Medical Tuesday Blog
Homosexuality: Some Neglected Considerations
Nathaniel S. Lehrman, MD
In recent decades, American perceptions of homosexuality have changed significantly, largely because of the questionable concept of the homosexual “orientation”: a genetic or biological, rather than a behavioral, etiology. These newer beliefs greatly influence how its morbidity, mortality, and social impact are seen, often causing us to overlook how the “gay” male lifestyle significantly increases the incidence of infectious disease and shortens life expectancy by about 20 years.
Homosexuality in Ancient Times
Homosexual behavior has always existed, and was accepted throughout the ancient world; Greek kings and Roman emperors all engaged in it. These men were also involved with women, and decisions about sexual partners were seen as entirely a matter of individual choice and responsibility.
Historically, homosexual behavior has been viewed as both criminal and sinful ever since Judaism first defined it as an “abomination” along with incest, adultery, and bestiality and Christianity continued this stance. Judaism and Christianity’s new prohibitions represented an immense moral and legal change that greatly strengthened family life.
Homosexuality in 19th and 20th Century Germany
In 1869, German same-sex devotees created the term “homosexual” seemingly more neutral and “scientific” than pejorative terms like “sodomite.” They claimed they were born with women’s souls inside men’s bodies (“Fems”), which supposedly made them unable either to respond sexually to women or to control their urges toward other men. As Foucault put it, “the sodomite had been a temporary aberration; the homosexual was a species.”
That same year, the first psychiatric study of homosexuality appeared. It advocated the replacement of criminal penalties for homosexual behavior with medical treatment, thus acknowledging that such behavior was undesirable, but indicating that same-sex choices were not completely under an individual’s control. This transformed lawless behavior, for which people are fully responsible, into illness-evoked activity, with reduced or absent responsibility.
Other Germans involved in same-sex relationships rejected the apology implied by this inborn-causation idea. To their Spartan ideology, same-sex relationships, especially between men and boys, were morally superior to heterosexual behavior and traditional marriage. Ironically, these super-masculine men held the homosexual “Fems” in deepest contempt and persecuted them fiercely.
Homosexuality grew rapidly in Germany over the following decades. In 1891, Richard Krafft-Ebbing’s Psychologia Sexualis declared that “sex perversion” in Germany was alarmingly on the increase”. In 1922, a Berlin police commissioner wrote that “homosexualist groups have been steadily on the increase in recent decades, especially in the big cities. . . They are closely banded together and even have their own [news] paper.” In 1933 when Hitler took power, Ernst Roehm, leader of his 300,000-man terrorist storm troopers—the Sturmabteilung, or SA—was a notorious pederast, and his corps commanders were “almost without exception homosexuals.”
Redefining Homosexuality in America Today
In the United States, homosexuality was considered an illness or perversion until 1973, when the American Psychiatric Association decided to remove homosexuality from its list of “mental disorders”. without “morally judging” it as sin or crime. Thus, homosexuality could be seen as an acceptable alternate lifestyle. The definitional change helped to make homosexuality, once a felony, respectable.
“The APA vote to normalize homosexuality was driven by politics, not science. Even sympathizers acknowledge this.” The process began in 1970 with a “systematic effort” by a homosexual faction within the APA “to disrupt its annual meetings.” After several years of intimidation, the efforts finally succeeded. In 1973, when the faction met formally with the APA Committee on Nomenclature to discuss removing homosexuality from the list, “the outcome had already been arranged behind closed doors.”
When the APA membership was then polled on the question, the faction sent a letter to more than 30,000 members—secretly paid for by the National Gay Task Force—urging them to “retain the nomenclature change.” A third of the membership responded to the poll and a majority of them supported the change. “The result was not a conclusion based upon an approximation of the scientific truth as dictated by reason, but was instead an action demanded by the ideological temper of the times.”
If a vote by this professional organization is all that is needed to normalize homosexuality, could the same faction-driven process occur with other behavior now considered aberrant, such as pederasty, once a critical mass of politically active practitioners has been reached?
Changing American Attitudes
A change in the attitude of the medical profession accompanied the change in definition, as seen in the American Medical Association’s Complete Medical Encyclopedia and in its “official statement” on homosexuality. The former says that even though “some religious groups condemn homosexuality as morally perverse,” it is, rather, “a normal sexual orientation, not a disorder or a sign of a disorder.” The latter endorses “the physician’s nonjudgmental recognition of sexual orientation and behavior.”
The attitude of the public has been greatly affected by the major media, in which the homosexual movement has great influence. In April 2000, for example, Richard Berke of The New York Times, then its national political, correspondent told the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, “literally three-quarters of the people deciding what’s on the front page are not-so-closeted homosexuals . . ..a real cry from what it was like not so long ago.” . . .
Read the entire article including these sections by Dr. Lehrman at http://www.jpands.org/jpands1003.htm
Destiny or a Choice?
Who is Currently a Homosexual?
Changes in Sexual Orientation over Time.
Is Homosexuality Inborn?
Morbidity, Mortality, and Morality: The Social Impact of Homosexuality
The AMA’s Position
American concepts and attitudes about homosexuality have changed significantly in recent decades. Most of society and the medical profession now view it as an acceptable alternate lifestyle: a biologically determined, permanent orientation, rather than a learned, experiential, and often changeable choice. The concept of homosexuality as a permanent orientation is, however, without scientific validation; the notion is entirely politically grounded.
One effect of this new view has been to understate the medical and societal harm produced by the promiscuous sexual practices typically associated with homosexuality.
—Bibliography with 37 references
Nathaniel S. Lehrman, M.D., a retired psychiatrist, is former Clinical Director, Kingsboro Psychiatric Center, Brooklyn, NY
Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons Volume 10 Number 3 Fall 2005
Lawrence R. Huntoon, M.D., Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief
VOM Present Views of What Doctors are Thinking, Saying and Writing about