Thursday, October 1, 2009
Growing Up Straight
(continued from here...)
[WARNING; some pretty horrible stuff is said in this book about homosexuals. I'm reading/writing about this out of my own morbid curiosity and a need to delve into the roots of my culture's homophobia. But please be warned, it may be upsetting.]
"The possibility that one's child may become a homosexual seems, to Americans, as remote as it is repugnant. Yet the unpleasant truth is that homosexuality is surprisingly common in our culture..." -Stanley F. Yolles, (Director, Nat Institute of Mental Health 1964-1970.)
Thus begins this fascinating/disturbing book, written in 1968, no longer in print and sadly NOT found in the Goodreads archive. Which disappoints me... every page contains some shining example of sexism, homophobia, misogynism or whatnot, and I REALLY wish I could do those little 140 character updates that Goodreads allows for.
I'll just have to blog about it.
The two major assertions of this book: 1) Homosexuality IS a mental disorder. And 2) Homosexuality IS curable and preventable. And the bottom line is that Mom and Dad need to drop their drawers and bend over for a really good spanking for the sin of making their offspring gay. "Bad Mom!!" (for being seductive, incestuous, overbearing, and overprotective.) "Bad Dad!!" (for being a weakling, unable to protect the child from the ill effects of Mom.) Thus the authors delve into the parental pathology that created such a revolting aberration in their children. (Except where the authors do a bit of head scratching over the cases in which parents who where not "severely disturbed" somehow produced homosexual sons. The authors seems to feel that if the psychoanalyst probed deep enough, some parental defect would be found.)
Well, I'm reading this book mostly because of Elder Hafen's recent talk on the subject (a response to the APA's removal of homosexuality from it's list of Mental Disorders.) His own wording is much more circumspect, more sensitive to the feelings of the person with same sex attraction than is the tone of Growing Up Straight (and he thankfully leaves the sins of the parents out of the equation). I don't think he ever once refers directly to homosexuality as a disorder, no... he tiptoes back and forth, weaving in and out, bending over backwards in the sharing his personal feelings of sympathy for the suffering individual. Then goes into his conviction that homosexuality should NOT have been removed from the APA's list of mental disorders.
See... the operative word through out Hafen's talk is SUFFER. The poor individual has this terrible burden, sorrow and misery etc... which is fitting if the individual has a Mental Disorder. They SHOULD be suffering. If they are not... well then, what the hell does that mean? For although Hafen is much more sympathetic, like the authors of Growing Up Straight, he has no language to discuss the happy well adjusted homosexual person. (In Growing Up Straight, the authors briefly mention Hooker's research indicating homosexuals are as well adjusted as heterosexuals, but didn't have much positive to say about it, viewing it as an anomaly and poorly researched).
When I compare this to the recent efforts to de-stigmatize homosexuality, even in middle school, to help kids make the adjustment, gain the knowledge, gain the confidence and the understanding etc... all the stuff that DECREASES the suffering...
I have a feeling that's sort of inspired-by-the-advisary activism Hafen indicates should be avoided.
If they aren't suffering...
Then... maybe... (/hushed whisper...) homosexuality is NOT a Mental Disorder....?!