Homosexuality Essay, Research Paper
Homosexuality in America
Despite the United States? progress toward homosexual liberation in
the past few years, anti-gay and lesbian attitudes are still showing their ugly
faces. Violence towards homosexuals is on the rise, conversion groups are
popping up everywhere, conflict over homosexuality innateness is high,
religious and personal discrimination is rampant: all this in
a time when more and more gays and lesbians are ?coming out? and their
coming out at younger ages. It is a time in America when we need to support
the homosexual community.
Jamie Nabozny, now an openly gay man, was a troubled teenager who
attempted suicide three times and had frequently stayed in psychiatric wards.
In high school he was tortured with emotional and physical violence from his
peers. On one occasion in his freshmen year, two boys attacked him in the
bathroom. He fell into the urinal and the boys proceeded to urinate on him.
?I just remember sitting there, waiting for it
to get over with,? recalled Nabozny (Jerome, 1). The school did nothing to
prevent the harassment. Later, in his junior year, he was beaten so severely
that he had to undergo exploratory abdominal surgery. Nabozny decided to
sue the school district. The case was thrown out, but when he appealed to the
federal courts, they decided a school could be sued for not preventing
harassment. The district settled out of court, paying Nabozny $900,000
Willi Wagner, a gay teenager who came out in ninth grade, was also
harassed. Most of the time the abuse was verbal, and he was always ready
with a comeback. ?They?d call me a faggot and I?d call them a hick,?
Wagner said. However, things did become violent. When Wagner and some
friends were walking down the street, two vehicles stopped beside them and
eight boys jumped out. Five of the boys formed a circle around Wagner,
while the others beat him, leaving him with two black eyes, a broken nose
and many bruises. ?I could feel my nose crack. It wasn?t a good feeling,?
Wagner said of the incident. Two of the boys were put on probation for the
incident; not near enough punishment for the crime (Jerome, 3).
Incidents like these are quite common. In fact, one
study showed that while the overall crime rate decreased four percent,
anti-gay crimes rose seven percent (Peyser, 1). Another study, conducted by
the Massachusetts Department of Education, found that, for homosexuals, the
high school years are filled with abuse, some of it self-inflicted. Gay and
lesbian teenagers are five times more likely to use cocaine
or skip school out of fear for safety than straight kids. Over thirty six percent
of homosexual teens will attempt suicide each year (Jerome, 1).
Conversion groups, usually run by religious denominations, are
becoming more widespread. The goal of these groups is to convert
homosexuals into heterosexuals, and in the meantime save them from the pits
of hell. Conversion groups thrive on the idea that homosexuality is
a choice, something about a person that can be changed. Some programs
include butching up the men and feminizing the women. This is done by
taking the males to sporting events and having make-up or shopping parties
or by pairing them with heterosexual ?mentors? to show them the way to act.
Others have gays and lesbians imagine members of the same sex as diseased,
or perform ?exorcisms?. These programs say they have about a one-third
success rate, success being when a homosexual is cured, that is when he or
she no longer acts on urges (Schoofs, 2).
Often, however, these therapies end up doing more harm than good, as
they did for Jeffrey Coates. He had been raised to believe that gay men go to
hell. So after his first sexual experience with a man, Coates joined a twenty
week conversion program called Desert Stream. He was recognized for
making excellent progress in his group, even though he admitted that he ?felt
absolutely no different inside?. He continued to try to become heterosexual
until he finally decided suicide was less of a sin than same-sex relationships.
He drank heavily one night and drove home on a narrow road, hoping to drive
into the canyon. Fortunately, he made it home alive (Schoofs, 1). Now
Coates is comfortable with his sexuality and does not regret his conversion
experience merely because it helped him come to terms with himself.
Another man, Brandon Bauer, could not be accepted as gay by his
Mormon peers. He attempted suicide at age seventeen, and soon after, he
was admitted into therapy under a Mormon psychologist. He told Bauer that
he was under ?Satan?s influence?, that Satan was making him believe that he
could not change. Bauer?s parents were instructed to remove all magazines
that might contain male underwear models and to time his showers to prevent
him from masturbating. He was told that God could forgive a murderer, but
He could never forgive a homosexual. ?It haunts me to this day,? he said.
Bauer began to live a double life, one as a heterosexual with kids and a wife,
and another as a homosexual who ?drinks and has sex.? Despite the fact that
he now accepts his sexuality, he admits that conversion therapy has
permanently scarred him (Schoofs, 3).
Many people wonder if these therapies actually work. This issue was
addressed by Ariel Shidlo and Michael Schroeder, two New York
psychologists. In their study, they found that five out of one hundred and fifty
people tested are happy with their conversion, but each of these people still
have homosexual urges (Miller, 2). It may be concluded that homosexuals
are not cured but merely suppressing their feelings. Often, as in the case of
Kelly Kirby, the attendees
end up meeting their future partners at the conversion meetings (Schoofs, 4).
?These ministries actually act as a transition place for many people to come
out and accept their gayness,? says Jeffrey Coates (Schoofs, 5).
The gay ?curing? movement is spreading because of actions like the
Christian Coalition and the Family Research Council?s joint effort in
launching a $200,000 ad campaign. The full-page ads feature photographs of
?ex-gays?, talk about ?the physical and spiritual consequences of sin? and
offer the solution of conversion therapy. This ?kinder, gentler homophobia?
was the brainchild of Janet Folger, who on Nightline, confessed to supporting
laws that criminalize homosexual sex, proving to some the true anti-gay hate
behind the facade of Christian love (Schoofs, 1).
In a study administered by Gallup, only thirteen percent of Americans
considered homosexuality as innate in 1977. By 1996, that number had
climbed to thirty one percent. The study also found that Americans are twice
as likely to accept homosexuality if they believe it was not a choice (Schoofs,
2). So, is it a choice? Scientific evidence says no. ?The evidence we now
have strongly suggests that this is determined. It?s not purely genetic, but
there doesn?t seem to be any choice in the matter. One thing that is clear is
that the brain of homosexuals and heterosexuals appear to be different.
Studies suggest that homosexuals in many cases developed neurologically in a
way that made them more likely to become homosexual,? reported University
of Massachusetts (Amherst) professor of neuroscience Geert J. De Vries
(Jerome, 2). More simply put, ?Ask some straight guy to imagine what it
would be like if he was told, ?You can?t love women and now you?re going to
have to love a guy.? Tell ?em that, and then they get it,? says Dave Lemon, a
man who tried for years to become heterosexual (Schoofs, 2). If it were a
choice, why would someone choose it?
Despite improvements in openness, such as the public ?coming out? of
Ellen Degeneres, many still say homosexuality is wrong. They might point to
anatomy. ?Our bodies are not made for homosexual sex,? says Michael
Johnston, president of the Kerusso Ministry, ?The anus was not to be
penetrated (Schoofs, 3).? What most people don?t seem to realize is that
?many heterosexuals practice anal sex, and that many gay men (not to
mention lesbians) never do.? Joseph Nicolosi, cofounder of NARTH, a
secular psychological organization, said, ?I think the penis was made for a
vagina: I don?t think it was made for another man?s rectum.? When Nicolosi
was ?asked if the penis was made for the hand or the mouth,? other body
parts where the penis is often found, he answered sharply, ?I don?t want to
get into that (Schoofs, 4).?
Some insist it is morally wrong or they point to the Bible, taking the
Scripture literally, and say it is a sin. Many believe marriage and
relationships are to be between a man and a woman. Some Americans are
concerned that the homosexual community will encourage their children to be
gay or lesbian. The Boy Scouts recently fought to ban gay scoutmasters.
Scout spokesman Gregg Sheilds said, ?A homosexual is not
a role model for traditional family values (Peyser, 2).? As for the religious
discrimination, ?The gay and lesbian community is still the community you
can blatantly attack and then hide behind the Bible,? said Rebecca Isaacs,
political director of
the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (Revival of Hatred, 1).
America is currently in a period of backward thinking,
the one step back after our two steps forward. Tolerance is the only way the
United States can become united at all. We must overcome our differences,
end discrimination and join this fight together. No one deserves to be
mistreated as homosexuals are today. Remember that all men were created
equal- even gay men.
Jerome, Richard. ?Growing up Gay?, People, August 17, 1998, p. 44
Lipsky, David. ?To be Young & Gay?, Rolling Stone, August 6,1998, p. 54
Miller, Mark. ?Going to War Over Gays?, Newsweek, July 27, 1998, p. 27
Peyser, Marc. ?Battling Backlash?, Newsweek, August 17, 1998, p. 50
Schoofs, Mark. ?Straight to Hell?, Village Voice, August 11, 1998, p. 56
?Revival of Hatred?, Progressive, August 1998, p. 10