Not Just Hypothetical

This blog, I realize, is mostly theoretical musing, but that is starting to change. I'm not going to be making any drastic decisions, but some things are coming up that don't allow this issue to be purely hypothetical for me anymore. As you may know, I am a HS student and will be going into my junior year. I am currently signed up for Seminary but haven't yet registered for it at church--and I'm not completely sure I want to. My schedule is really a mess right now, and Seminary would be a sacrifice. Right now I find myself wondering if it's worth it.

Last year, Seminary was not the best experience, as you may remember from my "Adam & Eve" post. Kids were peddling homophobic t-shirts in class, and one day, my teacher ended a lesson by saying that homosexuality is caused by pornography and masturbation, his copy of The Miracle of Forgiveness in hand. Last year was also the maiden voyage of our school's Gay-Straight Alliance (which I was involved in), and between the budding GSA and Prop. 8, Seminary became a place for kids to bash gay people. So I find myself wondering, Why would I want to put myself through that again?

There actually are a few reasons. For one thing, it would be nice to have BYU(-I) as a back-up college option in case my Stanford bid falls through. The problem, of course, is that it's...difficult to get a BYU(-I) scholarship without Seminary graduation. Extenuating circumstances might change that, but in my case--where Seminary is a well-established program--it may well be impossible.

Then again, Why would I want to go to BYU, one of the harshest campuses for gay students in Academia? It really comes down to keeping my options open. Who knows what the future might bring for me, or if things might change? It's good to have a Plan B and remain flexible.

Still, it seems a little absurd to endure homophobic slamming in Seminary only to able to endure homophobic slamming at BYU.

Any advice?



Note: This post is not at all explicit, but it does concern a sexual topic.

Don't tell anyone I'm watching Oprah today. :-) The show today is a sex therapist saying that, for women, being desired means more than the actual sex. In fact, she says, the feeling of being desired is the orgasm. The first thing that came to mind for me was mixed orientation marriage: Besides intimacy itself, straight wives often miss out on this feeling of being desired--which is the reason behind many things women do. As Oprah's guest pointed out, women spend a lot of time and money doing things designed to increase desire (e.g., makeup).

Another topic was the fascinating interplay between evolution and attraction: men and women are unwittingly most attracted to each other when their bodies are most fertile. Beauty and appeal ultimately comes down to the highest chances of reproduction, which makes homosexuality an odd case as mating that has zero chance of passing on the genes.

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The Truth Hurts

The truth is...
  • ...that I have lost who I thought I was and who I thought I was going to be.
  • ...that I am disillusioned about marriage after seeing inside some "perfect" marriages and watching my own family crumble multiple times. I don't know that I would want to marry a woman even if I were straight, and I don't know that I want to marry a man, either. Realizing that I am gay has not made me think I belong with a man; it has made me realize that I am not fit for relationships of any kind.
  • ...that I probably have a mood disorder called cyclothymia, a milder form of Bipolar Disorder. This is a self-diagnosis--I haven't "gone in" because I don't want to be manipulated by drugs and I worry that medication would interfere with my creativity.
  • ...that I believe the prophets of the Church are men of God, but I don't--I can't--believe that homosexuality (not just the sex act, but rather the gay relationship on the whole) is wrong. I realize this is a contradiction, but I am a contradiction, a walking paradox. The bottom line: If I accept that homosexual relationships are morally inferior to heterosexual relationships by nature, I also accept that homosexuals are morally inferior to heterosexuals by nature--and I can't live with the belief that God thinks less of me because of the way He designed me.
  • ...that I believe the Church is true, but I question the homosexuality policy because it has contradicted itself so many times, and God does not contradict Himself, which led me to seek the truth on this issue for myself. (I might not have done this if I weren't gay, but seeing as I was so directly affected, it was something I wanted to be sure of.) Perhaps this is not such a bad thing given that a few decades ago, the Church pushed shock therapy for gay members. Had I been a BYU student then, the choice would have been questioning the Church's homosexuality policy or electric-burned genitals. While thankfully the Church's stance has grown more reasonable, I'm still hesitant to believe that the pain of celibacy/MOM is required by God. The pain of electro-shock certainly wasn't, as evidenced by the fact that the Church no longer advocates such treatment.
  • ...that I hate myself so much it hurts.
  • ...that whereas my family and other problems will abate in a few years, THE problem will never go away, no matter what I choose to do. If I remain in the Church, I will think, "You're here because the Church says homosexuality is wrong--something you know is not true." If I leave the Church, I will think, "What if you're wrong and this is all a mistake? What if you have chosen the cup of eternal damnation?" Either way, I lose.
  • ...that cowardice and concern for my family has saved my life.
  • ...not as cut and dried as I once believed.


APA Press Release

Practitioners Should Avoid Telling Clients They Can Change from Gay to Straight

TORONTO—The American Psychological Association adopted a resolution Wednesday stating that mental health professionals should avoid telling clients that they can change their sexual orientation through therapy or other treatments.

The "Resolution on Appropriate Affirmative Responses to Sexual Orientation Distress and Change Efforts" also advises that parents, guardians, young people and their families avoid sexual orientation treatments that portray homosexuality as a mental illness or developmental disorder and instead seek psychotherapy, social support and educational services "that provide accurate information on sexual orientation and sexuality, increase family and school support and reduce rejection of sexual minority youth."

The approval, by APA's governing Council of Representatives, came at APA's annual convention, during which a task force presented a report that in part examined the efficacy of so-called "reparative therapy," or sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE).

"Contrary to claims of sexual orientation change advocates and practitioners, there is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation," said Judith M. Glassgold, PsyD, chair of the task force. "Scientifically rigorous older studies in this area found that sexual orientation was unlikely to change due to efforts designed for this purpose. Contrary to the claims of SOCE practitioners and advocates, recent research studies do not provide evidence of sexual orientation change as the research methods are inadequate to determine the effectiveness of these interventions." Glassgold added: "At most, certain studies suggested that some individuals learned how to ignore or not act on their homosexual attractions. Yet, these studies did not indicate for whom this was possible, how long it lasted or its long-term mental health effects. Also, this result was much less likely to be true for people who started out only attracted to people of the same sex."

Based on this review, the task force recommended that mental health professionals avoid misrepresenting the efficacy of sexual orientation change efforts when providing assistance to people distressed about their own or others' sexual orientation.

APA appointed the six-member Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation in 2007 to review and update APA's 1997 resolution, "Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation," and to generate a report. APA was concerned about ongoing efforts to promote the notion that sexual orientation can be changed through psychotherapy or approaches that mischaracterize homosexuality as a mental disorder.

The task force examined the peer-reviewed journal articles in English from 1960 to 2007, which included 83 studies. Most of the studies were conducted before 1978, and only a few had been conducted in the last 10 years. The group also reviewed the recent literature on the psychology of sexual orientation.

"Unfortunately, much of the research in the area of sexual orientation change contains serious design flaws," Glassgold said. "Few studies could be considered methodologically sound and none systematically evaluated potential harms."

As to the issue of possible harm, the task force was unable to reach any conclusion regarding the efficacy or safety of any of the recent studies of SOCE: "There are no methodologically sound studies of recent SOCE that would enable the task force to make a definitive statement about whether or not recent SOCE is safe or harmful and for whom," according to the report.
"Without such information, psychologists cannot predict the impact of these treatments and need to be very cautious, given that some qualitative research suggests the potential for harm," Glassgold said. "Practitioners can assist clients through therapies that do not attempt to change sexual orientation, but rather involve acceptance, support and identity exploration and development without imposing a specific identity outcome."

As part of its report, the task force identified that some clients seeking to change their sexual orientation may be in distress because of a conflict between their sexual orientation and religious beliefs. The task force recommended that licensed mental health care providers treating such clients help them "explore possible life paths that address the reality of their sexual orientation, reduce the stigma associated with homosexuality, respect the client's religious beliefs, and consider possibilities for a religiously and spiritually meaningful and rewarding life."
"In other words," Glassgold said, "we recommend that psychologists be completely honest about the likelihood of sexual orientation change, and that they help clients explore their assumptions and goals with respect to both religion and sexuality."

Members of the APA Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation:
Judith M. Glassgold, PsyD, Rutgers University – ChairLee Beckstead, PhDJack Drescher, MDBeverly Greene, PhD, St. John's UniversityRobin Lin Miller, PhD, Michigan State UniversityRoger L. Worthington, PhD, University of Missouri

The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 150,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting health, education and human welfare.
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Full report available at http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbc/publications/therapeutic-response.pdf . Hat tip to Alan for bringing this to the MoHosphere's attention. Thanks!