August 22, 2002
Interview: Stereotypes of homosexuals
by Steve Sailer, UPI National Correspondent
Los Angeles – To paraphrase Mark Twain, everybody talks about sexual orientation, but Michael Bailey is one of the few scientists who rigorously researches it. The Northwestern University psychology professor is among the most respected figures in the field of objectively investigating homosexuality. Bailey paused to answer a few questions about what science has learned about sexual orientation. United Press International: How did you get interested in researching homosexuality, especially since you are a heterosexual man who now has two kids?
Bailey: I wish I had a dramatic response to this one, but I don’t. I was looking for a dissertation topic in clinical psychology. A study came out in the journal Science about male homosexuality that suggested a follow up study. I chose to do that for my dissertation. For a couple of reasons, it was quite rewarding. First, I found working with gay people a lot more fun and interesting than working with crazy people. Second, I found that there were lots of very interesting questions about homosexuality that had never been investigated. Scientists have tended to steer clear of this area. Part of the reason is political. Part of it is that most scientists are heterosexual men, and most straight men don’t want to do anything that will make other people question their sexuality. I have come to find the assumption "because you study homosexuality, you are gay" to be at worst neutral and occasionally complimentary. (I wish people thought I was gay because of the way I dance or dress.) Finally, part of it is that scientists have this irritating propensity to think of sex research as essentially unimportant and frivolous. This despite the fact that sex is one of the most important motivations of human existence. If people invested as much in sex research as they do in their sex lives, I’d have a huge lab!
Q: What are some stereotypes about homosexuals that you’ve found not to be true?
A: One of the embarrassing facts from social psychology is that most stereotypes are true, in the only sense that stereotypes are ever true: on average. I can easily think of only one stereotype about gays/lesbians that is false: the idea that masculine and feminine gay men (or lesbians) pair up in couples, one "husband" and one "wife." There is no relation between the masculinity of partners. In fact, gay men almost all want masculine partners. Lesbians mostly want feminine partners. This is despite the fact that gay men tend on average to be feminine in certain ways, and lesbians masculine. So, that Robin Williams’ movie "The Birdcage" (in which a conventionally masculine "husband" is matched with a flaming male "wife") is motivated by a false premise.
Q: What stereotypes have turned out to have some truth to them?
A: One big thing is occupational and recreational interests. In fact, hairdressers, professional dancers, actors and designers tend to be gay men, at least at much higher rates than their population rate, which is somewhere between 1 and 4 percent. And women who are in the armed services, or professional athletes (two of the three best all-time women’s tennis players are lesbian), are disproportionately lesbian. Children who are sex-atypical do tend to become homosexual. Especially males. Boys who want to be girls become men who want men. Most very masculine girls probably become heterosexual women, but their rate of homosexuality is probably still higher than would be expected given the population rate of female homosexuality, which is probably less than 1 percent. Recently, we have shown that on average, gay men and lesbians are very different on average from straight people in the way they walk and speak. There is such a thing, evidently, as a gay voice. And lesbians tend to look different than straight women – in particular, they have shorter hairstyles. On the other hand, some stereotypes about homosexual people are due to the fact that they are in certain other ways psychologically like straight people of their own sex. For example, gay men have lots of sex partners compared with straight men. This is because they have a male-typical level of interest in casual sex, but because they are seeking other men with the same interest, they can have as many partners as they want. Straight men are constrained by the desires of women. I think that there is nothing intrinsically "gay" about having hundreds of sex partners. Lots of straight guys would if they could. But they can’t, because they can’t find female partners who’ll have anonymous sex with them.
Q: Is it useful to investigate homosexuality in general, or do you need to focus separately on gay men and lesbians, because they tend to be different?
A: Gay men and lesbians are very different. In part, this is because in many gender-related traits, they have diverged in opposite directions. Gay men tend to be feminine compared with heterosexual men; lesbians tend to be masculine compared with heterosexual women. But they aren’t even mirror images of each other. You can draw no conclusions about gay men from a study of lesbians, or vice versa.
Q: What do you see as the political implications of sexual orientation research?
A: The politics in this area are a real irritation. Any scientific hypothesis about the causes of sexual orientation has opponents on both sides of the political spectrum. This fact alone should lead to the realization that there is no simple correspondence between a scientific position and a political position. I can think of only one exception. Some on the far right believe that people become gay because they were "recruited" by other gay people. If true (and it is not true), this idea would have negative political implications. But mostly, causal hypotheses are politically neutral. I don’t have the time or patience right now to elaborate the ways that people make logical errors in deriving moral lessons from scientific findings. Personally, I am very pro-gay, but I have no problems discussing scientific hypotheses with anti-gay people, provided we stick to science. The politicization of "gay science" is not just an irritation, but also a hindrance to scientific progress. Virtually everyone will admit that the causes of sexual orientation and gender are a fascinating subject. Most people will even admit that it’s an important question, if not as important as how to cure cancer. But funding in this area is extremely difficult.
Q: For close to a decade, we’ve been hearing about a possible "gay gene." When one identical twin is homosexual, is the other one (whose genes are identical) usually homosexual, too?
A: We don’t really know. I have done the best studies on this question, but they have necessary flaws. Unfortunately, you can’t compel people to participate in research, much less to give honest answers. My best guess is that a gay man’s identical twin has a probability of about 20-25 percent of also being gay. Which means that most are straight. Still, 20-25 percent is much higher than the population rate. Also, people need to realize that differences between identical twins can be caused by biological environmental factors as well as social environmental factors. In fact, I strongly suspect that identical twins who differ in their sexual orientation usually do so for biological reasons (particularly among males).
Q: What is your take on maverick evolutionary theorist Gregory Cochran’s "gay germ" that at least some instances of male homosexuality might be caused by infections?
A: Greg Cochran has convinced me that this theory is at least tenable, which puts it way above competing theories. Most of the evolutionary speculation about homosexuality has been quite lame, even speculation by respected thinkers. The persistence of homosexuality despite the fact that gay and lesbian people clearly reproduce less often than straight people is perhaps the most striking paradox in all of human evolution.
Q: What has Ray Blanchard discovered about younger brothers and homosexuality?
A: Blanchard has shown that without a doubt, gay men on average tend to have more older brothers than straight men. That is, they tend to be later born in a series of brothers (although many of course are first-borns). Blanchard has a very interesting biological hypothesis about pregnant mothers having an immune response to their unborn son’s testosterone. I think it’s very intriguing, and the birth order finding is one of the most interesting facts about male homosexuality. There is no birth order effect for lesbians.
Q: Overall, where do you see the evidence pointing for the cause or causes of male homosexuality?
A: Something happens in the womb to prevent the brains of gay men from fully masculinizing. If a typical male newborn is castrated in an accident, and is raised as a girl, he’ll still be attracted to females. It’s too late at birth to change sexual orientation.
Q: How about the causes of female homosexuality? Has that been studied as much?
A: Female homosexuality has been studied less, in part due to the fact that there are many fewer lesbians than gay men, and in part because many people find female homosexuality to be less problematic than male homosexuality.
August 26, 2002
Passionately Jewish and gay
by Adrienne Sanders of The Examiner Staff
Everybody wanted to set up Steve Mazer with a nice Jewish girl. The problem was, Mazer preferred men. "If I was straight, I know who I would have married," said the single Orthodox Jew who moved to the Bay Area two years ago after spending six years in Israel. "I wanted the entire stereotype. I still want it, just with a man." Mazer just might find his match in San Francisco, where he can be openly gay and passionately Jewish. While it’s no big surprise that in The City men like Mazer can merge their religion with their sexuality – now the efforts of the gay Jewish community are being felt in mainstream Jewish synagogues, charities and schools around the country.
Last month, the Sunset’s Congregation Beth Sholom became one of the few Conservative synagogues in the country to elect an openly gay president, Kenny Altman. The move was revolutionary for gay Jews nationwide. Not only is Altman a skilled educator and effective manager, said Rabbi Alan Lew, but he has an established outreach to the synagogue’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. "We now have a rainbow chavurah (friendship/prayer group) for GBLT congregants," said Lew. "That’s what is unusual, nationally." Unusual indeed.
The Conservative movement still prohibits openly gay Jews from becoming Conservative rabbis. Mazer previously belonged to Congregation Sha’ar Zahav, a predominately gay congregation led by Rabbi Camille Shira Angel, a partnered lesbian. Mazer credits that synagogue with opening doors for gay participation in the wider Jewish community. Sha’ar Zahav has the only gaycentric Jewish education program for kids in the country, said Ruthy Talansky, chairwoman of the synagogue’s Children’s Education Board. "When we talk about family trees, for example, we don’t assume everybody has a dad and mom living together," she said. Talansky’s father disowned her when she left Orthodox Judaism in New York many years ago.
Today, she is happily pregnant, living with her partner and actively participating in Jewish communal life. In much of the country, this would be unthinkable. But City synagogues aren’t the only Jewish organizations that lead the nation in GBLT integration. This year, the local chapter of The Jewish Federation, the central fund-raising group for the Jewish community, became the first in the nation to establish an official GBLT division. The group helps plan social events, raise funds from the GBLT community and foster leadership in the gay Jewish community "I think queer Jews have been a lot more focused on queer issues and philanthropy than Jewish philanthropy," said Howard Steierman, a federation board member. "Now they’re able to participate in a mix of both."
Though gay synagogue membership is swelling and rabbis here routinely perform gay marriages, there is still much work to be done, said Altman. "I can’t wait for the day when becoming a LGBT leader of a mainstream organization is not a news story," he said. . E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
September 12, 2002
Law grants inheritance to domestic partners
by Brian Seals, Sentinel Staff Writer
Santa Cruz – A state law born out of the Sept. 11 tragedy will grant inheritance rights to gays and lesbians whose partners die without leaving a will. The legislation, written by Assembly member Fred Keeley, D-Boulder Creek, was signed into law by Gov. Gray Davis this week.
The measure was in part prompted by Keith Bradkowski, whose partner of 11 years, Jeff Collman, was an American Airlines flight attendant who died on the first plane to strike the World Trade Center. Keeley said he began working on the bill after learning of Bradkowski ‘s plight. Collman won’t benefit from the change in the law, but future registered partners will. "Keith will get nothing out of this," Keeley said. "He’s doing it for everybody else. To me, that makes Keith a hero."
Bradkowski and Collman had registered with the state as domestic partners, but mistakenly thought California inheritance laws applied to them. "It’s really just kind of, slowly but surely, attempting to create justice for same-sex couples when marriage is not available," said Deb Abbott of the Gay Lesbian Bi-sexual Transgender Resource Center at UC Santa Cruz. Merrie Schaller of Corralitos and her partner of more than six years, Natalie Steinberg, registered as domestic partners earlier this year. While they expect to have wills in place before the law takes effect, Schaller said the measure was one more step for equal rights. "It’s another inch, another step," Schaller said. "It’s another right we have that gives us 14 or 15, compared with more than 1,000 for married couples."
The new measure is effective July 1, 2003. More than 15,000 partnerships are on file with the Secretary of State’s Office. Current law provides a hierarchy of inheritors, beginning with children. Keeley said a member of a same-sex couple who wanted children to inherit assets would need a will. While welcomed by gays, lesbians and supporters, the measure was criticized by conservative groups like the Campaign for California Families. That group accused Gov. Gray Davis of pandering to "liberal special interest." .
Contact Brian Seals at email@example.com.
Psychiatrist’s Group Supports Gay Adoption Rights
New York – Joining a host of other psychological and medical organizations, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) on Friday issued a statement endorsing the right of gay and lesbian couples to adopt. "The APA supports initiatives which allow same-sex couples to adopt and co-parent children and supports all the associated legal rights, benefits, and responsibilities which arise from such initiatives," the group said in a statement.
The new policy comes on the heels of a 2000 APA policy statement supporting the right of same-sex couples to have their unions legally recognized by the state. According to the APA, which represents over 38,000 mental illness health professionals nationwide, "research over the past 30 years has consistently demonstrated that children raised by gay or lesbian parents exhibit the same level of emotional, cognitive, social and sexual functioning as children raised by heterosexual parents." Studies have also demonstrated that parental caring and commitment – not sexual orientation – is the deciding factor in whether or not children grow into stable, healthy adults. However, many US states still prohibit the adoption of children by both partners in a committed gay or lesbian relationship.
The APA note that "while some states have approved legislation sanctioning second parent adoption, other court judgments and legislation have prohibited lesbian women and gay men from adopting or co-parenting," meaning that in many states only one partner has a legal tie to a child both partners care for. This type of legislation can have practical and emotional implications when it comes to the welfare of the child concerned, the APA contends. They point out that, with full adoption by both partners, "children could avail themselves of both parents’ health insurance, access to medical care, death benefits, inheritance rights, and child support from both parents in the event of separation." Other major groups representing US health professionals have already issued statements supporting the adoption rights of same-sex couples. They include the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists, and the American Association of Family Physicians.
October 11, 2002
Olympian Greg Louganis Shares His ‘Coming Out’ Story at University
by Kirsten Stewart, The Salt Lake Tribune
A graying, but still tanned and fit Greg Louganis – winner of five Olympic diving medals and countless national championships – appeared Thursday at Kingsbury Hall as part of the U.’s observance of Coming Out Week. And though the crowd that assembled to hear him barely topped 100, he delivered an intimate and soulful account of why coming out is important. Louganis is often touted as the greatest diver in the world, but it wasn’t until well after his success that the public knew what he had to overcome. At a young age, the southern California native struggled with a speech impediment and dyslexia. Later in life he fought to free himself of the chains of an abusive relationship and alcohol.
And since 1988, when he was diagnosed HIV positive, the sports legend has lived under the threat of AIDS. It is his best-selling autobiography, Breaking the Surface, that today makes him most proud, Louganis told his University of Utah audience, "because it got people to talk about being gay and HIV positive." "The truth shall set you free," he said, noting that secrets only serve to feed a vicious cycle of self-hatred and stereotypes, and further "isolate you from those you need most, your friends and family."
Telling students to "get out there and get to know people and let them know you," Louganis said, "I wish I could be just seen as a man. But it’s important for people to know all sides of me, because there is a lot of ignorance in the world." Louganis didn’t sugarcoat his own experience of self-discovery and self-revelation, which he described as a slow process. He didn’t tell his mother he was gay until his college years. In 1994 he publicly acknowledged his homosexuality, and in 1995 he told Barbara Walters on national television he was suffering from full-blown AIDS.
Along the way, Louganis encountered his fair share of hatred and homophobia. "Even today I speak in states where homosexuality is still illegal," he said with an air of sarcasm. "Oh. I’m in one of them now. I forgot where I was. Imagine that." But he also discovered a world of people who accepted and loved him. On one of his first book tours, for example, a 6-year-old boy approached him with a rock and said, "Mr. Louganis, I hope you feel better." "He had never seen me dive; he was too young," said Louganis. "But what he identified with was pain." Unfortunately, pain still accompanies the decision to come out, said at least one student who attended Thursday’s talk. "For the most part people are accepting. My best friend is on a mission [for the LDS Church] and he’s totally accepting," said Justin Strasburg, a U. freshman.
Still, Strasburg’s extended family isn’t aware he’s gay. And as he spoke, he stood over a piece of fabric upon which students were invited to write sentiments about "Why it’s important to come out." Amid empowering statements, such as "Honesty. Respect for yourself," someone had scrawled in red ink, "Fags will burn." Strasburg said, "We thought of removing it. But we figured we’d let it stand and let others speak to it." The fabric will be sewn into a quilt that the U.’s gay and lesbian student union plans to carry to the Legislature in January. "Maybe it will make a difference," Strasburg said. In Louganis’ words: "We all make a difference in this world and the deed isn’t diminished by the scale. Don’t use me as a role model. Be better than me. Be your own role model."
October 10, 2002
‘Why not love and marriage?’
by Laurie Loisel, Staff Writer
I went to a wedding recently at a Main Street church, the union of two fine women who pledged to love each other into their old age. The ceremony was much like many of the weddings I’d been to over the years, and for that matter so were the people in the pews: family up close, all dressed up, friends further back, slightly more casual. There were tears and high emotion. There was also a slight political tinge, as one guest noted that marriages between blacks and whites were not legal until 1967, and stated her belief that one day this couple’s union would be legally sanctioned. "Today, we do what a religious community, and a circle of friends, may do," said the Rev. Jay Deacon. "We gather to honor what – with or without legal or public recognition – is nonetheless true and real and precious."
The couple injected some playful good humor when they chose a Frank Sinatra tune for the processional, walking down the aisle past beaming family and friends to the strains of "Love and marriage … go together like a horse and carriage." Later one of the brides told me the song made a simple, yet profound point. "Why not love and marriage," she said. "Why not?" At the reception, guests mingled and after a time, the happy couple arrived holding hands. For a moment, conversation quieted so we could cheer their arrival, and the reception proceeded, as receptions do, with eating, dancing, toasts, and every once in a while, the sound of forks tinkling on glass until the couple kissed.
I found out the next day that when the couple had gone the few short blocks from church to reception hall, looking so radiant in their white outfits, someone in a passing car had shouted a homophobic insult at them, an incident witnessed by two family members and the photographer hired to document their day. When I heard this, my mind flashed to images of the couple walking down the aisle and joining friends at the party. They’d gone from one haven to another, where they were enveloped by people who loved them enough to clink forks against glasses – and in between were hit with the cold, cruel world. The incident also made me think about the conversation that’s been under way among people in the newspaper business recently as the New York Times and the Boston Globe considered whether to open their wedding pages to same-sex couples. Both recently decided to do so. For the record, the Gazette and other small papers have done this for years, though the decision by big papers made national news.
In taking that step, the papers, as I see it, are doing what newspapers are supposed to – reflect the reality of life in their communities. I don’t think, as some might, that announcing commitment ceremonies has anything to do with either condoning or condemning those relationships. The fact is, like it or not, for better or worse, gay marriages are here to stay, and prohibiting them will not stop gay people from forming long-lasting unions. On the other hand, if these unions are reflected on social pages and logged in a book in city hall, it is more likely that two women in Northampton can move from the safe haven of their church down Main Street in the city they call home, to the safe haven of their reception hall, without their happiness being punctured even for a second.
I brought my children to their ceremony partly because I wanted them to see with their own eyes what I’d been telling them – that yes, though the government doesn’t exactly approve, some ministers certainly do, and two women can get married. They’d been to one wedding, of two heterosexual friends, and I wanted them to see a lesbian wedding, too. Turned out they were just as bored at the lesbian wedding as they had been at the straight wedding. My daughter played Game Boy and my son, who’s older, tried his best to listen, and not squirm too much. Several times we heard a whispered "Is it almost over?" And they did not understand why everyone laughed so heartily when the song "Love and Marriage" started playing. After all, they go together like a horse and carriage. . Laurie Loisel is the Gazette’s city editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
October 30, 2002
Beyond Appearances: The Ambiguities of Sexuality
by Dinitia Smith
What maketh the man? Is it chromosomes? Or is it genitalia? Or, to borrow from Polonius, is it clothes? In her new book, "How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States," Dr. Joanne Meyerowitz, a professor of history at Indiana University and the editor of The Journal of American History, examines changing definitions of gender through the prism of transsexuality, that most mysterious of conditions in which a person is born with normal chromosomes and hormones for one sex but is convinced that he or she is a member of the other.
Dr. Meyerowitz shows how mutable the words "male," "female," "sex" and "gender" have become, and how their meanings have evolved through time. Hers is one of several new books on the subject of the transgendered, an umbrella term to define those whose sexuality is not readily characterized as definitely male or female. The flow of books is evidence of society’s continuing puzzlement and fascination with the subject.
The novelist and psychotherapist Amy Bloom has published "Normal," interviews with transsexuals; transvestites, who like to dress in clothing of the opposite sex but may not want to change their gender; and the intersexed, people born with ambiguous genitalia, in the past referred to as hermaphrodites. The transgendered in Ms. Bloom’s book, including the intersexed, refuse to be categorized as either male or female, and defiantly celebrate their ambiguity. A third book, "Scanty Particulars," by Rachel Holmes, is a biography of Dr. James Barry, a transvestite and the highest ranking military doctor under Queen Victoria. Dr. Barry, a pioneer in public health, is credited with performing the first successful Caesarean section.
The doctor lived as a man, but on her deathbed was revealed to be a biological woman. Finally, there is "Middlesex," a novel by Jeffrey Eugenides, about a character born with 5-alpha reductase deficiency syndrome, in which a person is genetically a male, but has ambiguous genitalia and may at first appear to be a girl. At puberty, the person may develop testes and other male characteristics, including the enlargement of the clitoris into a penis. But in terms of the scientific quandary of gender, the most important of the books is "How Sex Changed." At the turn of the century, Dr. Meyerowitz writes, the word sex was a catchall term meaning both biological sex and sexual behavior. Today, biological sex usually refers to chromosomes, genes, genitals, hormones and other physical markers.
Gender usually means male or female, or some mixture of both. The word sexuality has come to connote sexual behavior. Of all the conundrums of identity, transsexuality is most imbued with the contradictions between physical sex and sexual orientation, and it illustrates the difficulty of defining gender. Until the turn of the century, Dr. Meyerowitz writes, gender was defined through a binary taxonomy of opposites: people were either male or female. But in the late 19th century, Sigmund Freud, the German psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing and Wilhelm Fliess, a German physician, began putting forth the notion that humans were inherently bisexual, and that sexuality existed on a continuum between male and female. In 1910, a Berlin physician, Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld, published a pioneering work on transsexuality and articulated a relatively new modern definition of gender. "Absolute representatives of their sex are," he wrote, "only abstractions, invented extremes."
The 1920’s and 30’s were a time of sexual emancipation in Europe, and in that atmosphere, Dr. Meyerowitz says, sex change operations were performed in Vienna, and at Hirschfeld’s Institute for Sexual Science. In 1931, Dr. Felix Abraham, a physician at the institute, published the first scientific article on human transsexual surgery. The operations consisted of mastectomy, hysterectomy and in males, castration, creation of a vagina and even ovarian transplants. Phalloplasty, the creation of a penis on a genetic female, was not commonly done until after World War II in the United States. But until the 1960’s sex-change surgery was rarely performed in this country, and treatment was largely unavailable. Desperate people begged doctors for help. The drive is so "fierce and demanding that it frightens me," one man, who had asked a friend to castrate him, told Dr. Harry Benjamin, a pioneer in sex-change treatment. According to one review of the medical literature in 1965, 18 of 100 male-to-female transsexuals had tried to remove their own testicles or penises; 9 succeeded. Dr. Meyerowitz writes that one man injected air, hand cream and mother’s milk into his chest to give himself breasts.
A female-to-male transsexual had her breasts removed on a kitchen table. A male-to-female transsexual who could not afford surgery studied medical texts to learn how to remove testicles, ligate, suture and anesthetize. She bought surgical equipment and successfully performed the operation on herself. With the publicity received by Christine Jorgensen, attitudes changed. Formerly George Jorgensen Jr., an Army private from the Bronx, in 1952 he underwent sex-change operation in Denmark. Dr. Meyerowitz argues that Ms. Jorgensen, by cultivating the demeanor of a lady and by refusing to call herself homosexual, removed some of transsexuality’s stigma. From the 1960’s on, a handful of courts permitted transsexuals to change their names. In 1976, the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court ruled in an alimony dispute involving a male-to-female transsexual that the person could be called female in the case of that particular marriage. But the court said that generally, conventional gender definitions should apply to marriage, public records, military service, sports eligibility and some occupations. In 1977, the New York County Supreme Court ruled that Renee Richards, a postoperative transsexual, could play in women’s tennis tournaments despite being genetically male. With the growing power of the medical establishment, doctors began to assume the right to define sexuality.
In 1966, when the Johns Hopkins Gender Clinic opened with money from Reed Erickson, a wealthy female-to-male transsexual, there were 2,000 applications for surgery. Sex change operations became more frequent, though doctors balked at performing surgery for fear of prosecution under obscure statutes based on English common law that forbade the maiming of men who might serve as soldiers. Even as the medical establishment was trying to define gender through surgery, psychiatrists, psychoanalysts and psychologists contended that transsexuality and transvestitism resulted from psychological conditions. In 1962, the Gender Identity Research Clinic was founded at the University of California at Los Angeles.
There, boys regarded as "sissies" and "tomboy" girls received behavioral treatment to make them conform to traditional definitions of gender. In one case, which Dr. Meyerowitz glosses over, the distraught parents of a boy, Bruce Reimer, whose penis was accidentally cut off during surgery for a condition called phimosis, brought him to Hopkins. The case was first reported in 1973 by Dr. Milton Diamond of the University of Hawaii-Manoa in Honolulu and Dr. H. Keith Sigmundson of the Ministry of Health in Victoria, British Columbia. Dr. John Money, a sexologist at the institute, recommended that the boy be raised as a girl. He was given hormone injections, his testicles were removed, and surgeons tried to fashion a vagina for him. Dr. Money began therapy sessions with him to teach him to be a girl.
But the boy was miserable, and and at 14, he refused to continue living as a girl. He eventually had surgery to refashion a phallus, married and adopted children. The case was was later described in the book "As Nature Made Him" by John Colapinto. In the book, the man, who changed his name to David, asserted that Dr. Money had encouraged him and his twin brother to play sex games, and to simulate intercourse. In an e-mail message recently, Dr. Money wrote: "This is a false accusation. I gave no such encouragement." Today, scientists, psychiatrists and psychologists have reached something of a consensus about gender, saying that sexuality is determined by "psychological sex" or "gender role orientation," possibly caused by hormones or genes. As a consequence of the sexual revolution and the Internet, which has provided a forum to organize, transsexuals have begun to demand the right to define their own sexuality. Some male-to-female transsexuals have sex with men and call themselves homosexuals.
Some female-to-male transsexuals have sex with women and call themselves lesbians. Some transsexuals call themselves asexual. The transgendered have begun to insist that sex, gender and sexuality represent "analytically distinct categories," Dr. Meyerowitz says. Doctors can alter the physical characteristics of sex, but bodily sex does not determine gender. No one knows how many transsexuals are in the United States today, Dr. Meyerowitz writes, though a 1993 study in the Netherlands reported that 1 in 11,900 born male and 1 in 30,400 born female took hormones to change sex. Meanwhile, scientists continue to ponder the meaning of sex.
In 1995 another Netherlands study suggested that a region of the hypothalmus may differ in size in transsexuals from ordinary males and females. But, despite the studies, and gains in knowledge, all these books point out gender’s essential mystery. Science is no nearer to determining what gender is than it was a century ago. "The definition of sex," writes Dr. Meyerowitz "was (and is) still up for grabs."
PrideFest goes international; Germany is first partner
The gay-rights Equality Forum hopes to reach beyond the U.S. with its civil-rights agenda.
by Linda K. Harris, Inquirer Staff Writer
Philadelphia’s leading gay-rights group, which grew out of a daylong protest and into one of the largest national symposiums on gay issues, is moving its civil-rights agenda to the international community. The group announced yesterday that it was changing its name from PrideFest America to Equality Forum to reflect the broadened scope of its mission. Malcolm Lazin, executive director of the organization, also announced a partnership for the 2003 international celebration that will feature Germany and take the place of the weeklong PrideFest event next spring. In future years, different countries will be partners. "Germany has become one of the most progressive nations in the world in providing equality and dignity for its gay and lesbian community," he said, citing its rights to marriage, its domestic-partner benefits, and its antidiscrimination laws.
Spring’s PrideFest America drew 75,000 people for workshops and symposiums on issues ranging from health care to civil rights to the workplace. The festival, held for more than a decade, has been celebrated in the "gayborhood" east of Broad Street in Center City, closing with a colorful "out" parade. Appearing with Lazin yesterday, Thomas Boemkes of Munich, director of the European office of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association, outlined some of the plans for Germany’s participation. Boemkes will serve as the German coordinator for the festival, which will run from April 28 to May 4. He said gay entertainers, politicians and activists from Germany, including the 800-member Federal Association of Gay Managers, a business group, would visit Philadelphia in the spring.
Among the German entertainers expected to attend are well-known drag queens and gay Bavarian traditional dancers. Klaus Wowereit, the openly gay mayor of Berlin, hopes to attend but has not made a final commitment, Boemkes said. He added that Thomas Niederbuehl, leader of the gay party Rosa Liste ("Pink List") and a member of the City Council of Munich, will attend. "We want to make it a global event," Boemkes said, noting that "Germany has a large, out and active gay community." James J. Cuorato, Philadelphia’s commerce director, said the emergence of the new international gay and lesbian festival was a plus for the city’s tourism industry.
" The gay and lesbian tourism market is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the hospitality industry," Cuorato said. "I think the new format with a featured nation each year will present us with some specific opportunities that we can build on each year. The city will support the Equality Forum. From a tourism standpoint, it’s another program that can help us." .
Contact Linda K. Harris at email@example.com.
October 30, 2002
An interview with George Weinberg, who coined the word "homophobia"
George Weinberg: Love is Conspiratorial, Deviant & Magical
Interview by Raj Ayyar
"It was hard", says George Weinberg "to enjoy being one of the chosen people, the ‘heteros’, when so many people that I admired were not invited to the party." (quoted in Before Stonewall). An iconoclastic heterosexual, clinical psychologist and gay activist, George Weinberg has tirelessly championed gay rights for many decades, with his own priceless fusion of passion and clear-thinking analysis. His pioneering book Society and the Healthy Homosexual first published in 1972, sent ripples of shock, disbelief and plain hostility through the community of professional American psychologists. George challenged the conventional notion of homosexuality as a disease and gave gay men and lesbians everywhere a solid theoretical basis for dignity and pride. The Oxford English Dictionary credits George Weinberg with coining the term ‘homophobia’ which is now a recognized term in the vocabulary of social theory and gay activism alike…(con’t)
See the complete interview at: http://www.gaytoday.com/interview/110102in.asp
November 19, 2002
Transgender transit: Not easy being ‘tween
by Annie Nakao
An editor friend e-mailed me a few days after I wrote about the media’s struggles in covering the sad story of Eddie/Gwen Araujo, the slain Newark transgender teen. "Your column raised an interesting point," she said. "But to tell you the truth, why is there so much of an uproar about the use of pronouns and not about his death itself? Maybe it’s just an afterthought." Perhaps it seemed so.
But a 17-year-old’s brutal killing was never far from the minds of those who sent a blitz of e-mails my way. They may not have known her, but they clearly claimed Gwen as one of their own. "Gwen would have blossomed . . . ," wrote Sara-Jane. "Sadly, this will not happen, as she was brutally murdered. RIP Gwen." Araujo’s slaying is expected to take center stage at Wednesday’s fourth annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, which will memorialize transgender victims of violence. But the e-mails were also a testament to the importance of the way the world sees transgender people. And what we call them has everything to do with that emerging visibility.
" Thanks for struggling with the pronouns – you’re asking the right questions, and the struggle is part of learning the answers," said Jim. Karen, the Lafayette mother of an adult transsexual child, had this to offer: "I made the pronoun shift some time ago as did my friends, which is a wonderful affirmation of compassion and respect," she wrote. "As my daughter says, in all the world’s turmoil the one absolute we have is that we look in our pants and tell who we are. Transsexuals challenge this and it scares people."
Some readers rejected my conclusion that "Gwen . . . died because she didn’t fit into that all-powerful gender binary of male-female that we hold onto so deeply." "Well, no," wrote Sherry Boschert, a San Francisco journalist and past chapter president of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association. "She didn’t die because of something she did or didn’t do, nor because of something she was or wasn’t. Rather, she died because of the sick and hateful actions of some murderers who somehow felt they had the right to hurt and kill."
I was trying to make the same point. But I can see Sherry’s point about falling into that subtle "trap" of victim blaming. One interesting e-mail came from "M," a 33-year-old male-to-female transsexual from San Francisco who’s been living as a woman for several months. "Still, I have friends and family who will refer to me as a male. It’s accidental, but it happens. I even do it sometimes. I think we (transgendered individuals) should be aware that as we go through transition, so do all the people around us." "M" had more to say. ". . . it may be unrealistic for society-at-large to expect the transgender community to fit within the traditional binary male/female model, but it is also unrealistic for the transgender community to presume that there is a binary model for pronoun use that is correct/incorrect.
I think our community has been too hard on the press. While we are transitioning, so are you!" I like that, not because she gives the press a break – Lord knows, journalists should be struggling to accurately reflect the real world; it’s their biggest obligation – but because she acknowledges the complexity. "Just as I have to be patient with my parents, who struggle daily with the changes I am going through, so too should I (and all of us) be patient with the press. Of course . . . I am likely to have my trannie-girl secret decoder rings repossessed for saying all this. C’est la vie." Her bottom line: It’s confusing and no one should be expected to instantly "get" it. But it’s on the radar screen now, and that’s going to help. .
E-mail Annie Nakao at firstname.lastname@example.org.
November 20, 2002
Book Review:Turning the Pages: John D’Emilio
by Gregg Shapiro
The World Turned: Essays on Gay History, Politics, and Culture (Duke University Press, 2002, $18.95)–a collection of 16 essays by educator and writer John D’Emilio, looks at the events in the late 20th century that changed attitudes and perceptions about the LGBT community during the 1990s and into the present day.
The subjects, which include Bayard Rustin, ’60s activists, Larry Kramer, Bill Clinton, and even the author himself (the essay "My Changing Sex Life"), give the reader a new perspective on the people and events that brought us to where we are today, at the beginning of the 21st century. Gregg Shapiro: Can you please say a few words about your role at the University of Illinois at Chicago?
John D’Emilio: I’m the director of the Gender and Women’s Studies Program. I was hired specifically to teach and develop gay/queer-related courses. We are in the process of developing an undergraduate major in Gender and Women’s Studies. Within that major there will be a bunch of courses on sexuality and identity.
GS: In assembling the book, The World Turned: Essays on Gay History, Politics, and Culture, were there essays that ended up being excluded due to space constrictions or were you able to include everything in the book that you wanted to?
JD’E: I did get everything in that I wanted. There were some essays that were excluded, shorter pieces especially, that were very current when I wrote them, but there would be no point in reprinting them. Or that they would be unnecessarily repetitive of the content of other longer essays that developed a point more fully. As an example of that, when I was working at NGLTF (National Gay and Lesbian Task Force) in the mid-’90s, it was especially a moment when family issues seemed to be in the news all the time and I wrote quite a number of short pieces on family issues of one sort or another, so those stayed out.
GS: Whom do you see as the specific audience for the book, aside from lesbian and gay readers? For example, is it intended to be used in an academic setting?
JD’E: I think it could definitely be used in an academic setting. Although, my guess is that the courses for which it might be used in an academic setting would be courses that had a higher concentration of gays and lesbians, because they would be sexuality related courses or courses about gender issues. I would love it if it got into courses on the sociology of American life in the 1990s.
GS: Activist Harry Hay’s name comes up often in the book. With his recent death, is there anything else that you would like to say to memorialize him?
JD’E: I think his life is an interesting example of the unexpected in history. Here he was, just one of many gay men who, in the middle of the century, were living a double life. He was married, but he also thought of himself as gay. Yet, what is it about his personal experience that allowed him to make this leap that was historically so important. No one can say that if it wasn’t for Harry Hay there would be no gay and lesbian movement. Of course there would have been a gay and lesbian movement. But the way it happened had something to do with this one unique individual. He does have a place in history that’s an important one.
GS: The essay, "Why is this year different from any other?" which was written 10 years ago continues to have resonance 10 years later, especially in light of the recent Republican victories in the 2002 election.
JD’E: It does resonate in this sense, that if you are a person of progressive political beliefs, the direction of the country, in the biggest sense politically, is very, very scary. But one of the differences, and who knows why, between 1992 and 2002, is that in this important election, yes, there were some anti-gay ballot initiatives, but gays haven’t been particularly targeted in the current conservative political climate in the big way that we were a target in 1992. In 1992, we were part of the defining moment of this right wing. In the year 2002, they seem to have other or bigger fish to fry. That shift is part of what I hope gets drawn by reading all of the essays collectively. Even in this very conservative era, which I lose sleep over at night, gay men and lesbians, bisexuals, our whole community is becoming more embedded in the fabric of everyday existence. That’s the change that the ’90s brought us. It didn’t bring us the end of oppression. It didn’t bring us utopia, but we crossed some kind of divide where, instead of being on the margin or exceptional or we don’t belong here, there is a fairly widespread recognition that this is part of American life, that we are part of American life. GS: Even something as simple as the success of Will & Grace on prime-time television, is an indication of change. JD’E: Will & Grace. There are so many things. The fact that E. Lynn Harris is a bestselling novelist. It would have been hard to imagine that 15 or 20 years ago.
GS: You draw an important correlation, in at least three of the essays (especially the first three) between ’60s activism and gay liberation. It seems obvious, but at the same time, it seems like a connection that has been glossed over. Why do you think that it has been overlooked by the activists from the ’60s or by historians?
JD’E: I think there are two reasons, one of which is an innocent one and one of which is a little less innocent. The innocent one is that, in a sense, our biggest moment in the sun comes when the ’60s are ending. The Stonewall Riot, which has become this symbolic moment in queer history. The ’60s are ending by then and that is all of a sudden when we appear. So the gay story often seems to be a story of the ’70s, rather than a story of the ’60s. And yet, there are so many figures in the life of protest in the ’60s that we can associate with the queer sensibility.
GS: Certainly. Bayard Rustin .
JD’E: .Rustin, Allen Ginsberg, and some names that are not as familiar today as they were a generation ago. But their significance tells us something; that even before Stonewall, gay life was really emerging out of its shadows and the radicalism of the ’60s did speak to the condition of gay and lesbian people. Many mainstream historians see it as diversionary. The ’60s are about these mainline stories that have been told over and over again and they’re not figuring out how to rewrite the ’60s so that our experience is not only integral to it, but helps us understand what the ’60s were about.
GS: It’s interesting, too, that the civil-rights marches on Washington are important symbols of the activism of the time. For the gay community, our marches on Washington have also been significant. You talk about how our marches, especially the 1987 march, were "markers of change." Do you think there will continue to be a need for us to march on Washington?
JD’E: One can’t know that in advance. One of the wonderful lessons of Bayard Rustin’s life, who figures in the book, he was the organizer of the first (1963) March on Washington. When there was going to be a 20th anniversary march, in 1983, he was against it. He was against it because he said that there needs to be a reason to march other than, "look, here we are." In 1963, for civil rights, the March on Washington allowed all of the upheaval around the country to coalesce in a single moment larger than all of the individual protests, and there was a Civil Rights Bill before Congress. In 1987, all of the agitation and concern and anger around AIDS was coalescing into a new kind of activism, and the national government was still ignoring the AIDS epidemic in scandalous ways. And the Supreme Court had just ruled on Hardwick (vs. Bowers), so there was a reason to make one’s presence felt very publicly and collectively in Washington. If, for instance, there was serious chance of passage of a national gay-rights bill, then one would go to Washington. But to do it just to go to Washington? Why? .
John D’Emilio reads at 57th Street Books, 1301 E. 57th Street, Chicago, (773) 684-1300 Nov. 20 at 7 p.m.
Gay For Pay
by Deanna Kizis
Jake’s a nice, normal guy from Colorado. Has a girlfriend. Has a baby. Has a high paying career. Of course, the career involves giving blow jobs and taking it in the ass, so that’s kind of a drag. He’s a straight man who makes gay-porn films, and there are more men like him than you’ll ever imagine.
So many, in fact, that the industry has a term for them: gay for pay. Nobody said the working world was going to be easy. Jake is a talkative 25-year-old who uses words like dang and always holds the door open for women. He’s lived his whole life in the same Colorado suburb. He walks with a swagger that matches his Eminem wardrobe – oversize hoodie, navy nylon warm-up pants, Adidas visor pulled down low on his forehead, mint Adidas sneakers. He’s six-foot-two, weighs 225 pounds when he can go to the gym every day, 200 when he can’t. Girls go for his green eyes, perfect teeth, and freshly cut, spiked brown hair. These days, though, he spends most nights at his girlfriend’s apartment helping take care of their daughter, a pink-cheeked baby whose picture he keeps on his key chain…(con’t)
For the complete report (4100 words) see the December 2002 issue of Details Magazine
December 18, 2002
Governor Pataki Signs Law Protecting Rights of Gays
by Shaila K. Dewan
Alabany, New York – Thirty-one years after the first gay rights bill was introduced in Albany, Gov. George E. Pataki today signed into law a bill extending civil rights protections to gays and lesbians in the state – hours after the Republican-led State Senate mustered the votes to approve it. Supporters of the bill said it would protect thousands of people from discrimination in housing, employment, credit and public accommodations. With the governor’s signature, New York became the 13th state to include gays and lesbians in its civil rights law. Despite its liberal reputation, the state has not been in the vanguard of efforts to extend equal legal status to homosexuals, lagging in passing legislation such as hate-crime laws that cover gays. Other states have gone farther. Vermont allows same-sex civil unions, and Hawaii has a strong domestic partnership law.
Today a high-ranking lawmaker in Connecticut said he expected his state would take up the subject of same-sex marriage next year. Today’s Senate vote was one of the few in recent history where the outcome could not be predicted with certainty. Onlookers packed the gallery to see whether the bill, which essentially adds only two words, "sexual orientation," to existing anti-discrimination law, would pass. As soon as the bill’s approval was announced, supporters on the Senate floor rushed to embrace lawmakers like Senator Tom Duane and Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, who are gay. The Democrat-led Assembly has passed the bill 10 years in a row.
In the halls of the Capitol after the vote, Governor Pataki said: "It’s not upstate, downstate, Republican, Democrat, black, white, straight, gay. We are one New York and I think the passage of this bill is another important step in the confirmation of that." At 6:30 p.m., a little more than three hours after the vote, he signed the bill into law. The vote, 34 to 26, was not as close as lobbyists on both sides of the issue were predicting only an hour before the debate. Governor Pataki made calls late into Monday evening trying to persuade both Republican and Democratic lawmakers to vote yes. But with only eight Republicans on board by midday, the Senate majority leader, Joseph L. Bruno, the man who had kept the issue from a floor vote for eight years, helped put it over the top by making a last-minute appeal to his Republican colleagues, his senior aides said.
On Monday he had said he would not cajole his members to vote any particular way. Thirteen of 36 Republicans and 21 of 24 Democrats voted for the bill. Senator Bruno, viewed by many conservatives as the ballast that keeps state government from sliding to the left, had shifted his position on the bill as part of what is tacitly acknowledged, even by Senator Bruno’s senior aides, to have been a deal to win an endorsement for Governor Pataki from the state’s largest gay rights group, the Empire State Pride Agenda. Senator Bruno had not promised to vote for the bill, but today he rose to his feet and urged his colleagues to vote yes with him, saying that its time had come. "Maybe I have become more enlightened," Senator Bruno said. "But over the years I have felt that the present nondiscrimination laws in this state were more than adequate."
The fact that there are "such strong feelings out there that this is necessary," he said, convinced him otherwise. "I am going to vote for this legislation to express tolerance, anti-discrimination, and just to recognize that people have the right to live their lives as they see fit," he said. Still, after the measure passed, the Senate did not issue a press release, as it did for a second measure it passed today, reducing the legal blood alcohol limit for drivers to .08 percent from .10 to comply with federal policy. All morning, the Capitol was crawling with advocates for and against the bill. There were Catholic lobbyists, who said the act was "well-intentioned" but could lead to the legalization of same-sex marriages. Also making a last-minute appeal was Matt Foreman, the executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, who wore a bright purple tie with his pinstriped suit and made no secret of his goal to eventually see same-sex unions legalized. "We hope to get the bill signed very quickly and extend rights to hundreds of thousands of lesbian, gay and bisexual New Yorkers upstate," Mr. Foreman said at a news conference after the vote, to extended applause from supporters.
"And more important, it is the foundation upon which we can finally get moving on the rest of our long-stalled agenda, which includes recognition of our relationships, ending unfair taxation, making our schools safe for young gay and lesbian people, and transgendered people." Mr. Foreman’s group, whose strategy of pursuing Republican support for the bill by endorsing Governor Pataki proved successful, had come under attack from some quarters for the failure of the bill to explicitly protect transgendered people. An amendment proposed by Senator Duane that would have included "gender identity and expression" as a category was voted down. At a news conference, Senator David Paterson said that some lawyers believed the bill might already cover the transgendered because it bars discrimination based on gender.
The vote, a rare occasion on which Democratic votes mattered in the Republican-led Senate, was an early test for Mr. Paterson. He takes office as minority leader in January, but he mustered the votes Senator Bruno had said were needed from the minority conference. Only one lawmaker opposed the bill during the debate: Senator Serphin R. Maltese of Queens, who called it "a step in the wrong direction" and said the exemption for religious institutions was not broad enough. Several mainstream religious organizations, like the American Jewish Congress and the New York State Council of Churches, supported the bill.