( Collapse )
(pink highlighting notes some of the more outrageous details and crackpot theorizing in this article)
Life magazine, June 26, 1964
HOMOSEXUALITY IN AMERICA
By Paul Welch
Photographed for LIFE by Bill Eppridge
Scientists search for the answers to a touchy and puzzling question, WHY?
by Ernest Havemann
[CONTINUED FROM HERE]
Do the homosexuals, like the Communists, intend to bury us? Yes, indeed, suggested a startling front-page story in the New York Times and other newspapers last month. A committee of the highly respected New York Academy of Medicine had come to the conclusion that American homosexuals want far more than to be merely tolerated and even more than to be ungrudgingly accepted. Their true goal, says an Academy report, is to convince the world that homosexuality is a “desirable, noble, preferable way of life” – the secret of the greatness of ancient Greece, and in modern times a “perfect answer to the problem of the population explosion.”
The Academy report, and the newspaper stories it inspired, were just another example of the confusion and downright ignorance that surround the entire subject of the nature, cause and extent of homosexuality. The Academy committee was dead wrong. Only a tiny minority of U.S. homosexuals would ever beat the drums so sensationally for their way of life. Far more of them regard their homosexuality as an affliction. The lot of the homosexual, as the photographs and article on the preceding pages have shown, is often furtive, hazardous and lonely. Many homosexuals have gone to psychiatrists begging desperately for help in escaping from a life that they had decided was utterly intolerable. Most homosexuals, far from seeking recruits, actually refuse to have anything to do with a man who has never had previous homosexual experience.
Says Dr. Paul Gebhard, successor to the late Dr Alfred Kinsey as director of the Institute for Sex Research: "Almost nobody chooses to become a homosexual. More than nine times out of ten, a man becomes a homosexual for the sole and simple reason that he cannot help it." Perhaps the only exceptions are young men who move to a big city like New York or Los Angeles and by chance find themselves thrown in with fellow workers or neighbors who belong to the “gay society.” Their new companions provide friendship and flattery, and sometimes money as well. A good-looking, lazy, luxury-loving young man who likes to be told he has artistic talent may find himself sponging off the gay world financially and emotionally, until he wakes up in middle-age committed to the life but no longer attractive to his former benefactor – not unlike an aging party girl in the other kind of society.
There are, of course, some homosexuals who specialize in seducing young boys. But they are decidedly a minority group; they are the least homosexual of all homosexuals, less active than the others and far more likely to be married. Some of them go through most of their lives not even aware of their homosexuality until at last their tendencies burst out in an incident which often results in their exposure and ruin. The others who are fully aware of their feelings about boys tend to be lone wolves who stay away from the gay society and indeed would be shunned by it. The boys they seduce are seldom lured into the homosexual life, at least not for long.
If almost nobody becomes a homosexual by choice, what then accounts for homosexuality?
Part of the answer seems to lie in the fact that all mammals, human beings included, are born with an innate capacity to respond to almost any kind of sexual stimulus. Zoologists observe homosexual behavior in nearly every species of animal; anthropologists find it in human societies in New York City to the South Seas, and historians find records of it in the civilizations of the past. (Among the noted confirmed homosexuals of history have been Plato, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and probably Alexander the Great.) On our own American scene, there seems to be a good deal more homosexual activity than anybody suspected or was willing to admit before the Kinsey report was published in 1948.
According to this report, nearly half of all boys engage in some kind of homosexual play before they reach adolescence; even after adolescence slightly more than a third of them have at least one homosexual experience at some time in their lives. The Kinsey report, or course, has had many critics, including scientists who are convinced that a disproportionately high percentage of homosexually included men volunteered for the Kinsey study, as the word was spread along the grapevine, and that therefore the figures are too high. But even if the figures are sharply discounted, they still point to the existence of a considerable amount of homosexual experimentation.
Dr. Gebhard and his present associates at the Institute for Sex Research believe that, given mankind's innate nature and our present social customs and moral codes, this is only to be expected. Boys become sexually mature -- and indeed reach the very height of their sexual capacity and interest -- in their adolescent years. They are discouraged from making any outright sexual overtures to girls, and as a matter of fact few girls that age are interested in sex anyway. On the other hand, boys are thrown together intimately on athletic teams, in boarding schools and in summer camps. An older man who takes a homosexual interest in a boy is often encouraged by parents who fail to understand the real nature of his solicitude. The adolescent has to repress his burning sex drive toward girls, but has considerable opportunity and temptation to turn it into homosexual channels. In a sense nature and society combine to encourage homosexuality – and, ironically, do so most of all among the boys who in strictly sexual terms are the most masculine. Numerous studies have shown that boys who mature earliest and have the strongest sexual drives and capacities are the likeliest to experiment with homosexuality and to adopt it as a way of life.
[TO BE CONTINUED]
To read the entire series:
The Way We Were (Reported) - Part 1
When gay was in quotation marks - Part 2
The bitterness of individual homosexuals - Part 3
The Homosexual Faces Arrest, Disgrace - Part 4
The homosexual: Hungry for youth – Part 5
Emotionally unstable, immoral, and repugnant - Part 6