Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Sensitivity

Contributing to my retreat into homosexuality was that I was one of those sensitive, "artistic" children with neither the talent nor interest in any of the usual "masculine" pursuits. I hated physical activity--sports and games most of all--and when I would make an effort to be a part of the gang I would fail so miserably to perform well that for a long time afterward I would suffer from the shame of ineptitude.... I was a classic case in that I (later) felt out of place in a man's world, and comfortable and capable in a more esoteric environment.
Willam Aaron in his biography as quoted by
Joseph Nicolosi, Ph.D.
in Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality


I got straight A's through elementary school except one C in gym. I embarrassed myself with regularity in P.E. during middle school and by the time I got to high school I was all sorts of enthusiastic to avoid P.E. altogether by being in the marching band. I hated church basketball and softball because I couldn't handle being the charity case. My mom always told me I had "thin skin" and I shouldn't worry so much about what other people think. I was too sensitive, she said. As an adult, I've been told I "throw like a girl". I hate it when conversations turn to sports or cars during social events--topics I know virtually NOTHING about.

Compare that with my less masculine abilities. I love performing in theater, singing, playing the piano, I'm quite a good artist, I have a great eye for design and photography, and I like cooking and gardening. I'm damn good at all that stuff and I know it. People respect me when I, for example, have my art in a professional show, and I'm proud of myself. So proud, I occasionally feel smarter and more sophisticated than the guys who woop at Monday night football and talk up Harley Davidsons. I find myself alternately disdainful and envious of them at odd times.

I just can't get myself to believe there is nothing to what Nicolosi is getting at. Sure, he presents his info in a way that bothers me (pretty much all social sciences do), but if I get past that, it compels me.

10 comments:

Chris (hurricane) said...

L, your experience is not unique, as you know.

The reason Nicolosi's theories and approach have never held any appeal for me is because I wasn't uncomfortable in the world of boys and men. I was a moderately successful athlete and enjoyed sports. Even now, I'm conversant in the workings of the NFL, NBA and MLB (no interest in hockey... maybe because I can't see the men under those hockey sweaters and helmets very well!). I generally made friends with boys and girls equally well. I have issues with my parents--but who doesn't, gay or straight? Indeed, my comfort in the world of men, including some very close and satisfying friendships with men, and my inability to identify with things that I understood as "gay," contributed to my inability to accept the reality of my sexuality for so long.

My skepticism about reparative therapy, then, is rooted not only in my understanding of its failure to turn gay men straight, but also in its failure to explain my own experiences as boy and man.

Foxx said...

What is Nicolosi's definition of masculinity? As I understand it, the definitions and associations we assign to the idea of masculinity in Western Culture are in many ways socialized, and are not necessarily shared by other cultures.

-L- said...

Hurc, Chris has expressed similar sentiments in the past (LDSgayRM). Nicolosi recognizes that these patterns are not consistent with the experience of every gay man (I'll give the explicit quote in a later post), but the high correlation does indeed support his theory of cause and endorses his therapeutic approach.

Foxx, masculinity is having a big dick. No wait, I mean, masculinity is not defined explicitly by Nicolosi. And when he comes close I find myself annoyed at the sexism. So, I can appreciate to some extent the predicament any characterization of masculinity presents. It's kind of that Mars/Venus thing. One of the things he talks about is the masculine being more action oriented vs. the feminine ideal of beauty. Function vs. structure, so to speak. But trying to boil it down in the comment section is really a disservice to his view.

Foxx said...

Okay, don't shoot me, but I like chicken/egg paradoxes: what if Nicolosi's cause is actually an effect?

I wonder this because the things he says are so NOT part of my experience (that I have yet detected). Is it not probable that if a boy is born homosexual and is therefore more sensitive to the actions of his masculine role model, the father; he would view himself as having a "deficit in masculine identity" simply because his father could not relate to him (or vice versa)? That his explanation of the cause, and thereby a remedy, of being gay is just a result of the same mixed with the partially traumatic experience of not fitting in?

-L- said...

Good theory, Foxx. You should get a grant and study it! :)

Questioning whether it is a cause or an effect is precisely the kind of careful thinking scientists should be doing when they measure an association. No shooting of chickens or eggs by me.

The fact that reparative therapists argue they have helped hundreds of men change their orientation supports the idea that gay men are latent heterosexuals with outstanding issues... or, at least, that's what I imagine Nicolosi might say.

Beck said...

A "latent homosexual with outstanding issues"... now that my describe me because I also hated, detested and despised ward basketball and softball??? Because I also got straight A's in everything and C's in gym??? Because I hate motorcycles and only moderately follow college football, but no other sports??? Because I don't have a great relationship with my father???

Are these really what amounts to my envy, fascination and fixation on good looking men???

Beck said...

P.S. and to top it all off, I'm artistic and design for a living???

I just don't get it. There's got to be more to it that this circumstantial evidence...

Chris (hurricane) said...

Is it not probable that if a boy is born homosexual and is therefore more sensitive to the actions of his masculine role model, the father; he would view himself as having a "deficit in masculine identity" simply because his father could not relate to him (or vice versa)?

This is precisely the theory that many gay affirming therapists operate under. See Richard Isay, Being Homosexual: Gay Men and Their Development and Becoming Gay: The Journey to Self Acceptance..

Chris (hurricane) said...

L:

The fact that reparative therapists argue they have helped hundreds of men change their orientation supports the idea that gay men are latent heterosexuals with outstanding issues...

Apologies if I've missed this, but where is the data on the hundreds of men who have changed their orientation?

-L- said...

Funny you should ask, Hurc, since I just came across a published article this morning that quoted quite a high success rate for some success from reparative therapy (not necessarily full orientation change). Plus there's Spitzer's couple hundred. Cohen claims a couple hundred successful clients. My therapist claims a couple hundred.

I realize the biggest charge against reparative therapy is that they've produced no "scientifically rigorous" results. From what I've seen, results have been criticized because of poor selection criteria and loss to follow up. Sure, those criticisms hold meaning when you are talking about "rigorous" outcomes, but the methodological flaws don't negate the results altogether. There have been MANY men--perhaps thousands who claim to have successfully changed. Even when adjusting for secondary gain or social pressures, I believe there have been real results. Nicolosi certainly does. And that's why his theory takes the cause/effect relationship in the direction it does.