals at the University of Utah disliked their fathers.
As indirect evidence of this widespread father-son emotional dysfunction, studies of thousands of American adolescents since the 1930s have shown that only 5-22 percent of the young men “preferred” their fathers. In contrast, 34-76 percent of young men listed their mother as the preferred parent, even though the surveys also allowed sons to indicate equal preference or no preference. These statistics apply to young men in families without divorce. In addition, 82 percent of males in a 1978 study felt alienated from their fathers, while a 1985 study reported that only 8 percent of 500 male adolescents felt “loved” by their fathers.
Thus, claiming father-son emotional distance as the explanation for male homosexuality is similar to claiming that right-handedness causes homosexuality merely because most homosexuals are right-handed. The equation “abdicating fathers, homosexual sons” is a theory based on isolating homosexual experiences from human experiences generally. Typically, authors whose “reparative therapy of male homosexuality depends on “a failed relationship to father” do not acknowledge such well-known studies of father-son “failure” among American males generally. As the psychiatrist Richard Green, whose own research was originally based on the assumption of parental causation, has observed: “A gnawing question in these studies is what percent of heterosexuals answer all items [concerning father-son relationships] in the ‘homosexual direction’ and what percent of homosexuals answer all items in the ‘heterosexual direction’.” Because of such inconsistencies, Green returned to genetic or other biological determinants for homosexuality.
Quinn proposes that a son who is different in the gender sense might actually pull away from dad and not the other way around.
Another fallacy involves attaching great significance to the finding of many studies that homosexual men are “more likely” to describe their fathers as “distant, hostile, or rejecting” than heterosexual sons are. Such a pattern is unsurprising in a culture that has negative judgments about homosexuality. In other words, since both heterosexual and homosexual American males report unsatisfactory relationships with their fathers, the higher incidence of strain between homosexual sons and their fathers is more likely a result of the sons’ “homosexual tendencies” rather than the cause