November 23rd, 2007
The American Psychological Association have created a helpful list of frequently asked questions about homosexuality that you may find interesting. They cover issues including whether therapy can make you straight, is homosexuality a mental illness, is being gay a choice and what leads people to have particular sexual orientations.
The answers are clear and straightforward and are based around psychological and medical research evidence. They cheerfully reassures us that being gay is fine and normal and is something that occurs naturally. I’m obviously not about to dispute the being gay is okay message, but the suggestion it’s something you’re born with rather than a choice can still play into the hands of homophobes. After all, if you don’t learn to be gay but are born that way perhaps a ‘cure’ can be found. And suggesting there is no choice around homosexuality may ignore how some lesbians, gays and bi folk feel that aspects of their lives are a choice – just as heterosexuals make a number of sexual choices in their lives.
However, I imagine the APAs set of FAQs are deliberately set out to reassure people worried about the stigma of homosexuality and concerned to ‘cure’ it through ‘therapy’. In the US in particular there’s been a lot of focus on programmes that claim to be able to turn people straight (mostly informed by conservative Christian values). Having answers that clearly set out how such therapies are unneccessary and unsuccessful may hopefully prevent many people turning to such ‘treatments’.
Those who are interested in the area of human sexuality may find the questions and answers fascinating. While those worried about their sexuality will hopefully be reassured by them. And anyone who’s into queer theory will probably have a field day with the way homosexuality is constructed, and perhaps will share their thoughts with the APA on this.
Meanwhile, if you’re wrestling with your heterosexuality here’s a link to a useful information film from Goodie Bag that reminds us our heterosexuality is a house of cards that can collapse at any time….Tweet