pageok
pageok
pageok
Gays and Lesbians Trying to Convert Others to Homosexual Behavior:

I've seen lots of assertions that it's a "myth" that gays and lesbians try to recruit others into homosexuality. (See, among many other examples, here and here.) Yet it seems to me that this assertion of "myth" is likely itself something of a myth, or at least quite incomplete.

I rather doubt that many gays and lesbians harbor hopes that many heterosexuals will "become homosexual." That just isn't likely to happen, and I doubt that gays or lesbians make plans around it. Moreover, it may well be that you can't really change a person's sexual orientation, in the sense of whom the person is attracted to. (I'm not sure whether that's right, but I'm willing to assume it for purposes of this post.)

But sexual orientation is not the same as sexual behavior. In particular, people who are at least in some measure attracted to both sexes may be seen as having a bisexual sexual orientation, but they may choose to behave heterosexually, homosexually, or bisexually. And in fact, it appears that the majority of men — and nearly all women — who are at least in some measure attracted to the same sex are also at least in some measure attracted to the opposite sex:

Sexual attractionAmong menAmong women
Only opposite gender93.8%95.6%
Mostly opposite gender2.6%2.7%
Both genders0.6%0.8%
Mostly same gender0.7%0.6%
Only same gender2.4%0.3%
(Source: Laumann et al., The Social Organization of Sexuality 311 (1994), which I also noted — with the suitable warnings about the limits of even well-conducted random studies of small sexual minorities — here.) Here is the data from Laumann et al. about reported sexual practices (not just attraction) of people who have had some same-sex partners in particular time frames (numbers rounded):
Time frame in which the person has had some same-sex partnersFraction of male respondents (the ones who had some same-sex partners) who had partners of both sexesFraction of female respondents (the ones who had some same-sex partners) who had partners of both sexes
In the last year25%25%
In the last 5 years50%60%
Since age 1880%90%
(As best I can tell, the time frame in the numerator is the same as in the denominator — the 50% number, for instance, means that 50% of the men who have had a same-sex partner in the last 5 years have also had an opposite-sex partner in the last 5 years.) I did read a recent news report of a study that claimed that ostensibly bisexual men actually had the same physical arousal patterns, when shown potentially stimulating pictures of men and women, as either homosexuals or heterosexuals: "[I]n men there's no hint that true bisexual arousal exists." But as others pointed out in that news story, "the technique used in the study to measure genital arousal is too crude to capture the richness — erotic sensations, affection, admiration — that constitutes sexual attraction," especially given the consistent self-reports of men who claim to be bisexual. And the story reports that true bisexual physical arousal in women has indeed been documented.

The gay rights movement has aimed — in my view, on balance quite laudably — to make homosexuals feel more comfortable with their homosexuality, and to help people who are attracted to the same sex be more willing to act on that attraction. But it follows that the movement also necessarily, and I suspect intentionally, also helps people who are attracted to both sexes be more willing to explore the homosexual facet of that attraction. It thus increases the likelihood that the bisexually-attracted people who would otherwise engage in purely heterosexual relationships (because of fear of social stigma, or because of their own disapproval of their homosexual attraction) will instead be also willing to engage in some homosexual relationships.

If I'm right, the movement thus is trying to convert those who have a bisexual orientation but act purely heterosexually — or would act purely heterosexually, if we're talking about people who haven't started having sex yet — into also experimenting with homosexuality. This doesn't mean that most gays and lesbians are trying to do this to particular people up close and personal; there are obvious costs to that, such as the risk of rebuff if you get the other person's interest wrong, or the risk of quick abandonment if the other person is interested in experimenting but then concludes the experiment has been a failure from his or her point of view, so many gays and lesbians might well prefer partners who have a more definite homosexual preference. But there are many actions that might go into this sort of "conversion" (if only a conversion into a mix of homosexual/heterosexual behavior, and a conversion that in many cases will end up proving to be only temporary): Providing oneself for the actual sexual behavior is one, but so is public action to destigmatize homosexual behavior, or to provide positive homosexual or bisexual role models, something that for perfectly understandable reasons many gays and lesbians are indeed trying to do.

To further illustrate this, ask yourself: How would most gays or lesbians who believe that homosexuality is perfectly proper respond to these questions?

(1) A person who has had only heterosexual experiences is feeling some homosexual attraction. Should he or she experiment with homosexual relations to see if he or she finds them more rewarding, or at least a valuable facet of his or her future sex life (assuming this wouldn't constitute infidelity, that it's done with the proper protection against disease, that it's done with the right person, and so on)?

(2) Should gay rights groups try to change society so that such experimentation is less stigmatized?

(3) Should gay and lesbian friends of this person urge the person (of course, sensitively and without browbeating) to experiment, and to see if — given that he or she feels at least some same-sex attraction — he or she might indeed find same-sex relationships more rewarding?

(4) If this were a friend of yours to whom you were attracted, you knew that he or she felt at least some same-sex attraction, and you weren't worried about the emotional risk to yourself, would you consider having you be the person with whom the friend experiments? (Again, assume that neither of you is otherwise committed, the approach would be suitably sensitive, and so on; naturally, even sexual behavior that's perfectly proper in the abstract can be made wrong if done under the wrong circumstances.)

(5) Do you think that older teenagers (say, 16 and above) should have out-of-the-closet gay, lesbian, and bisexual role models so that those of the teenagers who feel some same-sex attraction would feel more open to experimenting to see if same-sex relationships will be more rewarding to them than opposite-sex relationships? (I'm not asking about sexual experimentation with the role models, but rather about the role models' presence making the teenagers more comfortable with their same-sex attractions.)

I suspect that most gays and lesbians who think homosexuality is proper would say "yes" to most or all of these questions. I know that if I were a heterosexual in some hypothetical future overwhelmingly homosexual society, and I were asked similar questions about "converting" people who were open to heterosexuality but had so far had only engaged in homosexual behavior into practicing bisexuals or heterosexuals, I'd say "yes." If you think some behavior can be proper and, for some group, very rewarding, you would naturally want people who aren't sure whether they fall into that group to try it out.

And if that's true, then gays and lesbians (though not necessarily each gay and lesbian) are trying to get others who have been behaviorally heterosexual, but who might be open to homosexual behavior, to try homosexual behavior. They almost certainly don't see all heterosexuals as likely converts. But they probably do think (with good reason) that some fraction — a substantial fraction compared to the number of pure homosexuals — might well be willing to change behaviors, especially if they are made to feel right and welcome in doing so. And, yes, that would include teenagers as well as fully grown adults. If most people think the age of sexual consent should be around 16 (the legal norm in the country), then I doubt that most gays and lesbians would think that it's wrong to encourage 16-year-old boys and girls who have some same-sex attraction to experiment with that attraction.

Now, as I've suggested, I don't think there's anything inherently immoral about such attempt to convert people away from purely heterosexual behavior, if they are interested in homosexual behavior, and of course if the "conversion" is done without force, imposition on those who are genuinely too young to decide, and so on. If it weren't for the disproportionate and grave health danger from male homosexual activity, I'd think such encouragement to explore which relationships give people the most happiness would be positively quite good. (Yes, I realize that the danger can be reduced by not engaging in anal sex, always using a condom, not having sex with a partner unless he's been tested and had not had sex for some months before the test, and so on. But most people are not nearly this cautious, and the reality thus remains that, given the vastly disproportionate prevalence of HIV among gays in America today, the greater risk from anal sex, a practice that for understandable reasons many male homosexuals do not want to forego, and the notorious difficulty with getting people to actually practice safe practices — whether aimed at preventing disease or conception — the fact remains that experimenting with male homosexuality is dangerous activity.) Given this danger, I'd prefer that men with bisexual orientations who can be happy with women not experiment with men; but that's a judgment about medical risk, not about the inherent morality of "conversion" attempts, and in any event it doesn't apply to lesbianism.

Nonetheless, if I'm right, then I don't think we should deny that the gay and lesbian movement does aim in part at "converting" people who have a wholly or partly bisexual orientation from a purely heterosexual behavior pattern to one that involves at least some (initially experimental) homosexual behavior.

UPDATE: A bunch of commenters think I shouldn't use the word "convert," for various reasons. The reason I'm using it is that I'm responding to an alleged "myth": People claim that it's a "myth" that gays and lesbians try to convert or recruit others, and I am arguing that this "myth" claim is "likely itself something of a myth, or at least quite incomplete." If you prefer to describe this not as "converting," but as something else (e.g., "influencing the person to change his practices"), that's fine. But if my analysis above is right, then one still shouldn't deride claims of conversion as "myth," even if one thinks that the word is slightly imprecise or has a bad connotation.

But in any event, it seems to me that the term is fine. It is hardly inherently pejorative: Changes in religious beliefs and practices are called conversions, and if people view them negatively, they do so because they disapprove of the new belief or practice, not because they disapprove of "conversion."

And it's also quite sensibly applied to changes in behavior (especially behavior that many people find important to their felt identity) and not just changes in some supposed inherent nature. If you persuade someone to become a vegetarian, you can be said to have converted him to vegetarianism. He's still biologically an omnivore, but his practices are now different. Likewise, changing someone from (a) being an orientational bisexual who engages solely in heterosexual relationships to (b) someone who is an orientational bisexual who engages solely in homosexual relationships, or to (c) someone who is bisexual both by orientation and practice strikes me as quite rightly called a "conversion."

Christian Johnson (mail):
I haven't the time to craft a better response, but I would say that much of this scenario falls apart at stage one,"Should he or she experiment with homosexual relations to see if he or she finds them more rewarding..." (emph. added). As a gay man who's been out for the last 21 of my 36 years, I'd say...no. There's no obligation to experiment. Certainly, if a man were to decide to experiment, that'd be fine, but I object to any suggestion that there's some sort of existential requirement to explore other paths to happiness.

I'm not sure how typical my response would be - I suspect that there are more than a few doctrinaire types who would agree with this construct (and I suspect they would be disproportionately young, or recently out, or both). But I'd bet that my views are of a majority. Too many of us have sat through tedious conversations with family and friends who, with various levels of good intent, ask us how we can know that we haven't found the right person-of-the-opposite-sex. I don't think many of us would be willing to inflict the same conversations on others.
8.22.2005 2:39pm
Paul Gowder (mail):
The error in this post is a misuse of the word "convert." "Conversion," as it is commonly used, implies a change in quality or character rather than a change in behavior. The Inquisition, for example, did not merely want to get Protestants to profess Catholicism, it wanted to get them to "convert" and thus to be Catholics.

All that your post suggests (accurately or otherwise) is that homosexuals might want to have people who are already inclined to behave in a homosexual fashion (because they have the desire to do so) to follow that inclination/desire. This is hardly a "conversion" in the sense that the people who subscribe to the oft-critiqued myth of conversion seem to be advocating.

It's the difference between entrapment and not-entrapment: we don't say that the police have entrapped someone who already has a tendency to do the act, just as we don't say the gay rights folks have converted someone who already has a tendency.

So I think you're misusing a word with unnecessarily negative connotations (no matter that you deny the connotations, the word still has them) when you attempt to redefine this behavior as "conversion."
8.22.2005 2:45pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Christian: I wasn't using "should" in a sense of moral obligation, but rather of simply what one ought to do in order to explore something that might make you happier.

Paul: I don't think there are negative connotation to "conversion" as such. Religious conversion, for instance, is quite neutral; likewise for conversion as to sexual behavior. Naturally, one could disapprove of particular conversions -- Catholics, for instance, would probably like conversions to Catholicism and not conversions from it, and people who oppose homosexuality would dislike conversion to homosexual behavior but would like conversion away from it. But the negative meaning is not in the word "convert"; it comes in one's judgment about the merits of the conversion.

As to whether conversion means change in quality or character rather than behavior: It seems to me that it can mean both, even in the religious context.
8.22.2005 2:51pm
syn4me (mail):
A close friend I know, in his early 20's and I am mid-40's, lives as a homosexual but often expresses in our private conversations that though he has sex with his boyfriend my friend experiences emotional, sometime physical, disgust after the act is completed. Sometimes he wonders what it would be like to have hetero-sex and sometimes questions whether he is homosexual He has tried to speak with other homosexuals but is confronted that he is either being manipulated by the church (though he does not attend church) or is a self-loathing gay man.

Other than to listen, comfort and share my own experience with my sexuality, I have no idea how to respond and it is heartbreaking to witness the internal turmoil he is experiencing.

Based on my own experience over the years (I'm single and am free to have sex whenever and however I wish) I have come to recognize that our culture has eroded the purpose of sex by reducing it to simply an act of pleasure. Yes, sex is pleasurable but this is not it's innate natural driven purpose.

Personally, having lived a number of years simply engaging in sex as a means for pleasure has actually brought to my life a great deal of misery.

I am of the first generation of the sexual revolution born from the late 60's into the 70's and personally, I find the entire experiment to be a complete failure. Margaret Sanger's philosophy, much of what inspired radical American feminism in the 60's/70's, is that sex is all about pleasuring one's self and forget about your womb's ladies however to live such a philosophy brings about no real pleasure at all and is completely devoid of human intimacy.
8.22.2005 3:02pm
Keith Hilzendeger (mail):
Please, oh please, use a different word than "convert." While I agree that the phenomenon you describe exists, and applaud you for describing it accurately, calling it "conversion" tints it with a connotation that I know you're trying to avoid. Calling it "conversion" makes it sound predatory; these "gays and lesbians" you refer to (collectively, not individually) are simply advocating that people first recognize that their sexuality is fluid and then not allow a societal stigma to impede their individual exploration of that fluid sexuality.

This (mis)use of the word "convert" will not be lost on those whose hostility the gay community fears most -- rabid religious fundamentalists, especially those who feel they themselves can "convert" gay and lesbian people into being straight. "Conversion" implies a permanent reorientation of, say, religious belief or sexual activity. After all, Christians celebrate when a Jew accepts Jesus as the Messiah but hardly mention those Christians who, um, go the other way. (And there must be some, even if the number is comparatively smaller.) Likewise, if these people believe that gay and lesbian people can be converted into straight people, pointing out how gays and lesbians are attempting to "convert" straight people simply ignites their moral indignation. Theirs is religiously motivated hostility; yours, Professor, is merely an empirical observation. I don't trust them to keep the two distinct.

You say, "If I'm right, the movement thus is trying to convert those who have a bisexual orientation but act purely heterosexually — or would act purely heterosexually, if we're talking about people who haven't started having sex yet — into also experimenting with homosexuality." You mean, of course, "experimenting with homosexual behavior." You're not saying that the movement is saying, "hey, come join our team," but rather that it is saying, "it's okay to act on these desires if they arise for you, and there are others out there who do this as well." Calling that latter message an attempt at "conversion" doesn't quite capture it. It is more accurately an attempt to reduce stigma and increase freedom of behavior. Unfortunately, I can't think of a single word that captures that idea. Maybe someone else can?
8.22.2005 3:03pm
syn4me (mail):
Pardon me, that should read 'wombs, ladies'.
8.22.2005 3:05pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Geez - That has to be the most homophobic post I've read in a while.

Let's face it. The only people actively trying to "convert" people to their brand of sexuality are HETEROSEXUALS. The whole ex-gay movement is a conversion movement. Of course it doesn't work, but that's another matter altogether.

I really think you need to meet some real live gay people and talk to them before posting crap like this. And it is crap. It's based on absolutely zero evidence except what you "hypothesize" to be true.

And your hypothesis and assumptions are completely wrong. I'm gay and I couldn't give a crap if someone is having gay leanings. Whether or not they care to act on those feelings is not my business. But if they are gay, they should not feel like they should have to hide in the closet. And they should not be discriminated against.

My friend just ran into a closeted friend in a gay bar. The closeted friend was all embarrassed and worried that he would be outed. My friend said not to worry and he wouldn't say anything. The other friends said he thinks he's bi, and maybe he's not really gay, etc. My friend, who thinks the guy is definitely gay, responded by saying "yup. maybe you're bi. you should date girls to find out, as maybe you're straight." Of course, my friend realizes that that once the other guy tries to date girls, he'll realize that nope, he's not straight and he really is gay. Exactly has happened with most gay people (if you bothered to talk to them of course - you'd know this).

So your whole argument goes out the window. Because it's based on your bigoted assumptions. Not facts.

And as you stated previously, the whole notion of bisexuality is probably very, very small, if it exists at all.

Did you attend Church or something yesterday, which is inspiring you to write this junk? This really is beneath you.
8.22.2005 3:06pm
Shelby (mail):
I bet Clayton Cramer's blood pressure just doubled, and I look forward to Andrew Sullivan's response.

My sense is that Eugene's right, and I read both "should" and "convert" (in the post) in the senses that his comment endorses. I wonder how fair it is to characterize this as "trying to convert others" given the connotations THAT phrase has taken on, though. When Christians "try to convert others" that is usually taken to mean organized, intentional programs to bring others into one's faith. It might include a "come to a service, see how you like it" component, but the underlying belief is that your church is the correct one, and anything other than joining it is an error.

I believe relatively few homosexuals/lesbians feel that way about their inclinations, despite a very loud effort by people opposed to "the homosexual agenda". Eugene does a good job of *explaining* how such a situation has evolved, and the mindset on the "pro-homosexual side". But I fear the terminology has by now gotten poisoned, and we'll have to come up with something more neutral-sounding.
8.22.2005 3:07pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
If I favor decriminalizing pot, am I "trying to get people to smoke pot"?

Does it make any difference to your answer whether or not I myself smoke pot?

I would say "no" and "no."
8.22.2005 3:10pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Also - the danger of getting HIV is a hell of a lot higher for gay people who are still in the closet than it is for gay people who are out of the closet.

If you don't believe me, check out the stats for HIV rates for black men vs. white men. It's extremely tough to be gay in the black community, which is why so many gay black men have sex on the "down low", i.e. in the closet. Out gay men are much more likely to have stable, monogomous relationships. But if you're hiding the fact that you're gay, you're much more likely to have one-night stands, etc., which is much riskier. It's hard to have a monogomous relationship and keep it hidden from all of your friends and families, etc.

Also - you conviently forget that HIV rates for lesbians (remember them) are lower than the rate for heterosexuals. So you're argument falls apart there as well. Should we discourage people from being lesbians, because the HIV rate for gay men is higher? Huh? That argument makes zero sense.
8.22.2005 3:12pm
Shelby (mail):
And as you stated previously, the whole notion of bisexuality is probably very, very small, if it exists at all.

Amusingly, this is an utterly stereotypical comment from the gay perspective. Most het people I've spoken to don't care much about bisexuality, or they view it the same way they do homosexuality. Gays, on the other hand, much more universally condemn the very concept of bisexuality, at least in my reading and conversations. Most boil down to "it doesn't really exist". Which is odd, as both my wife and my best friend are bi.
8.22.2005 3:13pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
One more item about "convert": I take it that if someone has become persuaded that he ought to stop eating meat, we can reasonably say that he's been converted to vegetarianism, though the change is one of behavior, flowing from a change of attitude.

It's true that we probably wouldn't say, except jokingly, that someone has been converted to eating asparagus; I suspect that changes in behavior would rarely be called "conversions" unless they are changes in something that's pretty important, and that's relevant to many people's conceptions of their own identities. That's true of vegetarianism, and I think it's also true of homosexual/heterosexual/bisexual practices.

Anderson: If you don't just favor decriminalizing pot, but think that for many people pot is a really important way of becoming happy, and that denying one's desire for pot is likely to be emotionally stultifying, then I'd think you would want people to at least try smoking pot, especially if they already have some reason to think that they'd get a lot of happiness out of it.
8.22.2005 3:16pm
Sarah (mail) (www):
It does make a difference if you want people who smoke pot to be positive role models, and if you'd say "yeah, sure, try pot, see how it is, maybe you'll like it," to someone who was unsure of whether or not they wanted to smoke it at all. It makes a difference if you would walk around town handing out leaflets saying "hey, don't look down on people who smoke pot" -- that's what Prof. Volokh is talking about here, not simple decriminalization.
8.22.2005 3:18pm
Paul Gowder (mail):
Eugene: I think the negative connotations to "conversion" come in when we suggest that A is converting B to something. Compare:

"You converted to Catholicism."
"I converted you to Catholicism."

The latter seems (to my ears at least: I don't know that there's any empirical evidence) to suggest the use of some force or improper practice. For example, compare:

"I convinced you that Catholic doctrines were true."
"I converted you to Catholicism."

Again, the second seems more imposing.

Likewise, we can create two very different sentences by comparing

"I convinced you to stop repressing your homosexual desires."
"I convinced you to act on your homosexual desires."
"I converted you to homosexuality."

Even though those last three sentences, on your argument above, would or could be equivalent, the second sounds rather dramatically worse, more forceful, more imposing than the first two.

As for the use of the word "convert" to mean "change in character" rather than "change in behavior," I think it might be helpful to look at how those who are against homosexuality use the word in the opposite direction. When they speak of their intent to "convert" gays into straight people, they do not speak of a mere change in behavior, of stopping the homosexual conduct. Rather, they speak of a change in something more internal -- something with a first person ontology rather than a third person ontology we might say -- changing the presumably more innate desires.

For example, this fellow describes his experience as follows (if the Post's characterization is accurate):
"Cohen said the man served as a mentor, enabling him to forgive his father, relinquish his guilt about being molested and rid himself of same-sex attraction."

This isn't stopping behavior, it's changing orientation.

Of course, the waters are muddied by the fact that the anti-gay groups maintain largely that homosexuality is non-biological, thus, for them, there would be no difference between changing either to or from homosexual behavior and changing to or from homosexual natures. Still, it seems that the "converting" accusation is one of creating homosexuals, not manifesting them.
8.22.2005 3:21pm
John Thacker (mail):
My friend, who thinks the guy is definitely gay, responded by saying "yup. maybe you're bi. you should date girls to find out, as maybe you're straight." Of course, my friend realizes that that once the other guy tries to date girls, he'll realize that nope, he's not straight and he really is gay. Exactly has happened with most gay people (if you bothered to talk to them of course - you'd know this).

Hmm. Downtown Lad, perhaps I misunderstand, but it seems to me that this response, rather than disagreeing, expresses complete agreement with Professor Volokh's point. I don't see how encouraging someone to try dating women to see if you're really bi or heterosexual is so different from encouraging someone who has only had heterosexual relationships previously to try having a homosexual relationship if he is unsure or has questions. People who are comfortable with both homosexuality and hetereosexuality will encourage people to be willing to date either men or women and to experiment with sex with either. If your friend is willing to tell someone who is unsure about whether he really is gay to try dating women, would he not also tell someone is who unsure about whether he really is straight to try dating men? (Whereas certainly people who disapprove of homosexuality would not suggest the latter, though they would suggest the former.) Why is suggesting that the latter would occur homophobic?
8.22.2005 3:22pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Folks, please read posts (and comments) carefully before commenting on them.

Downtown Lad: My argument would fall apart, if it had been as you had read it. But I'm afraid you misread it: I wrote "Given this danger, I'd prefer that men with bisexual orientations who can be happy with women not experiment with men; but that's a judgment about medical risk, not about the inherent morality of 'conversion' attempts, and in any event it doesn't apply to lesbianism."

As to HIV in-the-closet/out-of-the-closet danger, you may well be right; but, again, please read closely my assertion: "Given this danger, I'd prefer that men with bisexual orientations who can be happy with women not experiment with men; but that's a judgment about medical risk, not about the inherent morality of 'conversion' attempts, and in any event it doesn't apply to lesbianism." If someone can be happy with women, and doesn't experiment with men, he's safer than if he does experiment with men. I'm not suggesting that he experiment with men but stay in the closet -- I'm suggesting that he not experiment with men. And because that latter option is much less feasible for men who can't be happy with women, I explicitly limited my claim to men who can be happy with women.
8.22.2005 3:23pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Accepting the disanalogies to pot-smoking, I think I have a sharpened sense of what bothers me in the argument.

Whether or not homosexuality is genetically determined, my gay acquaintances have all assumed as much. So they would laugh off the "conversion" suggestion, though "oh, *I* could change him!" remains a common laugh-line.

If I think that people with gay preferences can and should feel free to realize same in their sexual practices, that just isn't "conversion" in any meaningful sense. To "convert" is to change a not-A into an A.

Whereas unless vegetarianism or, um, carnivorism(?) is likewise determined, no one just *is* a vegetarian; it's an optional belief to which one may be "converted."
8.22.2005 3:27pm
Experience:
Can someone speak to the phenomenon of gay men trying to score on an individual level with straight men? A gay friend explained to me that for some gay men, having sex with a straight man is considered a trophy of sorts.
8.22.2005 3:28pm
John Thacker (mail):
In fact, Downtown Lad, it seems to me that if your friend would encourage a questioning person to try dating the opposite sex, but would not encourage a questioning person to try dating the same sex, then your friend's behavior could at least possibly be described as "homophobic." More so than Professor Volokh's post.

Gays, on the other hand, much more universally condemn the very concept of bisexuality, at least in my reading and conversations. Most boil down to "it doesn't really exist". Which is odd, as both my wife and my best friend are bi.

I think that this does relate to Professor Volokh's post. If true bisexuals exist, then efforts to stigmatize homosexuality have at least some potential payoff for those who do so, disapproving of homosexual behavior-- discouraging bisexuals from experiencing and getting them to ignore their homosexual attractions in exchange for heterosexual relationships. The existence of a continuum of orientations also seems make the idea of people changing their orientation more possible than a binary hetero/homosexual divide. If bisexuality does not truly exist, then that makes stigmitizing homosexuality even more pointless than it current is.
8.22.2005 3:29pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
I don't need a study to tell me that homosexuals try to recruit others. I spent years in the music business and go to law school. They are like everyone else: Attempting to expand their numbers. It is no different than anyone trying to recruit new religious converts, ACLU members, Federalist Society members, or any other group you can think of. Bottom line, if you are homosexual, you are homosexual. If you aren't, you will not be. If anything, encouragement from a homosexual will give you the confidence (or the excuse) to finally become what you naturally are.

I don't think I am saying anything new here. What I am saying is that a study is a waste of time, and I'm sure tax money was wasted somewhere here to tell us what we should already know.
8.22.2005 3:31pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Brian G: How does your analysis apply to those who are somewhat attracted to both sexes? They may naturally be attracted to both sexes -- but they may choose whether to engage in heterosexual relationships, homosexual relationships, or a mix of these relationships, and this choice may be influenced by social factors.
8.22.2005 3:35pm
jallgor (mail):
Downtown Lad,
I won't get into all the reasons I don't think the post was homophobic. I just wnat to point out how your last post sems to misread what Eugene wrote. Eugene does not say we should discourage people from being Gay because of HIV (which you post seems to suggest). He states that if Gays are trying to persuade people on the fence to engage in homosexual activity and if this persuasion were done without force, etc. he sees that as an overall positive thing. The only downside he could think of was the increased risk of HIV among male homosexuals. A downside tha is undeniable but nowhere does Eugene imply that it outweighs the good. Thus, A) he isn't arguing that it is bad to encourage people to be gay because of HIV and B) he didn't forget about lesbians as you post implies, he doesn't mention them because (as you note) lesbian activity doesn't have the same risk of HIV.
8.22.2005 3:36pm
Noah Snyder (mail):
My impression is that in Law it is typical to take a commonly used word and redefine its meaning to be something more precise. This happened both in this thread where Eugene clarifies what he means by "convert" and it happened several times with "substantial" and "support the insurgency" in another thread.

Conversely in politics the point is to take known phenomenon and put your phrasing on to it. The whole point is to use phrases whose baggage hints at something else.

I agree with many of the commenters here that "convert someone" carries a lot more baggage and doesn't at all mean what Eugene is defining it to me. The scholar in me doesn't mind, so long as he is precise. But the political part of me recoils in that the practical affects of saying something like "gays really are trying to convert your kids" has nothing to do with this precise meaning.
8.22.2005 3:43pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Hmm. Downtown Lad, perhaps I misunderstand, but it seems to me that this response, rather than disagreeing, expresses complete agreement with Professor Volokh's point. I don't see how encouraging someone to try dating women to see if you're really bi or heterosexual is so different from encouraging someone who has only had heterosexual relationships previously to try having a homosexual relationship if he is unsure or has questions. People who are comfortable with both homosexuality and hetereosexuality will encourage people to be willing to date either men or women and to experiment with sex with either. If your friend is willing to tell someone who is unsure about whether he really is gay to try dating women, would he not also tell someone is who unsure about whether he really is straight to try dating men? (Whereas certainly people who disapprove of homosexuality would not suggest the latter, though they would suggest the former.) Why is suggesting that the latter would occur homophobic?

John - No. The point is that most gay people don't feel like it is their job to bring someone out of the closet. They basically feel that it is best if the person figures it out on their own. If this guy thinks he's bi, then fine, let him think that. He'll eventually figure it out.

I came out in my thirties, quite late. I had about three friends that are gay men and I hadn't told them I was gay. When I finally came out, they said "yeah - we had known all along.". They never tried to convert me. They never hinted at it previously. Because all gay men know that coming out is one of the most difficult processes one goes through. And everyone has to do it on their own terms.

It's funny though, because once I came out, about five straight people I know actively tried to convert me back to heterosexuality, practically begging me to attend ex-gay seminars, threatening to cut off any contact with me if I didn't, etc. And then following through on that thread when I said I was comfortable being gay and would not (could not) change.

Like I said - it's the heterosexuals who are the recruiters, not gay people. If you'd actually sit down and talk to a real live gay person, you'd get a similar story.
8.22.2005 4:00pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Concur with Noah.

When we see a potentially valid point made with evidently inflammatory language, we wonder whether the objective was the point itself, or the inflammation.

Myself, giving Prof. V. the benefit of the doubt, I think he enjoys the exercise of arguing against the conventional wisdom, and that his use of the "conversion" terminology derives therefrom, not from any desire to stir people up against gays.

Which reminds me of the criticism one hears directed at Nietzsche, that words have consequences and one should be conscious of the unintended consequences of one's rhetoric. I never thought this was a fair criticism of N., so I would be hypocritical to apply it to Prof. V.
8.22.2005 4:02pm
duh! (mail):
Wow talk about moving the goal posts...

The implication with conversion is that homosexuality is not immutable. It has nothing to do with being a positive or negative connotation.

As if its a simple choice like cutting out hamburgers in favor of tofu.
8.22.2005 4:07pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Eugene - Yes, I reread that part, and I misunderstood your point. Sorry about that. But I still contend that the whole "conversion" point is homophobic. And dangerous. It conjures up thoughts of pedophelia, and people use that falsehood to stigmitize and demean and oppress gay people. It's a dangerous term and people ought to use it very, very carefully. I'm sure you didn't intend that, but trust me, your post is going to be picked up as "proof" by the anti-gay bigots that even mainstream journalists believe gay people "convert".

The bisexual thing is a non-starter. You would find a tough time finding a gay person who was happy to find out they were gay at first. No amount of acceptance by society will change that. Nobody wants to be in a minority if they don't have to. So I think it's inevitable that the vast majority of gay people will deny to themselves that they are gay at first. Then they will say that maybe they are bi and start dating women. Eventually they'll realize they are gay (unless they really are bi). But yes, in the meantime, there certainly are greater risks for women who date bi men unknowingly.

As for whether bi people exist - I don't know. But I thought the scientific study says that they don't exist was quite interesting. And it goes hand in hand with what I've experienced. Most gay people claim to be bi at first. I had myself convinced that I was bi. But I never was. But hey - if people claim they are bi - I will support them 100%.
8.22.2005 4:11pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
To me it seems like the problem with the word "convert" is that it means something different to those who believe homosexuality is a behavioral act and those who believe it is a personal characteristic.

To "convert" someone who IS gay means to change who they are. To "convert" someone to the act of engaging in homosexual behavior is much less offensive.

I really don't mean to start an argument on which viewpoint is right, but I have a pretty good idea that Mr. Volokh and those who pounced on his terminology disagree on this point.
8.22.2005 4:12pm
WB:
To actually answer Prof. Volokh's questions:

1. If someone's history is heterosexual-only, but that person is feeling homosexual attraction, I think that that person *should,* for his/her personal/emotional health, etc., do something to figure out the source/depth of the homosexual attraction, rather than trying to repress it. (Although, one thing that the person could do is try to repress the feelings and see if they come back). I don't think that sexual experimentation is necessarily the way to go about it, for health/moral reasons (here, my objection is to promiscuity, not homosexuality), but some sort of introspection is in order.

2. Following #1, I think that gay rights groups would do well to encourage introspection of some kind rather than repression as the appropriate response when one feels homosexual attraction.

3. I don't know. I think that a person's friends, whether gay or straight, should support and listen to a person who feels homosexual attraction, and only encourage "experimentation" with same-sex relationships if that seems to be right for the person feeling homosexual feelings (in light of that person's particular circumstances --- not all instances of homosexual attraction need to be followed up by experimentation). I think it depends on the person and shouldn't have anything to do with "recruiting."

#4 and 5 -- I think I'd have to be gay to give a decent response to those questions.


I think that the fundamental point that comes out when you ask those questions is "what is the appropriate response when a person with heterosexual-only history feels homosexual attraction?" And I think that the proper response is that that person's friends, regardless of who they are, should try to help that person figure his/her feelings out, and whatever they do for that person should be motivated to that end only.

I can't tell if you're insinuating that selfishly-motivated friends may try to "recruit" that person or otherwise exploit those homosexual feelings instead of merely helping the friend sort them out.
8.22.2005 4:20pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
That's correct Daniel. My problem is with the word "convert".

Most of my gay friends simply don't have the time to deal with people who are coming out of the closet, let alone try and "convert" people. I think straight people would be shocked out how dismissive an out gay person can be to another gay person who's in the closet. It's actually quite selfish. Rather than trying to help the person in the closet come to terms with their sexuality, most gay people are just like "I don't have time for that. I dealt with that myself when I came out of the closet, but I've moved beyond that, and I have to live my own life. Let them figure it out on their own".

At least that's how it was for me. My gay friends didn't help me at all when I came out. It was my straight friends who wanted to talk about it.

I think that's understandable though. Coming out is a very tough time, and if gay people have a choice, they really don't want to revisit that time in their life (the coming-out process). They'd rather just forget it and move on.
8.22.2005 4:22pm
torrentprime (mail):
Try this debate with a different subject, and you will see the problem with "convert": abortion. Abortion rights activists campaign, march, legislate, vote and generally advocate to create for women the freedom, access, etc to have an abortion. But if you were to say that a pro-choice activist is "trying to get girls to have abortions," you would be crucified: PC activists are trying to create an environment and atmosphere that allows women the freedom to choose an abortion without anyone stopping them. If a woman is pro-life and would never have an abortion, it's no skin off the PC activist's nose; all they want is the freedom for others.
It is the same here: by trying to reduce the stigma and increase the acceptance of homesexual lifestyles/experiments/feelings/whatever, they (we) are trying to allow people to be who they are or who they want to be, etc.: allow people to make their own decisions without fear of prosecution, violence or discrimination. How does it then follow that it is a conversion? Creating freer societies does not imply active or passive conversion, regardless of which definition of "convert" you use, IMHO.
8.22.2005 4:24pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
I think "trying to help the person in the closet come to terms with their sexuality" implies more than "trying to reduce the stigma and increase the acceptance of homosexual lifestyles." We're talking about an effort to make a specific person more comfortable with a particular act/lifestyle.

To make your abortion analogy accurate, we'd have to have a particular woman who deep down wants an abortion but can't admit it to herself and won't get one, and a friend who is actively helping her "come to terms with" getting one.
8.22.2005 4:33pm
Kevin St. John (mail):
I don't get the storm here.

The data cited is of behavior.

The post describes orientation, and treats it as something different, and questions whether there is an attempt by persons engaging in certain behaviors to have persons of identified orientations engage in those behaviors when they have not been.

Whether homosexual orientation is immutable or not, behavior is the manifestation of choice -- behavior is never immutable. The argument here, if I understand it, is that the gay rights movement wishes to have behavior more accurately reflect orientation. And that suggestion amounts to "most homophobic post I've read in a while"?

Of course, whether behavior generally should be in line with any orientation involves many questions that Eugene only scratches the surface on, and then only from a public/personal health perspective. (Because, I presume, this post is about whether there is a conversion at all, not whether it is right). Suffice it to say, what is natural (the orientation) is not always how one should behave (consider the unnaturalness of monogamy ot the naturalness of feeling angry). But sometimes the natural should dictate behavior. Is homosexual behavior the latter camp? By its own terms, Eugene's post does not seriously tackle that question, and I don't think he should be speared for it.
8.22.2005 4:35pm
lucia (mail) (www):
My impression is that in Law it is typical to take a commonly used word and redefine its meaning to be something more precise. This happened both in this thread where Eugene clarifies what he means by "convert" and it happened several times with "substantial" and "support the insurgency" in another thread.

It may be common in law, philosophy, or for that matter, engineering redefine a word and use it to communicate. However, you can't then use it both wasys.

The problem is not that one decide to that "conversion" does not carry the nuance most of us think it conveyes. The problem is that Eugene then goes on to suggest that gay rights groups are dissembling when they say they are not "trying to convert" anyone, but when they use the term, they are using "convert" in what I would take to be the "normal" sense, which carries an evangelical nuance.

Now, I will grant that the nuance I read into that word may be one Eugene doesn't hear when the word is used. I was brought up Roman Catholic, and I assure you, the word "convert" carries a evangelical nuance when I hear it.

Christian in general is very evangelical. If you grow up going to mass and hearing of effort to convert people, the phrase "Trying to convert someone", generally brings to mind a fairly vigorous campaign to make people adopt new behaviors and beliefs. Historically, these vigorous campaigns ranged from shouting "the word" from street corner, creating legal sanctions against those who don't convert, to, well, killing people who refused to convert.
8.22.2005 4:36pm
David Berke:
I tend to agree with those who have stated that "convert" was not an ideal choice of words, although I do not attribute this choice of words to any particular agenda. Although Prof. Volokh states that "the movement thus is trying to convert those who have a bisexual orientation but act purely heterosexually," I am not sure that, even accepting his definition, and everything he said is true, that this is accurate.

The phrase "trying to convert" indicates intent. However, as Prof. Volokh has described the scenario, it is one in which an agenda in making "homosexuals feel more comfortable with their homosexuality" is the goal. Although this may have the result of allowing or encouraging those with ambivalent (and not so ambivalent) sexual preferences to engage in homosexual experimentation, that does not mean that such experimentation was the goal.

If such experimentation was simply an unintended consequence, there would be no intent. Is it not possible that the agenda is promoted, not in order to bring about such experimentation, but in order to increase the personal happiness of the affected parties? If true, this is not an example of "trying to convert."

Further, it seems odd to speak of conversion as encouraging people to have their external behavior match their internal desires/genetics/background/etc. As others have noted, one expects "conversion" to mean a change of external and internal attributes to meet a new norm. Although there has been some discussion of "precision," it is odd to define a loaded word in a way which ignores the implications of that word.
8.22.2005 4:41pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
The only people I've ever met who have tried to "convert" people to be gay, all happen to have been straight.

Yes, I'm talking about every straight guy who has tried to convince his girlfriend to sleep with another girl.

Again - the only people trying to "convert" anyone are straight. Maybe someone should blog about that.
8.22.2005 4:45pm
torrentprime (mail):

To make your abortion analogy accurate, we'd have to have a particular woman who deep down wants an abortion but can't admit it to herself and won't get one, and a friend who is actively helping her "come to terms with" getting one.

Not necessarily. That is one possible scenario, but not the only one. The issue is that allowing people to make decisions in whatever way they choose, with whatever support structure they have or don't, is easier if the person faced with the choice does not have to think about some of the negative consequences of the decision which society currently has, such as: arrest, discrimination, religious condemnation, family rejection, etc. Abortion activists want women to be able to choose abortion or not without worrying about those things. By advocating acceptance of homosexual behavior, gay activists do the same.

David Berke, you made the explicit the link to "intent" that I was trying to make. I agree.
8.22.2005 4:49pm
Lawbot2000:
I used to work with two different gay guys who would try to sleep with every straight guy that walked into the office. One would constantly brag about converting straight guys to the other side.
8.22.2005 4:50pm
UntenuredbutTenureTrack:
Hmmm - Downtown Lad - there's a whole genre of Straigh-Man-First-Time and Gay-For-Pay porn that looks very conversion oriented to me.
8.22.2005 4:51pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Hmmm... While it might have no basis in reality, the "porn as common fantasy" point is interesting. Good thinking.
8.22.2005 4:55pm
Ketzl Brame (mail) (www):
Hi Prof. Volokh,
An interesting experiment here is replacing "gay" with "Jewish". The two groups are similar in their history of being oppressed by the majority. I think they're similar in their approach to conversion as well-- you can be born Jewish or if not and you want to convert there's a whole host of reasons not to; subtle and not-so-subtle social bias, family condemnation, just the plain weirdness of doing something abnormal. Jews who fight for equal rights and against anti-Semitism aren't trying to convert people, they're just trying to make things more fair for themselves and others like them.
8.22.2005 4:58pm
Bryan DB:
Eugene,
As soon as I started reading this post, I disagreed with your inexact language, and I'll agree with Paul and others who have noted that the use of "convert" is not correct for what you mean, unless you're trying to be subversive in some manner. Conversion deals with changing of a thing's nature. I can't buy your argument that "convert" can be used in relation to behavior, because behavior is influenced by one's nature and does not exist on its own. Unless you mean that homosexuals are trying to "convert" someone's "nature" (by "turning" them homosexual or bisexual), which would be an unbelievable assertion for someone of your sense, then that language is inappropriate.

At the very least, you should be using language closer akin to "encourage," which applies more to behavior and makes clear that the essential nature of the person is really what leads to the possibility of the change in behavior.

To imply with a straight face that there are no negative connotations to "conversion" in this circumstance is to totally ignore that many groups which aim to "convert" do so because they don't like the nature of one thing and wish to change it to another.
8.22.2005 4:58pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
I used to work with two different gay guys who would try to sleep with every straight guy that walked into the office. One would constantly brag about converting straight guys to the other side.

Yes, &he was full of it, too. As the other comment about "conversion porn" also indicates, this has more to do with gay machismo &fantasy than with reality.

Straight-male readers can easily test this by asking themselves how readily they could be "converted" by Lawbot's co-worker. Personally, I think the requisite quantity of Maker's Mark would have me comatose long beforehand.
8.22.2005 5:03pm
torrentprime (mail):
UntenuredbutTenureTrack (not sure if you were serious, but it's worth a giggle either way)

there's a whole genre of Straigh-Man-First-Time and Gay-For-Pay porn that looks very conversion oriented to me.

So, gay porn (which is for, you know guys who are already gay) is an effort at conversion? Does that mean straight porn is an attempt at converting pizza deliverers and pool boys into having sex with the housewives they visit? LOL It's a fantasy for gay ppl, not an outreach program.
Unless the "straight man" and "gay-for-pay" porn is being handed out at frat houses with toll-free hotline numbers at the bottom, I don't really see any effort at conversion...
8.22.2005 5:05pm
mackinac (mail):
hey

I think the assumption of question of 'when is someone gay' erroneous.

The idea that somehow we are all creatures of genetics is, frankly, a little scary.

If (big if) "gayness" is only hereditary, then recruitment would make no sense.
If (big if) it is a "choice" or partly hereditary, partly behavioral, then there is a very large can of worms to be opened
If (big if) it is mainly behavioral and choice then "recruitment" is possible, if not probable

I have seen (in theschool I work) stuff from "gays" that only could be termed "recruitment" - or, maybe a demand for affirmation that kids who have homosexual thoughts act and become "gay"

If there is a fungibility (big word - always like to use it) to sexual orientation, if people can change back and forth, then recruitment is the word.

regards
mackinacnick
8.22.2005 5:22pm
mark:
I have a criticism of the use of the word "convert" that I think has not been addressed.

Basically, I believe that Prof. Volokh's argument suffers from not being precise about what he means people are being converted to and from.

To say that homosexuals are trying to convert people to homosexual behavior is, I think, unfair. While some may attempt this (I wouldn't know), I think a fairer statement of the conversion they desire would be:

From: A society in which people do not feel comfortable exploring their sexuality; people feel pressures to be/not be a certain sexuality.

To: A society in which everyone feels free to discover their own sexuality, be it hetero, bi, gay.

Stated this way, I think the phenomenon that Prof. Volokh posits is a _secondary_ effect of homosexuals' desired conversion.

I believe it is fairer to say that gays want everyone to feel free to discover their own sexuality. They may believe that this will result in people "converting" to homosexuality. But this is a byproduct of their goal, not the goal itself.

As long as everyone is truly free to discover their own sexuality, I believe gay people would be happy, even if that meant an overall _decrease_ in the number of gays.

This is why I think saying that the homosexual movement "does aim in part at "converting" people who have a wholly or partly bisexual orientation from a purely heterosexual behavior pattern to one that involves at least some (initially experimental) homosexual behavior." is unfair.

The movement's goal is not to increase the number of gay people. It is to ensure that everyone feels free to choose their own path. Their primary concern is not behavior, but the level of acceptence of and freedom to engage in certain behavior.
8.22.2005 5:24pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Prof. V, noting your emphasis on bisexuals, allow me to remind you of the recent study suggesting that male bisexuals are, at least, very rare indeed. Not uncontroversial, so it's too soon to know what to make of the result; but perhaps worth considering, since if there are so few, that makes "conversion" of them (in terms of your post's update) relatively insignificant.
8.22.2005 5:26pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Mackinacnick - Gays don't recruit and never have. Only straight people do. Going by your rhetoric - your use of the word "recruit" - I can only assume that you are one of those people doing the recruiting. Do you sympathize with the "ex-gay" movement? If so - you're a recruiter.
8.22.2005 5:37pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Maybe things have changed a lot since I was in college in the late 60s and early 70s, during the sexual revolution, which is clearly possible, but I was propositioned by a number of gay and bi men during that time. The worst offender was one "friend" who was bi, and would proposition me when my girlfriend wasn't around, and her when I wasn't. This went on until one day, he spent a long time in my room expounding how a relation with him would be better than with her, until she popped her head out from the curtins around our bed, subtly indicating that she had heard the whole thing. Later, she told me that he had been saying almost exactly the same things to her.

I got quite tired of hearing that if I tried it, I would like it. I am still happily hetrosexual. Indeed, today at lunch, looking at some high school coeds, I was just wishing I were that young again - they got my juices going, despite being three times their ages.

Maybe culture changed. Maybe it was because I graduated from college. But in any case, this sort of thing pretty much died out for me about that time, for which I was quite happy.
8.22.2005 5:38pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Bruce - Sounds like the guy was attracted to you and was just trying to convince you to like him. That's not conversion. It's called persistence.

You know - the same kind of persistence as when a really ugly guy keeps trying to convince a blond bombshell that she should date him. Of course there's zero chance in hell that the girl will ever actually associate with the guy - but hey, the guy keeps trying anyway. He's persistent.

And both are incredibly stupid too.
8.22.2005 5:56pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Probably the easiest way to disprove the fallacy of this entire post is to go out and poll gay people. Ask them who "converted" them to being gay.

I think you'll get a lot of blank stares. And if you're straight, ask yourself who converted you to being straight.
8.22.2005 6:09pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Rephrase the question to "who first convinced you to become a practicing heterosexual?" and I think the question isn't nearly as confusing or difficult to answer.
8.22.2005 6:21pm
gr (www):
Instead of convert, you should say 'welcoming.'
8.22.2005 6:22pm
Glenn Bridgman (mail):
Count me in as having issues with the word "convert."

The problem is obvious when you consider that the original claim "Gays are converting others to homosexuality"is being used in an almost entirely pejoritive sense.
8.22.2005 6:29pm
Byomtov (mail):
"Convert" is a very poor choice of terms. Consider this from the post:

But there are many actions that might go into this sort of "conversion" (if only a conversion into a mix of homosexual/heterosexual behavior, and a conversion that in many cases will end up proving to be only temporary)

Conversion does not usually imply a mix of behaviors. A Jew who converts to Christianity does not go to synagogue on Saturday and church on Sunday. He does not engage in "a mix of Jewish/Christian behavior." Coversionimplies a complete switch. That's not what you are talking about.
8.22.2005 6:45pm
DavidL (mail):
I can't say I have any problem with the word "convert;" the real problem is convert <i>whom</i>? Eugene makes a sensible point that I don't believe is usually assumed — that only people who are bisexual could reasonably be so "converted."

When this argument is ordinarily made in political discussion, the assumption is that gays are trying to convert at random, or at least indiscriminately. The myth Eugene discusses is reasonable only in proportion to the extent that his assumption about who could be converted is accepted. After a couple of decades of listening to this debate on all sides, I can say that I think the assumptions underlying the debate are far more irresponsible than this hypothetical suggests.
8.22.2005 7:01pm
Noah Snyder (mail):
In your update you wrote: "if people view them negatively, they do so because they disapprove of the new belief or practice, not because they disapprove of 'conversion.'"

I think you're actually wrong on this point. For example, the United Ministry at Harvard describes itself (at http://www.ministry.harvard.edu/about_us.php) as being founded on "collaborative code of non-proselytization and mutual respect." That is to say, they will allow any beliefs, but they ban anyone who tries to convert people to their own belief. This is a clear example of a group which disapproves of "conversation" per se and not because of the new belief.

I know this is just one example, but I think the phenomenon is widespread.
8.22.2005 7:08pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Downtown Lad says:


Let's face it. The only people actively trying to "convert" people to their brand of sexuality are HETEROSEXUALS. The whole ex-gay movement is a conversion movement. Of course it doesn't work, but that's another matter altogether.
Nope. Professor Robert L. Spitzer—who led the 1970s effort to remove homosexuality from DSM-III—has published a study in Archives of Sexual Behavior, 32:5 [October 2003], 403-417, that concludes that about half of all homosexuals who make a serious effort to change not just behavior but orientation are successful at doing so.

Why are only half successful? I don't know. It is possible that homosexuality has multiple causes. Perhaps for some it is truly a choice. I've pointed out that the very high levels of childhood sexual abuse and adult substance abuse among homosexuals might indicate that for some homosexuals, their sexual orientation is a symptom of abuse.

If someone is completely happy being a homosexual, I can't imagine that any coercive measure is going to change them. There are homosexuals who are not happy about their orientation, however, and pretending that none of them have any choice in the matter smells suspiciously like recruiting. It is now apparently a criminal offense in Britain to tell homosexuals that they don't have to be that way.
8.22.2005 7:26pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Another interesting related story... Thanks, Clayton.
8.22.2005 7:32pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Clayton Cramer - You're a anti-gay bigot and anyone who has read your prior posts would know that.

Your stats are completely false. Even many of the spokespeople of the "ex-gay" movement have since come out as gay.

I suggest anyone with an open mind (i.e., NOT Clayton Cramer) check out www.exgaywatch.com for more info.

In the meantime, Clayton is going to continue to try and "recruit" people and "convert" them to heterosexuality.
8.22.2005 7:35pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):

Despite the active cooperation of NARTH and ex-gay religious groups, Spitzer said it took him more than 16 months to recruit 200 people who had undergone treatment. He conducted 45-minute telephone interviews and found that 66 percent of 143 men and 44 percent of 57 women, all of whom Spitzer described as "highly motivated" and almost all of whom were "extraordinarily religious," had achieved "good heterosexual function" lasting at least five years. They were in a committed relationship, had satisfying heterosexual sex at least monthly and said they were rarely or never bothered by homosexual feelings.

In an accompanying commentary, former APA president Lawrence Hartmann, a professor at Harvard Medical School, called Spitzer's study "too flawed to publish." Hartmann noted the study was retrospective, that it lacked controls or independent measurements, and was based entirely on self-reports by people who were motivated to say they had changed because of their affiliation with ex-gay or anti-gay groups.

While Nicolosi and others frequently cite the study as proof reparative therapy works, Spitzer said his results have been misrepresented. "It bothers me to be their knight in shining armor because on every social issue I totally disagree with the Christian right," he said.

"What they don't mention is that change is pretty rare," he added, noting that the subjects of his study were not representative of the general population because they were considerably more religious.

And Spitzer calls "totally absurd" the twin hypotheses that everyone is born straight and that homosexuality is a choice.

Drescher agrees. "There are probably a small number of people with some flexibility in their sexual identity who can change," he said. "Out of the hundreds of gay men I've treated, I've had one."
·



From the Washington Post article last Tuesday.

Again - for anyone with an open mind (i.e. NOT Clayton Cramer)
8.22.2005 7:49pm
WWB (mail) (www):
Interesting, from the text below the comment box:

We're trying something new here, perhaps quixotic but I hope useful. We'd like the posts to be civil, of course (no profanity, personal insults, and the like), but we're also hoping that people try to be as calm, reasoned, and substantive as possible.

Not that Clayton needs any defense, but he is hardly an anti-gay bigot. I have read his prior posts and there's nothing hateful about them.

"What they don't mention is that change is pretty rare," he added, noting that the subjects of his study were not representative of the general population because they were considerably more religious.

Religious people are going to be more motivated to change because they want to do what is right in God's eyes. An atheist isn't going to consider what God thinks. People in the MCC aren't going to consider what God thinks because they're being lied to. A Christian with homosexual desires cannot reconcile his feelings with his religion. God isn't going to change, so the Christian has to.
8.22.2005 8:16pm
Dave:
Given that straight men have fantasies about "converting" lesbians (and often try), I wouldn't find it at all surprising that gay men do the same thing to straight men. If the porn genre discussed above does exist (I wouldn't know) that seems like more evidence in that department. I think that the idea that gay people think others would be happier if "behavior more accurately reflect[ed] orientation," to use Kevin's words above, should be pretty uncontroversial. The only issue here is the relationship between this utterly benign statement and the larger debate about whether "conversion" exists.

The word "conversion" doesn't seem to be as accurate as some of the alternatives, but given the intent of the post (which was to dispute the conventional wisdom about so-called conversion), I think it's justified, especially considering the professor's (somewhat inconsistent) use of scare quotes around the word.
8.22.2005 8:25pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Would you care to point out the insult I used WWB, before slandering me?

I called Clayton Cramer an anti-gay bigot. He IS an anti-gay bigot. Would you care to point out one of his "pro-gay" statements. If you can actually find one, I'll retract my statement. Perhaps you should look up the definition of bigot in the dictionary, becuase it fits Clayton rather well.


Bigot: One who is strongly partial to one's own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ.


And I think it's quite obvious that he's anti-gay. If not, why is he so intent on converting us?

He's also a liar. Not only does he falsely claim that gay people were molested as children and are all drug addicts, but he claims that half of all gay people can be converted to being straight, when in reality the author of that study says it's "pretty rare" for a gay person to change his orientation.
8.22.2005 8:25pm
Challenge:
I have no doubt that DowntownLad is speaking from his personal experience. But I wonder why he has dismissed the numerous postings by other people, presumably as sincere and accurate as he is, saying they were subjects of unwanted gay advances or gay friends tried to "convert" them. Why must DowntownLad's experience be representative of the entire gay community? Is it unconceivable this happens? Not really.
8.22.2005 8:27pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Challenge - Where did I deny that these unwanted advances ever happened?

But since when did an "unwanted advance" translate into a "conversion" movement by the entire gay community.

When someone is attracted to someone, they make that known. So what? If you don't like those advances, then rebuff them. But that's not conversion.

I'm gay. Straight women hit on me all the time. Would you really say that they are trying to "convert" me? I don't. They're probably just hoping I'm bi.
8.22.2005 8:34pm
Challenge:
"I called Clayton Cramer an anti-gay bigot. He IS an anti-gay bigot. Would you care to point out one of his "pro-gay" statements. If you can actually find one, I'll retract my statement."

You have to be wildly and unapologetically pro-gay in order to be not considered an anti-gay bigot? Wow. The vast majority of Americans probably wouldn't describe themselves as "pro-gay." They probably don't view the lifestyle as particularly healthy or a life to envy. Few want their children to be gay. Are all of these people anti-gay bigots? I mean, you're basically asking people to celebrate homosexuality or face your charge of anti-gay bigotry. That's probably not the best approach, Lad.
8.22.2005 8:34pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
I don't care what the "best approach" is challenge.

The fact is that yes, the VAST MAJORITY of Americans are anti-gay bigots.

And they make that pretty clear at the ballot box everytime they vote to deny us our rights.
8.22.2005 8:36pm
Challenge:
Actually, I think a significant amount of straight women wish to convert gay men. Some have already mentioned straight men wishing to convert lesbians. I'm sure a successful conversion would be proof of one's sexual powers. That and everybody wants what they can't have.

I don't know what percent of gays try to "convert" straights, but I think it's pretty clear it happens. That was all Volokh was saying, I thought. That it's not a "myth."
8.22.2005 8:38pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
I wonder if whites in the segregationist South were this defensive when people called them racist? I assume so.
8.22.2005 8:39pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Challenge - it's rare. Especially because straight men have a habit of assaulting gay people, if they even think a gay man is looking them over.
8.22.2005 8:41pm
Challenge:
Downtown Lad, can you point me to a single pro-straight thing you have written on this thread? If not, I am assuming you're conceding your anti-straight bigotry. =)
8.22.2005 8:42pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Downtown Lad, can you point me to a single pro-straight thing you have written on this thread? If not, I am assuming you're conceding your anti-straight bigotry.


Sure - here you go:


At least that's how it was for me. My gay friends didn't help me at all when I came out. It was my straight friends who wanted to talk about it.
8.22.2005 8:45pm
Challenge:
That's pro-straight? Weak.

In response to your comment about assaults: I don't think it is really that rare for gays to hit on straights, whether on purpose or on accident. Certainly, depending on the context and the individual, there is a deterrence because a lot of men may respond physically, but I wouldn't describe it as "rare" either.
8.22.2005 8:48pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
"hitting on" happens - sure. I'm not denying that. But that's not conversion. It's not even close. It is natural to make a move to someone you're attracted to. Straight men do it constantly to women, regardless of whether they are lesbian or straight, or even attracted to the guy.

So we shouldn't be surprised if a gay man hits on a straight man once in a while. And I can guarantee you that the gay man is secretly hoping that the "straight" man is really gay. And guess what? Sometimes they are.
8.22.2005 8:55pm
jasmindad (mail):
I don't understand either the claim, let alone the argument, of Eugene Volokh. Contrary to Cramer's claims, there is little evidence that people who consider themselves fully homosexual can be "converted" back to heterosexuality to any significant degree. So we are really talking about the relatively small number of people who may be bisexual to varying degrees. Eugene's argument seems to be that, in an open society without any stigmas, gays will try "convert" such people if they are exclusively heterosexual, and by "convert" here, he says he only means that they would have gay experiences, not become exclusively gay. It seems to me that the argument has many flaws. First, if a bisexual is for various reasons only practising gay sex, a het of the opposite sex might try to hit on such a person and "convert" him or her into having a het experience. Given the rather large numerical vis in favor of hets, it is likely that a hell of a lot of "conversions" in this sense are being done hets rather than gays. Second, if such conversions are due to someone encouraging a somewhat conflicted het person to explore his or her gay side, such encouragement doesn't need to come from a gay person. I am het, and if a good friend of mine told me that though (s)he or she has been having het sex, (s)he thinks that (s)he might have interest in gay sex, I would encourage that person to explore it (with suitable qualifiers about health, emotional health, etc.).

So all in all, where is the beef in Prof. Volokh's post? It seems to me that he is merely saying that in a society that doesn't stugmatize gay sex, more people will try it. True, but the percentage is likely to be small, because of the small percentage of bi's to begin with.
8.22.2005 9:05pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
This whole thread got a little unhinged as soon as the "bigot" charge got tossed out there. Is there a corrollary to Godwin's law that applies to this situation?
8.22.2005 9:27pm
Amber (mail):
Conversion is a concept that relates to the world of ideas, not the physical world, and so the use of the word reflects whether one believes sexuality to be a decision or a realization people make, whether or not this is one's intent.

It's true that if one is a bisexual, one chooses whether to act homosexually or heterosexually (almost nobody permanently chooses to act truly bisexually, that is, having sex and relationships with both men and women at the same time, and there is no separate bisexual identity--bisexuals are more like bilingual people than like interracial people, since sexuality is defined by actions and not appearance). But if one accepts bisexuality as a possible orientation, there is no room in it for the concept of conversion. A bisexual already accepts both orientations, but conversion is a binary thing, you can't be a little bit converted to something. Conversion implies a crossed threshold, and a person calling themselves bi has crossed it already.

Prof Volokh is also wrong about how gay people would answer his questions, especially in the case of bisexuals. For example, a subset would prefer that bisexuals stick to straight behavior, because rejection by a bisexual feels like a double rejection of oneself as a person and as a homosexual, and so worse than a rejection by a homosexual, which at least does not invalidate your own desires.
8.22.2005 9:36pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
What's wrong with calling a bigot a bigot? When they stop throwing around anti-gay propaganda (gays recruit, people are gay because they were molested, gays are drug addicts, etc.) then I'll stop throwing around the bigot term.
8.22.2005 10:21pm
Carol Anne:
Many informative comments, here, and I agree on the misuse of the loaded word "convert."

One of the biggest things the GLBT(*) community does for society is challenge its Victorian sexual ethic. I'm constantly amazed at the Payton Place my small town is...but nobody actually talks about it. Consider some of the famous evangelists who have had extra-marital affairs...maybe we ought to be changing the cultural preconceptions about marriage, bonding, monogamy, etc. That's why GLBT folk scare the hell out of conservatives: they challenge some of those presuppositions.

When you evaluate any hierarchy of personal values, the data Prof. Volokh reports are at one level, from which he attempts to draw some conclusions. I submit, however, that when you move up to the next logical level (in the G. Bateson sense), you find that GLBT are, in fact, mainly interested in having their own life choices (and, by extension, those of every one else) valued as valid for them. I know of very few GLBT who try to pursue people not already self-identified as G/L/B/T, as appropriate. There are, to be sure, some arrogant pathologies in people who find it challenging to "convert" those whom they decide "are not willing to admit it to themselves that they're interested." I put them in the same category as heterosexuals who arrogantly believe they "know better" what's good for GLBT.

In sum, what I'm suggesting is that GLBT folk are in touch with who they are and why they are, and they're happy with that (usual psychological caveats admitted). They also wish everyone could be that self-actualized...and if it means you're ardently heterosexual, that's fine, too. But, having been through their own "dark night of the soul," they wish others' sexuality were self-determined, instead of being projected onto them (or accepted through social pressure from) those members of society who want to limit how others wish to express their sexuality.

(And, I don't think anything goes: There are legitimate social interests in prohibiting certain sexual behaviors, such as pedophilia, and the like. I just don't believe that consensual behaviors, in private, between consenting adults is anybody else's business--especially the governments'.)


(*) Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered
8.22.2005 10:22pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
The problem is it's an ad-hominem attack, not an argument. It's like calling someone a dumbass and then saying "well he is one!" when people question it. It tends to end debate rather than further it, hence my reference to Godwin's law.

Basically you've just decided you disagree with him, and you've written him off entirely (and the rest of America, apparently) and you've given up providing any substantive arguments against him. That's fine... but it'd be classier if you could do it without the name calling.
8.22.2005 11:05pm
Challenge:
I never thought "convert" was a fighting word. The lengths to which people have gone on this thread to justify their dislike of that word is quite amusing (take, for example, the above entry by Carol Anne).
8.22.2005 11:07pm
Challenge:
"What's wrong with calling a bigot a bigot?"

Nothing. If he was one. Your proof of his bigotry is his absence of pro-gay statements. Hey, you didn't say you didn't hate black people yet. You didn't profess your love for all things black! You must be a bigot. I think you get the point, Lad. You're not stupid, just overly passionate.
8.22.2005 11:11pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Challenge - You're a drug addict. You were molested as a child. And you're a pedophile.

How does it feel?

Sorry - but when someone uses those words against me, solely because I'm gay, I'm not afraid to call them a bigot.

How dare you justify blatant bigotry and then try to silence me from calling a spade a spade.
8.22.2005 11:30pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Anyone who has done two seconds worth of basic research would realize how the use of the word "convert" in relation to gay people is a slanderous term.

The simple Google Search should make it apparent.
8.22.2005 11:33pm
arbitraryaardvark (mail) (www):
"Only opposite gender 93.8% 95.6%"
The 93.8 figure is composed of a) straights and b) closeted gays and bisexuals. There's no known way to break it down further without more data. Elsewhere we looked at problems with the Pew study about consenting adults in the home.
Studies don't always reveal what they are claimed to.
What's the incentive to tell the truth? A cookie? Not even a cookie? What's the percent who answered "none of your business!" The incentive to lie may be to avoid being killed, divorced, fired, shunned, excommunicated, laughed at, loss of status, protecting a loved one, etc. I've been out as bi since the 70s, but I'd be unlikely to reveal that in a phone survey. The kinsey study suffered from sample bias and is unreliable, but it did at least make an effort to develop enough rapport with subjects to get past initial reluctance to discuss such things. I don't know the details behind the above numbers, but I'm deeply suspicious of them.
In cultural contexts that reward/incentivise bisexuality, the numbers tend to be high, probably a majority. In cultures where open bisexuality is taboo, both among straight and gay populations, the numbers tend to be low.
Eric Raymond has recently blogged about how, in his circles, bisexuality is not taboo for women, and the numbers tend to be high, but he rarely meets self-identified bi males.
8.22.2005 11:34pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Challenge is one of those typical anti-gay bigots who thinks that gays don't have the right to defend themselves against slanderous charges.

Disgusting.
8.22.2005 11:34pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
I agree with Volokh that there are many "bisexuals" in the sense of individuals who have *some* degree of attraction to both sexes and I have long argued on my blogs that many who understand themselves as either "gay" or "straight" have *some* degree of attraction to both sexes.

HOWEVER (!) who are the "bisexuals" who have meaningful choices as "fence sitters"? I would submit it's only the Kinsey 3s (those perfectly and evenly attracted to both genders), who are relatively rare (whereas Kinsey 1s,2s,4s,&5s AS A GROUP are WAY more common). If one is fully attracted to one gender but only attracted to the other in a diminished sense, it's impossible, I submit, to make a long-term meaningful relationship with that gender to which one is not fully attracted. The full passion has got to be there to begin with in order to build a life with someone.

I don't doubt that "gay American" Jim McGreevey is in some sense a bisexual (somewhere between a 4 and a 5) and was attracted to his wife in *some* way. He couldn't make it work in the long run though. Ditto with Leonard Bernstein, Anthony Perkins, etc. and all of the other gay men who marry women and sire children.
8.22.2005 11:40pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Here's an example of Clayton Cramer's anti-gay bigotry, where he says gay people are pedophiles.

Challenge thinks that gay people should just accept these slanderous charges and not be able to defned themselves.

Challenge must agree with this trash? Otherwise, why would he be defending it so strongly?
8.22.2005 11:41pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
"I've pointed out that the very high levels of childhood sexual abuse and adult substance abuse among homosexuals might indicate that for some homosexuals, their sexual orientation is a symptom of abuse."

a) Challenge didn't say that, Clayton did.
b) You still havn't answered the assertion, you've just tossed insults that seem calculated to cause others to disregard the assertion out of hand.
c) If true, there is nothing about this statement that makes it facially "anti-gay"
d) even if false, clayton can believe it without being an "anti-gay bigot" as you seem to be calling everyone. Perhaps if you provided information to the contrary it would help?
e) Slander is spoken. If anything, these "charges" would be libel :)
8.22.2005 11:43pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
David - I called Clayton the anti-gay bigot. Just one look at his blog on any gay entry makes that apparent.

So sorry, calling someone an anti-gay bigot is not an insult. It's funny, because the right-wing blogs have absolutely no problem saying that the ACLU is "anti-Christian". Is that an insult? Well - only if they aren't anti-Christian. But if they are, then the charge is valid, and not an insult.

Anyone who goes around lying, by saying that gays were molested as children, that gays are drug addicts, that gays are pedophiles, that gays recruit, that being gay is a choice, that gays can easily become straight, etc., despite AMPLE PROOF TO THE CONTRARY is an anti-gay bigot.

Clayton believes that, no matter how much evidence you throw back at him. And challenge thinks that a gay person should always remain silent after they insulted again, and again, and again. That makes challenge an anti-gay bigot in my book as well. He has no problem defending the bigot. But god forbid somebody calls a spade a spade.

Face it. The vast majority of this country consists of anti-gay bigots. They want to put gay people in jail, they don't let gays serve in the army, they don't let us marry, they discriminate against us on the job. But no, we can't dare call them anti-gay bigots for doing them.

But not me. I have no problem pointing out blatant bigotry when I see it. Don't want to be called a bigot? Then stop being one. It's pretty simple.
8.22.2005 11:52pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Tell me David - What DOES someone have to do in order to be considered an anti-gay bigot?

1) Does favoring laws that prevent gay people from serving this country make one an anti-gay bigot?
2) How about favoring laws that bar gays from teaching?
3) How about favoring a policy that prevents gays from being in the Boy Scouts?
4) How about refusing to rent your apartment to a gay person?
5) How about actively trying to convert gay people into being straight?
6) How about refusing to be friends with a gay person?
7) How about kicking your child out of the house when you find out they are gay?
8) How about endorsing laws that make it illegal for gay people to get married to their partners who they love?
9) How about people who use the word "gay" in a pejorative sense, as in "That's so gay".
10) How about spreading lies that gay people are child molestors?
11) How about spreading lies that gay people are drug addicts?
12) How about spreading lies that gays were molested as children?

I think if you favor ANY of the above you're an anti-gay bigot. I'm really interested in hearing how someone who favors any of the above can be considered "pro-gay"....
8.23.2005 12:02am
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
And since I'm sure many people will look at the above list, and say "No. That doesn't make one anti-gay", then let's try a little trick. Let's substitute "Jew" for "gay".

1) Does favoring laws that prevent Jew people from serving this country make one an anti-semite?
2) How about favoring laws that bar Jews from teaching?
3) How about favoring a policy that prevents Jews from being in the Boy Scouts?
4) How about refusing to rent your apartment to a Jew?
5) How about actively trying to convert Jewish people into being Christian?
6) How about refusing to be friends with a Jew?
7) How about kicking your child out of the house when you find out they convert to Judaism?
8) How about endorsing laws that make it illegal for Jews to get married to their partners who they love?
9) How about people who use the word "Jew" in a pejorative sense, as in "That's so Jew".
10) How about spreading lies that Jews are child molestors?
11) How about spreading lies that Jews are drug addicts?
12) How about spreading lies that Jews were molested as children?
8.23.2005 12:17am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Note: I'm not saying that any one person is NOT an "anti-gay bigot" as you say. Just that nothing blatantly "bigoted" has been said tonight, and you havn't provided any evidence to dispute anyone's claims. Therefore, I call the word "bigot" an ad-hominem insult.

My name is Dan. I assume you're talking to me right now, but where did you get "david" from?

The point is that even if favoring a law preventing homosexuals from serving in the military (to use your first example) makes someone a "bigot" in your mind, calling someone names in a discussion forum won't do anything to convince him of the merits of your argument. If he's presented even the weakest argument in favor of his position, he comes out on top because you gave up.
8.23.2005 12:23am
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Eugene wrote:

-- "Given this danger, I'd prefer that men with bisexual orientations who can be happy with women not experiment with men; but that's a judgment about medical risk, not about the inherent morality of 'conversion' attempts, and in any event it doesn't apply to lesbianism." If someone can be happy with women, and doesn't experiment with men, he's safer than if he does experiment with men. I'm not suggesting that he experiment with men but stay in the closet -- I'm suggesting that he not experiment with men. And because that latter option is much less feasible for men who can't be happy with women, I explicitly limited my claim to men who can be happy with women. --

But the only class of men to whom this applies in a meaningful way are that infinitesimally small % of men who are perfect Kinsey 3s. Kinsey 1s and 2s -- men like Mick Jagger, David Bowie, James Dean, Cary Grant, Hugh Hefner -- can ONLY be happy with women, even if they demonstrated *some* degree of attraction to men. If they shouldn't experiment for medical reasons, fine. I think they would note that they weren't giving up anything that was very meaningful to them. Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Hugh Hefner, as I understand, gave up their bisexual experimenting a long time ago, but remain sexual libertines and never "renounced" their past experimentation.

And Kinsey 4s and 5s, like Jim McGreevy, Michael Huffington, Leonard Bernstein, etc., can only be happy with men, even if they demonstrated *some* kind of attraction to women.

The only folks with a serious fork in the rode are Kinsey 3s, who are so rare among the male gender that they are almost non-existent.
8.23.2005 12:29am
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
So if I call black people lazy, I'm not being bigoted? If I call Jews cheap, I'm not being anti-semetic?

Do you really think that? I doubt it.

But it's ok to say that gays were molested as children, that gays are drug addicts, and that gays are pedophiles and that's not anti-gay.

And sorry - but I've provided ample evidence to Clayton Cramer previously to refute all of those anti-gay stereotypes. But he chooses to ignore them again, and again, and again. So yeah - I'm going to call him an anti-gay bigot when he keeps reviving those arguments.

He even quoted a study today that says half of all gay people can change if they want to. Yet I provided a direct quote from the author of that study that says he was taken out of context and it's "rare" for gay people to change. But Clayton Cramer doesn't care. He'll use that false claim again, and again, and again.

And you know what - I'll call him an anti-gay bigot when he does.

Sorry - still not buying it Dave.
8.23.2005 12:35am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
*sigh*... I give up...
8.23.2005 12:42am
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Dave (Dan, whatever) - I suggest you read this link.

The same arguments are used over and over to malign gay people and drum up hatred against them. Being gay, I recognize these when I see them.

I am not overreacting. I am simply responding to a coordinated campaign by the religious right to dehumanize gays.

You'll see the arguments used all over the blogosphere. Gays are pedophiles. Gays are drug addicts. Gays want to recruit your kids. Gays want to outlaw Christianity, etc.

You can't debate these people with facts. They don't listen.
8.23.2005 12:55am
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):


-- "Only opposite gender 93.8% 95.6%"
The 93.8 figure is composed of a) straights and b) closeted gays and bisexuals. There's no known way to break it down further without more data. --

That is undoubtedly true. These studies suffer from what I call, "the masturbation effect." Men of virile years who aren't regularly having sex, masturbate universally for release. Yet, if you asked them in one of these types of studies, some huge % wouldn't admit to it.

Given that "gay" and "bisexual" are far more stigmatized than masturbation, how many men who are predominantly hetero and value their hetero identity will admit to having *some* degree of attraction to other men or experimenting with it in the past?

I use this as a specific example because we might be surprised to find that a much larger percentage of both men and women who define and understand themselves as heterosexual do indeed have some sort of bisexual attraction AND experiences. I'd make a conservative estimate at least 20% of the overall population.

And I make this estimate, in part, based on historical and cross-cultural study. There many otherwise completely unrelated past and present cultures where some large % of predominantly heterosexually oriented men have demonstrated the ability to enjoy and experiment with homosexuality for some brief time in their life. Ancient Greece, Arab cultures, Latino cultures, prison, Navy Boat, and all boys-school subcultures, and many others.

If this is true, it can cut both ways. Antigay forces could then say, "that's a huge % of the population that is susceptible to homosexual experimentation, all the more reason to maintain the stigma."

Most of these men, however, want to play the "male" role in the relationship and desire the other men -- usually smaller, younger, prettier, more feminine, less dominant ones -- to do things to them than women would do (use your imagination). And usually this experimentation occurs only when the primary object of their desire -- women -- are not available.
8.23.2005 12:57am
Challenge:
Down Town wrote:

"I called Clayton Cramer an anti-gay bigot. He IS an anti-gay bigot. Would you care to point out one of his "pro-gay" statements. If you can actually find one, I'll retract my statement."

When I pointed out that this wasn't much of a reason to call Cramer a bigot, Lad dug up something Cramer said a while ago, to justify his bigotry charge after the fact.

You've worked yourself into hysterical incoherence, and you are deliberately misrepresenting what Cramer wrote on this thread. He has never said all gays--or even a majority--were molested as children or molest children as adults. Are you really willing to dismiss the possibility that the percent of gays who were molested is higher than straights? And what would it matter either way? What if some gays are gay because they were molested? Would that really crush the world you've built around your gayness? Every sentence you write screams insecurity. Be gay. Be proud. Don't let the Cramers of the world get you down, and don't hide from the complexities of sexuality.
8.23.2005 12:58am
Carol Anne:
To Challenge, who wrote (in part): The lengths to which people have gone on this thread to justify their dislike of that word is quite amusing (take, for example, the above entry by Carol Anne).


Perhaps you might productively change your handle to "Challenged."

If you can't make a meaningful contribution, or challenge (sic!) the premises of the discussion, perhaps you might consider not trying to denigrate those who actually think about things.

The participant here who sinks to the impotent use of putdowns is not worth my time. Out of a sense of pity, I refuse to engage in battles of wits with unarmed opponents.
8.23.2005 1:01am
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Challenge - You don't understand what Clayton Cramer is trying to get at.

He implies that the only reason people are gay is because they are molested. Then he makes the claim that gay people are trying to "recruit" others to becomes gay.

Put two and two together and what do you get? Cmon. He's obviously implying that the only way gay people can create more gay people is by going out and molesting children.

When you make that claim - it's very easy to go to the next step - that gays must be put to death for the good of society. That is Clayton's real goal.

Of course people HAVE made that claim. Paul Cameron is but one example, who happens to be Clayton Cramer's favorite researcher.
8.23.2005 1:15am
Challenge:
Carol Anne,

What is, exactly, "loaded" into the word "convert?" You wrote several long-winded paragraphs without getting around to it.
8.23.2005 1:17am
Challenge:
"He implies that the only reason people are gay is because they are molested. Then he makes the claim that gay people are trying to "recruit" others to becomes gay"

The recruiting/converting accusation is the topic of this thread. Clearly some of them do. Is the urge to convert the other side greater on the gay side than the straight? I don't know.

I don't really wish to defend Cramer's various views, but I think the least you could do in your criticism is stick to his actual views.

"When you make that claim - it's very easy to go to the next step - that gays must be put to death for the good of society. That is Clayton's real goal."

Lad, calm down. Really. I am pretty certain you can't believe this, so why write it?
8.23.2005 1:25am
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Challenge - I do believe it.

As a Jew, I'm smart enough to realize that the anti-gay rhetoric we are experiencing now is identical to the anti-semetic rhetoric in 1920's Germany.

And yes - if this keeps up - I am scared that I will be sent to the gas chamber. They still kill people for being gay in countries like Iran, of which our President is silent when it happens.

Gays don't convert. They never do. It is a viscous lie. The only people trying to change people's sexuality are straight people, i.e. the "ex-gay" movement.
8.23.2005 1:32am
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
-- Paul Cameron is but one example, who happens to be Clayton Cramer's favorite researcher. --

Although I've seen Clayton Cramer make an argument that is similar to one put forth by Paul Cameron (the one in which you linked to my post), I've never seen Cramer cite Paul Cameron by name or Cameron's infamous "43" figure.
8.23.2005 9:23am
grytpype (mail) (www):
You know I thought my brother was a homosexual, until I realized that his dick doesn't taste like shit.
8.23.2005 10:29am
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Jon - He quotes studies that rely on Cameron's research. Same thing. He might not even be aware of who Cameron is, but he's using his data.

I just try to be vigilant against this stuff when I see it. Maybe I sound alarming. But most straight people are not even aware of the tactics of the religious right, and I have no problem calling people on it every time.

The obsession of the religious right with gays borders on the bizarre. I don't think it's any different than Europe's long history of obsessing over Jews, which of course has led to the rise of anti-semitism again and again over the centuries.
8.23.2005 10:44am
bcs41ia (mail):
Shorter Eugene Volokh:

Why do all these homosexuals keep sucking my cock?
8.23.2005 11:02am
Anonymous:
Holy crap, I think I just agreed with Eugene.

Although I'd definitely phrase it a bit differently. Conversion is definitely the wrong word. There is, simply, a powerful cultural force within the gay community that discourages bisexuality -- bisexuals are considered to be either in denial (men) or tourists (women). If a bisexual wants to go to that community for support, friendship and understanding, he or she will face significant pressure to identify as exclusively homosexual.

This is yet another reason why mainstream gay culture as it stands needs to wither on the vine. We've outgrown our need for it -- it's a ridiculous, materialistic, hedonistic, bitchy remnant. Hopefully, as we press for further mainstream acceptance of homosexuality, queers can find their identity as a gay Police Officer, gay Businessperson, gay Minister, etc. instead of just Gay.

I'd highly recommend an excellent collection of essays called "Anti-Gay", by members of the US gay community, that addresses exactly this subject.
8.23.2005 11:16am
Anonymous:
Holy crap, I think I just agreed with Eugene.

Although I'd definitely phrase it a bit differently. Conversion is definitely the wrong word. There is, simply, a powerful cultural force within the gay community that discourages bisexuality -- bisexuals are considered to be either in denial (men) or tourists (women). If a bisexual wants to go to that community for support, friendship and understanding, he or she will face significant pressure to identify as exclusively homosexual.

This is yet another reason why mainstream gay culture as it stands needs to wither on the vine. We've outgrown our need for it -- it's a ridiculous, materialistic, hedonistic, bitchy remnant. Hopefully, as we press for further mainstream acceptance of homosexuality, queers can find their identity as a gay Police Officer, gay Businessperson, gay Minister, etc. instead of just Gay.

I'd highly recommend an excellent collection of essays called "Anti-Gay", by members of the US gay community, that addresses exactly this subject.
8.23.2005 11:16am
Sorry, not buying.:
Nothing you described remotely approaches converting/recruiting. A community that doesn't put up boundaries around its sexual practices can't be accused of poaching just because the community next door has everything surrounded with barbed wire. Per your reasoning, the only way for the queer community NOT to recruit is for them to actively campaign to make bisexuality completely repellent to the undecided. And, by that standard, the heterosexual community--with its ads, movies, tv shows, models, hermetic control of sports pr, and pretty much everything else--would be the most rabid recruiter around. And since I've yet to hear of a teenager who contemplated suicide because he or she felt too straight and couldn't deal with it, I'd say that my (facetiously offered) counterexample holds more water.
8.23.2005 11:18am
zoe kentucky (mail) (www):
The first problem around here seem to be this-- there is a gulf of misunderstanding between GLBT people and straight people, for some straight people the gulf is small, for others it is miles wide. The very fact that the word "convert" is used without a lot of people understanding its painful, historical significance is evidence that we, as people in the GLBT community, have a lot of educating to do.

I'd like to try to get to the heart of why the word "convert" bothers us so much. I don't think some people around here, Volkh included, realize who they are inadvertently aligning themselves with when they defend the use of the word "convert." Most of the people who make the argument that we "convert" anyone, old or young, are usually portraying us as hypersexual predators-- it's the very essence of the so-called "homosexual agenda." People who believe in the "homosexual agenda" believe that our sexuality is dangerous in itself, that our sexuality is not only different but out of control because they think that we want to convert others. Our inherent fears about the word convert revolve around the fact that if people believe we pose a threat by our very existence we must be stopped, treated as criminals, controlled and maybe even destroyed. The word "convert" is all too often found at the very root of this thinking.

The common understanding of what it means to "convert" is religious conversion, to fundamentally change from one thing to another, to be something different than what you were. The act of converting another person implies persuation, coercion, imposing your ideas onto someone else, convincing someone else to accept your ideas as their own and to be more like you. But this is not an academic exercize for us, GLBT people are very aware that if a gay man hits on the wrong straight man he might end up like Matthew Shepherd.

So, for us the notion that we "convert" people is directly related to our fears about anti-gay violence. It is the justification for the "gay panic" defense,'I had to get him before he tried to get me.' GLBT people don't just move to metropolitan areas to be around others like us, we move there because often staying in other places is physically unsafe. I don't know if a lot of straight people really get that it is still like that. While the perception is that we're safer and more accepted, and in many ways we certainly are, but bashings still happen.

So, this erroneous belief about our interest in conversion that can get us harassed, beaten up, hospitalized and sometimes killed. It can get us fired, have people try to take our children away, we can lose our jobs and so on. So, yeah, we're pretty defensive about it-- it's a loaded word that threatens the very safety of us, our loved ones, and our most basic freedom to live without being persecuted for who and how we love.

(By the way, props to Lad. As a Jewish lesbian, I know how frustrating it is to try to talk to people who don't understand what you're trying to say because their own exposure to the issues at hand is limited.)
8.23.2005 11:26am
Lynn Gazis-Sax (mail) (www):
OK, now that I've seen the original "conversion" post, I think my personal answer would be "no" to all of his five questions, as they're currently phrased, anyway. Admittedly, as a bisexual woman committed to a monogamous marriage, I'm sort of the opposite of his target demographic, but I think I'd still say "no" if I were still single and still in the lesbian community. The reason is what the word "experiment" implies to me. Taking the questions in order:

1) No, exploring your feelings is fine, but I wouldn't advise making an experiment of gay sex. Don't play with other people's hearts.

2) Well, the fact that people can no longer go to jail for such experimentation is a good thing; in that limited sense the answer to that question is "yes." But, since I do see at least some forms of experimentation as playing with other people's feelings, I'm fine with stigmatizing that aspect of it.

3) Why would I want to encourage anyone to have sex with a particular sort of person just to see what it feels like? To me, if that's all that's involved, it seems callous to the other person, who may be feeling a whole lot more.

4) How could I possibly be attracted to a friend and not be worried about the emotional risk to myself? Not only am I attracted; this person is also already my friend. Of course my emotions are caught up in this.

5) If I don't believe in sex as an experiment for adults, I can't think why I'd believe in it for teens. No, I'd want them to have role models so they don't feel like crap for having the feelings in the first place, which is a different thing entirely.

For what it's worth. I guess the assumption of these questions must be that everyone involved enjoys casual sex, and is confident they can disengage their emotions from the experiment? Because otherwise, I can't think how saying yes to any of them makes sense. I'd sure want anyone who slept with me to be looking for more than an experiment.
8.23.2005 11:42am
Tobin Maker (mail):
Eugene Volokh's post reminds me very much of former Polish president Lech Welesa's final election campaign, in which he and his followers spread a meme about his opponent being secretly part-Jewish, and when they were accused of anti-semitism they went all wide-eyed and said "What? We have no problem with this guy being Jewish! He has the problem! He's the one denying he's Jewish!Why doesn't he just come out and tell everyone he's Jewish? Then it wouldn't even be a factor in the election!"

Volokh is saying he has no problem with gays converting people to homosexuality...He just wants homosexuals to admit it. Then Volokh will be happy , and will be able to forget the matter. It's all very innocent. Of course it is.
8.23.2005 11:54am
zoe kentucky (mail) (www):

This is yet another reason why mainstream gay culture as it stands needs to wither on the vine. We've outgrown our need for it -- it's a ridiculous, materialistic, hedonistic, bitchy remnant.
I'm sorry that you see it that way. There are parts that are, certainly, but I think they reflect the larger society that is all those things as well. But there is strength and beauty there as well. Frankly, I've seen the community evolving, there are many more way to be "gay" and express ourselves, it just so happens that the most visible part of the community does seem to embody those things.
8.23.2005 11:56am
eddie (mail):
Your discussion begins by using statistics to point to a behavioral reality and then makes the giant leap of faith that such behavior is somehow illustrative of a set of intentions having nothing to do with that behavior but with a political/social agenda.

In a word poppycock.

You breezily conflate the political fight for equal rights under the law with psychological mumbo-jumbo regarding how this fight ("agenda") is meant to make a person who does not practice heterosexual behavior feel "more comfortable" with themselves.

First, are you actually stating that there is a war going on in our society to recruit the "vast" numbers of bisexual persons. Or is it a war to win over those who simply are not sure of their sexuality and still can be ushered into one camp or another?

This analysis seems quite childish and based on some sort of "game" theory politics. I assure you that the many gay couples with children I know do not think that there "agenda" is a game. And I assure you that they do not care about whether someone who is "on the fence" "becomes" gay or straight.

The is a false debate. The real issue is whether sexuality is a proper form to be used in determining the rights of an individual.

And as all lawyers seem to harp forever and ever, words do matter and the word "convert" contains such imbedded and ancient religious connotations (from which most of the debate concerning sexuality stems anyway) that it is disingenuous for the professor to act the school marm and wash his hands of this term.

And finally, what is your point, Professor? Does this passive "conversion" taint the gay demands for equal rights? Does this somehow prove a more fundamental point that sexual orientation is really a matter of joining a club (or more sinisterly "being converted)?

I expect a more substantive approach to the important issues of our day coming from the academics who purport to actually think about things that matter instead of exercising what Socrates might have relegated to the "Sophist's" art.
8.23.2005 12:08pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Downtown Lad says:


Anyone who goes around lying, by saying that gays were molested as children, that gays are drug addicts, that gays are pedophiles, that gays recruit, that being gay is a choice, that gays can easily become straight, etc., despite AMPLE PROOF TO THE CONTRARY is an anti-gay bigot.
You seem to have some difficulty reading. What I said was that at least one survey shows that homosexuals were disproportionately victims of child sexual abuse. I didn't say that all homosexuals were victims of child sexual abuse.

I didn't say that all gays are pedophiles. Most homosexuals are not pedophiles--but child molesters are disproportionately homosexual--somewhere between 20% and 30% of molesters have sex only with children of their own sex, and while many of these molesters will deny that they are homosexual, there are some who are quite open about being homosexual, and have sex with adult men.

I didn't say that all homosexuals are drug addicts--but it is well established, and a source of considerable debate, as to why homosexuals have much higher than average rates of substance abuse.

I did not say "that gays can easily become straight"; quite to the contrary, I have pointed out that even for those who are seriously interested in making the change, only about half are successful.


Paul Cameron is but one example, who happens to be Clayton Cramer's favorite researcher.


Jon - He quotes studies that rely on Cameron's research. Same thing. He might not even be aware of who Cameron is, but he's using his data.
I know who Paul Cameron is, but I can't recall ever reading anything by him. I have never cited anything by him, or that relies upon anything he has written. I have cited a number of research studies and scholarly works about drug abuse and child sexual abuse.


Put two and two together and what do you get? Cmon. He's obviously implying that the only way gay people can create more gay people is by going out and molesting children.
I've been very careful to emphasize that there may be multiple causes of homosexuality, of which child sexual abuse seems to be one. Of course, since a majority of child molestation is heterosexual (men molesting little girls), this rather blows your misrepresentation of my claims out of the water, doesn't it?

When you make that claim - it's very easy to go to the next step - that gays must be put to death for the good of society. That is Clayton's real goal.
I don't even think that laws prohibiting homosexual behavior are a good idea (although they are clearly constitutional). Other than Rev. Fred Phelps, can you name anyone who thinks that homosexuals should be put to death?
8.23.2005 12:15pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Sure - Paul Cameron.

All of the "studies" you've just sited happen to rely on Paul Cameron's data as a core component for their data. And it is very flawed data. Pat Buchanan and William Bennett rely on his research as well. Bennett later corrected himself and apologized when he found out. Why don't you check them out for yourself. It's not difficult to find if you'd just do a little research.
8.23.2005 12:27pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

All of the "studies" you've just sited happen to rely on Paul Cameron's data as a core component for their data.
You mean that the survey done by the San Francisco Department of Public Health where they asked hundreds of homosexuals to answer questions about their substance abuse were actually all answered by Paul Cameron?

Downtown Lad, you haven't even bothered to read anything that I have written, or you wouldn't be making statements like this.
8.23.2005 12:32pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Like that's a representative study! Your sample is gay men who are substance abusers in San Francisco- let's extrapolate that to the entire gay community across the entire country. Give me a break. Geez - why don't we just survey gay men at an STD clinic to make false extrapolations about STD's for the gay community at large. Oh yeah - actually they do that too.

Why don't we take obituaries from the back of a gay magazine to make false extrapolations about how long gay people live. Oh yeah - we do that too (see here).

You're not interested in the facts Clayton. You cherry pick your bigoted research to suit your needs, which is to malign gay people.

Have you ever even bothered to look at research that disputes these studies? No. Because you're an ideologue.
8.23.2005 12:38pm
Ethan (mail):
Who cares? This seems like a lot of energy to expend exploring a question that is only of interest to bigots.
8.23.2005 12:41pm
BevD:
Volokh's post is nonsense. It is based on the supposition that all homosexuals are hedonists who act only out of a need for sexual gratification. Volokh lacks the understanding, compassion and empathy to see gay people as human beings with the same need for human love, companionship and committment that heterosexuals have.
8.23.2005 12:44pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Downtown Lad says:

Like that's a representative study! Your sample is gay men who are substance abusers in San Francisco- let's extrapolate that to the entire gay community across the entire country. Give me a break. Geez - why don't we just survey gay men at an STD clinic to make false extrapolations about STD's for the gay community at large. Oh yeah - actually they do that too.
First of all, this was a survey of both men and women. The surveys were distributed through a variety of organizations specifically to make sure that they did not get just substance abusers. I will agree that San Francisco homosexuals may not be typical of homosexuals elsewhere: they are more likely to be out of the closet, and they are living in one of the most pro-gay areas of the United States.

I've pointed also to a study of IV drug users in Los Angeles that found that lesbians were about 30% of the sample--many times higher than you would expect if lesbians were IV drug users at the same level as the general population.

Will you admit that you know that I am not relying on Paul Cameron's work?
8.23.2005 12:54pm
FriendlyNeighbor (mail):
God, Eugene Volokh is so weird. This post is obsessing about something that most gay and lesbian people do not obsess about. Why? A. Because we have better things to do than go about converting people, and B. If other people want to experiment, that's their own business. It's only an issue for Volokh because he wants to "control" who does what with whom. He should mind his own business.
8.23.2005 12:55pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Volokh's post is nonsense. It is based on the supposition that all homosexuals are hedonists who act only out of a need for sexual gratification. Volokh lacks the understanding, compassion and empathy to see gay people as human beings with the same need for human love, companionship and committment that heterosexuals have.
"All homosexuals are hedonists"? Look, even I don't think that. There seems to be a strong tendency towards reductionism among some of the commenters here.

It is certainly true that there is a large segment of the homosexual male population for whom this is an accurate statement: the crowd who mixes meth and Viagra, for example. The crowd that has hundreds of partners a month. I know that many homosexuals don't live that way--but there are lots who do, and that's part of why AIDS spread so rapidly among gay men.
8.23.2005 1:00pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

God, Eugene Volokh is so weird. This post is obsessing about something that most gay and lesbian people do not obsess about.
So why is there gay porn focused on sex with straight men? There must be more than a few gay men for whom this is an exciting fantasy, or there wouldn't be gay porn based on it.
8.23.2005 1:03pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Dude - What percent of LA or San Francisco do you think is gay? Answer: A hell of a lot higher than the general population.

Why don't we take a substance abuse survey of people in the rural South. I'm pretty certain you'll find that close to 100% of that sample is straight.
8.23.2005 1:03pm
Carol Anne:
Challenge wrote: What is, exactly, "loaded" into the word "convert?" You wrote several long-winded paragraphs without getting around to it.


It was not my intend to explain why "convert" is "loaded." It was my intend to provide a different way to look as the phenomenon.

But, since you ask, "convert" has connotations of Christian organizations trying "convert" (their word) homosexuals to heterosexuals (with spectacular lack of success). "Convert" is redolent of all those missionaries (largely Christian) who worked in Africa and China and other foreign cultures, evangelizing their beliefs as if the poor natives had no robust belief systems of their own. "Convert" is defined in the OED as
(1) Give a different direction to, turn about, direct
(2) Cause to return, restore
(3) Turn or apply to (another or a specific use), divert.
(4) Reverse in position, sense or direction...

The point is, I don't see masses of gays trying to "convert" anyone (except a few who do it for pathological reasons; yes there is such a thing as the "homosexual homophobe"). What gays tend to do, in my experience, is to welcome those who've "come out" as members of their clan, because we're all social beings.

I think the final nail in the coffin of that inappropriate word choice, was posted by Orin Kerr, where it gives a good description of using "convert" in the same way Prof. Volokh does, but in a different context.
8.23.2005 1:04pm
Bruce Garrett (mail) (www):
I lieu of prejudices against same sex relationships, you would expect a genuine bisexual not to express a preference for same or opposite sex partners. If they're bisexual and they're avoiding same sex relationships in favor of opposite sex ones, then they're repressing themselves. Talking them out of doing that isn't converting them, because nothing about them has changed. They are simply doing something they've always had the desire to do.

Words have meaning. You convert people from one religion to another. If someone who went to a church on the east side of town, decides to start going to one of the same denomination on the west side on your advice, you haven't converted them. They're still a member of the same faith they always were. You're playing a cheap semantic game here, and in the process feeding a cultural hostility towards homosexual people you claim you bear no malice toward. Why? What is the point? To refute a myth? There is no myth. Just this cheap word game that's pointless at best, or as malicious as it seems.

Two other comments: Why is it not surprising to see Clayton Cramer posting here? And, I liked Atrio's title for this post better.
8.23.2005 1:07pm
Carol Anne:
Clayton E. Cramer wrote (in part): I've pointed also to a study of IV drug users in Los Angeles that found that lesbians were about 30% of the sample--many times higher than you would expect if lesbians were IV drug users at the same level as the general population.

Is is possible that those lesbians became IV drug users because of the many pressures they face from people in society who treat them with animosity, scorn and punishment?

If the our society were truly a life-and-let-live world, there'd be fewer teen suicides, less drug use, and less pathological behavior borne of the social stigma that some posters on VC have implied is a social good.

Finally, I appreciate your calm responses to "Downtown Lad's" frustrated responses. At the same time, I understand his rrustration. Many in the GLBT community feel their values and beliefs are "not heard" by non-gay folk; it can breed a kind of frustration. After all, most gays just want to be accepted into society without prejudice as law-abiding citizens.
8.23.2005 1:21pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Downtown Lad asks: <blockquote>
Dude - What percent of LA or San Francisco do you think is gay? Answer: A hell of a lot higher than the general population. </blockquote>San Francisco Dept. of Public Health used to assume that gay men were 11% of the male population of San Francisco, and lesbians were 4% of the female population of San Francisco. This is substantially higher than for the nation as a whole (which are about 3%-4.5% for men and 1%-2% for women).

<blockquote>Why don't we take a substance abuse survey of people in the rural South. I'm pretty certain you'll find that close to 100% of that sample is straight.</blockquote>I haven't pulled any numbers from that survey for substance abuse. Remember that there is a very sizeable literature that shows high rates of substance abuse for homosexuals, and it goes back decades. This isn't a one survey result on substance abuse.

Some recent surveys on the East Coast found that 25% of gay men report meth use. I can't add the link here, because it is too long, but see Andrew Jacobs, "Gays Debate Radical Steps to Curb Unsafe Sex," <I>New York Times</I>, February 15, 2005.
8.23.2005 1:30pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Is is possible that those lesbians became IV drug users because of the many pressures they face from people in society who treat them with animosity, scorn and punishment?
This survey wasn't done in 1960. Animosity? Scorn? Punishment? What are you talking about? There's a majority that does not approve of homosexuality, but mass media and schools actively promote homosexuality as a good thing. All major corporations go out of their way to promote homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle. When my daughter was in school, one of her male classmates was extremely effeminate, and the teachers were all aggressively encouraging him to come out of the closet, and be proud of being gay. By 16, he was having anonymous sex in the men's room at the local college.

If the our society were truly a life-and-let-live world, there'd be fewer teen suicides, less drug use, and less pathological behavior borne of the social stigma that some posters on VC have implied is a social good.
Even here in Boise, there's no social stigma. I heard someone express disapproval of homosexuality recently, and because of the Stalinist reaction of another person at the table, "How dare you say that?" this guy shut up. Where I lived in California, the society was riotously in support of homosexuality.
8.23.2005 1:35pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):
Clayton's last post shows how utterly clueless he is.

He thinks gay people don't face any punishment or scorn in today's society???? Is he joking???? Maybe he should talk to Matthew Shephard's parents. Maybe he should talk to the people who were protesting Matthew's funeral (was Clayton one of them?)

Or maybe he can talk to any gay person, who can relay the scorn they received from friends and families when they came out of the closet.

My family stopped talking to me entirely.

Maybe he should ask a gay person how they feel when their state passes Constitutional Amendments making them second class citizens.

Clayton has no clue what gay people go through on a daily basis.

In Calyton's bizarro world, it is straight people who are the oppressed and gay people who are the oppressors. Just like Nazi Germany made out the Jews to be the villians.
8.23.2005 1:52pm
Straighter Than Volokh (mail):
What's your problem, Volokh? Worried that if a gay guy sucked your flabby dick you might like it? Blogging about it may be therapeutic, but I think you would benefit from some serious psycho-therapy. Do let us know how it goes so we can evaluate your progress.
8.23.2005 2:00pm
ChicagoTom (mail):
I think Eugene is conflating the issue of "converting" people to being gay and trying to make people feel comfortable enough to embrace their own attraction to same sex partners.

The framing of this post is dishonest because it blurs the lines by implying that its a "conversion" when someone who is gay talks to someone who is confused and says "since these feelings are naturally occuring, maybe you should explore these feelings or act on them and not repress them"

If someone has a natural attraction to a same sex person, any amount of comforting or advising to act on what they are naturally feeling is hardly "conversion" or "recruitment". It's merely trying to make people comfortable in their own skin -- esp. in a society which is filled with people who would rather "the gays" stay in the closet because it makes them feel icky
8.23.2005 2:06pm
BevD:
Cramer is correct in one comment he offers; "there is a strong tendency towards reductionism" in today's comments. That is because Volokh's claim can and should be reduced to the absurdity that it is. There is no evidence, either empirical or anecdotal that even remotely suggests that homosexuals are recruiting, converting or enticing anyone to become homosexual.

First, there is no general scientific consensus as to why and how people choose sexual partners or life partners. There is conjecture and theory, but all conjecture and theory is incomplete because selection is subjective. It isn't a matter of nature OR nurture, but probably a combination of both, and since it is both, there is no scientific measurement that can be applied to all human beings. Every human being is unique in his environment, his genetic code and his experience and how it informs his behavior.

Secondly, you can find correlations in all sorts of human behavior, but correlation is not cause. As an example, if brown eyes are predominant in the prison population in this country that might be a correlation, but it does not mean that having brown eyes causes someone to engage in criminal behavior.

Where Volokh's argument truly goes from being absurd to bizarre is his comment of his preference for bisexuals if predominantly attracted to the opposite sex to stay in those relationships for the sake of the national health. He claims that AIDS is predominantly a disease of homosexuals and while he qualifies that with "in America" (which in itself is wrong) worldwide the disease is rampant among heterosexuals - what would his preference be for those human beings? It's just a silly argument, better suited for musing while driving than offering up in a public forum.
8.23.2005 2:15pm
zoe kentucky (mail) (www):

I didn't say that all gays are pedophiles. Most homosexuals are not pedophiles--but child molesters are disproportionately homosexual--somewhere between 20% and 30% of molesters have sex only with children of their own sex, and while many of these molesters will deny that they are homosexual, there are some who are quite open about being homosexual, and have sex with adult men.
Um, men who molest boys ARE NOT HOMOSEXUALS. They are PEDOPHILES. Have you ever considered the possibility that this is an entirely different category altogether? Why are you so interested in this particular angle? Why are you as eager to put the words heterosexual and child molester in the same sentence? Honestly, only deeply anti-gay folks even think about this, write about this, or quote studies like these. But you don't see GLBT people going around emphasizing that most child molesters are heterosexual, do you?

The obvious implication you are making is that homosexuality and child molestation are intrinsically linked on some level-- and you can't graspy why gay people would find that offensive? So you go out fishing for facts to show that we're somehow fundamentally wrong/dangerous-- drug addicts, child molesters, etc.-- then act surprised when we say it's anti-gay. Really, you only seem to be focusing on the negative here, negatives that certainly do exist among heterosexuals as well. Have you noticed?

Yes, society is changing and clearly that bothers you, it also seems to bother you that it's not okay to be openly homophobic anymore (well, unless you're a congressman. Are you familar with Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn?) But how much do we really impact your life? Or do you think about us more than you should?

As for the kid at your daughter's school, how many straight teenagers are having inappropriate sexual relationships? But those don't stick out to you, do they? Just that particular one. Just something to think about.
8.23.2005 2:30pm
WB:
I think an interesting game on this site is to read the last few comments of a post and try to guess what the original post might have been about.
8.23.2005 2:31pm
zoe kentucky (mail) (www):
Ugh, typo. The sentence above should read "Why aren't you as eager to put the words heterosexual and child molester in the same sentence?"
8.23.2005 2:32pm
Christopher Fahey (mail) (www):
Someone else has pointed out that if you really did ask a thousand gay people your hypothetical questions, you'd get an endless litany of replies that would prove your hypothesis false. Gay people don't want to change anybody's sexuality in any activist or conscious way, which is what you're alluding to. Do people in general want other people to be like them? Of course we do. But do we consciously take action or hold political positions that encourage others to become like us? Most people don't cross that line, with one blatantly obvious exception: Straight people who want to force gay people to be or act straight.

But let me twist it one more way: take your hypothetical questions and ask them to any number of heterosexuals. Would a heterosexual person answer yes to your questions? I'm het, and I answer yes to them all (well, except 4 which is not applicable). Yes, I think that young people should have bisexual, homosexual, and heterosexual role models. Yes I think people should experiment with willing adult partners wherever their sexual inclinations may lead. Whatever, who cares?

Anyway, if, as you seem to suggest, you think there's nothing wrong with being gay, why are you so concerned about gay people wanting other gay-inlclined people to experiment? What are you afraid of, exactly?
8.23.2005 2:35pm
Christopher Fahey (mail) (www):
Clayton wrote:

So why is there gay porn focused on sex with straight men? There must be more than a few gay men for whom this is an exciting fantasy, or there wouldn't be gay porn based on it.

Ha, that's so funny. Did it ever occur to you that such porn is really porn for straight people obsessed with sex with gay men? That maybe that kind of porn is targetted at men who are confused about their sexuality? That maybe the "readers" of such porn might be straight men who fantasize about gay sex, that they identify with the straight guys in the porn?

Sex between straight guys and gay guys is a two-way street. It takes two to tango. You can only see it from your perspective, where the homosexuals are apparently out to get you.
8.23.2005 3:04pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
I think it's fun to read the latest posts in the thread and try to guess which site linked to it last night. The nature of posts has definitely shifted... I saw atrios mentioned... Any DUers or Kossites in da house?
8.23.2005 3:29pm
Chris Jarrett (mail):
Clayton, do you find your own clothes when you look in your closet? Since your knowledge about research is limited, it's called 'selecting on the dependent variable'.

Citing Spritzer's 2003 study where he interviews 200 people who claimed to be 'ex-gay' is not a coherent way of supporting the point you tried to make.

I'm sure you would go ballistic about a study where the researcher interviews 200 people who got rid of their guns because they accidently shot their kids and uses it to prove that people with guns were ignorant fools who were able to learn the correct way to live life.
8.23.2005 3:39pm
Tobin Maker (mail):
Well, I came here expecting to find enticing pictures of penises, left by sneaky homosexuals, desperate to sign me up to their ranks.

Imagine the prize I'd be for those pushing the homosexual agenda. Think of the horror my wife would feel as I introduced our six kids to their new gay stepfather!

Well, if gay marriage is legalised I will have no choice but to leave my wife and fall into the arms of a conniving he-whore. I will be but another convert to the handlebar moustache-twirling cult!
8.23.2005 3:42pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):

-- I didn't say that all gays are pedophiles. Most homosexuals are not pedophiles--but child molesters are disproportionately homosexual--somewhere between 20% and 30% of molesters have sex only with children of their own sex, and while many of these molesters will deny that they are homosexual, there are some who are quite open about being homosexual, and have sex with adult men.--

No. The data do not show that 20-30% of of molesters have sex ONLY with children of their own gender. The data, as far as I know, show that 20-30% of victims (I've seen the figure 1/3 bandied about) are male. And we know that almost all of the molesting is done by males. The implication is that if homosexuals are only 3% of the population and 30% of molestations are homosexual in nature, gays are X times more likely to be molesters.

The problem is that these perps often are not ONLY molesting little boys. Rather, like Jake Goldenflame, they molest BOTH boys AND girls. And that's because real pedophiles tend to be fixated on the age rather than the gender of the child (although, some do show a gender preference as well).

Given that some unknown % of pedophiles, perhaps an overwhelming majority of them, are fixated exclusively on children, and do not indentify as or understand themselves to be "gay," there is no possible way to draw out a credible statistic demonstrating that gay men are more likley to molest than straights.

We could look at it another way. If "pedophilia" distinguishes itself as an orientation as sexual desire for children, and given that little boys are 49% of the child population, little girls 51%, I wouldn't expect to see the proportion of child victims mirror the proportion of the gays to straights in the population. I wouldn't expect to see say only 3% little boy victims, 97% little girl, which is what you would have to see according to the reasoning that holds, "gays are more likely to molest...." in order to conclude that gays are NOT more likely to molest.

(Sorry if I couldn't put it any clearer.)
8.23.2005 3:50pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Downtown Lad expresses his strong emotions thusly:

Clayton's last post shows how utterly clueless he is.

He thinks gay people don't face any punishment or scorn in today's society???? Is he joking???? Maybe he should talk to Matthew Shephard's parents. Maybe he should talk to the people who were protesting Matthew's funeral (was Clayton one of them?)
Keep in mind that the evidence is now in that Matthew Shephard's murder wasn't because he was gay, but because his killers robbed him. ABC interviewed one man who was able to say without any doubt that one of the killers was bisexual—because he had sex with him. Rev. Fred Phelps and his extended family did indeed show up to say nasty things at Shephard's funeral. And this was what? A few dozen people? Remember that Phelps shows up to attack James Dobson's Focus on the Family because they believe that homosexuals can be cured. Phelps doesn't want them cured; he wants them to die in sin. Phelps is a kook.

Or maybe he can talk to any gay person, who can relay the scorn they received from friends and families when they came out of the closet.

My family stopped talking to me entirely.
This is surprising to me, since much of the population is strongly pro-gay, and even those who oppose it wouldn't stop talking to you. They would probably talk to you more, in the hopes that you would straighten up.


Maybe he should ask a gay person how they feel when their state passes Constitutional Amendments making them second class citizens.
You know, there wouldn't have been a need to define what constitutes marriage if homosexual activists hadn't insisted on using the courts to impose their will on the majority.

Clayton has no clue what gay people go through on a daily basis.
Doubtless true. Neither, by the same token, do you have any clue what straight people go through on a daily basis. I am quite willing to leave gay people alone (no laws telling adults what they can do in private)—it is unfortunate that homosexual activists aren't willing to do likewise (suing the Boy Scouts, requiring states to recognize gay marriage).

In Calyton's bizarro world, it is straight people who are the oppressed and gay people who are the oppressors. Just like Nazi Germany made out the Jews to be the villians.
Nope. There are oppressors both straight and gay—those who are not prepared to leave others alone. If you and fifty of your closest friends want to get together for casual sex, I won't approve, but I don't see that this is the government's business to intervene. But similarly, it isn't the government's business to order me to print wedding invitations for a gay marriage, or to tell me that I must hire a guy wearing a NAMBLA T-shirt to work in a child care center, or to require the states to recognize gay marriage.
8.23.2005 3:56pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Jon Rowe says:


No. The data do not show that 20-30% of of molesters have sex ONLY with children of their own gender. The data, as far as I know, show that 20-30% of victims (I've seen the figure 1/3 bandied about) are male. And we know that almost all of the molesting is done by males.
Ah, no. The data to which I was referring showed that 26% molested only boys; 4% molested both; 70% molested only girls.

And yes, there are molesters who identify themselves as gay. I've blogged a few examples over the years from news accounts of openly gay men being charged with molesting foster children.

NAMBLA, of course, identifies themselves as gay, and until it became a political football, NAMBLA marched in several of the gay pride parades without opposition or disagreement. The International Lesbian &Gay Organization was in danger of losing their UN observer status because of the presence of NAMBLA and a Dutch child molestation group—and when after a heated internal debate, ILGO kicked out the child molesters—ILGO went moribund because the big funders cut off their money supply. Sorry, but at least some significant number of gay activists consider child molesters to be homosexuals.

Some years back, when one of the San Francisco TV channels discovered that NAMBLA was meeting in the public library, they were shocked to discover that most of the gay bookstores in town carried NAMBLA's publication, BulliTEN. (The TEN is their upper age limit for boys, I gather.) NAMBLA even held their national convention one year in the Women's Building in San Francisco—which is effectively the lesbian clubhouse.
8.23.2005 4:06pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
-- I've pointed also to a study of IV drug users in Los Angeles that found that lesbians were about 30% of the sample--many times higher than you would expect if lesbians were IV drug users at the same level as the general population. --

I've examined this study and, correct me if I am wrong, the "lesbians" in question reportedly have higher rates of HETEROSEXUAL promiscuity. This does not at all represent the "lesbians" whom I know or the stereotypical lesbian like Mary Cheney, Melissa E., etc. who demonstrate more masculine behaviors and hence are less attractive to males.

And I think there is a major problem with using that small % of lesbians in the population as a baseline statistic. I don't doubt that women like Ellen D., Mary Cheney, Melissa E., -- women who are more or less exclusively homosexually oriented, who define themselves as lesbians, etc., -- constitute a very small % of the overall population -- 2% of women, 1% of the overall population. But then again, I've seen arguments that suggest that women in general are more likely to have bisexual tendencies. Thus, I think there is a major difference between real lesbians on the one hand, who are very small in number, and ordinary women who may have "some" degree of bisexuality or experimented with bisexuality briefly at some point in their lives (who are probably much larger in number than real lesbians).

Among certain social groups of heterosexually practicing women, bisexual practices are almost universal: Female porn stars, strippers, prostitutes, etc. Loose heterosexual women with a more of a nymphomaniac orientation probably are much more prone to experiment with lesbianism. I wouldn't be surprise if it were THIS group of women who were the IV drug users. But these women, unlike the "lesbian" stereotype, tend to be more feminine and ladylike, and more heterosexually active (indeed to make a living as a prostitute or a pornstar, one must be more attractive than average, whereas lesbians stereotypically are thought of as less attractive than average).

In short, as I've argued before, I think the data -- especially those self-reporting data -- most likely and for obvious reasons vastly underrepresent those ordinary folks who are primarily heterosexual in their orientation and practices but who experiment with homosexuality for some brief time in their life. If we add all of these people into the "gay or bi" box, then the box most likely grows from around 2-3% (which I think accurately describes those lifelong gay community members who have exclusive homosexual orientations) to, at minimum 20% if not more of the overall population.

But ultimately given that many people are just not upfront about their homosexual experiences, we are dealing with a great deal of unknown speculation.
8.23.2005 4:13pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Jon Rowe: It seems there's still someone on this forum worth talking to.

I have a problem with that distinction simply because it epitomizes the conflict between people who see homosexuality as an act vs. people who see homosexuality as a character trait. While you may be able to make an intelligent argument that there's a different sort of attraction for a prepubescent boy than for an adult man, you can't possibly argue that the sex isn't "homosexual" in nature. I've seen the same distinction applied to prison sex... that these encounters aren't "homosexual" because the men aren't "gay." The problem is that a lot of people refuse to make that jump from "what they do" to "who they are" and there's another group of people who are completely determined to inextricably link the conduct to the person.

Nearly every one of the disagreements in this thread stems from that one problem, in my mind. Frankly, I wish we could stop using the label "gay" in general and use something a little more wordy if more accurate like "people who engage in homosexual sex acts." That would clear up the lingering "bisexual problem," it would end the debate about "convert" vs. "seduce," and it would completely answer the argument over clayton's statistics.

Your thoughts, Jon?
8.23.2005 4:21pm
Joe Burke (mail):
In all honesty, I don't think gays care one whit what the sexual orientation of anyone is, just as I couldn't care less what anyone elses sexual orientation is.

Unless I'm trying to get laid that is. Then it has some bearing on my chances of success. Why on earth should this even be a matter for discussion? What do you possibly hope to gain from this 'insight' of yours. Get a life, get laid and stop worrying about people changing your sexual orientation. I'm guessing most homosexuals would prefer you DIDN'T convert.
8.23.2005 4:45pm
jonrey:
Clayton Cramer sez:

So why is there gay porn focused on sex with straight men? There must be more than a few gay men for whom this is an exciting fantasy, or there wouldn't be gay porn based on it.


Gee, Clayton, that's like asking why there is straight porn about lesbians, isn't it? It's called a fantasy - and bears as much relationship to your example as straight porn with two women does.

As far as "converts" is concerned, perhaps you should consider that fact that by far the largest effort at "conversion" involves guys who want to "convert" women into their sex partners. Another iteration of this "conversion" that is far more prevalant is the one where a married guy tries to "convert" either a single or married woman into being his sex partner. This activity is proscibed to a far higher degree in the Bible anyway - adultery being one of those Ten Commandments. Men put forth a far greater effort - with far greater success - to have sex with women in manners forbidden in the Bible than gay men do with straight men.

As far as that goes, it's odd, isn't it, that Jesus never said a thing about sex between folks of the same sex. Odd, indeed...

It seems to me that if Eugene wants to ponder something, that should be something to consider - not "conversion" of straight men by gay men.

"Conversion" in our culture is certainly a religious term. With the exception of rice and other such things, if you refer to any person as "converted" the normal sense is religious, be it Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or otherwise. While most, if not all of us have actually had some experience with someone attempting to "convert" us, usually to one or another flavor of Christianity, I for one have never had a gay man attempt to "convert" me. If he ever did, I'd probably find it interesting, although I'd not accept the "conversion."

Personally I don't care who's having sex with who. My sexuality is not threatened by either "conversion" fantasies or realities. What's up with Eugene and Clayton? Why the interest in this, huh?
8.23.2005 4:49pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
As Eugene makes clear in his original post, the interest stems from the fact that apparently the idea that homosexuals try to "convert" people has been called a "myth." He thought he'd point out that it isn't a "myth" whether good or bad. It's his blog, but I don't think he realized the can of worms he was opening, and intended a much more limited topic than this thread has turned it into.
8.23.2005 4:52pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Jonrey says:

Gee, Clayton, that's like asking why there is straight porn about lesbians, isn't it? It's called a fantasy - and bears as much relationship to your example as straight porn with two women does.
Straight porn that has lesbians in it exists because there are straight men--and I would guess more than two or three--who find it stimulating. We've demonstrated now that gay men find the fantasy of sex with straight men stimulating. And you still insist that there's interest in "recruiting"? You might be right, but in any population that fantasizes about some act, there will be at least a minority of that population that will follow through on it.


As far as "converts" is concerned, perhaps you should consider that fact that by far the largest effort at "conversion" involves guys who want to "convert" women into their sex partners. Another iteration of this "conversion" that is far more prevalant is the one where a married guy tries to "convert" either a single or married woman into being his sex partner. This activity is proscibed to a far higher degree in the Bible anyway - adultery being one of those Ten Commandments. Men put forth a far greater effort - with far greater success - to have sex with women in manners forbidden in the Bible than gay men do with straight men.
And you know what? No one disputes that this is the case. A co-worker in California told me that every married guy in her department (Marketing, of course) was trying to get the gals in the department into bed. She was disgusted. So was I.

Adultery is a widespread problem, destroying marriages just about every minute of the day. It isn't just men going after women on this; there are a lot of women out there who attempt to "recruit" married men into adulterous affairs as well.


As far as that goes, it's odd, isn't it, that Jesus never said a thing about sex between folks of the same sex. Odd, indeed...
Probably for the same reason he never said anything about cannibalism or atheism. Some things were a given in Jewish culture at the time. Near contemporaries, such as Paul, wrote about a variety of sexual sins, including homosexuality.

Homosexuality isn't any worse than the other sins, by the way. If there was a large movement trying to get polygamous marriages imposed on the states, or trying to get laws passed that prohibited discrimination against adulterers, or legalizing bestiality, I would be similarly upset.

I am pleased that at least here in Idaho, adultery is still a criminal offense. There was a woman in California a couple of years back that was circulating an initiative to make adultery a criminal offense again. Her marriage had broken up after her husband had started an adulterous affair, and she felt that there needed to be some potential punishment for those who enticed married people into adultery. Unsurprisingly, newspaper coverage of her effort was amused--rather as though she had suggested requiring adulterers to wear a scarlet letter A.
8.23.2005 5:05pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Daniel,

I think the best analogy to understand that homosexuality/heterosexuality/bisexuality (or I should say bisexualities) exist as character traits, not simply chosen behaviors is to left-handedness/right-handedness/ambidexrousness. Note: I don't use this analogy to attempt to morally justify homosexual acts since one set of behaviors necessarily involves sexual conduct, the other doesn't.

I think we all understand that handedness is an unchosen distinctively existing trait. Yet handedness also, like homosexuality, involves sets of chosen behaviors based on instinct. And it's also true that people, for a variety of interesting reasons, act outside of their handedness orientations, but that fact ought not necessarily reduce the whole handedness phenomenon to "what someone does."

For instance, in baseball there are right-handed batters who "switch hit" and choose to bat lefty (and vice versa). That someone has the ability to do this should not destroy the concept of handedness, nor does it render the batter into someone who is "ambidextrous" (given that we understand ambidextrousness to be more or less fully and evenly ambidextrous). We understand this batter to be a right-handed fellow who is momentarily choosing to bat lefty.

The analogy may fall apart a little insofar as EVERYONE is ambidexrous to *some* extent and not EVERYONE is bisexual to *some* extent (although I've heard that argued). While I don't think everyone has some bisexuality, I do strongly believe that a suprisingly high percentage both homosexuals AND heterosexuals have *some* degree of bisexuality, without being full and even bisexuals.
8.23.2005 5:13pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
That makes sense. I don't see people staking so much of their existence on the fact that they're left handed, but I see your point.
8.23.2005 5:25pm
zoe kentucky (mail) (www):
You really are a piece of work. Are you saying that it would be better for marriages overall if people were motiated by fear of being arrested if they cheat? That the person they cheat with should be held responsible for someone else breaking their vows? You don't find that the least bit ridiculous?

Personally, I want my wife to stay faithful to me because she values our marriage, respects me, and cherishes our life together. Cheating is usually a symptom of marital problems, not the cause. Threatening people with arrest for adultery doesn't solve anything at all.

Granted my 6.5 year marriage is not legal because people like Clayton find it personally offensive/sinful/threatening-- and I live thousands of miles away. But without any kind of civil union or marriage laws in place it's up to people like Clayton to make sure that my children are legally born out of wedlock-- isn't that a great way to promote marriage, family and societal stability! Is everyone else here aware that by filing my taxes jointly with my spouse it will destroy our society? Did anyone else know our society is that fragile?

By the way, Clayton, you really can't have it both ways. On one hand you say this country is totally pro-gay, then you say that gays have to use courts to push for basic rights that no one wants us to have because we're so unpopular. Which is it?
8.23.2005 5:37pm
Christopher Fahey (mail) (www):

Homosexuality isn't any worse than the other sins, by the way.

Ultimately, you people think that homosexuals are sinners, and you claim that the Bible tells us that they're sinners.

But really you're just justifying your own fear and hatred and you're using the Bible arbitrarily to do so, not the other way round. If you truly were using the Bible as your guide, you'd be tripping over yourself trying to keep up with the forbidden and recommended practices.

About two lines after homosexuality is condemned in the Old Testament, building alters out of "hewn stones" is just as strongly condemned. Literally, you are going to hell just as quickly for worshipping at an alter made out of stones that were not found naturally on the ground, but were instead cut and shaped by man.

Did you know that the Ten Commandments forbid the production of representational art? There's no "nuance" to it: if you take a photograph, draw a picture, watch a movie, or use a computer, you are a hell-bound sinner.

The Bible has always been flexible to the needs of the people reading it, and how it is interpreted changes from time to time. We've cast aside almost 99% of the proscriptions from the Bible (do you cover your head?), but apparently some of us cling to the ones that justify our petty fears and hatreds.

Don't blame the Bible for your hatred of homosexuals. It's your own damn fault.
8.23.2005 5:53pm
Christopher Fahey (mail) (www):
If there was a large movement trying to get polygamous marriages imposed on the states ... I would be similarly upset.

Oh, dear me, I can't believe I missed this one...

As far as I know, polygamy is almost the only type of marriage described in the Bible. There are almost no examples of monogamous marriages in the Bible, and there certainly aren't ANY parts of the Bible that forbid polygamy whatsoever.

Technically, by forbidding polygamy we are in severe violation of the examples set forth by most of the greatest prophets of God in the Bible. Monogamy is pretty radical. Our divergence from the Biblical tradition of polygamy is FAR more radical than accepting homosexuals as equals in society, don't you think?
8.23.2005 5:59pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

You really are a piece of work. Are you saying that it would be better for marriages overall if people were motiated by fear of being arrested if they cheat? That the person they cheat with should be held responsible for someone else breaking their vows? You don't find that the least bit ridiculous?
I think that it would have very little impact, but I don't see any harm in putting just a little encouragement on the side of fidelity. People still break the law by speeding on the freeway, but knowing that there's a small chance that you might get caught and fined does act as a restraint.

Personally, I want my wife to stay faithful to me because she values our marriage, respects me, and cherishes our life together. Cheating is usually a symptom of marital problems, not the cause. Threatening people with arrest for adultery doesn't solve anything at all.
I agree that adultery is usually a symptom—although it can also be a cause. It can take a marriage that is already in trouble, and put it in even worse shape. For example, I know of someone whose adultery was discovered because he brought an STD home to his wife. Was his marriage already in trouble? Sure. Is it in more trouble now? Sure.


Did you know that the Ten Commandments forbid the production of representational art? There's no "nuance" to it: if you take a photograph, draw a picture, watch a movie, or use a computer, you are a hell-bound sinner.

The Bible has always been flexible to the needs of the people reading it, and how it is interpreted changes from time to time. We've cast aside almost 99% of the proscriptions from the Bible (do you cover your head?), but apparently some of us cling to the ones that justify our petty fears and hatreds.

Don't blame the Bible for your hatred of homosexuals. It's your own damn fault.

Christians are not bound by the Levitical code. The New Testament has a number of clear prohibitions on homosexuality, in any case. See Romans chapter 1.

I don't hate homosexuals. I just would like them to stop using the government as an instrument for suppressing disapproval of their practices. Do what you want in private; that's your business. Make whatever contracts you want between you and your partner. That's your business. But if someone is morally opposed to homosexuality, don't force them to print gay wedding announcements—as homosexual activists have already forced to happen in Seattle.
8.23.2005 6:05pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Granted my 6.5 year marriage is not legal because people like Clayton find it personally offensive/sinful/threatening— and I live thousands of miles away.
I don't care what you do in private with other consenting adults—at least not enough that the government needs to get involved. Just don't ask me to approve of it, or change the laws to let you pretend that everyone approves.

But without any kind of civil union or marriage laws in place it's up to people like Clayton to make sure that my children are legally born out of wedlock— isn't that a great way to promote marriage, family and societal stability!
If you are a homosexual, how are having children? Oh, you mean that you are having children by a third party. That sounds very stable.
Is everyone else here aware that by filing my taxes jointly with my spouse it will destroy our society?
I don't much care if you file jointly. If you really want a law that lets groups of individual form "domestic corporations" that give them the benefits of joint filing, it wouldn't bother me at all.
Did anyone else know our society is that fragile?
It is actually quite fragile. I'm old enough to remember when divorce was rare.

By the way, Clayton, you really can't have it both ways. On one hand you say this country is totally pro-gay, then you say that gays have to use courts to push for basic rights that no one wants us to have because we're so unpopular. Which is it?
There's a willingness to live and let live; don't make a big deal about your sexual practices, and most Americans wouldn't much care. But we aren't keen on you using the schools to propagandize in favor of homosexuality. If it is really something inborn, then by adulthood, the homosexuals will do what they want.

But that doesn't mean that we have to rearrange the society so that you can pretend that you are like everyone else. America is a pretty tolerant society—and of course, corporations have gone out of their way to recognize "domestic partnerships," grant insurance to domestic partners, and market to homosexuals. But that isn't enough, is it?
8.23.2005 6:14pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

As far as I know, polygamy is almost the only type of marriage described in the Bible. There are almost no examples of monogamous marriages in the Bible, and there certainly aren't ANY parts of the Bible that forbid polygamy whatsoever.
Oh dear. Someone better tell this guy, but our laws aren't based on the Bible anymore (although some colonies called out the appropriate passages in the columns next to the statutes). Oddly enough, we pass laws through representative government--except, of course, if homosexuals aren't happy, in which case the courts impose laws on the legislatures.

I wasn't happy about Connecticut passing its most recent legislation on this subject, but the representatives of the people exercised their constitutional authority in doing so. If the people of Connecticut aren't happy about it, that will change after the next election. The people of Massachusetts don't have that option--the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has decided that its twisted interpretation of the Massachusetts Constitution takes precedence over the people.
8.23.2005 6:19pm
jonrey:
Clayton sez:

Homosexuality isn't any worse than the other sins, by the way. If there was a large movement trying to get polygamous marriages imposed on the states, or trying to get laws passed that prohibited discrimination against adulterers, or legalizing bestiality, I would be similarly upset


Actually, Clayton, according to Jesus, adultery is a far bigger deal than homosexuality - given the fact that Jesus never mentions the latter.

Now, of course, you can attempt to elevate Paul above Jesus, (barring the hairy translation issues regarding what those tricky Greek words mean in Romans 1 and elsewhere) but Jesus never mentions homosexuality. Maybe he didn't consider it a sin - and perhaps Jesus knows better than Paul...
8.23.2005 6:22pm
jonrey:
I said:

As far as that goes, it's odd, isn't it, that Jesus never said a thing about sex between folks of the same sex. Odd, indeed...


Clayton sez:

Probably for the same reason he never said anything about cannibalism or atheism. Some things were a given in Jewish culture at the time. Near contemporaries, such as Paul, wrote about a variety of sexual sins, including homosexuality.


You know you just made that up, don't you? You have no more clue than I do about why Jesus never mentioned cannibalism or atheism. We can be absolutely sure, however, that homosexuality was very common in the world then. Perhaps Jesus forgot to mention it, then - is that your assertion? Or was it just not important to him?
8.23.2005 6:35pm
Chris Jarrett (mail):
Clayton, how do you handle your cognitive dissonance?

In one post, you write: "I am quite willing to leave gay people alone (no laws telling adults what they can do in private)"

In another post, you write: "I am pleased that at least here in Idaho, adultery is still a criminal offense."

So, which is it? Do you support no laws telling adults what they can do in private or not?
8.23.2005 6:44pm
zoe kentucky (mail) (www):
Clayton,

There is something you don't seem to understand about laws-- they're not always about what you approve of personally. For instance, I personally don't approve of gambling, I think it destroys lives, but do you see me lobbying to have my point of view consecrated into law? There are people in Nevada having legalized sex with prostitutes-- what I am doing about it? Nothing. I don't approve but I really don't care. I'm pretty much a libertarian that way, to each their own, the government should not be in the business of being the arbritrary morality police.

Once again, you try to have it both ways-- are gays popular or unpopular? You see as forcing our unpopular views onto you through the courts, where we see ourselves as defending ourselves against others who want us to remain a marginalized, invisible population with no basic familial rights. You see us pushing ourselves where we don't belong, we see ourselves as reacting against historical oppression, prejudice. We are no longer content to be outcasts, to be treated as second-class citizens. A person's sexuality is not just about what they do in the bedroom, it is about who they are, their whole life, their families. Sorry if that bothers you so much, for the life of me I can't quite understand why.

But then you say that all of America is too pro-gay-- even in Boise!-- that nobody else is judgemental enough, not enough Bible-based thinking. But then you say that our laws aren't based on the Bible-- then what are laws against homosexuality based on? Um, an interpretation of the Bible. Which, if you know much about Biblical history, has changed a lot. I can pretty much guarentee that they'll continue to change as time goes on.

For the record, when my wife and I have kids we're adopting, so unless you're impugning all people who create families this way, don't infer that it is somehow inherently unstable to do so. (Same applies to couples, straight or gay, who use sperm banks and so on.) There are many different kinds of families out there and people can thrive and find happiness in more than one kind. It's not that hard to understand. It might not be for you, but a lot of things might not be for you. Why are you so focused on such a small minority population?

But what this all boils down to is pretty simple-- you believe that heterosexuals are inherently SUPERIOR to homosexuals. That heterosexual families are inherently SUPERIOR to ours based on one aspect of our lives because of your personal religious beliefs. In addition to that you want the law to reflect your beliefs because you believe you are right. Aren't you happy that you're on the "right" side of the law? Can you imagine being on the other side? What if you found out one of your famiy members is gay? Would you still feel the way you do?
8.23.2005 6:51pm
Downtown Lad (mail) (www):

The people of Massachusetts don't have that option--the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has decided that its twisted interpretation of the Massachusetts Constitution takes precedence over the people.

Now Clayton is expert in the Massachusetts Constitution? I'd bet $100 that he's never even read it.

Because the text is pretty clear.

"Equality under the law shall not be denied or abridged because of sex."
8.23.2005 7:08pm
TomK (mail):
Hey Eugene. There is a bit of a problem with this reasoning here:

"If it weren't for the disproportionate and grave health danger from male homosexual activity, I'd think such encouragement to explore which relationships give people the most happiness would be positively quite good. (Yes, I realize that the danger can be reduced by not engaging in anal sex, always using a condom, not having sex with a partner unless he's been tested and had not had sex for some months before the test, and so on. But most people are not nearly this cautious, and the reality thus remains that, given the vastly disproportionate prevalence of HIV among gays in America today, the greater risk from anal sex, a practice that for understandable reasons many male homosexuals do not want to forego, and the notorious difficulty with getting people to actually practice safe practices — whether aimed at preventing disease or conception — the fact remains that experimenting with male homosexuality is dangerous activity.)"

The fact is that male homosexuals having a one-night stand are more then twice as likely to practice safe sex then heterosexuals having a one-night stand. Given this, from a health point of view, you should think that it's preferable for a bisexual man to experiment with homosexuality, then to remain heterosexual. If the bisexual man in 2005 has sex with a male, that male has a 66% chance to demand a condom, while a female only has around a 33% chance to demand a condom. Ergo, pairing the bisexual with the male homosexual results in statistically safer sex then pairing the bisexual with the female.

Your reasoning is flawed because current STD rates are a comment on the safe sex practices of men 20 years ago. Gay men, in response to this crisis, have changed their behavior over the years. Now, gay men are the most informed people in the world about safe sex.

From "Soul Beneath the Skin" by David Nimmons.
'
"From 1993 alone, nine different studies reported that two thirds of gay men were being primarily safe in locales as disparate as North Carolina, Britan, Australia, Pittsburgh, and San Fransisco. Yet, the national aids behavioral surveys surveyed heterosexual men and found: "Among respondents with multiple partners, only 28% of men and 32% of women always use them (condoms) with secondary partners...in general, almost half the men and women with multiple partners never use condoms."38 Another study compared gay and straight men and found gay condom use "twice as high."39
'

Here are the cites for the footnotes:

38 M. Dolcini, et al. "Demographic Characteristics of heterosexuals with Multiple Partners: The national AIDS Behavioral Surveys (NABS), " Family Planning Perspectives 25 (1993) 208-214
39 K. Tanfer, et al. "Condom Use Among U.S. Men, 1991," Family Planning Perspectives 25 (2) (1993) 61-66

In light of this evidence, you should really re-evaluate the medical judgement you made. The reason HIV rates among homosexuals is so high is that Ronald Regean and his buddies kept information about HIV and AIDS away from vunerable populations, not because gay sex is a health risk. As soon as the gay community learned about HIV, behavior changed. Within about 10 years, condom usage rates doubled among gay men in response to the AIDS crisis, while usage among heterosexuals remained stagnant.
8.23.2005 7:16pm
Gabriel:
People, don't forget that a large number of these "conversions" are initiated by the straight man or teen. So you would also have to blame the straight male community for "converting" vulnerable, confused boys/men into the homosexual lifestyle, and they do it just to pleasure themselves, without any regard to the emotions of the person they're using as a sex tool. Think about it.

PS: I don't think it's necessarily wrong for straight men to seduce gay men. Under some instances it could be very wrong, but if it's just a matter of sexual experimentation or just plain horniness I don't have a problem with it. After all, some straight men have sex with goats. I would think another human being would be preferable to an animal.
8.23.2005 10:40pm
Challenge:
TomK,

Nice rosey scenario, but it doesn't square with reality.

http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/PUBS/Facts/msm.htm

Gays make up around 70% of NEW HIV cases, even though they are around 4% of the population. You do the math. Gay men are literally hundreds of times more likely to contract HIV than their heterosexual counterparts.
8.24.2005 9:36am
Challenge:
*Correction, gay males accounted for 63% of new diagnoses in 2003 among males. Still, gays are around 4% of the population but they're 64% of the new cases among males. That demonstrates quite conclusively how much riskier sex is if one is a gay male.

Also, I wouldn't be suprised if these statistics under-reported the percent of transmission from gay sex.
8.24.2005 9:47am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Zoe Kentucky writes:


There is something you don't seem to understand about laws— they're not always about what you approve of personally. For instance, I personally don't approve of gambling, I think it destroys lives, but do you see me lobbying to have my point of view consecrated into law?
Not about gambling—but you are quite insistent that the law should recognize your same-sex marriage—to the point of supporting judges imposing their point of view on the people.

I will take my chances with a libertarian view of the law—but that would require homosexuals to take that same view. Since they support forcing private organizations to take in homosexuals, and they support laws that require a print shop to violate the owner's conscience by printing same-sex wedding announcements, there's nothing libertarian about your point of view.
8.24.2005 12:21pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Jonrey writes:


You know you just made that up, don't you? You have no more clue than I do about why Jesus never mentioned cannibalism or atheism. We can be absolutely sure, however, that homosexuality was very common in the world then.
I didn't just make that up. It is a position that others have taken in explaining Jesus's lack of discussion of a number of specific sins. The term "uncleanness" would have included a whole range of sexual perversions as they were understood in Jewish society. While homosexuality was pretty common in the classical world, it was definitely not accepted in the Jewish society in which Jesus lived. See the Levitical code.

Keep in mind that homosexuality in the classical world wasn't an equality sort of relationship. It was older men using their positions of money and influence as levers of power against very young guys who needed a hand up, and were willing to be a "bottom" for that reason. There's a reason that the classical world uses the word "catamite" to describe these young men—they were always "bottoms." I suspect that there were homosexuals in the modern sense of two men or two women of roughly equal social status having sex with each other, but a lot of homosexuals are playing games equating classical Greek homosexuality with the modern phenomenon.
8.24.2005 12:28pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

By the way, Clayton, you really can't have it both ways. On one hand you say this country is totally pro-gay, then you say that gays have to use courts to push for basic rights that no one wants us to have because we're so unpopular. Which is it?
As I have explained, most Americans are prepared to live and let live. They don't want the police running around arresting homosexuals having sex in private. They might not want to work with the more flamboyant homosexuals, but if you aren't acting like you want a job in the next production of The Bird Cage, most Americans don't much care. But there is a point where most Americans draw the line.

Even in California most parents do not want the schools propagandizing in favor of homosexuality. You may see it as "helping young gay people come to grips with their orientation"; a lot of parents see it as, if not recruiting, at least encouraging confused kids to become gay. Most adults do not favor having the states recognize gay marriage—although there is a very strong minority that would be prepared to let you have "civil unions" which are marriage in everything but name. The homosexual activist insistence on having the same thing as a "civil union" but called "marriage" definitely upsets a lot of Americans.
8.24.2005 12:35pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Downtown Lad writes:

Now Clayton is expert in the Massachusetts Constitution? I'd bet $100 that he's never even read it.

Because the text is pretty clear.

"Equality under the law shall not be denied or abridged because of sex."
I'm relying on a pro-gay law professor (Volokh), who points out that when that provision was under debate in the 1970s, opponents argued that it could lead to gay marriage, and proponents insisted that this was not the case. Based on original intent, it is clear that this provision was not understood to provide for gay marriage.
8.24.2005 12:41pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
TomK writes:


The fact is that male homosexuals having a one-night stand are more then twice as likely to practice safe sex then heterosexuals having a one-night stand. Given this, from a health point of view, you should think that it's preferable for a bisexual man to experiment with homosexuality, then to remain heterosexual. If the bisexual man in 2005 has sex with a male, that male has a 66% chance to demand a condom, while a female only has around a 33% chance to demand a condom. Ergo, pairing the bisexual with the male homosexual results in statistically safer sex then pairing the bisexual with the female.
The problem with this reasoning is that:

1. Anal sex is far more likely to transmit AIDS than vaginal sex (except if the woman has open sores in her vagina).

2. AIDS transmission from female to male is far less effective than male to female vaginal sex or male to male anal sex. Women who get AIDS are more effective bottlenecks to further spread of the disease than men who get AIDS. I suppose if a homosexual man was always the receipient of anal or oral sex, there would be little risk of him transmitting the disease onward, but I don't get the impression that this is very common.

3. Male homosexuals are typically 1.5 to 4x more promiscuous than male heterosexuals. (I find it hard to believe that the disparity is really that small--in the bathhouses of San Francisco into the 1980s, it was common for men to receive anal sex from dozens of complete strangers in an evening.) The speed of STD transmission has a squared relationship to the number of different sexual partners. Double the number of partners, and the transmission rate quadruples; increase the number of partners by 4x, and you get a 16-fold increase in transmission rate.
8.24.2005 12:49pm
Steve in Arkansas:
I'm a gay man. I'll make an attempt at answering your 5 questions:

1. No. I am not inclined to tell another person what he "should" do. He should do what is right for him. What makes him comfortable and happy. If he is perfectly happy with his current situation, great. I have no interest in seeing him change just because what's right for me may or may not be right for him.

2. No. Society in general doesn't yet accept innate homosexual behavior, let alone experimentation. Gay rights groups should work toward that goal first. Besides, I don't think there's stigma toward experimentation. There's stigma towards homosexual behavior. After all, if I were to experiment with heterosexual behavior I don't think there would be much stigma attached.

3. No. Unless the person is unhappy with things the way they are, who am I to tell someone else what he "should" do to be happy?

4. Probably no. If I were interested in the person remaining a friend, it would be best not to get involved with him sexually, especially if he's not certain of his sexual orientation.

5. No. This question is twisted around to where I'm not sure what's being asked. Children need role models, gay and straight, yes, so they will feel comfortable with themselves whatever their orientation, and so that they have positive examples of persons of the opposite orientation, not so they can feel free to experiment. If the stigma of homosexual behavior is removed, THEN they will feel free to act on their feelings.

What bothers me about this whole discussion is that it is a favorite accusation of anti-gay activists that gays are trying to "convert" or "recruit" others to homosexual behavior. The implication being that they wish to convert straights, and specifically children to their orientation, like the Devil trying to corrupt otherwise moral people. It's not the denotation of the word, but the connotation given us by anti-gay types that bothers me.
8.24.2005 12:58pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

What bothers me about this whole discussion is that it is a favorite accusation of anti-gay activists that gays are trying to "convert" or "recruit" others to homosexual behavior. The implication being that they wish to convert straights, and specifically children to their orientation, like the Devil trying to corrupt otherwise moral people. It's not the denotation of the word, but the connotation given us by anti-gay types that bothers me.
The difficulty is that at least in California schools, efforts like Project 10 do smell a little like "recruitment" efforts. Now, I know that the intent of these efforts is to give gay teenagers positive role models, someone to talk to--but I do hope that you can see why there is some suspicion of these efforts. Project 10's name is based on the false claim that 10% of the population is homosexual or bisexual. There's a lot of teenagers who are trying to figure out what their values are--and especially because puberty is a time of raging hormones and confusion.

Take a boy who is 13 or 14, the puberty fairy has landed, and he is constantly struggling with sexual arousal. I can remember one kid coming in from lunch to a shop class when I was in seventh grade. He had an enormously obvious erection. Under those conditions, it is very easy to conflate a hormonally deranged level of sexual arousal with seeing a classmate of the same sex in the locker room.

Now, create a situation where this kid is encouraged to think that "maybe you're gay." Even worse, in some schools, teachers actively encourage confused kids to identify themselves as gay because it makes the teachers feel so proud about their liberalism. Can you see why a lot of parents aren't too happy about anything that promotes this belief? By the time this kid is 18 or 19, the hormones calm down a bit, and he may be able to see his constant sexual arousal of 13 or 14 for what it was--high hormone levels, not a desire for his fellow students in the locker room.
8.24.2005 2:08pm
Duncan Frissell (mail):
Isn't 178 entirely too many comments?

On the topic of the post, couldn't it be more easily argued if the verb was changed from 'converted' or 'recruited' to 'seduced'. It is hardly to be doubted that people seek to seduce others whether sexually or politically. Plenty of homosexual seduction occurs just as plenty of heterosexual seduction occurs. And lesbianism was an important part of political seduction at one stage in the feminist movement.
8.24.2005 3:53pm
pedro (mail):
Following Volokh's impeccable logic, the insistence of conservatives (and, surprisingly, libertarians like Volokh) to frame the efforts of gay rights activists as exercises in "conversion", as well as the considerably successful attempts of conservatives to deny homosexuals any semblance of civil union rights, are in themselves attempts to convert liberals, homosexuals, and religious people whose denominations would gladly celebrate homosexual weddings, to a set of ideas, beliefs, and behaviors that they reject. If this is the kind of profoundly insightful use of the verb "to convert" that Volokh wishes to advocate, then it seems obvious to me that Volokh's post is decidedly in line with the position according to which any behavior which deviates from the "mainstream" is designed malevolently to convert right-wingers away from their culture of "virtue."

Then again, I suppose in Mr. Volokh's language, the Civil Rights Movement was not really about civil rights, but about converting white people to the belief that African-Americans are equal to them in rights, and to make African-Americans feel better about themselves. Of course, framing things this way is nothing new, I presume.
8.24.2005 9:10pm