A Response to a Critic of My Open
Letter to the President of the University of Toledo ... and the Critic's
Change of Heart
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
Vero Beach, Florida
Sent: Thursday, May 08, 2008 3:35 PM
To: Bob M.
Subject: You need to read more carefully
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?
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
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,
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
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,
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
Thank you for your email.
Sent: Thu 5/8/2008 4:56 PM
To: Robert Gagnon
Subject: Re: You need to read more carefully
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
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
the matter and consider what is right and wrong vis-a-vis impulse and
desire. Thank you for making me think.
Sent: Thursday, May 08, 2008 5:05 PM
To: Bob M.
Subject: RE: You need to read more carefully
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.