December 8th, 2009

gay vigilante

A bad case of acne made me gay - Life Magazine's "Homosexuality in America," part 8

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(pink highlighting notes some of the more biased words and reporting, as well as some of the outrageous details and crackpot theorizing in this article)

Life magazine, June 26, 1964


Scientists search for the answers to a touchy and puzzling question, WHY?

by Ernest Havemann


Yet homosexual experience, like a vaccination, may take or may not. Some boys seem to be so susceptible that a single experience sets them in a lifetime pattern. Others engage in considerable experimentation yet never really take up the homosexual way of life. All in all, the number who do become confirmed homosexuals is quite small. What distinguishes these men from the others?

Dr. Gebhard, who takes a common-sensical rather than psycho-analytical view of the problem, is convinced by the case histories in his files that “mere chance often plays an almost frightening part.” A bad case of acne, a stammer or unusual shyness may make a boy feel so unwanted in the world of boy-meets-girl that he quickly embraces the other world. (Many a homosexual affair, another expert points out, is an alliance between two men who both consider themselves “social cripples.” In other cases, says Dr. Gebhard, social pressures prove crucial. Some boys feel so guilty about any kind of homosexual feelings or acts that they feel forever ostracized from the rest of society and can only cling to the gay world. Some come under the community’s suspicion or are actually caught; then, after they have been branded as homosexuals, they find it impossible to get a date with a girl and cannot return to the standard pattern of sexual and social life. But over and beyond the influences of happenstance and society, says Dr. Gebhard, there seems to be little question that some boys are predisposed to homosexuality. All medical and psychiatric authorities agree.

Our great-grandfathers, when they dared think about the problem at all, believed that homosexuality was inherited: some men were just born "queer," with a woman's disposition in a man's body; they constituted a "third sex" which was an aberration of nature. This view was based largely on the mistaken notion, still held by many people, that all homosexuals have effeminate, "swishy" manners and would like nothing better, if only they could get away with it, than to dress like women, pluck their eyebrows and use lipstick. In actual fact, there are many effeminate men who are not homosexual at all -- and indeed the Institute for Sex Research has even found that some transvestites, men who like to dress in women's clothes, are happily married and lead perfectly normal sex lives. On the other hand, says the Institute, fully 85% or more of homosexuals, look and act very much like other men and cannot be spotted for certain even by the experts. Often the only signs are a very subtle tendency to over-meticulous grooming, plus the failure to cast the ordinary man's customary admiring glance at every pretty girl who walks by.

Modern tests of physical characteristics and glandular secretions have shown no recognizable differences between homosexuals and other men, yet our great-grandfathers may have been partly right at that. Franz Kallman, a German analyst, once managed to find 40 men, all homosexuals, who had identical twin brothers. In every case, the twin also turned out to be a homosexual, even though the brothers had never confided to each other and had sometimes grown up apart from each other – so possibly there is some kind of inborn pattern of glandular activity or brain function, not yet recognizable by any tests thus far developed, which predestines some men for homosexuality.

The psychoanalysts, who have observed and treated many homosexual patients over the years, believe that homosexuality represents a form of arrested development. Most children, though born with an indiscriminate impulse toward affection that does not distinguish between men and women, or indeed even between human beings and other animals, soon learn to concentrate on another human being of the opposite sex. Some do not. Sigmund Freud, the founder of analysis, theorized that this could happen in a number of ways, closely related to the stages of growth through which analysts believe every child must pass.


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
Science Explains Why and How You Got That Way - Part 7