American Psychological Association Press Release, August 6, 1998
Contact: Doug Fizel, Public Affairs Office
Anti-Gay Aggression: Expressions of Hatred or of Perceived Cultural Norms?
Psychologists Examine the Motives of Perpetrators and the Origins of Homophobia

SAN FRANCISCO -- One of the most widespread forms of bias crime among teenagers and young adults -- violence against sexual minorities -- is rarely motivated by genuine hatred, but is instead "an expression of cultural norms that are entrenched even among preadolescent children," says forensic psychologist Karen Franklin, Ph.D., of Tacoma, Washington. Speaking at the 106th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association (APA) in San Francisco (August 14-18), Dr. Franklin noted that assaults prosecuted under hate crimes statutes "are only the extreme end of a continuum" of bias against those perceived as "gender-deviant."

In a study of approximately 500 young adults in the greater San Francisco Bay Area, Dr. Franklin found that one in ten respondents admitted to physical violence or threats against people they believed were homosexual. Another 24 percent reported anti-gay namecalling. Among male respondents, Dr. Franklin notes, the rate of perpetration was significantly higher: 18 percent for physical violence or threats and 32 percent for namecalling. "In other words, half of all young men admitted to some form of anti-gay aggression." Meanwhile a third of those who said they had not engaged in anti-gay aggression reported that they would likely assault or harass a homosexual who flirted with or propositioned them.

Dr. Franklin has identified four distinct motivations for bias crimes against sexual minorities. Self-Defense assailants, she says, "appear to interpret their victims' words and actions based on their belief that homosexuals are sexual predators, and typically believe they are defending themselves from aggressive sexual propositions."

In contract, Ideology assailants "view themselves as social norms enforcers who are punishing homosexuals for moral transgressions." They object not so much to homosexuality itself, Dr. Franklin says, "but to visible challenges to gender norms, such as male effeminacy or public flaunting of sexual deviance."

The other two motivations, according to Dr. Franklin, stem from adolescent development needs. Thrill Seekers "commit assaults to alleviate boredom, to have fun and excitement and to feel strong." Peer Dynamics assailants, on the other hand, "commit assaults to prove their toughness and heterosexuality to friends." Both types of assailants, she says, minimize their personal antagonism toward homosexuals, and either blame their friends for assaults or minimize the level of harm done.

In fact, Dr. Franklin says, her research suggests that most young people who harass, bully and assault sexual minorities do not fit the stereotype of the hate-filled extremist. "Rather," she says, "they are average young people who often do not see anything wrong with their behavior."

Meanwhile, researchers Peter S. Theodore of Rutgers University and Susan A. Basow, Ph.D., of Lafayette College, are presenting a study of 74 college males on the link between heterosexual masculinity and homophobia. They found that college-aged men in their late adolescence and early adult years "who define themselves and their masculinity according to societal standards, are likely to hold homophobic attitudes towards gay men as a means toward reconciling their own feelings of gender inadequacy." In other words, homophobia "may represent as much a reaction to the self as it does to gays, lesbians and bisexuals." . . .

Arizona Daily Star, September 7, 1998
P. O. Box 26887,Tucson,AZ,85726
(Fax 602-573-4141 ) (E-MAIL: )
( )
Homophobia is the last of the respectable prejudices
By Jean M. Baker

The open expression of prejudice toward gays and lesbians is reaching new heights as people in positions of power and leadership vehemently attack these groups. Attacks are usually clothed in the mantle of religious and family values, creating a climate in which it is socially acceptable for homosexuals to be humiliated and demeaned.

Peter J. Gomes, professor of divinity at Harvard University, has been frequently quoted as saying that homophobia is "the last respected prejudice of the century." Thus those who would never dare to make the same belittling remarks toward any other minority group find it perfectly acceptable to openly attack homosexuals.

Trent Lott, U.S. Senate Majority Leader, has shamelessly proclaimed homosexuality both a sin and a sickness and compared it to kleptomania and alcoholism.

In South Carolina, a veritable den of homophobia, the Reverend Stan Y. Craig, pastor of the Choice Hills Baptist Church of Greenville, in a slightly less-restrained manner, described homosexuality as "demonic" and as a "stench in the nostrils of God."

Reverend Lou Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition, in his usual form, calls homosexuality "the most pernicious evil today." And this summer a large group of conservative religious organizations placed an ad in The New York Times proclaiming homosexuals could be cured of their problem through religion.

It seems there is an unwillingness on the part of these proclaimers of family and religious values to accept the simple fact that there are individuals in every society who, when they fall in love, fall in love with individuals of the same gender. Another simple fact also overlooked is there will always be children who will grow up to be gay or lesbian. The dire warnings appear to be directed toward homosexual adults and suggest in a subtle way that there would be no gay children if we were only able to rid society of gay adults.

This perspective springs from one of the most damaging myths about homosexuals - that children will become gay only if some perverted adult corrupts or converts them. But there will always be children who will grow up to be gay or lesbian. There is no vaccine to prevent homosexuality and there are no parenting methods or religious admonitions that will do so. Nor will the elimination of adult homosexuals from society eliminate a new generation of gays and lesbians.

These children are the most vulnerable victims of homophobia. The pervasiveness of this "respectable prejudice" is deeply damaging to children who are beginning to realize they are somehow different from other children and that the way they are different is considered shameful. Children growing up gay or lesbian in our society are growing up with fear and loneliness and are often unable to speak even to to parents about their feelings.

These children may hear their own parents speak disparagingly about gays and lesbians; in church they may hear homosexuality is a sin; and at school the word homosexual may never be mentioned except with derision. In addition, when outspoken leaders in our country make remarks that can only be interpreted as meaning homosexuals are in some way perverted or evil, the child often internalizes the hate and begins to feel ashamed of that part of him or herself that others hate.

Is it any wonder gay youth has such a high suicide rate? And do the outspoken critics ever consider the effects of their remarks on these lonely and confused children who are trying to understand why it is that who they are and cannot help being is shameful?

Children growing up heterosexual are also harmed, as they are being taught intolerance and prejudice. They are receiving the message that because of their sexual orientation they are superior in some important way and that it is OK to hate homosexuals.

Jean M. Baker is a clinical psychologist practicing in Tucson.

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Wall Street Journal, April 21, 1993
200 Liberty Street, New York,NY,10281
(Fax 212-416-2658 ) (E-MAIL: )
Going Straight: Christian Groups Press Gay People to Take A Heterosexual Path
Pentecostal Ministries Claim Successes in Some Cases, But the Road Is
Difficult Torments of Failed Attempts
By Michael J. Ybarra, Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal

HAYWARD, Calif. -- Half a dozen men are sitting in a circle in a Pentecostal church in this suburb of San Francisco. A 31-year-old one-time missionary, who still aspires to spread the Word, is talking about his 12-year struggle against his own homosexuality.

"I've beaten myself up for it, again and again," he says, clutching a thin booklet called "Overcoming Homosexuality: Using the 14 Steps."

He confesses: "It's not working, and I don't know why." The others, regulars at this Friday-night support group, are sympathetic; they know the temptations of the flesh and the damnation they figure awaits those who succumb. "It's a matter of will," says one. "You have to make the choice." Maybe, suggests another, it is demonic possession.

The erstwhile missionary's eyes grow watery. He has begged God to free him, has surrounded himself with Christians and spent a month in an in-patient treatment program. But nothing has worked, and thinking about it just makes it worse -- especially at these meetings. "I'm having sex, I'm having fun, and I don't feel bad about it," he confesses. "Not getting AIDS is all I care about."

Silence prevails. The other members stare at their pamphlets or fidget. "I just want God to accept me," he says finally.

But heavenly blessing isn't an option here. Despite the growing visibility of gay men and lesbians in U.S. society, the only road to salvation for homosexuals at the Foursquare Pentecostal Church is the route urged by an archipelago of fundamentalist Bible fellowships popping up across the country: salvation through change -- through the embrace of heterosexuality.

"I don't think there's anybody who can't change if they just relax and let God do what He wants," says Frank Worthen, 64, a pioneer of the change movement who rejected homosexuality and married.

At the same time, many mental-health professionals and former members of "change" groups warn that almost nobody's sexual orientation truly changes and that the road from homosexuality to attempted heterosexuality is littered with failure and suffering. They tell of people drowned in self-hate, of families sundered when homosexuals try marriages that flop. Some homosexuals, distraught that they can't "cure" themselves, have committed suicide.

"They're destroying people's lives," says John Evans, referring to the change movement. He is a former colleague of Mr. Worthen's in one of the first ex-gay ministries but now no longer hides his homosexuality. "If you don't do their thing, you're not of God, you'll go to hell. They're living in a fantasy world."

Under the umbrella organization of Exodus International, a nondenominational confederation of fundamentalist groups, the evangelical ex- gay movement now has 65 ministries, with chapters as far away as Europe, Asia and the South Pacific. Many alumni have married and had children -- not as a subterfuge, they say, but as a true expression of their newfound heterosexuality.

Although other Christian groups offer what they consider deliverance to homosexuals, Exodus, which claims to have had more than 100,000 requests for help since it was founded in 1976, is the largest. Because there have been no follow-up studies, supporters and opponents alike depend on anecdote to make their cases.

Central to the dispute is whether homosexuality is volitional -- something that the individual chooses or can change his or her mind about. Recent studies have claimed to find physical differences in the brains of gay and straight men, and some researchers believe that hormone levels before birth might tip a person's sexual orientation. Such biological theories are at loggerheads with the traditional Freudian view -- to which many in the ex-gay movement subscribe -- that homosexuality arises in early in childhood and is thus a form of arrested psychosexual development that might yield to therapy.

"There's no link between apes and men, and there's no link between homosexuality and biology," declares Mr. Worthen, a firm believer that being gay is a choice. Some evangelical ex-gays believe that, even if homosexuality should prove to be determined at birth, the Bible merely condemns its practice. Thus, the good Christian can attain grace by resisting his impulses. "You can still choose abstinence," says one ex-gay.

Sexual orientation isn't necessarily a clear either/or proposition. A federally financed study widely reported last week found that about 2.3% of a sample of U.S. men between the ages of 20 and 39 said they had engaged in homosexual acts in the past 10 years and that 1.1% considered themselves to be exclusively homosexual. This new Alan Guttmacher Institute survey attracted considerable attention because it found fewer homosexuals in the population than the oft-cited Kinsey Report of 1948 did.

Whatever the numbers, professionals aren't sanguine about the possibilities of making the leap from gay to straight for someone who has been exclusively homosexual, not bisexual or somewhere else along the spectrum of sexuality. "You simply cannot do it by voluntary choice," say John W. Money, emeritus professor of medical psychology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. "It's amazing how fixed it is." Many people in the ex-gay movement say they were definitely, albeit unhappily, homosexual.

Richard A. Isay, 55, a classically trained Freudian and Cornell Medical College professor, went through a decade of therapy trying to change his own sexuality. He married and had two children before divorcing and concluding that he is gay. In the 20 years since, he has done a lot of work with gay patients, often trying to allay the anxiety and depression that he believes is caused by "reparative" counseling.

"I think it's the greatest abuse of psychiatry in America today," says Dr. Isay, who is also chairman of the American Psychiatric Association's gay, lesbian and bisexual issues committee. "The attempt to change is extremely harmful." To Be Young and Gay Being gay, even in an age of openness, is not easy. Until 1973, the APA regarded homosexuality as a mental illness, sometimes treatable with aversive electric shocks. Even today, gay youths are two to three times more likely to attempt suicide than straight youths, according to a study by the Department of Health and Human Services. The activist National Gay and Lesbian Task Force says that many gay youths are forced to leave home by parents because of their homosexuality.

Ex-gays say such turmoil is the predictable result of an unnatural lifestyle, not an artifact of prejudice and social stigma. Gay fundamentalist Christians face the added anguish of religious condemnation.

Mr. Worthen has known that anguish since he was 13 and his father died. Young Frank Worthen went to work after school as a janitor at a San Jose Disciples of Christ church. He recalls the pastor telling him he could tell he was gay, but he says he resisted the temptation to act out his impulses until he became an adult in the late 1940s and threw himself into San Francisco's then-furtive gay scene.

"It was a real adventure for a young kid," he remembers. But by the time he was 40, he says, several of his friends had killed themselves. "There were bars where they checked your ID and if you were 40 you couldn't get in," he says. "It got to be pretty lonely."

Mr. Worthen owned several import stores and had a career buying and selling real estate, but he felt spiritually isolated. Leaving his office one evening with plans to go to a new bathhouse, Mr. Worthen says, he felt God's presence welling up inside him. He went instead to a Bible fellowship with an employee of his. And soon he became a regular churchgoer. One day another parishioner confessed that he sneaked out on his wife to go to gay bars, and it occurred to Mr. Worthen that he might play a role in helping people out of homosexuality. He ran an ad in a Berkeley sex paper, offering such assistance. Sixty people responded. Mr. Worthen, Mr. Evans and others formed Love in Action, an ex-gay ministry in San Rafael, Calif.

Mr. Worthen says he has never regretted his own change, has never faltered in his belief in the power of the Holy Spirit to "heal" homosexuals. He has been married now for eight years. "My marriage is absolutely wonderful," he says.

But after two years at Love in Action, Mr. Evans, now 58, realized he could never become heterosexual and left the group. "The worst years of my life," he says. "I was trying to be something God never wanted me to be -- and, God knows, I tried."

Jack McIntyre also tried, but with tragic consequences. Mr. McIntyre, gay and Christian, feared an eternity in hell. He spent four years in Love in Action fighting his passion for men and wound up in the psychiatric ward at Marin General Hospital.

There, in 1977 at age 46, he recorded his thoughts in a letter: "No matter how much I prayed and tried to avoid the temptation, I continually failed. . . . I love life, but my love for the Lord is so much greater, the choice is simple. . . . To continually go before God and ask for forgiveness and make promises you know you can't keep is more than I can take. I feel it is making a mockery of God and all He stands for in my life."

In room 104, he gave himself Communion, swallowed a lethal nightcap of Valium and Dalmane -- tranquilizers and sleeping pills -- and lay down on a couch to a quiet death.

Some gay men and lesbians who claim to have changed say they constantly battle the demons of desire. "I don't know if I'll ever have the intensity for sex with women that the average man on the street has," says John Paulk, a seven-year member of Love in Action.

Mr. Paulk had been a prostitute, a female impersonator named Candi and an alcoholic who tried to kill himself before he decided to become straight and marry an ex-lesbian he met in church last year. "I had no sexual interest in women at all," he says. "But when you begin a relationship with a woman that you believe God has led you to, then you develop attraction to that person. To say that we've arrived at this place of total heterosexuality -- that we're totally healed -- is misleading."

Some call it a lie. Jack Pantaleo is a founder of the San Francisco chapter of Evangelicals Concerned, a nondenominational group that condones monogamous same-sex relationships. "The problem isn't homosexuality," says Mr. Pantaleo, a fundamentalist Christian. "It's gluttony, it's sexual addiction."

Mr. Pantaleo had belonged to Exodus for four months at one point. During meetings everyone said things were getting better, he says, but afterward men would confess to him that their struggles were as bad as ever.

Still, many try, fail and keep trying.

In the early 1970s, Colin Cook, a Seventh-Day Adventist minister, resigned from the church when he could no longer harmonize his gay liaisons with his religious beliefs. Mr. Cook says he had sex with more than 1,000 men in a frenzied decade before he decided that his behavior was wrong and started Homosexuals Anonymous, a Christian support group for ex-gays with more than 40 chapters in the U.S. and abroad.

Then one day he felt aroused by a woman as they walked through a field together on a warm day. "I could have jumped over the moon," he remembers. "I felt like an adolescent." Four years later, at 38, he married a woman who knew about his gay past. But over the next several years, Mr. Cook was giving nude massages to men he was supposed to be leading away from the desert of homosexuality at his spiritual redoubt, Quest Learning Center in Reading, Pa. He says the massages involved about 30 out of 250 men, whom he was trying to "desensitize" to the pleasures of male flesh. "It became erotic to me and I was not admitting it," he says.

When some of the men talked publicly about their sexual experiences with him, Mr. Cook resigned from the center, which closed after the Seventh-Day Adventist Church withdrew its subsidy. Mrs. Cook beat his chest with her hands when she found out. "You've taken 12 years of my life," she cried.

Six months later, he was again ministering to gays -- under strict church supervision. Three years of therapy since then have also helped him become "98%" free of male fantasies, Mr. Cook says. And this year, Mr. and Mrs. Cook, who have two sons, celebrated their 14th anniversary.

For years, the ex-gay movement has been bedeviled by stories of stealth couplings between members, often after meetings and at conventions. Jim Brooks -- who says he had only one gay relationship 21 years ago -- says the feelings that he thought he had dammed up over the years came flooding back when he began counseling other would-be ex-gays in San Francisco five years ago. "Satan would really want to get me to fall sexually with another man to destroy the work of our ministry," he says.

Beat-the-devil night is Friday at the Foursquare Pentecostal Church in Hayward, where 14 men and women -- young and old, veterans of tempestuous homosexual lifestyles and those who never acted but have long anguished over their fantasies -- gather to pray away their sexual desires. They sing songs, read Bible verses and break into discussion groups. The men talk about why they became gay, about childhood torments, about distant fathers.

An older man tells of the journal he kept of his sub rosa homosexual life. His wife found the diary and read it to friends, relatives and their children, who stopped speaking to him. "I raised them to believe being gay was wrong," he says, his shoulders rising and falling with a deep breath. "Now they don't understand."


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