Updated: Sep 15
Our book, Homosexuality Reframed: Growth Beyond Gay, is dedicated to “all brave souls, straight and gay, who continue to make course corrections throughout their lives.“ The direction in which people are headed is important because it has a great bearing on where they will end up. People want to arrive at their preferred destination.
Regarding gender identity, through past millennia, healthy newborn children have been identified as either male or female. There was no mistaking the binary as defined by genitalia. From the first hours following birth, colors of clothing indicated the polarity of this dichotomy, typically blue for male and pink for female. These specific shades signaled the beginning of a studied trajectory of identification and socialization particular to each gender. They were obviously different, with no likelihood of mistaken sexuality. The path was clear from the start. Boys were always expected to grow physically stronger and able at maturity to be fathers and thus generate families of their own. The role of motherhood was similarly honored, and little girls could look forward to being appreciated for the feminine strengths they developed. Their uniquely different interests and skills would enhance the likelihood that husband and wife would produce stable, productive children. Unfortunately, over recent centuries, the nuclear family has suffered numerous insults that have negatively impacted and weakened this social unit, which had always been the core building block of society. Children’s personal and social development has suffered as a result of cultural changes negatively impacting the composition, roles, and objectives of nuclear families.
Homosexual identification evolves from a gender-role trajectory that is different than that referred to above. Historically, those finding themselves on this route have been designated as villains and deviants needing harsh punishment to force them back on track, leading to shame and concealment. But neither punishment from the law, nor aid from mental health practitioners has been able to dissuade men from pursuing their erotic relating with others of their own gender.
While this matter has been seen as an adult problem concerned primarily with sexuality, I see it as a problem of childhood related to unfulfilled, legitimate childhood social, emotional, relational, and gender identity needs. Rather than villainous behavior, I view same-sex sexuality as stemming initially from a child's adjustive response to emotional trauma occurring in early childhood, usually within the first five years of life. It stems, initially, from a child’s self-protective response to early relational disruption, any impactful experience that disrupts what had been a strong, reliable bond with primary caregivers and significant others.
Broken emotional ties bring fear and failure to trust. Tenuous interpersonal ties replace what had been a comforting symbiotic unity. Estrangement incident to the relational rupture runs counter to the close bonds needed for healthy social and emotional growth. As noted by British psychologist, Elizabeth Moberly, this brokenness in critical relationships is traumatic, and can cause emotionally wounded children to become stuck in an approach-avoidance bind. Their need and desire for closeness is countered by fear and avoidance of further damage.
As discomforted infants self-sooth through thumb sucking, they can also do so by pleasuring themselves sensually. Self-soothing through precocious sexuality could establish patterns of abnormal preference and responsiveness. Habitual behaviors that are seated early become increasingly indelible.
Through future years of physical development, children’s needed bonding with same-sex peers suffers because of a sustained ambivalence. Because of inappropriate responses to early relational trauma, children can become sexualized before they are appropriately socialized. With puberty, same-gender relational needs become more sensually focused. Distortion and detour of instinct is a natural outgrowth of relational estrangement and the yearning for connection. Expressing the need for intimacy with others of one’s own sex erotically, establishes a barrier to what otherwise would be the naturally evolving course of masculine psychosocial and psychosexual development. Responding to the relational needs erotically builds a stuck spot, not chosen, but the natural outcome of the approach-avoidance bind. As such, this dilemma warrants compassion and assistance rather than condemnation and rejection.
Gay men wishing to change, and those heterosexuals who desire to help them become more heterosexually oriented, tend to see same-sex attraction as a bad thing. When a boy realizes he feels erotic attraction not to girls, but to other boys, he is generally devastated, not wanting this sensual attraction to the same sex. He may pray to be free of it and may plead to have it replaced by attraction to girls. Little does he realize that the attraction is there because it points to what is needed for his further development,-- positive relationships with those of his own gender. As stated, “The child is father of the man.” Said another way, “It is only from a boy that you can make a man.” Boys who have lost out on preadolescent chumships need opportunities to experience unity and sameness with other valued heterosexual males. Relationally needful boys and men need male companionship, the sharing of brain and brawn, to thrive. They need to be intimately involved in activities requiring teamwork, where success depends as much on their investment as on that of others. It is this very same-sex attraction, if used for social/emotional connection with other boys and men, that can lead them to realize and evolve within themselves their own sense of competent masculine identity. As social/emotional needs are appropriately met, the sexual interest will dissipate. Non-erotic same-gender experiences affirm and enhance personal security and open the way for their eventually recognizing stronger draws to females.
Remember, there is an approach/avoidance bind. The same-sex attraction is countered by matters that maintain estrangement. Those who grew up gay often struggle with fears of being judged and shunned or otherwise further abused by other men. It is realistic for them to fear being misunderstood by heterosexual men who have been taught all their lives to avoid males who appear effeminate or poorly identified in the male role. These factors of fear and ignorance discourage helpers and needful men from the unity that could help these men attain their birthright as mature men. This conundrum of homosexuality could be solved as men are released from their prison of childhood. I cannot impress too strongly that those who grew up gay and wish to find their way through the maze of “unwanted attractions,” must view their draw to men as right and proper. This pull is definitely not something to be “diminished” or avoided. Nor can it be avoided or diminished, no matter how hard any try to eradicate it from their lives. It is through right, non-erotic relationships with heterosexual men that movement from past hang-ups will be realized. The same-sex attraction must be recognized as a paradoxical circumstance, a case when something appears to be wrong, but is very right.
Edward Sagarin , known as father of the gay revolution, was spot on when he stated his conviction that his same-sex attraction would remain with him until his last breath. It does not go away and never will because it is the soul’s struggle to get back on the right trajectory to reach maturity as a man. Same-sex sexuality is a symbolic relational short-cut to nowhere. It short-circuits the personal and relational growth that could occur were the attraction used in non-erotic bonding engagements. Men stuck on this developmental path need to experience healing rapport with those heterosexual men who are secure in their masculine identity.
When same-sex attraction is recognized as a positive push for healing, the engine for growth and masculine identification, the whole picture changes. This understanding provides the rationale for men injured as children and caring heterosexual men to confidently and peacefully join together in a greatly rewarding enterprise of mutual growth.
Associating with heterosexual men, relationally needful men can securely work through issues of trauma and loss. They can have their social and emotional needs securely met and their sense of masculinity confidently affirmed within without risk of being misused or taken advantage of. Nurtured by caring heterosexual men, they can realize levels of social and psychological growth that would never be attainable through romantic relationships with other males like themselves who had been primed to achieve connection and affirmation through sexuality.
I have maintained that a wall of ignorance and misunderstanding exists between homosexuals and heterosexuals, largely because they were socialized differently. Members of one group fail to understand and appreciate what occurs so naturally to the other. Regarding issues of the heart and sensuality, they each act and speak a different language. Extending this further, I believe that most homosexuals do not really understand themselves, that is, the psychodynamics that drive their own behavior.
I believe that when role and identity deficient males are given the opportunity to love and become one with valued heterosexual men, they will be able to make up for many of the losses they encountered earlier. Taking down walls of rejection and nurturing and helping boys and men use their attraction properly is a liberating solution.