Monday, March 17, 2014

Assumptions and Data

I found this paper "The relationship between discrimination and substance use disorders among lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults in the United States" quite interesting for what it found -- and what it didn't find.  Consider that it started out with this model:
Meyer’s minority stress model posits that discrimination, internalized homophobia, and social stigma can create a hostile and stressful social environment for LGB adults that contributes to mental health problems, including substance use disorders.
Not too surprising:
Of particular note is that LGB adults who reported none of the 3 types of discrimination in their lifetime had rates of past-year substance use disorders that were similar to those of heterosexual adults. This finding was most pronounced in the male sample.
There are at least three possible explanations:

1. Discrimination against the LGB causes substance abuse.

2. Substance abuse causes behavior that is interpreted as discrimination against the LGB.  Think of the infamous 1970s guilt tool:

"Is it because I'm black?"

"No, because you are a jerk, and you would be a jerk no matter what color you were."

3. Some other factor causes both substance abuse and LGB sexual orientation.

What makes this article especially interesting is that later on, they explain that:
In our investigation, we assumed that LGB adults are at heightened risk for substance use disorders as a consequence of cultural and environmental factors associated with being part of a stigmatized and marginalized population, not because of their sexual orientation.
 Yet slightly later:
One unexpected result was that there was no statistically significant relationship between substance use disorders and sexual orientation discrimination alone in the final regression models. Given the putative relationships among discrimination, stress, substance use, and mental health disorders posited in the minority stress model, this finding was surprising.
 It was only those LGBs who were the subject of gender discrimination, racial discrimination, and sexual orientation discrimination, who were at increased risk of substance abuse.  They of course had a theory to explain this, but it makes me just a bit skeptical of their assumption, especially because I think it is fair to say that there was likely more direct and harsher discrimination based on sexual orientation in the U.S. in 2004-2005 when this study was carried out than there was based on gender or race.

As I have pointed out before, homosexuals are disproportionately adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse.  There is a pretty well-known correlation between substance abuse and childhood sexual abuse, and between homosexuality and substance abuse.  It doesn't take any great leap of faith to suspect a connection between premature sexualization and effects on adult sexuality.  Why is there this nearly Oedipus-like desire to be blind to this as a research direction to investigate?


  1. "Why is there this nearly Oedipus-like desire to be blind to this as a research direction to investigate?"

    Because it would hurt someones feelings.

  2. If homosexual orientation/behavior is in some part a reaction to childhood sexual abuse, that simultaneously weakens the ‘born this way’ theory and strengthens the case that reorientation, if desired by the individual, might be not just be possible but an appropriate response.

    Such studies could be used as evidence that homosexuals recruit. This maybe an assumption unsupported by actual data but I can see people being afraid excerpts would be used this way.

  3. There is no question in my mind that some people can be reoriented. I used to go to church with a guy who reoriented from gay to straight more than twenty years ago. Before recanting his heresy, Professor Spitzer published a paper that found that about half of homosexuals who attempted reorientation were successful. (Of course, these were the ones who were strongly motivated to try, and might not be typical of homosexuals in general for that reason.)

    I really would not use the term "recruit." That implies a conscious, intentional effort by homosexuals to make more little homosexuals. Nearly all of the childhood sexual abuse of little girls is by adult men who are heterosexual. Even the abuse of boys by men is, I suspect, not done with an intent to make someone homosexual, but an attempt by a adult man who was abused as a child to be in control. Worse, many abusers imagine that the victim wants it.

  4. I suspect part of the willing blindness is because of fear that one's power bloc would be diminished, much like the deaf lobby is opposed to training in lip reading and research into operations that cure deafness as opposed to sign language classes.