#9 - THE PARADOX OF SAME-SEX ATTRACTION
Updated: Apr 18
“No, I didn’t ask for this and don’t want to be gay! I don’t want these feelings, to be odd man out, judged by many, and rejected far too often. I’ll do anything to change.” Such is the initial attitude of most males upon gaining the certain realization of their interest in others of their own sex. They find themselves undeniably and exclusively drawn sensually to those of their own gender. Although they have not made the choice consciously, the attributes of the sex-object they have come to prefer pertains to their own gender. Contrary to the norm of nature, as these males mature sexually, they fail to appreciate the captivating physical and social charms of femininity. Instead, they are drawn to handsome guys, their faces, well-turned bodies, and other indices of male beauty, strength and virility. Understandably, these men wish to be liberated from whatever it is that is impelling them in the alternate direction, so different from their peers. Many remain conflicted throughout their lives, unable to harmonize their inclinations with their faith. Below are reports of two men, desperate because of the disparity between their spiritual beliefs and undeniable same sex attractions. They almost lost their minds, trying not to be attracted to those of their own gender.
I felt like I had lived a good life. I was a good church member; I had always done what was I supposed do; why was I going through this; I thought What have I done to bring this upon myself? I was confused. How could I have this “sin of all sins” and yet I hadn’t really done anything else that was really out of line of what the church taught.
From Cloy Jenkins, author of “The Payne Letter,” later known as “Prologue.”
I was homosexual long before any kind of sexual experience. In my early teenage years, I came to realize that how I felt was considered wrong. I began an agonizing and relentless effort to change. I obeyed all the counsel of the Church explicitly and faithfully. No one could have been more determined or confident. It was an absolute desire. Prayer, fasting, and faithful allegiance to the church were to the spirit and to the letter. I developed stomach ulcers as a result and came close to bleeding to death several times before the doctors could get the hemorrhaging stopped. No one could understand why I had ulcers, and I couldn’t bring myself to tell anyone about my horrible problem. My parents were desperate, and the doctors helpless, but I was determined to change.
So many are disturbed by this grave dissonance, this unwanted thorn in their flesh which prevents them from following their conscience and adhering to religious values as they would like. They do not understand or know how to help themselves. They have tried without success to free themselves of unwanted interests and responsiveness. Neither have others known how to best assist them.
EARLY VIEWS OF THE ISSUE
Faith was had in the opinions of early pioneering helpers. The experts, believed to know best, were relied upon. Sigmund Freud and his followers were physicians attempting to change troubled minds and behavior. They thought the problem concerned adults and their failure to value women sexuality. They determined that gay men defaulted to sex with men primarily because of fear of women. From their own experience, they were personally aware of their own and other men’s impelling sex drive and of the pleasure and satisfaction that heterosexuality provided. Their confident view of men’s strong appreciation of women sexually was shared by most. Psychiatrists settled on their assumption that men sought same-gender sexuality because they were afraid of women’s genitalia. Their therapeutic objective was laser focused, getting these needful men over their assorted hang-ups with women. It concerned exclusively men’s relations with the opposite sex.
Both Freudians and behaviorists saw homosexuality from this viewpoint. They simply needed to get these men over their fear of women and able to appreciate sexual relationships with them. Patients were directed to shut down feelings for men and become assured of the greater pleasure men could have through sex with women. UCLA professor of psychiatry, Judd Marmor, summarized the clinical strategy:
Therapeutic techniques that have been employed toward the goal of sex-orientation change have run the gamut of most of the standard approaches. … Despite their technical diversity, all these therapies have certain features in common. All of them tend to discourage homosexual reactions and encourage heterosexual behavior... In addition, either implicitly or explicitly, they all endeavor to increase the patient’s self-esteem and self-assertiveness, and to overcome any heterosexual phobic reactions [fear of women] that may be present.
From psychoanalysis to aversive-counter-conditioning , including the use of surrogate sexual partners, men were encouraged to pursue heterosexuality. It is important to note also, that claims of significant change were made by behaviorists and psychoanalysts who were using these approaches. Although hopeful men married and fathered children, many subsequently abandoned their families, driven by their incessant attraction to others of their own gender. Despite claims of cure, their clients’ attraction to other males had never abated.
It is probable that these early, well-intentioned practitioners were blinded by the fact of their heterosexual orientation. Because of their normal social and psychosexual development, they envisioned men’s erotic attraction for women to be detoured because of unreasonable, pathological fear .
Paradox is defined as “a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition that when investigated or explained may prove to be well founded or true. For me, it made no sense when I first encountered one. Savoring the joy of one more Christmas gift to open, how could my young mind be convinced that it was indeed “better to give than to receive?” How could it be? "The first shall be last and the last shall be first." "He who would gain his life must lose it." Understanding was not immediately forthcoming.
Implications of paradoxical suppositions may at first be shocking or even unwelcome. Nevertheless, they often bring new understanding with previously unseen options for beneficial change. Pythagoras countered common belief when he claimed the earth was round instead of flat. And many churchmen were angered by Galileo’s jarring assertion that the earth was not the center of the universe. Paradoxes can foster insight that reorganizes and makes more reasonable a host of interrelated concepts. They allow for better understanding than previous assumptions provided. My effort now is to draw attention to a hugely important paradox regarding this complex and often divisive issue of same-sex attraction and homosexuality.
The essential paradox of this matter is that same-sex attraction, while commonly viewed as anathema is, instead, truly a blessing. Although this unrelenting draw which certain individuals have discovered toward others of their own sex has been deemed by most as a curse, something to be diminished or cast off, vanquished via the implementation of various therapeutic modalities, the opposite is what must be understood. People may struggle to get their mind around this apparently erroneous concept, but all must do so, particularly those who struggle with the issue and any desirous of helping those in need. The same-gender orientation and impetus is appropriate, and the paradigm shift which the paradox supports has glorious potential to facilitate normalizing social and emotional healing and growth. This is a most important paradox, and understanding it clarifies a host of misunderstandings. It provides a great way forward for men to help themselves and for others to assist them.
In their book All Things New, authors, Fiona and Terryl Givens taught: “If you change the beginning [foundational premises], you change the ending, ---and everything in between.” If this one principle were understood and the same-gender attraction valued and appropriately used, it would indeed make a world of difference in men’s relationships with themselves and each other. Through brotherly affection, compulsive same-sex sexuality would become superfluous, traded for a richer and far better quality of life.
A BETTER VIEW
Rather than its being an issue of adult sexuality, it appears that sexual relations with others of the same sex is adaptive behavior, used to make up for developmental deficits of early childhood. Homosexual development is indicative of disordered or inadequate socialization. It has its genesis in very early childhood. Same-sex sexuality should be understood in terms of its symbolic value, what the behavior is meant to provide. It is a misguided and unproductive attempt to experience the oneness and same-sex identity-affirming intimacy children should have known with their fathers and same-sex peers throughout their growth from early beginnings to adulthood.
Contrary to claims, homosexuality appears not to be the direct result of genetic or hormonal conditions occurring prior to birth. Rather, a rupture in early interactions between an infant and its primary caregivers may prime the child to be wary and reticent to bond in subsequent social interactions. This estrangement usually comes to focus particularly on relationships with the child’s same-sex parent and peers. It is here that the role requirements of male socialization need to be rewardingly encountered. Early on, there tends to be rejection of gender-specific behavior and role rejection. That apartness parallels the evolution of insecure masculine identification, a degree of gender dysphoria.
Gender dysphoria and impaired identity are developmental phenomena, the result of emotionally stressed boys’ interactions with their environment over a long period of time.
There is asynchronous psychosexual development. Their socialization is different than that experienced by their peers. Same-sex attracted individuals often report intense longings for emotional intimacy with other boys, a desire for closeness that is known long before they become sexually active. Their leanings are kept secret for years. Original emotional insults have negatively impacted relationships that otherwise would be positive and affirming. It must be remembered that the driver in all these impaired relationships is the ongoing impact of early emotional insult.
Donald Webster Cory, deemed the “Father” of the American gay revolution, shared his conviction that the same-sex attraction that he struggled to silence would remain with him until his last breath. Why would it? Because, as the physical body possesses marvelous recuperative powers to heal itself, likewise the urgency to continue the trek to gender maturity, that need for spiritual health of the self, will not be silenced. Far from being a bad thing, it is, instead, the engine for growth and points to the path needed to be taken.
Someone has noted that while the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, the longest distance is the extensive arc of a shortcut. Same-sex sexuality is a symbolic reach for masculinity that short-circuits any possibility of genuinely achieving the nurturing bond and growth to maturity that is sought. The togetherness of men sharing sexuality is a mirage. It will never provide the secure masculine identity that is needed. Men become commonly united through a friendly shouldering of the everyday tasks of life. Proper use of same-sex attraction can connect men healthfully and provide “corrective emotional experiences” that neutralize deeply embedded disturbances of the past.
 Byrd, A. D. and Chamberlain, M. D., “Dealing with Homosexuality: A Qualitative Study of Six Mormons, AMCAP Journal, Vol. 19, No. 1, 1993.)  Jenkins, C., “Prologue: An Examination of the Mormon Attitude Towards Homosexuality, 1977.  Marmor, J., Homosexual Behavior: A Modern Reappraisal, 1980, p. 278.  Oxford Dictionary  Givens, F. and Givens, T., All Things New: Rethinking Sin, Salvation, and Everything in Between, 2020, p. 22.  Cory, D. W., The Homosexual in America, 1951.