The homosexual brain

It is easier to maintain that we have free will than it is to demonstrate
with certainty that any decision which we make is actually free. Behind it
lies a vast hinterland of unconscious causes: uncritical assumptions,
forgotten memories, genetic influences, values absorbed – some in infancy,
the persuasive power of the culture or subculture within which we live. Even
when we are confident that a decision is free we can still be aware of
multiple, and perhaps less worthy, motivations.

I will have reason to return to aspects of this difficult question on other
occasions, but here I want to look at a particular feature about which we
are learning more from day to day. Whatever our decisions, the brain is
involved. It is the vehicle or medium through which we work. The rapid
developments in different ways to scan the brain are now providing methods
of diagnosis and analysis of how parts of the brain function and
interrelate. But we are only as yet on the borders of understanding how such
an extraordinarily complex organ works.

A particularly interesting piece of work has recently been done on the brain
structure of male and female homosexuals. Hitherto experiments in different
brain activity have been usually done by measuring it in response to various
stimuli. These do provide information but they lack the uncontaminated
objective information which is required. Ivanka Savic and Per Lindström at
the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm have now made good progress in this
field.

Twenty-five heterosexuals and 20 homosexuals from each gender underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans which display different internal structures. Heterosexual men and homosexual women proved to have asymmetrical brains with the right hemisphere slightly enlarged. Homosexual men and heterosexual women had symmetrical brains. For further tests, positron emission tomography (PET) which shows functional processes was used to measure blood flow to the amygdala, which plays a central role in the emotions. By mapping the connections between the amygdala and other brain locations it was detected that in heterosexual men and homosexual women the signals mainly passed to regions which triggered action. By contrast, signals from heterosexual women and homosexual men preferred regions associated with mood and anxiety.

This is significant because women are three times as likely than men to
suffer from mood disorders and depression. Increased rates are present in
homosexual men too, but in this case it is difficult to separate the effects
of negative social pressures from biological brain processes. So that
question, although suggestive, remains open.

Another question which remains open is whether these different structures
and processes are inherited or a result of levels of exposure to hormones in
the womb (which could also be indirectly genetic). But what is not open to
question, provided that similar studies confirm these phenomena, is that
brain differences are strongly associated with sexual orientation. This does
not exclude environmental factors external to the womb playing some part.
And I stress here that more studies are needed not only to replicate the
experiment but to apply its methodology to, for instance, bisexuals, or to
those whose orientation only becomes a factor when they are confined to
same-sex company.

Can sexual orientation be changed? This biological difference suggests not,
and the existing research into attempts to change give very little
encouragement that this can in general be so. And arguably they may not be
desirable if they set up a tension between a biologically based tendency and
an unreachable aspiration.

The Catechism describes the homosexual orientation as ³intrinsically
disordered² (2357ff). In the absence of biological knowledge at the time of
drafting it was of course described only as a psychological condition. One
has to question in what respects an inclination harmonised with brain
structure should be described as intrinsically disordered. Its incidence may
be statistically abnormal, but then so is having red hair.

One would expect that homosexuality would gradually breed itself out of society, but it clearly hasn¹t. One theoretical suggestion, based on computer modelling (Andrew Campario, Padua University) is that a combination of genes, one of which at least would need to be on the X (female) chromosome, could produce a small but permanent proportion of homosexuals.

Does this presence of the homosexual tendency have any benefit for society?

Leaving aside some cultures which have found this to be so, the answer is
complex because social prejudice can distort homosexual behaviour. I would
speculate that a homosexual orientation in the caring professions (and I
would include the priesthood) could have advantages. And many of us know
stable homosexual relationships which clearly make valuable contributions.
The part that homosexuals have contributed to the artistic and creative
aspects of our culture is immense. I would argue that this is because of,
and not in spite of, their orientation.

Civil Partnerships, in my view, confuse the issue. There is a strong case
for extending the tax benefits and financial security they offer to a wider
range of those who are in interdependent relationships  – elderly sisters who
share a household, for instance, or a permanent carer of an elderly
relative. To make these benefits dependent only on presumed sexual
orientation, apart from the clear injustice of the discrimination,
reinforces the idea that homosexuals are a group on the margins of society
and not truly part of it.

I am aware that any questions concerning homosexuality can provoke emotional responses. But one of the purposes of this column is to separate emotions from clear thinking, and so get nearer to the truth. In a previous column, on natural law, I described how growing knowledge of nature could require us to modify our conclusions. So here is an opportunity to comment on this, and to give us the benefits of your thoughts on the Church’s attitude towards homosexuality.

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About Quentin

Science Editor, Catholic Herald. Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
This entry was posted in Bio-ethics, Catholic Herald columns, Moral judgment. Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to The homosexual brain

  1. fraynelson says:

    Quentin,

    There is a logical gap between detecting biological differences and declaring some behaviour as inevitable–and therefore impossible to be enforced or prohibited.

    Think of this. Some scientists detect that serial-killers share a common neural pattern in some subregion of the brain. Should that change our moral assessment of their acts?

  2. Should an existing neural pattern change our moral assessment of an act?, asks Fraynelson. (Welcome to the blog by the way.)
    As it happens my article made no reference to homosexual acts but only to orientation.
    In the heady stratosphere through which only moral theologians fly, there is a Thomistic distinction between malum, peccatum and culpa. Thus a neural pattern related to serial killing would be a malum (we might call it a disability or a disorder). Peccatum would occur if the malum were exercised, but done so in ignorance of its wrongfulness or under a compulsion which removed freewill. Culpa would be when the act, known to be wrong, was chosen freely. Only at the culpa stage, of course, is blame present – although at the peccatum stage evil occurs.
    A homosexual (genital) act falls under the general prohibition of sexual expression outside marriage.
    I throw out for debate whether the homosexual temperament in itself has a benefit to offer society, and is genetically preserved (at a controlled level) because of its potential value.

  3. fraynelson says:

    Quintin,

    With all respect, I believe your presentation was misleading, especially inasmuch as you were trying to foster the debate skecthing a sort of opposition between science and the Catechism. That is the kind of thing the Curch’s foes long to see spreading out.

    As for the homosexual temperament, it is a most interesting point in its own right, and can be traced back to Plato, to say the least. My own conviction, however, is that the conditions of origin of many astounding works is not truly indispensable.

  4. RM Blaber says:

    I must rank as one of the Church’s foes in Fraynelson’s eyes, I regret to say, for I believe there is an opposition between science and the Catechism on this matter and indeed between sanity and the Catechism on this matter.
    The Church bases its opposition to homosexual acts on the belief that any sexual activity (a) outside marriage and (b) closed to the possibility of reproduction is intrinsicare malum. The Church denies marriage even to heterosexual couples if either one of them is known to be infertile. A number of disabled people have been refused marriage for this very reason.
    It is clear that the crucial issue for the Church is (b). Sex has to be open to the possibility of reproduction if it is to be justifiable, as far as the hierarchy is concerned.
    So masturbation is a sin, oral and anal sex are sinful – even for heterosexual, married couples. If married couples use artificial methods of contraception – that’s sinful.
    I think this is clearly and self-evidently untrue. In fact, I think it’s pure nonsense. Sex is primarily unitive and hedonic, as far as we humans are concerned, and only secondarily reproductive. We are the masters of our reproductive biology, not its slaves, and there is no need for us to act as though we were.
    The differences in neuroanatomy and brain function between hetero- and homosexual males and females, as well as the genetic differences that have been discovered, provide strong evidence that homosexuality is innate, and not a matter of choice.
    I am gay, because God made me gay. I have Asperger Syndrome and epilepsy, because God made me that way, too.
    The Church should not despise or condemn what God has made, but rejoice in it. I should not be asked, or expected, to be celibate, as I have been for the past 28 years, because the Church thinks that gayness is ‘intrinsically disordered’ and gay sex goes against the natural order. It doesn’t – not if God makes gays!

  5. kouin says:

    Brain examinations of Priest showed much the same results, but as the reasons for the tests were different the comments on the facts were also.

  6. fraynelson says:

    RM,

    I don’t see you as my enemy, yet I cannot see my mind closer than it is to the Catechism.

    My initial comment was really simple in form and content. I only pointed to the logical gap in Quentin’s reasoning. This does not imply that he was covering the whole issue of homosexuality, let alone my comment.

    **********

    Kouin,

    May I ask you to elaborate a bit more? I am a priest myself. Thank you.

  7. Horace says:

    “human sex is primarily unitive and hedonic, and only secondarily reproductive”
    what is the evidence for this statement?
    I would have thought that
    “human sex is primarily reproductive, and only secondarily unitive and hedonic” was much more ‘obvious’.

  8. I am always on my guard when I see the terms ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ being used because people often disagree because they are using the words in different senses.
    At a biological level one can reasonably use the argument that, in common with other species, the central phenomenon is mating. As we see in nature documentaries the whole cycle of the life of a species is ordered to its continuance through reproduction. If we, quite reasonably, apply this to humans, we are right to call their reproductive mating primary. All the accompaniments: sexual attraction, love which enhances commitment etc are at the service of this objective – and so are secondary.
    But Genesis shows us a different picture. Here we are told that it is not good for man to be alone, and so Eve is created to be his companion and his helper. This relationship is then expressed in the sexual embrace (because they are to be two in one flesh) and the fruit of their intimacy is the procreation of children. In this reading, which we must presume is God’s story, primacy resides in the relationship of loving companionship between man and woman. I hesitate to call reproduction secondary but I would call it the fruit of the love which is the tree, and so its source.
    This is why a marriage which turns out not to be fertile is every bit as sacrosanct as one which is. The love of the biologically infertile couple is spiritually and psychologically fertile in other ways.

  9. Horace says:

    Thank you for that explanation (of ‘primary’ vs ‘secondary’).
    Now here is another worry – what is the meaning of ‘intrinsically disordered’? This phrase is used three times in the Catechism but not explained. Is, for example, someone suffering from schizophrenia ‘intrinsically disordered’?

  10. phranthie says:

    I believe it is a statistical error to attribute comparatively more worthy artistic expression to those of a homosexual orientation. The simple explanation of the prevalence of this belief is that the homosexual notices more, and likes to highlight, those whom he believes to be both homosexual and artistic.

    It is also being unkind to all the multitude of heterosexuals in the caring professions to suggest that the homosexuals have some sort of special gifts for these professions. This is not to say that homosexuals don’t bring proportionally as much talent, endeavour, and compassion into these vocations as anyone else.

  11. dyoung says:

    This study seems to be very small. Only 45 people. I would have to say more research was needed for this to be in any way conclusive. I have another problem with the study. They claimed to have 20 homosexuals and 25 hetrosexuals. Homosexual brains mirrored the brains of their hetrosexual opposites. Later on Quentin you say “homosexual orientation in the caring professions could have advantages.” These two points emphasize the notion that men who are “gay” are effeminate/effeminate men are “gay”. Being in the theatrical business I have had known many “gays” and effeminate males and my experiances have led me to conclude that being gay doesn’t always equate to being effeminate and visa versa. So it begs the question; did the study have a varied group of “gays” or were they looking only at the brains of effeminate men.

    I am afraid I agree most with Peter Thatchell on this issue. He does not believe there is a genetic cause to homosexuality and neither do I . However, like Thatchell I do believe that there are genetical factors that can influence it but not cause it ( See his article on spiked online. I don’t know how to do links. It is an old article so you will have to do a search under homosexuality). However this can apply to all sin. Recently on the radio I have listened to the many obese people cry out that there weight is not their problem. They have an addictive disorder. Infact since man has accepted the materalistic ideology, Original Sin has been replaced by the notion that lust, anger, greed, ect are caused either by genes or nurture. These will be redeemed by medicine and socialism and man alone will create a new heaven on earth.

    Catholicism however states that all human beings are intrinsically disordered. God created us perfect but our forefathers caused disorder. The heart of that disorder is this; God created man as mind, body and soul. The soul of man was intimatly linked to God and through this communion all his actions and thoughts were wholesome. When man rejected God or as the catechism puts it “preferred” himself to God he lost God’s grace and so his soul died. This created disorder. Before the fall man governed his bodily appetites and after the fall they govern him each according to his make-up. Some suffer sexual deviances, some envy, others greed, vanity. These do not make you evil but if they cause you to sin the sin darkens your mind and weakens your will which in turn leads to more sin and all in all a constant downward spiral. The Church discribes this as slavery to sin which feels intrinsic to our being. In other words it is an addiction. However the churches solution is to follow Jesus through the sacraments, listening to his word, prayer and the carrying of our crosses ( sometimes the cure will involve suffering and struggle. I liken it in my mind to chemotherepy. Sin is like a cancer but sometimes the cure causes us more suffering than the disease.)

    We are all free to choose either world view. However if the materalistic world view is the truth we have to face up to the fact that some people are predisposed to do evil. If this is the case is it rational to allow such people to remain alive and reproduce when thier very existance is a threat to a peaceful society. But I am not the first post-Darwinain person to arrive at such logic. The eugenics movement is built around this premises.

    I know I have rambled enough but one last thought. All though as with most of my thoughts none are original. (It’s just I can’t remember from whom I gleamed such wisdom) This is in regards to weather the unitive or sexual nature of sex is primary or secondary. I cannot better Quentin’s response which was spot on. the comment I would like to make is that throughout history man falls into heresy not by believing a lie but by believing a half truth. For example Jesus is not “God disguised as man nor is he just a man. He is true God and true man – both. We are not saved by either works or faith we are saved by works and faith. And so on with all the countless heresies through the ages and so it is with the sexual heresies of today. Sex is not just precreative nor is it is only unitive, it is intrinsically both.

  12. Just a couple of technical points, at this stage, on dyoung’s comments above. The study I described was 90 people, that is 45 from each gender. This is actually quite a large number for this sort of study. But, as I intimated, it needs replication by other scientists. It’s straightforward to insert a link: just put in the full email address and it will automatically translate when the comment is submitted. I am just doing it here with my personal web site, You’ll see how it comes out. Try it and see. http://www.quentindelabedoyere.com

  13. dyoung says:

    Thank-you Quentin. the link to Thatchell’s article for those that may be interested is http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php?/site/article/5375/

  14. Horace asks for the meaning of ‘intrinsically disordered’. His question relates to its usage in the Catechism, and elsewhere. There is of course a broad sense in which we are all intrinsically disordered because we suffer from the effects of Original Sin. Thus we share a predisposition to sin with which we have to battle on our road to salvation. dyoung (see above) has a valuable description of this. But in a more particular sense it refers to a pre-disposition to an activity which cannot, by its nature, have a good as its object. Examples may help.
    I have a predisposition to heterosexuality, and this draws me towards heterosexual acts. But these can be good (expression of love in marriage) or bad (adultery). So there is nothing intrinsically disordered here. But the teaching of the Catechism is that homosexual acts are wrong by their nature. That is, they inevitably involve the misuse of sexuality by diverting it from its proper purpose. We cannot judge the level of blame in a person who commits a homosexual act, but the act is always objectively evil. And so a prevailing disposition which draws an individual towards an objectively evil act is an intrinsically disordered one.
    To get deeper into this you may like to look at passages from Veritatis Splendor (JPII’s encyclical of 1993). Sections 79-83 are helpful, and it’s easiest just to put the name into Google.

  15. kouin says:

    Excuse’s for the brevity. Low -level electro magnetic waves or ELFs -computers, televisions and radios increase cancer, homonal changes , disorders of the nervous system, stress and anxiety.

  16. I have recieved an email question directly from one of you, and I have replied directly. However I like to keep as much as possible on the blog so that we can all benefit. The question was whether or not Chriatians had inherited an acceptance of homosuxality from their Roman and Greek past. This is the answer I gave.

    “It is certainly true that homosexuality was practised in New Testament times, and equally clear that it was condemned as unnatural. You may like to look at this article, which discusses the passages in St Paul on the question. http://www.beliefnet.com/story/143/story_14380_1.html
    And I think it is what we should expect given the growth of Christianity out of Judaism, in which of course homosexuality was condemned. Nor do I know of any point since then when Catholic authority has accepted homosexual acts as anything other than sinful.
    I suspect that the modern interest in homosexuality has come about because our society in general has separated the necessary connection between sex and marriage, thus leaving it free to consider homosexual acts as no longer a moral question. An additional factor is that homosexual orientation is more often thought not to be a matter of choice but an ingrained characteristic for which the owner is not responsible.
    In many ways I think it to be a great pity that homosexuality has now become such a big issue, especially in the Anglican Communion. It deflects us from the much more central command of love of God and neighbour. Homosexuality is rather low down the scale of importance, in my book.
    Do put questions like this on secondsightblog. If you have a question then it’s possible that other people have the same query.
    Regards
    Quentin “

  17. Horace says:

    Re my question [Is, for example, someone suffering from schizophrenia ‘intrinsically disordered’?] It seems that the short answer is NO.

    Schizophrenia can be defined as: “a psychiatric diagnosis that describes a mental disorder” but this use of the word ‘disorder’ is quite different from the usage ‘intrinsically disordered’ – defined above by Quentin as “a pre-disposition to an activity which cannot, by its nature, have a good as its object”.
    Consulting the Merriam-Webster Dictionary I find ‘disorder’ defined as:- “not functioning in a normal orderly healthy way” with the alternative “morally reprehensible” flagged as obsolete.

    Schizophrenia is a distressing disease with which I am well familiar through friends, acquaintances, colleagues, and employees, (as well as patients) but although disordered in the sense of ‘not functioning in a normal orderly healthy way’ it is not disordered in the sense of involving any particular predisposition to evil or immoral activity.
    It does however have a genetic component and is associated with structural differences in the brain and to that extent is similar to what is being suggested here as the case in the homosexual brain.

    It is plausible to suggest that homosexuality may simply be a mental disorder which happens to manifest itself as a predisposition to having sexual relations with an individual of the same sex.

    When thinking about what else might be an example of an ‘intrinsically disordered’ condition (disposition) the obvious suggestion is paedophilia. There is no argument (in our society) that paedophilia involves a particular predisposition to immoral(criminal) activity.
    As in the case of homosexuality and schizophrenia, there is evidence both of a genetic component and of structural differences in the brain.

    So:-
    If homosexuality is a mental disorder which involves a predisposition (but not a compulsion) to certain forms of behavior which we identify as evil or immoral, then should we characterise homosexuality as ‘intrinsically disordered’?

    If paedophilia is a mental disorder which involves a predisposition (but not a compulsion) to certain forms of behavior which we identify as evil or immoral, then should we characterise paedophilia as ‘intrinsically disordered’?

  18. Horace’s analysis is helpful, I would say that if a tendency to paedophilia is a result of a psychological or neurological characteristic then it would be described as an “intrinsic disorder”, because it is hard to see how it can have anything other than an evil objective. (Remember that this is “churchspeak”, so has to be understood in its technical meaning.)

    My question is that if the neurological changes associated with homosexuality have a value to society and so might be used for purposes other than homosexual acts, how should we regard the tendency than?

  19. Iona says:

    There seems to be an assumption that structural brain differences determine, or at least explain, differences in behaviour between individuals; hence that differences in brain structure between male and female heterosexuals, and the similarities in brain structure of male homosexuals and female heterosexuals, determine or at least explain their sexual orientation.

    Remember the excitement a few years ago (or maybe it was decades) when it was discovered that London taxi-drivers had a hugely developed part of the brain, linked to their knowledge of the enormous complex of streets which they spend their days driving around? This difference in brain structure did not determine their choice of job, nor even explain it; the structural brain difference had developed hand-in-hand with their increasing knowledge of the London geography.

    Perhaps the brain structures associated with sexual orientation have similarly developed hand-in-hand with the individuals’ pursuit of specific gender-related interests over a period of years, and do not in themselves explain these interests.

  20. kouin says:

    i prefer to think in the terms of consciousness and those layers intermingled in our brains with instinctual persona recognition. A sexual thought is a basic need that pushes layers to the fore-a need engages with the conscious and fore of another which is where second sight plays it part…i dare say it can sometimes be too late.

    It is merely then incorrect and not immoral. Incorrectness is to be tolerated and forgiven.
    The only trouble is with predatorial homo-sex.
    I suppose my answer is mixing up the sexes at school age. It would go a long way to preventing mono-psyche developments.
    Also Faith schools, that is Multi -Faith schools with the Faiths taught to the levels were philosophy and the tricks of different languages come to play.
    I mean look at N.Ireland where every school is one or the other!
    All in all homosexuality in a society shows a healthy society.
    I would’nt be laughing at been locked up for 42 days by load of legal perfectionists who being securely locked in their own closets were demanding daily I reveal my darkest secrets! God Bless.

  21. Lucius says:

    Whether or not there is a “homosexual brain” is, of course, something for science to determine although I don’t think this has been determined yet. However assuming there is an HB, this does not determine the moral question. After all we don’t throw up our hands, when a person has an extra 21st chromosome with the remark, “Oh well he/she is just born that way.” Because the damage is manifest in that case, there is a massive scientific effort to cure this syndrome.

    The argument that an HB closes the moral issue on homosexuality denies that this is not normal and that there is damage. We have a whole sub-culture trumpeting the same. Of course this dovetails with the contraception-issue because there is a normal, an order to sexuality. The order is procreative and complimentary involving male/female. Hence to be born with a predisposition to disorder is not a good thing.

    Human beings are not gods and try as they might they cannot simply establish their own order without damage to the human person. Hence the importance of the novel Frankenstein which raised this problem a long time ago. Moreover try as it might the culture cannot gloss over that the homosexual lifestyle is anything but gay and the attempts to define one’s worth and raison d’etre by that lifestyle leads to great unhappiness and human suffering.

  22. Horace says:

    I deliberately bracketed homosexuality with schizophrenia and paedophilia because the first is a disorder which I think few, if any, people would consider in any way ‘evil’ while the second I thought most people would unequivocally consider ‘evil’ (or at least criminal).

    I realise that there are people who would not consider homosexuality a ‘disorder’ at all. Nevertheless I was slightly shattered to encounter a reference as follows:-
    Dr. Frits Bernard,. “The Dutch Paedophile Emancipation Movement”. Paidika: The Journal of Paedophilia volume 1 number 2, (Autumn 1987), p. 35-4. “Heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality and paedophilia should be considered equally valuable forms of human behavior.”
    [I have not been able to read a copy of this Journal article although I believe one is held in the British Library]

    This rather extreme viewpoint aside, the question becomes:-
    If the neurological changes associated with homosexuality have a value to society and might be used for purposes other than homosexual acts should we consider it a disorder more akin to schizophrenia than paedophilia?

    Two examples of individuals whose careers suggest that a homosexual tendency might be of value to society are Rudolf Nureyev (in the world of Ballet) and Alan Turing (in the world of Science).

    I do not know how one could go about testing the hypothesis that Nureyev’s performance as a dancer was related to his homosexuality [although I know many people would consider this obvious].

    In the case of Alan Turing, when I was a Senior Lecturer in Edinburgh University my Professor had been a colleague of Turing at Bletchley Park and I discussed this subject with him after reading the book by Andrew Hodges.
    He was adamant; firstly that Turing’s homosexuality had been exaggerated, and secondly that there was no possible relation between this and his performance as a mathematician and scientist [although, again, this assertion is difficult to prove].

    I suppose it might be possible to collect a large number of ‘gay’ individuals and pair them with a similar number of controls to test statistically the hypothesis that homosexuality confers a positive advantage in other fields but the organisational difficulties involved in eliminating selection and classification bias would be formidable!

  23. giton says:

    I was a Catholic since age 19. The reasons for becoming a Catholic were complex and there’s not enough room here to elaborate. I am no longer a Catholic, having become tired of being labelled ‘intrinsically disordered’ even with the added ‘but deeply respected’ of the present pope.

    One of the great problems the Catholic Church has to face throughout history is when it comes to understand that it has been wrong. It has to struggle, always looking over its shoulder, with keeping up the appearance of being an infallible organisation … I’m sure you can all come up with examples over the centuries of reversals of belief through practice.

    I now no longer care much (though still like to keep track of Catholic affairs) about what happens in the Church concerning sexuality other that to bemoan the fact that the Church’s centuries long practice has helped fuel the evil that gave us and still gives credence to beliefs that homosexuals are ‘untermenschen’ even if ‘deeply respected’.

    I find it almost laughable that writers and thinkers concoct discussions on whether homosexuality affects the lives of Turing, Nureyev, Michaelangelo or whoever. And how do you come to terms with notions such as “… Turing’s homosexuality had been exaggerated …”

    We are people, created by and for God (if that is your belief) and these spurious academic arguments are, in my view, little more that a form of mental masturbation.

  24. Ascylto says:

    Lucius writes “Moreover try as it might the culture cannot gloss over that the homosexual lifestyle is anything but gay and the attempts to define one’s worth and raison d’etre by that lifestyle leads to great unhappiness and human suffering.”

    You seem to misunderstand the term ‘gay’ as being a descriptive term using the older meaning. My understanding is that it never was that; rather, it was ‘stolen’ as a word which had no particular sexual connotation. Of course, it failed because the term would attract sexual meaning whatever form of letters was used.

    The reasons which lead to “… great unhappiness and human suffering.” are the constructs of the mainly heterosexual majority who need to have a scapegoat … Jews, Gays, Gypsies, Blacks … whichever is fashionable.

  25. Alternative euphemisms for homosexual have always caused annoyance to someone. I make it a habit just to use the term homosexual. Only the paranoid could object to that – and no one ever has. The tone of comments on this subject, despite disagreement and strong feelings, has always been one of thoughtful courtesy. I am sure this will continue.

  26. kouin says:

    Giton’s comments are a bit pessimistic and I hope reflect a mood and not a philosophy.
    Mental masturbation ? It is stimulating my response and your response. Gentle ‘in the box’ personalising, we are not changing the world here.
    The Catholic church is catholic … it is different wherever you go no matter how hard they try and define it or regulate it.
    Here, we feel the mood of Quentin and respect as best we can his boundaries.
    What’s okay during a fasting period with the local priest in Holy week won’t seem right in an open or no faith setting.
    When I went to confession for the first time in 10 years the priest asked if before whilst waiting I’d mentally rehearsed my sins. I said yes. He said that was me talking to God.
    I had to shop around before finding ‘this feller’.

  27. Ascylto says:

    Due to a mix-up with passwords I am both Ascylto and giton!

    In reply to ‘kouin’ my comments are, to use his words, a philosophy and not merely reflecting a current mood. I’ve had 40 years to think about what I’ve said. I’m sorry, but I have difficulty following your thought processes as written.

    I quite agree with Quentin in that the use of homosexual is far better than the euphemisms.

    I found this information which, for me, sums up how the Christian ethic has despoiled what for some Native Americans was a means of looking at the ‘whole’ person …

    The term “Two-Spirit” refers to a belief among some tribes that there are people who manifest both masculine and feminine spiritual qualities. According to Native American scholars, many tribes once revered Two-Spirits, viewing them as a third gender with a special spiritual connectedness. In these tribes, Two-Spirits filled important tribal roles as counsellors, storytellers and healers.

    This belief, scholars have also observed, has been eroded in many places by the imposition of Judeo-Christian views of homosexuality as sinful.

    “Homophobia was taught to us as a component of Western education and religion,” Navajo anthropologist Wesley Thomas has written. “We were presented with an entirely new set of taboos, which did not correspond to our own models and which focused on sexual behavior rather than the intricate roles Two-Spirit people played. As a result of this misrepresentation, our nations no longer accepted us as they once had.”

    And it is this dissection of the human being and concentration on sexuality as the defining part which I find deeply disturbing. The Catholic Church has for centuries had problems with sexuality and, more recently, the Anglicans seem to struggle with and get all ‘schismatic’ about it. My sexuality, along with that of Alan Turing, Rudolf Nureyev, Tchaikovsky, W H Auden, John Maynard Keynes, Walt Whitman, Gertrude Stein and Freddie Mercury … is NOT defining of me as an individual (especially as all those people and more are MUCH cleverer than me!).

    It is this very dissection which gives strength to those who would condemn, vilify and even execute us for being “disordered”. As it is, I am content to be outside the Church, having placed myself there. I’d rather be in that position that to suffer the unnatural constraints required of one who is deemed “intrinsically disordered”.

    I recently visited Mauthausen Concentration Camp in Austria. It was here that homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Roma and Sinti (the Jews came later) were tortured and gassed to death by reason of who knows what. What I DO know is that it was that definition of being intrinsically disordered which underpinned and gave some reason to the monstrous cause of National Socialism. It was to this camp that prisoners were “Returned Unwanted”.

    As I sometimes say to those righteous religionists who profess acceptance of but disagreement with our sexuality (and who sometimes even admit to knowing homosexuals!) … “Ok, you accept us. But you’ve still got the plans for the gas chambers.”

    If you detect notes of cynicism and anger … you’re right! But it’s no mere mood.

  28. claret says:

    I would be interested to know if the word equivalent to ‘homosexuality’ as a description of a person’s sexuality actually existed at the times that the gospels were written. It has often been said that nowhere does Christ condemn homosexuality. Could that be because it did not exist as some kind of recognised sexual difference and that only the act that is associated with homosexuality was described as ‘abhorrent’ in the same way that adultery could be so described.
    Today we use words to describe a person’s sexuality that were unheard of not too long ago. ‘Trans gender’, Bi sexual, how long of these descriptions of a separate sexuality been around?
    It seems to me that this whole study is flawed because who decided who were the homosexuals an who were hetrosexuals and how did they know what catogory to put the samples in? What tests were carried out to decide. Simply word of mouth?
    To return to my first question that if no such word for homoesexuality existed, and certainly there is no mention of lesbianism then perhaps it is because there is only one sexuality and it is in how that sexuality is used that the sin occurs.

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