It wasn't enough when the APA took homosexuality out of the DSM in 1974. Many folks were still convinced in the deviancy of homosexuality. Current reactions to research don't promise much improvement. Too many churches and too much money depends upon enforcing heterosexism. NARTH (National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality), Exodus International, and many other religious groups are denouncing the APA report. They state that any research affirming the queer people is bogus.
Indeed, research from the 1970s clearly found that:
[S]exual orientation (i.e., erotic attractions and sexual arousal oriented to one sex or the other, or both) was unlikely to change due to efforts designed for this purpose. Some individuals appeared to learn how to ignore or limit their attractions. However, this was much less likely to be true for people whose sexual attractions were initially limited to people of the same sex.Research shows that homosexuals cannot be changed into heterosexuals. As a matter of fact, an email I received from Soul Force this morning states: "Based on a rigorous review of 83 studies conducted between 1960 and 2007, the APA advised psychologists to avoid telling their clients that therapy or other treatments can change them from gay to straight."
Despite research findings, unfortunately, heterosexism absolutely infuses our culture, and yet many heterosexuals are blind to it. They say to me, "don't flaunt your homosexuality in front of me," and yet, as discussed in my earlier blog regarding Mother L, don't think it's a problem to prohibit me from holding hands with my loved one. Indeed, heterosexist attitudes, behaviors, and practices subordinate queer people simply on the basis of their sexual orientation.
Prejudice against queers and heterosexual privilege dominate every spectrum of society. Just as racism kept white people in power and patriarchy keeps white men in power, so does heterosexism keep heterosexuals dominate. Our media flaunts sexuality between men and women. Our movies portray it. Our songs declare it. Our newspapers and magazines portray. Simply singing "I kissed a girl and I like it" creates controversy. In innumerable ways each day, our society idealizes straightness and ignores or devalues the existence of any person or family who identifies otherwise.
According to the APA, those who attempted sexual attraction reassignment reported increased depression. When treatment failed, they also reported significant distress and negative self-image. Well, duh....
In addition, their resolution affirms "that same-sex sexual and romantic attractions, feelings, and behaviors are normal and positive variations of human sexuality regardless of sexual orientation identity." The benefits promised by groups pushing reorientation can be gained without going through their programs, encouraging inclusive organizations to meet social, spiritual and educational needs.
All I have left to say is: When was the last time you heard a debate about whether therapy and prayer can change a straight person to gay?