The Conundrum of The Ex-Gay Bias

The article ‘Why Gays Cannot Speak for Ex-gays‘ by Dr. Joseph Nicolosi on the existence and prevalence of the ex-gay bias is rather illuminating. He was invited to be interviewed by a British television network about efforts concerning sexual-orientation change but declined the offer after finding out the show’s host was a gay man. Dr. Nicolosi writes:

To refuse participation because the host is gay may seem unreasonable, until we recognize that the adoption of a gay identity typically prevents someone from honestly assessing the experience of the other man who has taken a different developmental route– i.e., the ex-gay person.

He then goes on to describe the general coming-out process that most gay people go through with stunning simplicity and clarity, revealing that this entire experience contributes to the formation of an inherent bias:

According to the literature, the “coming out of the closet” process begins in early adolescence with the discovery of same-sex attraction. The teenager then usually rejects his homosexual feelings because of the negative social values around him. His painful and lonely efforts to suppress, repress and deny his feelings result in guilt and shame, which eventually culminates in self-loathing.

But shortly thereafter, this teenager discovers that there are others like him, and often through the support and encouragement of a gay counselor, coach, teacher or religious leader, he decides that gay is “who he is.” The adoption of this gay identity necessitates the abandonment of any hope that he could ever modify his unwanted feelings and develop his heterosexual potential. He must surrender his earlier wish that he could have a conventional marriage and family. So in order to internalize this gay identity he must mourn the possibility of ever resolving his unwanted homosexuality; i.e., he must grieve the loss of what he yearned for.

It is this process of grieving his own hopes and mourning his own dreams which prevents the person who later identifies as gay from believing that change is possible for others: “If I myself could not change, how could they?” Perhaps on a deeper level, this thought is also rooted in anger: “If I cannot have what I wanted for my own life, neither should they.”

I found this extremely insightful because I never really knew why ex-gays were treated with so much disdain (and sometimes outright revulsion) by other people who identified as lesbian or gay. They are viewed by gays as sexually confused people at best and ‘traitors’ to the cause at worst. This article has certainly cast some light on the rationale behind the dislike and discrimination ex-gays face.

Ultimately, I think this boils down to whether you believe homosexuality is determined by your genes at birth or a gender identity disorder; whether it is a preference encoded in your DNA or a type of psychological problem that requires medication and therapy. If you think homosexuality is an in-born trait, then you would denounce ex-gays as people who are repressing their natural instincts, whereas if you think same-sex attractions are learned behaviour or due to a psychological disorder, then the existence of ex-gays would not be totally inconceivable and in fact, proof that homosexuality is more of a choice than immutable characteristic.

The words of Loh J. in the recent case of Tan Eng Hong v. Attorney-General [2013] SGHC 199 at para. 63, 64 are telling of the general attitude towards homosexuality in Singapore:

In summary, having perused some of the past and contemporaneous medical and other scientific literature available, I am unable to agree with Mr Ravi that homosexuality is, on a balance of probabilities, a natural and immutable attribute. I am satisfied that the medical and scientific evidence has been for some time and remains to this day divided and inconclusive at best. A full appreciation of the controversy in this field leads me to the inevitable conclusion that given the way the Plaintiff has chosen to conduct his case, I am simply not in an appropriate position to pronounce on whether homosexuality is a human attribute or a result of nurture or a lifestyle choice, much less on whether it is immutable or not.

Consequently, since I am unable to find for Mr Ravi on the factual assertion that homosexuality is a natural, immutable attribute, the next stage of Mr Ravi’s submission – viz, that legislation criminalising conduct which is tied to a natural and immutable human attribute is absurd and against the fundamental rules of natural justice – is moot.

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About SingaporeLDW

Breaking the authority of chaos...
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