Homosexuality: PTC Answers 15 Most-Asked Questions
The Portland Town Council (PTC) was a gay-rights organization based in Portland, Oregon. The following text is from a pamphlet, which PTC published in the late 1970’s (probably 1977) as part of its public education and awareness program, called Project Aware. The program was “charged with providing accurate information on homosexuality and gay people to the non-gay community.”
What is a homosexual?
Homosexuality is the name given to the situation in which people are attracted to members of their own sex rather than members of the opposite sex. Homosexuals seek partners of the same gender in every way that heterosexuals seek partners of the opposite gender.
Who is a homosexual?
Persons who have prolonged sexual relationships with members of their own sex are homosexuals. This is rather a limiting definition since it tends to imply that homosexuals are preoccupied with sex. Homosexuals are no more preoccupied with sex than heterosexuals are. Homosexuals simply are women and men who share their lives with partners of the same sex.
Can homosexuals be identified easily?
No. Until recent years, society has perceived homosexuals primarily in terms of stereotypes, much as it has viewed racial minorities and women. When any minority is strongly stereotyped by society (“inferior blacks,” “indolent, alcoholic Indians.” Etc.) individual members find themselves locked into a self-fulfilling prophecy which only servers to perpetuate the pattern. This social phenomenon actually did produce great numbers of ‘effeminate queers’ and ‘masculine dykes.”
The Gay Liberation movement all but has quelched this harmful, self-denying tendency of gays to cast themselves in roles with are separate from their real identities as human beings. While gays are just as much in the mainstream of American life as they always have been -- living in every strata of society, every walk of life and every occupation – they no longer feel the social pressure to play roles unnatural to their individual beings. The end result of this is healthier individual homosexuals, and greater problems for nongays to identify homosexuals in every area of American life. (The Portland Town Council: A Legislative Guide to Gay Rights, 1976.)
Is it legal to be a homosexual in Oregon?
Yes. The Revised Criminal Code, which went into effect January 1, 1972, amended the previous Code by ceasing to regard the gender of the sexual partner as a factor in offenses other than rape, and by removing all sanctions against “deviate sexual intercourse” for persons 18 years of age or older. Age, consent, and privacy are the only criteria now applied to define a sexual offense. In effect, Oregon has made private homosexual activity between consenting adults legal. However, that is the only legal protection homosexual Oregonians have. Just as visible minorities (nonwhites, women, etc,) have discovered, homosexuals much have civil rights protection under the law to avoid discrimination.
How many homosexuals are there?
Research done by such authorities as Alfred C. Kinsey and Evelyn Hooker indicate that anywhere from 10-15% of adults are homosexual. Most experts now agree that anywhere from 8-10% of the adult population is exclusively homosexuals and 2-5% of the adult population has had more than incidental homosexual experience over a three-year period. (Kinsey: Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, 1948: Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, 1953; statistics reaffirmed by the Kinsey Institute, 1977; Hooker: Journal of Projective Techniques, 21, 18-31, 1957.)
Is homosexuality moral?
Yes. Many people, who maintain that homosexuality is immoral, take their point of view from the 11 passages in the Bible which are interpreted to refer to homosexuality. These may be summed up in 3 main areas: 1) Carefully read, the Scriptures reveal that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was not homosexuality, but inhospitality, greed, materialism and the rejection of God’s word. 2) The Holiness Code of Leviticus forbids homosexual acts (not homosexuality itself) because such practices were part of the rituals performed by Egypt, the pagan neighbor. Furthermore, procreation was tantamount to survival of the nation, which was confronted constantly with war and famine. 3) The Apostle Paul denounced homosexual acts as practiced by the temple prostitutes (both men and women). In fact, he denounced any kind of sexual activity and encouraged celibacy, except in instances in which the persons were burning with passion or lust, in which cases he recommended marriage.
What special problems do homosexuals face because of their homosexuality?
None. Homosexuals do not face special problems because of their homosexuality; rather, they face special problems because of society’s intolerance of homosexuality. Because of discrimination against homosexuals and the lack of civil rights protections, most homosexuals believe that they must hide their homosexuality from all but their closest friends. Imagine how you would feel it you had to hide your heterosexuality! As television’s Edith Bunker, (wife of arch-hypocrite Archie Bunker, “All in the Family”) recently said to the lesbian who had been her cousin’s “roommate” for twenty years, “How awful to love someone and not to be able to tell anyone.”
Do homosexuals influence the heterosexuals around them?
Not sexually. “The guiding of gender identity starts at birth: a child is raised as a boy or girl. By age 5, children have very clear ideas as to what is gender-role appropriate for their sex . . . The Kinsey researchers sought people whose sexual orientation was changed by therapy: none was found. Wardell Pomeroy (a long-time member of the Kinsey research team and now a New York psycho-therapist) has continued the search to no avail . . .” Since homosexuals cannot be identified easily, most heterosexuals are not aware of the many homosexuals they meet and work with each day. Most heterosexuals probably have been influenced in a positive way by homosexuals in their lives; such as ministers, grocery clerks, repair workers, radio-television announcers, and so on. Those few homosexuals who do make their sexual orientation known to their associates dispel the old myths and prove that homosexuals are productive members of society. (A Legislative Guide to Gay Rights, Portland Town Council, 1976)
Should parents discuss homosexuality with their children?
Yes. Just as parents should discuss sex with their children so that the children have realistic and true information about sex, parents should be giving their children accurate information about homosexuality.
Are homosexuals biologically different than heterosexuals?
No. American Psychiatric Association past president Dr. Judd Marmor attacks the common theory that homosexuality is biologically unnatural: “I can fully understand how uninformed laymen can cling to this belief, but it is utterly appalling that this unscientific prejudice still holds sway in a professional field like psychiatry.” Marmor further quotes eminent biologist Dr. Frank Beach in saying that, “To describe homosexual behavior as unnatural is to depart from strict accuracy . . . Human homosexuality reflects the essential bisexual character of our mammalian inheritance.” (sic) Dr. Trainer, noted physician and student of human sexual behavior, adds that, “The most important thing that happens to us in our lives is being assigned to a gender. ‘It’s a girl’ or ‘It’s a boy’ signals a whole train of individual and social pressures, cues, lessons and attitudes that mold us into conventional males and females . . . In cultures which accept and utilize homosexuality, the individual engaged in such activity has no reason to feel bad or doubt his or her worth, or develop a poor self-image.” Trainer cites Dr John Money of the Johns Hopkins Institute for further support of this argument. (Marmor: “Homosexuality and Cultural Value-Systems: Should Homosexuality be Classified as a Mental Illness?” Presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association May 9, 1973: Trainer: ‘The Homophiles’, “Northwest Magazine,” The Oregonian, April 6, 1975.)
Does anyone really know why some people are homosexual and some are heterosexual?
No. There are as many homosexual causation theories as there are theorists. These basically branch into two lines of discussion: physiological and psychological. After an intense exploration of these schools of thought, Dr. Trainer concluded “ . . . that we sometimes have genetic conditioning of and sometimes hormonal determinations of unusual sexual behaviors. What part, and when, these factors enter in the sexual orientation of a human we of course have no idea at the present time.” (Trainer, Supra)
Are homosexuals mentally healthy people?
Yes. In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association’s Board of Trustees removed the word “homosexuality” from its official list of mental disorders because it “implies no impairment in judgment, stability, reliability, or general social or vocational capabilities.” The statement went on to urge civil rights protection for homosexuals. One year later, the American Psychological Association made a similar statement. As early as 1935, Sigmund Freud wrote, “Homosexuality . . . is nothing to be ashamed of, no vice, no degradation, it cannot be classified as an illness . . .” In fact many mental health professionals say it is not the homosexual, but rather the heterosexual who has problems dealing with homosexuality. Studies by the late Dr. Mark Freedman, staff psychologist at the Northeast Community Mental Health Center in San Francisco, concluded that,
“ . . . homophobia (the extreme rage and fear reaction to homosexuals) is a severe disturbance, one which has a powerful affect on the person who has it as well as on the people with whom he or she comes into contact . . . Dr. George Weinberg, a New York psychotherapist, asserts, ‘I would never consider a patient healthy unless he had overcome his prejudice against homosexuality’.” (Freedman, “Homophobia”, BLUEBOY the National Magazine about Men, Volume V, April 1976.)
Do more heterosexuals or more homosexuals molest children?
“Child molesting cannot be labeled as either heterosexually or homosexually motivated; rather, it is a neurotic behavior known as pedophilia, having little to do with opposite or same sex orientation of the molester. The conclusion . . . of acknowledged experts in the field is that child molestation is a behavior identified as ‘pedophilia,’ which is a neurosis quite apart from sexual preference or orientation.”
“The annual report of the Children’s Services Division on Child Abuse in Oregon shows that in 1973-1975, 85-90% of cases of child sexual molestation were perpetrated by fathers, stepfathers, foster fathers, grandfathers, brothers, uncles, and mothers’ boyfriends. Another 6-10% were perpetrated by men known to the family, such as friends, neighbors, and house boarders. The November and December 1976 and January 1977 figures (from the state of Oregon) which were broken down by sex of the victim and the offender for the Task Force show 63 cases of sexual molestation of children (23% of all cases of child abuse and neglect reported for those three months). All offenders were male; 62 offenders were relatives and acquaintances and one was a stranger; 55 victims were female, 8 male.” (Preliminary Report of the Task Force on Sexual Preference of the State of Oregon Department of Human Resources, 1977, p. 19; Task Force Report, Supra. P. 17-18)
What do the slang terms “gay”, “straight”, “in the closet”, “coming out”, “Lesbian” and “faggot” mean?
Gay: A man or woman who has acknowledged his/her homosexuality with pride and dignity, feeling no share, guilt, nor regret. Gays view their sexuality as healthy heterosexuals view theirs.
Straight: Refers to a heterosexual person.
Closet: Because of prejudice of a hostile society, homosexuals as they become aware of their sexual orientation, are forced to subconsciously repress, refuse to recognize, hide, or otherwise dissimulate their feelings behind a “respectable” façade of heterosexual appearances.
Coming Out: When a homosexual finally acknowledges his/her sexual orientation, recognizing that there is nothing wrong with it, and that it need no longer be dissimulated, the mask is shed along with the need to lead a double life. This process is termed “coming out of the closet,” often shortened to “coming out” or “being out.”
Lesbian: Originally meant that the person -- male or female -- was an inhabitant of the Greek island of Lesbos and therefore the person was probably a poet. Lesbos’ most famous inhabitant was the lyricist Sappho, a bisexual woman, whose poetry has been praised for almost 2, 500 years.
Faggot: During the Spanish Inquisition, male homosexuals were rounded up and to be used as kindling and faggots in the fires used to burn women accused of being witches. The Inquisitors thought that only the flames from the burning male homosexuals were foul enough to kill the supposed witches. (Although “lesbian” and “faggot” have been used to taunt homosexuals, today many homosexuals use these terms with pride.)
Should there be more public discussion and education about homosexuality?
Yes. Through public education and discussion, the questions addressed above and related issues and concerns will be answered.
William Hazlitt once said that, “Prejudice is the child of ignorance.” There is no void of factual, accurate information about homosexuality. Thoroughly documented research by nationally and internationally-acclaimed mental health experts has glutted the professional and lay markets in recent years with material on homosexuality. The information included in this pamphlet represents a bare microcosm of the reams of data now available to displace ignorance about homosexuals with direct information that gay people in fact are no different in their total humanness that non-gay people. It has been the purpose of this pamphlet to tantalize ignorance with some basic realities of homosexuality. It is the purpose of the Portland Town Council to provide a gracious exit for the prejudice, which has barred generations of gay people from living full, productive lives in the face of ignorance, which now must be replaced with the truth about gay people.
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