Words are powerful tools used to create emotions, define our reality and to elicit behavior. It is no wonder that the same gender movement has carefully crafted the usage of certain terms and phrases. For example, the major argument for same gender marriage is based on the notion that it is denying a person their civil rights to not call a relationship between people of the same gender a marriage. Once same gender marriage was branded a "civil rights" issue, behavior or opinions that contradicted that notion or questioned those assumptions became "discriminatory", "bigoted", "intolerant" and "hateful". Strong words which are designed to intimidate and inhibit disagreement.
Where did the idea that rights should be granted based on an individuals sexual orientation originate? The "born that way" argument, supposedly substantiated by science in the early 1990's was the kick-off point for getting the mainstream public to view homosexuality as a condition-something that you had no control over. There were two well publicized studies-one in 1991 by Simon LeVay and one in 1993 by Dean Hamer which both found some correlation between biological factors and homosexuality. However, both men agreed that homosexual behavior was more complicated, and most likely involved environmental factors as well. The main stream media filtered out the qualifiers and the "born that way" idea became fact . Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of numerous scientists, many of whom happen to identify as "gay" there still is no substantial proof that the nature theory is true. Sexuality appears to fit the model of being a BEHAVIOR rather than a condition. The development of our sexuality is influenced by a number of different variables but exactly how these interact to create same gender attraction is still unknown. This model fits better with the description of other human characteristics like speech, intelligence, physical health, athleticism, etc. There may be predispositions towards certain traits but there have to be specific environmental factors that exist for that characteristic or behavior to be enhanced or diminished. However, the horse was already out of the barn and definitions about homosexuality were squelched as the conclusion had already been announced. The media pronounced that homosexuality was a condition, no choice or responsibility was involved and therefore the arguments for rights and equality could enter in.
This line of reasoning was also supported by changing the way we described or identified homosexual behavior. The terms "gay" and "lesbian" began to be used as nouns to describe a condition of a person in an attempt to make it analogous to gender or ethnicity. Again, this is part of the strategy for strengthening the case for identifying "gay" "rights" with civil rights. Again, to reiterate what was described above, existing scientific evidence is actually more consistent with an interactive model with both nature and nurture influencing sexual development. Therefore, it is more accurate to use the terms gay, lesbian, bisexual. transgender, or heterosexual as adjectives describing an individuals behavior not as nouns indicating an unchangeable condition. There certainly seem to be certain traits that predispose people to homosexual behaviors but there is also an element of choice in whether or not these behaviors are exhibited or identified with.
This idea of choice and responsibility is further substantiated by a growing amount of evidence that individuals have successfully altered their focus of attraction with the help of reparative therapy. The use of the word reparative implies a bias towards viewing homosexuality as less than ideal-which is how it was viewed for thousands of years and across most cultures until very recently. Interestingly enough the type of therapy used to "come out" in the 80's was called affirmative therapy, further substantiating the bias that people with same gender attraction are just validating who they really are.
Gender identity is a phrase that was widely discussed but has now been largely ignored because it doesn't fit with the gay rights model of sexuality. Gender identity refers to how a person sees themself-identifying as either male or female. The gay movement has pigeonholed people into narrow definitions of either being gay or lesbian. Actually a man can identify as a man and be attracted to a man or a woman, and women that might identify as being more masculine can still be attracted to men or they might be attracted to women. Narrow definitions or biases have caused many people with gender identity confusion to then think they also had same gender attraction. Same gender attraction and gender identity are two separate and important differences in human beings. Morphing two definitions into one has actually interfered with some people's feeling of free agency in regards to their sexuality. Just because you think or feel a certain way doesn't mean that your behavior has to follow. Many people have thoughts and feelings that they don't want and have learned how to regulate, moderate or extinguish. The gay movement is a major proponent of not questioning or inhibiting any thoughts or feelings towards same gender attraction. They feel that if you feel attracted you should act, and without restraint.
Another definition that cropped up in the 70's to help confuse and distort the area of sexuality was the idea of being androgynous, or not identifying predominantly with either gender. This actually helped feed into the bisexual and transgender movement which are both just further erosions of traditional boundaries and definitions. Again, the concern should be to ask ourselves what the goal is for blurring parameters that have helped provide structure, order and meaning to individuals and families. Our identity is core to our well being and changing and morphing basic definitions such as male, female, marriage, and families has only served to create more confusion and instability.
We need to step back and carefully consider the words and phrases we hear and use, to make sure they are accurate. The media loves to wield it's clout to control our perceptions. How they decide which ideas to push is beyond me but they tend to have some things in common:
1. They generally aren't completely true.
2. They have an anti-traditional and or anti-religious bias
3. They seem to be driven by the values of a very select group of people living very atypical lives.
4. They would not work well if we all lived that way.
Please be mindful as you continue to study and learn about this important aspect of the human condition. I would hope that the words patience, understanding, coooperation, truth, moderation, discipline, and self regulation can find their way back into our daily vocabularies.