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Re: [HoB/D] "new interpretations"
I am assuming that you consider yourself heterosexual. Correct?
Have you nevertheless experienced involuntary sexual arousal to males,
either in dreams or waking fantasies that interrupted you unawares?
I ask not out a prurient interest, but to assist clear communication
in which we all are equally vulnerable. I respect your desire to
know, and I listen carefully as you assert your views about my
experience. It would help to know how your own views, like ours,
might be shaped by experience as well as by conviction.
I have found that when people are willing to be vulnerable, to be
candid, that we often discover that we have been talking about
different things without knowing it.
I admit that I have no view about the biological arguments. I follow
what the disputants say with intellectual curiosity to be sure. I
sense they'll be arguing that long after I am dead and gone. By the
time I was 28, I chose not to sit waiting for someone else's answers.
What people had told me would be a 'passing phase' clearly was going
to stick around, despite all my efforts and self-loathing attempts to
make it go away.
The most obvious thing about my own genetics is that both parents were
heterosexuals who remained in love with each other until they both
died six months apart, 22 years ago. We know of only one uncle in
the generation before that who may have been gay, though he may have
been just eccentric. (For a long time that what's my parents hoped
would account for me!)
Kinsey noted in his 1948 study that one-third of all males had
experienced not just fantasy, but orgasm, in response to another male.
He also discovered that in terms of behavior, only 10% went on to have
the most of their sexual orgasms homosexually. That leaves 23% in
most conversations about this issue who are speaking from experience
that they have rejected, for whatever reason, as not their primary
(I realize that some dispute Kinsey's numbers, but since I am not
making a case based on quantity, let's stick with them for the moment
to attend to other questions his analysis highlights. I highlight
dynamics that remain the same even if you cut his numbers
All in that 23% are influenced by that experience in how they perceive
the witness of others. Some, for example, don't trust others who say
that they had not choice in being gay. In their hearts, with good
reason, some in the 23% know that they had a choice, and chose not to
act homosexually. "If I can do it, you can too," some of them say to
Others in that 23% realize that their experience may not match that of
all others who have behaved homosexually, that just as there are some
who never are attracted homosexually, there are some who never are
attracted heterosexually. Some recognized that a homosexual partner
was "more gay than I turned out to be."
Many social scientists say that all of us fall somewhere in between in
terms of biological orientation, with about 90%-95% -- for reasons
absolutely unfathomable to me personally -- experiencing the vast
majority of their attraction, involuntary as well as voluntary,
Kinsey worked out his famous scale of 0%-6% gay on a behavioral model.
You were homosexual, according to Kinsey's discussion, based on how
much of your adult sexual behavior over a period of years was
homosexual and how much was heterosexual.
I find it more helpful to look at orientation, since even celibates
have arousal. (Likely celibates have more frequent and persistent
arousal than do others who get release by acting on the arousal).
Quite arbitrarily, I define a homosexual orientation as the experience
of a mature adult who over several years experiences a majority of her
or his involuntary arousal homosexual. In my definition I stress
"involuntarily" because that is experience over which we exercise
minimal control (though presumably we can encourage arousal by what we
read or consciously think about; and our environment -- such as
same-gender schools, the military, or prisons -- may for a period
isolate us from stimuli that we would otherwise find more likely to
show up 'involuntarily').
I know several persons who involuntarily experience a majority of
their arousal from homosexual stimuli within the context of a
heterosexual marriage. Some of these consider themselves "cured
homosexuals," especially if the culture encourages them in that
explanation. Others of these consider themselves bisexuals (as indeed
the plumbing makes everyone) who have made a conscious choice to act
heterosexually. Those marriages have the best chance of fulfillment, I
think, if they have made that choice out of love for the heterosexual
partner and in honesty with that partner. Marriage is difficult
enough without bringing unnecessary burdens of deceit.
I was heterosexually married myself for five years. When my spouse
and I met (1965), I had never experienced arousal heterosexually. I
did not even know that I could, nor did she think I could. We were
both taken by surprise. I fell in love with a person, not an
identity. The marriage ended for reasons completely unrelated to
sexuality, and we both grieved. Throughout our marriage, I never did
experience heterosexual arousal with more than one of 8 pistons, but
that was quite adequate in our relationships -- from her assessment as
well as my own.
A few who are predominately heterosexual -- by my definition -- have
chosen to live in life-committed homosexual relationships, and in
those too, the marriages have the best chance of fulfillment, I think,
if they have made that choice out of love for the homosexual partner
and in honesty with that partner.
Obviously the societal stigma is so great that few would choose to
make open homosexual commitments who had a viable choice of a
heterosexual marriage, and few heterosexuals would want to have a
marriage with someone who predominately experienced arousal
Most of us like to think we are the one turning on our partners and
not have to compete with others they import through fantasy. It makes
mathematical sense that most people choose partners who share their
Fortunately mathematical sense is not the only kind at our disposal.
Much of love and attraction is a mystery, and I will be so glad when
we all start loving one another to allow holy mystery the affirmation
and respect it deserves.
Ernest and I met last weekend 30 years ago at the Atlanta YMCA. (No
celebrations now, please! We will celebrate on Feb. 2nd). We
courted for five months and then committed ourselves to each other on
Feb. 2, 1974, using the vows for marriage in the 1928 BCP (the only
one around at the time. We still find those pledges fearsome, awesome,
and integral as the tie that binds our hearts in Christan love. We
too each fell in love with a person, not an identity.
There is so little love in the world, it seems to me that we as a
society, and certainly we as a church, ought to affirm and encourage
life commitments wherever we find them.
Joy to you and all whom you love!
Lutibelle/Louie, L2 Newark, Member of Executive Council