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A Response to a Critic of My Open Letter to the President of the University of Toledo ... and the Critic's Change of Heart

 

From: Bob M.
Sent: Thu 5/8/2008 1:47 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: You are wrong!

Dear Dr. Gagnon, 

People are born with homosexual desires; it is not a matter of choice. 

I have a good friend who is gay; he is well-educated and middle-aged.  When I asked him when he first knew he was attracted to boys and not girls, he answered immediately that it was when he was seven.  That's good enough evidence for me. 

Common sense should tell you that this is so.  What intelligent human would voluntarily choose to be a member of a group that is so discriminated against? 

Surely there must be credible research on the matter.  I looked at the National Health and Social Life Survey which you reportedly cited in your letter defending the administrator dismissed at the University of Toledo, and I found it to be at best a bizarre collection of queries about hypothetical sexual fantasies.  It is certainly not credible as a source for your erroneous beliefs. 

Why not simply ask a few thousand randomly chosen American adults which sex they are attracted to and when did they know it?  I should think those results would be persuasive. 

Your education appears to be about religion and not science.  I think you should confine your "expert" opinions to what you know. 

Respectfully,

 

Robert M.

Vero Beach, Florida


 

From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Thursday, May 08, 2008 3:35 PM
To: Bob M.
Subject: You need to read more carefully

 

Dear Bob, 

You base your entire view on a single piece of anecdotal evidence (evidence that incidentally doesn't disprove anything that I said) and you say that I should stick to the Scripture and stay away from the science? Amazing. 

You obviously didn't read the NHSLS study carefully. The point that the (mostly University of Chicago) researchers were making is that demographics have a marked influence on homosexual self-identification, since the numbers of persons who self-identify as homosexual vary widely depending on (1) geography (i.e. whether they live in an urban environment that provides various incentives for homosexual practice or a rural environment that does not; they found this to be true even of young teens) and (2) education (i.e. whether they have been exposed through higher education to different ways of thinking about sexuality and sexual experimentation or not). These social influences interact differently for men (more affected by geographical variables) and women (more affected by education variables) because men and women (here's the shocker) are different. 

You also didn't respond to the other five studies that I mentioned. 

You also don't realize that the supposition for some of an early awareness of homosexual attractions (such as the person you cite, at age 7) is not incompatible with anything that I said since (1) I don't deny all congenital influences on homosexual development but only point out that such influences are not deterministic and must (or at least often must) interact with socio-environmental influences out of the womb; and (2) social influences occur at an even earlier age than 7, such as interaction (or not) with a same-sex parent, sibling relationships and birth order, peer socialization, and macro-social influences from the broader culture (since even at the age of 7 children receive input beyond the immediate family; they are not locked up in their house or bereft even within their house of any communication with the outside world).  

Nor do most persons who experience same-sex attractions remain at the exact same point on the Kinsey spectrum throughout their entire lives. But then what does the Kinsey Institute know? They apparently don't have as much experience with these things as you do, right?  

You also say: "Common sense should tell you that this is so.  What intelligent human would voluntarily choose to be a member of a group that is so discriminated against?" Think about this statement for a moment.  

I have not made any claim that most people with same-sex attractions voluntarily choose to be gay. You read my remarks to say that I think that becoming homosexual is a complete voluntary choice when I specifically said that people don't generally wake up one morning and say, "I think I'll develop same-sex attractions" or the like. Combined with your misreading of the NHSLS study, it shows you don't read carefully when it comes to the issue of homosexuality, at least not as regard evidence that contradicts your preconceived views. As you should have noted, my point is not that the development of same-sex attractions is a complete voluntary choice for most (such an observation would be absurd, though choice is a bigger factor for females in general than it is for males) but rather that choice (often blind, incremental, and indirect choice) combines with congenital influences and socio-environmental factors. You have to get beyond the two simplistic alternatives: "born gay" or "choose gay."  

My main point is that homosexual orientation does not transmit congenitally like race or sex. Both my parents were (so far as they know) of French (Canadian) ancestry. When they gave birth to six children, voila, we all turned out, amazingly, to be of French (Canadian) ancestry. I married a woman who was born in Jamaica and who has African, Chinese, Irish, and English ancestry; we have children that, again amazingly (?), turned out to be half French and half a mixture of African, Chinese, Irish, and English. That's how ethnicity is transmitted. Culture has no effect, or an extremely limited effect, on its fundamental essence (culture may change certain affects but not the fact of ethnic inheritance). And it isn't primarily a desire for a certain type of behavior, much less a desire for behavior that is incompatible with embodied structures (which is what homosexual desire is). That's my point. Until you take the time to understand the nuances we can get nowhere in discussion. You will never find a circumstance where, if you mix the sperm of a homosexual male and the egg of a homosexual female, 100% of the time the child will be homosexual. It is not a deterministic mechanism. Do you understand now? 

One possible example of how at least some homosexual attraction develops early on is that an experience or self-perception of gender nonconformity (a typical trait of persons who subsequently self-identify as homosexual, as nearly all scientists acknowledge), which may or may not be (in whole or part) influenced by congenital factors, can lead to a sense of emotional distance or otherness in relation to the same sex, which in turn can increase the risk (sometimes substantially but without being a deterministic fait accompli) of developing erotic same-sex attractions as a way of addressing one's self-perception of not being wholly one's own sex. In fact, the logic of a homosexual union, unlike that of a heterosexual union, is that the two halves of the sexual bond are two halves of one's own sex (each partner in effect being half male, if male; or half female, if female) rather than (as in a heterosexual bond) two complementary halves of the full male-to-female sexual spectrum (male as fully male but lacking femaleness and vice versa). 

You also missed my point at the end of the article that, irrespective of origination, an argument for acceptance of homosexuality based on the belief that it is unchosen is not a moral argument. All behavior, at some level, can be traced to biological influences. Most people, as a matter of complete voluntary choice, don't choose to have sexual attractions for persons other than one spouse (a polysexual orientation); and pedophiles don't choose to have a pedosexual orientation. So what? People may not be responsible for what they feel but they are responsible for what they do with what they feel. The whole "born that way" argument is, in addition to being scientifically false, morally vacuous.  

If it could ever be established that some persons have an unchosen incest orientation, would that validate an adult-committed incestuous bond between close blood relations that couldn't procreate or took precautions against procreation? Obviously not. The reason: Nature isn't just a matter of what you feel. It is also a matter of a larger view of embodied existence and compatibility. Two close blood relations are too much alike on a kinship level to consider the union structurally compatible. The issue of too much formal or structural sameness is even more keenly manifested in homosexual unions, now as regards the more fundamental sexual element of biological sex. The true sexual complement for a man is a woman and for a woman a man--anatomically, physiologically, and psychologically. 

Do I make myself clear to you? Please read carefully. We are not left with only two choices: "born gay" or "gay as a complete voluntary choice." And both the development and character of same-sex attractions is not comparable to the development and character of benign, primarily non-behavioral conditions like ethnicity or biological sex.

Thank you for your email.

 

Sincerely,

 

Rob Gagnon 

 


 

From: Bob M.
Sent: Thu 5/8/2008 4:56 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Re: You need to read more carefully

Dear Rob,

Thank you for your sincere and detailed reply to my rather sarcastic
communication, for which I apologize.  I have only read over your words
quickly thus far, but I confess that your pedophile and incest analogies are
persuasive.  I had thought that the choice versus "born that way"
controversy was settled, at least in my own mind.  Now I see I must revisit
the matter and consider what is right and wrong vis-a-vis impulse and
desire.  Thank you for making me think.

Later.

Bob M.


 


From: Robert Gagnon
Sent: Thursday, May 08, 2008 5:05 PM
To: Bob M.
Subject: RE: You need to read more carefully

Dear Bob, 

In having written to me just now so graciously, you show yourself to be a person of great humility and good character. I thank you for this note. 

Blessings, 

Rob

 

 

 

  2008 Robert A. J. Gagnon