Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Myth That Sexual Orientation Can't Change

It is an article of faith among LGBT activists that sexual orientation is set quite young and thus reparative therapy can't work and is destructive.  Imagine my surprise:
However, longitudinal studies published during the past decade have raised awareness about the fluidity of orientation among some teens during adolescence and into adulthood. Rosario and Saewyc Page 7 J Res Adolesc. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2016 April 18. PMC Canada Author Manuscript PMC Canada Author Manuscript PMC Canada Author Manuscript colleagues (2006a) explored changing orientation labels among older sexual minority teens in New York over 12 months; they found most teens remained consistent, but 30–40% of bisexual teens shifted to a gay or lesbian label during the year, and 7% shifted from gay or lesbian to bisexual; only 2–3% of teens shifted to “straight.” They noted their brief time period and lack of heterosexual teens were distinct limitations to understanding longer-term fluidity or permanence in sexual orientation. Studies by Lisa Diamond (1998, 2000a, 2000b, 2008) documented this fluidity among older adolescent and young adult women over a longer period, charting attractions, labels and behavior. She found relative consistency in their sexual attractions, but up to 67% changed labels and behavior over the course of 10 years, with a small number of young women dropping a lesbian or bisexual label for a heterosexual identity, but far more of them switching between lesbian and bisexual, or shifting to “unlabeled.”
["RESEARCH ON ADOLESCENT SEXUAL ORIENTATION:DEVELOPMENT, HEALTH DISPARITIES, STIGMA ANDRESILIENCE," J Res Adolesc. 2011 February 15; 21(1): 256–272]

It makes you wonder how much more frequent this would be in a society that wasn't homonormative.

5 comments:

StormCchaser said...

That some teenagers are fluid in their sexual preference is hardly shocking, but it is certainly politically incorrect.

I'm surprised the authors were allowed to do the research and publish the results.

Jonathan Rowe said...

The problem with your post is that the evidence doesn't support your argument.

No doubt, "fluidity" of sexual orientation for SOME (not all or probably even most) exists, and people can and do make personal decisions relating to how they understand, define and label themselves.

That's what's true.

What's not true is that either "reparative therapy" or "praying the gay away" is effective.

Almost all, or arguably all of the fluidity that exists happens without either of the above two.

To use an example: David Geffen was gay and is currently gay. Didn't think he could be attracted to women. But then he fell in love with Cher and reported having very satisfying sex with her in the context of a passionate romance. Then they broke up. And he was still attracted to men and pursued those relationships.

She didn't "cure" or "change" him. Likewise his personal opinion about homosexuality and its propriety had nothing do with what he experienced.

That's how fluidity occurs in the real world.

Clayton Cramer said...

Jonathan: I know several people who failed to "pray away the gay." The study that Spitzer later repudiated found significant numbers of successes. He repudiated his own paper because he couldn't be sure that those who reported a successful change were honest, but he apparently COULD trust those who reported failure, were honest; huh? I have talked to people who have changed from gay to straight, so it is possible. It wasn't a conscious effort; it just happened.

Jonathan Rowe said...

After years of studying this issue, I've concluded the "one size fits all" explanation is a fallacy. Some people experience fixation, some experience fluidity.

I understand some people can fall out of love and stop being attracted to their significant other. I seriously doubt if someone who is fully attracted to one gender at one particular point in their post-adolescent life, they will stop being attracted to that gender.

Most of the examples of fluidity I am familiar with involve people being surprised to find themselves attracted the particular gender they didn't think they were attracted to. As you noted, it just happens.

Clayton Cramer said...

I have a friend who had always thought of himself as a gay man. (He owned a gay bathhouse.) Back at college at a non-traditional age, he became close to, and eventually married a lesbian.)