Why Homosexuals Resist Cure (Feb, 1964)
This article is interesting in what the author doesn’t say. He doesn’t say that homosexuality can or cannot be “cured”. He also doesn’t say it should be cured if it can be. He says it is “advisable” but there are a lot of ways to take that. And in the last paragraph he recommends liberalized sex laws.
In all it seems like a sort of big hypothetical to ease people into being slightly more understanding and compassionate towards gays.
Here is a scan of the article referenced at the end: “A Radically New Sex Law”.
Why Homosexuals Resist Cure
Some of the reasons that make it difficult to change homosexuals by psychotherapy.
by Donald Webster Cory and John P. LeRoy.
Mr. Cory is the well-known author of “The Homosexual in America” and editor of “Homosexuality: A Cross-Cultural Approach.”
Mr. LeRoy is a free-lance writer.
Amid a tangle of contradictory reports, there is a growing belief that homosexuality can be “cured” and that the homosexual can be changed — if he wants to be.
Reports of such changes from homosexuality to a desire for the opposite sex (heterosexual-ity) have been made by numerous therapists. There is increasing evidence that such changes have successfully been accomplished, where the person undergoing treatment had a genuine wish to be changed.
Since most homosexuals must be dissatisfied with being what they are, some people argue, then how can one account for the large number (some say a majority) of unsuccessful cases of attempted change by treatment ?
If the homosexual is unhappy, why does he not “genuinely” desire to relinquish his sex deviation? For a variety of reasons, it would seem that many of them are actually seeking to retain their sexual preferences. What are these reasons?
For one thing, most homosexuals have to some degree or other, integrated their sexual outlook into their personality and their way of life. More than that, their homosexuality has become part of their selves, their very being. To them, this is what they are, and to relinquish it is to cease to be.
To take away their homosexuality is the same as removing their sexuality, and this, in turn, is to deprive them of their identification. It thereby follows that most of them seek to handle their problems as well as they can without stepping into the office of a therapist. Those who do come for help wish to enlist the aid of the therapist in adjusting to, rather than in removing, their homosexuality.
Others are so accustomed to their means of sexual expression that they cannot imagine themselves having relations with members of the other sex. These are men who find affairs with other men sufficiently satisfactory. They are not interested in women.
They may consider themselves capable of having sexual intercourse with the other sex, and may even have done so on occasion, perhaps to satisfy their own doubts. But they lack the desire to do so.
Among some young men and women, homosexuality is a form of rebellion. Here, the sexual expression symbolizes a new-found freedom from the obedience they were once compelled to show toward those in authority.
They form closely-knit groups, and they prefer to make their homosexuality a badge of honor and defiance. They place a high value upon living for pleasure, particularly short-range pleasure.
Somewhat related to this group are those who, though not particularly rebellious, have found that being homosexual can offer what appears to them to be some practical advantages. Among these are freedom (or escape) from the obligations and responsibilities of marriage and family life; the independence of being self-supporting and accounting only to oneself; the ease of finding sex partners without the need for deep personal involvement.
Thus, some homosexuals organize their lives so as to make an advantage out of bachelorhood, finding in it increased leisure time, with more travel, more learning, and greater utilization of limited funds.
These advantages accrue to all those who remain single; but for the homosexual in addition there is no risk of pregnancies, abortions, or illegitimate offspring.
Many homosexuals are frightened by the specter of being heterosexual, from which they have taken flight. For such people, social disadvantages and loneliness are insufficient to overcome the fear of being “normal.”
Many homosexuals are in flight from love, which they cannot face, or which they cannot give, and toward which they are deeply suspicious. The “gay” life offers them an escape which they believe, rightly or wrongly, involvement with the other sex will not present. This is not to deny that many heterosexuals are also afraid of love, and that some homosexuals are not.
Then there is the compulsive homosexual who often declares, self – righteously and forthrightly, how much he deplores his own desires, but who finds his passion for other men so uncontrollable that he has relinquished all hope of change. To him, nature has played him a dirty trick, and there is nothing he can do about it but tolerate it and live as best he can.
Great resistance to change will be found among those who feed on their guilt. They believe that their homosexuality is morally wrong, and they feel sorry for themselves every time they have an encounter. In this self-pity, they pay for their alleged sins and. once cleansed, go out and do the same thing all over again. These are the most puzzling people for the therapists, because they come for treatment and, after many long sessions, remain unchanged.
Sometimes there may be a severe feeling of inferiority, and homosexuality is maintained because a man sees himself as less worthy than other people. He thinks of himself as unable “to make it as a man,” so to speak, and he arrives at homosexuality and stays there as a defense and by default.
Many homosexuals idolize women to such an extent that they see them as goddesses, untouchable in their purity, not to be contaminated by mere mortals. These people often come from puritanical backgrounds, and they resist treatment because neither the therapist nor the patient is able to understand the source of the difficulty.
Among the rebels one finds the “hustler,” the male prostitute, searching not only for financial compensation and sexual pleasure, but the gratification of being wanted by other men. It satisfies his ego to find large numbers of men who see him as attractive and desirable.
These, then, are some of the more important reasons why, even if a successful cure could be assured, many homosexuals would resist it. This resistance is inherent in their being homosexual and in their adjustment to their deviation.
Change cannot be forced on anyone, even though it is certainly advisable for those who can stick it out. For those homosexuals who resist cure, perhaps the best approach to their problem is to be found in more mature social and legal attitudes regarding sex. The new Illinois legal code and its changed sex laws (see the article “A Radically New Sex Law” in the January 1964 issue of this magazine) is an encouraging step in this direction.