What Homophobes, Activists, and Hollywood Have in Common

A MadeByMark.com reader dropped me a link to this article on Patheos.com’s Bad Catholic blog. The piece is a bit long and rambling, so if you haven’t the time (or the stomach) for it, here’s my summary of his argument:

Men with “same sex attraction” issues are more than the labels homophobes, activists, and Hollywood slap on them. We need to step outside the extreme stances taken by all sides in the culture war and, when confronting issues related to these men, argue “for the ultimate good of the human person,” not for “the minor good” of one facet of their being.

Yes, human beings are complex. We are more than our sexual orientations. We are more than our genders. We are more than our religion, our race, or our occupation. We are all more than any label can contain.

That said, for someone who rails so loudly against labels, Mr. Barnes, the young blogger in question, loves to employ them.

One label he uses frequently is “men with same sex attraction.” It’s a clever label, with origins in the widely discredited “orientational healing” industry. In opposition to a substantial body of scientific evidence, these quack practitioners assert there are no homosexuals … just homosexual *behaviors*. There are, they tell us, no gay men … just heterosexual men who are deceived, damaged, confused, and in need of fixing.

This label attempts to reframe a core trait (sexual orientation) as an annoying urge. It’s the equivalent of telling a left-handed person “You’re not really left-handed, sir. There are no left-handed people. Instead, you have an attraction to using your non-dominant hand.” As a political ploy, this kind of reframing may be useful — but on the more honest level of human and personal experience, it’s poisonous. 

But where Mr. Barnes really goes off the tracks — where his work goes from being sloppy to being shameful — is where he begins citing “facts:”

[Men with same-sex attraction] — if they are living an active homosexual lifestyle … have a much more difficult time than straight men, what with higher risk of HIV, depression, and substance abuse, and a generally lower life expectancy.” 

If I had time, I’d refute these assertions one by one. For now, though, I’ll focus on just one: the claim that gay men have a “generally lower life expectancy.”

Mr. Barnes has done a good job of jotting down what his “orientational healers” have told him, but he has done a poor job of checking the facts for himself. To back up his claim, he cites an article in the International Journal of Epidemiology. Had he done just a little homework on his own, though, he might have discovered that:

– the authors of that very study note that it cannot be used to support his conclusion

– the assertion that gay men die younger than their straight counterparts has been broadly debunked.

People who cite “facts” like this one are either too lazy to fact-check … or they are being deliberately deceitful. Neither option bodes well for their cause.

I don’t know Mr. Barnes, but I suspect he’s involved in a painful struggle, made all the more painful by the machinations of the “orientational healers.” My heart goes out to him, and my prayer for him is that he can step up to his call to embrace wholeness by rejecting the fantasy that doing so means squashing a vibrant and beautiful aspect of the Self.


Mark McElroy

I'm a husband, mystic, writer, media producer, creative director, tinkerer, blogger, reader, gadget lover, and pizza fiend.

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Mark McElroy

I'm a husband, mystic, writer, media producer, creative director, tinkerer, blogger, reader, gadget lover, and pizza fiend.

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